Smagnis Says;There were many interesting postings this week to my site. I really liked the Inuit photos by Geraldine Moodie. They really show the rich culture of our Inuit brothers and sisters and the wonder of the North. The pictures appear on the site under the Of Interest category with the title “The white frontier: Inuit life in 1900s Canada – in pictures”. In another posting Pope Francis insisted Wednesday that indigenous groups must be given free and prior consent to any economic activity affecting their ancestral lands, In another posting, Indigineous leaders and MPs ask to have a building in Ottawa re-named. Come on..we have bigger fish to fry and, given they succeed in having Government re-name the building, it would just give Government an excuse to point to that as a concrete example of action toward re-conciliation…..while the the bigger fish in the pan impacting on people at the community level are passed aside. Check out all of the postings on the site!!
The postings that I have chosen to highlight this week basically deal with the issues of colonialism and the role we can play and the role we are playing in today`s world. The article by Avrol Looking Horse has been posted before but it is a message that should be heard over and over. The same for the presentation in Australia entitled “An Indigenous Peoples’ Statement to the World”. Both, point to this juncture in time where we must all come together for the future of humanity. The other articles are representative of our younger generation of leaders. Julian Brave NoiseCat provides an overview and perspective of what the Standing Rock stand -off is all about. In the final article, Taiaiake Alfred states that “there is a basic connection between the dispossession and abuse of Indigenous peoples and the structure and effective functioning of the Canadian economy”. His final comment echoes the words of the previous two Elder postings in that we must come together “ to develop a relationship, not only with each other that is sustainable but with the other nations of animals and plants and the earth so that you can have [Skennen] which is peace and that you can have a reality that we can be proud to pass on to all of our children, native and non-native in this country”.
As Julian Brace NoiseCat says, “But despite all the forces brought crashing down upon indigenous people, we are still here. They came for our land. They came for our resources. They came for our children. They came to destroy us, our communities, our territories, our families, our bodies, our languages, our cultures, our knowledge, our love. But yet we remain”.
Indeed we remain and we will always remember what the Creator expects of us!!
I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations, ask you to understand an Indigenous perspective on what has happened in America, what we call “Turtle Island.” My words seek to unite the global community through a message from our sacred ceremonies to unite spiritually, each in our own ways of beliefs in the Creator.
We have been warned from ancient prophecies of these times we live in today, but have also been given a very important message about a solution to turn these terrible times.
To understand the depth of this message you must recognize the importance of Sacred Sites and realize the interconnectedness of what is happening today, in reflection of the continued massacres that are occurring on other lands and our own Americas.
I have been learning about these important issues since the age of 12 when I received the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle and its teachings. Our people have strived to protect Sacred Sites from the beginning of time. These places have been violated for centuries and have brought us to the predicament that we are in at the global level.
Look around you. Our Mother Earth is very ill from these violations, and we are on the brink of destroying the possibility of a healthy and nurturing survival for generations to come, our children’s children.
Our ancestors have been trying to protect our Sacred Site called the Sacred Black Hills in South Dakota, “Heart of Everything That Is,” from continued violations. Our ancestors never saw a satellite view of this site, but now that those pictures are available, we see that it is in the shape of a heart and, when fast-forwarded, it looks like a heart pumping.
The Diné have been protecting Big Mountain, calling it the liver of the earth, and we are suffering and going to suffer more from the extraction of the coal there and the poisoning processes used in doing so.
The Aborigines have warned of the contaminating effects of global warming on the Coral Reefs, which they see as Mother Earth’s blood purifier.
The indigenous people of the rainforest say that the rainforests are the lungs of the planet and need protection.
The Gwich’in Nation in Alaska has had to face oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, also known to the Gwich’in as “Where life begins.”
The coastal plain is the birthplace of many life forms of the animal nations. The death of these animal nations will destroy indigenous nations in this territory.
As these destructive developments continue all over the world, we will witness many more extinct animal, plant, and human nations, because of mankind’s misuse of power and their lack of understanding of the “balance of life.”
The Indigenous people warn that these destructive developments will cause havoc globally. There are many, many more indigenous teachings and knowledge about Mother Earth’s Sacred Sites, her chakras, and connections to our spirit that will surely affect our future generations.
