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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

White liberal guilt

This is an excerpt from a story from an Eastern Ontario weekly paper, The Community Press: (July 21 2006)

Native ways talk informs audience

On July 6 the Tweed Heritage Centre was host to an informal yet informative and interactive evening. Native OPP officer Bryan Bowers, from Kingston, and friends Janice, Suzanne and Ken from Tyendinaga [Mohawk Territory] talked about Native spirituality, prophecies, lore and environmental concerns. They explained the Native way of being in touch with nature, understanding the use of herbal medicines and their harvesting, and healing rather than punishment.

One can perhaps be thankful that a few years ago Natives were allowed to practice their religion. In a time when all we hear about is pollution, war and the levels of toxins in everyone's blood Bryan Bowers gave the listeners the glimpse of a new hope. Wearing the Ribbon Shirt, Bryan and his friends seated themselves among the listeners and began a discussion that lasted for two hours.

The talk centred on paintings they have on display at the Heritage Centre during the month of August. The speakers explained the ancient prophecies of the Anisihnabe and how they felt that society has come to a turning point and that we must soon choose between industrialization and pollution or a deeper awareness and regard for the environment.

Suzanne talked about how the Earth is like a mother to people and should be treated with respect. Concerns were also expressed about the hazards of chemicals being poured into the rivers and oceans.

Probably the most exciting part of the evening was when the "Peacemaker" who likely came from the shores of Quinte was talked about.

Mention was also made of a university that is being planned where the educational system will be Native. It is not sure where the future university will be located, but Tyendinaga was given as one possibility.

Many of the listeners, at the end of the evening, asked Bryan and his friends to return and explain more of their knowledge.

I'm the first to acknowledge that natives in North America have been poorly treated by European colonists, but this kind of new age socialist claptrap drives me nuts. White liberals, wracked by guilt over the sins of their ancestors, lap this stuff up while enjoying the luxuries provided by the free-market capitalist economy that those very ancestors established. In addition, the assumption that natives are somehow genetically more in tune with "Mother Earth" and thus better stewards of the land lets native communities off the hook for all kinds of transgressions that are not tolerated in "white" society. Take a drive across the Canada-U.S. border through the Akwesasne reservation, past the tax-free gas stations, the casinos and the discount cigarette outlets, and then ask yourself whether the natives of Akwesasne are living a pure spiritual life in tune with nature. This kind of nonsense does little to advance the process of improving the lives of Canadian natives.

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