Thursday, April 27, 2017

Horrible Death of Young Woman in Sagkeeng by Teens

A horrible incident occurred in Sagkeeng First Nation Manitoba. A young girl was killed. She was brutally beaten. Beaten by other young girls while it was being recorded. 

Steve Julian You know I had a copy of the video in messenger. I made the mistake of asking to see it. I looked at it for 5 seconds. The image and sounds is now in my head. That night I couldn't sleep knowing the connections we have with them. It was my stupidity and morbid curiousity and just being a f**ing nosey person. I am so mad at myself and sorry for getting it. The brutality of death is nothing to search for. The poor families involved. I am surprised the guy who recorded the incident has not been charged?

We can't deny the ugliness in the community. We can try and deflect it and say our community is fine and that this incident was an anomaly. It isn't. It may have been the extreme of ugliness and it is. There are many who are affected by the killing of the young woman. Lot of hurt people. Its tragic and its horrible. The poor families of all involved; victim and perpetrators. Its not a bad scene from a movie or from a different country. Its here in our home. Sadly our community has seen lot of death, either by killing of others, by taking our own lives or by sickness. Our community is is despair. We can do all the smudging and the vigil' now but what and where we were before? We need more of the good efforts and there are some but let's look at what is happening. The pill explosion has expanded to the meth disaster. We can point fingers for sure. You know the way other communities and reserves see Sagkeeng? We are dealers of death.Our community is so filled with bad that it glows at night. We can and try sanitize the reputation of the Reserve but we all can see and feel the way it is. Of course there are pockets of good in the Reseve, no doubt. But the ugly and the bad is like cancer; it grows and it kills. We need to actively try and change that. How do we that? First is to admit there is in fact an ugly. Then we can start to fight the ugly, the bad the evil. We need to acknowledge there is a cycle of ugliness. There are bullies who thrive in the dysfunction. There are rodents who prey off the sick and the addicted. There are opportunists just watching for any excuse to market themselves. There are those with integrity who just go along trying to make the Reserve a better place. I truly love my community and it saddens me to see what is happening. The old adage of a village raises a child is not applicable here. "Who the fuck are you to give heck to my kid?" "Fucking teachers calling cops on my kids." "Fucking crooks." "Someone gives heck to my kid I'm going to kick ass." 
I was speaking to a friend in the Reserve and he/she was appalled at the situation of what took place. No one intervened. No one checked. No one. 
It can't happen to me is not a safe way to live. Anything can happen to anyone. 
We are not immune to bad things happening around us. 
I for one know ugly. 
The big problem is we are not engaged. And its not the fault of anyone. The change just happened. From a community where everyone thought of everyone to where we are only concerned with our immediate group. 
The other thing is we know who people are and we care or don't care for what goes on. "Its not my business." Or we can turn away from what we see.
The justice system is not kind to us. So of course we distrust them-the police. Will having more police in the community cure the ills we face? Nope. Just have more folks in the jails. 
So what can we do? Where do we start?
Banning dealers? Perhaps a start.
More community involvement in people's business? Why not?
More discipline in the community? Curfews? Stricter rules of behaviour in school?
Are we afraid to say anything for fear of our own history?
We all have a past and we may have all made mistakes but does that now exclude us from having a voice?
Are we afraid if we say something, someone will say "but what about you, you fucking piece of shit?"
I feel bad for the families all our families. People will point and blame. That is not going to be helping. 
Sagkeeng is a beautiful place and does have good good people. At the same time we do have a great number of ugly things.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Let's Knock Down Some Heroes. Eh Folks?

It is true some people really need to be kicked off their high horse. Some not only need to be kicked off the horse but also to be stomped on for good measure. Still there are many out there, just regular people who shouldn't be knocked down. Many of them are not on a horse to begin with (for those literal folk, high horse is a metaphor for them trying to be all good, acting better than you). They are just people who for whatever reason are in the spotlight. Some are heroes and some are just part of a story in the media.

