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‘Elder’ is a word that commands respect

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Congratulations are in order for the organizers of the recent Boomers and Beyond Senior Expo which from all accounts was a huge success. At times I forget that I’m eligible to use the term and often miss out on “senior discounts” at restaurants, etc.

A respectful suggestion for the organizers:

How about considering referring to the event as Elder Expo? Using the two Es, might lend itself to a cool logo. It’s my view that American culture would do well to adopt certain traditions of our neighbors the Ojibwe, and the concept of “elder” is one. I think we all know that many societies have a greater respect for the knowledge and wisdom of those who have lived long than Americans.

Since reaching my 60s, I’ve often said that I like many cultural aspects of America’s indigenous peoples, among them respect for older people. They refer to “us” older folks as elders. The term “elder” in my view sounds so much more respectful than “senior.” I mean what’s a senior? It could be a 12th-grader or a 16th-grader; but with the word “elder,” there’s no mistake, it kind of says respect.

In fact, respect for elders – for those familiar with Ojibwemowin (Ojibwe language) – is contained literally in the words for “elder.” The general word for an “older” person is “gichi-aya’aa” which literally means “great being.” The word for female elder is “mindimooye” which literally means “one who holds things together,” and the word for male elder then is “akiwenzii” which literally means “earth caretaker.”

For what it’s worth, and thanks again for a job well done.

Weweni (In a good way),

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