Sunday, March 19, 2023

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 lovers were never true, telling those sweet lies and losing again." The song that really got my attention and one that I liked but over time have become conflicted about, is called Cherokee Fiddle song by Johnny Lee. Johnny Lee if that's not a good old Redneck sodbuster name, just call me Billy Bob Thornton. 

You see, I am a fan of most things Indian. I go to purple in the mood ring colours when I see an Indian hockey player in the National Hockey League, a MMA fighter in the UFC, a football player in the NFL (I spelled out the NHL, because most people don't know hockey), an Indian actor and songs naming Indians. So when I hear songs like Seminole Wind, Come and Get your Love, it's exciting for me. So to hear Cherokee fiddle it made me happy, and not only that, the song is really catchy. The Rosemary Butler back up just complimenting Johnny Lee's lines, "when you smell smoke and the cinder, just slick back your hair," takes the song to a higher plane. Remember I was in just 20 years old when the song came out, I had been to my first Sweat Lodge Ceremony at that age. My Indian-ness was never in question but I didn't have a deep philosophical view of things, I just knew and everyone around me was Indian. Those who were not Indian were not family or worthy of exploration. I know that was arrogant, stupid and limited my knowledge. I didn't ponder too deeply the story and lines in the Cherokee Fiddle song. Well later on, the song did kind of bother me, same thing with the song by Tom T. Hall, Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine. Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon has such a nice melody and you naturally dream of good times but with a little melancholy. 

I wondered if Tom T. Hall was being racist, even though there are no racist lines but the old trope of the Black gentlemen associated with watermelon, does make you cringe somewhat. The line "Women think about they-selves, when menfolk ain't around" is a bit of old style attitudes. So you kind of don't feel all that good about the song after a few years. Well that's what I thought about Cherokee Fiddle and the images portrayed in the song. Michael Martin Murphey wrote the song and he says it was about "an Old Man he saw playing fiddler at a train station one time." Wikipedia has the story of the fiddler player who is actually a Choctaw Indian, named Dean Kirk.  When diving into the lyrics of the song, it doesn't paint a very good picture about the Cherokee fiddler player and his fate. 

The story about the fiddle player is that he "put on a good show,"  "played for the whiskey," and was "not seen again," and "no one missed him." It paints a story deeper than an Indian drinking whiskey but of a people gone forever and no one ever to miss them. "With Indians dressing up as cowboys, cowboys putting on feathers and turquoise on, the fools playing fiddle have gone, folks never going to miss them and the Cherokee fiddle (people) gone forever." The song, the tune is very catchy and it will have you drawn in, but at the end of it, it is a very sad story, even an ugly one. So true of many stories when it comes to the Indian when the narrative is from the point of view by white folk. 

End of the Trail: James Fraser Artist
Some songs to me, are like the sculpture, End of the Trail by James Earle Fraser, they just don't feel right. The End of the Trail is a great work of art but the depiction is just ugly. When I see this Indian, he is at the end of his rope, a beaten man, a person giving up, finished. This is not who Indians are in any way imaginable. This is a distorted picture. And just like the song Cherokee fiddle, says of an entity gone forever where no one missed them at all, it is just distorted images of Indians wanting to be Cowboys and White folks playing Indians, it is wrong. 

Well nope, no way, the Indigenous folk are not dying, not giving up, and not going anywhere. 


Thursday, March 9, 2023

First Nations, the Roma of Canada

 Indigenous Women and Indigenous men, are not well respected or even liked in Canada. Same could be said for Indigenous people in the United States, and Australia. The dislike is driven by the Settlers, the decedents of colonial nations, who now benefit from the country they invaded. It is easy to understand the dislike and in many cases the settlers have towards the Indigenous people; Indigenous people are physical reminders of how Settlers failed in killing them off, and how they stole their land. No one can look at the harm they have done and feel good about it. The result, the Settlers turn their feelings into hatred towards the Indigenous people. I get that and can understand, even if I don't like it. The Settler can see the power held by Indigenous peoples. The thing that does bother me quite a bit, is the same attitudes towards Indigenous shown by the Settler population is now driven by the recent immigrant population. I mean what the heck? New comers into Canada have picked up the Settler's hatred of Indigenous people, the Canadian Indian. The Settlers have systemic structures in place which aids them in perpetuating their white supremacist attitudes and beliefs, so why do new comers adopt the same type of attitudes? 

