October 20th, 2020

It’s time to stop contributing to colonization


By Letter to the Editor on December 27, 2019.

In reference to the Thursday, Dec. 19 front-page article “$15M grant to help Strengthen Blackfoot student ties with U of L,” the first two sentences could have been removed completely, or at least changed to “It is not a secret that local Indigenous peoples have been affected by the imposition of colonization that continues to this day.”

Everyone has “their problems” no matter where they live, and phrasing those first few lines in such a pathologizing way completely ignores the roots of such “problems” stemming from colonization. I would like to see articles and stories emerging from media that acknowledge colonization and settler colonizer responsibility, rather than ignoring or diminishing it. The Lethbridge Herald needs to stop contributing to colonization through such reducing rhetoric.

It’s great to see communities of the Piikani, Kainai and Siksika nations (and all the other across Canada) who are working so hard to decolonize through their work. It’s our job as settler colonists to assist in such decolonization starting with the language we use when speaking about and to them.

Mary Siever

Lethbridge

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chinook

Headlines were accurate and nothing to apologize for. White bashing is wearing thin. Every culture has a history of imperialism and colonialism conquering and occupying new territory including natives who also used every horrific stone age means at their disposal to do likewise.

IMO

Indeed, Ms. Siever!

The entrenchment of a settler colonial perspective remains a glaring reality when challenging it is framed as ‘white bashing’.

johnny57

We have been paying for colonization for decades now! Agreed chinook! The white = bad mentality is wearing very-very thin! My ancestors were building guns canons etc. while they were chasing buffalo on foot through the plains. The colonization of North America was a inevitable outcome based on the lack of technology of the natives. This is always how we humans do it! The native American were not the first to be conquered and yes that’s exactly what happened to them-nor will (I suspect) they be the last.

Seth Anthony

1) The author is very concerned about colonization and also admires the bizarre term of “decolonization”. I suggest that the author put her money where her mouth is, get off the alleged “native land”, and go back to her ancestral land. Of course if the author was really true to her convictions, then she would have left Canada by now and taken the first step in her desire for decolonization.

2) Throughout all of history, all societies (including white people) have been colonized and/or conquered. This isn’t something exclusive to the indigenous people of the western continents. It’s only a matter of time that all of us on this continent will be conquered as well. Colonization and conquering has been, continues to be, and will always be an inevitability.

3) The indigenous people were slaughtering and conquering other indigenous tribes long before the white people came over.

4) It is ludicrous and naive for a society to think that they would somehow have the whole western continents all to themselves, especially when they themselves were conquering other people for new territory. The notion of, “we were here first” reminds me of children fighting over a sand hill in a playground. That argument is childish and irrelevant in the real world.

6) Ask any indigenous person if they would like to give up all of the white people’s infrastructure, health care, education, technology, art, music, inventions, etc, etc. Ask them if they would want to give all that up and go back to living in a tent, have no technology, hunt for food, and be under constant threat of starving or freezing to death in the winter. Go ahead and ask them all of that. The resounding answer will be, “Hell no!”.

IMO

At 8:56 AM, 10:57 AM, and 11:37 AM, a public display of the colonized mind displaying no knowledge or understanding of the history and impact of European global colonization and imperialism together with the meaning of Treaty as it pertains the the numbered Treaties in force in western Canada.

See:

No Surrender: The Land Remains Indigenous by Sheldon Krasowski

Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life, by James W. Daschuk

Both books are in the Lethbridge Public Library.

Seth Anthony

1:52, a public display of disagreement to my points, but doesn’t provide any rebuttal.

BTW- As per my previous post, when are you going back to your ancestral land?

IMO

The books are available in the Lethbridge Public Library.

The amazon link provides a readable online copy of Daschuk’s book.

https://www.amazon.ca/Clearing-Plains-Politics-Starvation-Aboriginal/dp/0889772967

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The following is an excerpt from a Globe and Mail book review of Krasowki’s book.

“The Canadian government has always taken a narrow view of the treaties with Indigenous peoples. They have focused on the treaty text itself, despite an abundance of oral and written evidence from the treaty negotiation period. Winona Wheeler, an associate professor of Native Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, recently stated that the federal government of Canada is wedded to the written texts of the Treaties, and has reneged on its fiduciary obligations to Indigenous peoples. As the great-great-granddaughter of Askinootow, the interpreter for Treaty 4 – signed in 1874, it encompasses land in what is present-day southern Saskatchewan and a small part of western Manitoba – Dr. Wheeler is someone whose family history states that they never surrendered their traditional territories. Instead, they agreed to share the land, to the depth of a plow, in exchange for gifts, annual payments and assistance when in need.

The most controversial aspect of the treaties is the surrender clause. The treaty text states that the Indigenous peoples “do hereby cede, release, surrender, and yield up” all of their lands to Her Majesty the Queen. However, my research has shown that a close analysis of eyewitness accounts reveals that the surrender of lands was never discussed during the treaty negotiations. After the negotiation of Treaty 1 in 1871, Canada’s treaty commissioners resolved to focus only on the benefits of treaties to Indigenous peoples, including assistance with agriculture and annuity payments, and ignore the liabilities, especially the surrender of lands and resources. This resulted in an Indigenous leadership who believed they had agreed to share the lands with settlers, but never surrendered their rights to their traditional territories.

Canada’s neglecting to mention the surrender clause during the treaty negotiation was not innocent forgetfulness. The surrender of lands was ignored during the negotiation of Treaties 1 through 7, which cover most of Western Canada. This was part of a strategic plan employed by the treaty commissioners to distance the Indigenous leadership from the treaty text. The treaty commissioners focused the negotiations on the verbal promises, including assistance with farming, the payment of annuities and education. They neglected to mention the jurisdiction of reserved lands, or the surrender of rights. The text of treaty was read publicly at each negotiation, but the commissioners carefully selected interpreters who were in favour of treaty, and held the readings only after the close of negotiations. The Indigenous chiefs were not required to sign the treaty or make their mark. They merely touched the pen of the clerk, or shook hands with the commissioners to show their agreement. The government’s approach to the numbered treaties was not naive. They employed former Hudson’s Bay Co. traders who knew the Indigenous communities well. They used this expertise to obfuscate the surrender of rights and lands to the point that the Indigenous leadership viewed the treaties as solemn agreements of peace and friendship.”
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-to-understand-why-the-land-remains-indigenous-look-to-history/

Decolonization occurs in place. No returning to anywhere required.

https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationfrontlineworkers/chapter/decolonization-and-indigenization/

Before any understanding is possible, a willingness to learn is necessary. In its absence, little is accomplished.