Over the last week, I have recorded every scrap of garbage that I had produced and analyzed another students’ garbage in the process. While we sat and read about garbology from Little and Rathje and Murphy, we learned about the ongoing anthropology of modern garbage. It was somewhat interesting and mortifying to see how much waste we produce, I wonder about today’s consumer culture and why everything we buy nowadays seems to come in copious amounts of packaging. Even the fruit we buy we feel the need to put much of it in bags, which we throw away.
As a modern Indigenous person, I live in a typical American fashion while keeping foot in traditional Indigenous traditions. In terms of garbology, I started thinking about the garbology of the Indigenous, i.e. Indigenous garbology (I may or may not have just coined a term). What would Indigenous garbology entail? In my case, I produce much of the same type of garbage that the typical American household produces, plus garbage produced from producing cultural objects. In my case it is processing raw materials such as roots, working with feathers, beadwork, and carving wood and ivory. It is important to note however that much of this does not make it into the garbage can. Natural things I tend to dispose of in a respectful and symbolic manner. If it is natural, I tend to put it back into nature. Other things however, such as miscellaneous and malformed beads and nylon bead thread tend to go into the garbage. I would imagine this would differ from one Indigenous population to another, but I wonder what we could learn about how we continue our Indigenous culture in the modern world from looking at our garbage?