I know the attitude towards Indigenous people, by new arrivals.  I have heard it directly from the mouths of new comers to Canada. In each instance of speaking with the new comers, they were told not to associate with Indians. This warning came from people in their own community circles; new comers to Canada. You think it would be some conspiracy for people not to engage or develop relationships with Indians of Canada. What benefit comes from not getting to know the Indigenous people? 

I was driving in my 2015 Civic with my IPOD plugged in to the stereo and the Gypsy Kings' song, Bem Bem Maria played. A good song, not one of their best but good still. This took my thoughts to my friend Sorin. I used to tease him about being a Gypsy because he is from Romania and Gypsy's are Roma, so they must be Romanian. He would tell me, "no they are Indians," Indians from India. You see, the Gypsy's have a certain reputation in Europe and they are not well received. My friend was saying that the Europeans (eastern) laugh at Canada and the United States for their recent encounters with Gypsy's, "They don't know the Gypsy's." There are stories of some EU countries, mostly the Western European countries flying planes full of Roma back to Eastern European countries, despite the EU travel agreement. The overall feelings towards Gypsy's, the Roma as they call themselves, are not positive. They have a reputation of being not-trust worthy and a drain on the local economy, you should stay away from them.  Where have I heard this before? 

The Roma, have been disliked for a very long time: "...a key factor shaping the attitudes of Europeans was the itinerant lifestyle so many Romani families practiced during those times. They moved from locale to locale, which engendered an aura of mystery and suspicion about them. Ugly stereotypes formed already in the late medieval/early modern period. "Gypsies" were considered dirty, deceitful, too lazy to work, and prone to steal." This overall sentiment on the Roma is what the Indians in Canada deal with as well. People just have a skewed view of the Indian. The view is amplified by media, the history, the system and by word of mouth. 

Can you imagine coming from a different country, community, a world you all you know is that "those people are no good." What a restriction to place on yourself. I can see it though. I mean look at how the world views the men of India. The men of India place no value on the Women of their country. Women are gang raped, (One Woman reported a rape every 15 minutes on average in India in 2018, according to government...underlining its dismal reputation as one of the worst places in the world to be female.)   women are beaten by the brothers/fathers. Women are outcasts when the husband divorces them. Women have acid thrown in their face if they say reject men. So how do we expect them to treat the Indigenous Women in Canada, when they have no value to their own women, and our Women, our People are considered no good? It is a common notion among Indigenous communities that the Women are being attacked by the new comers. The new comers who have made a big impact in the transport industry; taxis and big trucks/semi-trailers. People believe there is a correlation between the lack of respect of Women in general and the access to women via transport industry. This of course is just a point of view by a community which is under attack. So forgive them if the view may distorted. The point here is the message out there does impact how we see a community, a people. 

So how do we change the view, by word of mouth, or through the media? No one really trusts the media, an industry owned by the rich and only interested in numbers, which means cash. Word of mouth with a group of Settlers who want the Indian to disappear, it's not going to happen. Word of mouth with new comers, who are sold the message not to talk to those people who are not good? Like the Roma, there is a set view of them and of us, and it is not going to change. 



German Photograph of Family of Roma, Marseilles, France, November 1942. Gift of Mrs. Patty Millett, from the Collection of The National WWII Museum, 2011.403.132.



Treaty 9 Indigenous men at Fort Hope in Ontario, 1905. (Dept. of Indian and Northern Affairs / Library and Archives Canada)

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Silliness in the Blog

Lazy to be writing today, so I went and checked some of my posts on the social media site and found this one. Being silly. But we can do that when we are old.


