Thunder Woman Speaks: Indians or Sovereign First Peoples
It has been a long struggle for the first peoples, the original peoples to gain the attention of non-native people in Canada. The European colonizers/settlers only sought land and resource extraction with the original people being an encumbrance to their greed.
Since the first meetings of peace and friendship the original peoples have struggled to maintain autonomy and a peaceful existence with the newcomers. Why has this been difficult?
Essentially there is a worldview chasm. The worldview of the settler/colonizer contains notions of individuality and material gain. The worldview of the original peoples includes tribal or collective identities and an understanding to share the land and resources.
The worldview of the original people is not underdeveloped, primal or savage. It is the worldview that comes from millennia of stewardship, understanding societal relationships and survival. Communicating this worldview to a society without comparators has proven to be impossible.
Often original peoples are forced to use or write in the language and frameworks of the oppressing nation. Here we see the beginning of the failure to communicate opposing worldviews.
With the original settlers/colonizers, survival was the first concern. The next issue involved seizing territorial jurisdiction. Today’s Canada is a state with this history still unfolding.
The fight between Britain and France resulted in an uncomfortable division of power that has permeated through history seen in current legislation, policy and law (common and civil).
This Canada is failing to address the original “founding” nation. This Canada is failing to acknowledge the original peoples and their distinctive ways.
With the “creation” of a new country, there is one threshold issue that continues to elude modern Canadian governments. The land was occupied. There were systems of governance in place. There were practices and laws that accompanied the highly developed societies prior to British or Canadian tampering.
Currently, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is trying to placate the original peoples by saying there will be “inclusion” of the original peoples’ worldviews into government policy. This is a blatant lie.
It is the same “inclusion” that takes a cookie cutter approach to what the Liberals or non-native governments “deign to acknowledge” as “aboriginal or indigenous inclusion”. This cherry picking approach is selective about what the oppressor government will “allow” the original peoples to practice or follow. It is the same attitude that has existed since first contact. It is the same approach that continues to allow the first peoples to live in poverty, bereft of land, resources and their collective cultural integrity.
Why is this a continuing problem?
First of all, it was difficult for the oppressor/settler invaders to understand that they had stumbled onto peoples with a rich and vibrant way of life tied to the land.
If you are an oppressor society, with a comparator of land holdings for the nobility or the wealthy only, it is impossible to fathom that the original peoples of Turtle Island were content to live in harmony with their surroundings.
This failure of the initial meeting of minds continues. The mindless Canadian settler state only sees the land and resources of this land as profit. The settler state should recognize its own legal history in that the occupation of other peoples indicates that “ownership” was in practice. Here we see the second failure to communicate.
If the original peoples occupied the land and used the resources sparingly, sharing and respecting that Creation needed stewarding, then they did not in fact “own the land” but merely were using or occupying the land. Here lies the justification for colonizer thinking to take, rape and plunder the land we now call Canada.
This is faulty reasoning. If the law of Britain acknowledged that there were “occupier” proprietor rights, then why would this not apply in “the new world”? Oppressor “manmade frameworks” are not the rule of law; they are the rule of those greed-based institutions that purport to “make laws”. It is this law making “tradition” that continues to “make laws” and policy for the original occupiers of the land.
Compounding this original mistaken belief of the British settler/invader is that Canada, the state, now exists as a result of wrongdoing. It is the state of Canada that profits from the international treaties signed by the British Crown and the original peoples occupying Turtle Island.
How is Canada the survivor state faring in upholding the original nation-to-nation relationship and treaties made with the original peoples? Canada is carrying on as though it is a full nation with lawmaking, policy and judicial powers although it is the inheritor of Britain’s contractual obligations.
Recently the federal government under Justin Trudeau has announced several methods to insure this nation-to-nation relationship will herald “new or improved relations”. Canada has stated internationally that it will embrace the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous People, and then qualified this statement.
Canada has stated that as a result of their complicity in genocide against the original peoples through residential schools, chemical germ warfare and forced relocation; they will adhere to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) commission. This is Canada’s admission to follow through on the TRC recommendations but on “their terms”.
Today, post secondary and other education institutions are seeking to assist Canada in reeducating Canadians with the correct information about the original inhabitants. Canada sees only one “aboriginal” or “indigenous” approach and is failing at recognizing the specificity and unique worldviews and cultures of the different original peoples. In many post secondary programs, there are non-natives or Master aboriginal/indigenous instructors offering distorted pan-Indian curriculum.
This is problematic because without a proper understanding that the original peoples are distinct people such as the Mi’kmaq, Haudenosaunee, Anishnaabe, Nehiyew or Oyatê, then these institutions are continuing the colonial path of willful misunderstanding.
The existing governments – municipal, provincial (territorial) and federal are offering posts that mock the nationhood and sovereignty of the varied original peoples who still exist on this land.
Is this reconciliation? Is reconciliation the action that says we will do something, without understanding? It appears that Canada the state that owes its existence to the original contracts signed between sovereign nations will celebrate 150 years of “existence” without having moved from the colonial thinking of 1867.