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Author Topic: Assimilation of Natives (Aboriginals for those PC)
charlieM
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posted 18 April 2005 12:35 PM      Profile for charlieM     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Residential schools, purposely spreading of disease, poverty stricken reserves, and the list goes on and on, I know. I consider myself a very liberal thinker in terms of equality rights, although, I have had a hard time grasping the issues regarding the natives. I do not mean to be offensive in any way to any of the Aboriginal people on these forums. Maybe someone can just straighten me up, you know, show me the light. I do believe there has been a very conscious effort on the part of western society to assimilate the Natives. However, the arguments for the natives have been using that fact both ways.
"Canadian Journal of Native Studies: contrary to popular myth, Aboriginal people in Canada are not people who were militarily defeated or conquered by those European nations attempting to settle the country.
I believe that it is with that background that one must begin to examine the Aboriginal meaning of sovereignty. It is simply the right of self-government or self-rule, which the Aboriginal people neither surrendered nor lost by way of conquest."

I simply do not understand how this is a valid argument. What would the argument be if the west had conquered the native north Americans (which they obviously could have they wanted to spend that much on bullets or take the conquistador route)?

A point used by natives or native sympathisers: "The native illiteracy rate is double the national average."
The natives had no advanced form of written larnguage before the west invaded. Therefore, being illiterate is part of their culture. Is it not?

I have realized, just now, after writing this, that it is a very narrowminded argument, although an argument nonetheless.


From: hamilton | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Stargazer
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posted 18 April 2005 02:34 PM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Narrow and mean, even if you may not have meant it that way. What is your reason for these questions?

Are native people's Illiterate? Hmm.....well I apparently can spell. Last I checked so could the rest of my family.

Thanks for your concern though.

Gasp - edited for spelling!

[ 18 April 2005: Message edited by: stargazer ]


From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
DavisMavis
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posted 18 April 2005 02:43 PM      Profile for DavisMavis     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Um, what exactly is your point, Charlie? Do you really need someone to take your hand and guide you through the basics of Canadian genocide? Are you at all suggesting that many First Nations peoples are illiterate by virtue of their being Native? I'm just not sure what you're asking for here...
From: the occupied territory of nova scotia | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
charlieM
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posted 18 April 2005 09:45 PM      Profile for charlieM     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Literacy has nothing to do with intelligence, and in the case of the first nations people it has more to do with political oppression. My point was, that that statistic is used to display how the Europeans have ruined their (your) culture. Calling it genocide is common and understandable. But don't compare it with the holocaust (which you automatically imply by saying so). You actually said “Canadian” genocide too; there were few, if any, mass killings after the creation of Canada. Yes, it is by all means cultural genocide, which was unsuccessful or successful, depending on how you look at it.
Maybe I shouldn't be thinking of the mass migrations in Europe when the Goths came from the steppes, or when the Romans invaded all of Europe? Are we past that? Will we ever be past that?
I am not an ignorant right wing dumbass. I know more than the average non-aboriginal about the history. That is why I have trouble with not grasping the issue. That is why I stated that fact clearly in my “thesis”.
You automatically took a statistic an offence? As if I was saying aboriginals are dumb, therefore, illiterate. Native people are not going to be the way they were 600 years ago, which is natural. But, lack of written language was/is a defining part of your culture (oral tradition). Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe oral tradition isn’t part of native culture at all; I guess I just assumed that.

From: hamilton | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
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posted 18 April 2005 09:51 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm pretty sure exterminating entire people counts as genocide. Unless of course you want to discount things like Rwanda. I don't know.

But what are you talking about? You go off on political oppression and then begin talking about illiteracy and then writing systems. It is not very coherent, even after that explaination.


From: Vatican's best darned ranch | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 19 April 2005 12:15 AM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
As as for the Literacy issue, what makes you make such a statememt? They may not have communicated the same way Europeans did, but they were able to communicate, and even over great distances.

Story telling, Dance, smoke signals, music, song, gestures, animal immitations, art.

There have been a lot more Aboriginals that are able to learn how to communicate using the European methods than Europeans that were able to learn Aboriginal methods ... maybe it us European types that are the true illiterates?


