Friday, December 30, 2016

Joseph Boyden: Identity a Sore Point

I will say it again, the greatest issue facing Indigenous folk is Identity.

I once put this statement on Twitter. Immediately I was challenged that its not identity; try to think about identity when you are without food. Meaning there are more immediate and tangible issues that are more pressing.  I understand the argument. Still I say identity is the most compelling the most dire of consequence to affect Indigenous people. Right there we start it off. With what do we call ourselves? Yeah I know, I'm Anishinaabe and other Tribes (see there again tribes?)or Bands call themselves by their original language title. Growing up I was Indian and also Saulteaux Indian. Now we are Ojibwe and Anishinaabe, Indigenous and First Natioins.  For a while we were Aboriginal. I never liked the term but used it to be in the correct at the time. I was so used to the term Indian that it didn't matter about its history and all that goes with it. The labeling of who we are is so important and it becomes an emotional debate. We are invested in making sure we know who we are and who our people are. Wouldn't you be if your whole existence was bombarded with Main stream social norms, customs, laws, polices, education system, intended to wipe you out?

Societies all over the world are fierce in protecting who they are and make sure pride is embedded in who they are. When individuals threaten to usurp who you are of course you are going to protect and fight the threat. While others attack with venom because they don't like your identity. Some of the ugliest wars and genocides have been because of the views against another's identity.  So please have some understanding when we question the validity of an identity. It maybe wrong to judge but its a survival mechanism.

When speaking about Joseph Boyden and his crisis of identity we should have a little context as to why it is and issue to begin with. Our identity is vital. It defines a great deal of who we are and what experiences we share. It bonds us. I look at my ancestors and think about what they endured just for being who they were/are. Joseph Boyden has both critics and protectors regarding his identity.

I am not too quick to side with Boyden. I think about  the ordeals of our ancestors and what the Government, police and Church did to try and erase their identity. I think about my Mishoom - Grandpa. My Mishoom was a big man both in stature and standing. He was a bushman and contractor. He had men working for him and they in turn fed their families. He was a respected man. Yet this man was not considered a man in the eyes of  society. He could not walk into a licensed establishment and buy himself a drink.  He had to wait outside the pub and be at the mercy of a young white man to buy liquor for him. A thing we take for granted. The point is not about the buying of beer (as many would jump on as a bad thing) but rather where you are put in a position of embarrassment and subservient to others. Even when he was held in high regard in his own community, but outside the Reserve, he and his fellow Indians were not considered men or adults. My Granddad is an example of what our ancestors endured. This is just one small example of how it was different for Indigenous people. They endured so much; community displacement, enfranchisement, residential school, community pass system, "kill the Indian in the child" policies/laws, registration of status, racism-structural and societal, spiritual extinguish, language prohibition as well as child apprehension.

 The things our Ancestors and relatives went through is not just a piece of folk lore or just historical stories. But really it is recent and even today that our relatives face the hardships of being who they are.

It does anger me when we have pretend Indians. Ward Churchill was a big piece of ugly identity theft. The thing that bothers us is because of the way we receive people; we take them at their word. That is who we are. Like when we took Treaty brokers at their word. So when we find out it is not true, we see they have broken a trust. So of course we are going to be hurt, upset and perhaps a little angry. Wouldn't you be angry if someone took advantage of your trust?

I know I have told this story before but it is significant and encapsulates the identity issue and in some cases crisis. While attending University I frequented the Native Student Lounge. I did go there to hang out and visit with other Neechies (slang for other Indians and friends). This one day a young man was there. So I started a conversation with him. One of the first things I asked was "where you from?" He replied with "Winnipeg".  This of course was not what I expected after all he was Indigenous. So I gave him a lecture. "I don't like that. We are all from somewhere. I mean where are your people, your parents are from. Its where to start if we have something or someone in common. So where's your parents from?" He said "I don't know... I was adopted." Bang! In my face! But he didn't say it like that. He was contrite, apologetic, and felt very sad looking. This experience humbled me. My arrogance of growing up in the community surrounded by a large family - immediate and extended. So it is a slap in my face for being a pious jerk. The identity relationships we enjoy are not privilege to all of our relatives. Many of our people are just trying to find their own home.  I remember the big controversy with Shania Twain. She identified as being Ojibway and good for her. She was raised from childhood by an Ojibway Dad and has Ojibway family members. So why couldn't she identify as Ojibway? Was it the DNA connection? I have a sister-in-law who is a registered Status Indian of Canada. She has no Indigenous Ancestry but is recognized as an Indian by the government of Canada.

Our identity has been attacked for many many years and in many many ways. So there are those out there that are now on a path to find and connect. We should all have a home to go back to.

Identity is who we are. So if your identity has been savaged for an extended period of time, what do you expect to happen? Confusion? Safe guarding and paranoia? Exclusion and confirmation? Exploration?

The one thing we do as Indigenous folk, we celebrate our heroes. We look for them. Look at the professional sports leagues; we search out our relatives. For example ask any Canadian who Stan Jonathon is and they will know right off. Maybe not the kids anymore but the kids will tell you who the best goalie in the NHL is. That's right the best goalie right now in all of the world is a Neechie, Carey Price. So it's not like we are looking to knock people of their stools, it's quite the opposite. But we have no patience for the pretender, the liar.

