Monday, December 26, 2005

Hope For 2006

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I hope everyone has had a Merry Christmas and has a Happy and prosperous New Year!
My Hopes for 2006:

1. That we can stand up in our communites and voice our opinions...opinions that matter and effect change.....with pride, courage and determination!

2. That people in our communites can unite and come together in mind and spirit to begin the healing and end the suffering for the next generations.

3. That kindness prevails and overshadows hate, greed and jealousy.

4. That we reconnect with the inside of what it means to be native, reflect and live those values and get back to recognizing that to be Native is whats on the inside, not on the outside.

5. That we recognize the problems and the suffering at the hands of oppressive governments within Native communities and refuse to tolerate it any longer out of respect for ourselves and our people.

6. That we recognize and remember that all people have value and contibutions to make in society and it is they who are important and not the material things that we may acquire in this lifetime.

7. That we reach out to the people who are suffering the most and lend a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on or just an ear to listen...it could make the difference.

8. That we send the message to other communites that we are here to help and support them regardless if they are from another Tribe or First Nation...we are all brothers and sisters and placed ont the same earth for the same purpose by the Creator of all Red Nations.

9. That we no longer suffer in silence or live in fear, but have the courage to stand up and break that silence and in doing so draw attention to the real problems within our communities and put our heads together to create real solutions.

10. That 2006 sees prosperity, renewed hope and freedom, for all people within each of the red communities around the globe.

NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN TRADITIONAL CODE OF ETHICS

Each morning upon rising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you and for all life, for the good things the Creator has given you and for the opportunity to grow a little more each day. Consider your thoughts and actions of the past day and seek for the courage and strength to be a better person. Seek for the things that will benefit others (everyone).
Respect. Respect means "To feel or show honor or esteem for someone or something; to consider the well being of, or to treat someone or something with deference or courtesy". Showing respect is a basic law of life.
Treat every person from the tiniest child to the oldest elder with respect at all times.
Special respect should be given to Elders, Parents, Teachers, and Community Leaders.
No person should be made to feel "put down" by you; avoid hurting other hearts as you would avoid a deadly poison.
Touch nothing that belongs to someone else (especially Sacred Objects) without permission, or an understanding between you.
Respect the privacy of every person, never intrude on a person's quiet moment or personal space.
Never walk between people that are conversing.
Never interrupt people who are conversing.
Speak in a soft voice, especially when you are in the presence of Elders, strangers or others to whom special respect is due.
Do not speak unless invited to do so at gatherings where Elders are present (except to ask what is expected of you, should you be in doubt).
Never speak about others in a negative way, whether they are present or not.
Treat the earth and all of her aspects as your mother. Show deep respect for the mineral world, the plant world, and the animal world. Do nothing to pollute our Mother, rise up with wisdom to defend her.
Show deep respect for the beliefs and religion of others.
Listen with courtesy to what others say, even if you feel that what they are saying is worthless. Listen with your heart.
Respect the wisdom of the people in council. Once you give an idea to a council meeting it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to the people. Respect demands that you listen intently to the ideas of others in council and that you do not insist that your idea prevail. Indeed you should freely support the ideas of others if they are true and good, even if those ideas ideas are quite different from the ones you have contributed. The clash of ideas brings forth the Spark of Truth.
Once a council has decided something in unity, respect demands that no one speak secretly against what has been decided. If the council has made an error, that error will become apparent to everyone in its own time.
Be truthful at all times, and under all conditions.
Always treat your guests with honor and consideration. Give of your best food, your best blankets, the best part of your house, and your best service to your guests.
The hurt of one is the hurt of all, the honor of one is the honor of all.
Receive strangers and outsiders with a loving heart and as members of the human family.
All the races and tribes in the world are like the different colored flowers of one meadow. All are beautiful. As children of the Creator they must all be respected.
To serve others, to be of some use to family, community, nation, and the world is one of the main purposes for which human beings have been created. Do not fill yourself with your own affairs and forget your most important talks. True happiness comes only to those who dedicate their lives to the service of others.
Observe moderation and balance in all things.
Know those things that lead to your well-being, and those things that lead to your destruction.
Listen to and follow the guidance given to your heart. Expect guidance to come in many forms; in prayer, in dreams, in times of quiet solitude, and in the words and deeds of wise Elders and friends.

