Transcript: Taiaiake Alfred on Canada and its indigenous peoples | Apr 20, 2003

Taiaiake Alfred stands on a wooden podium in front of a green chalkboard and addresses an audience in a classroom.
He's in his late thirties, clean-shaven, with short black hair. He's wearing a long-sleeved gray and black t-shirt.

He says I WANTED TO
START OFF BY MAKING CLEAR TO
EVERYONE THAT THE IDEAS THAT I
HAVE AND THE IDEAS AND THE
THOUGHTS THAT I HAVE AND THE
WORDS THAT I HAVE TO SHARE FOR
YOU, ARE MY OWN AND THEY'RE NOT
REFLECTIVE OF ANY OF THE
AFFILIATIONS THAT I HAVE
OTHERWISE OUTSIDE OF MY OWN
THOUGHTS TODAY.
SO I'M NOT REPRESENTING ANYONE
EXCEPT MY OWN PERSPECTIVE.
I WANTED TO SAY THAT, BECAUSE MY
NEW FRIEND RON HERE SAYS THAT
YOU KNOW, I'M PERCEIVED AS A BIT
OF A RIGHT WING PERSON IN
CERTAIN CIRCLES.
SO I TOLD HIM, THAT'S OKAY, I'D
RATHER BE RIGHT ANY DAY THAN
ANYTHING ELSE, SO JUST TO MAKE
THAT CLEAR BEFORE I START OFF.
WHAT I WANTED TO FOCUS ON, AND I
SHOULD ALSO MAKE CLEAR THAT I'M
GOING TO MAKE SOME REMARKS AND
SHARE SOME WORDS AND THOUGHTS,
BUT I'M HERE TO HAVE A
DISCUSSION, AND TO LEARN FROM
PEOPLE AS WELL, SO I LOOK AT
THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE
SOME ENGAGEMENT WITH PEOPLE.
AND ENGAGEMENT WITH PEOPLE FROM
WHEREVER THEY COME FROM, SO
PROFESSORS, STUDENTS, PEOPLE WHO
MAY NOT EVEN BE AFFILIATED WITH
THE UNIVERSITY WHO ARE HERE,
PLEASE FEEL FREE, WHEN I'M DONE,
TO CHALLENGE AND QUESTION AND
EXPRESS ANY THOUGHTS OR CONCERNS
YOU MIGHT HAVE WITH WHAT I SAY.
AND I'M GOING TO TRY TO PERSUADE
YOU TODAY, IN THE NEXT HALF
HOUR, TOWARD A CERTAIN
PERSPECTIVE ON THE CHALLENGES WE
FACE AS PEOPLE AND AS INDIGENOUS
PEOPLE, AS ONGWEHONWEH IN OUR
LANGUAGE, IN THE HAUDENOSAUNEE
LANGUAGES, BUT ALSO AS HUMAN
BEINGS, AS PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN A
SOCIETY AND WHO CARRY WITH THEM
A RESPONSIBILITY TO CONDUCT
THEMSELVES ACCORDING TO AN ETHIC
AND A SET OF PRINCIPALS AND A
SET OF VALUES WHICH PROMOTE
HAPPINESS, PEACE AND JUSTICE.
AND THAT'S THE PERSPECTIVE AND
THAT'S THE SPIRIT THAT I'M
OFFERING MY WORDS IN.
AND I'M SPEAKING TO EVERYBODY
HERE, NOT ONLY TO NATIVE PEOPLE.
THE THING THAT I'M GOING TO TRY
AND PERSUADE YOU ABOUT IS
POSSIBLY CONTENTIOUS IN SOME
PEOPLE'S MINDS, AND I COULD SAY
IT IN A VERY BLUNT WAY, AS I HAD
SAID IT FOR THE LAST 3 DAYS
WHERE I'VE GIVEN 4 SPEECHES IN 6
NATIONS AND AT McMASTER.
I'M GOING TO TRY TO PERSUADE YOU
THAT CANADA IS FOUNDED ON LIES,
AND THAT THE LIES THAT CANADA
HAS THE FORM THE CONSTITUTIONAL
PREMISE AND THE INSTITUTIONAL
STRUCTURE OF ITS RELATIONSHIP TO
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, ARE FALSE.
AND THAT BY ADHERING TO THOSE,
BY LIVING THOSE, BY HONOURING
THOSE AND BY FORMING AN
ATTACHMENT TO THOSE FALSEHOODS,
WE'RE IN FACT NOT PROMOTING
JUSTICE NO MATTER WHAT WE DO
WITHIN THAT SYSTEM.
AND THAT IN FACT, IF WE ARE
HUMAN BEINGS COMMITTED TO
JUSTICE, OUR RESPONSIBILITY IS
TO CHALLENGE THE EFFECT OF THOSE
LIES ON OUR OWN LIVES, TO PURGE
OURSELVES OF THOSE LIES AND TO
COMMIT OURSELVES TO THE TRUTH,
AND THEN TO CARRY OUT A SET OF
POLITICAL DECISIONS AND TO
DEVELOP A POLITICAL STRATEGY AND
A SET OF--
A WAY OF LIVING, A WAY OF LIFE
AND A NEW ETHIC THAT IS, I GUESS
EXPRESSED IN MY MIND BEST, AS A
REBELLION OF THE TRUTH AGAINST
THE LIE.
SO BEING FROM KAHNAWAKE, LOTS OF
PEOPLE ASSOCIATE US WITH
REBELLION ANYWAY.
IN 1990 FROM OUR GENERAL TONE
AND OUR PERSONALITY, I GUESS.
I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE
BELIEVE IN NATIONAL CHARACTER
ANY MORE, BUT THERE IS A CERTAIN
ASSOCIATION OF OUR PEOPLE, THE
PEOPLES OF THE EASTERN DOOR OF
THE HAUDENOSAUNEE, AND THESE
COMMUNITIES IN PARTICULAR, WITH
ACTS OF REBELLION, PHYSICALLY,
MENTALLY, INTELLECTUALLY AND SO
FORTH AND I'M TRYING TO GIVE YOU
A SENSE OF A TONE, A SENSE OF AN
ATTITUDE, A POSTURE WITH RESPECT
TO THE ACCEPTED TRUTHS THAT FORM
THE BASIS OF OUR RELATIONSHIP
TODAY, AND WHEN I USE THE
REBELLION, I USE THAT VERY, VERY
CONSCIOUSLY IN TERMS OF WHAT THE
IMPLICATIONS OF USING THAT WORD
ARE.
AND I'D LIKE TO LEAVE YOU AT THE
END, WITH A SENSE OF WHAT I MEAN
BY REBELLION.
AND I CAN JUST GIVE YOU A LITTLE
BIT OF A HINT AT THE BEGINNING,
SO THAT YOU CAN FOLLOW IT
THROUGH FROM BEGINNING TO END.
I DON'T MEAN 1,000 OKAS.
AND I DON'T MEAN 600 OKAS.
I MEAN A MUCH DEEPER AND MORE
PROFOUND REBELLION AGAINST THE
PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SPIRITUAL
EFFECTS OF THOSE LIES ON THE
LIVES OF OUR PEOPLE, AND INSIDE
OF OUR OWN HEADS.
WHEN I THINK ABOUT WHAT THE
PROBLEM IS FACING OUR PEOPLES,
WHEN I THINK ABOUT WHY WE'RE
EVEN SITTING HERE TALKING, WHEN
I THINK ABOUT WHY I WAS INVOLVED
FOR 15 YEARS WORKING WITH A BAND
COUNCIL SYSTEM TO TRY TO CHANGE
THE LIVES OF OUR PEOPLE, TO TRY
TO ACHIEVE WHAT WE THOUGHT WAS
JUSTICE AT THAT TIME, I THINK
ABOUT IT IN PROBABLY A DIFFERENT
WAY THAN THE WAY IT'S BROUGHT TO
PEOPLE IN THE UNIVERSITY, OR
EVEN BROUGHT FORWARD IN A
POLITICAL DISCOURSE HERE IN
CANADA.
OFTEN TIMES WE THINK ABOUT THE
PROBLEM AS LAND CLAIMS, SELF
GOVERNMENT PROBLEMS OF
INJUSTICE, SOCIAL JUSTICE AND SO
FORTH, AND I THINK THAT THOSE
ARE PROBABLY GOOD WAYS OF TRYING
TO GET AN ACCESS INTO WHAT THE
REAL PROBLEM IS.
BUT THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT OUR
PEOPLE ARE LIVING UNHEALTHY
LIVES, THEY'RE UNHAPPY, THEY'RE
DYSFUNCTIONAL, THEY ARE NOT
PERPETUATING THE KINDS OF THINGS
IN THEIR LIVES THAT LEAD TO
HAPPINESS AND PEACE AND GOOD
RELATIONSHIPS, AND A SUSTAINABLE
RELATIONSHIP ON A RESPECTFUL
BASIS AMONGST THEMSELVES, WITH
THE EARTH AND WITH OTHER
PEOPLES.
SO I BRING IT DOWN TO A REAL
HUMAN LEVEL WHEN I THINK ABOUT
WHAT THE PROBLEM IS.
IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, I THINK
ABOUT WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR?
AND WHAT WE'RE FIGHTING FOR IS
TO BRING PEACE AND HAPPINESS
INTO THE LIVES OF INDIGENOUS
PEOPLE, AS A STARTING PREMISE.
THAT MAY SEEM OBVIOUS, BUT I
THINK IT NEEDS TO BE SAID, OR AT
LEAST NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT
FORWARD AS A REMINDER TO THOSE
OF US WHO ARE INVOLVED IN MAKING
CHANGE IN THIS SOCIETY, WHICH IS
ALL OF US SITTING HERE, IN
EDUCATION, IN POLITICS, IN THE
ARTS AND CULTURE AND SO FORTH.
