Canadian Indian women "are tired of what's happening"

Roland Chrisjohn rchrisjo at SPAMStThomasU.ca
Wed Jan 3 21:55:55 MST 2001


This is getting out of hand.  This is infinitely more complicated than Mr.
Maki portrays it.  The Assembly of First Nations does not "represent" First
Nations people except as it serves Canadian business interests.  Their role
is to give the appearance of due process to the dispossession and
oppressions of indigenous groups; it, and other federally funded Indian
organizations, are compradors (unwitting ones, since they have no
revolutionary consciousness, apart from occasional sloganeering).  I'm
saying this as an "insider;" at various times, I have worked for the Union
of Ontario Indians, Treaty 7 Tribal Council, and the Assembly of First
Nations, and various other groups.  On those occasions where they actually
do something that looks revolutionary, it is because someone is paying them
to do it, and not from any penetrating analysis of what's going on.  The
fact that one can occasionally run into a bright and thoughtful individual
working for one of these organization (like I hope I was when I worked for
them) is not a structural feature of these organizations; it's largely an
accident.

While I was working for Treaty 7 back in 1998, the Reform Party financially
sponsored several disaffected groups within several Alberta reserves
(Samson & Louis Bull at Hobbema, Bears Paw, Wesley, and Chiniki at Stoney,
and a few others) to try to "make trouble" for the comprador band councils
on their reserves.  The Reform Party's intention had nothing to do with
undoing bad practice (which can't be undone, since the non-traditional
elected systems are designed to corrupt, or at least obviate) and
everything to do with making trouble for the federal Liberal party.  In
this sense, Mr. Maki is right: these externally sponsored groups were
troublesome within "Indian ranks."  However, the trouble being stirred up
was already there, and didn't exist solely in the imagination of the people
being exploited by the Reform party.  (One organization I worked for spent
much time and effort in coordinating their fall and winter meeting
schedules with golf course availability in the southwest USA.)  My advice
to the disaffected groups at that time might have sounded supportive of
elected councils and dismissive of the disaffected (and similar to what Mr.
Maki is supporting now): back away.  But I did this neither to "help the
Liberals" nor to support the compradors.  I did it because not one of those
people taking money from the Reform Party had bothered to read its party
platform (and understand that these people were mortal enemies, not
friends); I did it because I do not like to see my brothers and sisters
exploited by anyone, regardless of political affiliation; and I did it
because cleaning our dirty laundry is our business, not something to be
trotted out publicly for the general disapprobation of the Canadian public.

Yes, this is all very divisive.  But supporting comprador organizations
only brings us the unity of being swallowed whole instead of in smaller pieces.

As to what organizations fights for indigenous rights in Canada, it
certainly isn't the AFN.  As long as the real issues are completely
misunderstood, even by those who consider themselves advocates for
indigenous peoples, "doing the right thing," by any organization, can only
happen by complete chance.  This is unlikely to happen, however, since the
full force of dominant ideology consistently points in irrelevant directions.

And, please Mr. Maki, don't let ego urge you to tear strips off people
whose commitments you are unfamiliar with.  Mr. Craven doesn't take money
for what he's doing, and what he's doing is at least a start in the
direction that has cultivated: building a broad-based understanding that
indigenous issues are everyone's issues, that our fight is everyone's
fight, and that our victory will be everyone's victory.  And if what Mr.
Proyect has done for the indigenous peoples of North America qualifies as
armchair activism, I can only say "more armchairs!"

Roland Chrisjohn






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