Its a long one. You have been warned!
So here is what my friend wrote back after my comments yesterday:
Exactly, many of the elements you pointed out are the ones I disagree with. I’m not approaching this issue in any sense of telling them that they need to fix there own problem, screw off, it’s exactly the opposite. I think my problem is the lack of focus, and vague goals that the movement seems to working towards. The writer points to this fantasy that they can return to the old way of life, and maintain tradition. I think this is absurd; sure the native population has been brutally persecuted and murdered throughout history. I don’t deny that, quite the opposite really, I constantly come to the defense of minorities (Natives, African Americans, Africans, Indians) who seem to be always impoverished, which is sited to be from lack of “ambition” or “drive” or “intelligence” which is a horribly racist and ignorant statement, said by someone with no knowledge of history. Unfortunately the world is changing and I want First Nations to have a place in it, as i’m sure they do. There are problems facing the native community that need to be made within, with the complete support of the rest of Canada of course, but I’m not sure what Idle No More expects the government to do. The Harper government is well known for getting to the root of problems. Maintain treaty obligations, sure, I support that. I have no love of Harper. I just think this is so clamored up with adhering to tradition and history (Ironically they got started through a purely 21st century method, Twitter, way to destroy your own argument.). A treaty written even ten years ago isn’t relevant to this world. I don’t know, I agree with everything you said, it just still feels inadequate. I also completely understand the frustration they have. They must feel irrelevant , a pain to the rest of Canada when they complain about treaties or traditions. I just think it’s lash back that wont go anywhere, as much as I wish it would. Hell, I hope they prove me wrong.
And here is what I wrote after that:
Nicely said and very honest! Excellent! I should have started out by saying thank you for bringing the article to my attention, because I find I am loathe to read opinion pieces because I get so riled up – and yet, how does one engage in the conversation without knowing other people’s opinions and thinking. So thank you and social media for putting this one in front of my face, and thanks for the conversation! This is all typed in the realm of its really good to talk about this stuff, and with you! So, there are two things you bring up that I think are very important – there is “the world” and “the earth” – both of which are changing dramatically. I would identify “the earth” as the physical mass of the planet and nature etc., whereas “the world” is human society and culture in all of its variances. There are the natural changes that are happening with “the earth” and changes as a result of “the world’s” habitation of “the earth.” The changes in one affect and effect changes in the other, and that is a two way street in terms of adaptation and reaction to stimuli. I think what First Nations traditions offer are concepts of the connection between “the world” and “the earth” and ways to live. As human society continues to develop in the 21st century there are so many things that we have to sort out, of course not the least of which is how to live with each other. Also is how to live with the earth. The (mis)conception of ideas like manifest destiny, and (mis)interpretation of things like the Christian creation stories that lead to an adversarial relationship of dominance and power over “the earth” and everything in it are pretty unhealthy, and unsustainable. It is harder in rural areas to avoid, but in cities the disconnect grows exponentially between “the world” and “the earth.” As society and culture develop and we need more material resources to that with the recognition that those resources come from “the earth” should bring us to look at our relationship with “the earth.” The treaties and land rights and traditions and the clashing of ideas, ideals and worldviews (and spiritualities) is all part of that process which is self reflective for individuals as well as groups (be it government or culture). There is of course a romanticism that many of us fall into of wanting things to be “the way they were” (which is always a trap because it never is in our minds like it was in reality – and so the writer’s use of dream palace is accurate in that respect). There is a difference as well to maintaining and adhering to healthy traditions, and becoming enslaved to traditionalism, and that is a battle that is constantly being played out everywhere (one I know particularly well from the church, and not in a good way!). I don’t know specifically enough about treaties to feel that I am able to properly evaluate, but I would venture to say that most treaties deal with land and who “owns” it and what can be done, or not done with it – and so there I think that treaties are probably still relevant. But relevancy can also be a bit of a trap (something else I know from church!) There is of course too the clash with “development” and “progress” and “resource extraction” from the perspective that “needs” those resources to continue down that particular path (the one that arguably modern 21st century North America is on) – but is that the only or the right or correct path? I imagine that some people feel irrelevant, but as a whole I imagine it is not so much first Nations feeling irrelevant to the rest of Canada, but more speaking the same words, but not speaking the same language. In some ways like the Occupy movement, or even Anonymous, Idle No More does not have any clear or specific leaders or demands, and there is that danger that it will go nowhere – but hopefully at the very least it will have some of us sit up and pay attention and learn a thing or two, and challenge us to become more involved in our own communities, to learn who we live with and around, and about the land we live on. If we end up living on depleted and poisoned ground with polluted and poisoned water that kills everything, then what good is any of our technological and academic/philosophical advancement? I am not advocating for an abdication of technology and advancement/learning/progress, but impact on “the earth” and “the world” has to be understood and throught through with long-term planning. In reading the books World War Z and Robopocalypse I definitely entertained my skill set vs. a disaster that would have me and my immediate family survivng – my skill sets do not involve knowing how to grow vegetables or crops of any kind, or hunting in any way shape or form, or construction or repair of anything in particular, medical/first aid or any other resources that would be needed in the event of say an earthquake, tsunami, or other natural disaster. Humbling to say the least. How do we develop and grow and progress and not kill ourselves and each other in the process? I hope that Idle No More proves us all wrong as well and I hope that we are all able to engage in new and different ways…..ways that are also strangely ancient and the same….arguably! Man I haven’t written this much in forever! Sorry for the essays – Lots to think about and talk about and share.