Regarding Annett and Craven

ermadog at ermadog at
Wed Sep 5 16:09:10 MDT 2001

On Wed, 5 Sep 2001, Craven, Jim wrote:
> Another issue has to do with the linking-up between First Nations peoples
> and non-First Nations people in desperately needed alliances. We do need
> alliances with progressives and they must be based upon mutual respect and
> assistance (I say mutual because as we demand sensitivity to our issues and
> realities, so we must be sensitive to the issues and realities of those with
> whom we are in alliance).

Mutual respect, eh? Is that what motivated your little cumshuwa-bashing
spate recently? I have seen this kind of holy man routine before, buddy,
and it is always based on a total lack of repect for the understanding of
others. I have seen professions of ecumenicism turn into rabid dog
attacks so often, I pretty much take them for routine hypocrisy in
holy men of all varieties, and I find it revolting.

BTW, are you ever going to get around to addressing the material I
presented on the reliability of oral tradition? Since posting it, I have
discovered that the Balkan study is seminal material in modern study of
oral tradition. Contrary to claims made on this list, oral tradition is
just not considered to be all that reliable in other fields.

> .... I have had so-called "Marxists" tell me that "genocide" is simply
> too extreme a word

I think this issue bears some elaboration. It is easy to identify
wholesale slaughter as being genocide, and to so identify the Holocaust
and the historical American policy toward native peoples; but, for many,
the Canadian experience is harder to classify. It can be hard to formulate
in simple terms the egregious effects resulting from destruction of social
infrastructure, which was one of the main aims of the residential school
experience, especially when those schools were ostensibly an "aid" project
of the churches involved. It is easier for school supporters to
characterize abuses as a "mistake", rather than as a deliberate policy of

Here in Canada, you have additional obstacles provided by the wholely
artificial phenomenon of a Canadian national identity created first by the
left and then later taken up by the mainstream. It promotes the entirely
petty bourgeois notion that "small is beautifull": because we are small
(as a nation), we can't possibly do anyone any harm; therefore you must
love us. However, I think the residential school issue can be framed in
terms of another issue dear to the heart of Canadian nationalists. The
defense of public health care here in Canada is often framed in terms of
"Canadian values" vs. American-style private health care. The story of the
residential schools can be shown as a case in point as to what happens to
a people when their social networks are destroyed: real lives are
destroyed, and real people die in mass numbers.

I have seen this in a small way in the breakup of the Mennonite community
in which my mother was born. They were not deliberately targeted by any
state that I am aware of; this was just a by-product of the inexorable
march of agri-biz on the Canadian prairies. I do not know why other
Mennonite communities survive, while this one failed. However, the harm
done can be quantified in the amount of alcoholism and family break-up
that plagues the survivors of this community. The older members have given
themelves over to the most backward of peasant mentalities you can
imagine, and many of the younger people are caught up in the revival of
evangelical Christianity that plagues our country.

I can take an interest in the struggles of such people; but, I cannot in
any way support their identity politics or spiritual expression.

> or that linking-up with
> and being under the leadership of the working class and giving up this
> Indian identity shit is the only way to go..."

Well, it is. Only the working class has the ability to transform society
and bring about the socialist revolution.

The little statelets that might eventually emerge out of the aboriginal
people's struggles can no more defend their own borders than Canada can.
Surely, you are not unaware of the disputes over nautical borders that are
happening on both coasts of Canada? I have several acquaintances whose
fishboats were boarded by armed members of the American Coast Guard for
the high crime of fishing in our own waters, both in the Prince Rupert
area and in the Vancouver area. During the late 1940's, American
government began disputing borders that had been ratified in no less than
three tri-lateral agreements around the turn of the 19th. C. Despite the
fact that this dispute is not recognized by any international body, the
American government began issuing maps with redrawn borders, and mandating
the Coast Guard to defend these new borders. They seize our fishboats,
confiscate gear, and destroy cargo, all at gunpoint.

What kind of sovereignty do you envision for the Blackfoot people?

Joan Cameron

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