Sunday, January 17, 2016

Indians Need Discipline

I remember as a Kid in the Boarding School.  I took a package of those little wooden ice cream spoons. Those little ones that came with those small ice cream cups. It was from the top of her desk. Anyway it was my cousin Todd Fontaine and myself and we got told on by Preston Henderson. The Sister gave us six straps on each hand in front of the other students. We were in grade one or two attending school in the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School.  It was those famous black leather straps which Teachers used on the kids.  I stole so I got disciplined.  Not the first time and not the last time.

This is not the kind of discipline I am talking about when I say Indians need discipline. Not to strap them until they cry or have blue and purple welts on their arse. Another time my cousins and I got straps on the bum from the man in charge at the school.  Those big black leather straps.
You had to see them.   So the kind of discipline is the other kind of discipline. The kind a farmer has.  The kind a bushman or bush-person has. The kind a Trapper has. Discipline of a fisher-person, a military person, the musician, the health conscious and the discipline of knowledge.  The kind  of discipline I wish had.

You see there is a disconnect. People in the Indian community need to learn discipline. They had it. Many still have it. Many got lost. Lot of reasons the discipline got lost. We know the reasons really well. Yet it does not help us. We need to re-learn the discipline of commitment, of effort or passion.

Elder David Blacksmith 
George Muswaggon
I see the discipline in many and they are people we should look to and emulate.
Al Spence 

There are people in this world that have discipline. I see them  in many places. These people discipline usually comes with them having a connection with the land. My in-laws the farmers. You won't see plastic bags floating around the yards or the fields here. They have a respect for the land. That is where discipline comes from; respect. Respect for the land, for your home, for your community, your family and for yourself.

I admire a man like George Muswaggon. He is an educated Indigenous man. He knows his language. Has strong ties with the land; his identity and his culture. Most of all he has discipline; self discipline. This is a man that still travels with work clothes in his vehicle even though he is leader of an agency. He will be one of the first to get dirty, to lend a hand, to work hard. That is a man of discipline a man who respects himself and the world. That is what we need more of in the Indigenous community.

You know there were these old guys in the Reserve that work in the bush. They would joke with the younger guys and say "I wonder what will happen when us guy are no longer around, who is going to do the work?" One of the guys is my cousin Bepkins. He is 75 years old but you would think he is in his forties. He works hard, volunteers and has discipline.

My brother in law Al is like that. 75 years old and works everyday looking after cows, feeding them, repairing equipment and being disciplined.

You know people like that. You admire people like that. They know what it means to respect themselves and have tie to the land.

But we know many that are not like that as well.

My brother-in-law thought Reserve school for many years. A big problem for students was being tired. They would come to school not having enough sleep and many missed classes altogether. I remember as a young guy, my Mom would get me and my siblings up in the morning to get to school no matter what time I came in.  No a situation happening today. Either the parents don't get the kids up or the kids just refuse to listen to the parents. Either way the situation is a lack of discipline.

It may not be the answer to the ills affecting our community but it is one thing we can focus on.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

You Don't Believe In Bad Medicine? Stop Doing It Then.

Been told by Traditional people that they don't believe in Bad Medicine. Bad Medicine has been a saying or belief in Indian communities forever (or a long time anyway). Lately lot of Medicine people say there is no such thing. They say this because of the many people coming to them for "Protection". These people believe that someone is putting Bad Medicine on them so their lives are horrible. So Medicine people think its a hypochondriac situation, or maybe its more practical thing like: these people don't warrant anyone wanting to put energy in doing them harm.  But seriously there are some of us that want or seek any kind of attention so claiming we are getting "hit" is a way to be seen and heard.

For Me I do believe there is Bad Medicine. Even more so we practice it everyday.

It may not be those 'Fireballs' the Old People saw over your house or racing in the sky following you, or the needle flowing beneath your skin and getting into your blood stream, or the glass splinter stuck in your head causing you to go crazy, but don't kid yourselves its there.It may not look like the Toad being tossed in your Fire, or the step over your legs but Bad Medicine is practiced. It may look like the Face being twisted to have the crooked face but Bad Medicine is there.  Even the non-believer practice it. It is the evil word, the ugly word, the evil action, the evil words. Bad Medicine is bold and it is quiet. It is sneaky, it so in your face that you don't even recognize it.

We see it playing out everywhere, the Bad Medicine. We see it in our work place, the hospitals, the Band Office, the police car, on the bus, on the street, in the news media, and even our homes.

We feel it when we watch the TV and see a man being burned alive while in a cage. We see it in the eyes of those that are using a big knife to take the head of a person tied up. We see it in the face of a man that beheads a young man and then eats his nose. It can be so ugly that we can't understand how it happened. Like when an Indian man goes to the hospital is ignored for 34 hours and dies in an atmosphere of Care? We see it when a Man of God uses his power and uses his position to rape your child. We see it so ugly. We also see it so friendly. We see it so much that is becomes part of our lives and even in our heroes.  We see it in our elected and our protectors. We hear it coming out of our mouths.

Bad Medicine - There it is: Wab Kinew writes a book and we see it coming out as there are those who call him down for trying and being public. There it is: Terrance Nelson is in the news again, he is the radical one. There it is: David Blacksmith is taking Ceremonies and the Drum to the North. He is a heathen and devil worshiper. There it is: EJ Fontaine has a big business, how did he do it? Uncle again?  There it is: Leah Gazan always being in the news, thinks she knows everything. There it is: Chickadee Richard she is a man hater only there to cause trouble.  There it is: The co-worker who talks behind your back. The colleague who undermines without constructive options. The friend who betrays your trust. The husband who beats his wife. It can be just like that; horrible or just the everyday comment.

