Thursday, November 30, 2017

Chief Clarence Louie Can Suck It.

There is this Chief (or former Chief) of Osoyoos Indian Band in British Columbia. This Chief is an awesome success story. He has taken a small Native community - a Reserve and made it in a prosperous business juggernaut in beautiful Okanagan Valley. He is a very successful leader and has done great things. The surrounding communities love him as well as the Government of Canada. The success of the Osoyoos Indian Band is incredible. It is a great success story when you compare the Osoyoos Band to many other Bands in Canada, especially Bands in the Prairies. So we should not be surprised when the media, the government and chambers of commerce trot out Chief Louie to compare and shame all the lazy shiftless Bands out there in Canada.

Chief Louie has even become and echo chamber for the Government and more precisely, the Right wing Old Stock Canadian. Chief Louie is infamous (in Indian Country and in main stream he is golden) for his "pull up your bootstraps and get a damn job" lazy Indians mantra.

The media loves this guy: A gentle-looking man with greying bangs and an animal-skin vest, he deluged the crowd with morsels of advice that have transformed Osoyoos Indian Band, where he is chief, into a beacon of hope for economically ravaged First Nations. The poetic description carries the grace of a savior in the land of despair. Those words are gold in the White community. We should be all so proud. I mean after all we have a genuine success story going on here. It is what we all hope our communities should be: high employment rates, own source revenue and economic prosperity. That is cool and awesome for Chief Louie and the Osoyoos Band.

So why do I say Chief Clarence Louie can suck it?  Quite frankly, the guy is a douche, a pompous arrogant prick. Does it seem I am a bit jealous of Chief Louie? Perhaps. I mean the guy has a good message right? We should all follow his lead and his statements. He took a poor community and made it a rich community. No doubt this man is talented, strong and successful. 

I guess the baggage I carry is a bit of an excuse for not exactly embracing the philosophy of Chief Louie. His success is certain and a great achievement. The bug in my shorts is the constant comparison between other Reserves. Why not consider their achievement as one of any community in Canada? There are many communities (non-Indigenous) out there which barely survive and exist due to transfer payments. There are dying and Dead towns which exist all over Canada. So the media wants to hold this one community to be the threshold for all Reserves to aspire to. Canada itself has wide variety of regions governed by different circumstances. The results are you get the "have and have not" provinces. The Reserves in Canada operate under a variety of different circumstances as well: extreme climate, access, geography, resources and population. Louie and company shouting out "see? this how you do it" is not a true reflection of the overall situation on Reserves. 

The other reason I am not a fan of Chief Louie is his spitting in the face of our people with his condescending comments to Indigenous people. He is like the poster child for the racist elite who can't stand the Indian Nation. They think of us a tax burden and lazy do nothing segment of society. Never mind that our people have with stood years of persecution, legislation and societal norms aimed at killing us. Although the government through the Truth and Reconciliation said the Indigenous people of Canada have suffered "cultural genocide" its still genocide.  Louie discounts the historical trauma our people have suffered and still stand against. Trauma is still carried by many of our communities to this day. Economic success is not sole indicator of a healthy community. 

The money flow of a community is another reason for a stronger economy. With many Reserves there is no money to come in. Generally people don't come to the Reserve. The infrastructure (stores and other amenities) of many Reserves is lacking or non-existent. Business opportunities are non-existent so how can a community attract the flow of money? Either the population doesn't support or warrant a viable business. The consumer base is just not there. And resource extraction can be cost prohibitive to enter the market. Communities to remain strong, need money to exchange hands within the community before it leaves. With money leaving the community and no money coming in, the community remains a hinterland. Hinterland resource extraction was the recipe for colonialism. Our communities are still looked at as hinterland. The people don't get to exchange money in the community. I buy cigarettes off Barbie, Barbie pays Bobby to watch the till, Bobby spends money at Bennie's cafe and Bennie gases up at Robs place. Where the Damn Rob goes to the movie in the nearby town. And the town cinema owner shops in the city. That cash I started off with is now in Thunder Bay supporting the local economy. Most Reserves don't have hand to hand money exchange. 

At the personal or individual level, Chief Louie and company (main stream) don't seem to understand the impact of bullying. Chief Louie uses the bully stance to demean people. The impact of bullying has devastating consequences. The act of bullying is to crush the other person. From playground children teasing and pushing other kids to teens badgering and humiliating peers. The results are the same; a person gets crushed. Cities are at a loss to stop bullying because of suicide which bullying can cause. Just think about how much Indigenous people have endured, have been bullied over the years by governments, justice, church, school, society and by individuals. The results show up in various degrees. We have high suicide rates, murder rates, cancer rates, addiction rates, unemployment and numerous social measurements. So when someone like Chief Louie says "suck it up", "don't be lazy" I say suck it Louie. You embarrass yourself and you embarrass us.

