Editing news is mentally and physically draining enough on its own, but editing an indigenous newspaper can become downright depressing. We do our best to focus on the positive and stay up beat but week after week we see constant deaths, suicides and injustices over and over — it’s difficult.
It’s even difficult to explain why it’s difficult.
To be an indigenous person under Canadian occupation requires walking in two worlds. It requires two different skill sets and two different bases of knowledge. We have the Six Nations way and the Canadian way.
We all feel the pressure of bills and debt because we take part in Canadian society. Then there is the responsibility to honour our ancestors who fought to keep our ancient culture alive tugging at those of us who hear the call.
Canadian schools educate our children while also teaching them Canadian discipline and Canadian systems of hierarchy and authority. Everyone is thankful that the residential school era is over but most of our kids are still being forced into Canadian systems and daily programmed by Canadian television all while filled with Canadian vaccines and other mysterious medicines.
It becomes the responsibility of the children’s parents and extended network of family to teach them the ancient ways of the Six Nations people and to pass on our collective culture. No single person owns our Six Nations culture; we each hold little fragments of a beautiful culture that was shattered by Canada. We have also developed our own Grand River culture in the meantime.
Sadie Buck once encouraged the Six Nations youth when she spoke at the Grand River Employment and Training (GREAT) building.
“When you go to buy bread at the store you can’t help but do it in a Haudenosaunee way,” she said.
We each carry it in the way we speak to each other, in our mannerisms and weird family quirks. Just think of a person you know who speaks with the heaviest Six Nay rez accent, everyone knows someone who is almost unintelligible — you can barely understand them. Well, regardless of whether they know the language or not, that “funny” rez accent comes from first language speakers.
Don’t let anyone shame you for it, be proud of your rez accent!
A fluent speaker once told me that he did not like the term “traditional” because it’s a misleading term. “I had to learn all of this, it just didn’t happen for me,” he said.
Whether we are on the forefront of language preservation or just camping out on First Line and surviving each of us are doing our part to keep something precious alive.
Let’s try to see our Six Nations neighbours for who they really are: interconnected survivors of an apocalyptic pandemic that was quickly followed up with state authorized genocide. If we think of each other in proper context we can understand each other and maybe find more value in each other’s family histories.