How do we know it exists? How do we know Medicine exists? I mean the non-believer knows that there is no 'outside forces', right?  Fact is we know what good is right? The  Inuit man who gave the coat off his back to a frozen person, Putulik the homeless man gave his coat to another in the cold. The transit bus driver who stopped his bus and gave his shoes to a shoe-less person. We know good exists because we practice it everyday. We know it exists when you stop and pick up a piece of trash on the ground. We know it exists as you compliment your co-worker for being there. . Good Medicine can be the Eagle Feather you hang over your Door watching and protecting. Good medicine is the  sage in your footwear. Good medicine is Bear Root in your pouch. Good medicine can also be the handshake you give to a stranger.  We know good medicine exists. We know Bad Medicine exists because if it didn't exist we wouldn't recognize Good Medicine.

Even the medical scientific community recognizes Good Medicine.
The New Mom lays her new Baby on her skin. That is good medicine.
The milk of a Mom is the best good medicine for a Baby, much better than formula with all its added nutrients.
A Traditional Teacher goes in the Bush and looks for good Medicine so others can go Sweat and pray with them.
Your Co-worker gives you a ride home when it is so cold out.
You coach a young team of hockey players.
You do your best to work hard when someone gives you a chance.
You remember someone in their time of grief.
Good Medicine is out there and we practice it everyday.
Bad Medicine is out there and we practice it everyday.

Bad Medicine even the best of us use it. Just look at the Facebook.

But Good Medicine is what we should be practicing.
Putulik Qumaq hands over his jean jacket to the teenager who was posing as homeless. (MTLCINEMA)  


Monday, January 11, 2016

Indian Moral Superiority on Indians

The Moral Superior attitude Bill Cosby had on the Black community helped in bringing his true being into the spotlight. Cosby said some things that most would consider racist against Black people; if Cosby was not Black.  Thing is Cosby and other people have been playing the tune of  "they are the no good, doing bad all by themselves".  There are quite a few "pulled myself up from the bootstraps" Indians as well. Clarence Louis is one of them who is  loved by the main stream crowd and media. Like Bill Cosby, Clarence Louis has done some great things, great things. He has brought his community into being a prosperous business zone and success story. There is no doubt he has been very good at developing his community into a powerful voice in the Osoyoos area of British Columbia. Chief Clarence Louis is the leader of Osoyoos Band. He has been strong in the vision of self-sufficiency for the Band. He has delivered and no one can begrudge his actions and achievements.  Like Bill Cosby, Chief Clarence Louis is proud of his heritage. Like Bill Cosby, Clarence Louis has no sympathy for losers, in other words, Indians who fit into the stereotype.  Like Bill Cosby, Clarence Louis is quick to cut down the people, his people.

Because you can’t hate the roots of a tree, and not hate the tree. You can’t hate your origin and not end up hating yourself.
Malcolm X, 1965


Being morally superior to others is not limited to and not just a phenomenon of the famous, the rich, the powerful or the religiously pious. Nope, it is your everyday Indian who can be far more morally superior to the rest of you (I don't include myself with you as part of the inferior mortal but include myself with morally superior, just for clarification).

There are the Activist Indians who are far more morally superior to you "sitting on the couch watching Dancing with Wolves" Indians. There are the Harry Rosen, Le Chateau and Moores suit and tie Indians who morally superior to you, "never heard of a Windsor knot" Indians. There are the Hard Hat Steel Toe Leather Glove Indians who are superior to you "Only Work Band Jobs"Indians. There are the Le Chateau, Laura, Pennington's, Naturalizer, Canada Goose high stepping Indians who are superior to you "buy my flannel grey sweat-pants at Walmart"Indians. There are "I got my BA" educated Indian who are morally superior to you "never leave the Rez"Indians. There are the "Moved out of the Rez and Pay My Own Way"Indians who are morally superior to you "Quit School to Join Street Gang and Sell Drugs, Stay Up all Night"Indians.  There are so many categories and I leave it to you to fill in the gaps of the morally superior and the morally inferior.

Why do we do it? Why do we point out our flaws, our ills, our weaknesses, our sorrows - publicly, harshly, exaggerated, skewed, corrupted and true?

Some of us call out the men, Where are the men? Men that are not looking after children; Men who are beating the Women ( I almost typed "their Women", but is wrong), live off the backs of the Women and Children.  Where are the Women? Women who have their Children taken by the system, the courts, the Grandparents, the Aunties and Uncles, the siblings.

We judge and we judge. We do it because we are morally superior. We take no look further then what we see. We don't see the past horror they lived through. We don't look at how the constant message, the constant pressure of society telling them, they are no fucking good, rotten, savage, lazy, drunken children.  We don't see the influence of a deity Who had no use for their evil spiritual heathen ways of worship. We don't see how they don't fit in the round peg of the material accumulation and acquisition. We don't see the hurt, the defeat, the defiance, the re-emergence of pride.

Nope, we don't see those things, because our eyes only see what is on television. The TV has John Wayne riding his horse shooting his rifle as ten Indians fall from one shot.

We are morally superior.