There are so many categories and sub-categories to who we are. The identity of who our people are is one of the first items we identify with and perhaps family being first. The whole identity of our people can be complex as well. We are Indigenous but we are also Ojibway, Cree, Sioux but more so we are Anishinaabe, Nêhiyawi-, Lakota, Innu, and so on. Not only do we have so much labels but we have others putting their stamp on who we are or should be. In our own communities we have differences of opinions as to who we are.   The Metis for example are fighting hard about who they are and who should identify, who is Metis or just "mixed blood". A bit crazy.  My wife and her family have so much Indian blood and are Metis but don't rely on a quazi-political organization to identify who they are. They just live knowing who they are. At the end of the day we still know who our people are and for those looking for their people, we are willing to help.

So if someone wants to claim Indigenous heritage with no context (family community) we may be forgiven if we want to look closer.

As my wife says it must be good to have a whole country to go to. Where a whole country speaks your tongue like Germany, England Russia China France Romania and just about every country in the world. The countries where colonial rule has made them the majority are the exceptions; Mexico Brazil New Zealand Canada United States Australia. These are the countries where the Indigenous people are no longer the majority speakers. Its very important to us to know where are home is. We are like any other Nation, we want a home to always be able to go back to.

There are many links in this post highlighted in blue which can further examine the nature of Indigenous identity and many of the issues related. Just click on the links if you are interested. Miigwetch.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christian Indian, A Contradiction.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
This statement by the late Jesus Christ has always bothered me. It's strange, Jesus wants us to go to Heaven and meet his Dad but puts up road blocks? There's no regard for the character or actions of anyone. He says it's me or nothing. So what happens to those good living folks? There were many who had no knowledge Jesus even existed. So now what? Those folks are not allowed into the Garden? Seems kind of cruel if you ask me. 

If I was a skeptic I would say it was a marketing ploy - Having only one way into Heaven. You know like those upscale bars or clubs who have line ups to get in. Regardless of how many people are in the premise, there are people to stop you at the entrance to give the appearance that many are waiting to get in. Like it's exclusive and if you want in you have to wait. So getting into Heaven or the club is an exclusive thing.

It is interesting the conversion process which has taken place all over the globe. The proponents of Christianity are not known for their compassion and acceptance when it comes to people of colour. Yet they are willing to go all over the world making them kneel and pray to their Lord when they are active in killing them?  Seems like it's a waste. Why spend time, energy getting to see how good your God is when it's your intention to lay waste to them? Undeniable the Christian rule has been bloody  and ugly.   Still with all the horror that has taken place in the name of Christianity people are still lining up at the door. Strange even more so, many of the people lining up are People-of Colour. Now that is weird.

Still some of my best relatives are Christian. A friend is also a Road Chief with Native American Church. You know Indians, how they can turn anything around and own it.  Having a Bible on the alter as they Pray with Peyote. 

We do it all the time with other things, like French words becoming Indigenous words. Like owning the wool blanket. Like owning the Bannock bread. Like owning the Gun and many other New-Comer stuff. 

It seems kind of crazy when you think of all the history and baggage Christianity carries when it comes to attacking Indigenous people. So why would they willing join the Church?  It seems as crazy as the Jewish person joining the Nazi party or Black person joining the Ku Klux Klan.  
The sad thing is many of the Indian Christian's behave like they are in a cult or something, obsessed. It is like a drug as well, and there is no other way but theirs? 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Young Indigenous With No Sense of Humour

I was sitting with a few Indigenous folk the other day. Some young and some old. The oldest guy was 72 and the youngest girl was 35. One of the great things sitting with Indigenous  folk, no matter the setting, is there will be some laughter.

The thing is not everyone has the same type of humour. We speak about Indian humour as though it is homogeneous, but it is not the case.  Like all people, even us Indian folk have different takes on what is funny.
From the Kewa Train Station - the site of Larry McNeil's 1977 photograph "Real Indians" as seen in 2010. Photo by the Author.

The topic of residential school is a touchy subject. Many people have suffered from those days of boarding schools and Indian Affairs run schools. Still for many the subject is a segue into a joke or two. There is a infamous Priest who was at our Indian Residential School and his name was Father Plamondon. Now this guy is well known in the community. Anyway he is the muse for many a joke.  You see Father Plamondon was well known for his cleanliness. He liked to wash the boys and say to them "you got bad thoughts?" Lot of the older men would say that to each other in the Reserve and laugh at each other. After the Indian Residential School abuse became public to Canada with lawsuits and payments for abuse, new jokes arose.

The 72 year old guy (Dave)  I visited with likes to laugh and tease as well. Father Plamondon came up and so Dave told us he was never bothered by Plamondon. He said his friend told him "you were too ugly for Father".  Made me think of my cousin who received some compensation for his experience at the school. He came walking into the restaurant and said "look at the truck Father Plamondon bought me." Another joke around the Reserve happens when you have a pooget (fart). If someone has a loud fart, the person who heard it or even farted will say "ho wah, Richard will fix that".  A reference about a serial rapist who buggers men when they are passed out.