There is a song by the Dixie Chicks group, now they are just called the Chicks, after a bit of time it will change again to older chicks, but getting back to the song. The song is called Traveling Solider. Me, I am a fan of stories in songs, lyrics are what is good. That is why Lyle Lovett, Tom Waits, John Prine, Towns Van Zant, Leonard Cohen are some of my favorite story tellers. Although I don't mind a repetitive chorus once in awhile, like Pump up the Jam, pump up the jam, pump it. Anyways, the Traveling Solider is a story, a sad story about a young man, going away to war and how he struck up a friend with a waitress. He asked her to sit with him because he was feeling kind of low and had no one to talk to. As the story goes the waitress, with a bow in her hair, took the time to visit with the young man. The young man was in army fatigues so she knew he was a solider, but that is not the story, the story is she took the time to visit with him out of kindness and it goes from there. So I was thinking, what a good idea it is: go to a restaurant and ask the waiter to sit with you because you are feeling low. This might be a good way to make friends. So I figured, knowing me, I said to myself, "Steve go to the restaurant and make friends." Although I have no army fatigues, I guess I could ask my brother-in-law Smiley, cause he must have his fatigues, as he was army guy. But I think, Smiley was in his prime shape then, there is no way I could fit his clothes, especially when he was so in shape at the time. I figured the fatigues could just confuse the situation anyways. I don't know anything about war anyways. So off I go. I go to a place called the Jolly Mug. It's a little greasy spoon not to far from my place, and I know my wife never ever frequents the place. So I go, to the restaurant. There is an older white waitress working there. I sit, order eggs over medium, shredded hash-browns, rye toast and Earl Grey tea. As she is bringing me the order, I says to her, and I used the exact line of the song in Traveling Solider, "Would you mind sittin' down for a while And talkin' to me, I'm feeling a little low?" In the song, the waitress says: "I'm off in an hour, and I know where we can go."

Well... She says, "fuck off."

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Uplifting Reserve story of the day.
Was standing in line at the gas station. My friend was just ahead of me and head of him was this older white lady. My friend taps her shoulder and says: "Are you still sexually active?" She looked at him with widening eyes and before she could answer, My friend says: "Do you want to be?"
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How my brain works.
Me and Chloe were coming back from Sagkeeng to Winnipeg. She was about six years old. She was in the back seat laying down but had her seat belt on. We were at the old stop sign by Grand Marais. She said her belt was getting tight on her. I stopped because she sounded like she was getting scared. The belt was tight on her so I got my knife and cut the seat belt. It was a $200 dollar fix. Suz asked me why didn't I press the seat belt button?
I came home and one of the bulbs wasn't working in the basement. I kept trying the switch and twisting the light bulb. So I went driving to the Home Depot and bought a new light switch. Came home and changed the light switch. Kept trying it and nothing. Kept trying to twist the light bulb on and off. Suz asked me is I tried a different light bulb. So I did and the light worked.
I get things done. My way.
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Me as Counsellor -
Person: I never don't do anything right. I mess up.
Me: There you go self-defecating again. You need to give yourself some good stuff, like candies and cookies. You are pretty good person I think but I really don't know.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Our Reserves are Gardens

 Warning: Metaphors, Praise, Gratitude, Pride. 

So someone had the nerve to say our communities, our Reserves, our Homes are shit. The easiest position people can take, is a negative one. It takes no effort or thought, to take a dump on some place, some person. In almost every situation, there will be people who will take a negative view, a negative position on something. We look at a country and we see only the ugly going on with them. We don't see the good, the everyday Samaritan, the quiet heroes, the helpers, the care-givers, or the beauty. In Syria, it is a country filled with so much despair, injustice, crisis and heartbreak. Still there are flowers growing among the decay of the Earth. Turkey and Syria experienced a devastating earthquake, and people are showing their hearts. It is amazing to see the beauty of people especially in a place of horror. It is easy to look at a situation, a place and the people and take a pessimistic stance, "Oh the Lord is punishing them for being Brown people." Pat Robinson, a famous Preacher, once blamed Haiti, a country of Brown people,  for being hit with an earthquake: he said the "pact with the devil" is why they had to pay, for revolting against the French colonists., so the earthquake was punishment on them. In contrast you have real compassion with folks like the Rohingya refugees. These people were run out of their homes by Myanmar military. They have virtually nothing, but still they gathered what little they have and sent it to Turkey. Now there are some real values of goodness, kindness and generosity right there in those people. While a human maggot like Pat Robinson, is hoarding 100 million dollars of corrupt cash so he can take it with him to buy life back from Osiris, (God of the Dead) at least that is what I heard. Everyone wants something but not willing to do good to get it. 