BECAUSE I THINK IN THE LAST 10,
20 YEARS OR SO, OUR MOVEMENT IF
YOU WILL, TO MAKE CHANGE IN
CANADA, ON THE QUESTION OF IT'S
RELATIONSHIP TO INDIGENOUS
PEOPLES, HAS LOST SIGHT OF THAT
OBJECTIVE.
I EVEN REFLECT BACK ON MY OWN
EXPERIENCE.
WHEN WE STARTED OUT IN
KAHNAWAKE, I DON'T WANT TO SAY
"WE," AND GIVE YOU THE
IMPRESSION THAT THINGS STARTED
WHEN I CAME ON THE SCENE AT ALL,
WHEN I STARTED IN THE MID
1980's, AS A JUNIOR RESEARCHER,
WRITER, SOMEONE JUST LEARNING
ABOUT HIS OWN COMMUNITY AND THE
DYNAMICS AND TRYING TO MAKE A
CONTRIBUTION.
I REMEMBER VERY DISTINCTLY
ELDERS, PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY,
ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WERE HOLDING
US ACCOUNTABLE TO WHAT WE WERE
DOING IN THAT COMMUNITY, SAYING,
WELL WHAT YOU'RE DOING IS REALLY
TO MAKE OUR LIVES BETTER.
WE NEED JUSTICE, AND BY JUSTICE
WHAT THEY MEANT IS, WE NEED TO
BE ABLE TO LIVE LIVES WITH
DIGNITY, THAT ARE HEALTHY
ACCORDING TO OUR OWN LAWS AND
OUR OWN CHOICES ON OUR OWN LAND.
AND IF YOU GO TO SIX NATIONS, IF
YOU HAPPEN TO GO TO SIX NATIONS,
AND YOU GO OUTSIDE THE ONONDAGA
LONG HOUSE, I BELIEVE IT IS, AND
YOU LOOK AT A VERY CENTRAL
CHARACTER IN IROQUOIAN HISTORY
RECENTLY, IF YOU LOOK AT THE
TOMBSTONE THAT THEY HAVE FOR
HIM, I THINK THAT YOU HAVE A
VERY, VERY CONCISE SUMMARY OF
WHAT HAUDENOSAUNEE , AND I
BELIEVE OTHER ONGWEHONWEH PEOPLE
ARE STRUGGLING FOR.
AND IT'S A QUOTE FROM A SPEECH
THAT HE GAVE ON ONE OF THE
TRAVELS THAT HE MADE ALL OVER
THE WORLD.
AND HE SAYS, "THE HAUDENOSAUNEE
ARE SIMPLY FIGHTING FOR THE
RIGHT TO LIVE ON THEIR OWN LAND
ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN LAWS AND
TO WORSHIP THEIR OWN GODS."
AND I BELIEVE THAT'S A VERY,
VERY CONCISE SUMMARY OF THE
OBJECTIVE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
IN THE STRUGGLES THAT WE KNOW AS
SELF GOVERNMENT, OR LAND CLAIMS
OR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OR
WHATEVER IT IS.
AND THAT CONCISE SUMMARY
TRANSLATES INTO THE DEFINITION
OF HAPPINESS AND PEACE FOR OUR
PEOPLE.
THINK ABOUT WHAT PEACE IS
GENERALLY THOUGHT OF IN CANADA.
AND FOR ANOTHER KIND OF TEXTUAL
REFERENCE TO CONTRAST THE
PROFOUND WORDS, SIMPLE YET
PROFOUND WORDS, YOU MIGHT LOOK
AT THE FIRST FEW LINES OF THE
CANADIAN CONSTITUTION, PEACE,
ORDER AND GOOD GOVERNMENT.
UM, I THINK THAT PEACE GETS
TRANSLATED AS ORDER AND GOOD
GOVERNMENT, OFTENTIMES WITHOUT
ANY QUESTION AS TO WHAT
CONSTITUTES THE BASIS FOR HAVING
ORDER IN THE SOCIETY.
AND THAT PEACE IS--
THAT TYPE OF PEACE IS ELEVATED
ABOVE THE TYPE OF PEACE THAT WE
MEAN WHEN WE TALK ABOUT PEACE.
SO IN OUR LANGUAGE, "SKANA."
SKANA IS NOT ONLY THE LACK OF
VIOLENCE, IT'S NOT ONLY THE LACK
OF A FISTFIGHT BETWEEN GROUPS OF
PEOPLE, OR RIOTING IN THE
STREETS, IT'S A MUCH MORE
PROFOUND STATEMENT AS TO A STATE
OF AFFAIRS, BUT ALSO A STATE OF
MIND AND A SPIRITUAL STATE IN A
PERSON'S MAKEUP AND BEING.
SKANA MEANS YOU HAVE PEACE OF
MIND, YOU'RE BALANCED, YOU'RE
HAPPY, YOU'RE AT PEACE IN THE
WORLD.
THAT'S WHAT SKANA MEANS, AND
THAT'S WHAT--
WHEN WE SAY PEACE, THAT'S WHAT
WE MEAN.
AND I'M NOT MEANING TO TAKE
EXCLUSIVE POSSESSION OF THIS AS
WELL, BECAUSE I'VE TRAVELLED THE
WORLD ENOUGH AND I'VE READ
ENOUGH AND I'VE MET ENOUGH
PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES
TO KNOW THAT THIS IS SOMETHING
THAT'S EXPRESSED IN ASIAN
CULTURES IN AFRICAN CULTURES, IN
CULTURES ALL OVER THE WORLD,
EVEN IN EUROPEAN CULTURES.
IN EUROPEAN CULTURES THERE'S
TRADITIONS, THERE'S SPIRITUAL
TRADITIONS, THERE'S TEACHINGS.
BUT WE HAVE TO ACCEPT THE FACT
OF REALITY THAT THAT'S NOT WHAT
THE COUNTRY WE CALL CANADA TODAY
IS PROMOTING IN THE KIND OF
INSTITUTIONS, POLICIES AND
POLITICS AND WAYS OF LIFE THAT
WE'VE INSTITUTED AND ELEVATED AS
AN IDEAL WITHIN THIS SOCIETY.
SO WHEN WE FIGHT ABOUT POLITICS,
WHEN WE ARGUE ABOUT POLITICS,
WHEN WE TALK ABOUT POLITICS, WE
RUN INTO AN IMMEDIATE PROBLEM.
WE RUN INTO THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN SKANA AS AN OBJECTIVE,
WHICH BRINGS WITH IT A WHOLE SET
OF ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE BASIS
FOR THAT EXISTENCE, RESPECT,
HONOUR, HONESTY, SHARING, ALL OF
THESE THINGS.
WHEN I GO TO SIX NATIONS, EVERY
TIME I GO THERE, I GET DIFFERENT
TEACHINGS.
I LEARN SOMETHING EVERY TIME
ABOUT THE FOUNDATIONS FOR SKANA.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE, HOW DO YOU
HAVE TO THINK, WHAT DO YOU HAVE
TO DO, ALL OF THESE THINGS, AND
I LEARN EVERY TIME I GO, AND I'M
GOING TO BE LEARNING FOR THE
REST OF MY LIFE JUST LIKE
EVERYBODY ELSE.
BUT THE CENTRAL FACT IS THAT THE
POLITICS, TRADITIONALLY, FOR
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, AND MY OWN
PEOPLE, HAUDENOSAUNEE, IS TO
ACHIEVE THAT STATE.
NOW LORD KNOWS WE FAIL AND WE
FLOUNDER AND WE GO OFF TRACK AND
WE FIGHT AMONGST OURSELVES.
BUT THAT'S THE ORIENTING
OBJECTIVE.
THINK ABOUT THAT AS AN OBJECTIVE
IN CONTRAST TO THE OBJECTIVES
THAT ARE PUT FORWARD BY THE
CANADIAN GOVERNMENT TODAY IN
RELATION TO THIS PROBLEM THAT
ITS INHERITED, THE PROBLEM OF
HISTORY, WHICH IS THE STATE OF
OUR PEOPLES, AND THE CONFLICT
BETWEEN CANADIAN SOCIETY AND THE
NEEDS OF CANADIAN SOCIETY AND
OUR PEOPLES.
NOW EVEN A VERY PROGRESSIVE
STATEMENT, TODAY STILL DOESN'T
CAPTURE OR TOUCH UPON THE NOTION
THAT I'M SPEAKING OF, I WOULD
ARGUE.
THE LAST THRONE SPEECH TALKS
ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE.
IT TALKS ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE
AND IT TALKS ABOUT GIVING
HOUSES, BUILDING BETTER HOUSES,
FIXING THE ONES THAT ARE ROTTEN,
GIVING WATER, FOOD, JOBS, ALL OF
THESE GOOD THINGS TO NATIVE
PEOPLE.
WHO CAN ARGUE WITH THAT?
I CERTAINLY CAN'T ARGUE WITH THE
FACT OF NATIVE PEOPLE HAVING THE
RIGHT TO HAVE A MATERIAL
EXISTENCE, THAT APPROXIMATES
THAT OF THE LOWER MIDDLE CLASS
IN CANADA.
I'M NOT GOING TO ARGUE AGAINST
THAT.
BUT IS THAT JUSTICE?
IS THAT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S
THE FOUNDATION OF SKANA?
IT MAY BE A SMALL PART, I THINK
IT SURELY IS A SMALL PART, BUT
IT'S NOT SUFFICIENT.
IT'S NOT JUSTICE IN AND OF
ITSELF.
SOCIAL JUSTICE IN CANADA,
MATERIAL WELL BEING OF
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IS AN
IMPORTANT COMPONENT TO THE
CREATION OF JUSTICE FROM AN
INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVE.
