Are we losing culture in the tribal "revival"?

I was talking to a friend and I ended up quoting from a saga play1, and it got me thinking. It’s been a while since I saw a saga play, and the ones I’ve seen have been about heroes and wars and rebellions, or myths - rarely do the ones about modern days get staged anymore, it seems.

Shishaan itself, when you visit now… It’s a bustling city, with great variety in the various parts of the city, tribal colors proudly presented, tourism on the rise, the Performing Arts Cente well-visited and well-loved, it seems. A true tribal revival, just like everywhere on Pator, like everywhere in our nation.

But that’s just what it looks on a first glance. What the “revival” pushes on us is selected, and carefully vetted. It presents whatever suits the political goals of the ones pushing it as “traditional”, and whatever they want people to stop doing as “outside influence”. Yet what is tradition but a living thing, people taking what the previous generations have done, and preserving it, and adding on it? Old ways learned from a book are not tradition, they are scripture.

Just like everywhere in Pator, all over the Republic traditional industries - those that clans have worked at for continuous generations ever since the Rebellion - are struggling, because someone thought our traditional - ever since the Rebellion - ways of governing ourselves were not good enough for them, and they did not have a clue about how to deal with the necessary inter-tribal co-operation.

Traditional industry circles are reduced to peddling “tribal” trinkets and performing “old” dances to gawking tourists, while their property is locked in jurisdiction battles. People are beaten because their customs do not confirm to someone’s idea of “tribal”. Theaters are bombed because they dare put up satires.

Face it: none of us knows a thing for real about how the Minmatar Empire government functioned before the Darkness fell. The current way is a reconstruction as much as the government before Shakor’s was. We know even less about what Sebiestor spiritual beliefs or Brutor dances or Vherokior foods looked like before the fall. And what we do not know and will never know is how they would look today if we had not been enslaved.

That tradition was murdered and it will never happen again. It does not exist. We cannot “go back” to it, because it never happened, and because the Day of Darkness did. The only thing we have is our living tradition. Yes, it has been influenced by our allies in the Federation. Yes, it has been influenced by our years in Darkness. But that was tradition does, that’s why it is tradition, and not law, or scripture. Tradition carries history. It cannot “return to its roots” without losing that history.

When we frown on the saga play as a “modern invention”, when we deny people the right to follow their religion because “no true Matari” would do it, when we refuse to accept changing rituals when the world changes (such as Voluvals on clones), we are not following tradition, we are forcing it. We are being like the Amarr, saying that we have to do things in a particular way, because some old lord or lady in ancient times put it in a book. And like the Amarr, we are not even doing that honestly: we are picking and choosing.

We are losing our ways in this “revival”. We are losing ways to settle tribal disputes that worked. Many of those who knew how to make things work now dead, so that in addition to tourism, governance sector on Pator is overblown, incompetent, and wasting precious resources2. We are losing songs that were never written down, because idiots who don’t understand ■■■■ about how traditional culture works are telling other idiots “no, don’t sing that, it’s in Gallentean, sing this, it sounds much more tribal”. And we are losing stories that never get written, because authors have to fear repercussions to themselves, their circles, and their families, if the material does not please the local “revivalists”.

And those things we are losing are as much our tradition as any “old ways” someone digs up from a book or records from some tottering Krusual fool who remembers her granny telling her granny had told her granny had once said this used to be the way before everyone had to run to the hills.

  1. Saga plays are a Mikramurka north-east coast urban art form, theatrical plays with dialogue in poetry form. Some of them are hero stories and legends, but modern day stories in the style where popular too when I was younger. The plays are often melodramatic - tragic loyalty conflicts leading to suicide or murder are typical saga material. The play in question here was Maryan in Shishaan, a typically tragic story of a young woman who goes to the big city for her diversion years, ends up in a loyalty conflict, death ensues. The bit I quoted was Maryan to her lover, torn between the call of the outside and her loyalty to her clan: “like falling dice / is my fate / like undealt cards / is our love / will you still be here in the fall?”
  2. Take this from someone whose clan has worked jurisdiction and Sebiestor law since the Rebellion. It is not better now.