There are things which make a place, a country, a community into a beautiful garden . It can be the beauty of the land and it can be the beauty of people. This is true of our Reserves. They are gardens. Gardens  which can grow amazing things. I am fortunate to be one of those flowers raised in a Reserve garden. No doubt there are/were weeds in the garden that made it rough at times. The overall beauty of the Reserve was/is not only the land, the river, but the people. Sure in our gardens there are some poisonous plants (Purple Pitcher, not poisonous but a carnivore and that is something cool and creepy) and nuisance flowers like the Purple Loosestrife (breeds unchecked, like rodents and chokes out other garden life). Growing up, I could be seen as a bad weed. Not ugly as "Boo-boo-shuck," the Bull Thistle. But it was the grace of people which I remember on the Reserve. This one time, I was busting light bulbs in the old Arena. An older guy, in his 20's, caught me, kicked my arse and told me not to do that. He said he wouldn't tell my Dad this time, as I would get it at home from my Dad (and rightly so). This guy was looking after the community in a way he knew how and was good to me as well. A good lesson for me, don't break stuff if you're going to get caught. 

I am very lucky that I can remember my Mishoom, my Kokum, Granny and Granpa. Lot of Aunties, Uncles and Cousins, friends help shaped my view of the Reserve. The Reserve I know, has great people,  good life and a feeling of pride. You just can't beat feeling part of a community. Growing up we enjoyed the river. We did loads of swimming at our Granny's sandbar, we went swimming and fishing at the Treaty Point and Baggo's Point. When there was a lot of rain, the road ditches with fill with water, and sometimes we could swim there, not really swimming but mucking around in the mud water. Walking in the bush and picking wild plums, chokecherry's, it was awesome. Visiting with cousin's at your Uncle and Aunties places is part of the community experience. Going into the neighboring town and being sworn at by the local town youth. The garden lines were clearly strung out, between Reserve and town. We lived in a beautiful garden while the town was only viewed as a store, a place to go shop. I am so grateful to have been part of our Reserve where we knew who we were/are. You can't buy that in any store, the pride, the love of our ancestry.  

The fact our Reserves are beautiful gardens are not lost on our people. We still have the connection to a larger community, a rich history of Tradition and to the Land. We may have some weeds, some poison which has touched our garden over the years, but we don't let it tarnish the view, our garden is full of beautiful flowers, beautiful plants. And the thing about gardens, a little manure even helps it grow. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Our Reserve is Shit

Warning: Obscurity, Metaphor, Stupidity.  

If your community is full of problems, who's fault is it?  It's Bashar Al-Assad's fault, I blame. This fucking guy, is one monumental Shaitan, is the foundation of social collapse in his home community-country (I had to look up a word to describe a horrible maggot of a monster and Shaitan

Mehmed Siyah  Kalem
came up, we learn something everyday). When we think of a place that is shit, we only have to look at Syria. If there is a Hell on Earth, Syria might be it. Of course we may be getting a bias picture of what lead to its being Hell over there. The history of that last one hundred years, the influences, the interference from outside parties and all the complexity of a world growing and collapsing, all have a part in  Syria's Hell. There is no denying, which ever way took Syria to where it is now, the place is shit; starving children, (I would put a photo of starving crying kid here but you don't need to see, you already know it's gut wrenching) cities in rubble by air bombings and killing, everyday killings. What's Syria have to do with your Reserve or my Reserve, you may be asking? It's about context. Like taking a shit (we say mee-zee), it's different all the time. Whether you are defecating on the seat of your ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend's bucket seat of the Camaro, or taking a steaming-three-coiler on the steps of the Chief's house in the dead of night in January, the stool sample is still brown. Syria is shit as is our Reserve is shit. Thing is our feces may not compare to the feces other's may have. Vast differences and degrees separate our dumps, but to the individual-us, the shit is still shit. So you may be in Syria, buried in rubble, lying in your own filth, your mouth so dry you can't make spit, taking your last breathes as your organs shut down as your body tears itself apart due to starvation or you are sitting in your Mother's closet with a string tied around your neck and the other tied to the wooden dowel holding hangers as you feel so alone, so alone you see no way out, you cannot escape the horror's of addiction, the dread and despair, the grasp of un-ending pain in your soul, the shit is still real. 

