"Community. You have your family and community," Hastings said. We were speaking of his and Sequoyah Guess's understanding of the roles of the individual and community in Cherokee society.
"And most of the time, when a family gets a problem or something, the community's there. It's still like that around home. We don't let our neighbors...want."
"Yeah." Sequoyah said, "we take care of each other, which is opposite of the mainstream society."
"I hate to use this term," Hastings said, speaking of mainstream society, "but it's 'The hell with you.' That's a different society. That's their way of thinking. 'You got in that fix, now you get yourself out.'"
"Mmhm," I said.
"You know, a lot of our Mexican people that's working here, when a new one comes in, they take care of em. And that's how they prosper," Hastings said.
And that's the way we used to be," Sequoyah said.
"Well, they've got their indigenous roots, right?" I said.
"Yeah. Yeah," Hastings said. "Like we was talking about, at one time our grandparents would go, when somebody was sick, they would go there a leave their things to be done later. Till that person either got well or whatever. Then they would come back and take care of theirs."
"The way the system is now, I said, "everyone's fighting so hard just to
keep what little they have that you're just stuck. You can't do anything for anyone. Because you've got to make your car payment, or..."
"Yeah. Yeah," Hastings said. "And you know, then, I don't agree with
everything Chief [Chad] Smith says, but he did make a point. You have to be able to take care of yourself first before you can take care of somebody else. And I agree with him there. You have to be at a point where you can at least take care of yourself before you can take care of somebody else. But, a lot of
times, you know, we went anyway.
Our problems became secondary. Their problems became the priority and our problems became secondary. And then we came back. And a lot of times a lot of people showed up. Communities, you know. Gadugi [ᎦᏚᏗ], they called it. That's where everybody's helping.
"Has that term been around a long time?" I asked.
"That term's been here since I can remember. But it's not how they use
it down there," Hastings gestured toward the Cherokee Nation tribal complex. "It's sgadug [ᏍᎦᏚᏗ]. Sgadug is a county, state, or community. That's what that means. Sgadug is when they-sgadudv dvdatlesuh-that's when the
whole, as a community come together. There's a difference, you know? There's points that can be argued, either way. But the way I've heard it is sgadug.
"But a lot of our elders, when they found out somebody was having
problems, they'd go around and tell people. 'What can we do?' or 'How can we help em?' So. And that's how we were raised, both of us, Hastings said, referring to his wife Loretta and himself."
- Christopher B. Teuton