Sunday, April 26, 2015

Treaty Medal Image: More Than A Chiefs Trinket.

Southern Chiefs Organization Mural
United States Peace Medal

Why is the "Treay Medal" image important or significant?

The Southern Chiefs Organization had a few momentos made and one was a key change with the Treaty medal image on it.  A pretty nice little item. Some people did not like the idea. One woman said "I wouldn't have anything with the Queen on it".  Interesting sentiment. I know many people are not happy with the British Monarch.  It must be related to all that colonialism associated with the British Crown.  For me it is not about the Queen or the Monarch.

I was thinking about the Treaties the other day. Actually, I believe Indians think a great deal about the Treaties and the lack of respect given to them, by both the governments and by Indian people themselves. So I think it is part of our consciousness  and part of our view on how the Government fails with dealing with Natives.

There are a number of Native Lobby entities in Canada and Manitoba. Many of these lobby groups are trying to get the Government to live up to the Treaty negotiations.  Some of the Bands (Tribes in U.S. vernacular) not under Treaty signatory don't like the Treaties or the Treaty Bands. So they refuse to join lobby groups that try and push forth the Treaty obligations.  Their argument is that the Treaty does not benefit them as a group.  I understand that, but I think their reasoning is wrong. Also its kind of stupid. Having a united voice is always louder than one single voice, but that's another topic. 

Peace Medal that is insulting.
You see the image of the Treaty medals is significant for ALL Native Bands. Not necessarily the Treaty Title or the medals; but what the image means.  What do you see when you look at that image?  This is what I see; I see two Nations. Two separate Nations. Two Nations on equal footing coming to an understanding. Two Nations that both recognize each other. The foundation of the Treaty means that the Monarch (representatives) recognized the authority, the autonomy, the Rights, of the Native Nations. That is what I see. All those non-Treaty Bands have their relationship built on the fact that they are recognized as a Nation. That is what the image is. So regardless if you are Treaty Band or not the image is very significant. The "Spirit and Intent" of the Treaty is that Two Nations came together.The deal made is another issue. One where the Monarch and the preceding and current governments have not lived up to.

In the U.S. the Treaty deals have not meant to much to those governments as they have broken every single Treaty over there. Same here as well.

In any case I really like those medals or the image. I think our Nations should have the image on our community Flags. To put in their face (Canada) that "hey, you bastards, you see us? We are a Nation.".

So get the image tattoo on your chest.  Or put it on your flag. Or go get a key chain from Southern Chiefs Organization.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Unforgivable Actions Can We Make Amends?

Was having a conversation with Suz the other night about what can be forgiven and what can't be forgiven. We discussed how someone can make something "whole" again.  That it can never be. But can it still be forgiven?  For example, what happens if you get into a car accident and your passenger is killed or crippled? Or You drive while you are drinking and run over a 12 year old boy. Or you stomp someone to death in a drunken brawl. Or you shot someone or you stab someone?  What if you raped someone? Took advantage of girls while they are too drunk to make a choice (but the courts find that you were not "that" guilty). Or you are notorious for beating up your spouse every time you get jealous? All of these things are horrible actions, you think?

A court case in the news of a young drunk driver reminded me of my brother Pancho and when he died four years ago. He was in the hospital intensive care along with a young girl. She was in a car with her friends when another young girl hit them with her car. Her car was on cruise control, she was texting, she was drunk and went through the red light. She just pleaded guilty to charges this week and is now waiting to see if she is being sentenced as an adult or as a youth; she was 17 at the time of the accident which killed two girls. She told the parents that she knows "they think she is a monster and hate her". At the hospital I spoke to the father of one young girl; she was in a coma with severe head injuries. It was awful, the grief the pain that the family was going through. That poor young girl, all that life she was living, interrupted drastically by a selfish decision to drink and drive.

So how can anyone make amends or ask for forgiveness in these situations?

In some cases there is a chance for forgiveness.  

I was at this Sundance Ceremony a few years back and the Sundance Chief was speaking to the people there. He said "some of you have done things that can never be forgiven".  I think there were also points made about using Ceremony to try and cleanse themselves of their acts.  He spoke of incest, sexual abuse of kids and other acts that are horrible assaults on children. The point made is that no act of contrition can erase what you did and what took place. That is the truth.  I am sure that absolution is not out of grasp if you are a Christian. You know like that criminal that was on nailed up on the Cross next to where Jesus was nailed up on a Cross next to him. Anyway the Criminal was given absolution or acceptance by Jesus and thereby he got himself a spot in Heaven. So there is a moral there isn't there? But as the Elder said for some there is the unforgivable. So there can be never be atonement.