How can we clean up all the shit? In Syria's case who the heck knows? Maybe get a new ruler, a new boss to sit on the great Porcelain Throne?  In our Reserves, what can we do to clean up the shit taking place? I guess we only have the option of voting in our cousin (cuz'in). Our Reserve, along with a number of Reserves in our province, are going to be electing a new leadership in the next month, Chiefs and Councilors. I believe we are fortunate we don't have a Trump or Assad ruling our community right now. Having said that, do we put the blame of our community shit on the shoulders of our leaders? Like the Syrian situation, there are many factors which come into play which stirs up the shit. We have colonized eyes, colonized greed, colonized thinking in our community. Everyone wants to eat at the table of the Reserve which only adds to the amount of shit the Reserve has to contend with. There are only so many open crying whining mouths the community can feed. All other's are S O L, shit out of luck. Even in Syria, only the mouths of Assad's cuz'ins are being feed, all others are being gassed, bombed and shot. We don't have this going on, thank Allah for that. We do have no housing, no jobs, no opportunities, addictions, no money, no land, no voice and no vision. But we have toilets, but no clean water. 

Before you start going baby-cooking-bat-eating crazy, saying "this cannot compare," you are right. Nothing can compare to the horrors of war on an innocent child, but yet, here we are, measuring our misery, sharing our scars, and showing our rectum injuries. Tell me you have not felt the most excruciating pain one person can endure? Of course you have, but in your own arse, your own vessel, your own place. A child has an ear ache which no amount of Mom's hugging and soothing can dampen. You have constipation so gut wrenching, you have take off all your clothes, lay in the fetal position on the bathroom floor, now tell me, the pain you are going through at the moment, is not worse in another universe. Our misery can not be truly weighed on a scale of pain measurement. It's selfish, yes to not think of starving children in (put colonized country here), while you eat Chinese food and your Mom or Dad is telling you to clean your plate. We only look at the horror's of other's and share a "Oh, Man, that is awful" sentiment. We have no true understanding, only our own situation and even there we can be clueless.  

I wanted to list the consequences of poor leadership and how it has lead our (local)communities to become outhouses filled to the top, where we sit on the cold plastic toilet ring, our genitals touching frozen excrement (we are in the winter season other wise it would be warm excrement sticking to our scrotums and vaginas). I just cannot relieve myself with tales of incompetence, complacency, ignorance /nescience, laziness, and plain old stupidity in our community facilities. In another situation I would pull down my skivvies empty the bowels filled with stench of the community sewage. The problem is, at least we have an outhouse, we can seek a Honey-wagon to relieve some of the shit, while other's are being buried alive, left to die, in their community, in their country's shit. They have no Honey-wagon. 



Thursday, February 2, 2023

"He Thinks For Us:" He's happy on the outside because he is a Whiteman.

 I was watching a movie on HBO, One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk. It is a retelling of an incident which took place in 1961 at Kapuivik, Baffin Island.  In the scene there is a Whiteman going to Inuit people and telling to move to a settlement. The Whiteman had gone to a hunting camp, out of the ice, where a group of Inuit were. The Whiteman is a representative of the government and he doesn't speak the language. He uses a translator to get his message across to a group of Inuit men out on the ice. The dialog is compelling and it is also full of frustration. The Whiteman of the government is adamant in his aim that the Inuit must move to a settlement. He continues to target this Elder with the rules, the law of Canada. It is a gripping film. It makes it where you want to intervene, take part in the dialog. The film is the work of Zacharias Kunuk, a genius. "Zacharias Kunuk, OC, ON is a filmaker, sculptor and visual artist who lives in Igulik (Igloolik), NU. Kunuk has redefined filmmaking in Canada and has been at the forefront of innovative use of broadcast technology in the North. He is perhaps best known for his debut feature film Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) from 2001, the first Canadian feature film produced entirely in Inuktitut." 

