Noble savages? Pardon the (unintended) pun

Political correctness seems to have no limits. A number of Canadian government departments and private companies have taken to bending over backwards, denying facts of history all the while, at will.

Such as this statement on a telecommunications company’s website: We acknowledge that our work spans many Territories and Treaty areas and that our head office is located on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We are grateful for the traditional Knowledge Keepers and Elders who are with us today, those who have gone before us and the youth that inspire us. We recognize the land as an act of Reconciliation, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 94 Calls to Action and gratitude to those whose territory we reside on, work on or are visiting.

Beside the fact that the website (and the company itself) are close to being useless, it’s the word unceded that should raise an eyebrow or two.

It seems that those who claim they ceded nothing should make a bee-line to the nearest public library, look up a dictionary or to two and find:

Cede means “to yield or grant typically by treaty.”

Another dictionary says: The act of cession is the assignment of property to another entity. In international law it commonly refers to land transferred by treaty.

Now, do the tougher part: instead of looking at high school textbooks, visit an archive or two to check what happened to which territory of Canada.

What regions are covered by treaties between the Crown and the local bands, and on what foundations are they based? To be blunt: who is receiving money from the Crown (to make it easier to grasp: from Canadian taxpayers)?

That, by definition, equals consummated cessation.

Good? Bad? Irrelevant

Generations of activists, posing as scientists, have been arguing whether the treaties are fair or not. Whether yes or not is meaningless for this debate: both sides signed them. That would be all argument needed at the moment.

Which leads to another side of the coin: were those who signed the treaties on the Indian side really the correct interlocutors? To be blunt again: had they or had they not have the right to sign them? To be even more outspoken: did they own the land that they were ceding?

No, they did not. Not only was the concept of ownership quite foreign to them, but they also used to lead nomadic lifestyles. Once they managed to exhaust one place’s resources, they would move elsewhere.

No need to debate whether this was the best approach. It was their approach, and that should suffice.

That this approach would become one of the reasons for internecine wars between individual tribes (or bands, if you wish) is a matter of record, too.

In any case, here’s the result: adding it all up, the Indians are staking claims on more territory than listed anywhere in Canada. How does about 115 per cent of Canada’s British Columbia’s Lower Mainland sound?

The startlingly terrified statement above comes from British Columbia, after all.

Why all that?

Democracy is the worst system of government, bar all others. Many a statesman had made an observation like this.

Today’s politickers (politicians they are not) have enhanced the definition of democracy: it is defined by its attitude towards minorities.

Except: this does not mean that minority should dictate what majority are doing. This only means that majority let minority live and do their thing in the hopes they would become majority one beautiful day not far hence.

And, which is more important still, democracy means obligations first, rights second. Without doing what you’re obliged to do, you haven’t the rights.

Discrimination? Absolutely. But: only those who want to shirk their obligations, and keep their rights all along, call it unfair.

Most people brought up in democracy, majority, that is, see it as a logical sequence of events.

Unfortunately, we now live in a world that seems to have forgotten that some rules remain valid no matter what. We live in a world of so-called fake narratives (another modern word that’s as close to reality as Baron Münchhausen’s stories).

Note for the illiterate: German writer Rudolf Erich Raspe created the character of the inveterate liar in his 1785 book, Baron Münchhausen’s Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia.

Raspe based his hero loosely on a real baron, Hieronymus Karl Friedrich, Freiherr von Münchhausen. His Lordship were not amused, but that’s another story. End of the note for the illiterate.

Modern history textbooks gives their authors’ opinions instead of the facts. The accepted view reflects those opinions. Students are not marked on their individual ability to think and question, but, rather, on their ability to recite verbatim what their teachers had told them.

That’s why so many accept the fallacies about the cruel fate history dished out to poor Indians, ignoring reality altogether.

All this creates a population easily misled into blind obedience.

That’s why the outright lies about the past have reappeared once again. It’s all about divide and conquer (an old trick, as shown by its classic status in the Latin language: divide et impera).

A real story

It happened decades ago. An Indian mother took her brood of five to a highway intersection, dropped them all off, and told her oldest daughter, then eight or 10 years old, that from now on she would be responsible for her siblings’ survival.

The mother said, frankly and openly, that she had had enough of all that trouble of bringing up her family, and she would find another path in life for herself.

But, she concluded, should the daughter ever succumb to “whiteys’ ways” or, Manitou forbid, accept “whiteys’ help,” her mother would curse her and her children and grandchildren and whatnot into a number of generations.

Another note for the illiterate: Manitou is the spiritual and fundamental life force in the Indian theology. It is omnipresent and manifests everywhere: organisms, the environment, events, etc. End of another note for the illiterate.

It happened on Canadian Prairies, and the winter was coming up. Winter in Canada, in the Prairies in particular, is as cruel a season as cruel can be.

The girl was lucky to get herself and her siblings into a residential school. They all got basic education, and, most importantly, they all survived.

The girl, an aging woman now, is still horrified about her mother’s curse that might come upon her and her family one day.

Where are the headlines? And the official apologies from all corners of the North American Indian world?

Rhetorical questions, both.

And legitimate, too. Both.

2 thoughts on “Noble savages? Pardon the (unintended) pun

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