There needs to be a fast move toward other forms of energy that are safe for all nations upon Mother Earth. We need to understand the types of minds that are continuing to destroy the spirit of our whole global community. Unless we do this, the powers of destruction will overwhelm us.
Our Ancestors foretold that water would someday be for sale. Back then this was hard to believe, since the water was so plentiful, so pure, and so full of energy, nutrition and spirit. Today we have to buy pure water, and even then the nutritional minerals have been taken out; it’s just empty liquid. Someday water will be like gold, too expensive to afford.
Not everyone will have the right to drink safe water. We fail to appreciate and honor our Sacred Sites, ripping out the minerals and gifts that lay underneath them as if Mother Earth were simply a resource, instead of the source of life itself.
Attacking nations and using more resources to carry out destruction in the name of peace is not the answer! We need to understand how all these decisions affect the global nation; we will not be immune to its repercussions. Allowing continual contamination of our food and land is affecting the way we think.
A “disease of the mind” has set in world leaders and many members of our global community, with their belief that a solution of retaliation and destruction of peoples will bring peace.
In our prophecies it is told that we are now at the crossroads: Either unite spiritually as a global nation, or be faced with chaos, disasters, diseases, and tears from our relatives’ eyes.
We are the only species that is destroying the source of life, meaning Mother Earth, in the name of power, mineral resources, and ownership of land. Using chemicals and methods of warfare that are doing irreversible damage, as Mother Earth is becoming tired and cannot sustain any more impacts of war.
I ask you to join me on this endeavor. Our vision is for the peoples of all continents, regardless of their beliefs in the Creator, to come together as one at their Sacred Sites to pray and meditate and commune with one another, thus promoting an energy shift to heal our Mother Earth and achieve a universal consciousness toward attaining Peace.
As each day passes, I ask all nations to begin a global effort, and remember to give thanks for the sacred food that has been gifted to us by our Mother Earth, so the nutritional energy of medicine can be guided to heal our minds and spirits.
This new millennium will usher in an age of harmony or it will bring the end of life as we know it. Starvation, war, and toxic waste have been the hallmark of the great myth of progress and development that ruled the last millennium.
To us, as caretakers of the heart of Mother Earth, falls the responsibility of turning back the powers of destruction. You yourself are the one who must decide.
You alone – and only you – can make this crucial choice, to walk in honor or to dishonor your relatives. On your decision depends the fate of the entire World.
Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind.
Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger?
Know that you yourself are essential to this world. Understand both the blessing and the burden of that. You yourself are desperately needed to save the soul of this world. Did you think you were put here for something less? In a Sacred Hoop of Life, there is no beginning and no ending.
Chief Arvol Looking Horse is the author of White Buffalo Teachings. A tireless advocate of maintaining traditional spiritual practices, Chief Looking Horse is a member of Big Foot Riders, which memorializes the massacre of Big Foot’s band at Wounded Knee.
In keeping with the theme of this year’s Parliament, “Make a World of Difference: Hearing each other, Healing the Earth,” we, the Indigenous Peoples participating in this Parliament, hereby issue this statement:
We are Indigenous Peoples and Nations who honor our ancestors and care for our future generations by preserving our lands and cultures. For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have maintained a fundamental and sacred relationship with Mother Earth. As peoples of the land, we declare our inherent rights to our present and continuing survival within our sacred homelands and territories throughout the world;
We call on all governments to support and implement the provisions of the UN Declaration, particularly the right of self- determination;
Since time immemorial we have lived in keeping with our sacred laws, principles, and spiritual values, given by the Creator. Our ways of life are based on thousands of years of accumulated ecological knowledge, a great respect for our Mother Earth, a reverence and respect for all our Natural World relations and the survival of our languages, cultures, and traditions;
The Indigenous instructions of sharing and the responsibility of leadership to future generations are wise and enduring. As the traditional nations of our lands, we affirm the right to educate our children in our Earth-based education systems in order to maintain our Indigenous knowledge systems and cultures. These have also contributed to our spiritual, physical and mental health;