We have some common experiences as Indigenous folk. Those experiences provide us with commonalities and those common experiences are reflected in our lives, our speak and even our humour. That is why many of us will not cringe at the horrid, at the insensitive subject, at the joke many will find tasteless. It has become a part of our being. We laugh and tease about the absurd, the painful and the horrible. We have appropriated many things and take ownership of them. Like how we have taken ownership of the blanket. Once used as a tool of colonial tactic, in trade of inferior products and in (although there is discrepancy) some cases used as tool of war.  The Blanket is now significant in most, if not all Indigenous groups. We have the Blanket Ceremony, Blanket Dances, Star Blankets, Button Blankets, and used prominently in the Give-Away Ceremony.  There are many instances where Indigenous groups have taken over ownership of past hurts or weapons and have woven them into their lives. The same with Humour. They have taken ownership of the ugliness in some past hurts and today's hurts and turned in on its head by laughing at the absurdity. They laugh at it because they know it is wrong, stupid, ugly and not who they are. So they laugh at society. They know how wrong society has been to them.

Still there are some individuals who do not share the same type of  humour many Indigenous folk have. These individuals, mainly young warriors, are in a new frame of mind and life. They are taking societies misdeeds and ugliness and fighting it. They are not doing with irony and humour but with "in your face" action. This action includes fighting their own. They can't understand the humour from their people. You can't blame them. They see only hardship that our Ancestors endured. So they have no room for humour like that of their relatives. They are fed up with the way society has benefited and how Indigenous have suffered over the rule of colonial power. The youth seem to take things literally. They are not going to laugh at themselves or at their people.

So when a young person gets upset over your teasing and your jokes, just know they are taking about the battle in their own way. Its not they are humourless after all everyone loves a good pun or joke. Its just they have a different frame of context to what is humour.

So there will be those of us who still laugh and tease about the absurd, the wrong, laugh with irony and laugh in the face of society.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Certification for Indigenous Elders

The term Elder is used all over the world. It is a term of description, but Elder is also used as a term for a position. In the Indigenous community the Elder (capital E) is a designate for a person who is held in high esteem.  Generally elder is used to describe a person who is old, elderly and experienced in life. For Indigenous folk it represents a person of knowledge, particularly Indigenous knowledge linked to Spirituality and is a person recognized among their community. Recognition is important. Elder is not invoking a title just to bestowed on yourself. Calling yourself and Elder doesn't necessarily make it true.

There is no governing body where Indigenous Elders are given the title. The talk of a "certification" for Elders is a discussion which takes place whenever an individual "Elder" does something wrong. Once in a while an individual will do bad things to people in the role of being Elder. When this happens the whole Elder community is judged. This is when you have people demanding a test for the role. They call for a regulation on who should be an Elder.

The thing is, how do you regulate honour? The thing about Elders is you are going on honour. You honour their status and they honour their role. So how do you regulate trust and honour? The role of an Elder is not a quantifiable position. Like measuring their age, their experience, their knowledge, their commitment, their integrity?

Its a difficult situation to start to regulate; determining who is an Elder and what they should have in terms of credentials. What is the base line for measurement? Age? Education? Up bringing history?

Some say there needs to be a base line for determining an Elder and qualifications?  There is the argument where there is a need for some type of verification of whether or not they are in fact qualified to be an Elder. Perhaps a governing body to oversee who can be called an Elder?

Me, I think there is a body already. It is informal and it is comprised of Elders and community folk. The community knows and recognizes who is an Elder. Elders generally recognize other Elders. The role of Elder can be complex and simple at the same time. Some Elders will be recognized for their knowledge of Spiritual Teachings while some will be recognized as Healers. Some Elders are recognized as lower Elders in standing to other Elders. These "lower" standing Elders will willingly yield to a more "higher" standing Elder. This is not a written rule or vocalized but it is practice common among Traditional Elders. The 'higher" Elder may not be older than the "lower" standing Elder.

The certification of Elders is not a viable action. Elders being Elders is a privilege and time honoured tradition and role among the Traditional Indigenous community. It is something recognized by the community. The standing of an Elder is not universal in our communities. An Elder that is highly visible and very active may not have the recognition of the Indigenous community but is well known outside the community circle; such as government agencies, academic institutions. Or it may be the individuals choice not to accept a certain individual as having Elder status. There are some Elders who everyone knows and recognizes as an Elder of honour.  Still there are people  who give themselves the title Elder and keep selling it. They use the title so many times and in so many public places the label sticks. The label of Elder sticks with people outside of the community. So we see many an Elder who is old yes, but has not earned the Right to be an Elder in the Traditional sense; of a Teacher, mentor and Keeper of knowledge. We see some Elders who have been actively engaged in not only Christian lifestyle but even are naysayers to Traditional Teachings. There are a number of "well known" Elders in Winnipeg city that have not had the background of Teachings but now are touted as Elders.

For Traditional Elders to be regulated and tested or thought through an educational institution would be wrong and just plain stupid.  There are examples in the Western world where time honoured traditions and practices have been made into certificate courses and training. Acupuncture is a Chinese ancient medicine practice of 4,500 years. It is now a course and certificate. Take a 300 hour course and you are now certified to do Acupuncture. You can push in the needles without having the understanding or Teachings behind the practice. Western culture has embraced Acupuncture but not the Teachings it is based on. The "scientific community" will look for things they understand and discount the Teachings as "a pre-scientific superstition": Acupuncture is based upon the Eastern philosophy of chi (also spelled qi), which is the Chinese term for the supposed life force or vital energy that animates living things. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) chi flows through pathways in the body known as meridians. 

