Is there a First Nation Indigenous Definition of “Freedom?”

Last week, I heard part of the Wizard of Oz song “Dingdong the wicked witch is dead”, replaying over and over, in my head, … when Donald Trump lost his presidency. Indigenous people were instrumental in Trump’s defeat, voting in key “swing” states south of the medicine line (border) in great numbers.

However, regardless of this “win”, First Nation Indigenous people throughout the world still have more reserved or cautionary optimism versus outright elation about any “world leaders” who emerge as defenders of “freedoms”.

Why is this at issue?

Well, because First Nation Indigenous peoples are still seeking freedom from oppression. The Indigenous are still seeking freedom from genocide and freedom from governmental control.

First Nation Indigenous people are the descendants of the original land owners/holders in North America. It is necessary to state that the original people are the landowners because if it is stated that First Nations are landholders or stewards, then that wording becomes a refutable fact for mainstream to undermine.

The constant need to define First Nation Indigenous thinking after five hundred years is getting tedious and tiresome. The lack of understanding of First Nation viewpoints limits our freedom. The lack of understanding of First Nation peoples limits our humanity. How long will this remain acceptable?

In Canada, while onlookers were horrified at the reality show emerging in the United States, they were careful to always reassure themselves that things are “not that bad in Canada.” We do not have a “George Floyd” story.

Canadians need to be educated on First Nation Indigenous stories. We have stories that may be greater atrocities then what happened to Mr. Floyd.

We have the story of Betty Ann Osborne, Neil Stonechild and the Starlight tours, Cindy Gladue, Colten Boushie, Tina Fontaine, Adam Capay, and most recently Barbara Kentner, who have all been victims in a systemically racist “justice” system. These First Nation Indigenous people were treated as less than human. In two trials, both Cindy Gladue’s and Barbara Kentner’s trials; body part examinations have Indigenous women depicted as specimens rather than human beings.

Canadians do not want to hear about wrongful First Nation treatment. After generations of ignorance and being taught historically one-sided stories, Canadians can’t seem to hear the truth.

Instead Canadians lap up Trudeau government lies about reconciliation and rights recognition acts as somehow exonerating their government, their system and their history of inflicting harms and genocide for generations.

This is the truth. The laws of this land (apparently made for the good governance of all) are systemically racist. If there is federal legislation called the “Indian” Act, then there is a problem.

If one Canadian does not know that they are the treaty partners “living in freedom” because of First Nation benevolence then they are not learning how this land came to be settled. So it’s not over. If settlers agreed to live peaceably on this land, and to respect the “right to life” for the Indigenous:  what is the problem?

The problem is the story. Instead of learning about the beauty and generosity of the original peoples, settlers have learned that their ancestors stumbled upon heathen savages. Instead of learning that the American constitution was based on the longhouse of the Eastern tribes, North Americans learn about manifest destiny and the doctrine of discovery.

Canada and the United States are countries that relied upon the resources of the land to develop their nation-states. The United States has had a storyline of greatness since they beat the British out of America. The United States can’t have greatness if they built their “greatness” on the hardship, suffering or genocide of others. Canada is finding out a similar truth.

In both countries, the notion of freedom is skewed. It does not mean freedom for all. It means freedom for white society and notions of “freedom” for everyone else. This notion of freedom is tied to the land and control of land. The land has become property for both governing peoples north or south or the border. The idea of capitalism to – take and take is no longer a feasible system because there are limits to land, water, and resources.

The Indigenous worldview of living in harmony with all things is now better understood, especially by a younger global generation that sees the negative effects of capitalism. For life to be sustainable, all must work and live in the same mind space. There cannot be a country that takes and bullies. With global technology, the effects of nuclear waste or water that needs reclamation in one country will affect the ocean and water cycles for all people.

Where is Canada on this? Canada in its greed and haste moved First Nation peoples onto inhabitable lands and five hundred years later, there are still First Nation communities without proper drinking water. There are still First Nation communities that have no roads, infrastructure or proper housing for all their people. How is this “living in freedom”?

Meanwhile, in British Colombia, Canada is tripping over their own feet in efforts to leave land claims unsettled while provincial governments strip the land of resources so that the Indigenous voice is quelled or subjugated. This is why the Indian Act legislation is relevant. It restricts the freedoms of the First Nation peoples.

In territories such as Yukon, First Nation Indigenous have been in negotiations for years to settle their land issues. Dealing with Canada has not allowed the Yukon to keep their original governance or lifestyles intact. A recent court case has shown First Nation Indigenous in the Yukon that dealing with Canada means falling under Canada’s definitions, laws and rules for what fairness or freedom means. Is this freedom?

Canada sighed with relief at Trump’s defeat. First Nation Indigenous peoples are still holding their collective breaths. They are waiting for resolution on outstanding land claims, water advisories, fair treatment in the Canadian justice system, and full payment for past wrongs for residential or day school abuses. They are waiting to live in higher world health indexes alongside other Canadians, and finally, they are waiting for the full implantation of International Treaty covenants. This is how the First Nation Indigenous will be free. When First Nation Indigenous peoples return to living, caretaking the land and sustaining the global landscape, they will finally be back on their path to living freely.

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