I hadn’t intended to immediately write anything about the Indigenous after my previous post. I was leaning towards something funny. I was in the mood for a ha ha, but life interfered again. I’d since learned even more about what goes on within the politics of “Native” life. I know that I am far from the only one who was or is unaware of a lot of this information that is readily available, but rarely shared.
I received a great deal of positive comment and support on that ‘Half-Breed’ post, which I certainly appreciated. I was expecting at least one comment of dissension, if not an onslaught. Certain criticisms mean that there is still need for education, an opportunity to dispel a myth or two.
There was one critical thought, but it was given indirectly, written on the Facebook page of a mutual friend who had shared my story on his page. The comment didn’t bother me to any great degree, and I doubt that its writer was the only person who felt like he did or something similar. I’ve heard it said many times, that this topic just needs to go away. Actually, I can’t think of a group of people who would agree with that more than the people of Indigenous nations.
Response to post Half-Breed to Metis, My Return from a Savage Wilderness:
Anon.( for the sake of mutual friend): The bogus multicultural self-identifying that happens in this country is ridiculous, especially when it comes to the inheritors of the first nations. May 12 at 7:28am via mobile · Like
Then I recently read another blog that spoke to the Idle No More movement and Indigenous issues in general. Her first reply was from someone who took issue with her post.
Response to post “Idle No More”, by Blogger Anne Thériault, The Belle Jar:
Carlos: February 1, 2013 at 10:19 pm #
Let’s be real. There was no threat of Spence actually dying, what with all that fish broth she was consuming. No it’s not a full meal, but nutritious enough for her to survive. Also, just because the First Nations were here first does not preclude them from supporting themselves. How do you think that “the white people” survived when they got here? Exactly in the same way that the First Nations people did, hunting, fishing, gathering, and building their own shelters. The main difference is that the “white people” sought to advance and grow as a society, rather than try and piggy back on the work and efforts of others. There’s no reason why my tax dollars should go to fund the lives of those that do not have any motivation to work to support themselves, when the institutions that my tax dollars are SUPPOSED to go toward are so poorly underfunded. In all honesty, I have little sympathy for a group of people that have mismanaged the assistance has been given to them. Blogs like this that try to validate their claims of oppression absolutely drive me insane.
Permit me to reply.
The lack of threat to Theresa Spence’s life notwithstanding, these are the kind of continual single-minded replies that completely ignore the actual facts and nuances of all the Indigenous issues as noted in Anne’s blog, and over all these many, many years.
Let’s break it down a bit. Let’s have a short look at some of the facts and nuances. To start, it’s fairly certain that most individuals and community bodies understand the enormous amount of work and time necessary to help people recover from abusive childhoods. I think few today wouldn’t understand that many abused kids may require treatment even for the rest of their life to regain a life worth living. Yet, despite the number of people who get that, there are too many with almost no understanding about how that same idea applies to the healing of the Indigenous . These are people dealing with the same kind of traumas -and so much more – applied to generation after generation of Indigenous families from birth to death.
A typical response to that is something like, “Hey, we’ve given you lots of money, you should all be better already”! Why not try such an easy fix, in general, with all abuse victims? I think most people agree that money alone does not solve everything. There are all kinds of needs in response to life-altering events that need attending to: physical and mental health, education, training, follow-up, and time. I also have to wonder what exactly is the correct designated time period to get over it and assimilate?
Moving on from that issue, how many people regardless of ancestry would be able to “advance and grow as a society” like the “white people” if they don’t have the same advantages of the “white people” like deciding who can work on, or even sell, their own lands?
How’s this for some facts, that are by far not the only like them on the books, that would raise havoc for the rest of Canada? (courtesy of Anne Thériault, The Belle Jar from CDN Dept. of Indian Affairs) :
- “First Nations peoples have very little control over reserve land, and the Minister of Indian Affairs must approve any land sales or transfers.
- First Nations people need to seek government approval for selling or bartering any crops, livestock and other products grown, reared or cultivated on reserve lands. (Add in minerals and oil too. There is far too much money in royalties and business taxes for the government to look at relinquishing them easily. I also wonder who benefits the most from those taxes and royalties? I wonder what the percentage of those taxes and royalties are paid back to the Natives in all those annual “handouts”?)
- …if you’re an Indigenous Person, you’d better hope that the government doesn’t declare you to be “mentally incompetent”, as that means that the Minister can force you to sell, lease or mortgage your land as he sees fit.
- Even a dead Indigenous person isn’t safe from the Minister; no wills drawn up on reserve lands are considered legally valid until the Minister approves them’.”
This kind of changes the overly accepted idea that the Indigenous simply chose the plan for a ‘welfare state’, doesn’t it? If you still think there is a privileged existence on those reservations, or as status Aboriginal peoples, why don’t you ask to live as one for a week and see if you still feel that way?
Why are the people who feel the contentions are only about ‘status,’ or some other unfair representation, unable to get the message that no, the playing field to a decent life is not even. Not even close. That is the crux of the issue. This is exacerbated by the fact that even many of the actual agreements, the Treaties, that were put in place have never been truly or fully honoured by the Canadian government. It is these sort of issues that are going to take a lot of work to work out, which is why it has still to be worked out even after all these hundred some years.
I’d also like the people who demand that no more of “their” tax dollars be spent on these issues to tell me exactly what they think they’ve actually lost personally. What exactly was their portion of ‘the wasted loss’? I’ll bet these guys also think that “Natives” don’t pay any taxes at all either. Better look that one up – because yes, we do.
As for all the mismanagement of funds by Band leaders, yes, there is room for improvement – with some bands, probably lots. However, name any sort of business, government department, or even charitable organization that hasn’t had some mismanagement issue, even without the ‘advantage of full government oversight as required by the Indian Act’.
Don’t even try to compare any of that band mismanagement, perceived or real, to the billions lost by the very governments that require oversight of the Native funds. Can you say $3.1 billion this year by the Harper government in one department alone? Or how about all those advanced and educated senators recently in the news who cheated on their expenses? Yes, interestingly, even one of them happened to be “Native”. We’ve come at least some way, baby.
It’s also convenient for some complainers to continually overlook all the Indigenous groups that are working damned hard to overcome overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable problems to uplift and change life for all. The point made about white society advancing and growing on its own seems to have missed the point entirely: that ‘the whites’ initially advanced and grew as a society on the backs, resources, and guidance of the Natives, and in many ways continue to so today. No, we wouldn’t say it was the sole way that society advanced, but that doesn’t negate the long, and again, continuing role of that fact.
So, I’m sure we can all agree that it really is too bad, even deplorable, that Indigenous issues are still an issue. These discussions should all be ancient history by now, but they’re not, and not because of some simple inconvenience like the Indigenous simply wanting to “piggy back on the work and efforts of others”. In order to speak to such a large overall issue, one needs to have a far larger view and a handle on all of the facts and history.
Personally, I am very happy to know that there are plenty of people willing, able, working to get able, and actually working on this. If we want an issue to go away, the first step to being of any useful help is learning just what the problem is. So, instead of opinions based on reactions to headlines or chats, why not try to really learn about the subject? Who knows, maybe then, even we all could help.
Thanks to the Belle Jar blogsite for the Idle No More commentary, and the May 24, 2013 post in the Winnipeg Free Press on Native business partnerships with conventional industries.
DULCE ET DECORUM: http://noraloreto.ca/the-indian-act-in-plain-english/
May 24, 2013 post in the Winnipeg Free Press on Native business partnerships with conventional industries.
First Nations Business Partnerships Exploding