I love that scene of forgiveness in the Coen Brothers' film,  "Oh Brother Where Art Thou".
"Well that's it boys I have been redeemed. The Preacher done warshed away all my sins and transgressions. Its the straight and narra' from here on out. And Heaven ever-after is my reward. The Preacher said all my sins is warshed away. Neither God nor man has nothing on me now. Come on in Boys the Water is fine".

But if you are part of the Traditional Circle, atonement is not as easy to come by. You see it is not about you washing your sins away by being dunked in water. It is the life you lead. I know some will say but what about the Sweat Lodge? I mean after all it is about being Reborn isn't it?  Well you got me there, But...
It's a start. Remember about making Whole again?  How can going into the Lodge make things right like that?  It can't be that easy can it?  No its not that easy.

It comes down to how can you ask for forgiveness or make amends in the situations that we consider horrible and in fact are horrible? 

A friend of mine from Hazelton British Columbia (home of the Gitxsan) told me about their Clan systems and how they are still very strong in their Bands (called Tribes in the U.S. and called communities elsewhere) over there. The Women carry the Clans. So they are very important in keeping their Cultural ancestry.  Over in the BC area the Indians there have a system in their governance, their Clans of using the Feast Hall (Give-Away sytem), you may know it as the Potlatch.

If there is something horrible that happens the Feast Hall would be the place to address the issue. Take for example if someone runs over a young girl while intoxicated-drunk.  Well how can there ever be peace with that person and how can he make amends? You can never ever bring a life back or replace that life. In the Gitxsan the repercussions are even far reaching than immediate family and extended family (in the Native community our families are huge, not only by biological but by extended not by blood). So that young girl was a carrier of Clan members. She is not able to carry Clan member because her life was taken.  How can you make up for that as well?  So the man can try the Feast Hall or the Potlatch. The family and the Clan do not have to accept his Potlatch attempts. And that is their choice ( I would most likely never accept apology but who knows). So the family may never ever accept the acts by the person, but the person may try every year to provide the Potlatch for the community and family.

The thing is as a person that has committed wrong it is how you go forward after that. If you are the person who has taken a life, how do you now go along in your life afterwards? Are you contrite, are you atoning for your deeds, your choice to do what you did?  How are you making amends? You will never or could never fix or make whole what you did, but it is how you go on that is key.  You live a life of trying to atone. You help others and go on like that. Maybe you may never get forgiveness, but at least you are trying to live as a better person than the one who did the act in the first place.

If you live a life in the same manner as you did when you made the horrible act, you are even more of a monster. You give no remorse to those that you harmed. You insult them even further. What if you killed a friend in a hunting accident while night lighting, and you continue to go out night lighting; is it wrong?  You mock that family if you continue on the same path of your old self and there should be no forgiveness for you.

But if you are trying to atone, and not just by going to a Sweat or a Confessional for absolution, but are living a life of purpose for others, than maybe you might one day earn some forgiveness. Even if you never get forgiveness by those you have hurt, maybe you help someone else and that is a better life to live than one of being a monster only.

So those of you that have done the unforgivable, I hope you don't give up trying to be a little bit of a better human being. 

This happened this week, a Holocaust Survivor forgave a Nazi
It was a remarkable act of forgiveness.
Last week at the trial of former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening, Holocaust survivor Eva Kor decided to approach and speak to the former SS officer who is accused as an accessory to 300-thousand murders.

I wonder how you really can make amends for some things you have done?

Oh just saw this on Facebook and thought I would show you as well.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Looking At Me, What Do You See?

Me & my Gran-babies

My Brother-in-Law saw me being interviewed on a localTV channel one day and told my other brother-in-law that I looked like a "little old Jewish guy".  My neighbour's good friend saw me in the back yard and I was wearing a hat, he said, "Steve looks like a little old rich white guy".  My friend is originally from Barbados. One of my friends saw me from a distance over at his Ceremony site, I was wearing a pork-pie hat and he said to my other friend "who's that white guy?". An Elder back home saw me at the Health Centre and he said to me, while I was wearing my Pork-pie hat, "Boy your looking White, you should get back to the Rez". My Mom saw a picture of me wearing a hat and asked "who's that white guy?"  My Wife laughed.  In each of these situations I laughed as well.

It is quite interesting how we are seen. I wrote about what I see in the mirror a few years back and at the time it was not very pleasant.  It wasn't about physical appearance, it was more of what I felt like. That was the ugly part. So what do you see and what do I see?  Now that's the thing isn't it?  I don't have any control, influence or right to tell you what you see. I can hope about what you see but other than that, there is no business that I have there. You may see this big mouthed guy that acts like he knows everything. Or this old guy that thinks he is so cool, that he still uses the word 'groovy'.  Or you may see this arse of a guy that is rude and spiteful.  Or you might see a generous thoughtful man. What I do think, from my past experiences, and from me actually looking in the mirror at my physical appearance, I know everyone sees this White guy. Is it a bad thing? If you're Indian it can be

When I look at I see the world from my eyes. I don't see my face.  I see things as how I was raised, my past influences, my experiences, my beliefs, my values, my attitudes, my regrets, my wrongs, my mistakes, my demons,  and my hopes. I don't see things as what you think you see in me. I am not this little old white guy that you see. How can I be? How can I be something I am not?