Happy New Year and May the Great Spirit Guide You in all that You do!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Beautiful Poem

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I found this poem on the net and its so beautiful that I just had to share it with you:
I met a man of many colors And a tear was upon his cheek.
"Old man" I ask, "why do you cry
With such an agonizing weep?" "Oh child" this man he says to me,"
My heart is broken in so many ways
That I believe this day to end
Will find me out stretched and far within
The encompassing earth of sin." I sat down beside this man
And asked him "do not cry.
For what you think is so bad
That life will pass you by?" He looks at me with such sad eyes.
And weeps ever more.
He holds his hands out to me
And alas, I do see
The anguish of his heart. For his hands were different colors
One is red and the other white,
A leg he unclothed for me
Was as yellow as could be
And his other leg as black as night. "I am the father of the world.
In case you do not know.
And my children have grown apart
And fight among themselves. For when they do not get along
My arms and legs and hands and feet
Destroys the very life of me. My hands of red and white
Will not feed this face of night.
And my legs of black and yellow,
Will not stand beneath this body
And support my heart and soul. For they argue far too much,
And now I have grown old. So here I sit in this haven
Of unwelcomeness.
And when this day ends,
A father I will not be.
For my children of many nations
Have forgotten how to accompany me.

LneStarLdy

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Canadian Human Rights Act - Application to First Nations in Canada Part 2

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Did You Know?

Employment

A person cannot be denied a job because of a disability that does not affect job performance or that can be accommodated.

Employment Applications and Advertisements

Federally regulated employers cannot include requirements that are not clearly related to the job, such as previous Canadian experience.

Equal Pay

A job performed mostly by women cannot be paid less than a job of equal value done mostly by men. Examples of jobs that might be of equal value are nursing assistants and electricians, or secretaries and maintenance staff.

Employee Organizations

Due to provisions in certain collective agreements, some unions enjoy a monopoly on referring job applicants to employers. It is a discriminatory act for such unions to exclude designated group candidates as referrals.

Provision of Goods and Services

A bank cannot ask a married woman for her spouse’s signature when applying for a loan.

Accommodation

An individual unable to work certain days for religious reasons may not be denied employment unless the employer can demonstrate that it would cause undue hardship.

Discriminatory Notices

A poster that encourages discrimination is illegal.

Hate Messages

Internet and pre-recorded telephone hate messages are forbidden.

Harassment

Making demeaning comments because of the person’s colour, ethnic origin, age, disability, sex or any of the grounds in an employment or service situation is prohibited under the Act.

Retaliation

An employer cannot fire an employee because he or she has filed a human rights complaint.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission

The Canadian Human Rights Commission administers the Canadian Human Rights Act, and ensures that the principles of equal opportunity and non-discrimination are followed in all areas of federal jurisdiction.

The Commission, composed of up to two full-time and up to six part-time commissioners, meets regularly to decide on individual complaints and approve Commission policies.

The Mandate of the Commission Includes:

1. Helping parties to resolve complaints of discrimination in employment and in provision of services based on the grounds enumerated in the Act;

2. Investigating complaints of discrimination, including complaints alleging inequities in pay between men and women who are performing work of equal value;

3. Auditing and, when necessary, taking action to ensure employers’ compliance with the Employment Equity Act, which applies to the federal public service, as well as federal Crown corporations and federally regulated companies employing 100 or more people;

4. Monitoring programs, policies and legislation affecting designated groups (women, Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and persons with disabilities) to ensure that their human rights are protected; and

5. Developing and conducting information programs to promote public understanding of the Act and of the role and activities of the Commission.