I don't know what is worse: The Indian who amplifies his voice to echo the words of our oppressors or the Indian who mutes his voice in the presence of our oppressors. 

Oppressors being our governments and the business interests of main stream. 
Suck it Louie. 

The idea and the promotion of having wealth as the indicator for success is messed up. Not being interested by Indigenous people in acquiring wealth was part of the equation of making it illegal to practice Traditional Worship. It was deemed against the "Victorian etiquette" of acquisition. Today the chase of  the dollar has lead to a huge crisis in the world. 

I know many successful people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous and their success has nothing to do with affluence. They are successful due to their hard work, kindness, thoughtfulness, open mindedness, generosity, and good character. Has nothing do with their cheque-book. There are many rich folk who are not successful. Just look at the President of the United States. How can anyone say that person is successful. If that's success, that is messed up. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Seven Grandfathers and Little Boy

This is one of the Midewiwin Teachings. This is from the internet and not sure who told this version:

The Seven Grandfathers and the Little Boy. Ojibway tradition tells us that there were Seven grandfathers who were given the responsibility by G'zhe Manitou (Creator) to watch over the Earth’s people. They were powerful spirits. The Seven Grandfathers realized that life was not good for the people. They sent their Osh-ka-bay’-wis (Helper) to the Earth to walk among the people and bring back to them a son who could be taught how to live in harmony with the Creation. Six times the spirit messenger went to Earth to try to find a person worthy enough to bring back to the Seven Grandfathers. On the seventh journey, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis traveled to each of the four directions. The spirit came upon a village of people. He heard the people talking of a boy who had just been born to a young couple. The baby was still sucking on his mother’s breast for food. The Osh-ka-bay’-wis suddenly realized that this baby was the one he should take to the Seven grandfathers. He was innocent. His mind was untouched by corruption and pain of the world. This baby was still fresh from the Creator’s side where he stayed before he came to his mother’s womb. He had not yet opened his eyes and ears to the world. The Osh-ka-bay’-wis found the baby asleep with his parents in the lodge on the outskirts of the village. The baby was in a hand-carved dik-ki-na-gun (cradle board) wrapped in fine animal skins that were decorated with quills from Gawg (the porcupine). His parents and his people must have thought a lot of him. The Osh-ka-bay’wis left a pouch of tobacco and a piece of the child’s clothing behind to sho wthe people that baby did not fall victim to come wild animal. The Osh-ka-bay’-wis took the baby boy back to the lodge of the Seven Grandfathers. The Seven Grandfathers looked at the sleeping baby. “He is too weak,” one said. “He could not stand the sight of us or the sound of our voices. To do so could be too fatal to him.” One of the Grandfathers instructed the Osh-ka-bay’-wis, “Take this boy and show him all the Creation, show him the Four Quarters of the Universe. The Osh-ka-bay’-wis took the boy and did as he was instructed. It took a long time to travel so far to teach the boy so much. They traveled completely through all the Anung-go-kwan’ (Star World). The boy was seven years old when they returned to the lodge of the Seven Grandfathers. The Grandfathers saw them coming and realized that the boy had grown to be strong with a mind that was sharp and curious about everything around him. As the boy approached the Grandfather’s lodge he felt a power stronger than anything he had ever felt before. He looked up at the Osh-ka-bay’-wis and realized that this was his shi-shay (uncle) –someone who had taught him how to survive in the world. He realized that his uncle was a son of the Creator. He understood that he, too,was from the Creator’s side as are all people. As the boy came closer to the lodge a strong fear came over him. The closer they came, the stronger the fear grew. His uncle, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis, comforted him. As they approached the door of the lodge, a voice rang out, “Have you brought the boy?” “Yes,”the uncle answered. “I have him with me and he is ready to come inside.” With that the door of the lodge was opened and inside sat the Seven Grandfathers. “Been-di-gain”(come in), they said to the boy and his uncle, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis. As the boy stepped inside he notice that the door of the lodge was facing the Sun in the West and that the Seven Grandfathers sat in the East – the place his uncle told him was THE SOURCE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE. The Seven Grandfathers were dressed in very beautiful clothes and their hair was white as snow. On their faces was a glow of peace and happiness. The Grandfathers talked to the boy in a way that seemed as though they were not talking at all but using their minds to just think the words. The Grandfathers told the boy of how parents were expecting him to return someday. The first Grandfather pointed to an aw-kik (vessel) that was covered with a cloth made of four different colours. Each colour stood for one of the four directions. The Grandfather said, “Of these colours,Mis-kwa (red) stands for the South. Muk-a-day (black) stands for the West. Waa-bish-ka (white) stands for the North and O-za-wahn (yellow) stands for the East. These colours represent the four races of man that the Creator placed on the Earth. The Grandfather pulled the cloth aside and instructed the boy to look inside the vessel. It was a very quick glimpse but inside, the boy saw beauty that he could not understand. He saw colours that he has never seen before; he felt a peace that he had never known before. He saw all of yesterday and all of tomorrow. The vessel was like an opening and out of it came music such as the boy had never heard. All that could possibly be imagined flashed before the boy’s eyes in just a short moment. The first Grandfather reached into the vessel and brought out a substance on his hand. He then reached over and rubbed this substance on the boy. “I give you this gift,” he said. Then he passed the vessel to the next Grandfather who also reached inside and rubbed a new and beautiful gift on the boy. The vessel was passed to each of the Grandfathers just as the Water drum is passed from