In 1932, Margaret Mead, the most prominent Cultural Anthropologist of her day, lived among the Antlers and published a book about them.
Then as now, the true identity of the tribe is not revealed as Indians in general are private people
I am lucky to spend a week to ten days each month with the Antlers, arriving as I did on an evening when snow was beginning to cover the ground.
Used to the diversity of this vast country, many of the newcomers to the USA and their descendants look at the Indians as Brown Skinned Americans, but the truth is far from it. The Antlers maintain their ancient culture, think in a form very distinct from the North American white/black/mexican/asian. In fact an Antler would be comfortable more in the Amazonia with a Ticuna than he would be at the home of a upper middle class white person in a city in USA.
I am a Jew, and I am impressed with the respect they bestow upon us, whom they consider to be yet another tribal affiliation. Food being an integral part of the Antler way of life, they are always making sure that forbidden foods of the Jews do not find its way to my plate and many a time, they would prepare seperate dishes for me. Like Antlers, I am also traditional and fond of some of our rituals which they respect.
My long term association with the Antlers have been given me a place of honour in their midst and I am often invited to be part of them when they are invited by outsiders for dinners. A group of people , who are helping the Antlers deal with their medical problems invited us to dine with them. It was such a wonderful evening, because of the respect each side had for each other. Diversity does not mean blending in but maintaining ones cultural identity but integrating into the wider society. The antlers have done this well. Both Antler ladies in the photo have Masters degree education and impressive in their achievements in securing good health care for the Antlers.
Antlers are very family oriented and it is not uncommon to see young children wandering around the work places or in the offices. This young child whom I have known for years, always greets me with a warm smile and a hug .
Antlers are incredibly caring people, every one including this teenager knows that I am visiting and may not have food provisions in this village without a shop or restaurant. She came up to me and said she had ordered some food from a Mexican restaurant from the nearest town and was willing to share with me in case I was hungry. I was very touched with this gesture.
Health care delivery to the Antlers is unique in that it is not problem oriented but rather people oriented. There are no clients or patients but friends and family members or relatives. Once that is established every one does the best as the person they serve is related to them one way or another.
It reminded me of the Israeli society where you are vigilant and careful and protect your fellow citizens with greater care and scrutiny as the person you may save is your own tribe and perhaps your own immediate family. It is so different from the fiercely individualistic nature of the American society where the individual is placed above the society.
These two Antlers knew that I liked Fish and broccoli and goat cheese and cherry tomatos, so while I finished the days work with them, the man had gone and shopped for these and prepared a meal and brought it over to the Blue House where I stay when I am with the Antlers.
All in all I am grateful to be able to spend time with the Antlers and I have learned a lot from them.
Antlers are not like Mexicans or Mexican Americans who had given up their cultures over and over again in the hope of gaining entrance into the predominant north american culture. Antlers are Antlers, they were and they are and they will be Antlers, maintaining as much of their traditions as they can, in face of the mounting pressures from the fiercely individualistic, materialistic north american society.
When I leave the Antlers, my destinaton is usually outside the USA and I know I remain in their hearts as they do in mine, while we wait for our return rendezvous.. month after month..