Hundreds of years ago when Onkwe:honwe (Indigenous) people had complete domain over this continent they commonly did one thing from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. They burned it.
From the grassy plains of the west to the deciduous forests of Appalachia, an ecologically friendly method of controlled burning was developed and refined over the centuries, resulting in beautifully tended forests that were traversed by the first European visitors on horseback at full gallop.
The indigenous nations within Canada and the United States are no longer burning the undergrowth in their forests the way they once did.
The meticulous micro-burns must have taken their ancestors thousands of hours of tending and care. Today it is illegal to light a simple campfire in certain sections of Northern Ontario because the government tells us it is too dangerous and dry. Who has let the forest floors turn into kindling?
Over the last 300 years it seems that an unofficial change of the guard has occurred without ceremony and without much fanfare.
Some would contend that the Ministry of Natural Resources now has the responsibility to protect and nurture this land but considering the thousands of years of experience that the indigenous people have in successfully stewarding North America, why would we want to replace them? This new applicant seems to have an unimpressive resume and legacy of bad management in their ancestral lands of Europe.
In early times a settler tried to convince a native elder of the majestic civilization of England and how it was superior to his natural infrastructure.
The elder replied “If your land is truly better, why then do you run away from it?” In the same way, contemporary native elders have shaken their heads in dismay as they watch CNN coverage of the wild fires blowing out of control across “America”, across their own land.
There is another type of wild fire raging through the landscape which is not visible to the eye but felt by the heart. It is the irrevocable responsibility and duty of the Onkwe:honwe, the original peoples to protect the earth and their families both which are interconnected and one in the same. They say it has been given to them by the Creator and is not taken lightly.
Watching the events in Elsipogtog transpire, our hearts go out to our Mi’kmaq brothers and sisters.
For defending their homeland, they are portrayed as violent protesters by the mainstream media. Our hearts break after reading the backlash of Canadian comments screeching about the “rule of law” as they support the colonial machine lumbering forth to destroy the earth in the name of progress.
Here is a million dollar question that we would love to ask Canada. Why do indigenous people want control over their land? Are they are greedy and jealous of the millions of dollars that the corporations can extract? Maybe they are lazy and want to hunt and fish instead of helping the economy by working “real” jobs? Both of those opinions are materialistic and immediately gratifying and tells a lot about the people who think that way.
Perhaps there’s a third option that cannot be comprehended by the colonial mindset, a motive that is spiritual, pure, and wholesome.
There is a common denominator behind ALL the land struggles from Oka to Gustafson Lake, Caledonia to Elsipogtog.
As Onkwe:honwe we have a common duty and responsibility to Honor and Respect those who have passed on, and those who have yet to be born. The point of contact with past and future is our connection with this very land on which we tread. Because of this reason, our land is sacred.
It is continually our land whether it has taken the form of a parking lot or purportedly ceded by the “X” of Indians unknown.
At Oka the colonists disrespected and dishonored our ancestors by trying to put a golf course over their graves, we are willing to fight and die for that.
At Elsipogtog energy corporations are attempting to pollute the aquifers with fracking chemicals, this is disrespecting and dishonoring the coming faces, our unborn descendants.
As we have seen, our people are willing to fight and die for that as well. It is the very least we can do as the living generation to be mindful of all people, including those who do not exist here on earth at this moment.
We kept this land clean, pure and beautiful for thousands of years until the arrival of our ex-British visitors the Canadians and Americans.
Indigenous people want what’s best for everyone including your children as well. If we decide that fracking cannot occur on our territories then our voices must be heard. We are not protestors, we are your friendly Elder brothers please let us help you.