Uncensored Indian Information

Roland Chrisjohn, Ph. D. rchrisjo at SPAMStThomasU.ca
Fri Feb 2 11:03:51 MST 2001


To All:

People have expressed interest in some of the 'Skin News up here, so I
thought I would post this.  Of additional interest is the fact that Andrea
Bear Nicholas was approached to write this article by the New Brunswick
Telegraph Journal, but they ran it without advising her that they were
running it with sections removed (they also put in a few typos Andrea
didn't include; 'Skins can only have a certain amount of
literacy).  Anyhow, I'm sending along Andrea's original.  The CAPITALIZED
section are those excised by NBTJ.

Roland C.

----------------------

Fishery Deals and the Imperative to Subjugate

Andrea Bear Nicholas, Chair in Native Studies, St. Thomas University

[appears, somewhat, in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, January 31, 2001]

In September of 1758, during the Seven Years War in Canada, Colonel James
Murray made the following report of his attack on the Mi'kmaq village of
Esgenoopetitjg, now know as Burnt Chruch: "In obedience to your
instructions I embarked the Troops having two Days hunted all around Us for
the Indians and Acadians to no purpose, we however destroyed their
Provisions, Wigwams, and Houses; the Church was a very handsome one built
with stone, did not escape.  We took numbers of Cattle, Hogs, Sheep, and
Three Hogsheads of Beaver Skins, and I am persuaded there is not now a
French Man in the River Miramichi."  After the summer of 2000, nearly two
and a half centuries later, it is impossible to say things have changed
very much at Burnt Church.  There may be a lull this Winter in the matter
of lobster fishing, but the fact is that history could still very well
repeat itself, as it almost certainly did during this past summer.

As Bauman argues in "Modernity and the Holocaust" (p. 97), violence may
appear to have been removed from daily life, but in fact the civilizing
process has brought with it an increasing, not decreasing, incidence of
violence in society.  Witness the militarization of the world and the
growing number of violent deaths at the hands of military forces, ALBEIT IN
DISTANT PLACES, GENERALLY FAR REMOVED FROM "THE LIFE-BUSINESS OF CIVILIZED
HUMANS."  Contrary to commonly held beliefs, Bauman demonstrates that
humankind is rapidly establishing the conditions for another holocaust,
rather than curtailing them.  In his opinion, the most dangerous
ingredients in modernity are the uninhibited growth of bureaucracy, the
amassing of power and armament, and the tendency of bureaucracy to aspire
to some "grand vision of a better, and radically different, society" based
on a "scientifically conceived plan."  AS BAUMAN PUTS IT, "...MODERN
GENOCIDE IS GENOCIDE WITH A PURPOSE... THE GARDENER'S VISION... THAT WEEDS
MUST DIE NOT SO MUCH BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY ARE, AS BECAUSE OF WHAT THE
BEAUTIFUL AND ORDERLY GARDEN OUGHT TO BE" (PP. 91-92).

What is chilling is that not only does the Burnt Church situation clearly
hold the potential for repeating history, but that is has exposed all the
essentials for genocide, particularly a need to bring Aboriginal nations
and communities into conformity with some "grand vision" of Canadian order,
if need be, at the point of a gun.  IT TRANSLATES AS A NEED TO STAY IN
CHARGE, IF ONLY TO LIMIT THE PACE OF CHANGE AND PRESERVE THE STATUS QUO IN
A KIND OF KNEE-JERK REACTIONARY MANNER.

As events at Burnt Church have shown, conservation is not the issue at all
since lobsters are not endangered nor were they endangered by the Burn
Church fishery.  The fact is that Burnt Church has its own conservation
plan that D.F.O. has simply refused to consider.  Conservation, hence, is
only a pretense.  The real issue is that Canada has been built on the
appropriation of Aboriginal lands and resources, and it is not now prepared
either to acknowledge this fact or share even a small portion of those
lands and resources.  AS SHEILA WILMOT SO ASTUTELY POINTS OUT IN THE NEW
SOCIALIST, THE REASON FOR GOVERNMENT INTRANSIGENCE HAS MORE TO DO WITH THE
FEAR THAT THE MARSHALL DECISION COULD BECOME "THE THIN EDGE OF THE WEDGE"
THREATENING THE BASIC NEED OF A CAPITALIST STATE TO MAINTAIN "TOTAL CONTROL
OVER LAND AND RESOURCES."  THE ISSUE IS SIMPLY NOT NEGOTIABLE, AND SO,
RATHER THAN FACE UP TO REALITY HONESTLY, IT RESORTS TO MILITARY
INTIMIDATION TO PROTECT ITS ILL-GOTTEN GAINS, LIKE A BANK ROBBER FORCED TO
SURRENDER HIS LOOT.  ABOVE ALL, IT DEMONSTRATES BAUMAN'S THEORY OF
BUREAUCRACY'S PREPAREDNESS TO ENGAGE IN GENOCIDE WHEN FACED WITH A THREAT
TO ITS SELF-INTERESTED VISION OF ORDER.

