Manitoba has a high number of regional political organizations that represent the Aboriginal (Indian) population. Too many political organizations if you ask me. You know the old joke, too many Chiefs and not enough Indians, well that is what we have, too many political animals in the mix.
Of course we do need political agents to look after, and fight for our interests. I just think that some of the political entities are thick, fat and energies could be best spent on other things and issues.
“Right now there are 4,600 Native children in foster care in southern Manitoba who need a cultural and spiritual connection to their identity and families. Without that, they get lost. We have to make our children a priority and put them back in the center of our lives.” This was the sentiment expressed at a Traditional Gathering in Sagkeeng, as reported in IndianCountryToday.
The Traditional Teachers and Elders are right in a lot of things. We need to know who we are. You ask a kid if they are proud of who they are. Most kids or adults will say "hell yeah! I am proud to be (fill in the blank, but in our case) Indian! George Carlin once said that "it is crazy to be proud of a event that occurs by chance. You could be proud that you did something, but proud to be born a certain race/ethnicity? What for? You didn't accomplish anything? You could say you are 'happy' that you are" Indian. Kind of makes a little sense but hey that's getting away from my point. Anyway, getting back to being proud of being Indian. The kids (or you) will say "heck yeah, I'm proud to be Indian". Okay so what makes you proud to be Indian or what are some of the things that you are proud of? "Well I can speak my language." Oh yeah, wait, most Indians can't speak their language. Of all the Indian languages in North America only three languages are considered safe (not disappearing real soon). "Well I am proud of my heritage." Oh yeah, wait, lot of people hid their ancestry. Lot of people hated who they were/are. They were always looked as drunks, welfare bums, lazy, no good for nothing redskins. So that message has been internalized by multi-generations of people. "Well I am proud of my culture." Oh yeah wait, we don't know our own stories. We don't know our own creation stories, our own customs, our own governance structures, clan systems (for those with clans), our lineage (matriarchal/patriarchal), our Spiritual Teachings. "Well I am proud to be a keeper of the land." Oh yeah, wait, I don't have a connection to the land. I don't go in the bush, I don't pick medicine or even food for consumption. I don't know plants. I don't know the water or the bush.
Jeez, well why am I saying I am proud to be Indian? Well I just am.
That's not good enough. We have to know who we are. Are we going to go to University and take up some Anthropology courses or history courses to find out who we are? Or are we going to talk to each other and learn from our people?
Many people are doing that. Seeking out an education from Traditional Teachers and Elders. Many of us are not. We are still living life like it is only us that matters. Never mind that fact that we are parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and gran-parents to some child. I find it funny that lots of us will say, "I would die for my kids, for my family". Shit, most people won't even give up smoking for their kids while pregnant (both Mom and Dad). Or most people won't even stop from taking a drink. Fetal Alcohol Effects Syndrome is one hundred percent preventable. Yet our kids have to live with that legacy.
This is where I think our many political entities could be of some use. They could focus their energies on culture, our culture. Preserving it, promoting it, teaching it to our kids. Helping those that can't have access to the heritage roots. That includes learning about becoming stewards of the land. The political entities could be looking at how we can maintain the land and the environment for the next generations. They could look at local initiatives of bringing back the Teachings into the communities.
I don't know but I do know this, as it is now our political entities are abundant, some of those groups could become more focused on the people. As the Teachers said on the kids.