What do you think?
Rate this book
290 pages, Paperback
First published September 1, 2016
On the other side, there is no expectation within Canadian (non-Indigenous) culture that Indigenous cultures must be accounted for, learned about, or even really accommodated. Knowing nothing about the Inuit, for example, is not considered a fault. Yet when Nunavummiut (Inuit of Nunavut) or Nunavimmiut (Inuit of Nunavik) go south, their lack of knowledge about city culture/living is considered to stem from small-mindedness, a lack of education, or ignorance.
Indigenous communities as a whole simply do not have the internal resources to create an entire system of private schooling to rectify the horrendous gap that has always existed between Indigenous and non-Indigenous student outcomes. If you can judge a society by its system of education, then Canada stands clearly guilty of discriminating against Indigenous peoples by allowing this situation to continue.
The Canadian government basically takes the position that "you're an Indian if we say you're an Indian"
...from 1941 to 1978, Inuit were forced to weare"Eskimo" identification discs similar to dog tags. This was for ease of colonial administration, as the bureaucrats had difficulty pronousing Inuit names, and the Inuit, at this time, did not have surnames. For a while, Inuit were officially defined as "one to whom an identification disc has been issued.
The idea that Indian blood has some sort of magic quality that imbues one with legitimate Indigenous culture is as ridiculous a notion as I can think of, and so is the idea that "outside" blood can dilute or destroy Indigenous culture.
This is such an important book. I do hope that others read it, and perhaps get some idea of what the Indigenous peoples have gone through. There has been and still is so much prejudice against them, and such unfairness. It is important that they speak out, are published, and well read. We could all stand to have a little education.
Thanks to Netgalley, and Highwater Press for making this book available for an honest review.
Blood-quantum rules have been called a ‘slow genocide’, and I think this is an apt description. Not mass murder, but extinction via definition. Every time a non-Indigenous person enters the ‘Indian gene pool’, fewer people in the next generation are counted as Indians. I’m sorry, but what are we? A breed? Or peoples with distinct languages, customs and beliefs? (77)On restricted vs. unrestricted symbols:
If someone unfamiliar with Canadian culture were to decorate herself with a string of fake Victoria Crosses, the reaction would be different than if the same person draped a Canadian flag over her non-Canadian shoulders. (83)On respectful access:
What access do you think you are owed? Why? How have you earned it? Who could appropriately give it to you? And, most important, what would further access do for the people you claim to admire so much? (87)On colonialism and racism:
In other words, there is no history of colonialism and systemic racism that informs the modern view of Indigenous peoples, because that problem was supposedly solved at some point in the past. The ‘real’ racism is in conflating ‘legitimate’ dislike for Indigenous peoples (based not on race or ethnicity, but rather on the ‘bad choices we make’) with historical colonialism/racism ‘which is over.’ In continuing to discuss colonialism and racism as present-day concerns, Indigenous peoples are engaging in so-called ‘reverse-racism and oppressing blameless settlers’. (120)
What bothers me is this: a treaty is an ongoing relationship. That’s how it is in every other situation that does not involved Indigenous peoples. Treaties are nation-to-nation agreements that mediate relationships, and they can and should be revisited as a relationship progresses. Indigenous people know this; this is how we approach treaties and agreements with Canada. However, Canada does not seem to understand this. they want to settle everything and never look back. Patch up the holes in their supposed Crown titles and put the whole thing to bed. (258)The Bottom Line:A well-written book that should squash any excuses for not educating one’s self about First Nation, Inuit and Métis issues in Canada, Indigenous Writes is a much-needed resource that all settlers can learn from
It is extremely important readers of this book remind themselves we probably do not know one another in real life – what I am saying, dismissing, or getting a little snarky about is not something personal to you, the reader. Instead, I am reacting to wider social beliefs. Basically, this is not about you as a person. It can’t be, because, as I pointed out, we are strangers. If you start to get the eerie feeling that I am peering out from these pages and fixing you with an accusatory stare, go back and see if I’ve actually named you. From time to time, I will name names, so if yours is not there, you can relax.
I want to be very clear that the term settler does not, and can never, refer to the descendants of Africans who were kidnapped and sold into chattel slavery. Black people, removed and cut off from their own indigenous lands – literally stripped of their humanity and redefined legally as property – could not be agents of settlement. The fact that slavery has been abolished does not change this history. Although Black people are not all indigenous to the Americas, the Americas are home to the descendants of enslaved African peoples.
The killing of qimmiit has become a flash point in Inuit memories of the changes imposed on their lives by outsiders. In community after community that we visited, Inuit told me, often through tears, “I remember the day my dogs were shot,” or “I remember when my father’s dogs were killed.” The pain still felt from these memories is a testament to the symbiotic relationship between Inuit and qimmiit, and to the fact that the loss of qimmiit was a stark challenge to their independence, self-reliance, and identity as hunters and providers for their family.