From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
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posted 19 April 2005 12:41 AM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by charlieM:
...A point used by natives or native sympathisers: "The native illiteracy rate is double the national average."
The natives had no advanced form of written larnguage before the west invaded. Therefore, being illiterate is part of their culture. Is it not?

I have realized, just now, after writing this, that it is a very narrowminded argument, although an argument nonetheless.



It is awkwardly put, especially this: "being illiterate is part of their culture". It tends to imply that their culture requires ignorance. "Non-literate" might be a better word. But saying their culture did not use the written word in the past is not the same as saying that same culture now prevents them from learning to read and write.

What I think you really want to focus on is how they did transmit their culture. The answers vary because you are in fact talking about many cultures; they did rely on oral traditions, but they also used visual aids; for instance, a man on the prairies might paint many small scenes onto a buffalo hide, each scene telling the story of one of his exploits; likewise pictures were used for a winter count, a short description of each year which could go back a century or more. I think some tribes used wampum belts, etc., I don't know details.

Then there were Cree syllabics, invented by missionaries, but I think they were learned and used by many people; so they could be said to have become part of the culture. Culture changes; things are added and lost, so you have to be careful about defining what is and is not a part of a culture.


From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 19 April 2005 02:01 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There were a lot of books recommended over in the "Native Studies 101" thread. I've just finished two books that touch on some of the issues in this thread. Both are by Hugh Brody, a British writer who has spent long periods of time living with Inuit, Dunne-za, and Innu people. I recommend his books "Maps and Dreams" and "The Other Side of Eden". Some of his points are interesting but hardly news, particularly when he talks about the great difference between the hunter-gatherer and agriculturalist (the individualism, egalitarianism, lack of planning-culture of the hunter, etc.), the prodigious and detailed knowledge and memory of the hunter, the affluence of hunter-gatherer societies, and so on. What is interesting and new is how he documents the adaptability and tenacity of hunter-gatherer societies and economies in the face of genocide, colonialism, and modernity -- a survival that we are trained to be ignorant of, that it is in the interest of ongoing colonialism to deny.

[ 19 April 2005: Message edited by: rasmus raven ]


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 19 April 2005 02:18 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
CharlieM, one of the things that's racist about what you've written is the just sort of lumping all aboriginal people in together. Take a quote from some journal, add to it some remark about literacy you took from somewhere else and say "there's a contradiction" even if two different people may have said it. It's not like indigenous people are one monolithic bloc without difference so that each person represents all of them. I doubt you would have done that about white people. Oh look the Fraser Institute contradicts Rabble... can't these white people get their story straight???
From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gir Draxon
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posted 19 April 2005 03:37 AM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Your language sounds racist, but it is a valid point that First Nations traditions tend not to include a lot of reading and writing. They just didn't see the need for it.

I agree that forcing literacy upon them is a form of assimiliation. However, since literacy is pretty much essential for sucsess in today's world, I'd have to say that the benefits outweigh the problems.


From: Arkham Asylum | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Stargazer
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posted 19 April 2005 08:39 AM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I agree that forcing literacy upon them is a form of assimiliation. However, since literacy is pretty much essential for sucsess in today's world, I'd have to say that the benefits outweigh the problems.

Spare the concern Gir. Thanks.

And Charlie M, have a look around. No genocide? Clearly you have no clue about native culture and your tone speaks volumes about how you really feel. Enough of you for me.

[ 19 April 2005: Message edited by: stargazer ]


From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 19 April 2005 02:43 PM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Not that literacy makes any difference anyway ... even when agreements were written down in the "white mans" language, that never stopped them from finding reasons for ignoring their agreements anyway.
From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mush
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posted 19 April 2005 03:14 PM      Profile for Mush     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Gir Draxon:
I agree that forcing literacy upon them is a form of assimiliation. However, since literacy is pretty much essential for sucsess in today's world, I'd have to say that the benefits outweigh the problems.[/QB]

Yes, and although many communities are facing a real struggle to preserve their traditional languages, you'd have a hard time finding people who wouldn't want their children to be literate in one of the official languages as well.


