Are some more indigenous than others?

Either we are all ‘from here’ or none of us are. If academics and government can refer to our first nations as indigenous then they must have changed the meaning of the word. Does the Oxford dictionary get a vote in this? The word experts still think the word ‘indigenous’ means ‘from here.’ And why are all these supposedly learned and authoritative people using the word ‘indigenous’ improperly? Canada’s first nations peoples are not indigenous.

And why are we choosing to stigmatize Canadians who also happen to have ancestors from among our first nations? Their ancestors came by land bridge or by sea many thousands of years ago. In Ontario, the aboriginal peoples tended to be nomadic. They lived off the land, picking seasonal fruits, trapping animals and birds and fishing the fresh waters. There were few, if any, ancestral lands but the ones we knew could be honoured.

And yet Canadians have vague knowledge of those early citizens of the land. Theirs was an oral history, passed down through generations. Little is preserved of the past.

Does being connected to Canada’s distant past bring shame? Is there some special honour imparted to those whose ancestors came 200 or 300 years ago?

What is going on? Are we honouring ignorance?

And we should stop mindlessly vilifying those who tried to help our aboriginals by showing them the path of the ‘white man.’ The residential schools were crude, terrorizing and unforgiving but what else would you expect of the times? How were people living in our cities back then?

The truth is today that there is no possibility to maintain a sustainable lifestyle for a hunter-gatherer culture in North America. We need to respect and honour the past and the customs we share. Reality is that our climate is changing and if it was thousands of years ago, we human types would finally uproot and move with it.

And what are we doing in those remote communities where only government handouts can sustain life? Why should we condemn people to live in such desolation and distress?

Humans have to continue to evolve. Change is the constant. We leave the past behind. We leave the old and embrace the new. We learn. The evidence of change might be generational but it does happen.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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