The Book!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Again with Atttawapiskat


Traditional Ojibwe and Dakota homes.

Tristin Hopper writes an op-ed in the National Post to explain to us ignorant white folks why it is that Cree might not want to leave the blight of Attawapiskat. We cannot understand, because we are descended from immigrants, who of course did move for a better life.

Yeah. Unlike the Cree Indians, our ancestors had to give up our land. So we owe them something because theirs didn't?

Speaking of Europeans, she explains, “The gospel of 'just pick up and leave' is extremely foreign to your typical European.--be they Serbian, French, or Irish.”

Odd—if we are “white,” weren't our ancestors European? How did all those Europeans, 400 million or so at last count, get over here to North America, with nobody actually leaving Europe? How did we get to be descended from immigrants,, if there were none? One of life's little mysteries.

Famine Memorial, Dublin

My own ancestors are mostly Irish. Ask the Irish, if you will, about “just pick up and leave.” Within a space of ten years in the middle of the 19th century, about one third of the Irish population was obliged to do just that. Most of the rest just died in place. Anyone here heard of the Great Hunger? And the emigrant flow from Ireland to elsewhere has been thick and fast before and since.

But Hopper needn't ask the Irish. She could ask the Cree.

Hopper laments on behalf of the Attawapiskat Cree that they “share a country with some of the most fanatically nomadic people in human history.”

Right. And the Cree were not nomadic? Reporting to their French superiors in the early days of New France, Jesuit chroniclers noted that Cree villages were dismantled and moved at least every six weeks. I think the Cree once knew something about moving.

Drew Taylor, Indian playwright, is quoted as saying, “Cree communities are not RV parks, ready to uproot at a moment's notice.”

That's exactly how traditional Cree communities always worked.

Stewart Phillip, Indian political leader, is quoted as saying “We're not bison. We shouldn't be herded around on the whims of a racist nation.”

That's exactly what traditional Plains Cree communities did—moved with the bison. (And, of course, Canada is probably one of the least racist countries on earth.)

Joseph Boyden, Indian author, is quoted as saying “this idea of forcing people off the place where they've lived for thousands of years is not the way to move forward.”

Which place would that be? In the hundred years or so after the Hudson's Bay Company set up its first trading posts at James Bay, ancestors of the Cree spread from the area of Attawapiskat all the way to Peace River.

This is all an example of an eternal truth: when people commit to lie habitually, they tend to end up saying the exact opposite of the truth. This is because the truth becomes a danger to them. Always staying as far from it as possible feels like safety.

A guilty conscience also makes them tend to contradict themselves. As if subconsciously they wanted to be found out.




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