There is so much to be gathered from the conservation between the government agent and the Inuit Elder. The vast difference in their view of community, life and the world.  

The Elder Noah Piugattuk (1900 - 1996), faces off with Mr. Whyte (the actual name of the government man). "Inuit called him Isumataq, meaning Boss, although the exact translation would be he-thinks-for-us." Zaharis Kunuk. 

The humor in the conversation comes from the Inuit men among themselves. They do not ridicule the Whiteman but rather speak about the situation and the absurdity, the unfathomable of the what is being asked, told to them. The Whiteman, Mr. Whyte is determined to have his way and disregards all of what the Elder Noah is saying. The Elder Noah on the other hand is patient but his patience is wearing thin. Noah tells the Whiteman a story of when he helped a Whiteman. Noah had taken a Whiteman to another Inuit community. Noah says this Whiteman can speak a little of the Inuit language Inuktitut, unlike Mr. Whyte who speaks only English. Along the way Noah and the Whiteman encounter a Polar Bear. The Whiteman grabs his camera and sets out to take pictures of the Bear. Noah tells the man, he needs to go closer to get a good picture. The Whiteman goes closer and the Bear reacts by coming towards him, the Whiteman runs back towards Noah and gives the camera to Noah. The Whiteman tells him to go take the picture. In this moment Noah understood what the Whiteman thought: his life was worth more than Noah's. After a lengthy trip, they got to the community of other Inuit. This is when the Whiteman starts his preaching. The Whiteman was an Anglican Priest. After the sermons, Noah had the task of taking the Priest back to their community. It was a month long trip by dog-team sled, an arduous trip. Noah expected to be given a good gift for his time and work. The Priest gave him a Bible. Noah said, "I knew he didn't love me." Much of the movie is rich with conversations radiating Indigenous wit, and Inuit cultural nuance. It is not common knowledge that the Canadian government made the Inuit wear metal identification tags, as part of the mandatory Eskimo Identification tags. Mr. Whyte says he has to check the ID tags. 


If you have the opportunity, watch the movie, don't have expectations of seeing Vin Diesel driving over a cliff and flexing his muscles. This movie has more than greased up bodies and loin cloth. If you are not a dull knife, this movie will have you thinking. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Kill 'em All, Big and Small, Nits Make Lice and Other Memorable Lines

US Colonel John Chivington shouted, “Kill and scalp all, the big and little, nits make lice.” Colonel Chivington went on to slaughter old people, women, children, unarmed Indians. There are certain sayings you remember when you first hear them, see them. I heard this quote from an Indian Activist when I was in my 30's. He was an American Indian Movement (AIM) member. I haven't forgotten those words and what they referred to. It is one of those moments where your emotions get tied to the quote.  "The Hottest Hells are reserved for those in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." I have not read Dante's Inferno, where a version of the quote is said to come from. I kind of like the inference where someone must take a side in a situation. I remember the quote because it hits a cord in my Being. I want to be able to take a stance when the time arises, but I know I may fail. Some quotes are inspiring; "I have a Dream. I have been to the mountain top. I fear no man." Martin Luther King Jr. is of course the man. His words are remembered by everyone, including Red Necks and White Supremacists. Speaking of Whites, Muhammad Ali gave the world some of the best words and we remember them: "I am the Greatest." I admire his courage, his strength, his intellect and his humility. He really challenged the white masses in a time when it was against the law to do so. Ali is still the Greatest. I try to remember some quotes of Indian people but can only recall Chief Dan George, "Come out and fight! It's a good day to die." The line is actually a movie quote so it may not even be George's own quote. Chief Dan George was an incredible actor and the ambassador of the Native community. That is the thing, some lines just jump out in our consciousness while we have to really search for others. 

