Dancing to Victory
Onkwehon:we culture is suffering from fly-in-amber syndrome. We are still picking up the pieces of an entire way of life that was intentionally shattered by residential school and other forms of colonialism such as imposed anti-cultural laws.
According to a book called Aboriginal Health in Canada, an amendment to the racist “Indian Act” in 1906 made it illegal for “Indians” to leave the reserve to participate in any “Indian” dances or exhibitions without permission. Apparently the feds realized that large gatherings of the so-called “Indians” could be bad news for Canada and its dirty secrets.
Police patrols and police intervention increased after genocidal maniac Duncan Campbell Scott issued this horrible press release from Ottawa dated December 15th, 1921: “Sir – It is observed with alarm that the holding of dances by the Indians [sic] on their reserves is on the increase, and that these practices tent to disorganise the efforts which the Department is putting forth to make them self-supporting.
I have, therefore, to direct you to use your utmost endeavors to dissuade the Indians [sic] from excessive indulgence in the practice of dancing. You should suppress any dances which cause waste of time, interfere with the occupations of the Indians [sic], unsettle them for serious work, injure their health or encourage them in sloth and idleness.” Sorry Mr. Scott, we have been self-supporting for over a hundred thousand years. How typical and unconscionable for a guest to even think that way of a host.
Can Canadians even imagine modern immigrants getting the nerve to say “Hey, stop all that dancing…. or else.” Nothing reminds them of our power more than the sound of our music and the sight of unity demonstrated through communal dance. It’s probably scary for them because they still do not understand what we are about and what motivates us.
Benjamin Doolittle has said that we have no obligation to be [politically] coherent to our guests, the Canadians. Now there are efforts in place in Six Nations and indigenous territories throughout our lands for a resurgence of culture and dancing. Isn’t that the best way to get back at an enemy who has never understood our superior ways? Just dance. Whether it’s together with your nation and clans around the black stoves or maybe at a non-ceremonial function such as a Buck and Doe outside under the canopy – if our feet are moving and our faces smiling we are the true winners.
Every bad intent and hateful decision that was made by the colonizers failed because we are still standing. Even better than that our children are laughing and they are dancing. Our victory is now upon us if we can build something together that our ancestors would be proud of.