Friday, May 12, 2017

Can We Just Say "Ah, That's Okay, No Big Deal"

It seems like Indigenous folk are always angry. If you follow any media story about Indians it would seem to be the case. It seems there is no limit as to what will anger the Indigenous person.

This week a White Woman had her art show cancelled due to a backlash of angry Indians. She was copying the art works of deceased artist Norval Morrisseau.  Lot of anger for her copying his work. The gallery cancelled her show.

There was this other time when the Swine Flu hit Canada a few years ago and the Ministry of Health sent body bags to northern Reserves. People were angry that time. Not only did they send body bag but they considered not sending hand sanitizer to the Reserves because of the alcohol content in the sanitizer.  Now that was pretty funny. Funny as in stupid for even making it an agenda item for a number of days.

There are times in our lives when we have the right to get angry. The sanitizer is one of the times when a whole group of people were stereotyped by our government. I was pissed at the arrogance by the bureaucracy and how they see Indians.  Like we are kids and can't handle getting hand sanitizer. This is one case were we had every right to be upset  The body bags, however grotesque, was a mistake. In that case the powers to be should have said "maanoo, ani-sha, babaamendan." (let it go, its for nothing and don't bother) and laughed it off. The funny thing is that we should have laughed at the absurdity. Did they really believe the body bags were sent in earnest to prepare for the deaths? Now that is ridiculous. Some one made a bad goof, a mistake. Even if it was an ugly mistake, its a mistake. Give them heck and move on. But nope the mistake was used for political crying. The leadership should have used the incident to make fun of and ridicule the bumbling bureaucracy that they deal with day in and day out.

With many things we should speak up and voice our concerns and our outrage or our disappointment. There are times when a mistake is just a mistake. Those are the times when we should conserve our energy for things which are truly wrong. Of course I do understand the fact some things are subtle and many may not know its a point of contention; something which we should be outraged about. I understand and know we should be voicing about those times. Still in some cases we should have restraint when it is a mistake. Like the stupid white woman who copied Morrisseau's art. She just didn't show influence from his style, she just copied it. Some folks said she was engaging  in Genocide. If that is not hyperbole or over the top rhetoric, well then, nothing is. I think she was stupid in how she addressed the criticism. Of course she didn't understand the meaning behind Morrisseau's works. She should have said that. But nope she dismissed the critics. Which of course angered them some more. This is one instance where it got big and should not have been. But hey we have lost the ability to say "Maanoo".

In the news media people are starting an "appropriation fund" for writers. Now that is a direct attack on Indigenous and other non-white groups. This is a fight for white privilege. Here is one of those areas that is clear. The idea came up with a magazine wanted to dedicate and issue and have Indigenous input and views. The editor wrote in the same issue to go ahead and appropriate stories about People of Colour. The group wants to encourage cultural appropriation as it is their Right. The right to continue  with their dominance. That is what it plays out as. So this is one of those cut and dry issues, where we know they are dumb and it should be fought. But is it really cut and dry? In some ways yes. The appropriation fund is clearly an attack but the article to go ahead and appropriate stories or characters is not. That is the problem, the first issue was about difference of opinion and we can disagree with  what Hal Niedzviecki wrote.  He expressed an opinion and he wasn't attacking Indigenous folk. I was conflicted about this but kind of agree in some sense. I think we can write what we don't know. For example, I am a fan of Bernard Cormwell's fiction. He writes in the first person of a fictional historical heroes. So its not a cut and dry about writing. It is cut and dry when someone is openly supremacist.

Fighting for what is right and what is stupid are different animals. The problem is, we can never agree on what is stupid and what is right.

But I am always amazed on how people can explain the issues - cultural appropriation and what it means.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

David Blacksmith Artist


David Blacksmith is an artist. He paints and he also makes Drums, Rattles and many other items.
I enjoy his art, and the stories behind the art. 
12 inch buffalo hide with drum stick , painting on it is a mother that cries for her child and the wolf hears this cry , the wolf will look after the child and in cree MI CUN means wolf but it really means to cry for someone that's not there or missing etc , I put things on the side of the drum to make wild happy 














David shares on Facebook.  https://www.facebook.com/david.blacksmith.3
TheDavid Blacksmith

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Go Ahead Brag About Yourself, Break Social Norms

Why are we not allowed to brag about ourselves? You will find all sorts of articles stating the case of the braggart being wrong.  I am wondering if there is any a time when bragging is acceptable.

When much of the world tells us that no matter what bragging is wrong. It sends the message that you just want to look good. I guess that is true but there must be some good in telling others the good deed you have done. When I'm talking about bragging I'm focused on the things we do and not what we have: a high paying job, big house, fast car, trophy spouse, and big dog. No its about the good things you have done which helped others.

