This month’s Publisher’s Note is a continuation of ‘Sovereignty In Broadcasting’ written for the Social Sciences and Humanities Resources Council grant that was published in the March 15, 2019 issue of Wawatay News.
The exploration of our sovereign airwaves and access to the regulation and revenue of them should be noted as one of many trails on the journey to self-governance and identification. What is self-governance? We’ve been hearing about self-identification and governance for the last couple generations and nothing has really come out of it, and all we hear today is Nation-to-Nation relations. To go deeper into this research, we have to look at where we started from, where we are today and where we want to be in seven generations.
We must also know that we are working with settler mentality that is only 160 some odd years removed from a people who referred to us as ‘savages needing to be civilized.’ Unfortunately, the settler peoples appeared to be technically advanced but morally and spiritually inferior. The introduction of alcohol to the people, the settler technology along with the decimation of our population gave rise to the settler people in our lands. And like the magician’s slide of hand we became wards of the state, devoid of sovereignty and the independence we enjoyed pre-confederation.
Now we are working with the descendants of a people who have proved over the last few hundred years that they’ve been infected with a capitalist and cultural supremacy mentality. Although, some of the descendants have found genuine spiritual growth and realized the wrongs of their ways, on the other hand a large portion of their population are still of the mindset of the people who planned and colluded to eliminate the original peoples of this land in any manner necessary in order to secure the resources.
A great quote explains the misconceptions our settlers’ brothers and sisters engaged upon from the perspective of the original people. “When I fought to protect my land and my home, I was called a savage. When I neither understood nor welcomed his way of life, I was called lazy. When I tried to rule my people, I was stripped of my authority.” Chief Dan George gave this quote on the 100th Anniversary of Canada on July 1, 1967.
The systems in place when the settlers landed in Nishanawbe Aski Nation are now long gone. They are now stories and legends our Elders talk about on Wawatay Radio Network. Our systems were deemed incompetent, the people were made wards of the state and the children were stolen for a literal whitewash. In 1879, Sir John Alexander Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada stated publicly, “When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with its parents, who are savages, and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and training mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has been strongly impressed upon myself, as head of the Department, that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men." July 1, 1867 - November 5, 1873.
The elimination of a people and the associated sovereignty is a complicated old story of ill policies created to fix ill policies after ill policies, since the confederation of Canada. The heartless greed of taking the land and its bounty was and is counter behaviour to the scriptures they held in hand. Their behaviour must’ve been confusing to our ancestors as they acted in the exact opposite ways of the teachings of Jesus they boasted about. This religious division was the first crack of our communities for the obvious reasons still exist today. An Elder once told me that the people took to the teaching of Jesus easily, as the morals of the teachings of Jesus were easily identifiable with, as this was the normal behaviour of the people.
Our political tribal and clan systems were utterly destroyed and today we have what is called by the grassroots an Indian Act Chief Council. This refers to Chiefs chosen through the election codes in the Indian Act; this system that replaced the tribal clan system. In understanding the systems sent in to replace the system that sustained the people for thousands of years we are finding out that we do not have to follow Indian Act, or the election codes set forth. Simply by creating a Band Council Resolution (BCR) that declares a new community law, policy and procedures.
We are at the pinnacle of creating BCR’s that ensure each autonomous community society’s ability to guarantee the passage of language-education-cultural stories-communications, free speech, rule of law, commerce, trade, negotiations, and open and accountable government. Although, in order to do this we must untangle the web of ill policies and their adverse effects that have been imposed in our communities and divided our families.
So, in order continue to explore our sovereignty in broadcasting and have access to the regulation and revenue of our airwaves we have to unravel the complications of our political and legal status within the context of Canada. This happens at the community level, and this is where we must begin the process of reconciliation of our families to ensure our communities combined energies assist our youth, elders, tribes and nations. We need work on what is most important and what is in our control: decision making at the community level that besets the best future for our youth.