Since the coming of the settler colonizers, the original people have been at odds trying to express their relationship to the land. For the colonizer, there were rules for owning property that they brought from their European homelands. Rules that included the divine right of kings and the hierarchy where only nobility could have land
Since the coming of the settler colonizers, the original people have been at odds trying to express their relationship to the land.
For the colonizer, there were rules for owning property that they brought from their European homelands. Rules that included the divine right of kings and the hierarchy where only nobility could have land holdings based on royal nepotism. When the settlers came to this new land they wanted the land.
Unfortunately the land was occupied by the various nations of the first peoples. This was an encumbrance or hindrance on the land that the colonizers had to get around. They then invented the doctrine of discovery. This was based on a papal bull that gave European rulers “ownership” if there were no “Christians” inhabiting foreign lands.
At the same time, a colonizer narrative began forming that the Indians were not “using” the land; that the Indians were lazy and too busy fighting each other for survival so that taking the land was actually a better plan for all.
Contrast this one sided narrative with what was really happening on this great island.
The original tribes have Creation stories. They are complex visionary statements that were passed down by one or more knowledge keepers that explained the sacred covenant granted to the first peoples. In every story, there is an awakening of the people and they take their place with the rest of Creation, safekeeping and respecting the life Creator has provided for all on this land.
The land is sacred.
The land is to be respected.
The land is to be stewarded.
In the indigenous languages land does not really mean the land but can be translated into something that provides life or is linked to life. The original people and the land are inseparable. This is why the first peoples could not understand the idea of land ownership. The land is part of the people, and the people are part of the land.
The original people looked at the hills and saw shade and cooling areas, wood for fires and places to pray and have visions. The original people looked at the waters and saw good fishing spots, clean places for bathing and drinking, and maybe a way of transport. The original people were so in tune with the land, they could detect changes, storms, heavy winters, droughts and other possible dangers. The land spoke to them.
This is why in the early accounts of settler/Indian history there are manyIndigenous quotes that try to explain the relationship between the original people and the land.
The settlers either willfully misunderstood or had no concept that the land was a gift for all to use and share – properly. The settlers, armed with papal bulls, doctrine of discovery thinking, letters, charters and other European documents forced their thinking to set up this state.
Has this thinking changed? Throughout Canadian history, there are treaties with the original people: treaties to live together but continue on separate journeys while sharing the land. So far the sharing has been one-sided.
The settlers have shared – amongst themselves.
The settl ers have lived their separate way but have forced this way on all people.
The settlers have taken the resources placed here for all and used it to build up themselves, their families, their companies, institutions and governments.
It is for this reason that Europeans went sailing- to find new places and resources to exploit. Their egos had them believing their thinking was the most progressive and superior thinking of the day. They cared little for the original people’s caution and dismay at the land desecration. Has this changed today?
Currently, the Canadian government is pushing the 1969 White Paper policy of Trudeau the elder back on to the original people. Instead of planning an inclusive way forward, Trudeau the younger is implementing the racist policies that the original people stopped in 1969.
Included in this racist approach is the new land designations policy, for the original people. The original people were pushed back to make way for land settlement of immigrant European nations. They were herded onto reserve lands through the treaty making process of Great Britain. This land base is now only 2% of Canada.
Why is there a rush to designate the reserve lands of the original people?
For one thing at the United Nations, Canada was asked to prove they had “title” to the lands they now occupy. Specifically Canada was asked to provide a document of proof. They cannot prove this.
If Canada can now force the First Nations to designate their land for at least 99 years, it becomes “sold” in Canadian law. The need for producing title will be moot if Canada can get forced consent of the original people by pushing land designation processes.
Canada is trying to back an extraction economy, but consistently runs into problems with the original people either protesting or demanding consultation and accommodation. Canada does not want to consult, pay or listen to a narrative that reminds them they are fraudulently taking from lands they cannot prove title to.
Canada is also aware that the treaties made between the original peoples and Great Britain form the basis for Canada’s existence. So the treaties actually are international legal documents that rank higher that Canada’s own laws, because a state cannot regulate against the nation that created them.
This is also why Canada is now onside with the United Nations Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples; because it is a watered down international document that takes and international treaties and domesticates these treaties to fall under state interpretations. Treaties and the fiduciary obligation Canada owes to the Treaty Nation signers are encumbrances or hindrances to Canada being their own state.
Finally, the land is “owned” or stewarded by the original people as a group. There is no one person that owns specific land. The land is held in trust for future generations and this is captured in the wording of treaties – for as long as the sun shines; and grass grows. Our ancestors may not have been able to communicate the land relationship to the settlers but they were able to put the relationship forward into eternity. It is because of this responsibility that the original people will never stop fighting for the land.