If you are living on a First Nation Territory within Canada and feel that you are being discriminated against you can file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Canadian Human Rights Act - Application to First Nations in Canada Part 1

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The Human Rights Act is a Federal Law, which has application to all First Nations in Canada, that are not exempt from s. 67 of the Indian Act, for employment and service issues.

Everyone is protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act in dealings with the following employers and service providers:

1. Federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations

2. Canada Post

3. Chartered Banks

4. National Airlines

5. Interprovincial communications and telephone companies

6. Interprovincial transportation companies

7. Other federally regulated industries, such as certain mining operations

8. First Nations employers (for employment and service issues that are not exempt undersection 67 of the Act).

All provinces and territories have similar laws forbidding discrimination in their areas of jurisdiction.

Grounds for Action

Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, it is against the law for any employer or service provider that falls within federal jurisdiction to make unlawful distinctions based on the following prohibited grounds:

1. Race

2. National or ethnic origin

3. Colour

4. Religion

5. Age

6. Sex (including pregnancy and childbirth)

7. Sexual orientation

8. Marital status

9. Family status

10. Mental or physical disability (including previous or present drug or alcohol dependence)

11. Pardoned conviction

Discriminatory Acts

The Canadian Human Rights Act deals with discriminatory behaviour in its various forms:

1. Differential treatment of an individual or a group of individuals based on a prohibited ground

2. All forms of harassment

3. Systemic discrimination — a seemingly neutral policy or practice which in fact is discriminatory retaliation.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Remembering Who We Are

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"The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the centre of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this centre is really everywhere, it is within each of us."

Black Elk

One of the hardest things today to keep in perspective is in the midst of all the worries and business of our lives is to remember who we are in the midst of it all. Many European concepts have invaded and superceded the values and principles that we as Native people used to hold so deep.

Respect for our fellow man, giving to someone in need, respect for mother earth, women being the important deicision makers in our communities, honor and pride as Native people and also most of our traditional and cultural values. We don't have to let another cultures concepts and beliefs over-ride our own. We as Native people must look deep within ourselves and remember who we once were and decide who we want to be today.

If we take a look inside our Native communities today we see many of the negative values that we have made more important than our own. Money, power, jealousies, gossip, the Me concept vs the we concept, and material wealth. I am not saying that having nice things and being in a position of power is wrong: what I am saying is that putting people first, before any of these things should always be more important. Who we are within ourselves is much more important than what we gain on the outside, those things can be lost, but who we are as people stays with us forever.

1. Show Respect to Others - Each Person Has a Special Gift

2. Share what you have - Giving Makes You Richer

3. Know Who You Are - You Are a Reflection on Your Family

4. Accept What Life Brings - You Cannot Control Many Things

5. Have Patience - Some Things Cannot Be Rushed

6. Live Carefully - What You Do Will Come Back to You

7. Take Care of Others - You Cannot Live without Them

8. Honor Your Elders - They Show You the Way in Life

9. Pray for Guidance - Many Things Are Not Known

10.See Connections - All Things Are Related

Look inside yourself and see how many of these cultural values you have maintained and then look to your community and see if your community represents any of these cultural values that we as Native people used to hold so dear.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The True Meaning Of Christmas

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"May Mother Earth and Father Sky bring warmth and peace to your lodge during this sacred season"

European Christmas for Native Americans actually started when the Europeans came over to America. They taught the Indian about Christianity, gift-giving , and St. Nicholas. There are actually two religious types of Indian people in existence. One of these is the Traditionalist, usually full-blooded Indians that grew up on the reservations. The second type is the Contemporary Indian that grew up in an urban area, usually of mixed blood, and brought up with Christian philosophy.