There was this Doctor who got carried off a plane the other day. No fault of his. He was just selected because the airline sold too much tickets. He was hurt as the police carried and literally dragged him off the plane. The CEO blamed him and there was talk about looking at his criminal record. They wanted to bad mouth him; he was labeled belligerent and disruptive.  Its a common pattern when someone is in the news, to label them in a negative way. I remember when I saw the coolest Dude on the planet. He is Charles Ramsey, the good guy who helped rescue the three women in Cleveland who were captive for ten years. Not too long after his famous  interview on TV, there were those folks who started to look at his record and started knocking him down. There are numerous examples when someone gets attention there is someone to knock them down. Remember the Homeless man with the golden voice? He has talent and he has problems as well. His talent got highlighted and his problems were brought out as well.

In Winnipeg this guy is deceased now, Faron Hall, he got noticed and he got noticed for his heroic deeds. Not once but twice. He was beaten up because of his notoriety. "You think you're good".  Poor guy he didn't want the notoriety. The media likes a good story. His "friends" or contemporaries didn't like his good deeds and attention.

Not all folks need the notoriety of news story to make them targets. We will target them anyhow.

I admit I am quick to judge and can call down as well. Many a time I will use the ugly practice of passive aggressive attacks. I try to catch myself and check myself but... I'm a jerk. I own it.

The default position of people seems to be set on negative. We see someone or something and its almost a given we will look for the bad. Why? Are we so stuck in ugly that we just can't see the good? Or even look for the good?

In the smaller community, we do it to people we know and kind of know. We do it with no regard for how they feel or what they are doing.

I started this post because of the negativity we are witnessing in our community (Indigenous community) and was going to use some specific incidents in our province, city and Reserves but have decided to keep it left open.

So let's enjoy the coolest dude on the planets interview. Charles Ramsey.  Samuel L Jackson could do him justice in the movie.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Indigenous Woman Blasting the Big Drum

Had a visit with a friend of mine, Gladys.  She is a very good person. One of those kind generous giving folk. She is on a journey of good life; mino-bimaadiziwin. That life is honouring and following the Traditions of our Ancestors - Keta Anishinaabe. Today we talked about the Big Drum.
She is one of those women; the women who sit on the Big Drum. Women on the Big Drum is becoming more and more common. She also said Women are taking back the Stick.

There is a radio show on CBC called Unreserved. It is an Indigenous content one hour segment hosted by an Indigenous woman. On this one episode there was a focus on this young Women's Drum group.  A group of high school students in Regina is bucking the trend by participating in an all-female Indigenous drum group at Thom CollegiateThe discussion on the Facebook site of Unreserved had a number of Women commenting on the Drum and how good to see patriarchy challenged. A number of the comments seemed to leaning towards man bashing. That's fair in today's climate considering how the world is treating Women.  The trend of Women on the Big Drum is relatively new as the Big Drum was mainly men's territory.

One thing missing in the Unreserved segment was the Drum Teachings. The focus was more on Women breaking barriers or perceived barriers they face. It is true there is discrimination towards Women on the Big Drum. I do think the discrimination will subside overtime. However right now there are those who hold on to the Teaching of the Drum. I admit I am not a Powwow aficionado but I have been fortunate enough to listen when someone speaks. I had the opportunity to be at Teachings in Pipe Stone Minnesota years ago. The Pipe Stone Sundance was about to take place and there were days prior to the Sundance Ceremony for Teachings. Elder Eddie Benton was speaking on the Big Drum. The Big Drum is the Heartbeat of Mother Earth. The Big Drum was the Women's and they gave the Men the Right to have the sticks for the Drum. It was Women who gave the sticks for the Drum to the men and that is why they sit at the Drum. I asked Benton about Women on the Big Drum and he asked me, "Did Women take back the stick?" End of conversation. Another Teaching to note is that the Drum represents Woman and the Stick, represent Men. The Heartbeat of the Drum is life and it is Women and Men which make life (not Women and Women). So this might be why there is some apprehension with seeing Women on the Big Drum. Another note is the Women around the Big Drum when men are singing they look like back up singers and most call them just that, back up singers. The Women are the Drum and so are part of the protection and overseers of the Drum.