The arrogance of main stream culture and values is active in discounting the Traditions and history of anything and anyone not modern. This is the route they have taken with ancient Chinese Traditions and Teachings.  

Elder Don Cardinal 
You already see non-Indigenous people giving Teachings on the Pipe, the Sweat Lodge, the Sundance and many other Ceremonies. With an Elder Certification process you can see it would not be a leap to include non-Indigenous as certified Elders. The process is not so far off. We have many consultants and professional positions where Indigenous knowledge - Traditional knowledge is part of their bag of tools/experience/education, whether or not the individual has been part of the Traditional Indigenous world and community recognition. In some of the cases the non-Indigenous expert reports to know more than the local Elder or Indigenous persons. 

Sagkeeng Elder John Kent
I hope the roles of Elders remains in the Traditions of the community and their people. 
Sure change is a great thing but some things should remain as part of the foundation of who they are. Elders recognizing Elders and community recognizing Elders. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Locker Room Talk Degrades Women.

Holy Heck can you believe Donald Trump? He is quite the individual. Anyway he is now going to be the leader of the so called "free world". The funny thing about him is his ability to say anything and not care of the after math. Still he has done one good thing and it is to bring awareness to how men are pigs. Men have become so accustomed to the locker room talk about Women. Locker room talk being a metonymy for sexiest demeaning speak.

As a young man (very young and stupid) I admit I also  did some bragging, exaggeration and out right fabrication of some sexual exploits. Not a good thing. Still there are things that stick in your memory of some talk. I was in my mid twenties and was very lucky and happy to receive trip to Maui. My friend was a frequent traveler and he was rewarded a trip on defunct Airline Canadian Pacific. I think the whole plane was part of group of frequent fliers. Anyway these "professional" looking young White men would talk a lot. They were rude and arrogant. Making Gay jokes about me. I was very friendly and excited to be on the trip. I talked with everyone and many Locals - Native Hawaiians. Anyway I became a friendly acquaintance with the servers at one pub. I remember sitting next table to the White guys and they were commenting on the waitress and her looks. She was a young blonde White Woman. Their comments ended with the smell of  her vagina after being on her feet all day and working in the heat. I remember it because it upset me. I didn't intervene in their conversation.

Later in the evening I ran into both the Hawaiian bar tender and the blonde server in another pub. We shook hands laughed and visited. The White men were there and I didn't say anything to the Woman or the bar tender guy. I felt bad for her, the server and ashamed for myself as to what I heard.

It is demeaning and degrading to speak of Women this way. Its ugly.

Yet it seems like sexiest speak is normal. We have normalized it in our lives.
Its wrong.

We are ignoring the importance in all of life what the feminine means. We need to see and to normalize how Women are life.

If life depended on Women would we degrade it? Would we traumatize them? Would we hurt maim and destroy them? Life depends  on Women yet we act like they don't matter.

So if we let "locker room talk" go unchallenged (as I did) we are also guilty of hurting them as well.

I say I am truly sorry for saying ugly repugnant things on Women.

We need to be more active in listening to Women. Understanding what they truly stand for. Relish in their beauty, kindness and goodness.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Looking At The Face Of Cruelty:

We have all dealt with cruelty at one time or another in our lives. We can probably picture the cruel person right now. We can remember and picture it clearly because it was so personal and real.

There is much cruelty in the World. Thing is we see it daily as well, being played out in our news feeds. However it just doesn't seem as real, does it? Regardless if the cruelty being played out is far worse than anything we have been faced with. We see the news of a woman who was raped and left for dead. We see the young girl sexually assaulted, beaten and thrown in the freezing river. We see young children being pulled out of the rubble of blown up buildings. We see a police officer shooting someone. We see a Woman being punched in the face. We see a person being tasered to death. Lot of cruelty. Thing is we don't seem bothered by it. We can look at the face of cruelty and it is not something we truly have to deal with - in these circumstances.

See that is one of the problems. We are dealing with our own situations. We are looking at the face of cruelty in our own lives. For some of us its crippling.

Still I can't help feeling somewhat fortunate despite facing cruelty. I may even see the other people's cruelty as something so far removed it does nothing to my views. It doesn't seem cruel regardless of how obscene the acts are.

We are in the midst of a world wide societal change where cruelty is almost normal. That is messed up. We can still see the be-headings. We never forget the screams of the airplane recordings as a pilot locks the door and flies head on into a mountain. We see the bodies of blown up and shot up folks all over the world. Still its weird that the harsh cruel words someone said to you feels worse than all of these real images we see?

There are so many images of police being cruel to people these days. It should really bother us. The cruelty of the police goes beyond everything we are suppose to believe about police. They are no longer there to help but are now just the tool for punishment. It seems they relish in the cruelty they perform. Doesn't it look like that?

This week in Standing Rock the police were cruel to people. They shot at them with water, rubber bullets to the heads, gas canisters which caused extensive damage to a girls arm. And the thing was the police can be seen laughing as this is going on???

I wonder about people when they do a cruel act. How is it they can do it without consequence or any remorse or regret for their actions?  We see it all the time. The rapist who feels like a victim - she asked for it. The cop who "feared for their life" as he shoots an unarmed person. The cruel boss who thinks they own you because they sign the pay cheque. The corporate executive who demands the Women in the office grant him sexual favours. Do they realize how cruel they are?

