Yesterday I had to explain to a racist coworker some of the history behind the Ipperwash incident, and how years of ignoring the land issue can boil up in what we have seen in Ipperwash and Oka. I think by the time I finished politely ranting and explaining how horrible I thought the comments were, this coworker may have actually understood the concept of, one can only take so much before the straws break the camel's back.
Having said that, I have been looking into the racism against Native peoples and have been struck by the lack of progressive websites or views on Ipperwash (specifically the lack of non-racist sources on issues like the "Ipperwash Papers"). What I have found is a disconcerting firestorm of anger and resentment against Native peoples, websites that claim how violent and "racist" these people are, how they are "terrorizing" local residents.
While local residents may, obviously, feel caught in the middle, and unfortunate things may have happened as the Ipperwash incident heated up, there is a whole history behind Ipperwash that made the events perfectly understandable. Yet there is no shortage of racist commentators on the ground and activists who have been able to capitalize on their fears or concerns of area residents, fueling anti-native sentiment. More recently, in Caledonia, the KKK made a presence trying to inflame matters there.
Where is the other side in this? I can not find any information on the "Ipperwash Papers" from progressive websites. I can however find a slew of racist propaganda; claims of secret videos showing native sharpshooters, and stories of "terrorism" by area residents. Most discomforting is the sent in "comments" on these websites. The comment I dealt with yesterday at my workplace by the way, was "if it were up to me there would be more than one dead Indian"... (As an aside, a friend of mine from the Ipperwash area told of acquaintances who had been asked to leave politely from native land while camping on a beach in the reserve and cutting down trees as firewood, yet these people made false claims as to the violent nature of the request).
In the end, if anyone seeking information on this topic tries to deepen their understanding, they are likely to encounter racist websites like caledoniawakeupcall or voiceofcanada, which I think is dangerous and shocking. I'm worried about what the future holds, as I find I'm running into more people who believe the nonsense of white supremacist websites than I have people who deeply understand the issues of colonialism and broken promises.
[ 06 July 2008: Message edited by: dw_ptbo ]