The discussion of Women being barred from the Big Drum is a cause taking up by feminist advocates. They are wrong. It's not a feminist fight. It's not truly about men taking power from the Women. I think the discussion coming from the Traditional women is the strongest argument on the situation. I have heard it now I think it is true; women are taking back the stick of the Big Drum. You know why? It is because men have lost their way. It's not that women are inferior. It is because men have forgotten the true role of Women and their place in our lives. Men (and Women) have bought into the tenets of Christianity where Women are made from man's rib and they are responsible for tempting man thus getting him kicked out of Eden and starting original sin. Women are less. When it's not the case. Women are the true powers of bringing life to our Nation. We don't live that life of honouring Women. We say we do but our actions show otherwise. Just look at our Leadership entities and the lobby groups. It is an anomaly to see Women in leadership roles.

With so much conflict happening in both our communities and what is happening to the land, the Women are stepping up to the battle. Men are too busy hanging to roles that establishment promotes; men in suits making high level decisions. When our youth are attacking each other, selling drugs, selling women, beating women, killing Women and men have abandoned the role of being a Dad. Many Mom's are left to raise and care for children without men. While many Men carry themselves in a very good way, there are many that are lost. Some even use the Drum in a bad way. Sitting at the Drum while high or hung over, or seeing as a way to get after Women or just earn money.

Women are taking back the stick and men need to see why.

Women are going to establish the balance which exists.

I heard a presenter share a teaching about how men lost more of their roles in Native life than women did. I believe that is why men suffered greater loss with the destruction of our culture & life ways. Men could no longer be the providers & protectors of their families. Men could no longer earn their honors as warriors, chiefs & hunters, spiritual leaders & wisdom keepers. How could men grow into roles that were main targets for attacks by oppressors?
But women could still be valued & honored as creators of life, nurturers & becoming the backbone of our families & communities. Today women are more involved with tribal organizations & employment in tribal government than men. I think women are seen as less of a threat to the European power structures so women have a better chance to succeed. As a Native woman, I can recognize the losses our men have experienced. I don't feel the need to take back the stick and sit at the big drum. Let our fathers, husbands, sons, brothers & nephews keep that honor.

I have met one of The drum Keepers and families of the original Big drum(s) and teachings that were gifted and handed down through mostly women and their male siblings. These drums that were handed down were
made under the instruction and supervision by "Tail Feather Woman's vision. Tail Feather Woman and other of her Santee people traveled east and

brought the drums to Elder councils of several Nations. Both women and men sat as Elder councils and the drums were given to both women and men. When those drums were first made and was meant to keep Peace between all People and Nations. The drum represented both men and women. That half of that circle was female and the other half was male. There is no whole without the balance of the people. It can't be one half to make whole decisions. The drum was not made for just the men. The story has changed many times especially after the 
Missionaries came and stripped Women, 2 Spirit, Midwives, Faith Keeper's, Medicine Peoples and Clown Socireties of all gain control over the people and their land. They reduced these powerful people and marked them as Whores, Perverts, Witches and insane. Missionaries shamed, tortured , jailed, raped and murdered these peoples and anyone who followed. Women were and still are caretakers and keepers of many Rites and it's belongings. Not to mention how pipes and other drums and rattles and ceremonies all came through Women who are the nurtures and Mothers of us all. 
When the European first saw the people...they saw how the women were the quickest way to get land and control was to marry up these women and have children that would inherit land and become patriarchy and the rulers under their rule. Like slaves in some way. Then they dilenced the women from any authority and went through the men. Then Outlawing Indian anything. With all the Residential and Boarding schools...It's understandable how so much of the traditional perspective got twisted and gender roles have become so shaming of everything.
Grandmother drums keep both boys and girls learning they know the balance... and respect each other. When they grow up...their gender roles become defined for themselves. The world is at war with Patriarchy. It is not our way. Even the few patrilinial Tribal systems did not deny, reduce shame or disrespect their women or 2 Spirit, they praised them for their gifts. Everyone deserves to sing and pray and connect. So many young women say the drum has saved their lives. hope to see and hear many women's drums and even coed drums. They did exist!! The Prophecy says..."when the Women Begin to Sing...peace will come back to the Nations".