Indigenous peoples’ concept of health and survival is holistic, collective and individual. It encompasses the spiritual, the intellectual, the physical and the emotional. Expressions of culture relevant to health and survival of Indigenous Peoples include relationships, families, and kinship, social institutions, traditional laws, music, dances, songs and songlines, reindeer and caribou, ceremonies and dreamtime, our ritual performances and practices, games, sports, language, mythologies, names, lands, sea, water, every life forms, and all documented forms and aspects of culture, including burial and sacred sites, human genetic materials, ancestral remains so often stolen, and our artifacts;
Unfortunately, certain doctrines have been threatening to the survival of our cultures, our languages, and our peoples, and devastating to our ways of life. These are found in particular colonizing documents such as the Inter Caetera papal bull of 1493, which called for the subjugation of non-Christian nations and peoples and “the propagation of the Christian empire.” This is the root of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery that is still interwoven into laws and policies today that must be changed. The principles of subjugation contained in this and other such documents, and in the religious texts and documents of other religions, have been and continue to be destructive to our ways of life (religions), cultures, and the survival of our Indigenous nations and peoples. This oppressive tradition is what led to the boarding schools, the residential schools, and the Stolen Generations, resulting in the trauma of Indigenous peoples being cut off from their languages and cultures, resulting in language death and loss of family integrity from the actions of churches and governments. We call on those churches and governments to put as much time, effort, energy and money into assisting with the revitalization of our languages and cultures as they put into attempting to destroy them;
The doctrines of colonization and dominion have laid the groundwork for contemporary problems of racism and dispossession. These problems include the industrial processes of resource exploitation and extraction by governments and corporations that have consistently meant the use of imposed laws to force the removal of Indigenous peoples from our traditional territories, and to desecrate and destroy our sacred sites and places. The result is a great depletion of biodiversity and the loss of our traditional ways of life, as well as the depletion and contamination of the waters of Mother Earth from mining and colonization. Such policies and practices do not take into account that water is the first law of life and a gift from the Creator for all beings. Clean, healthy, safe, and free water is necessary for the continuity and well being of all living things. The commercialization and poisoning of water is a crime against life;
The negative ethics of contemporary society, discovery, conquest, dominion, exploitation, extraction, and industrialization, have brought us to today’s crisis of global warming. Climate change is now our most urgent issue and affecting the lives of Indigenous peoples at an alarming rate. Many of our people’s lives are in crisis due to the rapid global warming. The ice melt in the north and rapid sea rise continue to accelerate, and the time for action is brief. The Earth’s resources are finite and the present global consumption levels are unsustainable and continue to affect our peoples and all peoples. Therefore, we join the other members of the Parliament in calling for prompt, immediate, and effective action at Copenhagen to combat climate change;
In July 2009, the Episcopal Church in the United States adopted a resolution at its 76th General Convention, repudiating and disavowing the dehumanizing Doctrine of Christian Discovery. By doing so, the Church took particular note of the charter issued by King Henry VII of England to John Cabot and his sons, which authorized the colonizing of North America. It was by this ‘boss over’ tradition of Christian discovery that the British crown eventually laid claim to the traditional territories of the Aboriginal nations of the continent now called Australia, under terra nullius and terra nullus. This step by the Episcopal Church was an act of conscience and moral leadership by one of the world’s major religions. Religious bodies of Quakers and Unitarians have taken similar supportive actions.
In conclusion, we appeal to all people of conscience to join with us in support of the following issues:
1) Climate change and its far-reaching impacts on our Peoples and homelands — for this we need immediate action.
2) The protection of Indigenous peoples’ significant and sacred sites within their traditional homelands and territories and working to eradicate discrimination and intolerance against Earth- based Indigenous spiritual and ceremonial traditions.
3) Protection of Sacred Places used for prayer and ceremonies. At these special places we minister to the Earth and heal her sacred soul.
4) The critical need to strengthen and continue our unique cultures and languages, particularly by bringing together elder cultural and wisdom keepers and Indigenous youth.
5) The return of the bones of our ancestors and our sacred items.
6) The immediate support and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
7) To call upon Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican to publicly acknowledge and repudiate the papal decrees that legitimized the original activities that have evolved into the dehumanizing Doctrine of Christian Discovery and dominion in laws and policies.
A November 2016 Standing Rock march in North Dakota.