Traditionalists are raised to respect the Christian Star and the birth of the first Indian Spiritual Leader. He was a Star Person and Avatar. His name was Jesus. He was a Hebrew, a Red Man. He received his education from the wilderness. John the Baptist, Moses, and other excellent teachers that came before Jesus provided an educational foundation with the Holistic Method.

Everyday is our Christmas. Every meal is our Christmas. At every meal we take a little portion of the food we are eating, and we offer it to the spirit world on behalf of the four legged, and the winged, and the two legged. We pray--not the way most Christians pray-- but we thank the Grandfathers, the Spirit, and the Guardian Angel.

The Indian Culture is actually grounded in the traditions of a Roving Angel. The life-ways of Roving Angels are actually the way Indian People live. They hold out their hands and help the sick and the needy. They feed and clothe the poor. We have high respect for the avatar because we believe that it is in giving that we receive.

We are taught as Traditional children that we have abundance. The Creator has given us everything: the water, the air we breathe, the earth as our flesh, and our energy force: our heart. We are thankful every day. We pray early in the morning, before sunrise, the morning star, and the evening star. We pray for our relatives who are in the universe that someday they will come. We also pray that the Great Spirit's son will live again.

To the Indian People Christmas is everyday and they don't believe in taking without asking. Herbs are prayed over before being gathered by asking the plant for permission to take some cuttings. An offer of tobacco is made to the plant in gratitude. We do not pull the herb out by its roots, but cut the plant even with the surface of the earth, so that another generation will be born its place.

It is really important that these ways never be lost. And to this day we feed the elders, we feed the family on Christmas day, we honor Saint Nicholas. We explain to the little children that to receive a gift is to enjoy it, and when the enjoyment is gone, they are pass it on to the another child, so that they, too, can enjoy it. If a child gets a doll, that doll will change hands about eight times in a year, from one child to another.

Everyday is Christmas in Indian Country. Daily living is centered around the spirit of giving and walking the Red Road. Walking the Red Road means making everything you do a spiritual act. If your neighbor, John Running Deer, needs a potato masher; and you have one that you are not using, you offer him yours in the spirit of giving. It doesn't matter if it is Christmas or not.

If neighbors or strangers stop over to visit at your house, we offer them dinner We bring out the T-Bone steak, not the cabbage. If we don't have enough, we send someone in the family out to get some more and mention nothing of the inconvenience to our guests. The more one gives, the more spiritual we become. The Christ Consciousness, the same spirit of giving that is present at Christmas, is present everyday in Indian Country.

Looks for Buffalo, is an Oglala Sioux Spiritual Leader. He is the full-blood Oglala grandson of Chief Red Cloud and White Cow Killer, and a Cheyenne Oglala Leader.

This is not my writing today; however i wanted to do my post on what Christmas means to native people and I could not explain it any better then this by Looks for Buffalo!

Looks For Buffalo Oglala Sioux Spiritual Leader

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Great Contributions Of Indigenous People Of The World

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"The Circle has healing power. In the Circle, we are all equal. When in the Circle, no one is in front of you. No one is behind you. No one is above you. No one is below you. The Sacred Circle is designed to create unity. The Hoop of Life is also a circle. On this hoop there is a place for every species, every race, every tree and every plant. It is this completeness of Life that must be respected in order to bring about health on this planet."

~Dave Chief, Oglala Lakota~

1. Lacrosse a game invented by Native people is Canada's official sport. There are three basic forms—the southeastern, Great Lakes, and Haudenosaunee. Lacrosse was given its name by early French settlers, using the generic term for any game played with a curved stick (crosse) and a ball.

2. Toboggan comes from the Algonquian word odabaggan. The toboggan is an invention of the Eastern First Peoples. Indian hunters first built toboggans made of bark to carry game over the snow. The Inuit (sometimes called Eskimos) used to make toboggans of whalebone, otherwise a toboggan is made of strips of hickory, ash, or maple, with the front ends curved back.