Police kicks handcuffed woman in the head. Cruel
“[T]he infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.” 
― Bertrand RussellSceptical Essays

“People speak sometimes about the "bestial" cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I am reminded of events in history where we have seen cruelty. Cruelty at different degrees: the dropping of an Atomic Bomb. The genocide of a millions of Jewish families. The genocide of the Tutsi. The rape of Bosnian Women and genocide. The bombing of Aleppo's children's hospital. The mass shootings of 6 and 7 years old in Sandy Hook school. The police using dogs and batons on Marchers in Birmingham Alabama. You know what is said about those incidents of cruelty?  It was back then. But its not back then.

Why is it when in the midst of cruel actions we don't see it as cruel? The police in the US are killing people, minorities-Black/Hispanic/Indian with what seems like a zeal. Having a heck of a good time killing folk. 

We are in the midst of so much cruelty in the world that it almost seems normal. Except for our immediate dealings with cruelty we really don't pay much attention. Maybe we have some momentary outage or moment of sad reflection to what is going on out there but then what?

What are we doing while Looking at the Face of Cruelty?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why Are We Not At Standing Rock?

I am one of those people not at Standing Rock. I am in the safety of my home. I am one of those who believes he is active in Indigenous Affairs and is willing to stand up or at least something about the wrongs of the political world. So why in the heck am I not in Standing Rock? Am I too comfortable? Am I willing to let the young Women, young men and Elders go and fight while I sit at home and be comfortable?

It seems I am. And it is not right.

It is not right we let others voice against the wrongs in the world. And "make no bones about it", the pipeline in the Dakotas is wrong. Not just wrong morally and legally but wrong in all aspects. The reality of it, is it will be the pipeline which breaks and poison water. The result will be the people will end up paying for it; in health and in cash. Our children's children will be made to pay with more loss of clean air and water. Still its not enough for us to go and support.

Right now there are very brave folk who are willing to lose limbs, risk brain damage from rubber police bullets, put their lives on the line from violence of a military force with no regard for lives.

Why are we not at standing rock?

I wish I would be there and I should be there. Just like many of you.

So let's see what we can do. If we can't go there. We should support in other ways.

(Video Nov 22, 2016 Huffington Post)
Excerpt: (List) Among the critically wounded:
— Sophia Wilansky, a young woman from New York City, was shot in the arm with an exploding concussion grenade. She was transported by ambulance to a hospital in Bismarck before being airlifted to Minneapolis, where her arm was amputated. According to a Gofundme page setup by the victim’s friend, Wilansky was handing out bottles of water to those trying to recover from exposure to mace and tear gas when she was hit.

— An elder on the front line suffered two episodes of cardiac arrest and had to twice be revived on the scene before being transported to an area hospital for treatment.

— A young man suffered a grand mal seizure after being exposed to a barrage of mace and tear gas canisters fired from 40mm grenade launchers into the densely packed crowd of people who had gathered on the bridge.

— A woman shot in the face with a 40mm rubber bullet suffered an eye injury that medical staff say could result in permanent vision loss.

— A young man was vomiting blood due to an internal injury when he was hit at close range with a 40mm rubber bullet.

— Multiple people lost consciousness after being hit in the head with less than lethal projectiles, or by falling down after being hit.

— Multiple people soiled themselves, vomited and/or hyperventilated after being exposed to wave after wave of tear gas and mace.

— Multiple people suffered fractures and/or serious contusions after being hit at close range with less then lethal rounds or falling down after being hit.

— Multiple people suffered hypothermia from exposure to the elements after being drenched by police water cannons in temperatures that dipped as low as 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

By nights end, many activists and reporters on the scene also reported that they believed police purposely targeted journalists and medics, as well as aimed to maim by shooting 40mm canister rounds directly at peoples’ bodies and targeting peoples’ heads, necks, and extremities with less than lethal projectiles, as opposed to shooting for participants and observers center mass.

~~~ The police assault resulted in approximately 300 people requiring medical attention and at least 26 people evacuated to three area hospitals. Local EMS crews reported they had to bring in off-duty staff and rigs from as far as Cheyanne, Fargo, and Bismarck to handle the influx of injured people. One ambulance driver told this reporter that it was by far the biggest mass casualty incident the area had ever seen. ~~~

~~~ We coordinate medical and healing supplies, human resources, and other types of medical/healing aid for all the camps and water protectors at Standing Rock

~~~How Can I Help?
~~~Amazon Wish List:


There are ways. 

 7. Learn more about this important struggle: there are great articles out there about what those on the ground are experiencing, what Native people have to say about the resistance, how Native Americans are resisting modern forms of colonization, and how DAPL was rerouted away from white North Dakotans. Here are some to get you started:


medics view


Saturday, October 29, 2016

"You must Hate your Life"

I made the mistake of teasing a young man on social media a little while ago. I thought it was a relatively benign statement. I was of course wrong. The young Indigenous man was offended. It began like this; He posted a happy picture of three people in a car. I commented on the post about having a good trip but be careful of the police as there was a gangster driving the car. It was a young man with sun glasses on sitting with a young happy woman and another person in the back seat. So his comment was "you must hate your life and you're suppose to be Traditional?" I was what the heck? So of course I responded with holy heck man its teasing.  This of course just made the situation worse. His woman companion took to his defense. I was guilty of lateral violence, putting down Indigenous people on a wider scale and scolded to go smudge and pray. The conversation continued with a young woman scolding me. I did apology for my actions as vicious as they were. I was told it was good I learned my lesson.  Of course there were other statements to me about bringing down people.The interaction should not have bothered me. I mean I have been called worse things but the whole thing stung. It stung so much I couldn't sleep for a couple of days and I went over the discussion in my head. Its not that I wasn't sorry as I was. It was a number of things, the reaction to something which was not of malicious nature and the narrative of villain versus victim and a noble victim at that. It was also the lack of awareness and the posturing. A person posturing high morality yet ignoring the reaction of the first victim and their statement of hating my life and of being traditional.