BUT YOU'RE MISSING FROM THE
ONGWEHONWEH VIEW OF LIFE AND OF
HUMAN BEINGS' MAKEUP, YOU'RE
MISSING 3/4 OF THE SOLUTION IF
YOU FOCUS ON MATERIAL WELL
BEING.
BECAUSE YOU HAVE EMOTIONS, YOU
HAVE INTELLECTUAL BEING, YOU
HAVE A BUNCH OF OTHER THINGS
THAT GO INTO MAKING UP WHAT A
HUMAN BEING IS AND CREATING THAT
SKANA.
SO WHAT I THINK ONE OF THE
PROBLEMS IS, AND PROBABLY THE
CENTRAL PROBLEM IN NATIVE
POLITICS TODAY, AND IN THE
RELATION BETWEEN NATIVE PEOPLE
AND NON NATIVE PEOPLE HERE, IS
THAT EVEN WITH THE PROGRESS THAT
THE SOCIETY HAS MADE, IT'S STILL
VERY NARROW IN ITS CONCEPTION OF
A SOLUTION.
AND IN DOING SO, IN BUILDING
POLICIES, IN PUTTING FORWARD
LAWS, AND IN HAVING THE KIND OF
CULTURAL ETHIC THAT BUILDS UP
AROUND THE TYPE OF SOLUTION FOR
THIS PROBLEM, IT'S IN FACT
PERPETUATING A LARGER INJUSTICE.
THAT'S A HARSH THING TO SAY TO
PEOPLE WHO THINK THEY'RE DOING
GOOD.
I UNDERSTAND THAT.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, LIKE I
STARTED OUT IN MY TALK, I
BELIEVE THAT WE'RE ALL HUMAN
BEINGS SITTING HERE WITH A SENSE
OF JUSTICE THAT TRANSCENDS THE
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN US.
IF WE REALLY COMMITTED TO
TRANSCENDING THE DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN US, THEN WE HAVE TO LOOK
AT JUSTICE NOT COLOURED THROUGH
OUR FLAG, NOT COLOURED THROUGH A
SET OF EXPERIENCES THAT OUR
GRANDPARENTS HAD IN COMING OVER
HERE, NOT COLOURED THROUGH A
REGION WHERE WE LIVE, A SCHOOL
WE WENT TO, OR ANYTHING LIKE
THAT.
NOT FILTERED THROUGH AND
CONSTRAINED BY EMOTIONAL
ATTACHMENTS THAT WE MAY HAVE
HAD.
WE HAVE TO LOOK AT JUSTICE AND
BE HONEST ENOUGH AND COURAGEOUS
ENOUGH TO LOOK AT OURSELVES,
NATIVE AND NON NATIVE PEOPLE AND
SEE WHERE WE ARE CONSTRAINING
THE ACHIEVEMENT OF JUSTICE
THROUGH THE CHOICES, THE
BELIEFS, THE ACTIONS THAT WE
TAKE.
AND I MAKE THAT POINT AGAIN
CONSCIOUSLY THAT IT'S NATIVE AND
NON NATIVE.
IF I STARTED OFF SAYING THAT
WHILE CANADA IS FOUNDED ON LIES.
WELL, WHAT ARE SOME OF THOSE
LIES?
WELL ONE OF THE LIES IS CROWN
SOVEREIGNTY.
ONE OF THE LAWS IS CROWN TITLE.
LET'S LOOK AT THEM LEGALLY AND
WE FIND SOME VERY SERIOUS GAPS
AND FLAWS IN THOSE CONCEPTS,
THOSE IDEAS IF WE APPLY A
CONCEPT OF TRUTH OR A CRITERIA
OF TRUTH THAT IS NOT COLOURED BY
EITHER AN EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT
TO A FLAG, A REGION A RELIGION
OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.
WHAT CONSTITUTES TRUTH?
I KNOW THERE'S ALL KINDS OF
THEORIES AND THERE'S PEOPLE HERE
WHO INTIMIDATE ME IN BEING ABLE
TO TALK ABOUT WHAT CONSTITUTES
TRUTH IN A PHILOSOPHICAL SENSE
AND ALL THAT, BUT LET ME GIVE
YOU MY CONCEPT OF WHAT TRUTH IS,
AND ACKNOWLEDGING THAT IT'S NOT
A FULLY DEVELOPED PHILOSOPHICAL
CONCEPT AT THIS POINT, I THINK
IT STILL RINGS TRUE.
IF WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT
TRUTH, AND USE IT AS A TOOL TO
QUESTION WHETHER OR NOT OUR LAWS
AND POLICIES AND INSTITUTIONS
AND ATTITUDES ARE JUST OR NOT,
OR RIGHT OR NOT, LET'S LOOK AT
WHAT TRUTH IS.
WELL FIRST OF ALL, IT NEEDS TO
BE ACCURATE, I BELIEVE,
ACCURACY, FACTUAL, KIND OF
EMPIRICAL ACCURACY SHOULD BE THE
FOUNDATION OF WHETHER OR NOT
SOMETHING IS TRUTHFUL.
THE OTHER IS WHETHER IT FITS A
DEVELOPED CONCEPT OF WHAT
JUSTICE IS.
IT OUGHT TO BE FRAMED IN A
CONCEPT OF JUSTICE, AND IT OUGHT
TO LEAD TO AS WELL, A SET OF
BEHAVIOURS AND ACTIONS, IT OUGHT
TO BE REALISTIC ENOUGH TO BE
ABLE TO TAKE US TOWARDS A SET OF
ACTIONS THAT PROMOTE THAT SENSE
OF JUSTICE AND CREATE RIGHTNESS
IN THE WORLD.
BUT EVEN ON THE FIRST
FOUNDATIONAL PREMISE OF
HISTORICAL ACCURACY, OR FACTUAL
ACCURACY, WE FIND THE NOTIONS OF
CROWN SOVEREIGNTY, CROWN TITLE
AND INSTITUTIONS THAT GOVERN THE
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CANADIAN
PEOPLE AND NATIVE PEOPLES
FOUNDERING.
BECAUSE THEY'RE PREMISED ON
UNTRUTHS, THEY'RE PREMISED ON
VERY UNCOMFORTABLE FACTS FOR
PEOPLE TO HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE
HERE IN THIS COUNTRY WHICH
IMAGINES ITSELF TO BE TOLERANT
AND NOT RACIST, THERE I SAID IT,
NOT RACIST.
BECAUSE IN EFFECT, AS SPEAKERS
BEFORE ME AND SCHOLARS BEFORE ME
HAVE SAID VERY, VERY ELOQUENTLY,
THERE ARE SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH
THE ASSUMPTIONS THAT GO INTO THE
FOUNDING CONSTITUTIONAL PREMISES
OF THIS RELATIONSHIP.
HISTORICAL ACCURACY AND THE LOSS
OF MEMORY AMONG BOTH PEOPLES,
NATIVE AND NON NATIVE PEOPLES,
AND THE MANIPULATION OF THAT
LOSS OF MEMORY AND THE INSERTION
OF A FALSE HISTORY INTO THE
LEGAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE
INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE USED TO
GOVERN OUR SOCIETY IS A CENTRAL
FACT OF WHAT THIS COUNTRY IS ALL
ABOUT.
PEOPLE HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT IT IN
COLONIZING AND IN THE COLONIAL
EXPERIENCE AND THEY'VE SORT OF
CRITICIZED COLONIAL MENTALITIES,
AND YOU CAN READ PHENON, YOU CAN
READ MEMI, YOU CAN READ A WHOLE
BUNCH OF MODERN SCHOLARSHIP
ABOUT THIS, ABOUT HOW CENTRAL
FORGETTING IS, HOW CENTRAL
OBSCURING THE TRUTH IS TO
BUILDING A COLONIAL COUNTRY AND
A COLONIAL ENTERPRISE.
CANADIANS DON'T OFTEN IMAGINE
THAT THAT IS A PART OF THE
DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR OWN
COUNTRY, BUT IT IS, AND IT'S A
SITUATION THAT NEEDS TO BE
RECTIFIED BEFORE ANYTHING CAN
PROGRESS.
BECAUSE IN THE WAY OF OUR
TEACHING, YOU CAN'T HAVE PEACE,
YOU CAN'T HAVE SKANA UNTIL YOU
HAVE UNDERSTANDING.
YOU CAN'T HAVE UNDERSTANDING
UNTIL IT'S FOUNDED ON THE TRUTH
AND ON MUTUAL ACCEPTANCE OF WHAT
THE TRUTH IS.
WE HAVE TO HAVE KNOWLEDGE TO
HAVE THE TRUTH, AND WHAT DO WE
HAVE TODAY IN THE PLACE OF
KNOWLEDGE, BUT THE MYTHOLOGY OF
COLONIALISM.
WE HAVE A MYTHOLOGY IN THE PLACE
OF TRUTH.
AND SO TO TRY TO GO FORWARD 3 OR
4 STEPS, TO TRY AND BUILD
INSTITUTIONS AND LAND CLAIMS AND
SETTLEMENTS AND LAWS AND ALL
THESE THINGS TO FIX A PROBLEM,
WHICH IS AT ROOT, ONE OF
UNDERSTANDING, LACK THEREOF AND
A SPIRITUAL LACK OF ROOTEDNESS
IN THE TRUTH, THAT'S THE OLD
PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE
HORSE TO USE ANOTHER SAYING.
THE TRUTH IS, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
NEVER SURRENDERED.
THEY NEVER SURRENDERED.
THEY NEVER SURRENDERED THE LAND,
THEY NEVER SURRENDERED THEIR
CONSENT TO BE AUTONOMOUS
PEOPLES, FREE PEOPLES.
