Itahoba is a Choctaw word meaning “connection.” But it refers to connection at a level that’s hard to express using any one English word.
To many people in the contemporary world, connection is thought of in terms of ecology. People think about how different animals and plants are connected to one another through the webs that comprise different ecosystems. People who think a bit more deeply about this type of connection include so-called “inanimate” things like soil, rock, air, and water in the web.
The field of integrated scholarship that’s becoming more prominent these days also thinks about connection between different disciplines such as art and science. The people who talk and write about this type of connection realize that it seems to mirror the connection seen in ecosystems. The specialized group of integrated scholarship called ecopsychology focuses on the connection between human physiological and psychological systems with nature. The specialized discipline of resilience ecology studies the connections between ecological system patterns and the patterns of human social and political systems, connections they see as meaningful rather than metaphorical.
Itahoba is about all these kinds of connection and far more. It refers to the very real, substantive, and fundamental connections between everything that is. These connections are complex and meaningful, and always relational in a profoundly expressive way. They are often, therefore, causal — even when the result to a given cause is so non-linear that it eludes human recognition. When such an effect is recognized but apparently simultaneous with the apparent “cause,” it is because both are connected to an even deeper layer of relatedness and unity that has, until then, been hidden from the observer. When the famous psychologist Carl Jung used the term synchronicity to validate the reality of this type of connection, he was approaching the concept of connectedness expressed by the term Itahoba.
Itahoba is the deep connectedness that weaves together the natural world, the world of imagination, creative arts, ritual, intuition, reason, spirit, dreams, waking events, story, within, without, here, there, now, and then.
Itahoba.com is my personal website, primarily for posting my artwork at this time. I am a registered artist of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. But this site also links — itahoba being of paramount importance to me — with other sites that are set up primarily for other expressions of my work life. Understanding the Horse is my site for talks and programs I present about horses. Tapestry is a website for the work I do on different ways of learning and knowing through the non-profit I founded in 1998, headed until 2007, and for which I am presently senior scientist and Vision Keeper. All of my work connects with all my other work and with the rest of what is, of course, but until now there has never been a place I could make particularly reflective of my own personal self and my beliefs. Itahoba.com fills this role. It is therefore where I choose to post my artwork, for my original art is the one part of me that does not have a ready home elsewhere at this time.
I have no new artwork posted yet, however. For now, I have only two examples of work from long ago on this site. But I am working on some new pieces. So soon I hope to begin filling these pages with the colors and forms in my mind and in my heart, that are drumming against my ribs from the inside, demanding expression.
In 2004, when I first wanted to use a Choctaw term to describe the kind of connection that is important to me, that is expressed in all my work, I contacted the group of Elders who are our tribal language experts. I thank these Elders for providing me with the precise word that expresses the sort of connection I wanted to describe. Yakoke. We are all richer for your presence and wisdom.