I don’t think that we really are losing our way in our revival necessarily. In order for us to have lost our way we would have to have the slightest idea of what our way in the past was, which you yourself even admit we do not know. If you are the original one carving the path you aren’t lost but simply making a useless path to nowhere. I don’t believe that to be the case. We have a destination and while we don’t have the path distilled to a defined path our detours can only teach us as a people what lessons define us, much like I’d imagine the tribes went through over millennia prior to the Day of Darkness. Upon our emancipation we were born anew a stronger people, to build from the ashes a better Republic.

Our people are in a unique position. We hold the reigns to who we are. They aren’t dictated strictly by our past, though we should do everything we can to honor it. Our own liberation from slavery should illustrate a major part of who we are: Self determination. Our resolve won us our freedom, established our Republic and continues to defend us from the shadows skulking behind the light used to blind us. With this we can now rebuild ourselves into something new, something stronger and something to rival who we once were. We owe this to our ancestors to honor what they fought for to give us what we have.

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But if some people have been making a path for 120 years, and have made progress, what gives other people the right to say they are doing it wrong, and must start over? To claim that the path my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and her mother used is not my “traditional” enough for me? To attack people who want to walk the established path?

The key words there are “some people.” We don’t always agree on everything (in a situation like your speaking of I would call them ******** personally), nor should we expect to be in unison on everything. Scratches on a vase don’t stop the vase from holding water. Some dialogue is healthy for our culture. I simply haven’t experience issues that would push me to the belief that our culture is attacked from within.

What you see in those who doubt your ancestors path is them simply following their own path. If they were smart they would listen, instead they blaze a path that for their own sake hopefully will lead somewhere but realistically probably won’t. The empty vessel is the loudest, don’t forget that.

When government officials are murdered, art establishments bombed, people beaten up on the streets and clan businesses struggling because new laws cannot deal with established property, we are looking at something more than “just walking their own path”, my sister.

Oh yeah. Where we live, we sometimes get people coming along saying how our clan tradition of making brass clockwork geegaws is “Amarr influenced” since the planet our clan lives on wasn’t inhabited before the Day of darkness, and our clan was probably moved there to work the mines or something, and the tradition of clockwork derives from making timers for explosives and booby traps during the Rebellion.

Sure. That might be where that all started. But… we live in an area where you can literally just take some rocks that are lying around and cast brass and bronze straight from them with handbuilt furnaces. It’s something that even kids do, when you’re told to get out of the house for a couple hours cos adults are talking. So we have plenty of brass, and making clockwork geegaws is fun, so who do these “traditionalists” think they are, being fun police saying our kids shouldn’t do this any more ?

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You find these people everywhere, it’s not enough for them to live their live as they choose, they want to dictate yours too. Only way to stop it is to stand up to it, but that can be costly at times.

On a sidenote, what does these geegaws look like? Would you mind sharing some pictures?

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Short and sweet: We probably are.

It seems like some people are dead set on rebuilding the ancient empire, but the huge problem staring at us in the face is that so much knowledge of that time is lost, that a lot of it is just educated guesses. We should take inspiration from those times, when we stood as one people, working for the greater good. But we shouldn’t try to just copy it - indeed we even can’t.


Listen to Her voice,
Listen to Her heart,
Cherished children Forever,
Fed by flesh and Spirit.

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Anything and everything that can be made with clockwork. Music boxes are pretty common. So are wind-up model animals, sometimes on wheels, sometimes on legs. I’ve even seen a model of a star system.

Let’s not forget that so many of us know nothing of tradition. For so many of us, our tradition is bowing to Holders and subduing to Slavers. Our traditions are the accoutrements of slavery, the devices of servitude, and the contamination of Vitoc.

What of us that have no connection to the “ancient empire”? What of us that know nothing of tradition because it was bred or beaten out of us? Who determines what is right for us, what is traditional for us, what is acceptable for us?

I say that we do! I say that our freedom is the genesis of new norms, new traditions, new knowledge. Acceptance must be universal, or we fall victim to the imposition of another, unknown, culture on our lives. We again become slaves of the empire that fought and swore to free us.


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