Indian, Non-Indian Conversation

The Indian and Non-Indian are having a conversation about their lives. 

Non-Indian: "I've got a shiny fancy car and I WORKED for it!"

Indian: "People assume I am poor.  I got this Indian truck.  Its rusty and the door is creaky."

Non-Indian: "I really worked HARD for what I've got.  I know it must be "God's will."

Indian: "I work really hard but nothing ever seems to come of my efforts.  I just remain poor, invisible and undervalued."

Non-Indian: "I've been able to keep and hold down jobs.  I don't like people using the system."

Indian: "I've had my share of part time jobs often with no benefits and I've dealt with racism in many of my jobs.  I can never seem to get an interview for a full time job."

Non-Indian: "My parents both graduated from college."

Indian: "My home life was really hard and there was a lot of abuse.  I also got bullied in school so I dropped out in 11th grade."

Non-Indian: "I demand good customer service and I expect it."

Indian: "Usually I get treated like shit."

Non-Indian: "I don't understand why people just can't pull themselves up by their bootstraps?"

Indian: "I found boots at Goodwill but there were no straps."

Non-Indian: "I spent $300 this week at the grocery store and dropped off a bag of groceries at our church's food pantry.  I feel it is good to help the "poor."

Indian: "My food stamp allotment was $170 for the month and I picked up a box of food at this local church because my food stamps couldn't cover everything."

Non-Indian:  "I decided to go to this super progressive chocolate shop and treat myself.  I had an extra $40 bucks so I got three chocolate bars and 3 truffles.  I was waited on right away and the customer service was phenomenal." 

Indian:  "I decided to go treat myself and get a single $2 truffle from this fancy bourgeoisie "fair trade, progressive and liberal," chocolate shop.  However I waited 15 minutes in line and was ignored while other well dressed customers with credit cards were served before me.  When I spoke out against the apparent injustice and discrimination I experienced the workers denied it."

Non-Indian: "I once went to a reservation for a "mission" trip with my church."

Indian: "I got angry at the people trying to "help" us.  They brought a bible with them and were imposing their religious views on us."

Non-Indian:  "In my past life I know I was Native American.  I really love the culture."  

Indian:  "If you were Native American in your past life I wonder if you lived on a rez, worked at the tribal gas station for minimum wage, dealt with constant racism and discrimination like I have my whole entire life.  Please stop romanticizing who we are."

Article: The two solitudes of two-spirit

 
Many queer aboriginal Canadians juggle different aspects of their identity in order to fit in

Gina Metallic doesn’t think anyone should have to choose between different aspects of their identity in order to fit into the mold of the conventional and socially acceptable.

And, she’s not going to anymore.

“I’m queer,” says Metallic, who is a Mi’gmaq woman originally from Listagouche, Quebec. She is speaking to packed room at Montreal’s Native Friendship Centre. “But, I’m also aboriginal, and these two things are really important to me.”

While Metallic once felt the need to forfeit her aboriginal culture in favour of her sexuality, she has come to realize that there is space for her to embrace both. When addressing both native and non-native people, Metallic identifies as two-spirit.

Depending who you ask, the term can be defined and interpreted in a variety of ways. Generally, two-spirit people have long been considered integral to indigenous society — and often held healing and teaching roles within their communities. These roles differ greatly between aboriginal nations, and have been diversely affected by colonization over time.

Metallic says the term two-spirit expresses that she is part of a sexual minority, being lesbian, while also implying that she belongs to an indigenous community.

“The western world uses the word ‘queer’ as an umbrella term to encompass all of the little labels that people either choose to take or not, which is what I think two-spirited is — it’s like our umbrella term,” she says, adding that the term ought to be used exclusively by aboriginal people, and does not belong to anyone else.

Metallic only recently began embracing a two-spirit identity, and hadn’t even heard of the term until she moved to Montreal in 2005.

Since then, she’s received an MA in social work from McGill University, with her thesis focusing on two-spirit identity development — an experience that has been enlightening, both personally and professionally.

“Growing up in a normal community I wasn’t exposed to too much,” Metallic says. “We didn’t really talk about gay people or gay things.” She says her move to the city opened her eyes to a new, diverse array of people, and offered her a potential to explore options no longer limited to heterosexuality.

But, the move didn’t come without cost.