At the same time Canada carries on the charade of calling Mi'kmaqs and
Maliseets "First Nations," while having no intention of respecting them as
such.  When in the 1960's Canada imposed Canadian citizenship on all
Aboriginal People, it underhandedly attempted to terminate our treaty
status since there can be no treaties between citizens of the same
nation.  And more recently it has begun to denigrate our treaties by
labeling them "sui generis," [spelled "sui genens" in NBTJ] which implies
that they are not truly treaties and that we are not truly
nations.  FINALLY, WHEN CANADA DEMONSTRATED IN THE SUMMER OF 2000 ITS TOTAL
UNWILLINGNESS TO SHARE RESOURCES WITH THE VERY PEOPLE IT HAD STOLEN THEM
FROM, ITS ACTIONS SPOKE LOUDER THAN WORDS.

Throughout government officials have persisted in blaming the
victims.  Even the Governor General of Canada did so when she appealed to
Mi'kmaqs of Burnt Church for calm by reminding them that Aboriginal People
had at one time enjoyed peaceful relations with Canadians.  What she did
not seem to understand was that the so-called pease had been purchased AT
THE PRICE OF oppressing and dispossessing Aboriginal People, AND THAT IT
HAD BEEN VERY EFFECTIVELY MAINTAINED BY CULTIVATING THE RACIST FICTION THAT
ABORIGINALS WERE NEITHER NATIONS NOR SUFFICIENTLY HUMAN AS TO DESERVE THEIR
OWN LANDS.

AS LONG AS THOSE WITH THE MONEY AND POWER WERE ABLE TO CONTROL LEGAL AND
EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS, AND MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE, EVEN ABORIGINAL PEOPLES,
ACCEPTED THE FICTION, THE SYSTEM WORKED QUITE WELL FOR THOSE IN
POWER.  EVEN THE LATEST (AND ONLY) NATIVE STUDIES TEST FOR NEW BRUNSWICK
HIGH SCHOOLS DEVOTES BARELY THREE PAGES OUT OF OVER THREE HUNDRED TO THE
TREATIES, AND THEN TREATS THEM, FOR THE MOST PART, IN A DISMISSIVE MANNER,
RATHER THAN EMPHASIZING THEIR CENTRAL IMPORTANCE AS THE FOUNDATION FOR THE
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ABORIGINAL NATIONS AND THE IMMIGRANT SOCIETY.

THE IRONY HERE IS THAT AS HISTORIC FACTS CONTINUE TO EMERGE IN THE WAKE OF
VARIOUS COURT CASES, many Canadians have directed their anger at Native
people, rather than at the system that dispossessed them AND MADE SO MANY
PEOPLE IGNORANT.  And many people, styling themselves as our friends, have
been pushing the old racist "solutions," ONCE AGAIN -- that Aboriginal
People should have assimilated long ago, or that they should at least be
integrated into Canadian society, particularly its political and economic
systems (as the fishery agreements provide).  The racism of these so-called
"solutions" seems to escape the average Canadian, and often EVEN MANY
Aboriginal People, themselves, SO EFFECTIVELY HAVE CANADIAN SCHOOLS
INDOCTRINATED EVERYONE.

This is CLEARLY one reason that many Aboriginal People and communities fall
for the fishery and logging agreements, but another, more compelling reason
derives from the misery of oppression, itself.  The more severe the
oppression, in fact, the more likely a people can be manipulated on the
promise AND HOPE THAT their deprivation and misery WILL SOMEHOW be
lessened.  IT IS THIS SITUATION OF DURESS THAT IS BOTH CREATED AND
EXPLOITED BY THOSE IN POWER IN COLONIAL SITUATIONS, AND IT IS HERE THAT
BRIBERY AS AN OFFICIAL STRATEGY USUALLY WORKS.

