Vnewetv : (ah-NEE-wih-duh, Ah-nee-WIH-duh,
The whole of aboriginal
North America and all its Native inhabitants prior to European colonization.
Legends, myths and stories define Vnewetv to encompass the whole land mass
and its delicate but harmonious balance of all things under, on or above
it. Its parts are considered inseparable one from another by Native American
Carriers of Tradition. Also, The Back of the Turtle, Turtle Island, Lands
that Turtle helped to dredge up from under the waters. Actual origins of
Vnewetv are unknown; its root resembles a similar Olmec word.
The Creek Language, A Dictionary
The Muskogee Press, 1985
* * *
"Vnewetv" is not a Muskogee word.
However, the meaning of "Aniweda," in Anglicized form, is important to
the people of Pine Arbor. It should be important to Native American descendants
throughout the whole of North America.
This word appeared in the 1895
Constitution of the Apalachicola Tribal Town, now called Pine Arbor. Will
West Long, noted Cherokee scholar in North Carolina, made occasional use
of this word. An Elder of a Mohawk Presbyterian congregation broke out
in broad grins when Pine Arbor visitors used the term in a 1976 program
for Dr. Margaret Mead at the American Museum of Natural History in New
York City. Dr. E. M. Hoffman, of Berea College, Kentucky, used "Vnewetv"
frequently during the many lectures he gave on Native American history.
Essie Parrish, a Pomo Shaman and Dream Dance leader, also knew and used
this word to describe ancient Pomo homelands.
No tribe has claimed it. Linguistically,
it could belong to any number of language families. Although not in common
use by many Native Americans today, it continues to be known among those
whom we call Carriers of Tradition, people who know, remember and practice
ancient ways. Dr. James Howard, a social scientist specializing in Southeastern
studies, was a frequent attendant at New Tulsa Tribal Town Green Corn Ceremonies
in the mid-sixties. In the presence of Dr. Mary Haas and her guests from
Oklahoma City, the Silversteins, others, and myself Dr. Howard inquired
about the word. How gratifying to hear Eastern and Western Creek Elders
agree on "Vnewetv." In 1980, Dr. Rob MacLaury discovered this word on a
field trip to North Florida where he did linguistic fieldwork in our community
for his dissertation. Dr. William Harrison of Northern Illinois University
in Dekalb sees a related word in the Mixe-Zoque language with the same
meaning Pvlvcekolv ascribes to it. This is an elusive word, perhaps a sole
survivor of a more ancient language, he suggests.
There is no one English word
that can serve as an adequate translation. Vnewetv, to state simply, represents
a collective categorical concept: ecology, environment, destruction or
renewal, wholeness, and responsibility--those very concepts with which
the world's present future wrestles.
Vnewetv means the whole of North
America, not just the landmass. Vnewetv encompasses the delicate harmonious
relationship of all things that have form, substance, purpose, and place.
These four words define "a being" in the Pine Arbor community. In English,
"a being" is often limited to just specifically delineate living things.
Among most Native Americans, "being" usually includes such things as rocks,
thunder, clouds and mountains. After all, we often speak of the Sky Nations,
the Grass Nations, and all the Nations that have form, substance, purpose
and place. Vnewetv refers to the natural land without its borders or boundaries
marked out by modern man, strangers on the Turtle's Back. View Vnewetv
as a continent unscarred by careless development, man-made dust storms,
forests in ruins and concrete or asphalt covered meadows. Vnewetv encompasses
the homeland of all Native Americans. It implies that Mother Earth is not
inexhaustible. Vnewetv requires humans to make critical choices--stewards
Vnewetv is more than a place
in historical time; it is an idea about life, the idea that we have relationships
and responsibility to all living things. It implies inter-connectivity.
The Old Ones and their ways are not gone. Momentarily, they are just invisible.
Vnewetv reminds us of their ever-presences. It defines environment, ecology
and renewal--the whole of North America, the whole earth, too.
We are Vnewetv. We are inseparable
from it. That word, whatever its linguistic origin or age, speaks best
for traditional Native America. Vnewetv is the visible and invisible unity
of all our diverse ceremonies and beliefs. Vnewetv: The Soul of the Land
and the Souls of the Indian are One.