You see the statement of  you're suppose to be Traditional is a negative statement attacking your integrity, your character and your belief system. Living a Traditional life is similar to the notion of living a devote Christian life, a devote Muslim or a devote Spiritual life. So you are held to account for your actions. Which is a Cross that everyone must bear; account for your behaviour and choices. So when someone says you are suppose to be Traditional, they are in fact calling you down as a hypocrite because of your actions. This young man was upset over saying he looked like a gangster. From the conversation I assume he was at one time a gangster but now is a role model and making some good decisions in his life. That is great. I didn't know he was a gangster so that I imagine it was the reason for being upset and sensitive to the label of gangster.

Still I think he and his woman companion over reacted. To me it also says something about their character as well. Me I'm a jerk and there is no doubt. A "paachak" in our language. Like the character Homer Simpson. I know who I am and no there is no malice in my way of thinking or acting. Not unlike the two who defended theirselves to me. I know they feel the righteous indignation of their statements. No humility but plenty of pious condemnation. It reminded me of the line in the great Tom Waits song "come down of the cross we can use the wood".  Being so superior to others.

Precious cargo in my Life. 
I was thinking about the put down from the young man, "you must hate your life". At one time I really did. It was when my son hanged himself in the closet and ended his life. He hanged for two days in his Mom's closet. When we went to see him, the stench in the apartment was strong and will never leave my memory. The smell of death just stuck to the walls and the furniture. Never to leave my memory will be the words of the medical examiner when she said "prepare yourself... his tongue is black..."  You know my son was addicted to drugs and he could not beat the addiction. You know who benefited from my son's tragedy? It was gangsters and other low-life's who benefit off the misery of those with addictions. It is the same gangsters who people want to paint the picture of victim-hood and tortured souls. So when we say "he is making a life for himself". Good for him. Good for those who can walk away from the damage others now carry. Good for them who are now on the Cross and looking down on the dreads of society; guys like me who make the mistake of teasing someone of good moral character. So I did in fact hate myself and most likely my life. Today I may not like myself still but I do like and love what is in my life: My Family, both immediate and extended. My friends the few I do have.

I see the drug seller as they are: magpies-living off the corpses. Like rats burying thru the rectum to get to their prize. It is who they are. What else benefits of a dying body like that? So if  the label of the past offends you... I feel sorry for you. We all have to carry a cross.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Any Port In the Storm - Addicts Need a Port

To need a safe place, any place will do, even outside under a bridge.

Anyway I have been thinking about addictions and how we have no control over it.  The damage addictions does is immense. Taking lives and destroying lives. Sad way to live.

I have experience on the periphery of addictions, as a treatment administrator and a passenger. I have come to realize what a disconnect there is between those "treating" or working in the field and those living in addictions; the addict and the family/friends of the addict. Can you imagine, if the treatment experts are disconnected, how far removed policy makers are to the issue?  I mean sure they speak with them, the addicts, but can they really relate to the addict and how they live? Or what their families are going through?  Sure they are listening to the war stories and the horror but are only on the outskirts, the outer rim of what is going on. That is just the nature of the beast. We can't live their lives nor would we want to. But it comes down to how can we work with the addict?
We know Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar programs are actually ineffective and research is not favourable on how effective treatment programs are.

I had a friend, a treatment director, who used to say "when you are working for the people you are working for the Creator".  I like that idea. Still if you are working only to feed yourself is it really working for the Creator or are you working to eat? It is disheartening that best intentions seem to be lost when it comes to care of others.

Anyway I think this, Addicts need a port, any port in the storm. If I had spare cash I would offer a house. Just a place to house addicts with no promise of anything except a place to REST for seven days and then your out again. Just enough time to rest nothing more. Just a bed to rest with a locker and lock for their stuff. No entrance requirements. A four bedroom house and that's it. A living room with tv and a fridge with food.  Since I can't afford this, maybe some group of means can do something like this. Opioids have become the drug of choice in today's society. And the drugs are killing the addict. Not only does it physically kill the addict over time, it kills the person's spirit first. Then it attacks the people around the addict. It is not a solitary monster. It feeds and devours all around and it has a wide path. There is some out there who will try to get off the drug with a drug substitute like methadone. Many of the addicts become a memory for the grieving. We can't forget they are the loved ones of someone, right?

But who gives a fuck, right?  They made choices. No one forced the drug into their system. That is the disconnect from society.  If you have the disconnect with whatever made them "chose" drugs, well that's kind of sad. If we have lost the humanity to care, what chance do they have?

A port in the storm.