one person to another in our ceremonies today. Each of the Grandfathers gave the boy a gift. When they had finished, the Grandfathers instructed the Osh-ka-bay’-wis to find someone to return with the boy to his people. Four times, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis searched the Earth without finding anyone. On his fifth try, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis came upon Ni-gig’ (an otter) playing on the bank of the creek. But the otter would not listen to him. He was too busy playing. The Osh-ka-bay’-wis returned again to Ni-gig’ and told him of the task that he was needed for but the otter just yawned and continued playing. On his seventh try, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis convinced the otter to return with him and they journeyed to the lodge of the Seven Grandfathers. The otter received his instructions from the Seven Grandfathers and paid attention to each detail. Finally, the otter and the boy set off on their long journey. The boy had been given a huge bundle to take to his people from the Seven Grandfathers. Ni-gig’ and the boy took turns carrying the bundle. Along the way, they stopped seven times. At each stop, a spirit came and told the boy the meaning of the seven gifts that ere given to him out of the vessel of the Grandfathers.
To cherish knowledge is to know WISDOM. To know LOVE is to know peace. To honour all of the Creation is to have RESPECT. BRAVERY is to face the foe with integrity. HONESTY in facing a situation is to be brave. HUMILITY, is to know yourself, as a sacred part of the Creation. TRUTH is to know all of these things. The spirit taught the boy that for each gift there as an opposite, as evil is the opposite of good. He would have to be careful to instruct his people in the right way to use each gift. Also, at each stop, the boy found a strange kind of small shell sprinkled here and there on the ground. He sensed something special about these shells. He put down tobacco and took a few of them at each stop. For four days, the boy and the otter stopped at each place. But in the Spirit World, time cannot be compared to our time on Earth. During this time, the boy grew into manhood. He and the otter somehow realized that the next time they would set their bundle down they would be in the land of the people. At last they came upon a large body of water. They could see the people on the other shore. They looked poor and hungry. The otter realized that these people did not have the true Wayn-dah-ni-muk’no-di-noon’ (Four Directions) and therefore,could not live in harmony with the power that each direction offers. The otter dove into the water and swam to the middle of the lake. There he shouted to the people and told them that he would show them the true Four Directions so that they could live in harmony. The people cheered and watched the otter as swam to the East and thenback to the middle of the lake. He then swam to the South and back to the middle. The otter did this with each of the Four Directions. The otter finally returned to get his friend who was getting to be an old man with all the time he had seen in the Spirit World. He escorted the old man to his people. The old man carried a huge heavy bundle. It was a great power that he was able to share with his people. The otter showed the man the way. Then the otter realized that he had finished the task that the Seven Grandfathers had asked of him. He said to the old man, “My friend, we have been many places together. We have overcome all obstacles.” At this time, the otter produced one of the strange shells that were at each of the stopping places and held it out to the old man. “These are very special shells. They are an important gift and will figure into your life at a later time. They represent the shell that the Creator used to blow his breath on the four sacred elements and give life to Original Man. Keep this with you always. It is called the Megis Shell. “I have now done what the Grandfathers asked of me. I will continue to serve you if you can follow me.” At this moment, the otter remembered all the playful moments of his past and ran straight up at all tree and sat at the top laughing at his friend holding the heavy bundle down below. The otter is one today who accompanies the newcomers into the Midewiwin Lodge. He accompanies them only through their first degree then they must part. Realizing that he must now leave his brother, the otter, the old man picked up the bundle and continued to make his way toward the village. On the outskirts of he village, the old man came upon a very old couple. This couple somehow knew that this man with the heavy bundle was their son even though his hair was white like theirs. The only thing that kept them alive was the memory of their son and the faith that he would be back. The old man pulled a gift out ofhis bundle and said to his parents, “I give you this. It represents the power, love and mercy of the Creator.” He continued on to visit and talk with the rest of his people. To the middle of the village he went with his bundle and all the people followed. At the village’s center, he stopped and put down his bundle. With all the people gathered around, the old man old them of his journey to the lodge of the Seven Grandfathers. He gave the people the seven gifts that the Grandfathers had given him out of the vessel. He told the people of the dangers that came with each gift. He gave them the understanding of opposites. He told them of the way the Grandfathers said to live in order to have a strong physical body. He told them that nee-zho-day’ (twin) pf physical existence was spiritual existence. In order for the people to be completely healthy, they must seek to develop themselves spiritually and find a balance between the physical and spiritual worlds. The old man gave the people the avenue to use for this spiritual development. He gave them the Ba-wa-ji-gay’win (Vision Quest). He gave others the capability to seek out the knowledge of the Spirit World through fasting, dreaming and meditation. With the old man’s return, the people came better adjusted physically to live on Earth. The people had a sense of hope that gave them strength to face life’s daily tasks. No longer did accidents and diseases claim so many lives. With the knowledge of the Four Sacred Directions the otter gave them,and with gradual use of herbal medicines to treat illnesses, the people approached that delicate balance that lies in living in harmony with all of the Creation. It only remained now that for people to follow the me-ka-nay za’ (path) laid out before them by the old man for the development of the spiritual side of life. Author ~ unkown