I was raised with Anishinaabe parents. I knew my aunties, uncles, cousins, my community, my Kokum, Mishom, Granny and a few memories of my Granpa.  It was a great experience.  Although there are some things I would not want my kids to experience, in general I was very fortunate and I am grateful.  I look with those eyes and that is a reflection of what I see when I look in the mirror.

I see the pain and joy of Anishinaabek-Indians.  I see a small part of our history.  What I see in me is my Dad, my Mom, my siblings, my cousins, my Uncles, my Aunties, my babies - my kids, my grankids, my big family and my friends. I see someone that is trying.  Trying to live a little bit better. Not better in terms of material goods, but in the way I carry myself and my heritage. I see a very lucky man in being a member of his community; Sagkeeng. I see someone who is lucky to come from such a good family. I see lot of things. I see the pain of loss for a child. I see the loneliness.  I see some failures. I see some ugliness as well. But I see a man that is loved by his wife and is so fortunate. I see family and friends. I see this Indian guy trying to be a good human being.

What I don't see is what you think you see. 

You see something else and I have no control over it.

“Being kind to someone, only to look kind to others, defeats the purpose of being kind.”
Shannon L. Alder

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Child Care in Foster: Who's Fault Is It?

WINNIPEG – The 15 year old girl brutally beaten in downtown Winnipeg this week was in the care of Child and Family Services at the request of her grandmother who had trouble controlling her, family members say.
Global News is protecting the identity of the teen who remains in critical condition at Winnipeg’s Children’s Hospital with “severe head trauma.”
A 15 year old boy who was also a ward of CFS and staying in the same downtown hotel as the victim has been charged in the attack early Wednesday morning on Hargrave Street.

“Where are the people that were supposed to be watching them, were they sleeping? Like, get real you guys, get a grip on yourselves.”
Manitoba’s Family Services minister Kerri Irvin-Ross promised Wednesday that all CFS kids in hotels will be moved to safer locations by June 1st

 These are the headlines from today's incident in Winnipeg.
I could be talking about something I really know nothing about, but here goes. 

I listened to this lady being interviewed on the news today and talked about the young girls (who was left beaten sexually assaulted)  character. The woman said "she is just a regular person, good to be with and all that". She also said this, "where are the people that are supposed to be watching them..."

I can see that but I can also see the reality of the situation. The hotel situation and keeping kids in rooms. These young people are in care. This young people are not in jail.  That means the care giver has no real means to hold them. Do they? What are they suppose to do when these young people want to leave? Physically restrain them? The tools they have is to report them as leaving. That is the tool that is available. I mean after all they are not their parents, are they?

It comes down to what have the kids done to be in this situation? Many times and most times nothing. They are born in a situation beyond their control.

It is us, as parents, we have to try to live up to the role of being a parent. The parent role is to take care of our children.

Our parents are the ones. We need our parents to become parents. 

In some cases its difficult. We are in bad places ourselves. But is that the fault of the child? No fucking way.
It is still our responsibility. So everytime I hear someone calling down a care giver, I kind of get a little bit sad and sometimes angry. Angry at the situation. The child should be with family. Family should mean something to parents. Don't we want the best for our kids? Are we so damn selfish that we can't try to give them that? I know, I know its complicated. It is. There is the plight of poverty; the strain of identity; the nature of addiction; the self image issues; the environment we live in; the selfish nature of people; the ugliness of addiction (I said that I know). In addition there is the rules of Child and Family Services; protect the child. That is the number one rule. That should be the number one rule of parents not just CFS.

It is easy to say, well its the parents fault, they should look after their children. That is the answer, its simple. But really its not. If things were good, parenting would not be a burden or worse a curse. Parents would be the protector of the child. They would live up to the mantra; "I would give my life for my child".  It's quite funny (pityful actually) that we won't even give up smoking around our kid, never mind give our life for our children.  Being a parent is about sacrifice or at least it should be. If we want to go out and drink, shouldn't we make sure our kids have some food, clothes and a safe place first?  What about taking pills? Don't we know everything we do has effect on our children? For some of us we need help. That is why some of us turn to CFS to help. In this case that is what took place. Sadly the situation turned horrible for all involved. And what of our own community? Why is that we can't have our children with family? Like our Aunties, Cousins, Grannies?  What is the obstacle that keeps kids from staying with their family?  Is it the rules of the CFS? In some case (many times) it is. It is because many of the "rules" of housing children is not reflective of the real housing situation in our communities. One room to child, is near to impossible in our homes. So that one rule takes lot of our family out of the equation for housing a child.