3. Canoes were developed over the course of thousands of years by the native peoples of North America. The word 'canoe' originiated from the word 'kenu' - meaning dugout.

4. American Indians have participated with distinction in United States military actions for more than 200 years. As the 20th century comes to a close, there are nearly 190,00 Native American military veterans.

5. In the First World War, over 4000 members of Canadian First Nations groups volunteered to fight for the Allied Forces. In the Second World War, 3000 Canadian First Nations people offered their services as soldiers, and the Korean War saw several hundred First Nation warriors contributing their efforts, and often their lives, to the United Nations in the fight against North Korea.

6. One of the major reasons our armed forces were victorious in WW I, WW II and the Korean War was our ability to "crack" enemy codes. Our codes were never broken, in part because we empowered Native American People to devise their own codes based on their Native languages. Thousands of American soldiers owe their lives to these "Code Talkers." It is the highest irony that these codes were based on native languages, banned by law, and suppressed by the actions of the U.S. government and religious organizations that operated in concert to eradicate and destroy Native languages, cultures and traditions.

7. Most Native American tribes relied on three basic crops ­ corn, beans and squash; however, there were over 300 other food crops harvested in the New World, including six. kinds of corn, as well as, sweet potatoes, sunflowers, wild rice, vanilla beans, cocoa or chocolate, a wide variety of nuts, and many varieties of peppers.

8. The federal system does not trace its roots to Europe, but rather to Native American tribal organizations. Both Benjamin Franklin and George Washington were extremely knowledgeable about Native American social and political structures. Franklin urged our Founding Fathers to model our government on the League of Iroquois, while the United States Constitution was derived from the Iroquois Kaianerekowa or Great Law of Peace. Like the constitution of the United States the founding charter of the United Nations is based in large part on the principles of the Iroquois Confederacy.

9. Native American Indians provided quinine as the first effective treatment of malaria and utilized many plants that have resulted in remarkable contributions to 20th century medicine including aspirin­related tree bark extracts, laxatives, painkillers, antibacterial medicines, petroleum jelly and others.

10. Northern Woodlands Native people ‘invented’ the first diapers because they knew that sphagnum moss absorbed much liquid. Sphagnum was also used instead of cotton wadding in front-line hospitals during WW1.

11. It was the Native people that showed the settlers how to remove the poisonous shell from the cashews, revealing a delicious and nutritious nut inside.

12. Over 2000 years ago the Hohokam people played a game in which a ball was kicked, hit or thrown into goals at either end of a field. The players wore protective gear made of leather. This game was not unlike the game of football that is today still played.

13. There are a number of Olympic medalists (including the 2002 Winter games - men's curling).

14. Legendary Musician, Mohawk, Robbie Robertson has sold millions of recordings going way back as a founding member of "The Band".

Without thses great contributions from a number of Indigenous people from around the world our lives may not quite be the same as we know it today. There are many other great contributions from the indigenous people from around the world and these are but a few.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Road To Change

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"Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations."
Luther Standing Bear
Oglala Sioux

You may be wondering what my last two posts on Residential schools and Native boarding schools have to do with oppression in our Native communities. When the children were taken away it left so much sadness in these communites that rampant alcohol abuse began and from that spousal abuse etc, because the parents no longer had anyone left to guide and to teach according to their cultural values and norms.

When the children returned with no parenting skills and years of sexual, physical, verbal and mental abuse, lack of nurturing and no guidance in their traditional ways, culture or values: the ill effects of their suffering extended for generations through each community and continues to resonate still today. Abuse is a a cycle that continues throughout generations of families until someone takes the step to break that cycle. Many native communites have high rates still of physical and sexual abuse and domestic violence. Also drug abuse and alchohol abuse are rampant and often used to mask the pain of suffering. Suicide is also an unfortuante side effect of many years of pain and suffering in our native communites as well.