Jacobin – by Julian Brave NoiseCat
Last week, following President Donald Trump’s executive memo, the Army Corps of Engineers granted Dakota Access an easement to drill under the Missouri River just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. For months, Standing Rock has led a coalition in vehement opposition to the proposed pipeline, which crosses lands promised to the Great Sioux Nation under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. The pipe has already desecrated the graves of Standing Rock ancestors and now threatens the community’s water supply.
The first few weeks of Trump’s presidency have brought the injustices of racism, capitalism, and patriarchy long festering beneath the surface of American society out into the open, and placed them on center stage. Trump’s Standing Rock decision forces us to confront another foundational injustice, one rarely if ever discussed in contemporary politics: colonialism.
For many, it is contentious and even offensive to suggest that colonialism endures in the present. In the American popular imagination, colonialism ended either when the thirteen colonies declared independence from Britain in 1776, or when the frontier closed and open warfare against indigenous nations ceased following the massacre of more than three hundred Lakota at Wounded Knee in 1890. Colonialism, according to these narratives, is Ancient History.
But ongoing colonialism is the central injustice that the indigenous movement resists and seeks to change. As indigenous poet and activist Bobbi Sykes once quipped, “What? Postcolonial? Have they left yet?”
If the Left is to understand and stand in solidarity with Standing Rock and the indigenous movement, it must take colonialism seriously.
American colonialism is rooted in the theft of land from indigenous people. It endures in the ongoing disavowal of indigenous sovereignty. Indigenous presence must be contained, removed, and then forgotten so that the United States can continue to live on, and profit from, lands taken from indigenous people.
Wiping out any trace of indigenous peoples allows the continent’s settlers to push forward without any moral reckoning, and without a thought or word about recognition, reparations, or repatriation. It enables the proliferation of myths, dreams, and even utopias predicated on fantasies of free land without a prior and rightful guardian.
It explains why Dakota Access was rerouted from upstream of Bismarck south to Standing Rock. It explains how a $3.8 billion pipe, which costs nearly $1 billion more than the entire budget of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, can be drilled through an indigenous community against their will before basic infrastructure like homes, schools, and hospitals are built. It explains how, after months of unprecedented protests and visibility, Trump can claim that he received no complaints about the pipeline.
The Dakota Access pipeline will enrich Dallas billionaire CEO Kelcy Warren, who is already worth $4.2 billion. The few jobs the pipeline will create will not flow to the indigenous community, who — particularly on reservations like Standing Rock — will remain unemployed and locked out of the labor market.
It is impossible to describe the totality of this picture — of acute land theft, poverty, oppression, surveillance, policing, and extraction — as anything other than colonialism.
This explosive truth can lead even the most radical thinkers to fatalism. Confined to the past, American colonization of indigenous people appears inevitable if regrettable. Brought into the present, colonialism seems irreversible. Algerian-style liberation is neither possible nor desirable. Americans are never leaving, nor should they. This has become their home too.
But despite all the forces brought crashing down upon indigenous people, we are still here. They came for our land. They came for our resources. They came for our children. They came to destroy us, our communities, our territories, our families, our bodies, our languages, our cultures, our knowledge, our love. But yet we remain.
We stand for something that is undeniably right: water that sustains life and land that gave birth to people. The stubborn unwillingness to stop fighting for what is right, to just go away, is our tradition.
As long as we are here on the land of our ancestors, the men who put profit before planet and people will not and cannot win. As long as we are here, colonialism has failed.
The indigenous movement very nearly defeated the Dakota Access pipeline. The Obama administration, after months of unrelenting pressure, halted the pipeline and ordered an Environmental Impact Statement. Trump’s memo overrode this partial victory, rescuing his oil baron cronies and their investors from further delays and losses.
With the election of Donald Trump, there was not much more that could have been done. In order to reroute or stop Dakota Access, Standing Rock needed Hillary Clinton, or even better, Bernie Sanders, to win the presidency. It was the Democratic Party leadership, not the indigenous movement, who failed.
Now Standing Rock will face further repression. Earlier this month, seventy-six protesters were arrested while attempting to establish a new camp closer to pipeline construction. Last week, news emerged that the FBI is investigating three Standing Rock organizers as terrorists.