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Eva Cassidy: Its not your fault, your voice breaks open my wounds.

I was sitting in a little coffee shop on Davie Street in Vancouver in around 2004.  It was a JJ Bean shop on the corner of Howe and Davie, it's not there now. The young barista was playing some music and this beautiful voice played on.   The Coffee shop is a good memory for me. I asked the young man about who was singing on his play list.  He told me it was Eva Cassidy.  What album is that I asked. He told me she didn't have an album, he just made a number of songs from the internet and made it into a cd. The songs and the coffee house and the young handsome man are a good memory for me. I used to go and have tea in there with my boy, Donovan. Donovan stayed with me in the bachelor apartment on Howe Street off Davie. (Side note I subbed the apartment off Jody Wilson, the now Federal Minister of Justice.) My last memories of my son are mixed with regret and sadness. He was struggling in Vancouver with addictions. He went back to Manitoba in January of 2005. His Granny, my Mom died of Cancer in March and he killed himself in August. He hanged himself in the closet of his mother's apartment in Winnipeg. It was a bad time.

When I go to some places both in Vancouver and in Winnipeg there a couple of business places that remember me and my son. The JJ Bean barista asked me "where is your son"? It was difficult question to answer. Same with the hair dresser at Dimples on Sargent Avenue in Winnipeg, he had asked me about my son. I told him.  It wasn't too long after my Son's death when I lost my mind. I barely lasted six months until a complete breakdown. Still a struggle every single day. Most times I pretend and pretend to be happy, but inside my heart and my mind I am sinking to a darker and darker place where one day I will not be able to climb out of. For now I try hard to just be. I think many of us are trying to do more than just exist.

So Eva Cassidy a beautiful voice which had been ignored and then discovered after her death is a voice that reminds me of my Boy.

Its not her fault her singing breaks open my wounds each time I hear her.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Throw Out Nice Stuff Done by Bad People

OJ Simpson gave you his football that he carried for his last touchdown. You own it. OJ has a notorious reputation; repugnant even.  So what would you do with the football? Would you attach sentimental value to it? Or would it be purely a dollar item?  Okay maybe that's not a fair question. You would be pissed at the decrease in demand and the falling price.

But what if you had a nice painting given to you by a friend. The painting is nice but the value is not monetary. The value is the more the pleasure you get from the painting. In addition the gratitude and good feeling and appreciation you feel when you look at it. Knowing it was given to you with no favour attached to it. Just a nice gift from a caring friend. Cool right? Now what happens if you find out the artist of the painting, did some dirty rotten deed. He wasn't convicted or even charged but an acquaintance of yours said the artist did something to his child. Now the painting is still very nice and has been on your wall for some years. So what becomes of the value of the painting now? Do you still feel the same way about the painting? Do you keep the painting? Do you get rid of the painting, regardless of the sentiment behind the gift?

The same thing happens quite often with gifts from your love. What happens when you get a nice gift from your friend. She or he gives you  something like a ring, necklace or watch; something personal for you. You fall out of love. Your friend runs off in the dark of night with your other friend. The value you placed on the item changes or does it? Do  you give it back or do you sell it off or do you throw it away. Or do you say heck with that noise I'm keeping this sucker its nice as all heck, so its staying.

The thing is if someone does the repugnant and you have something of value, how do you reconcile with it? You have a mentor and it turns out he or she is just as human as you. They let you down, do you discount everything your learned from the mentor?

Was thinking that's all.  There are so many examples of people out there that have done some stuff, bad and really bad stuff: Woody Allen, Robert Blake, Michael Vic, Peyton Manning, Mel Gibson, Hulk Hogan, Paula Deen and so on. There are so many ugly incidents by people.

Knowledge Keeper and Knowledge Giver

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