How does this relate to our leaders? Well the likely hood of our leadership being caught up in one of these unhealthy cycles due to a family member attending either a Residential School or a Boarding school is fairly high. Therefore we have people in postiions of power in our communities who themselves are not healthy individuals. If our leadership would take the initiative to start the path to healing for themselves, then perhaps this intiative would also extend to individual community members as an example and start the path to an overall healthy community.

Some ways to begin this healing path with or without the leadership on behalf of the community can include such things as: healing circles held within the community, sweat lodges, ceremonies, and use of the medicine wheel as a path to healing also by any other traditional or cultural means that are applicable to a particular Tribal Nation or First Nation.

In my opinion we cannnot move forward until we have healthiness in our communites and this starts with individuals before it can extend itself to entire communites. These efforts like self-determination etc will not succeed and be beneficial the way they should be to us as a nation of people until they are done from a place of healthiness. That is why it is my feeling that we are doing things backwards and that we need to work on ourselves as individuals, communities and then as nations, before we work on the big picture.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Native Boarding Schools: The U.S.Tribal Nation Experience

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“Kill the Indian and Save the Man,” was the motto coined by Captain Richard Henry Pratt, who in 1879 founded the first Native American Boarding School, Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. The purpose of the Native American Boarding schools was to assimilate Native American children into the American culture by placing them in institutions where they were forced to reject their Native American culture.

The boarding school experience for most of the Tribal Nations in the U.S. was very similar to that of the residential school system in Canada. Canada based its residential school system and policies largely on the U.S. model of Native boarding schools, which began in the 1870's. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, missionaries and local authorities were responsible for barging into native homes, and taking their children in order to place them into these schools against the will of their parents: if the parents were caught hiding their children they lost food rations.

At these schools native children were forced to cut their long black hair; kept away from their families; often told that their families either were dead or no longer wanted them; abused physically, mentally and sexually; forbidden to speak their native languages or practice their culture and traditions; and were denied the right to call each other by their native names. They were often isolated from their parents for most of the year, often without visits, and from their communities and cultural identities as well.

These boarding schools began in the 1870's and the last of the off-reserve boarding schools was closed in the 1930's. The Bureau of Indian Affairs controlled 25 of these schools, and the church operated approximatly 460 of these schools, which were funded by the government. During this time frame over 100,000 native children attended these schools and many returned home, but many did not. Native children had no immunity to many of the fatal diseases which frequented such closed quarters and many of them died from those diseases. Perpetuating the deaths of many native children was also the severe physical abuse and neglect they suffered at the hands of their care givers and sometimes even home sickness.

The policy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the time was complete assimilation of all Tribal Nations into American citizens so they would relinquish control of their lands to the government.

Upon returning to the community, often leaving around 5 years of age and returning many years later, these children no longer fit into their home communites, nor into non-native society. They lacked cultural and traditional awareness, parenting skills and were often returning in a traumatized state either from personally experiencing some form of abuse or from witnessing a form of abuse against another child or sibling.

I could not find any statistics that gave me an estimate of the number of children that died while attending these boarding schools, but I am sure the number is significant and likely in the neighborhood of the Canadian residential schools, which saw from 25,000 - 50,000 children die and never return home while attending them.

I can not do this experience justice in a few short paragraphs; however, I do think its important to recognize the Tribal Nation people that attended these boarding schools througout the U.S., and also to acknowledge the children who never returned home.