Meanwhile, North Dakota legislators have introduced a bill calling on Congress to amend the Constitution to shift Indian reservations from federal to state jurisdiction. Lawmakers will likely drop the legislation once they realize how much it would actually cost.
More concerning, however, is a plan brewing among Trump’s advisers to privatize Indian reservations, which comprise 2 percent of the United States’ landmass but hold up to a fifth of the nation’s oil, natural gas, and coal reserves. The plan would upend over a century of federal Indian policy by converting sovereign Indian land, which is often regulated and held in trust by the federal government, into private property. If the plan is implemented as part of Trump’s oil and infrastructure agenda, it would bring more fracking rigs, pipelines, and protests to America’s colonial frontier on Indian Country’s doorstep.
The indigenous movement will be fighting a battle on two fronts: not only against pipelines but also against a full-frontal assault on indigenous rights and sovereignty. They’ll need plenty of solidarity to counter this renewed wave of colonial extraction and repression.
Standing Rock has proven that the indigenous movement can take on the extractive industry and win. Under Trump, the indigenous struggle against colonialism and for the universal goods of equality, self-determination, and environmental justice will be more important than ever. Far from Ancient History, the indigenous movement is integral to the future of the planet and a winning left.
We have seen the promise of a more just future for the first people of this land and all who share it with us. Let’s fight for it.
Contribution to Speak to the Wild
by Taiaiake Alfred
From the start, Newcomers to this continent have thought of the Original People as a problem – The Indian Problem. Our problematic presence is deeply embedded in the collective settler consciousness and the ancient attitude is a constant and consistent trope in literature and academics. You also know that we are failures when it comes to adapting to the natural reality of the development of a modern society, don’t you? Lately though, some Canadians have started to question The Indian Problem’s place at the core of the country’s identity and agenda. I think of this as the silver lining to climate change; not everyone is convinced that progress is good anymore, and some are even starting to question the whole idea of Western culture and capitalism.
There is suspicion about as to whether or not countries like Canada represent the apex of human civilization, and there may have been some terrible trade-offs and problems with the way that these societies have been constructed. One of the emerging realizations that comes from thinking through history in a different way and thinking through the problems that are besetting our communities is that people all across the land are beginning to recognize that there is some form of responsibility for transforming the governing institutions and the fundamental relationships in the society. In a sense, people are starting realize the effects of industrial contamination on people’s lives everywhere, and of climate change. Soon people will come to understand that Canada doesn’t have an Indian Problem, it has a Colonizer Problem, and that it may be that the way to a better future is not necessarily focusing effort on redefining and removing Indigenous people from the land so that corporations can exploit its “resources” for the settler population’s enrichment. They are starting to see that the country’s roots as a colonizing enterprise has created a pattern and structure to the relationships between all people and between people and the land in this country that is ultimately destructive to everyone and everything involved.
The Colonizer Problem is the fact that Canada is built on the assumption of a perpetual re-colonization of people and land that allows settler society to enjoy the privileges and the prosperity that are the inheritance of conquest. So what is the fundamental problem of justice and injustice in Canada? Seen from this angle, it’s certainly not that we have failed to keep up. It’s not even a problem of social justice demanding a rights and recognition discourse to elevate us to the same status of material wellbeing as the mainstream of society. Social justice is a conception and objective is not enough, because if we just focus on that we’re looking at just the symptoms, if we’re not looking at the fundamental problem, which is the dispossession, the continual occupation, the separation of people from their homelands and the fundamental essence of who they are, we have a massive engine generating social, cultural and physic discord; and not only among the perceived victims but among the imagined beneficiaries of dispossession too. The engine is hot and humming and producing social discord, health harms, and environmental destruction at a never before seen pace.
There is a basic connection between the dispossession and abuse of Indigenous peoples and the structure and effective functioning of the Canadian economy. From where we stand today, in the middle of a Colonizer Problem, fixing the economy, addressing climate change, and respecting the earth all require the achievement of a just relationship with the nations of Original People and manifest respect for the worldview at the base of their cultures. Tinkering with or reforming existing institutions and relationships are useless. What we need is a fundamental shift away from a conquest mentality to a frame of mind that places human beings in real and lasting relationships with each other and the natural environment. This is a psychic change is a ways away for people in the mainstream, though there are some early adopters beginning to engage and the ideational reframing of relationships in this country and for whom an Indigenous environmental ethic offers an alternative way of thinking and being on the land. But what is the Indigenous environmental ethic?