THEY NEVER SURRENDERED THEIR
IDENTITY.
THEY NEVER SURRENDERED.
WHAT DID HAPPEN?
WHILE ALL OF YOU PEOPLE ARE
EDUCATED, ALL OF YOU PEOPLE HAVE
A BASIC SENSE OF THE HISTORY OF
THIS COUNTRY IN ITS--
AT LEAST IN ITS MYTHOLOGICAL
FRAMEWORK, WAS THE NATIVE PEOPLE
SUFFERED IMMENSELY FROM EPIDEMIC
DISEASES.
AND DON'T WORRY, I'M NOT HERE TO
LAY A BIG GUILT TRIP ON ABOUT
THE EFFECT OF EPIDEMIC DISEASES,
BECAUSE I'M FORWARD LOOKING.
WHAT WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE
PAST IF WE'RE GOING TO GO
FORWARD.
BASICALLY, IF I HAD A THUMBNAIL
SKETCH OF HISTORY RIGHT BEFORE
ME, I'D SAY THAT INDIGENOUS
PEOPLES ENGAGED ON THESE GOOD
PRINCIPALS THAT I DESCRIBED AS
SKANA AND A WHOLE SET OF OTHER
ONES AMONG ALL OF OUR OTHER
BROTHERS AND SISTERS, OUR
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE NEWCOMERS
TO THE TERRITORY.
AND THAT RELATIONSHIP WAS THE
FOUNDATION OF THAT SOCIETY UNTIL
THE DISEASES WIPED OUT THE
MILITARY AND POLITICAL POWER OF
ONE OF THOSE FOUNDING PEOPLES.
AND AT THAT POINT, ANOTHER
IDEOLOGY EMERGED AND ANOTHER SET
OF ACTIONS AND BEHAVIOURS AND
POLICIES AND DECISIONS, AND A
WHOLE CULTURE EMERGED ON THE
ASSUMPTION OF THE DEMISE OF THAT
INDIAN.
AND WHAT EMERGED OUT OF THAT WAS
A KIND OF A COLONIAL ARROGANCE
ON THE PART OF ONE OF THOSE
PARTNERS IN THAT RELATIONSHIP,
WHICH RE-IMAGINED THE INDIAN OUT
OF EXISTENCE.
AND TO THE EXTENT THAT THE
INDIAN WAS ON HIS WAY OUT, THEY
CREATED RESERVES, THEY CREATED
LITTLE WARDSHIP STATUSES, THEY
CREATED SITUATIONS TO MANAGE THE
PROBLEM WHILE IT WENT AWAY.
IN THE MEANTIME, THE COLONIAL
SOCIETY ARROGANTLY ASSUMED
EVERYTHING THAT THE INDIAN HAD.
HER LAND, HIS POWER, ALL OF
THESE SORTS OF THINGS.
AND WHAT YOU HAVE IN CANADA, IS
A SORT OF HISTORICAL BOOMERANG
EFFECT IN THE 1950's, WHERE THE
PEOPLE AND THEIR RIGHTS WERE
ASSUMED TO BE ON THEIR WAY OUT,
FADING AWAY, THE VANISHING
INDIAN, YOU HAVE THIS BOOMERANG
EFFECT WHERE THE INDIAN COMES
BACK, AND IT WAS "INDIAN" AT
THAT TIME.
THE INDIAN COMES BACK,
PHYSICALLY, CULTURALLY,
INTELLECTUALLY, THAT CULTURE,
THAT SOCIETY, THAT POWER BEGINS
TO RE-EMERGE.
AND YOU COME INTO A SITUATION
SOCIALLY AND POLITICALLY AND
LEGALLY IN THIS COUNTRY WHERE
YOU HAVE A MASSIVE DISJUNCTURE
BETWEEN THE MYTHOLOGY OF
COLONIALISM THAT WAS BUILT UP IN
THE 100 YEAR PERIOD BETWEEN THE
GREAT DYING AND THE RESURGENCE
THAT TOLD THE COLONIZER THAT
WHAT WE DID WAS RIGHT, IT WAS
HISTORICALLY INEVITABLE.
WE'RE SUPERIOR, THEY'RE LOSERS
OF HISTORY.
WE HAVE ALL OF THE TOOLS
NECESSARY TO BUILD A GREAT
SOCIETY HERE AND THAT'S WHAT
WE'RE GOING TO DO.
WE'RE GOING TO DEVELOP A LEGAL
AND INSTITUTIONAL REGIME AND A
CULTURE TO SUPPORT THAT.
WE'RE GOING TO TELL OURSELVES
LIES.
BUT WE HAVE TO DO THAT BECAUSE
THE WORLD KEEPS ON MOVING, AND
WE HAVE TO SATISFY OUR OWN
PSYCHOLOGY IN ORDER TO PROGRESS.
NOW WHEN THIS BOOMERANG COMES
AROUND, THAT RUNS HEADLONG INTO
THE PROBLEM OF THE OLDER FACT,
WHICH IS IN FACT A FACT, WHICH
IS IN FACT THE TRUTH IN A MUCH
MORE DEEPER AND PROFOUND SENSE
THAN THE MYTHOLOGIES THAT HAVE
BEEN DEVELOPED ON THIS FALSE
HISTORY IN ORDER TO SATISFY
PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS OF
COLONIZING PEOPLES.
THAT'S BASICALLY THE 1960s AND
70's AND 80's AND INTO THE ERA
THAT WE'RE FACING RIGHT NOW,
BECAUSE OUT OF THAT YOU START
GETTING ALL THESE DISJUNCTURES
MANIFEST--
THIS DISJUNCTURE, SORRY,
MANIFESTING IN ALL KINDS OF
DIFFERENT WAYS.
YOU HAVE THE RUNNING UP AGAINST,
YOU HAVE IDENTITY, THE RESURGENT
IDENTITY OF THE ONGWEHONWEH
PEOPLE RUNNING UP AGAINST THE
IDEA OF THE INDIAN, STATUS
INDIAN, HOLLYWOOD INDIAN,
DRUNKEN, WEARING FEATHERS, DOING
THIS, RUNNING AROUND, NOT HAVING
ANY DISCIPLINE.
I DON'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE
WHOLE IGNOBLE SAVAGE IMAGERY
THAT RUNS DIRECTLY AGAINST THE
EXPERIENCE OF OUR PEOPLE IN WHAT
A TRUE ONGWEHONWEH IS.
THAT'S REFLECTED EVEN IN NEW
WAYS.
POWWOWS, THERE'S A BIG POWWOW
HERE THIS WEEKEND, EVERYBODY'S
GOING.
THERE'S THE POWWOW, THERE'S ALL
KINDS OF NEW EXPRESSIONS FOR
THAT IDENTITY IN LITERATURE, IN
ART, IN BEHAVIOUR AND SO FORTH,
BUT IT'S ROOTED AND IT'S
AUTHENTIC, AND IT'S REFLECTIVE
OF THAT TRUTH.
AND THERE'S PROCESSES IN PLACE
INSIDE THAT CULTURE WHICH BRING
FORWARD THAT TRUTH INTO THE
PRESENT AND IT RUNS HEADLONG
INTO A CONFLICT WITH THAT
MYTHOLOGY.
AND WHAT HAVE WE GOT?
ALL OF THE IDENTITY CRISES AND
ALL OF THE IDENTITY POLITICS
THAT WE HAVE NOW IN OUR
COMMUNITIES.
LOOK AT IT IN TERMS OF LAND,
CROWN TITLE.
THE ASSUMPTION THAT THIS WHOLE
TURTLE ISLAND, IS TERRA NULIUS
IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE.
WITHOUT--
IS IT WITHOUT PEOPLE?
OR EMPTY LAND.
EMPTY LAND.
WELL, EMPTY LAND, IT WASN'T TOO
EMPTY IF YOU READ THE EXPLORERS'
JOURNALS.
JACQUES CARTIER COMING DOWN THE
ST. LAWRENCE SEEING 40,000
PEOPLE IN ALL KINDS OF VILLAGES
AND ANIMALS AND CULTIVATION AND
BASICALLY SOMETHING CALLED
CIVILIZATION.
IT WASN'T TERRA NULLIUS AT ALL.
BUT YET, ONCE THOSE 40,000
PEOPLE DIE OFF AND ONCE ALL
THOSE PEOPLE HAVE NO MORE POWER,
MILITARILY AND POLITICALLY,
ECONOMICALLY, THEY'RE RELEGATED
TO A LITTLE PLACE WHERE THEY
HAVE NO ABILITY TO EXPRESS
THEMSELVES.
THEN THIS MYTHOLOGY OF TERRA
NULLIUS CAN COME AND ALL THE
THINGS WE KNOW NOW AS ABORIGINAL
TITLE CAN EMERGE.
AND I'M NOT STOPPING IN 1985.
I'M CONTINUING MY ANALYSIS AND
MY JUDGEMENT ALL THE WAY TO THE
PRESENT.
ABORIGINAL TITLE, EVEN THE MOST
PROGRESSIVE SO-CALLED SUPREME
COURT DECISIONS REFLECT
BASICALLY THE SAME MENTALITY.
NOW YOU RUN UP THE IDEA OF
INHERENT INDIGENOUS OWNERSHIP,
POSSESSION WHATEVER WORD YOU
WANT TO USE, RELATIONSHIP TO
LAND, YOU RUN THAT UP AGAINST
ABORIGINAL TITLE, AND YOU HAVE A
MASSIVE DISJUNCTURE AND YOU HAVE
A MASSIVE CONFLICT THAT'S REALLY
UNRESOLVABLE IF YOU HAVE
INTEGRITY WITHIN THOSE 2
POSITIONS.