"May the Creator Bless You"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Residential Schools: The Forgotten Children Part 2

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Duncan Campbell Scott, Head of Indian Affairs takes a romantic interest in Native traditions, but disdains ‘living’ Natives. In 1920 he said, "I want to get rid of the Indian problem. Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed. They are a weird and waning race...ready to break out at any moment in savage dances."
This post is dedicated to the forgotten children: the chlidren that died while attending a native residential school and never returned home. If we go by the numbers in my previous post which is 100,000 or so children attended these schools from 1930 until the last one closed in 1996, and its estimated that 25 - 50% of them died while attending these schools: then a total of 25,000 - 50,000 native children did not return home.
The reason I refer them as the forgotten children is because the federal government in its negotiation with survivors of residential schools often mention physical and sexual abuse in relation to compensation, but i have yet to ever hear them mention the children that did not return or compensation for their families.
The reason these children did not return was because they often died as a reseult of disease or from severe physical abuse. I realize that no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a child; however, these children endured the ultimate form of abuse, they died. They deserve to be more than mentioned and their families deserve more too, these children may have lived long and happy lives if they were not forced to attend these institutions.
It saddens me to think that the goverment could be that callous to forget 25,000 - 50,000 native children died as a result of their need to rid Canada of its Indian problem.
Remember the Children that Never Came Home!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Residential Schools: Beginning of the End Part 1

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"Most of our children do not speak their language now, our native language. Because we were not allowed to speak our language in the residential school, we lost our language. In our community we have a lot of alcoholism and drug abuse as a result of our lack of parenting skills. As well, there were many suicides in our community, along with the separation."
"Ms. Grace Daniels Residential School Survivor"

In 1830 the first residential schools for Native people began in Upper Canada set up in conjunction with both the Federal Government of Canada, Methodist and Anglican churches later it would also include the Catholic Prebetyrian church (United church). This school system was designed specifically to implement a policy of assimilation of the native people into European society. It was designed to control the native population by remaking native people into agricutural based settlers who believed in a Christian god.

The schools were to provide both a religious education, to help natives obtain European values and the fundamentals of farming. Children as young as 5 attended these schools, originally signed up by their parents who were brainwashed into believing that obtaining new skills would be good for their children. There are also several accounts of children just being taken from communities without the consent of their parents by federal government officials and the police under the guise that it was illegal not to send their children to these schools.

It is estimated by the Department of Indian Affairs that some 100,000 native childeren attended these schools from the time of their inception in the 1830's -1880's when these schools began to appear in every Canadian province, until the last school was closed in 1996. These children were not allowed to speak their native languages or practice their culture or customs, which were the only things they knew. Any child that was caught speaking their language or practicing their culture was punished severly, often through severe physical abuse. This is just the beginning of the horrors and trauma experienced by the children who attended these schools.

These children were subjected to severe physical, sexual, verbal and psychological abuse that would serve to be the catalyst for generations of dysfuntional families within native communities. They were often taken from their families and communites around the age of five and not returned until somtime in their teens. What this did was create a whole generation that lacked parenting skills and knowledge of their native languages and customs.

These schools were breeding grounds for fatal diseases such as small pox and tuberculosis; posed serious health and safety hazards due to poor maintenance; work was physically demanding and harsh for the students; and students were taught by teachers that were ill equipped to teach much beyond religious ideologies.

In 1907 it was estimated by Dr. Peter Bryce the medical inspector for the Department of Indian Affairs that between 25-50% of native students died from disease, racially motivated abuse or other reasons.

I can't do the residential school experience justice im sure in my writing, but i feel its important to educate people to the realities of what our people have suffered and continue to suffer the effects of today.

I know because my grandfather was also a survivor of the residential school system.

What Makes a Good Chief?

