Saturday, March 3, 2018

Proud To Be Native?

Yeah Baby! Proud to be Neechie, proud to be Brown, Black Pride, Gay Pride, White Pride.  Oops how in the heck did White pride get in there? That is a different can of fish. Not going to tackle that one.

Native Pride is a real thing. We are proud of being Ojibwe, Anishinaabe, Lakota, Cherokee, Iroquois, Cree, Metis, Blackfoot, Hawiian, Maori  and all those other people of Indigenous Heritage.

The late Comedian George Carlin didn't like or didn't understand "ethnic pride" as he called it. He even quoted the Bible that says "Pride goeth before a fall". I like some of his comedy but have to disagree with him in this debate. He does make some funny and good points about things to be proud for. However, (notice how however is a negative? Why is that? Anyway) when it comes to identity and labels we need to be proud. And why you may ask? Its because of the social factor. Society in general has done a pretty number on Ethnic people, non-conformists, People of Color and the Indigenous folk. Society has sold them a set of goods that spells out how no good they are. How their being different is bad in society. It is the default society in Canada and the US is white. All others are just here. So its essential and its necessary to combat that narrative. We have a world wide story which says we (5000 Indigenous people) are inferior in some way or fashion.  I like the fact that we are in saying we are proud of who we are. It must be said, over and over again and to be said loud.

What does that mean, to be proud of your heritage? Years ago I was speaking to a group of people and of course asked the question, how many of you are Indian? Everyone raised their hands. I then asked how many are proud to be Indian (you have to remember it was at least 30 or more years ago so Indian was a common vernacular to describe us Aboriginal/Indigenous folk)?  Okay, I said, what are some of the things you are proud of being Indian for?  The answers didn't come out as quickly. One guy actually said this "well we don't pay tax". I didn't laugh. The thing is we were at this point in life because of the constant tale of how we are no good and all those good old stereotypes: lazy, drunken, welfare, savage, uncivilized, un-godly. So the tale has been told so many times we have internalized the message. Sort of like advertising, a good pitch will have people buying it. A number of those in the group said they were proud of their heritage. Which is great and what does that entail? Well its our music, our language, our Beliefs, our governance, our color, the way we live. All great things to be proud of that is for sure. The problem is the government along with the Church and justice system have attacked and in many cases, killed those things we once had. Like the Language. No one can say our language has remained intact. Our Clan systems, our Spiritual rites, our way of governance, our freedom of commerce with each other, our whole way of life has been harmed. You see some of the harm displayed in our new consciousness. Many of us have abandoned our Beliefs for a foreign religion. Our parents and grandparents have stopped speaking their original language for a foreign one. We don't have our songs anymore or the dances. We follow foreign governance ways. The abandon of ways was not voluntary. The damage to the collective us was forceful and deliberate. It was and is a constant attack on the Indigenous community.

The measure to change the story about us has to be equally forceful and deliberate. We have to attack those strong held notions that we are inferior. That we were savage and uncivilized. We have to change the sales pitch to one where everyone, not only us Indigenous people, but the whole world recognizes how special we are. We can instruct main stream and foreign audience on how Indigenous people are saving the world. While a foreign system of greed (call it capitalism and expansion) is killing the Earth, the Indigenous way of life can sustain it. How Indigenous knowledge is critical for the betterment of Human existence. While the main stream is planning to colonize distant planets for when the Earth becomes inhabitable, Indigenous people are working on protecting and revitalizing the Earth.

So be proud of being Native. There are many of you who are speaking and learning the language, following the Belief systems of your ancestors, living a strong good life, being strong mentors and partners. You are proud Natives and we appreciate you.

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