Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Is This Who We Have Become?

" Native American isn't blood. It is what is in the heart. The love for the land, the respect for it, those who inhabit it, and the respect and acknowledgement of the spirits and elders. That is what it is to be Indian."

White Feather, Navajo Medicine Man

Have we forgotten who we are? Has leadership and power become so important to us that we have to oppress others so that we can feel superior and powerful? Have we forgotten that we have a respsonsibilty to the next 7 generations and beyond? What is the legacy we are leaving those generations? One of hurt, pain and suffering at he hands of our own people: the people who call themselves the leaders of our communities: this is the legacy we will be leaving behind for our children and their children.

Our communities are suffering in silence, it's people being beat down like an abused woman until there is nothing left of them: no spirit, no life and no hope. Silently accepting this is the way things are and that things will never change. Its a defeatest atttitude: when you don't expect or hope for anything different, things will always stay the same.

In almost every community accrossed Canada and the US the stories are the same: the facts may be different, the faces different, but the dynamics of what goes on inside those communities are the same. Some of the stories are so tragic that it makes one wonder how these things can go on and people can suffer like this today. They suffer because there is nowhere for them to turn or this is what they have been made to believe anyway: that we have to handle things ourselves and accept no outside assistance from anyone else. Unfortuantely there is nothing within these communities to address the real problems that exist: that of the governing bodies and the oppression and persecution of its own people.

Some of the common ways that oppression works in these communities are:

1. If I speak about what is going on then I won't get a house (or mortgage for one) my kids won't get money to go to college, I will be given a hard time whenever i need to access services or denied them altogether.

2. I better have proof of what is going on because if I don't I will get sued.

3. I can't speak up because i don't have proof just my word.

4. If I speak up then they will slander my name and destroy my reputation.

5. If I speak up they will use the law or the police to make sure I get charged with something.

6. If I speak up about anything I am labelled a "dissendent" or "trouble-maker".

7. If I write about anything my goverment doesn't like then they will either threaten to sue me or make sure its not printed by threatening the people that are going to print it.

8. If I speak up in a council meeting about something they don't like then I am disrupting and they threaten to call the police.

9. If I happen to work for them then I am expected to never criticize or talk openly about things that are being done either illegally or just plain wrong, cause I will not have a job left if I do, and when I go to get my next job they will make sure my new employer knows what a trouble maker I am.

10. If I report them to any governement or outside agency then I am labelled a liar and a troublemaker so that they will not believe the things I have reported.

How is it that these things can occur? The councils or elected bodies in most of these Native communities make the final decisions in all matters including all the vital services that are available within them and they can withhold them at their pleasure. They are also most of the time: the employers of the police, and have the ability to spend community money as they see fit.

The common misnomer is to put in a new government, but unfortunately the faces change, but the dynamics don't. This unhealthy way of governing by fear and intimidation is so entrenched in these communities and people are so afraid to speak out that the chance for effective change rarely gets off the ground.

The strength for change has to come from within the Native people themselves and this will not happen until they are empowered enough to say "NO MORE" and until they know that they do not stand alone.


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