 I have watched cartoons as a kid and the quotes are no less memorable: "Hey, Baba Looey. Sufferin' Succotash. What's up Doc? I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George. I'm Blacque Jacque Shellacque." Each of these sayings have left an impression on me. Some of the quotes just bring up silly memories, good moments and some quotes are inside jokes with our friends. For me, the quotes from watching cartoons bring a smile and warm feelings. And thank the television gods for the Hanna-Barbera (who were better than Loony Tunes). There was the Saturday mornings getting up early enough so as not to miss when cartoons were on.  All those cartoons take me to a place of ignorance. I didn't even know many of the cartoon lines were ugly to people not white. The quote Kill them all, big and small, nits make lice is remembered not because it makes me smile but because it is so funny. It's funny because this one line just encapsulates the whole colonial-settler history. It's funny because of all these "I'm fourth generation farmer, I'm a decedent of people who came here with nothing," people who boast of their lineage. Yeah, a great group of settler's for sure. It is funny because it hides nothing. It is not hidden behind attempted humor in children's television shows. In cartoons where exaggerated stereotypical images of ethnic people are on full display. Where the Asian, the Black, the Indian, the other Indian, are made to be less then human and ridiculed. Nope the Kill them all, big and small, nits makes lice doesn't try to hide behind so-called silliness. 





Monday, January 30, 2023

Dig. Dig Man. Dig for those Women in the Landfills

A Winnipeg man with white supremacist posting on social media, has been arrested for killing four Indigenous Women. The murders are said to have taken place between March and May of 2022. Four Indigenous Women: Rebecca Contois, 24 of O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi (Crane River), Morgan Harris, 39 of Long Plain, Marcedes Myran, 26 of Long Plain, Unknown Woman (Buffalo Woman-Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe). Police say the remains of the Women, are in the Landfills of the Winnipeg City. There is a controversy about whether or not the Landfill should be searched.  A "Feasibility Study" is being financed by the Canadian government on whether or not if it is worth it to search for the missing Indian Women in the garbage dump. So it comes down to how much an Indian Woman's body is worth against the cost of garbage dump disruption.  In a recent media release by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC, Provincial lobby group for Manitoba Chiefs) there has been no funding for the feasibility study and it is suppose to be complete by March 31, 2023. This is a really weird undertaking. Basically you are studying the worth of a person, or the cost of a dead body. 

The costs to dig for the bodies in the Winnipeg Land Fill, the garbage dump will be huge.  Most of the  country would likely side with saving the money.  I can hear it in my head, "Let's be practical" and "they should not have been careful, not partied there" and "they brought it on themselves." What is a reasonable cost for searching for dead people? Searches for missing people is not uncommon. An individual falls off a ship in the ocean and a search will take place. Not matter the situation it always comes down what the costs are going to be. 

People have no issue spending money, only if it is in their interest. With the lost Spirits in the garbage dumps, no one really has an interest. If there was a lost painting in the garbage dump it may increase interest to do a search. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled [detail] (1982), sold for $85 million at Phillips “20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale,” May 18, 2022. Image courtesy Phillips.

With no 85 million dollar paintings in the garbage, Some cities have gone to mining landfills. Landfill Mining is said to have great potential. Since this is being a look at the future of the Landfill industry, might be an opportunity to start now? I know it's a far fetched approach to consider. The fact there is value in the garbage itself; metals, etc., and not the bodies of Women, is really strange. 

I don't know what the outcome of the feasibility will bring, I just know this, if it was my Mom, my Sister, my Cousin, my daughter, or your family member, I would say, "feasibility study? Dig man! Dig."



Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Pretender Identity Sweepstakes

Michelle Obama said: "I will pit my Blackness against anyone." She said this about the attacks on her husband's identity while he was running for public office. Barack Obama was challenged for not being "Black enough" for some in the Black community.  In the Black community they have similar conversations about who is "them" as well as in the Native community. When I say Native, Indian, Indigenous, I am referring to the original inhabitants of Turtle Island, or as called today, the Americas. So, Michelle listed off her pedigree of her own Blackness. This comparing our pedigrees is also common in the Indian world. It's funny, I think of my Romanian friend who lives in British Columbia. He has a Woman friend who is Chinese. She lives in China, so they have a very long-distance relationship. Anyways in Indian country we use the term Apple to describe White Indians, and the Chinese really do use the saying Banana to those who they see as White Chinese.  Indian's use Apples to describe another Indian, who they feel is trying to "be white." I guess it is the same with the Chinese who see another Chinese person trying to be white. Same with the Black community, people are judged for what is seen as being white. Look at Wayne Brady, a Black Comedian. He has been poked at by other's for seemingly being too white. Being compared to being white is really insulting to Ethnic people, People of Color, within their respective community. What's more insulting than being called white by someone in your own group, is being called white by white folk. So a whiter than Whiteman, Bill Maher made fun of Wayne Brady and his perceived lack of Blackness. Maher didn't see Brady as a menacing Black Man, in other words not the stereotypical scary Black. Maher, everyone knows is one of those White Men who feels he has privilege in the Black world, so he can get away with anti-Black sentiments or statements. It's all over this "more than you" game. There is a Netflix show called Wednesday with this young Latino (Mexican American-Puerto Rican) actress. There is a video of her trying to speak Spanish. The reaction of her speaking Spanish has been harsh: "She's not Latino, she can't speak Spanish." There are some folks who see this criticism as laughable as Spanish is a colonial language. "Jenna Ortega is Latina because we are more than what other people think we are, and we can be everything at the same time. Period." The Identity sweepstakes is always a minefield of bombs. There is a challenge to everyone's heritage, there is the who is going to be more than you sweepstakes.

The weird thing about the identity sweepstakes, some may feel it as a curse, while some may see it as exotic and are envious. So envious they want the exotic identity as their own. White people want to have some added mix in their background, they will go to great lengths to find a Slave in the ancestry wood pile. It is not strictly white people who want to claim another heritage but they seem to be the most proficient at entering into the heritage sweepstakes. The pretenders are so good at becoming Black, Indian, Latino, that they can even fool their own family members. The pretender will even invent a compelling back story of their life. You can see the story coming from the lyrics of "A Change Will Come, Polk Salad Annie, and Patches." 

There are groups of people who identify in a different gender than what they were assigned to when born. For this group I wonder if there are pretenders, but who knows. My big gut says, nope, they have no reason to pretend. The only acceptable (or not) place they can pretend is in the movie and tv industry. It's funny because the entertainment industry is notorious for having Pretenders as a driving force in the Identity Sweepstakes. White people would be literally painted "red" to be the Indians in all Cowboy-and-Indians-John-Wayne-kill-them-up movies. There are many areas of pretend where it is suppose to be fun. Lot of films made where men are dressed as women, women as men, gays being straight, straight being gay and human's as apes, dogs, cats and aliens. 

When we take a look at the pretender in the Identity Sweepstakes, we all wonder, "what the heck?" The Pretender is more often driven not by the beauty of the Identity they covet, but by the rewards which can be had. Pretenders will push aside the Blacks, the Indians, the Latino's, the Gays, the Women so they can attain a reward, a position, a recognition they won't have among their own group. Weird, I know, right? For some reason, the pretender gains popularity in institutions; academics, politics, justice, films and activism. What is even more weird, the pretender doesn't seem to suffer the inherent systemic abuses felt by the groups they infiltrate. You don't see them being shot by the cops, having their babies taken away, denied a table at the big lunches. Nope the pretender only basks in the glow of the awesomeness of being Black, Indian, Women, Latino and Gay. The Pretender is a strange creature. If only they could feel the oppression their stolen community has to contend with, perhaps they would reconsider their weird obsession. Until this happens, we are going to continue to see a lot more Jessica Krug's, Rachel Dolezal's, Joseph Boyden's, Michelle Latimer's, Carrie Bourassa's, and Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan's. Yeah, it is continue to be weird out there in identity sweepstakes. 


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