“When I started to go to the gay village in Montreal, I actually lost my culture,” she says. “I felt like there was so much racism in the gay community, so there was a need to reject my culture.”

Metallic says that through her own extensive research, she’s realized that her experience of feeling the need to choose one or the other —“full lesbian or aboriginal” — was not uncommon amongst two-spirit people.While she felt like she couldn’t completely be herself in the city, she also experienced a similar phenomenon when returning to the reserve.

“I think there is more homophobia in communities that are located in more rural areas,” she says. “They aren’t as exposed to as many different types of people.”

Metallic says that while her maternal family embraced her “two-spiritedness,” her paternal side hasn’t really spoken to her since she came out.

Akwiratékha Martin is a language teacher from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, located just south of Montreal.  He also identifies as two-spirit, but his family and community are extremely accepting of his identity. “I got very lucky with my surroundings and my people,” he says. For Martin, though, his experience in the city wasn’t as easy.

“I didn’t fit in, it was really hard, because they didn’t understand different aspects of my culture, I felt I had to explain myself all the time.”

Martin believes that it is extremely important to participate in one’s community, whether it happens to be located on a reserve or in the city.

“That’s what two-spirited is about, it’s about giving back to the community, and contributing to it,” he says. “Not to just be gay or be lesbian, but to do your own thing — for me, my role was learning and teaching my language.”

He says that as a two-spirit person it is important to be open to dialogue, and be responsive to people’s curiosity, even when it may come off as ignorant.

Metallic agrees, and she is adamant that improving education will certainly ease the current struggles faced by two-spirit people. “In the schools this is still very taboo,” she says, pointing to a lack of literature and resources available on the subject of two-spiritedness, a void that she believes is perpetuating the silence around it. “We need more resources, to build a community, to hold events — we need to have a spot in the pride parades, and we need an organization.”

Metallic thinks Montreal is lagging behind cities like Toronto in terms of available material and community groups. “Until those things are really set in place, I think people will continue to experience that duality of choosing between the queer lifestyle and the aboriginal lifestyle, without realizing that you can actually have both.”

The difficulty of juggling and potentially dropping different aspects of one’s identity isn’t a struggle faced exclusively by two-spirit people, but it is a challenge that stands to affect anyone belonging to a minority.

“Each one of us has many identities that we try to manage in our lives,” says Amal Elsana Alh’jooj, a scholar and activist. “’I’m a mother, I’m a woman, I’m Palestinian, I’m Bedouin, I’m Israeli and I’m a feminist.”

Those don’t all work harmoniously together, she says, noting that in order to be accepted in society, something — or in her case, multiple things — had to give.

“People who are oppressed, for the sake of the oppressor, need to be one thing, when we become more than one thing it becomes a challenge for them,” Alh’jooj says.

She came to Montreal’s Native Friendship to see how the aboriginal population had dealt with this issue, as it was one that has similarly affected her and many others in her home community. “So many people that I know have given up,” she says. “I wanted to see how these people have dealt with facing a national challenge, being aboriginal, but also personal challenge in terms of their sexual orientation.”

The answer, vocalized repeatedly at the centre, is a need for open-minded dialogue and more education.

Metallic is doing her part in paving the way, be being vocal about her identity, both on and off reserve. She was named 2013 role model in her community, and her two-spirit identity was proudly plastered around on posters in town. “If people are uncomfortable with it, that’s their issue,” she says.  “I’m not going to continue to hide myself, there is nothing to be ashamed about.”

Article: The two solitudes of two-spirit

Article: Protests Sweep Canada Following Paramilitary Assault on Indigenous Fracking Blockade

'Indigenous communities like the Elsipogtog First Nation are on the frontlines of defending water and the land for everyone'

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer
Police raid on New Brunswick fracking blockade (Photo: APTN reporter Ossie Michelin, via Twitter)
Protests are sweeping Canada following Thursday's assault by paramilitary-style police on members of indigenous Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation and local residents as they blockaded a New Brunswick fracking exploration site.

The group had barricaded a road near the town of Rexton in rural New Brunswick since September 30 to block shale gas exploration by SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of the Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co, that is moving forward without the community's consent or consultation.

Thursday morning, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stormed the protest, donning camouflage uniforms, wielding rifles, and bringing police dogs to the site. Kathleen Martens with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reports, "[a]t least four RCMP cruisers were burned" in the chaos following the raid.

