No more Cowboys & Indians
Canadians are once again screaming and throwing tantrums over the original people refusing to be stereotyped. The cries of ethno-policing and cultural appropriation are put into articles dripping with contempt that other people’s worldviews have to be accommodated.
Now when a holiday like Halloween is upon Canada, instead of ghouls or goblins, apparently, non- First Nation children are having their “dreams” crushed if they are unable to portray themselves as Indian princesses. Where did this idea of Indian princesses come from?
When the settler colonizer invaders landed in North America they brought with them tainted viewpoints that everything functions as a hierarchy. The quickly ascertained that one First Nation leader was naturally, the “chief” and spokesperson and his family was Indian “royalty”.
Non-natives did not seem to understand the idea of communal headman or equality, because they came from a background of hierarchies and royalty. Furthermore, the settlers believed their worldview and experience denoted progress and a “civilized” order of thinking.
If this is true, then why was it necessary for the settler invaders to flee to a “new” country? Why was it necessary for the settler invaders to make “equality” of all men a tenet of their constitutions? If all men are “created equal”, does that mean, equality is defined as an oppositional position to the known hierarchy of man made governments and church institutions of the old country?
Is it not more reasonable that men, who never understood what equality truly was, now could not recognize that true equality existed in the worldview, governments and institutions of the First Peoples, they encountered in North America?
There exists a chasm between what non-natives understood as truth and what was in fact a universal truth before their very eyes.
This misconception has lead to the gulf between the First Nations and other “cultures”. Misconceptions piled on top of each other increase the gulf until it is a cesspool that is difficult to navigate.
This cesspool has surfaced just before Halloween through writer Kate Jaimet. Her only “inkling” of distinct “races” happened when her daughter tried to dress up as an Indian princess and was told it was “offensive”.
This argument and realization often surfaces at Halloween. It is a time for non-native people to get pseudo offended if they are told that indigenous peoples’ cultural wear is not simply a costume or get up. For some original peoples cultures, there is spiritual or ceremonial significance in their wear or way of dress. “Native dress” can signify a way of life. The clothing or style of dress can carry laws or homage to the original ancestors of this Great Island. Can this reasoning, the lesson that carries a spiritual worldview, rich with language and ceremony be effectively measured or valued with non-native comparators?
This is the continuation of the reconciliation argument that never ends.
Non First Nation choose to say that they are “honouring” the original people when they wear dress that is distinctly “native”.
So, if our native kids choose to dress up as Klu Klux Klan members, or the 1% or with a sign that says white privilege or taxpayer, would it been seen as offensive? Is this white “cultural” appropriation?
People without “culture” are more likely to believe that other actual cultures can be put on like a pair of Peter Pan pants. The actual original peoples or indigenous cultures are based on languages, spirituality, ceremony and separate governances or ideologies that are not for show or for stereotyping. If the “dominant” Canadian “culture” cannot define or understand itself; how can it understand an alternate culture?
Non Indigenous Canadians also state that the original people of this country are now part of the “Canadian” identity. This is not true. Canada is the younger country or state so in fact, Canada is part of the original people’s country.
While many may also dismiss or limit the severity of wearing and mocking native people at Halloween or sporting events, this is the threshold behavior of a larger issue. The underlying tone, that First Nation people have a culture that is assailable is the basis of Canadian museums, history and legitimacy.
When we begin to see the rationale behind the belittling, the ugly part of Canadian history rears its head. It is the lie of reconciliation. This lie is expanded in the “need for an Indian affairs department and a historic racist piece of legislation in the “Indian Act”.
Currently, while Trudeau and the federal government pontificate about the need for change, reconciliation and nation-to-nation agreements, the stereotyping and lies are carried to a national and international level. Trudeau cannot account for the unfair accounting practices off and on reserve for child welfare funds. He can say that he needs more information, ignoring the Penner, Royal Commission on Aboriginal peoples and countless other reports.
Why does the federal government continue to require information for the imposed poverty and negligent circumstances the First Nation people now currently live in? Is it because they know their culpability? Is it necessary for the First Nations to directly implement class actions against negligent federally imposed policy and legislation to prove that genocide is not part of section 35?
Section 35 of the Constitution was raised to protect the original peoples rights in Canada. The idea that Section 35 is an empty box is the in the heads of the federal government, while the original people each carry the ancestral memory, obligations and responsibilities that our ancestors always wanted for the future of their people. That future our ancestors foresaw is our now.
We, as the descendants, have obligations to stand against continued federal genocide.
We, as the descendants, have obligations and responsibilities to uphold the original teachings, beliefs and value systems of our ancestors.
We, as the descendants, must continue to speak out against the tyranny and oppression faced by our people across this land.
It may start as an innocent child wanting to play “Indian”. It should result in children learning that being “Indian” meant residential schools. This is reconciliation. We the original people will no longer play “cowboys and Indians”.