From: Mrs. Fabro's Tiny Town | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
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posted 19 April 2005 04:34 PM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What I found really odd about the Canadian government was its duality when "dealing" with the "Indian" question.


They wanted to assimilate the natives, but they wanted to use their quaint, noble-savage culture to be a draw (marketing) for tourism. It was institutional racism two fold, and exploitation. Fuckers.

"The Imaginary Indian has been. and continues to be just about anything the non-Native culture wants it to be.."

an interesting source on this was

The Imaginary Indian: The Image of the Indian In Canadian Culture by Daniel Francis. Arsenal Pulp Press. ISBN 0-88978-251-2

[ 19 April 2005: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
April
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posted 19 April 2005 08:59 PM      Profile for April     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Great book! I'm reading it right now! I also got:

A Little Matter of Genocide (Ward Churchill)

and

American Indian Theater: A Reader (eds. Geiogaman, H. & Darby, J.T)

There are very convincing arguments in all of these books that the First Nations not only face assimilation, but cultural genocide.


From: Montreal | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Vigilante
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posted 20 April 2005 12:03 AM      Profile for Vigilante        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Charlie needs to learn about white supremecy.

Also for the people who fetishize language, can we please point out were it has gotten us. I'm not one to wish it away like perhaps a John Zerzan type would, however it is a pandora's box that we opened a while back.

Back in the prelanguage days things were probably more chaotic(the good kind) more individual, more sensual between individuals. Language needs to be seen as various social texts as Foucault was saying.

[ 20 April 2005: Message edited by: Vigilante ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
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posted 20 April 2005 12:31 AM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by April:
...I also got:
A Little Matter of Genocide (Ward Churchill)
...


Another academic has raised serious questions about Churchill incorrectly stating that a source talks about a geneocide, when the source does not; I don't know which of his books. The question is not resolved... but don't assume everything he says is gospel.

From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
April
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posted 20 April 2005 12:15 PM      Profile for April     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think Ward might call them a holocaust denier! Check out some of the quotes:

[First Nations comprised]…a hemispheric population estimated to be as great as 125 million was reduced by something over 90 percent. The people had died in their millions of being hacked apart with axes and swords, burned alive and trampled under horses, hunted as game and fed to dogs, shot, beaten, stabbed, scalped for bounty, hanged on meathooks and thrown over the sides of ships at sea, worked to death as slave laborers, intentionally starved and frozen to death during a multitude of forced marches and internments, and, in an unknown number of instances, deliberately infected with epidemic diseases (1).

The American holocaust was and remains unparalleled, both in terms of its magnitude and the degree to which its goals were met, and in terms of the extent to which its ferocity was sustained over time by not one but several participating groups. (4)

…the veil behind which the American holocaust has been masked for so long has started to slip away. A Little Matter of Genocide, an admittedly sarcastic title provoked by…insistent trivialization [of the American holocaust]…is intended to contribute to this unmasking (8).

The end of the book has a section on what genocide actually is (according to the UN, although it is still not ratified), and by this definition Ward is absolutely correct that there was genocide against the First Nations, and some forms of it (eg: cultural genocide) continue to this day.


From: Montreal | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
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posted 20 April 2005 01:16 PM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by April:

[First Nations comprised]…a hemispheric population estimated to be as great as 125 million was reduced by something over 90 percent. The people had died in their millions of being hacked apart with axes and swords, burned alive and trampled under horses, hunted as game and fed to dogs, shot, beaten, stabbed, scalped for bounty, hanged on meathooks and thrown over the sides of ships at sea, worked to death as slave laborers, intentionally starved and frozen to death during a multitude of forced marches and internments, and, in an unknown number of instances, deliberately infected with epidemic diseases (1).

.


while all this may be true in one varying degree or another, I think another contributing factor in reducing the Population by 90% may have been a series of unfortunate, seemingly benevolent events/circumstances outlined well in Jared Diamond's book, Guns, Germs, and Steel. While this does not let Europeans of the hook for the attrocities, it does give a plasible explanation about how disease and viruses contributed to the devastating loss of life in the Western Hem. Europeans had not made contact with over 90% of the tribes in the Westerm hem, before those same tribes were decimated by viruses due to a complex trade system used as a vehicle to spread the viruses.