IF YOU STICK WITHIN THE ONE
POSITION, EVEN IF YOU'RE
PROGRESSIVE, AND IF YOU STICK
WITHIN THIS OTHER POSITION, EVEN
IF YOU'RE VERY ACCOMMODATING AND
NICE, THEY DON'T MESH.
THEN YOU ALSO THINK ABOUT, AS
IT'S MANIFEST IN GOVERNMENT
TERMS OR COMMUNITY TERMS.
YOU HAVE YOUR EXISTENCE AS
ONGWEHONWEH, YOU HAVE YOUR LAWS,
YOUR SYSTEMS OF SOCIAL
ORGANIZATION, YOUR TEACHINGS,
YOUR CULTURE, YOUR LANGUAGE, ALL
OF THESE DIFFERENT THINGS.
YOU HAVE THAT AND THEN YOU HAVE
SOMETHING CALLED "THE INDIAN
ACT," WHICH IS A MANIFESTATION
OF THE COLONIAL PREROGATIVE TO
GOVERN OVER LESSER PEOPLES.
IT'S SORT OF AN EARLIER
REFLECTION OF ROYAL PREROGATIVE.
ROYAL PREROGATIVE BASICALLY...
I'M NOT A LEGAL HISTORIAN HERE,
SO I'LL JUST GIVE YOU MY OWN
UNDERSTANDING OF IT -- A SORT OF
CATCH ALL POWER FOR THE MONARCH
TO BE ABLE TO OVERRIDE CERTAIN
PRINCIPLES THAT OTHERWISE GOVERN
PEOPLE.
ROYAL PREROGATIVE, THAT'S JUST
LIKE CROWN PREROGATIVE HERE TO
OVERRIDE THE SOVEREIGNTY AND THE
EXISTENCE OF ALL THOSE
CEREMONIES ALL THAT KNOWLEDGE
ALL THAT HISTORY AND ALL THAT
CULTURE AND ALL THAT
CIVILIZATION, AND IMPOSE A WAY
OF LIFE AND A SET OF
INSTITUTIONS ON PEOPLE, ON THE
ASSUMPTION THAT THEY HAVE THE
RIGHT TO DO IT.
THEY YOU HAVE THE QUESTION NOW
MANIFEST ITSELF AS SELF
GOVERNMENT.
AND THAT'S THE KIND OF CONFLICTS
THAT WE'RE LOOKING AT TODAY.
SO I'M GIVING YOU ALL THIS
HISTORY IN THE HOPES THAT YOU'LL
BE ABLE TO CONTEXTUALIZE THE
ISSUES THAT WE'RE DEALING WITH
HERE A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY THAN
GLOBAL NEWS OR CBC OR ANY OF THE
NEWSPAPERS THAT WE'RE FORCED TO
READ CONTEXTUALIZE IT IN.
WHEN NATIVE PEOPLE ARE TALKING
ABOUT THEIR TAX EXEMPTION, OR
NATIVE PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT
SELF GOVERNMENT, OR LAND CLAIMS,
THEY ARE NOT PEOPLE WHO ARE
LOSERS OF HISTORY ASKING FOR THE
BENEFICENCE OF A SUPERIOR
PEOPLE.
THEY'RE HUMAN BEINGS WITH A
COMMITMENT TO PRESERVING THEIR
OWN EXISTENCE, WHICH IS A BASIC
HUMAN RIGHT, AND THEY'RE ASKING
CANADIANS AND AMERICANS TO LIVE
LIKE HUMAN BEINGS AS WELL, AND
TO LOOK AT THE TRUTH AND TO LOOK
AT JUSTICE AND TO TAKE DECISIONS
AND ACTIONS BASED ON THE TRUTH
AND JUSTICE, RATHER THAN ON THE
NEED TO PRESERVE PRIVILEGE THAT
WAS DEVELOPED OUT OF THIS
INJUSTICE OVER THE LAST 150
YEARS.
THAT'S WHAT LAND CLAIMS ARE.
IT'S NOT ALTRUISM, IT'S NOT
ANYTHING LIKE THAT.
SO NOW IF WE'RE GOING TO LOOK
FORWARD.
IF WE'RE GOING TO LOOK FORWARD
AND WE'RE COMMITTED TOGETHER TO
FIX THE SITUATION, I HOPE BY NOW
YOU KIND OF SENSE MY OWN
POSITION ON THIS IS THAT IT'S
NOT REALLY POSSIBLE TO WORK
WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF
COLONIALISM TO SOLVE A COLONIAL
PROBLEM.
I KNOW THIS IS KIND OF A
PERENNIAL POST COLONIAL
QUESTION.
CAN YOU USE THE MASTER'S TOOLS
TO TAKE DOWN THE MASTER'S HOUSE
AND ALL THAT.
WELL MY ANSWER IS NO.
SIMPLE AS THAT.
MAYBE MARGINALLY, WE TALKED
ABOUT THIS LAST NIGHT A LITTLE
BIT, MARGINALLY.
YOU WANT TO DO GOOD FOR AN
INDIVIDUAL, SOMEONE IS GETTING
STEPPED ON, SURE, SOMETIMES YOU
CAN BRING THE LAW AGAINST
SOMEONE WHO IS DOING THE
OPPRESSING AND SO FORTH.
BUT IF YOU'RE CONCERN IS THE
FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM THAT IS
CAUSING ALL OF THESE
MANIFESTATIONS, THEN YOU CAN'T
WORK WITHIN THAT SYSTEM.
YOU HAVE TO HAVE A HIGHER
CONCEPTION OF JUSTICE AND YOU
HAVE TO HAVE A HIGHER COMMITMENT
TO MAKING CHANGE.
A MORE SERIOUS COMMITMENT WITH
MORE SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS.
A MORE SERIOUS COMMITMENT TO
JUSTICE WITH MORE SERIOUS
PROBLEMS IN THE SHORT TERM
TOWARD THE LONGER OBJECTIVE,
WHICH IS JUSTICE.
SO WHEN I TALK ABOUT IT AS A
REBELLION OF THE TRUTH AGAINST
THE LIE, THAT'S WHAT I REALLY
MEAN.
WE HAVE TO BEGIN TO REJECT THAT.
WE HAVE TO BEGIN TO REJECT ALL
OF THOSE IDEAS, THOSE
FALSEHOODS, DEPENDING ON HOW
RADICAL YOU ARE, YOU WANT TO
LABEL THEM A LIE, A FALSEHOOD OR
A HYPOCRISY.
IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER,
THEY'RE NOT TRUE.
WE HAVE TO REBEL AGAINST THOSE
IN OUR OWN LIVES AND WE HAVE TO
DEVELOP A RELATIONSHIP AND A
MOVEMENT IN THE SENSE OF AN
ORGANIZATION IN ORDER TO PROMOTE
THAT TRUTH, THAT OBJECTIVE, SO
THAT IT CAN DEVELOP A POSITIVE
ENERGY ON ITS OWN AND BEGIN TO
ORIENT THE DIALOGUE, BEGIN TO
ORIENT PEOPLE'S THINKING AND
THEN BEGIN TO ORIENT SOCIAL AND
POLITICAL ACTION.
AND EVENTUALLY BECOME THE
REALITY THAT WE'RE LIVING.
AND SO PEOPLE SAY TO ME,
OFTENTIMES, THAT'S GOOD IN
THEORY.
SOUNDS GOOD, YOU SOUND LIKE A
PROFESSOR.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN IN REAL LIFE?
ACTUALLY THEY SAID THAT TO ME
THE OTHER DAY AT SIX NATIONS.
[ laughing ]
WHAT DOES IT MEAN IN REAL LIFE
FOR ME?
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?
I SAID, WELL THAT'S A TOUGH
QUESTION, THAT'S A REALLY TOUGH
QUESTION.
IF WE REASON THROUGH THIS, AND
HERE, WE ARE KIND OF REASONING
AT THIS POINT, REALIZING THAT
THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO CONFRONT
THIS PROBLEM.
THERE'S MORE INTUITIVE WAYS AND
SO FORTH, BUT I'M REASONING
HERE, AND THINKING THROUGH IT.
ANY PEOPLE WILL--
ANY PEOPLE WHO ARE LOOKING FOR
FREEDOM, WHETHER IT'S ON AN
INDIVIDUAL BASIS OR IT'S ON A
COLLECTIVE BASIS, ALL OVER THE
WORLD, THROUGHOUT HISTORY, HAVE
TO REALIZE THAT THERE IS NO
INDEPENDENCE OR FREEDOM WITHOUT
SELF SUFFICIENCY.
OKAY, THAT'S A STARTING
ASSUMPTION HERE IF WE'RE GOING
TO START LOOKING TO CHANGE THE
SYSTEM.
THE OTHER THING WE HAVE TO LOOK
AT IS THAT THE SYSTEM OF
COLONIAL CONTROL ALL THESE LIES,
THE WAY THEY HAVE WORMED THEIR
WAY INTO OUR LIVES AND SO FORTH,
IS NO LONGER THE TYPE OF
IMPERIAL MANIPULATION AND
CONTROL THAT IT WAS AT ONE TIME.
THERE'S NO RED COATS STATIONED
OUTSIDE THE BUILDING HERE,
FORCING US TO CARRY AROUND AN
INDIAN CARD.
THERE'S NO ARMY THAT'S GOING TO
PUNISH ME FOR NOT VOTING FOR THE
BAND COUNCIL, OR SOMETHING LIKE
THAT.
IT'S NOT THAT KIND OF OBVIOUS
PHYSICAL CONTROL.
IT'S DEVELOPED AND IT'S EVOLVED
TO THE POINT WHERE WE ARE SELF
COLONIZED.