We all need a port in the storm but they are few and far between. The bureaucratic set up for getting into a treatment program can be a nightmare for some. Its a chore for an addict to live, never mind having to fill out the proper paper work and get the right assessment from doctors or care givers in the community.
Want to get into detox program? There are hoops. Want to get into treatment more hoops of fire to jump through. Its difficult to access a place to rest.

That is all we can offer. A place of rest and some kindness.  They say kindness is the best practice for treatment.

Rest in a safe place.

Or eventually rest in peace.

Monday, September 26, 2016

No Gun, No Respect... Indians

The Assembly of First Nations and all those regional Chiefs organizations are just for show. At least this is what Canada thinks in their back rooms. Many First Nations and their citizens accord the AFN and regional Indigenous with respect. This however doesn't translate into any kind of power in the mainstream society. You know why this is?

Have you seen the movie Grand Canyon? It has Danny Glover and Kevin Klein in it. Anyway at the beginning of the movie Klein's character has broken down in a Black neighbourhood and he has called for a tow truck. Before the truck comes a number of Black youth come up to him. They seem scary to him, Klein. The tow truck arrives and its Glover(Simon) He starts to hook up the car. One of the young men stops him.

 A conversation takes place: 
Simon: I've gotta ask you for a favor. Let me go my way here. This truck's my responsibility, and now that the car's hooked up to it, it's my responsibility too.
Rocstar: Do you think I'm stupid? Just answer that question first.
Simon: Look, I don't know nothing about you; you don't know nothing about me. I don't know if you're stupid, or some kind of genius. All I know is that I need to get out of here, and you got the gun. So I'm asking you, for the second time, let me go my way here.
Rocstar: I'm gonna grant you that favor, and I'm gonna expect you to remember it if we ever meet again. But tell me this, are you asking me as a sign of respect, or are you asking because I've got the gun?
Simon: Man, the world ain't supposed to work like this. I mean, maybe you don't know that yet. I'm supposed to be able to do my job without having to ask you if I can. That dude is supposed to be able to wait with his car without you ripping him off. Everything is supposed to be different than it is.
Rocstar: So what's your answer?
Simon: You ain't got the gun, we ain't having this conversation.
Rocstar: That's what I thought: no gun, no respect. That's why I always got the gun. 

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) as well as the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) are political groups speaking on behalf of First Nations in Canada. At the base of their talks is to try and get better treatment for the First Peoples of Canada. They have been trying to voice concerns towards governments for years now. The thing is the First Nation lobby groups are "leaders" are just begging. The only thing that happens with all their voicing is the government either gives them some cookies or just gives them the "yeah yeah" treatment. Ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper showed the world how impotent our lobby groups are.  Racist White power broker Stephen Harper just went and slashed the funding for all the First Nation lobby groups across Canada. Guess what the First Nation leaders did? Nothing. Put their heads between their legs and closed their collective mouths.

The thing I ask about these lobby groups is "where is their gun?"  In the movie the message is clear, without consequence for action no one is going to listen to you. The AFN, AMC and all those other regional Chiefs groups are empty chairs - paper tigers - empty suits - placebos.  In other words they are just karaoke machines. No guns.

I mean really what happens when you say no to the First Nation organizations?  Why should anyone even answer to them? Sure  they are voice boxes for the million First Nations in Canada. That should be a good reason to listen to them. But its not enough. The First Nations need the gun. Without the gun there is no respect.

Canadians have witnessed the First Nation gun. For example a simple game like the Canada's Got Talent show was an example of the First Nation gun. This gun was the work of many First Nations and Indigenous folk coming together to support a young trio of jigging dancers. These young Indians won the show. The show was cancelled after that. The thing was the Indians got together and action occurred. Not the results the show wanted but the results the Indians wanted, and they got it.  The Indians had a WIN.  That action is missing when it comes to the First Nation leadership organizations. They just don't have the gun, the respect. They don't have any respect. They were handed their arses by Canada before and it is still true today.

When we are talking about Indians having a gun. We are not being literal. Shit the government of Canada would love another Oka just so they could show off all their new toys and kill some Indians. No we are speaking metaphor... the gun is a metaphor for action.

Right now you can see the Indian gun in action. The strong folks at Standing Rock are showing the world a gun.  They are peaceful protecting the waterways of South Dakota from the big money machine called oil.  The oil company and local authorities have engaged in harsh and violent tactics to test and hurt the Native protectors on site. It has not worked to damage the resolve - the gun of those at the site.

"As currently proposed, the Dakota Access pipeline would move oil out of northwestern North Dakota, through a 30-inch pipe, and along a 1,200-mile path that cuts through both Dakotas, Iowa, and a stretch of Illinois before meeting another pipeline in the town of Patoka. It would carry nearly half a million barrels of domestic sweet crude oil every day, and the project’s builder, Energy Transfer Partners, says it will bring back money.The Texas-based company says the pipeline will create up to 12,000 jobs (the Army Corps of Engineers approved the project and agreed) and generate over $120 million in property and income taxes every year. And they say it’ll be safer than moving the oil by train, the current option.The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe tells another story. The tribe, made up of Hunkpapa Lakota and Yanktonai Dakota, lives in the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which covers parts of North and South Dakota. Members have been protesting the pipeline since April. They’re worried it might leak and contaminate wells along the pipe’s path, threatening their water supply."