As for the incident in where the 15 year old girl was brutually attacked and killed: Can you imagine how awful everyone involved feels?  The horror of having been the person watching the child; the grandparent who sought help from CFS for the situation of a unruly child. It is a situation where there will be lot of self blame and blame on others as well. Lot of fault.

There are no easy answers for the CFS situation. There are lot of critics and blamers that is for sure. What we need is less blame and more answers. How to make things better for the children. How do we make sure they are protected? It starts with the parents, the family circle and the community.It starts with the rule makers understanding the reality of the situation and the imposing of rules that don't fit in the community. There is lot of fault or blame to go around but we need to keep focused on the number one rule: Protect the Child.

We need parents to be parents. Not parents to put blame elsewhere. We need to help those parents. Let's own those words, that "it takes a community to raise a child"  and not CFS.

In the smaller communities and Reserves, all the care organization, social economic political should be networking to see how they can help the parents. Not cuddle them of course, but ensure they have the resources to get help; like addictions, like life skills, like training, like counseling. Instead of being little islands of care agencies (Health Center, probations, housing, social, education, NAADAP, CFS) trying to be their own king and queens.  Try talking to each other. How can the collective agencies/organizations work together to help these kids and families? 

We have to OWN the protection of children.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Cross Lake Cree Nation: Enters Adult Entertainment Industry - Sex Toys Sell

Cross Lake or as it is locally know, Pimicikamak Cree Nation realizes that it needs more economic development for the people in the community. The Reserve is located in northern Manitoba and does not have access to a large population.  While a number of Bands have chosen to get into the Gaming industry for a means of creating jobs in their communities, Pimicikamak knows that a Casino is just not viable in their area. So they are looking into an industry that is recession proof and knows no prejudice; the sex industry.

As the Chief Merrick stated in her media release; "we are not gambling".  The Band is relying on the lure of the sex toy industry to break barriers and get people excited about the community and their people. Finding a way into the industry is the hard part. The Band economic development officer sought out advice from an Elder. As Elder David Blacksmith can attest; "there is no bottom when it comes to the depravity of man".  With those wise words in mind Ec Dev guru of Cross Lake went to the City of Sin to gain some insight.

It was there that he had a revelation; "we bring the sex to our community and export it out". The Woman's Council of Pimicikamak asked: "What kind of sex would people be interested in?"  How do we export  sex was question asked by Council members. George Muswaggon an advisor to the Band, said that "sex is not the answer, we need a different package". But the Ec Dev officer, boasted by his visit with Sin City (he was accompanied by Elder Blacksmith on their 10 day trip), said that the act of sex is beautiful and we need to get it out there for the public to consume.  Still the Chief was not sold on the idea. After all sex is but one product, the community needs diversity, needs economic stimulus.

It was the combined efforts of the Council, the Elder, the Advisor and the Ec Dev officer that they came up with a business model.  They would not be selling sex but a new product for sex. The condom industry is a hard industry to break into. After all you got a Senator brand-Trojan and all of the other different types. And there are two many toys out there and manufacturing the toys would not be feasible. You would have to compete with the import toys and all those cheap manufacturing costs of China.  So what could Cross Lake do?  They are bringing a new product to market.  A product so perfect that everyone would want one.

It is the "FUN GLOVE". A new sex toy on the market. It is designed and modeled after the fun condom:

The Fingers of the glove 
The key to the new product is that can be used by one person as oppose to two people. Instead of buying one and keeping in your wallet to never be used, the Fun Glove can be used anytime by just about anyone. You can use it for two orifices and not just one. You can use by yourself. You see the palm of the Fun Glove will also incorporate texture for even more fun.  Best of all it is safe. It is made of fine latex and feels like the smooth touch of real skin.

The Council are ecstatic over the new product.
They plan to house a maufacturing plant in the community. After all every dollar that circulates in a community only makes it stronger. As of date trial runs are being produced in Bangladesh.  If the market test is successful ground breaking is expected to take place spring 2016.

While the sex industry has proven successful due to derpraved souls everywhere, there is also buzz in the community about testing out the Cannabis market. Medical Cannabis (Weed, Marijuana) plants is a new growth market that is largely untapped. Council is high on the idea of becoming the big dog in the Cannabis industry.

Kudos to the Cross Lake intiative. They are thinking ahead of the curve and banking on the depraved.

For more information please contact:

Darwin Paupanakis

Secretary to the Four Councils

Pimicikamak Okimowin
P.O. Box 399
Cross Lake, Manautoba CANADA
R0B 0J0


Cherokee Fiddle, cause Good Whiskey Never Let Him Lose His Place

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