WE TALK ABOUT SELF
DETERMINATION, IT STARTS WITH
THE SELF, THE FIRST WORD, SELF.
WE'RE SELF COLONIZED AT THIS
POINT.
IT'S LIKE ON AUTOPILOT, IT'S ON
CRUISE CONTROL.
WE'RE THE ONES WHO ARE DOING IT
TO OURSELVES.
AND THIS IS NOT SOME SORT OF
THEORETICAL, INTELLECTUAL
DEVELOPMENT IN MY OWN MIND, THIS
IS FROM GROWING UP IN A NATIVE
COMMUNITY.
THIS IS FROM WORKING WITH NATIVE
COMMUNITIES FOR YEARS AND YEARS
AND COMING TO THIS REALIZATION,
AND I REALIZE IT'S HARD FOR
PEOPLE TO SAY THAT WHO ARE NOT
NATIVE.
IT'S HARD FOR SOMEONE WHO MAYBE
COMES TO THIS REALIZATION
INTELLECTUALLY, TO SAY, WELL,
YEAH, THE NATIVES REALLY ARE
FACILITATING THEIR OWN
OPPRESSION, AND WHAT THEY NEED
TO DO IS STOP PARTICIPATING IN
THEIR COLONIAL SYSTEM AND MAYBE
THEN THERE WILL BE SOME CHANGE.
IT'S VERY DIFFICULT IN THE
POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT WE LIVE IN
TODAY, TO SAY THAT.
BUT I HAVE TENURE, AND I'M
NATIVE, SO YEAH.
I'M TELLING YOU THAT'S WHAT I
BELIEVE IS THE MAIN PROBLEM.
AND NOT ONLY IN TERMS OF ITS
MOST SUPERFICIAL REPRESENTATIONS
OF US HAVING A BAND COUNCIL,
ACCEPTING MONEY FROM THE
GOVERNMENT AND NOT DOING
ANYTHING TO DEVELOP ANY KIND OF
SELF-SUFFICIENCY.
I'M OVERSTATING IT HERE, I
REALIZE, TOO, THERE'S LOTS OF
PEOPLE DOING LOTS OF GOOD TRYING
TO HELP, BUT IN GENERAL, IT'S
ALSO IN LIVING THOSE LIES AND
THE WAY THAT WE CONDUCT
OURSELVES.
UM...
AND THE LIE TO ALL KINDS OF
DEGREES.
SOME OF THE MOST OBVIOUS ONES
ARE VERY CLEAR, BUT ALSO EVEN ON
THE MARGINS, IN TERMS OF, WELL
WHAT KIND OF LIVES ARE WE LIVING
WHEN WE SAY WE WANT TO BE
TRADITIONAL, WE VALUE
NATIONHOOD, WE VALUE OUR
TRADITIONS AND WE VALUE BEING
ANISHNABE OR ONGWEHONWEH, YET WE
TURN AROUND AND CONDUCT OUR
LIVES IN FULL ACCORDANCE WITH
WHAT'S EXPECTED OF US AS INDIANS
UNDER THE INDIAN ACT.
SO I THINK THAT THERE'S CERTAIN
PRINCIPALS THAT COME OUT OF THAT
KIND OF REALIZATION AND
ANALYSIS.
ONE WOULD BE NON PARTICIPATION.
WE HAVE TO WITHDRAW OUR CONSENT.
AND HERE'S SOMETHING THAT KIND
OF EFFECTS BOTH THE LEGAL, THE
POLITICAL AND THE SPIRITUAL
IDENTITY.
WE HAVE TO WITHDRAW OUR CONSENT
FROM THAT REALM, THAT FRAMEWORK,
THAT WHOLE CONCEPT OF WHAT IT IS
TO BE ABORIGINAL OR INDIGENOUS
OR FIRST NATIONS.
THAT'S THE FIRST STEP.
SECOND STEP IS THAT WE HAVE TO
BE MILITANTLY--
MILITANT PACIFISTS.
NOT PASSIVISTS, NOT PASSIVISTS,
PACIFISTS, P, I-- GHANDIAN KIND
OF PACIFISTS, YOKNOW?
WE HAVE TO BE MILITANT, THOUGH,
BECAUSE IF WE'RE NOT MILITANT,
IN THIS DAY AND AGE, THERE'S SO
MUCH OVERWHELMING POWER IN THE
CONTROL OF THE MEDIA OR
INFORMATION OF COMMUNICATIONS,
OF MARKETS, OF WHAT'S BEEN
REFERRED TO AS THE WHOLE
STRUCTURE OF BIO-POLITICAL
POWER, IN THE WORLD TODAY, IF
WE'RE NOT MILITANT, IF WE'RE NOT
ASSERTIVE, IF WE'RE NOT ACTIVE
IN REJECTING THAT ONE AND TAKING
ON THE OTHER AND BUILDING NEW
SPACES OF FREEDOM AND SO FORTH
IN OUR LIFE, IT'S GOING TO
OVERRUN US, IT'S GOING TO
OVERRIDE US.
THE MOMENTUM OF THAT SYSTEM IS
SUCH THAT IT HAS ITS OWN WEATHER
SYSTEM NOW, IT'S MOVING AND IT'S
ALMOST UNSTOPPABLE.
BUT THE THING THAT MAKES IT
STOPPABLE IS THAT IT'S ALWAYS
STILL AN ORGANIC SYSTEM.
WE CAN LOOK AT HISTORY, AND
MAYBE EVEN LISTENING TO ME FOR
THE LAST FEW MINUTES, IT SEEMS
LIKE I BELIEVE THAT COLONIALISM
AND ITS NEW MANIFESTATIONS,
WHATEVER WE WANT TO CALL IT, IS
SOMETHING THAT'S KIND OF UH...
SEPARATED FROM HUMAN AGENCY,
THAT IT'S THIS BIG ECONOMIC AND
SOCIAL TREND THAT COMES INTO OUR
LIVES AND OVERWHELMS US, BUT
IT'S NOT, AND IT NEVER HAS BEEN.
IT STARTED WITH AN IDEA ABOUT
WHAT POWER IS AND SOMEONE'S
GREEDY DESIRE TO IMPOSE HIS WILL
ON THAT OTHER PERSON.
AND SOMEONE'S DEVELOPMENT, VERY,
VERY SKILFULLY AND USING THE
TECHNOLOGY OF THE TIME, THE
MEANS TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT.
AND THEN THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN
ETHIC AND A CULTURE AROUND THAT.
THE ROMAN EMPIRE, THE EUROPEAN
EMPIRES, THE EURO-AMERICAN
EMPIRE AND NOW WE HAVE THIS SORT
OF GLOBALIZING EMPIRE HERE.
IT'S ABOUT DOMINATION, BUT IT'S
AN IDEA.
BUT IT'S AN IDEA CARRIED FORWARD
BY THE DECISIONS OF MEN AND
WOMEN EVERY DAY.
SIR WILLIAM JOHNSTON IS A VERY
FAMOUS CHARACTER IN
HAUDENOSAUNEE HISTORY.
BASICALLY, HE'S THE GUY
RESPONSIBLE FOR US LOSING JUST
ABOUT ALL OF OUR HOMELAND, YOU
KNOW, HATS TIPPED TO HIM, HE DID
A GOOD JOB IN HIS OWN REALM.
BUT YOU KNOW BEFORE HE WAS THE
SUPERINTENDENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
FOR THE BRITISH EMPIRE IN THIS
PART OF THE WORLD, HE WAS AN
IRISHMAN.
AND BEFORE HE WAS THE
SUPERINTENDENT OF BRITISH INDIAN
AFFAIRS, HE WAS PART OF A
CULTURE THAT WAS DIFFERENT FROM
THE ENGLISH.
HE WAS PART OF SOMETHING
DIFFERENT, HIS PEOPLE WERE.
THEY HAD A LANGUAGE, THEY HAD A
CULTURE, THEY HAD A DIFFERENT
WAY OF THINKING.
THEY WERE KIND OF LIKE NATURAL
PEOPLES LIVING IN THEIR OWN
TERRITORY.
WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM?
HE WAS TAKEN AND HE WAS
TRANSFORMED IN HIS MIND AND IN
HIS HEART AND IN THE WAY HE
BEHAVED AND THE WAY HE LIVED HIS
LIFE INTO A COLONIZER.
THAT'S HOW IT OPERATES.
IT DOESN'T OPERATE ON THESE HUGE
HISTORICAL PLAINS.
IT OPERATES ONE ON ONE, AND
PEOPLE GET CONVINCED OF THE NEED
TO SERVE THAT OBJECTIVE AND THAT
VALUE, AND THEY GET UNCONVINCED
OF THE NEED TO PROTECT THEIR
CULTURE, THEIR IDEAS, THEIR
FAMILY.
IN THIS SENSE, REALLY, I'M NOT
ONLY SPEAKING TO INDIGENOUS
PEOPLES HERE, I'M SPEAKING TO
PEOPLE IN THE MAINSTREAM
SOCIETY, IN THE LARGER SOCIETY
WHO SERVE THAT IMPERIAL
OBJECTIVE, AND TODAY THAT'S
MANIFESTING AS ALL OF THE
CRITICISM THAT ALL OF THE
YOUNGER STUDENTS HERE ARE MUCH
BETTER THAN I AT LEVELLING AT
THE SYSTEM, THE GLOBAL
CAPITALIST, ACCUMULATIVE,
INDIVIDUALISTIC STREAM CULTURE
THAT WE LIVE IN.
WE CHOOSE THAT EVERY DAY IN THE
WAY WE LIVE OUR LIVES AND HOW WE
SPEND OUR MONEY AND WHAT WE DO
TO GET THAT MONEY AND ALL THESE
SORTS OF THINGS.