[ 20 April 2005: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
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posted 20 April 2005 02:16 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by April:
I think Ward might call them a holocaust denier!

No, he's an academic who has stated that Churchill claimed a certain event happened a certain way based on a certain source; but when the academic checked that source he found that the source did not in fact say what Churchill said it did. This raises questions about Churchill's academic integrity; it is a very serious matter, just as it would be for a scientist who faked his experiment results.

Churchill has been discussed at length by historians lately, partly because of a non-academic article he wrote about 9/11 which was quite inflammatory; and the academic question was raised. It's also in severl threads on rabble. here is a page linking to many articles about Churchill.

Here is a link to Brown's article saying Churchill fabricated a specific incident. Read carefully and note that he is not an evil genocide denier, but an academic with a justified concern about a specific charge made by Churchill.

quote:
...Few historians would dispute that during the Plains Indian wars, selected U.S. military forces did perpetuate massacres that can easily be construed as genocidal in intent. Furthermore, it is well-established that the British general Lord Amherst at least considered distributing smallpox-infected goods to Indians in 1763—with explicitly genocidal intent—and that his plan was carried out independently by his subordinate, Captain Ecuyer.
But did the U.S. military ever deploy smallpox blankets? Ward Churchill says they did...

...Ward Churchill was previously accused of plagiarism and fabricating evidence in two published articles by University of New Mexico law Professor John Lavelle. Churchill’s tale of the Mandan genocide would, unfortunately, appear to fit the pattern that LaVelle first laid out...



This page has comments by historians about Brown's article.

Don't believe everything you read.

[ 20 April 2005: Message edited by: Contrarian ]


From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
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posted 20 April 2005 02:37 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Another good article about Brown and Churchill, with some very good comments added..
quote:
..One of the scholars Brown says has had his findings distorted by Churchill is Russell Thornton, a professor of anthropology at the University of California at Los Angeles. Thornton, who is a Cherokee, has written extensively about the horrors of U.S. treatment of Indians. But his study of the Mandan concluded that the epidemic was not intentional...

Especially, read the long comment by Louis Proyect:

quote:
After having had a chance to review all of the material cited by Ward Churchill in relation to the Mandan smallpox outbreak of 1837, I am now persuaded that none of it supports his allegation that the US military conspired to infect them...

...I am far more concerned about the impact this has on American Indian activism, because it is essential that movements for social change be beyond reproach when it comes to such matters. Our exemplar should be somebody like Howard Zinn, who despite being criticized often for matters of interpretation (see Michael Kazin’s assault in the Spring 2004 Dissent), has never been challenged when it comes to matters of fact.

It would appear to me that Churchill was driven to invent a conspiracy where none existed because it served his overall interpretation of the American Holocaust...

...The American genocide combined open and deliberate attacks of the sort Jefferson was alluding to, as well as the kind of indirect onslaught that accompanied the accumulation of capital. If we look solely for confirmation of a genocide in the first case and deny the reality of the latter, we will be no better than the David Irvings of the world. Whatever Ward Churchill’s sins as a scholar, he can not be accused of this...



From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Down
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posted 20 April 2005 06:43 PM      Profile for Down        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by April:

[First Nations comprised]…a hemispheric population estimated to be as great as 125 million...

Do you believe that esteem, April? I have doubts. Moreover: I don't believe it certainly.

Compare: the population of Russia was about that amount by the beginning of 20th(!) century. The Russian Empire at that moment had a territory comparable with that of America but unlike in pre Columbian America the people in Russia had learnt iron working 2500-3000 years ago. The most of indigenous Americans lived in the Stone Age, only in Mexico and Peru they developed Bronze Working and created agricultural civilizations. The Stone Age technologies could not feed up hundred million – it’s just impossible.


