Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache

Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache

Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache

Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache

Excerpt

What do people make of places? The question is as old as people and places themselves, as old as human attachments to portions of the earth. As old, perhaps, as the idea of home, of "our territory" as opposed to "their territory," of entire regions and local landscapes where groups of men and women have invested themselves (their thoughts, their values, their collective sensibilities) and to which they feel they belong. The question is as old as a strong sense of place -- and the answer, if there is one, is every bit as complex.

Sense of place complex? We tend not to think so, mainly because our attachments to places, like the ease with which we usually sustain them, are unthinkingly taken for granted. As normally experienced, sense of place quite simply is, as natural and straightforward as our fondness for certain colors and culinary tastes, and the thought that it might be complicated, or even very interesting, seldom crosses our minds. Until, as sometimes happens, we are deprived of these attachments and find ourselves adrift, literally dislocated, in unfamiliar surroundings we do not comprehend and care for even less. On these unnerving occasions, sense of place may assert itself in pressing and powerful ways, and its often subtle components -- as subtle, perhaps, as absent smells in the air or not enough visible sky -- come surging into awareness. It is then we come to see that attachments to places may be nothing less than profound, and that when these attachments are threatened we may feel threatened as . . .

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