AS OPPOSED TO INVESTING IN
ALTERNATIVES, FOR US, INDIGENOUS
PEOPLE IT'S OUR TRADITIONAL
CULTURE.
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IT MIGHT BE
SOMETHING ELSE.
IT MAY BE A NEW ETHIC, A NEW
PHILOSOPHY, A NEW WAY OF LIVING,
A NEW COMMUNITY.
BUT WE CHOOSE EVERY DAY NOT TO
INVEST IN THAT, AND TO INVEST IN
ANOTHER THING.
AND SO COLONIZATION COMES DOWN
TO THAT.
SO I STARTED OFF TALKING ABOUT
HOW OUR COMMUNITIES ARE NOT
PLAGUED BY THE LACK OF A
SUSTAINABLE--
LAND BASE FOR A SUSTAINABLE
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, OR THE
LACK OF ACCESS TO REMEDIES FOR
THIS AND THAT, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.
THEY'RE PLAGUED BY THE PROBLEM
OF A LACK OF HAPPINESS IN THEIR
OWN LIVES AND THE LACK OF
ABILITY TO LIVE FREE LIVES
ACCORDING TO AN AUTHENTIC NOTION
OF WHAT THEIR CULTURE IS.
THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE PLAGUED BY.
JUST LIKE NOW, I'M FINISHING OFF
BY SAYING COLONIZATION ISN'T ALL
THIS HISTORICAL STUFF, IT'S
INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE MAKING CHOICES
ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.
AND MAYBE I'LL LEAVE YOU WITH 4
INTUITIONS THAT I HAVE, BECAUSE
I'VE BEEN TALKING MENTALITY.
GET INTO A BIT OF AN INTUITION
AS TO WHERE WE SHOULD BE GOING
TO FIX THE PROBLEM IN A VERY,
VERY PRACTICAL SENSE.
AND THIS CAME OUT OF DISCUSSIONS
AT SIX NATIONS AND WITH
COMMUNITY PEOPLE, AND THIS MAY
BE MORE SPECIFICALLY RELATED
HERE TO ONGWEHONWEH PEOPLE THAN
TO MEMBERS OF THE NON-NATIVE
SOCIETY, BUT NONETHELESS.
IF WE'RE GOING TO TAKE ALL THIS
AND TRY TO MOVE FORWARD, WHAT DO
WE NEED TO DO TODAY, RIGHT NOW,
IN THE NEXT 5 MINUTES?
WELL, I THINK YOU LOOK AT THE 4
DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF A PERSON'S
LIFE AND YOU CAN COME UP WITH 4
DIFFERENT STATEMENTS, AND THEY
EVEN HAVE SLOGANS ATTACHED TO
THEM, I THINK, AS HAS BEEN GIVEN
TO ME AS A BIT OF A GIFT FROM
CERTAIN PEOPLE.
THE FIRST ONE, I WOULD ARGUE, IS
IN THE WAY THAT WE LOOK AT THE
BASIC ESSENCE OF WHAT ANY HUMAN
BEING'S LIFE IS, WHICH IS HOW DO
WE FEED OURSELVES, WHAT DO WE
FEED OURSELVES AND HOW DO WE
SUSTAIN OURSELVES AS PHYSICAL
BEINGS?
RIGHT NOW, WE HAVE A SITUATION
WHERE MOST INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN
THIS COUNTRY, IN NORTH AMERICA
ARE COMPLETELY DEPENDENT IN
TERMS OF WHAT THEY EAT, HOW MUCH
THEY EAT, AND THE QUALITY OF
THAT ON THE STATE, OR ON MARKETS
OR ON OTHER PEOPLE.
SO WE HAVE LOST THE BASIC
ESSENCE OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY.
HOW CAN WE EVEN GO ANYWHERE
TOWARDS INDEPENDENCE AND FREEDOM
WHILE WE'RE IN A SITUATION
WHERE, IF THE POWER WENT OUT AND
IF THEY CLOSED OFF OUR RESERVE
OR OUR COMMUNITIES, WE WOULD
STARVE WITHIN A WEEK.
NOW I THINK MY TEACHER AT
CORNELL UNIVERSITY, MILTON
ESMOND, A VERY RENOWNED SCHOLAR
HIMSELF, FOR CONSTANTLY
REMINDING ME OF THIS IN MY
YOUNGER DAYS, WHEN I WAS
DREAMING PHILOSOPHICALLY, ABOUT
FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE.
AND HE'S SAY, "GERALD," HE
CALLED ME GERALD, HE CAN'T
PRONOUNCE TAIAIAKE EITHER.
"GERALD, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO
DO FOR MONEY?
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR
REVENUE AND RESOURCES FOR THIS?"
TOUGH QUESTION.
SMART PEOPLE ASK ME THAT ALL THE
TIME.
AND THERE ARE CERTAIN ANSWERS WE
COULD TALK ABOUT LATER IF PEOPLE
WANT TO, BUT SAFE TO SAY RIGHT
NOW, THERE HAS TO BE A BASIS FOR
SELF SUFFICIENCY.
WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO FEED
OURSELVES INDEPENDENTLY IN ORDER
TO ASSERT ANY TYPE OF PROGRAM OF
AUTONOMY FROM THE STATE, AND
THIS IS A LESSON THAT APPLIES I
THINK, TO ANYBODY, AND THERE'S
ALL KINDS OF CREATIVE WAYS TO
ADDRESS THIS, WHICH I COULD TALK
ABOUT IN A LITTLE WHILE.
BUT I CALL THAT ONE DECOLONIZING
YOUR DIET.
NEVER MIND THE CONTENT, WHICH,
IF YOU TRAVEL AMONG OUR PEOPLE,
I HAVE TO SAY TO MY SISTERS AND
BROTHERS HERE TODAY, IT'S A VERY
DIRE SITUATION, IF YOU TRAVEL
AMONG OUR PEOPLE.
WE'RE VERY SICK PEOPLE BECAUSE
OF WHAT WE EAT, AND WHAT WE
DON'T DO PHYSICALLY AND WHAT WE
DO DO PHYSICALLY.
WE HAVE TO FIX THAT, WHETHER
IT'S DIABETES AND ALL OTHER KIND
OF THINGS.
THAT'S SOMETHING THAT'S GOING TO
THREATEN OUR VERY EXISTENCE,
NEVER MIND ALL THIS THEORY.
IT'S GOING TO THREATEN OUR VERY
EXISTENCE.
YOU CAN'T VERY WELL HAVE RIGHTS
IF THERE'S NO PEOPLE TO CARRY
THOSE RIGHTS FORWARD, SO THAT'S
A VERY DIRE PROBLEM, DECOLONIZE
OUR DIET.
THE SECOND ONE, I BELIEVE IS
JUST AS IMPORTANT, BECAUSE IT
ADDRESSES THE PSYCHOLOGICAL
STATE OR THE EMOTIONAL STATE OF
OUR PEOPLE.
IT'S BEEN A CRITICISM LEVELLED
AT THE GLOBAL EMPIRE TODAY THAT
IT'S FOUNDED ON FEAR.
WELL WE WERE THE GUINEA PIGS FOR
THAT FOR THE PAST 200 YEARS.
THE WAY THE MEDIA AND THE
GOVERNMENT USES FEAR TO CONTROL
PEOPLE THROUGH ADVERTISING,
WE'VE BEEN SUBJECT TO THAT FOR A
LONG TIME, AND IT'S HAD A VERY
SERIOUS EFFECT ON OUR PEOPLE.
BUT IT'S BEEN SAID IN OTHER
CONTEXTS BY OTHER PEOPLE, THAT
THE OTHER SIDE OF FEAR IS
FREEDOM, I BELIEVE THAT ONE.
THERE'S MY OTHER SLOGAN, ON THE
OTHER SIDE OF FEAR IS FREEDOM.
WHEN WE BREAK THROUGH THE FEAR,
WHEN WE ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE'RE
AFRAID OF CHANGE AND THAT MAYBE
WE'RE GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL AND
WE'RE AFRAID OF THAT.
IF WE ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THERE'S
GOING TO BE SACRIFICES TO BE
MADE AND COSTS TO BE PAID FOR
PROGRESS, AND THAT SOMETIMES,
YES, IT'S GOING TO INVOLVE
VIOLENCE, BUT BY STICKING TO AN
ETHIC OF NON-VIOLENCE AND BY
STICKING TO A MILITANT PACIFISM,
WE CAN TOUGH IT OUT, WE CAN MOVE
FORWARD.
IN FACT, IT'S A PRICE TO PAY.
ONCE WE GET OVER THAT AND WE'RE
NOT FEARFUL ANY MORE, WE'LL
START TO ACHIEVE FREEDOM.
THAT'S JUST AN HISTORICAL LESSON
I BELIEVE.
IT'S SOMETHING THAT I THINK ANY
MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE IN THE
WORLD HAS FACED.
AND YOU HAVE TO DEVELOP A
CULTURE AND YOU HAVE TO DEVELOP
A MEANS TO CONFRONT THAT AND TO
DEAL WITH IT.
BUT I CERTAINLY DON'T SEE THAT
RIGHT NOW IN THE CULTURE OF
NATIVE POLITICS THAT I'VE BEEN
WORKING IN FOR THE LAST 15
YEARS.
IT'S LIKE WE'RE TRYING TO
CONFRONT THE PROBLEM WITH ONE
HAND TIED BEHIND OUR BACK.
WELL, WE'RE GOING TO FIGHT, BUT
ONLY IF IT'S NICE.
WE'RE GOING TO FIGHT ONLY IF
THEY DON'T HIT US, THEN WE'RE
GOING TO GO HOME AND YOU KNOW,
THINK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE.