The RCMP announced that 40 people had been arrested, citing a court injunction against the protest.

"The RCMP is coming in here with their tear gas - they even had dogs on us," Susan Levi-Peters, the former chief of the nearby Elsipogtog aboriginal reserve, told Reuters. "They were acting like we're standing there with weapons, while we are standing there, as women, with drums and eagle feathers. This is crazy." The media is reporting that some protesters threw molotov cocktails at the police, who reportedly tear gassed the crowd.

In the immediate aftermath of the violence, people across Canada mobilized to show solidarity for the besieged blockade, with APTN reporting that First Nations people across the country are putting a call out for an immediate show of support for the Elsipogtog members.

APTN reports that solidarity activists blocked a bridge in Listuguj, and supporters from Six Nations blocked part of a highway near Caledonia on Thursday. Organizers with IdleNoMore in Lethbridge, Alberta held a march through the city immediately following the raid. Solidarity demonstrations also took place in Washington, DC and New York on the doorstep of the Canadian consulates.

PowerShift.ca lists over two dozen actions across the country, including solidarity flash mobs and mass marches.

“Protesters in Rexton are standing up to a Texas company that wants to profit on the backs of New Brunswickers while placing the water and the environment at risk,” stated Emma Lui, water campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Indigenous communities like the Elsipogtog First Nation are on the frontlines of defending water and the land for everyone, and this should not be criminalized.”

Article - Protests Sweep Canada Following Paramilitary Assault on Indigenous Fracking Blockade | Common Dreams

Article - Indigenous Sovereignty and Human Rights: Idle No More as a Decolonizing Force

Last week I was compelled into a leadership role with the Prince Albert Idle No More rally. Prince Albert is a growing city in central Saskatchewan, with a population of about 35,000. The traditional Nehithaw place name is kistahpinanihk, which means “meeting place”. Prince Albert has a high Indigenous population and is surrounded by key sites in the history of Treaty 6. It would be ideal to say that Indigenous-Settler relations here have been harmonious, a peaceful meeting place of sorts, but the presence of colonialism is heavy. Surrounded by medium and maximum security prisons, housed disproportionately with Indigenous inmates, oppression can be felt strongly. Racism and racialised violence are pervasive. But there is also a strong regional history of Indigenous resurgence and resistance to colonialism; key sites of the Riel Rebellion are within a 30 minute drive from city limits, and Indigenous languages, ceremonies, and land-based teachings thrive despite centuries of genocidal policies.

In solidarity with the wider movement, myself and a small group of committed people organized a teach-in, march and round dance in Prince Albert’s downtown core for December 21. I phoned city planners out of respect to advise them of our routes and to possibly have some cooperation with local police officials. I was told by a city employee that the route requested would probably be denied. I thought nothing of this possibility until the mayor phoned me on my cell phone and left me a message. He stated that he would “not allow” the route down busy streets, and that our rally could not be “permitted”.

To be sure, I did not call for their permission. Asserting Indigenous sovereignty does not require permission. Protecting treaty rights and fundamental human rights does not require permission. However, the reality of my communication with the mayor begged the question: was he implying that force would be used upon my people to prevent the protest? Since we were not breaking laws, what basis did he have to assert jurisdiction over our rights to freedom of assembly and free speech? Should Idle No More Prince Albert back down from asserting Indigenous sovereignty and use the dusty backroads suggested by the mayor? Upon consulting with Idle No More Prince Albert, the answer to this last question was an overwhelming “NO!”

One cannot fully comprehend the true nature of the colonial relationship until being forced to ask yourself whether or not 500 people are being led into a potentially violent confrontation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. One cannot fully comprehend the true nature of colonialism until the right to life, liberty, and security of 500 people, including children, youth, and Elders, is at risk.

Regardless of the unwelcoming political climate, the rally went ahead as planned. Idle No More Prince Albert was very much a success. Nobody was hurt and nobody was arrested, although there were a handful of irate drivers. In Prince Albert, we fought for our right to fight for our rights, and we won. The sound of drumming had not rang so freely in the city for hundreds of years. The spirit of Idle No More makes it possible to decolonize times and places, and to live out the freedom that guided the lives of our ancestors. For Prince Albert, the movement has meant a reconfiguration of Indigenous and Settler relationships; we asserted Indigenous sovereignty by re-establishing the justness of our presence in the city.