Wiebo Ludwig was an oil terror who gained much respect for his battle against oil wells and sour gas. I don't recommend this way of action because if an Indigenous person was to take this route, the government would go hard and heavy on them. Ludwig had the privilege of being the right colour. While his gun was bombing oil rigs that is not the answer for the Indigenous folk at Standing Rock.

The "Gun" for Indigenous folk is unity. You see that in Standing Rock. You see it starting to happen in BC (with signatures of unity against pipelines in their territory).

With the lobby groups, there is a disconnect. The lobby groups have no real connection with the people. So the gun will not be achieved. So no gun... no respect.

They will just continue to be beggars.

Beggars at the back door of the big money. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Where Are The Songs of Protest?

Did you sing along with the protest songs? Some of the songs I heard I didn't even know where protest songs. Like many people I didn't understand or really listen to the words/lyrics. So I looked on line by googling "protest songs" and of course many lists are displayed. There are songs you know are protest songs because the media around the song makes sure you know it is a protest song.

Today I am not sure where the protest song is? There are sure a lot of bad things happening in the world but you don't have Country Joe and the Fish or Barry McGuire belting out songs anymore.  Maybe there are in fact songs out there fighting for social change? Can you share them with us?

I mean if there is a time to have a social change movement its now, don't you think?  People are getting blown up on a daily basis.  For some reason the police in America have decided to wage war on the Black person. Greed is just blossoming everywhere with no regard for any future. Countries are actively engaged in proxy wars while maintaining they are not involved. Passenger Jets can be shot out of the sky and no consequence.  The World is drying up and greed is winning. Too many social ills to mention.

I remember growing up in the 60's and 70's there were active voices. XIT Plight of the Redman was an album that every Indian had to have. There are some good voices out there but their voices are not being heard by the masses.

Rap music didn't really resonate with me but you have to admit some of their words are so powerful.  Maybe that is where most of the voices are?

Ladies and gentlemen I'm about to introduce
A smooth groove that I just produced
so don't dance or prance move your head to the rythem
As we scan this land that we live in this place with racism
C A N A D A Canada I'm watchin the decay everyday
Young minds are beein mentally crushed
and mushed in thanks to men like Rushton
And others who wanna smother the dream
Of a black mind revolutionary regime
We gotta redeem ourselves from the chain
By removing all stains of the chain on the brain
we gotta roll with force
cause the clan on some move in the great white north
We gotta hurdle the system
Cause hate penetrates multi-culturalism
Listen I want an explanation
Why are Mohawk's being kicked out of their reservations
And beein put in misery
Stealin their land to create sporting facilities
The native man of the land is who your killin
And then got the nerve to celebrate Thanksgiving
Claiming every man is equal
I hate to see what yall got planned for my people
I tell my brothers and sisters to read the signs
to open their eyes cause it's time
to get together no time to stall
Cause without togetherness we got nothin at all
Brother (x2)
We got nothing at all 
Nothing at all
Brother my brother
We got nothing at all
Nothing at all
My first album Symphony In Effect went platinum
In Canada that made me the first black one
to ever reach that goal
I even got offered a movie roll
I turned it down I didn't wanna be no star
Portrayin a nigga that dwells behind bars
They wanted me to act like a prisoner
That ain't positive at all thats just givin a
Negative image of black men forget it
LTD what did I tell em I ain't with it
I'd rather work on my sound and stay down
And move and groove with the underground
God gave me the gift to write
I shed light on the on the blind with a rhyme when I recite
A fresh poem, a page or stage or a story or glory
Not derogatory
I never walk the streets with my nose high
Frontin like I'm so fly I never pose high
Why cause I made a little money I'm still viewed as an S L A V E see
It doesn't matter how good you can rap jack
It doesn't matter how much money you stack 
Cause your black without knowledge of self your trapped
and gonna fall
with nothin at all
Brother (x2)
We got nothing at all 
Nothing at all
Brother my brother
We got nothing at all
Nothing at all
Third verse how should I start this
I'll talk about my homie Egerton Marcus
A brother from Toronto who's god damn great
Olympic middleweight champ in 88
He excelled to the second highest level in Korea
bringin home a silver medal
Made the papers for a couple of days and that was it
Huh the media wasn't sayin shit
To keep it short and keep it simple and plain
If Egerton was whit he'd be a household name
With commercials and endorsments like Sauna Sullivan
Livin large and everybody would be lovin him
Well he's my brotha so I give him recognition
I sell allot of records so the kids are gonna listen
To all the boys and girls
Ben Johnson's still the fastest brotha in the world
Don't let the media dictate be pro black
Cause Jimmy Swaggart got his TV show back
Therefore we as a race should support
Black achievement never let society distort
Your mind away from comprehension
Cross cultural pride is what I'm tryin to strengthen
And lengthen, I want you swingin to my melody
Just last year the Miss Canada was ebony
To the blacks, whites, yellow and browns
Maestro Fresh-Wes is down
With everyone but I must say loud
Like trash I'm black and god dammit I'm proud
To be able to reach and teach while i cash checks
Tour all over the world and collect respect
In every area puttin my fans in hysteria
Showin the black man was never inferior
Now everybody's gotta do this

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

 Urban Cowboy is a 1980 movie with a soundtrack steeped in western songs that had great Redneck lines like, "single bars and good time ...