For years the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine.” has been said by millions the world over. However, amongst many of the Indigenous populations of the United States, it is more than just a phrase - it is a lifestyle followed by many. Humor is used in multiple ways by Natives in their everyday lives, it is communication, a coping mechanism, a teaching tactic, and much more.
Finding humor in most things is how various Native people communicate with one another, sometimes instead of a “hello” or “hi” the greeting is the telling of joke and the response of joined laughter with one another. There are many scenarios in which people will start off with a joke to get a conversation going or to gain people’s attention and continually use humor throughout speaking. For many Natives, humor is such a vital part of their lives particularly due to the aspect of resiliency within.
Many use humor as a tool to educate and understand both our cultural teachings and the things that our people have endured dating back to 1492. In order for many of us to better process historical trauma or navigate a world full of hurtful stereotypes, we manage and cope through making little jokes such as in the book “Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong” by Paul Chaat Smith. In this book, he discusses the history of Natives in a comical sarcastic tone. Another aspect comedy is utilized within Native communities is that while growing up many of us are teased by family members in a joking way to teach us right from wrong. In the work of Native comedians such as, Adrianne Chalepah, comedy is a way that her audience whether it be Natives or non-Natives can have the ability to use comedy in all three of these facets mentioned. Laughter is medicine within our own homes and communities to help us overcome and be a stronger people together. Native humor has its own complexity to be able to do this and will continue to do exactly this for years to come.
Join Native American Student Services, to learn more about the use of Native humor and enjoy the talents of Adrianne Chalepah.
February 25, 2020
Lindou Auditorium in Michener Library
We will also be sharing appetizers from Tocabe, a Native American eatery, located in Denver, CO.