I talk a lot about this word Detsadatliyvsesdi or Detsadatliyvsesdi, which is “struggle to hold onto one another or cling to one another.” It’s a value that was articulated by Cherokee nation citizen Benny Smith, and so it kind of came from Oklahoma. But I think it articulates a Cherokee value really well that’s common to all of us, and that’s — it sort of conjures the image of people standing in a circle holding hands.
The idea is that you don’t just sort of flop over because then people on either side of you would have to pull you back up, or support you, or, you know, stuff like that. So, it’s your responsibility to stand on your own, but you also have the responsibility to make sure that people on either side of you don’t stumble. And if they do, you pick them back up. And at the same time, you know that if you stumble, there’s people on either side of you that are gonna be able to pick you up. So, it’s simultaneously about independence and autonomy and standing on your own, but also being part of a community and a part of a culture that values collaboration, cooperation, and — it’s the promise of not being alone.
Yes, you do have the responsibility to keep yourself upright so that everybody doesn’t have to just carry you, but you can make a mistake, it’s okay. It’s okay to stumble and slip because people are gonna help you up, right? And at the same time, as a member of that circle, you have the same obligation to everybody else to make sure that they’re still standing.