The mighty Harper government was voted out of power this past week in Canada. Cheers went on in much of Canada except for the blue areas of southern Manitoba Saskatchewan and Alberta. No surprise as it has long been the foot print area of Old Stock Canadians. Of course this area has well embraced the White race sentiments of “them only”. In any case Harper is out and a collective sigh of relief went out in the country. Many people cheered loudly for the end of Harper’s tight reign on Canada. The Indigenous population even danced in the streets. While these Indians danced, another group of Indigenous folk just yawned. These individuals believe they don’t belong to the Canadian system of voting as they are Sovereign. To vote means giving up your Sovereign voice and you are now part of the system. They really mean it and that is what makes them sovereign. You have to admire their stance.
My Dad was one of those who really loved his people. Even to the point that he might have made some unkind, even racist words about Canada and the white population. He did however vote. He was also on community council, a Reserve government. Many are calling them Indian Act Council and look at them with disdain. That is the new mantra coming out of both the young educated Indian and the uneducated Indian as well. Its coming from both folk; those living on Reserve and those living off the Reserve. So its not geographically based criticism. Its a put down for those that are not considered sovereign or maybe real Indians. I feel bad when we do that; put each other down. Hey its part of the world right? We put each other down so we can feel superior to others. Harper was cool with that kind of put downs and his real Canadians. Harper is for anyone that is white and rich. For Indians it means being cool with not being part of main stream politics. Sovereign Indians feel they are cooler than other Indians. They even go as far as saying they are ‘sell out’ Indians. I find it funny that they chose the path of putting others down to lift themselves up. My Dad was nothing close to being a sell out and he was a Sovereigntist. He chose to grow food, hunt and trap, speak his Anishinaabe language and lived in the Reserve. So for me, I take a personal offensive when people show their ignorance.
Trying to be Sovereign anywhere in the world is like running after the train and trying to climb on as it speeds down the tracks. No country or nation is truly sovereign, but that’s a different conversation. Let’s look at a real sovereign group of people. You know what the biggest threat to these sovereign people is? Its is people, outside people. The Mashco-Piro are one of the few isolated tribes of Indigenous people that have spurned contact with outside world.They are a sovereign people. They live off the land, have their language and customs and their own governance system. So how come the biggest threat to them is outsiders. Shouldn’t their sovereignty be respected? There are arguments being debated right now about “controlled contact” by government. Right now their way of life, their sovereign right is being eroded by logging, resource extraction-oil exploration, tourists, drug smugglers and evangelists. Ever here of ‘virgin soil epidemic?’ A flu could wipe out these people. Hard reality of being sovereign.
So getting back to our sovereign status and who is the better Indigenous person. I don’t know if being sovereign is meaning you shouldn’t vote in the political system. I do know this, my sovereignty is not based on other Indians’ view of me. Its not about being cool. It is about fighting the whole aspect of the colonial imprint on our whole being; the christian influence, the political law enforcement efforts, the negative identity message and the social economic constraints. So I am all for us being and saying we are sovereign and I believe we should continue to strive for that. Our quest for sovereign identity shall remain our goal forever but it should not be on the backs of our own people.
I feel for our people, all our people. The ones struggling with the new world and contact. Our old people that only know the residential school rules, the young ones that only know the streets, the stolen that only know the system of foster homes and of course our educated ones that think being smart comes from the book.