Idle No More presents a challenge to the old colonial order that forms the basis of Canadian society. This movement has been about challenging oppression in very real and very meaningful ways. It has meant questioning the legitimacy and authority of colonial laws by pushing the limits of these laws. Idle No More means not only speaking of Indigenous sovereignty, but living out our inherent sovereignty as nations. This is especially important in the case of Omnibus Bill C-45, where our fundamental human rights to clean water, lands and foods are at risk. Essentially, Harper and the Conservative government of Canada are legislating the extinguishment of our Indigenous nationhood.  Our response has been two-fold: to re-situate ourselves as nations, and to rejuvenate the commitment of our people and Settler society to the Treaty relationship.

At first I was skeptical about the Idle No More movement. I didn’t want to lead my people to the government and beg for rights and responsibilities that the Creator gave to us. But I became involved with Idle No More because I could feel the energy of the youth rising and I did not want this energy to go to waste. I wanted to show them that the energy which we as peoples often internalize in negative ways is better directed to challenging the colonial framework that operates in all our lives. As the movement grows, the challenge of Idle No More is to continue moving beyond rhetoric and towards a fundamental reconfiguration of the colonial structure of Canada. Above and beyond, it must always be more than an emotionally frothy appeal to the Canadian government for justice and morality. We must be strategic, yet we must also act on the nation-to-nation spirit and intent of Treaty. The message of love, peace, and non-violent protest is essential to the movement. With this spirit at the forefront, we must seek to educate Settler populations and heal our Indigenous nations from the processes of genocide which we have experienced. Idle No More means re-establishing ourselves as sovereign nations, and empowering Settler people to fulfill their responsibilities as partners in sacred relationships of Treaty.

It is my belief that through all we have suffered as peoples, the ancestors kept the spirits in our hearts on embers until the time came to rise again. That time is now, and Idle No More ignites the fires in the souls of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.
________________________________________________________

Kirstin Scansen is a Nehithaw woman, from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in Treaty 6 territory, Saskatchewan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with a minor in Political Science, and is currently an MA candidate in Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria.

Original post on - Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society

Sacred Jingle Dress Dance for Chief Theresa Spence


Facebook event page 

SACRED JINGLE DRESS DANCE FOR CHIEF THERESA SPENCE

Saturday, December 15, 12:00pm

Ottawa – Victoria Island


By Saturday, December 15, Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat will be on her fifth day of a hunger strike she undertook as a protest to ask that the rights of First Nations peoples and the Treaties be respected. Her hunger strike is for all of us.

Jingle Dress Dancer Rhonda White, family member of the late Maggie White from the community of Naotkamegwanning (Whitefish Bay) will be travelling to Ottawa on Friday to dance the sacred Jingle Dress dance gifted to them. She will be accompanied by Joyce White and Kathleen Skead.

The Sacred Jingle Dress Dance at Victoria Island will be an expression of the true meaning of the jingle dress, by dancing for healing for Ogimaa-kaan Spence and the healing of all Indigenous people at this time.

Concerned community members Tanya Kappo and Christi Belcourt are asking for your support to help bring the White family members to Ottawa for this sacred dance.

WE NEED TO RAISE AS MUCH MONEY FOR THIS AS WE CAN BY SATURDAY.

As you know, time is of the essence for Chief Spence and her efforts. We will work to raise $10,000.00 to pay for travel and costs associated with this event. If there are any leftover funds, they will be given to Chief Spence for whatever her needs are during her time at Victoria Island.

No amount is too small. Please donate by :
http://www.gofundme.com/1o8je0?utm_campaign=Emails&utm_source=sendgrid.com&utm_medium=email

The lead drum: Lynx Clan of Whitefish Bay

ALL JINGLE DRESS DANCERS are invited to participate in this sacred jingle dress dance for Chief Spence in Ottawa this Saturday. However, as this is a sacred ceremonial jingle dress dance, protocols must be strictly followed and adhered to.

This is NOT a powwow demonstration.

Please see the wall of this event for information on protocol.

This effort is endorsed by Chief Joyce White of Naotkamegwanning (Whitefish Bay) and Treaty 3 Ogitchitaa, Warren White.