Saturday, October 15, 2011

Can anyone answer this question on Status Indian for Me?

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.


  1. Well,it seems the "blood count"madness is equally grotesque in the US and Canada.If You'd like to find out more about "American equivalent": You'll find some web-sites and a petition.Not many people seem to remember that it was Adolph Hitler who came up with the idea of "genetic testing"...The psycho himself had Jewish origin and was psychologically speaking a blatant case of self-destruction.My question is:are we self destructive to allow this c§!p to happen?An elder from my family said:"Well,we are not the newcamers here so let these who arrived later to be tested".What then guys?These 7/8 Irish will go back to Ireland?Or they'll be no longer American or Canadian but Irish or French.Should we issue a special white card for them?That would be fun!I bet their leaders wouldn't agree ....(Btw.Goyààle("Geronimo")did not congratulate warriors on their "blood purity" but on their bravery...) And what about a black guy who has "too much" Chinese blood=the guy gets to be Chinese?Viva paranoia!!!Recently I 've seen a documentary about a Lakhota bro who decided to live in Siberia with his Russian wife,he had no perspectives on the rez.The couple had two kids - let's imagine they get only russian nationality=are we crossing them from the "Indian list",two red points less?An elderly relative of mine took an ancient Apache knife and said:"I'm ready for blood testing".The guys who dared to bother him with "the issue"left like cowardly dogs.I'm very grateful that You talk about the bloody status and happy to know that some relatives in Canada don't want to see their kids being put to a "drawer".Maybe in the future these "unruly"ones will have their "blood percentage"diminished for "misbehaving"...But wait=these folks who fought for their land,for the respect of treaties,for their language and faith-what's their name again?

  2. Thanks for the comment. I believe identity is the biggest challenge we face. 200 years of forced assimilation has had negative affects. It is the Traditionalists that have to engage the youth. I think that learning about heritage is key in development. I would like to see more people talking about identity.

  3. Absolutely.If we hear we should "adapt to society"it means that we had been excluded and that we are not given the right to be who we are.The war we've been battling for ages had many different forms.The bread served by the enemy is as dangerous as his firearm.

  4. I was talking to an Elder in Sagkeeng today; my Dad and Ken Courchene. They were awesome to visit with. Ken reminds us, that the Creator is something that we have a connection with and have not lost.

  5. Sà'yu hi nlt'éego kaada'dii-The Elders advise us well...It's truly a blessing to be able to talk to them.You're so lucky to have Your Dad not so far away.They remind us about the connection to Creator just by their presence,wisdom and unconditional love.

  6. I think the point of our overly-legislated identities is to keep us divided from one another so that we cannot mount an effective collective empowered political voice: that is what i think. Even coming up with a complete list of the social categories/recognized names is mind boggling: we have Status Indians, Non-Status Indians, hundreds of specific First Nations who are all legally distinguished from Inuit people and Metis people, who are different from the mixed-bloods/country-born, who are not the same as the post-C62 people and different from the millions of settlers who have indigenous-settler roots.

    Jo-Ann Episkenew, in her great book "Taking Back Our Spirits/Indigenous Literature, Public Policy, and Healing," raises the point that Canada operates on a caste system. That is why it is so important to legislatively keep breaking up famillies and grinding away at our identities, both our personal/indiviudal identities and our collective identities.

    What I find troubling is the way that so many take on the government definitions in a deeper way: there is an online group of indigenous wits who decided that we need help distinguishing new age Grey Owl types from actual indigenous people. I can understand the need for that, BUT, I came across the site because of an interest that I had in an indigenous author who is also a medical doctor: the self-appointed judges dismissed him as a fake because a) he is educated, and b) he referenced family oral history rather than gov't band membership in discussing his biography. How perverse is that? Does the gov't label really weigh more than indigenous historical methods of record-keeping?

    Any other social group has recognized diaspora, but you don't hear about Indian diaspora-- we have all the above labels, plus urban Indians versus Reserve Indians versus bush, rural, suburban-- and as Silaada mentions, you move countries and you completely disappear off the social map-- whether for love or out-of-country adoption, or sheer adventurousness.

    Anyway: thanks for opening the discussion... I think I've had too much coffee, makes me rant

  7. Tracey Deer did a documentary on this, Club Native.

    Though it's more an exploration of what Joanne Arnott is saying--whether some bands are perpetuating something that the Cdn government created, rather than their own traditions.

  8. I agree, the C & C system is alien and was designed to be controlled by the Indian Agent and Indian Affairs. No recourse for the people in the community. Also We tend to be guilty of colonial thinking and acting. Just look at how we attack other Indians? And we attack For a variety of reasons, whether or not the reasons are valid.

  9. "Manipulation:behaviour that influences someone or controls something in a clever or dishonest way". I had a military upbringing,warriors path and I tend to think in a very simple and strategic way(for some sophisticated folks I must seem retarded).So here's my "simplified"analysis:If someone kicks me out from my house and "generously"allows me to stay in a barn.=not a friend.If then the new "owner"of my house doesn't respect even the "barn deal"and poisons my life in every possible way=not a friend.If suddenly my "generous benefactor"comes up with an idea to make my life better,I still remember=not a friend.Many relatives in the USA seem to fall for the "help"of government in getting rid of twinkies" Steve said:I know who my relatives are and I do not need any "help"in identifying a twinkie.Who does?And what would You do if You wanted to "shrink" the enemy's team?Strategically speaking:You'd brand the "cattle",finding every possible reason to exclude as many "mixed breed cases"as You possibly can.Let me guess,we should get so fucked up and divided that greeting each other would be:"Hi,I'm three quarters,w h a t are You?"How about us deciding ourselves who we are?

  10. ...and for Jo:some of us are living far away not only for the reason of love of adventure but for survival,for the reason of persecution or to be able to fight:trying to elude death in an accidental shooting or a prison term for killing kennedy before we were born.There will be more and more of "cases"like this.We must stay strong,united and determined.

  11. Nga mihi mahana ki a koutou, greetings to you all from across te moana nui a kiwa (the great Pacific). It is so sad to read your discussion and see the same games being played out among and against indigenous peoples everywhere. Games of division, politics of authenticity - and the 'right to name' always maintained in whiteness. So crushing to the spirit, especially when some of us take up that game. And yet we are all subject to the same diminishing ideologies and I guess this is how some survive. If you can call it survival. It is sad to hear of your battles and yet at the same time heartening seeing the struggle go on everywhere, engaged on this side of the ocean and that, but never ending. I shall keep reading, thank you for sharing. - Erika

  12. kia ora - aaniin greetings, Whether or not main stream believes but colonial thinking and actions rule the land.

  13. I'm confused. So the government is trying to eliminate the tribes? Why? Don't they have better things to focus on other than trying to "classify" who is or isn't considered a part of the tribe? And to be honest, is it really the governments business? Do your tribes self govern? Or do you have to abide by laws placed upon you, even on your reservations? If I am not mistaken, here the tribes have their laws while on the reservation, and when you cross the road into "America" then they have to abide by ours. I could be completely wrong. As I said, I am confused. :)