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Could You Pass the Humanity Test?

We are in the midst of really ugly news: a terrorist loaded up with automatic weapons and shot people enjoying an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. US Donald Trump is scaring the world with his Twitter feed. Wealthy movie maker has been using his position, his power to coerce and even force his unwanted advances on Women. The story has prompted more Women to take a stand an expose others who have used their position in ugly selfish ways.

Many Women are now sharing their experiences of having dealt with the ugly side of men. The latest is Senator Al Franken.  I feel bad for Al. He was one Senator that I actually thought was a good person. Turns out he is just as bad as many of the men out there.

With all of the ugly out there I wonder how much of us would pass the humanity test. The humanity is more than  the attitudes or the actions we have done to women and to kids. Kevin Spacey and company are now facing their own tests for their actions. The humanity test is a look at how we are in many situations. How we react and how we think.

We have seen many people who pass the humanity test in big ways. In ways we could never understand. The mass shooting in Las Vegas brought out the humanity in many individuals. There were people in the midst of the chaos, the dying and the ugly, who took to helping others in a time of horror. You would think the first taught would be for your own safety and not thinking of saving others. What a humanity test to be faced with. These people passed the test.

The humanity test is not always so dramatic or in such dire situations. Sometimes the humanity test is simple as meeting someone on the street. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to a small concert. Most of the patrons were old people, like us (and older) and many were White. Outside in the cold a young man was standing with a sign looking for change. We had no money and told him sorry. As we were in line inside the hall a group of older White folk were talking. This older Woman was upset at the man. She said "I asked him what he needed the money for?" She went on this conversation with other women and men in their group. Each of them were making disparaging remarks about the young man. My wife was upset and said to me "I hope he told them to shove their change" in a voice loud enough for the group to hear. I don't think they passed the humanity test in this case.

A friend of mine was telling the story of this Artist. The Artist was painting a mural in Winnipeg and the subject matter was images of a number of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. While the Artist, a White man, was painting a young guy on a bike stopped and asked him about the mural. The Artist told him about the subject matter. The young man replied "well they were whores anyway" and rode off. The Artist was stunned. He met an individual who had not passed the humanity test.

The humanity test is a daily occurrence. It can be something that happens everyday like the letting someone into your lane when there is a stream of car line up or it could be the saying "Thank you" for the person who holds open the mall door for you.  It is the comment we post when we see someone complaining about the amount of assistance Refugees are said to receive from government. Can you remember the latest humanity test you had, however small or huge?

I guess it's like what is your moral compass really like; the things you would do in certain situations.

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 ...