Its a bugger for sure. You may want people to know the good thing you did. Still you don't want to be seen as a braggart. You want to inspire others into doing more and Pay-It-Forward but how can you get people to pay it forward if  they don't know about it?

So I say screw it. If people think you are telling about a good deed you did to make yourself look good, so what? We want to hear good things in the world. We hear so much of the ugly things we do. We are also quick to shit on ourselves. Even if we make mistakes, don't we need a chance to make things right? We should be able to say good things about ourselves.


Society is hard. Our people have been slagged so much that it is part of our being and we need to change that. So start with shouting it out. We are pretty damn good. Let's show them this is what we are doing.




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Take Part in Give Away Ceremony

Have you given a gift and it made you feel good? That feeling is pretty awesome isn't it? The joy you feel is tied to many reasons. Generosity is an act of kindness. Kindness and generosity are virtues we should all try to hold. Regardless of the reason for the giving of gifts, it should be part of your life.

I have seen some cool examples of giving. The 1972 Canada Russia series where Peter Mahovlich gave his sweater to Czechoslovakian player. the Czech player in turn gave his sweater to Mahovlich Now that was so damn cool and generous. At the time Western world was not in good relationship with the Eastern Bloc and they were considered enemies; figuratively and literally. So the act of sharing by Mahovlich was a huge gesture. I think others have done the same thing since then.

Giving gifts I believe is part of everyone's culture.

In Indian country everyone is aware of the Potlatch Ceremony. The British Columbia Indigenous community is world known for their acts of Giving. Similar ceremonies take place in the Indigenous community which are still practiced today. Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki)  provides a very informative overview of the Give Away Ceremony in his article Sacred Giving, Sacred Receiving.

The Powwow is likely a place where you will see a Give Away: a new child entering the Circle or a Remembrance of a loved one who has passed on or a family member's celebration of healing. The Lakota Powwows are known for their "Specials" and Give Aways. Lot of beautiful Blankets given out. The Giver of gifts is acknowledging the Creator in front of witnesses.

There was a Tradition of gift giving that I am not sure is practiced very much anymore. It is like the old saying that she/he "will give you the shirt off of their back". This has really taken place. The person who will give you something because you are fond of what they have. I remember years ago that used to happen. Someone in earnest would say "I like your jacket".  The person who had the jacket would take it off and give it to them. Lot of people used to tease about things like that. They would say I like your car.  They would of  course not expect the person to give them, they were just teasing and acknowledge the old practice.  They were just being Indian and teasing.  You will notice a lot of "celebrity Indians", or well known Indians are wearing all sorts of nice beaded adornments. When they travel to different areas, cities or even countries. They seem to come back with all their adornments; beaded medallions and things like that. I think about them and think if you are coming back with all your stuff, you're doing it wrong. And because  I am somewhat of a jerk I will go and test people with "I like your stuff". In one instance I even said to this one guy, "give me that". He was wearing a beautiful Maori Bone Medallion.   He was a Maori fellow and he was shocked. He stammered and said something like it was his Iwi or something like that. My friend a Traditional Maori just laughed and said to me "you got his number".

I think we are becoming more and more like main stream culture with acquisition as our default position: getting more stuff. That is too bad. I see many of our people embracing the Spirit of our Ancestral Teachings and wanting to live with those virtues. Still there are many who like the "idea" of being Traditional with not really understanding the significance of the Teachings. We can mouth some of the good things behind the Teachings but have difficulty letting go of our main stream norms and behaviours.

I like that many are bringing back many of the old ways and teaching them to others. I wonder how many practice the Give Away?

This summer will begin another season of the Sundance Ceremony. Some of the people who have pledged to Dance in front of the Creator will be finishing their 4th year of dancing. Upon completion of their 4th year, these Dancers will be having Give Aways. A way to express their gratitude to the people for the support and to honour the people. All of this is always in front of the Creator and in mind.

I like the Give Away. In general I just like generous people. I am not a fan of the cheap arse. It bothers me how people can be so selfish. Its not the price of stuff or the item, its the sentiment behind it. With Give Aways I have seen lot of the Dollar Store items and I have seen the handmade item as well. The act is about how you feel. Sure its nice to be on the receiving end of the Give Away but it sure feels awesome to be the one giving as well. That is the other thing of Give Away; if you are on the receiving end, try and be gracious. I have seen many who will come back and ask for some more stuff or even try to trade the gift for another. Take the gift in the manner it is given.

So consider the next time you have a celebration, an anniversary of some type about hosting a Ceremony of the Give Away. It will bring good feelings to you and your family. And we can always use good feelings towards us.