Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The breakdown of Clans and the consequence to marriage

My Wife has a friend (let's call her April) from a northern Reserve in Ontario. Like most Reserve Indians there is a bit of dysfunction and lots of humour when it comes to this gal. April seems to be in the middle of some crazy event or is doing something that is stupid funny. I remember one year April came over for a Christmas dinner and she brought over pate. What the heck is pate? I remember as a kid we used to get this meat spread as a treat, it was called Devil's ham. It was a meat spread. I guess pate sounds a lot better.

This friend (of my wife's), April is having a bit of problem. There is this up coming wedding and April was wondering what side of the church she should sit on. You see, her Mom and her Dad split up years ago. They both went on to have different lives and found different partners. With these partners they each had 3 children. So one of the sons of the April's Dad is now going out with one of the daughters of April's Mom. So April's brother is going out with April's sister. Now that is Reserve stuff.

Back home we always tell our kids don't go with anyone from the Reserve as you might be going out with one of your cousins.

I am not sure when Clans faded in our Reserve but it sure has made a difference in how things are governed and how people are now partnered up. There are no taboos, other than normal mainstream taboos, when it comes to hooking up. There is a breakdown of the family units, the crossing of family lines. With the Clan system there were rules and conduct which you tried to adhere to. People still maintain that they have a Clan but I think it is more symbolic than anything else. It is purely a symbol to your heritage, but the real meaning to the Clan system has disappeared. We are left with the norms of modern society. It's not a bad thing but it is more evidence of disconnect between Traditional values and Teachings of our Grandfathers and Grandmothers. I feel bad for our People in that so much has been taken. I also feel proud that we are trying to maintain much in the way of Traditions that keep us linked to our heritage. Maybe we will learn to use the Teachings to bring us up as a people.

Two little Indian cousins. They know they are related :-) :D


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