It’s all about the land, for us. In the Mohawk language you say, Konnoronkwa Iekeni’stenha ohontsa, “I love my mother the earth”. Being Indigenous means having that kind of intimate relationship with the earth, that sense of deep relationship and responsibility to the earth; it means living that relationship, having that connection, fulfilling your responsibility, taking the loving sustenance, taking the sacred knowledge and giving back, loving, and protecting your mother. This is why colonization, which is predicated on the denial of our ability to live out the ethic of universal relation and responsibility is so destructive and demoralizing. Disconnection from the land is more than just an economic deprivation. Disconnection from the land is more than just the political injustice of territorial alienation. Disconnected from the land, we cannot be Indigenous. To be Indigenous you have to live out the Original Instructions and honor your basic responsibilities to your family, to yourself, to other people, and to the other nations of trees, of animals and fish and insects and the waters and winds… all of which speak to it is to exist in a peaceful good way as a human being in this land. Living out this environmental ethic is essential for freedom, health, happiness and justice to be realized in the life of an Indigenous person.
What about reconciliation, some may ask – aren’t we in a new era of respect for Original Peoples? The Prime Minister did stand up in the House of Commons and read an apology to the victims of residential school abuses. It was a great mistake, it was entirely unacceptable, it was wrong for us to take those children from their families and to allow them to be abused in schools by the people who ran those schools, we should never have allowed those children to be abused, he said. But this was not the start of a true reconciliation. In turning the page on history by admitting what happened in those schools, the Prime Minister did not talk about the the multi-generational effects of that phase of history. Is the harm of residential school that a grandmother suffered abuse and was not allowed to speak her language and grew up despising her Indianness after that and moved to Brooklyn and called herself Irish? (this is a true story from my family) Is that the harm? Of course it is. But you would have to have a very narrow perspective – Harperian – to argue that there’s also not harm as a result of residential school from the grandchild not speaking Mohawk, in fact that the grandchild lives in Brooklyn and not in Kahnawake where the grandmother was born and where her ancestors were born. What was the real intent of residential schools? The intent of residential schools was to break the connection of Native people to their land. They were put in place to remove children from their families and their cultures so that next generation would not know the land, would not be present on the land, and so they would not have the ability to take in the knowledge and the language to be able to defend that land, politically, culturally and physically from the intentions of the people who wanted to come and use that land. That was the intent of residential school. After residential schools, there was barely anyone left to defend the land spiritually and physically. So reconciliation is actually recolonization because it is all about consolidating the territorial gains of previous generations of settler crimes, and it has nothing to do with transformation or even change.
I think the proper targets are the powerful institutions of the Canadian Government on one hand and our own people. We need to define for ourselves what this movement is and this movement should be a movement back to the land. I’m not meaning to seem like a complete romantic here who’s a total dreamer saying, back to the land in terms of let’s all turn away from the city and go live out on to the territory. That’s not even possible unfortunately in most of our territories because the destruction that’s occurred to the environment, the loss of animals and so forth. What I’m talking about is that we need to recover the ability to have a relationship with our land that can sustain us spiritually, culturally and economically in partnership with the society that came here and promised to do that from the beginning.
There is a thing called the Kuswentha in my language, which is the Two Row Wampum. Kuswentha means the Wampum Belt and it’s a very potent symbol in Canada and in the United States. Because what it does is it represents in very stark terms, in very clear terms and it is the oldest agreement between indigenous nations and newcomer peoples that’s continually in existence. But it represents very clearly the vision of native peoples as they bring it to the struggle to redefine the relationship away from colonisation to de-colonisation. I’ll just tell you about it.
