You know I was thinking, while in the shower, about the Jay Treaty and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. It is my intention to write the new Grand Chief of AMC about issues. You see I think AMC has become rather slow. Slow, not sloooooooow, in how they are operating. We need AMC to be fast, loud and brash. To be an effective something. As it is we really don't know their function. I assume they are advocacy for Status Indians or political pundits to the main stream audience on Aboriginal affairs, but I don't know me. Okay, I forgot I was thinking about the Jay Treaty and how it refers to Indians. That got me thinking to the whole Status Indian thing. For you out there that don't know, Status is a Canadian definition of who is Indian in Canada and who is not. A good resource for more information on Status refer to Pam Palmater ( an Indian woman who has knowledge about that stuff).
I am thinking about my girl. Her mom is a Metis woman (by the way their family has strong Indian lineage and Metis lineage, stronger than our National Grand Chief and the Grand Chief before him, but that is besides the point? Maybe?). My daughter is classified under the Status Indian as a C62 Indian. In doing this her children (if she marries a non-status) will be non-status (unless I arrange a marriage for her with a Status Indian or she finds one herself).
With my thoughts being all jumbled up I am wondering how this is the case. Yes I know the Status classification system is intended to eliminate who is an Indian over time. Got it. But what of the Indian? Just because we don't fit into the classification system, does that mean we are no longer Indian? And what does that mean about the Treaties? You see with the signing of the Treaties there was no Status system. You were part of the Band/Tribe regardless. Even the "mixed-bloods" were the People. The Status issue came later.
It is a weird thing. How come Canada can become a Nation well after the fact, and be determined a Nation, while the Nations of People in Canada are not allowed to remain Nations? How come other Nations can become Nations. For example Canada has become a Nation of Canadians. The Metis evolved into the Metis Nation. They had customs, culture, governance, roles, uniqueness to their own lives. Same with Indians. But now the Canadian government rules are defining who belongs to what Nation. My daughter is in the Anishinaabe Nation and Sagkeeng Band. Her children (if they are not status) will be what? No longer part of the Anishinaabe Nation or Sagkeeng Band, because of a policy, a law made by Canada? What becomes of their Treaty Rights? Do those Rights, which have nothing to do with Status Law, become extinct? That does not make sense. Do people that are not Status become Metis? When Metis Nations have their own distinct identity? Or do they become Canadians (only)? Why should Treaty Rights end with the end of Status? These are two separate animals. Two separate ideas/concepts and legal entities?
Why is it that Nations can develop over time, but Indian Nations can't? You see Canada is a developing Nation. You have all sorts of mixed-bloods in their Nation, and no one is saying, "well you are no longer in our definition of Canadian, so you are no longer Canadian". The point is that Nations evolve, add subtract, meld with other people, but they still are a Nation. Why are Indians different in that scenario?
Even the United States the biggest "melting pot" is a Nation. They have been a Nation, what 200 years? They change, evolve, add people.
My point is this, the Status thing is not about who is Indian at all, we all know that, it is about good old cash. Canada wants to get out of the Indian business once and for all. Damn if they don't want to look like they are not trying to follow the Canadian Constitution or adhere to the Treaties, but they want out. The way out is to have no Indians. Canada tried in the past; through legislation, enfranchisement, adoption out of the Indian community, and other genocide attempts, like Residential School. But this not what I wanted to understand. I know Canada is doing everything it can to abolish Treaty Rights, I get that.
What I need to understand is why are Nations, allowed to change, develop but yet the identity of the Indian Nation has to remain stagnant, stuck, frozen in time? Was our Nation never going to adapt with time? Yet it is clear we had commerce, trade links, laws, governance, culture, language, spiritual beliefs? Why are our Leaders/political pundits/advocates sitting there, saying "yup, I am Status".
The Status thing makes it seem like we don't know who we are. When I know who my relatives are. I know where my community is. I know who my people are.