For a while last summer it appeared that my community at Tobique was
prepared to follow the lead of Burnt Church and resist the bribe.  A
Community referendum on the matter overwhelmingly rejected a fishery deal
with D.F.O. for a number of reasons: FIRST, it would have meant setting
aside important provisions of our treaties guaranteeing access to resources
on lands and waters which we never surrendered.  Secondly, it would have
constituted a surrender of our status as nations, EFFECTIVELY MAKING US
PARTNERS IN OUR OWN GENOCIDE. AND FINALLY, it offered us access to salt
water resources in the territory of the Passamaquoddies whose access to
their own resources would then be severely restricted, EVEN THOUGH THEY
WERE A PARTY TO THE SAME TREATIES AS MI'KMAQS AND MALISEETS.  IN OTHER
WORDS, THE PEOPLE OF MY COMMUNITY WERE TO BE USED AS PAWNS IN THE AGE-OLD
COLONIAL GAME OF DIVIDE AND CONQUOR, SO AS TO FACILITATE THE CONTINUING
DISPOSSESSION OF ABORIGINAL NATIONS EVERYWHERE.

INCIDENTALLY THIS BRIBING OF MALISEET COMMUNITIES BY D.F.O. TO FISH IN
PASSAMAQUODDY TERRITORY WITHOUT PASSAMAQUODDY CONSENT IS OCCURRING AT THE
SAME TIME THAT MALISEETS ARE BEING REGULARLY ARRESTED AND TAKEN TO COURT BY
THE PROVINCIAL DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES FOR FISHING OR HUNTING ON
THE FRINGES OF MI'KMAQ TERRITORY EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE THE CONSENT OF THE
MI'KMAQ NATION.  AGAIN, WHERE IS THE RESPECT FOR NATIONHOOD HERE?

[the following section was substantially rewritten, leaving out most of
Andrea's content.  Rather than try to realign everything, I'll present
Andrea's original work; the paper merely reports the final vote count]

Undaunted BY THE REFERENDUM RESULTS, D.F.O. continued to pressure some of
the councillors at Tobique, and finally made another offer of
seven-and-a-half million dollars for a fishery deal.  WHEN COUNCIL VOTED ON
THE MATTER ONLY FOUR OF THE ELEVEN COUNCILLORS PRESENT VOTED TO ACCEPT THE
DEAL, FIVE VOTED AGAINST IT, AND TWO ABSTAINED.  BY ALL CALCULATION THE
DEAL HAD BEEN REJECTED.  WHAT WE DID NOT COUNT ON WAS HOW DETERMINED INDIAN
AFFAIRS AND D.F.O. COULD BE TO TWIST ANYTHING INTO THEIR FAVOR, EVEN IF IT
MEANT SUBVERTING A COUNCIL DECISION.  In this case a loophole in the Indian
Act regulations was found that declares an abstention to be equivalent to a
vote for a motion.  So now, instead of five to four against the agreement,
the vote was magically transformed into a sex to five vote for the deal.

SO MUCH FOR DEMOCRACY!  FROM HERE ON THE D.F.O. WAS ASSURED THAT ITS
UNDERHANDED STRATEGY OF BRIBERY WOULD WORK.  ONCE THE SEVEN-AND-A-HALF
MILLION DOLLARS ACTUALLY REACHED THE COMMUNITY, EVEN MANY OPPONENTS WOULD
BE HARD-PRESSED TO REFUSE THE JOBS SUPPLIED BY THE DEAL, SO HIGH IS THE
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN THAT COMMUNITY.  IT IS SUCH CHICANERY AND PERVERSION
OF DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES THAT HAS OUTRAGED THE COMMUNITY AND SPARKED
ANOTHER SIT-IN AND HUNGER STRIKE.

When guns and powerful boats were used in an attempt to coerce Burnt Church
into an agreement, it is a bizarre perversion of democracy that is being
used against us at Tobique.  At Burnt Church the violence was seen
immediately by the world and rightfully decried.  Since the violence at
Tobique has occurred only in backrooms it is less visible and more
difficult to bring to the attention of the world; but that we must do, for
in the end it is the only safeguard against excesses of power and the
genocide that is inherent in the fishery deals, themselves.

Andrea Bear Nicholas
Chair in Native Studies
St. Thomas University






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