From: Canada | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 20 April 2005 07:11 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Down:

Do you believe that esteem, April? I have doubts. Moreover: I don't believe it certainly.

Compare: the population of Russia was about that amount by the beginning of 20th(!) century. The Russian Empire at that moment had a territory comparable with that of America but unlike in pre Columbian America the people in Russia had learnt iron working 2500-3000 years ago. The most of indigenous Americans lived in the Stone Age, only in Mexico and Peru they developed Bronze Working and created agricultural civilizations. The Stone Age technologies could not feed up hundred million – it’s just impossible.



While I think the estimate of 125 million is probably overblown, one thing you say is inaccurate. Copper working began north of Superior about 1500 years before it began in Europe. Why don't more of us know about that... gee I wonder. You can find this fact, along with the citation of the Radiocarbon article where it was reported, in Elaine Dewar's Bones.


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mush
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posted 20 April 2005 07:53 PM      Profile for Mush     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Pre-contact population estimates vary widely, and seem to have risen recently, from less than one million to as high as 198 million. These are clearly politically influenced, to make a stronger case for precipitous decline after contact with Europeans.

I absolutely think that what happened here was genocide...but mightn't things have turned out deliciously differently if Europeans landed to meet such a large population, even if spread over a large territory?


From: Mrs. Fabro's Tiny Town | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
April
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posted 21 April 2005 03:09 AM      Profile for April     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I even learned about the diseased blankets in grade 10 history class - I didn't realise it was in dispute. The word on the street is that they were used as biological weapons by various colonial governments and their agents.

I think Churchill's arguments are credible, and if there is a few problems with footnotes, faulty sources, minor plagiarisms, etc., it should not defer from the argument any more than the fact that the Siuationists demanded that everything be plagiarized should compromise their own work.


From: Montreal | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 21 April 2005 04:56 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ronald Wright says we have been fed certain non-truths about what happened when east met west. It's a myth that says all natives were nomadic hunters who never stayed in one place for very long. When the whites arrived, they happened upon whole villages established all across N. and Central America with crops ready for harvesting. There were massacres. Whites moved into empty settlements.

In Canada's prairies, natives were chased off prime farmland by federal agents and paid mercenaries. The land was given to European emigres as part of John A's conservative government plan for ethnic purges. Native people knew no concept of private property rights. Their land extended from horizon to horizon. Millions of buffalo were slaughtered in what was US federally sponsored pogroms and systematic starvation of native populations throughout the US and to spite Sitting Bull's people who fled to Canada.

Our liberal governments of the past made human flag poles of our woodlands Cree people and sent them to Grise Fiord, an inhospitable part of Canada that even our Innuit have described as too barren for settlement.

Now, whole nations of once proud real people of North America live segregated lives on strips of allocated land along Canada's highways and called "Indian" reserves. Infant mortality among Canada's natives reflects their third world living conditions. This is Canada's shame.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mush
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posted 21 April 2005 10:01 AM      Profile for Mush     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, absolutely it is shameful, Fidel. Things are improving, though, particularly in terms of infant mortality. It is no longer at "third world" levels as you say. Unfortunately, the cause-specific mortality rates have shown more loss of life due to diseases of poverty, particularly adult-onset diabetes. I suppose the only appropriate comparison is to non-Aboriginal Canadians, but for what it's worth, First Nations people are doing far better than Aboriginal people in Australia, where there is a 20-year gap in life expectancy.

Of course, not all people in N.A. were nomadic, but I still have a lot of difficulty with population estimates of 150+ million. Evidence on this point is difficult to come by, of course. I suppose I should keep an open mind. I would have hoped that with such a large population (connected by well-established trading relationships), there would have been even more organized, and successful resistance. In the case of New Zealand there were far more Maori than settlers, and a shared language and good organization gave them a much better negotiating position. Things still sucked there, and there were wars and massacres, but on the whole, things seem to have turned out better for the Maori than in North America.

Totally speculative, and pointless, but I would have hoped that if the N.A. population approached 200 million, things could have turned out as well here.

Ok...that's enough pedantic wanking from me on this.


From: Mrs. Fabro's Tiny Town | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged

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