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"A good chief gives, he does not take." Mohawk
1. Honesty
2. Integrity
3. Respects other people and their opinions.
4. Listens to the voice of the community.
5. Educates the community on important issues that may affect them and possible outcomes and consequenses.
6. Puts the best interest of the community ahead of his own interests.
7. Makes good sound decisions.
8. Has good judgement.
9. Is proud of his people and his community.
10. Listens to the other members of Council with an open mind.
How many times have we had elections and we groan about the people that get in? When people vote are the taking into account who will be the best leaders of the community? Are they voting for who they can get the most things from at the expense of the community? Are they voting for people for personal reasons whether they are the best leaders for the community or not?
The only way to effect change and to overcome oppression within our native communities is remember that you are the people and the strength of your community. We have to stop being afraid and remind those that are in a position of power who they work for: Its you and its me not on behalf of themselves. There are ways this can be done but its only if the community can band together and say enough is enough. One voice means very little; 100 even more and 200 even more then that.
Things like petitions and going in to Council meetings with the full stength of as many people as will attend to get your points accrossed can do wonders. Making the issues that are wrong in your communities public through the media can work as well. Remember when u publicize something as long as you are telling the truth; let them sue you they can't win and it can only help your cause to get it into court regardless of who brings it. You can also form your own committes to deal with as many problems as you can as a group and on behalf of that may be afraid to speak up. Don't let your Councils tell you that you can't because you can do anything on your own and don't need permission as long as its legal. Deal with any harassment or intimidation issues head on and the let them know ur not afraid there are avenues that can be taken to deal with those too.
Be consistent and let them know you are not giving up and most of all never do!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Is This Who We Want to Be?

Give us hearts to understand; Never to take from creation's beauty more than we give; never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed; Never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth's beauty; never to take from her what we cannot use.
Give us hearts to understand That to destroy earth's music is to create confusion; that to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty; That to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench; that as we care for her she will care for us.
We have forgotten who we are. We have sought only our own security. We have exploited simply for our own ends. We have distorted our knowledge. We have abused our power.
Great Spirit, whose dry lands thirst, Help us to find the way to refresh your lands. Great Spirit, whose waters are choked with debris and pollution,
help us to find the way to cleanse your waters. Great Spirit, whose beautiful earth grows ugly with misuse, help us to find the way to restore beauty to your handiwork.
Great Spirit, whose creatures are being destroyed, help us to find a way to replenish them. Great Spirit, whose gifts to us are being lost in selfishness and corruption, help us to find the way to restore our humanity.
Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind, whose breath gives life to the world, hear me; I need your strength and wisdom. May I walk in Beauty.
Author Unknown
The above prayer says alot about how we have lost our way, not neccesarily do I speak of our culture and traditions, but who we are and should be as Native people on the inside. Today we have let money, power and things come before the well being of our people. When our leaders no longer lead our people, but only lead themselves for power: then its time to stop and take a look at the healthiness of our communites. If our leadership is not leading us in a healthy direction, or not leading us at all then that leaves us to flounder and question who we are as a people. Healthy leadership strengthens both a community and its people by choosing only the direction that will most benefit the community as a whole and not just a chosen few. Unhealthy leadership tears at the spirits ot the people who reside within those communities until there is nothing left of them. There is no hope; no direction; no progress; and no vision for the future.
We have major problems within our communites and its time to address the real issues, not just land, or money or things: but the unhealthiness of our communites from years of oppression. People are far more important than things and they have some how in our fight for our native ritghts and all that is rightfully ours: been forgotten and left to fend for themselves. These things are all very important, but I think until we have healthy people, leadership and communites these things won't matter much. We look forward without seeing what is front of us that it is now our own governments that oppress our people and not just the non-native governments. Until these issues are dealt with and some kind of change takes place we will stand still and move no place, there can be no progress while opression exists. Oppression is like a poison that permeates the very heart and soul of a community and its people. Things can look nice on the outside but take a closer look on the inside and see how they work.
Some Signs of An Unhealthy Community Are:
1. Rampant alchohol and drug abuse.
2. Excessive domestic and child abuse.
3. Excessive childhood sexual abuse.
4. Overdependance on its government.
5. Overdependance on the non-native governments.
6. Little cutural or spiritual awareness.
7. Rampant suicide rates.
8. No plan or vision for the future for economic independance.
9. No plan for the future or direction of the community for the future.
10. Crisis management vs. prevention and planning as a government.
As native people we have endured years of oppression and abuse at the hands of non native governments and this is no longer accpetable. So lets ask ourselves the question of why its acceptable from our own governments?