WHAT ABOUT DEVELOPING A THEORY
TO DEAL WITH THE VIOLENCE THAT
THE STATE USES AGAINST
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, WE HAVE TO DO
THAT.
SO ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FEAR IS
FREEDOM.
THEN WE HAVE ONE THAT'S A LITTLE
BIT OFF COLOUR BUT FROM OUR
BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE
AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN
THE 70s WHEN THEY USED TO SAY,
AND THIS RELATES TO GETTING OUT
AND EXERTING YOURSELF AND
ASSERTING YOURSELF.
THEY USED TO SAY, "FREE YOUR
MIND AND YOUR ASS WILL FOLLOW."
I KIND OF FLIPPED THAT AROUND.
SAY THE OPPOSITE, FREE YOUR ASS
AND YOUR MIND WILL FOLLOW,
BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT TO GET OUT
THERE AND START ASSERTING
YOURSELF.
WE'VE GOT TO GET OUT THERE AND
START ASSERTING OURSELVES ON OUR
LAND.
WE HAVE TO RECONNECT BACK TO THE
PLACES THAT WE SAY IN OUR
TEXTBOOKS ARE SACRED.
WE HAVE TO GET OUT THERE AND
START USING THE LAND AND FIND
OUT WHAT IT CAN TEACH US.
I'VE LEARNED MORE IN THE LAST 6
YEARS IN BC ABOUT WHAT IT IS TO
LIVE AS AN INDIAN, AS A NATIVE,
BY GOING OUT AND DOING STUFF ON
THE LAND AND TALKING TO PEOPLE
AND GETTING TO KNOW AND LOVE
PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT THERE ALL THE
TIME DOING THAT THING, THAN I
EVER COULD LEARN ABOUT IT
READING A BOOK OR THEORIZING
ABOUT IT.
IT'S CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT.
SO WE HAVE TO GET OUT THERE AND
WE HAVE TO USE THIS LAND, AND OF
COURSE, THIS BLEEDS OVER INTO
LEGAL STRATEGIES AS WELL,
POLITICAL STRATEGIES AS WELL,
THERE'S ALL KINDS OF COMMUNITY
BUILDING, RECONNECTEDNESS.
THERE'S ALL KINDS OF
JUSTIFICATIONS IN THE LAW FOR
USE AND OCCUPANCY, AND ALL THIS
KIND OF STUFF THAT COME FROM
ACTUALLY GETTING OUT THERE AND
DOING STUFF.
UNFORTUNATELY, IT MEANS GETTING
UP OFF THE COUCH AND TURNING THE
TV OFF.
GOOD THING I DON'T LIKE TV THAT
MUCH ANYWAY, SO IT'S EASY FOR
ME, BUT I REALIZE IT'S A HUGE
CHALLENGE FOR LOTS OF OUR
PEOPLE.
SO ANYWAY, I WON'T SAY IT AGAIN,
BUT THAT'S THE OTHER ONE.
AND THE LAST ONE THAT I'LL LEAVE
YOU WITH, HAS TO DO WITH HOW
THIS TAKES PLACE, AND AGAIN I'LL
REFER BACK TO THIS KIND OF
SPIRITUAL CONVERSION.
IT'S LIKE A REVOLUTION OF THE
SPIRIT.
AHN SUNG SU KEE SAID IT ABOUT
BURMA, YOU KNOW AND WHAT'S
HAPPENING.
IT'S A SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION AND
REALLY, THAT'S WHAT IT IS.
AND IN THAT SENSE IT'S ONE
PERSON AT A TIME COMING TO THE
REALIZATION THAT IN ORDER TO
HAVE SKANA, YOU HAVE TO FIRST
UNIFY YOURSELF INSIDE OF YOUR
OWN MIND, INSIDE OF YOUR OWN
SOUL.
YOU HAVE TO BE IN CONTROL,
STABLE, STRONG, HEALTHY INSIDE
OF YOURSELF, AND THEN THAT
BEGINS TO EMANATE INTO YOUR
FAMILY, INTO YOUR COMMUNITY,
INTO YOUR NATION, THEN BEGINS TO
BE SOMETHING THAT EFFECTS THE
WORLD.
BUT THE SLOGAN FOR THIS ONE IS 1
WORRIER AT A TIME.
IT DOESN'T HAPPEN COLLECTIVELY
THIS THING.
IT'S NOT LIKE I CAN PASS ALONG
KAHNAWAKE AND SAY EVERYBODY'S
GOT TO SPEAK MOHAWK FROM NOW ON.
EVERYBODY'S GOT TO LEARN THE
GREAT LAW.
EVERYBODY'S GOT TO KNOW THE 4
CEREMONIES.
BANK COUNCIL RESOLUTION, WE
PASSED IT, THERE YOU GO.
SEND IT TO THE MINISTER, GET
SOME FUNDING, IT'S GOING TO
HAPPEN.
NOW LET'S ALL GO TO THE BAR AND
CELEBRATE, BECAUSE WE DID
SOMETHING GOOD FOR OUR
COMMUNITY.
THAT'S A COLLECTIVE TYPE OF
SOLUTION.
OR EVEN LESS FLIPPANTLY,
ABORIGINAL HEALING FOUNDATION,
AND I'M NOT PICKING ON THESE
INSTITUTIONS, I'M JUST SAYING IN
TERMS OF THE MENTALITY OF HOW
THIS OPERATES, THOSE THINGS DO
LOTS OF GOOD SOMETIMES.
BUT IN TERMS OF LOOKING AT THE
PROBLEM COLLECTIVELY, AND
THINKING ABOUT POLICY SOLUTIONS
AND FUNDING IT AS A POLICY
SOLUTION, AND THEN GIVING IT TO
NATIVE OR NON-NATIVE BUREAUCRATS
TO MANAGE.
EVEN THE WAY WE DO EDUCATION,
I'M AN ADMINISTRATOR, TOO, AND
THE WAY THAT WE LOOK AT MAKING
CHANGE, WE HAVE TO RETHINK THIS
AND REALIZE THAT IT HAPPENS
THROUGH THE EXPERIENCE OF A
SINGLE PERSON, AND ONE PERSON AT
A TIME.
AND SO YOU THINK ABOUT THE WAY
PEOPLE ARE TRANSFORMED, AND YOU
DON'T HAVE TO STICK WITHIN OUR
TRADITION TO DO IT.
FOR THOSE OF YOU FROM OTHER
TRADITIONS, THERE'S JUST AS MUCH
TEACHING AND WISDOM EVERYWHERE
IN THE WORLD.
WHETHER YOU'RE NAME'S SIDDHARTHA
AND THEN YOU BECOME BUDDHA, OR
WHETHER, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE JESUS
OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
IT'S PEOPLE WHO GO THROUGH
EXPERIENCES AND WHO RECEIVE
WISDOM AND WHO TOUCH A PROFOUND
TRUTH AND ARE CHANGED AND THEN
GO AND SPREAD THE MESSAGE.
I'M NOT SAYING THAT EVERYONE IS
GOING TO BECOME A BUDDHA, THAT
WOULD BE NICE, BUT IT'S NOT
GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE NEXT 50
YEARS OR SO, BUT THAT'S THE KIND
OF THING THAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN.
SO IF WE LOOK AT IT IN THESE
WAYS, HOPEFULLY, YOU HAVE
FOLLOWED ME IN THE LINE OF
THOUGHT THAT I'VE LAID OUT FOR
YOU AND YOU CAN SEE THAT WE NEED
TO MOVE FROM A KIND OF
COMPLACENCY AND ACCEPTING THE
FALSEHOOD OF THINGS WE CALL
ABORIGINAL RIGHTS, ABORIGINAL
TITLE, EVEN THE CONCEPT OF
ABORIGINAL.
I DON'T WANT TO CAUSE PEOPLE TOO
MUCH DISCOMFORT, BUT THERE'S A
WHOLE IDEOLOGY AROUND ALL OF
THOSE FALSEHOODS THAT I'VE LAID
OUT AND IT'S CALLED, IN MY MIND,
ABORIGINALISM.
IT'S LIKE AN IDEOLOGY OF
ABORIGINALISM.
AND IT CONTRASTS THE TRUTH OF
ONGWEHONWEH.
YOU KNOW, IF WE CRITICISE THAT,
AND WE FOLLOW IT THROUGH, AND WE
LOOK AT REAL STRATEGIES FOR
CHANGE, I THINK IT'S REALLY
POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE THEM, BUT IT
MEANS CHALLENGING OURSELVES, IT
MEANS BEING VERY SELF CONSCIOUS
ABOUT OUR ROLE IN PERPETUATING
THOSE AND BEING VERY COURAGEOUS
IN LOOKING VERY DEEP WITHIN
OURSELVES AND MOVING IN
DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS AND MAKING
DIFFERENT CHOICES FOR THE
BETTERMENT OF OUR PEOPLE, FOR
THE BETTERMENT OF THE 7
GENERATIONS TO COME, AND ALSO
FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE WORLD.
BECAUSE AFTER ALL OUR PHILOSOPHY
IS NOTHING ELSE BUT A LITTLE
PIECE OF THE WISDOM THAT EXISTS
UNIVERSALLY IN ALL CULTURES, BUT
IS OUR REFLECTION IN THIS LAND
AND AMONG THESE PEOPLE OF WHAT
THAT TRUTH AND WISDOM IS.
SO, WITH THAT, I'LL LEAVE YOU.
IN OUR LANGUAGE, WE SAY
DONWETO:WA,
WHICH MEANS, THOSE ARE ALL THE WORDS
THAT I HAVE.
NIAWEN'KO:WA.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[Long applause.]

Watch: Taiaiake Alfred on Canada and its indigenous peoples