The Two Row Wampum is a very simple principle. There’s a belt that represents an acknowledgement of the fact that we share an existence. The metaphorical languages of a river, the river of time, we’re travelling the river of time together. Right there you have a concession on the part of the native people to the new reality. A lot of people say the vision of the traditionalist is so radical as it’s impossible to conceptualise. What is it that you want? You want us all to go back to Europe, you want us to do this, that. Well no, actually the foundation of the indigenous prospective is of a co-existence. A peaceful co-existence which was the very thing that allowed these societies to develop in the first place in Canada and the United States.
Canada and the United States were built on this here which was a commitment on the part of each other to honour our co-existence going down to the river of time. Honesty, peace and friendship, three beads in between, honesty, peace and friendship. If you have friendship as your intent, if you are peaceful in your conduct and if your words are honest for all time, the canoe of the native person and the ship of the white person will travel together. Our autonomy and our interdependence will be respected and will have what this white belt represents which is peace. Peace and prosperity together. If this belt is lived out this way forever, will we travel.
At no point does it start to bend slightly to the point where in 2010 the existence of the canoe is now under the existence of the ship. That’s an injustice. At no point does it become the One Row Wampum where the sovereignty of the Canadian State supersedes the sovereignty of the Mohawk Nation for example. Very, very clear and very simple, respect for autonomy, yeah, look at our interdependence and acknowledge that we rely on each other. If we’re going to have happy, healthy prosperity in our country, we need to live it by this nation to nation principle called the Two Row Wampum. That’s what native people are fighting for. This is the expression of it in a Haudenosaunee culture.
But I have the honour of teaching in a territory that’s very far from my own. It’s my wife’s area of the country in British Columbia. I travel all over the place like many of you do. I talk to native people all over and although the manifestation of it may be different in cultural terms, the principle is the same. People did not surrender when they saw white people and white people came. Contrary to what people think people were embraced in our area of the world. People were embraced and they were given a seat, they were told that now you can share in what we have. But if you’re going to do that you have to abide by these principles. Unfortunately the fact of our history in North America is that the European peoples abided by these principles until they didn’t have to anymore.
Until the population demographic shifted, until the military balance of power shifted and until things were such that people could throw this on the ground and say, now we have not the Two Row Wampum, we have the Indian Act and what are you going to do about it? That’s the callousness with which history and the commitments that we had that went into the founding of the country called Canada were thrown away. So when we’re talking about a new struggle called the Indigenous Nationhood Movement we’re talking about reconnecting back to this original belt which is something that shouldn’t be seen as so radical for a people whose ancestors made commitments explicitly to this belt. It’s not radical at all, it’s actually a restoration and a resurgence of an original way of being, not just for natives but for the settler society as well.
That’s what this Indigenous Nationhood Movement is doing, it’s taking the energy of Idle No More, it’s taking the frustration of the younger generation of people, it’s reforming it and developing a way of articulating it. We’re calling it Indigenous Resurgence and then we’re trying to develop it into a political movement called the Indigenous Nationhood Movement but it’s a very old movement. It’s the oldest movement on the continent because Indigenous Nationhood, that’s what this is, it’s the Two Row Wampum. Everybody here as we say in Canada – if I was talking in Canada – would be a treaty person. We’re all treaty people. Treaties are not just for natives. You can have a treaty with yourself. If we’re all treaty people, if we have treaties, we made treaties with other people and that means Canada and that means the nations of people who came afterward.
So that’s the vision of de-colonisation that’s playing itself out in Canada today. I sense there’s some parallels and some similarities to things that are happening here in Australia and hope to have a long relationship with my friends and the people here as I do already. To continue to learn and share and actually to develop solidarity, not only with my indigenous brothers and sisters but with the non-indigenous people here because I’ll leave you with the final thought which has always been a commitment of our people. Is that the philosophy and the ideas that go into indigenous nation from our perspective are not just things that are going to save us from colonisation, they are actually necessities to save the world from the impulses and the imperatives of capitalist development that happens in a framework without an ethical frame and without a set of principles that talks about sustainability and it puts limits on the idea of growth and exploitation. That’s always been a part of this as well, how to live sustainably in an environment. Not to block out realities, not to deny that change happens and time is moving on but to work through it together to develop a relationship, not only with each other that is sustainable but with the other nations of animals and plants and the earth so that you can have [Skennen] which is peace and that you can have a reality that we can be proud to pass on to all of our children, native and non-native in this country.