‘Rationalizing Racism On Reserves’

An Aboriginal Industry article trying to justify racism on aboriginal reserves:

‘Who belongs on a reserve? ‘First Nations’ will decide’ 

“In recent months, the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) community of Kahnawake has re-opened discussion on its controversial {racist} 1984 membership law. The renewed debate has been accompanied by provocative developments: Protests outside homes, eviction notices sent to “foreign” residents, accusations of racism from the {former} Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and a lawsuit challenging the membership law in court.

{See: ‘More Mohawk Discrimination’:
And below for more posts on this topic…} 


“This fraught terrain has confused and {rightly} outraged Canadians, partly because the story has lacked ‘context’ and ‘nuance’ in the media.

“While unique in many ways, Kahnawake is one ‘First Nation’ among many grappling with these issues. After the failure of the 1969 ‘White Paper on Indian Policy’ and its assimilative prescription to eliminate Indian status and Bands, the federal government has been pursuing a slightly amended policy of devolution: ‘First Nations’ are asked to assume more administrative control of programs and services, from education and health care to housing and infrastructure, but with inadequate resources.

{In most cases, the Bands themselves – and in particular, this Mohawk community — are demanding these administrative controls, even though they have next to no administrative capabilities. This results in greater suffering for reserve residents, as these increased Band controls over the reserve are used to manipulate and control the residents.}

“Corresponding to the devolution process have been revisions to the ‘Indian Act’ as it relates to Indian status. From the “honorary white man” policy of the 1850s, Canadian legislation has intended to ‘unmake Indians’in the legal sense {Nonsense, it was about giving aboriginals a chance at full citizenship}. Much of this strategy has focused on ‘attacking’ women, removing their status if they marry a non-status Indian, which resulted in the disenrollment of tens of thousands of individuals who ‘rightfully’ belonged within their ‘nations’ {Actually, it enabled these women to become full Canadian citizens, rather than part of a segregated racial category}. In post-Charter Canada, the Indian Act was successfully challenged and amendments in 1985 and 2011 partly ended the ‘discrimination’, precipitating a surge in the “official” ‘First Nation’ population {And a surge in the costs to all other Canadians of expanded Segregation, as well as increased population pressure on reserves that already had housing shortages}.


“While much has been made of the “marry out, get out” provision at Kahnawake, the membership law, as well as many other ‘First Nation’ membership laws, is more complex. The objective is to separate Indian status from Band membership and take control of the latter from the federal government. “Membership” in this sense includes {racist} residency qualifications, {exclusionary} electoral rules and {made-up} ‘treaty rights’, {racist} eligibility guidelines on business operations, and even {racist} burial plot designation. In reserve politics, or “reserve nationalism” as Audra Simpson calls it, this might be described as ‘citizenship’ and even ‘immigration policy’. In a general sense, it is about ‘who belongs’ {Even when these policies violate modern human rights standards – and Canadian law}.

“There are two extremes in this conversation. The “exclusive” membership perspective views lineage {‘blood’} as the crucial qualification to belonging. Citizens must be descended from ‘indigenous’ {‘Siberian settler’} peoples, inculcated in ‘indigenous’ culture {‘Toe the line’}. They exclude those with ‘weak lineage’ {Much like Nazi Germany} or none at all, especially if taking up land or resources. Of course, communities today have increasing numbers of both groups. About three dozen of those who share this ‘conservative’ {‘racist’} approach to membership at Kahnawake are responsible for taking the initiative to evict ‘non’-‘indigenous’ people from the community. 


“The “inclusive” {‘modern’} perspective advocates for a more open community not necessarily delimited by strict ancestral connection but inter-community relationships. It is the far more common practice among {some} ‘indigenous’ peoples (extending the rafters of the longhouse, the ever-expanding circle, etc.) {No mention of the tradition of taking slaves to expand tribal manpower}. ‘Non’-‘indigenous’ people who can make a contribution to the community while reflecting ‘indigenous’ values should be welcome. In the case of Kahnawake, a handful of these inclusive proponents are appealing to the Quebec Superior Court to protect this view.

“In many ways, the debate revolves around claims of ‘authenticity’: A contentious notion after 150 years of Indian policies that have cultivated ‘artificial’ {‘democratic’} governments and islands of reserved lands, ‘imposed patriarchy’ {Already the traditional norm in many tribes} and domesticated sovereignty. Indeed, ‘indigenous’ peoples would be justified in evicting ‘white people’ {How ‘white’?} from the little land we have left if that were the case.

“But this is a crude simplification. Despite the opinions of pundits or politicians on the ‘allegedly’ {‘demonstrably’} racist law at Kahnawake (or elsewhere), this is fundamentally about people passionately and earnestly working towards visions of community well-being amid very real, long-standing and external constraints. This is about striving to be Kanien’kehá:ka or Anishinaabe in a place traditionally hostile to that very proposition.”

–‘Who belongs on a reserve? ‘First Nations’ will decide’,
HAYDEN KING AND JESSICA DEER, Toronto Globe and Mail, May 21, 2015


Feature IMAGE: John Kenney – Postmedia News


From COMMENTS on the article:
“The whole concept of reserves should have been stopped about 100 years ago.”
“Who should live on a reserve: Nobody.”
I am a Canadian and expect to have rights equal to all other Canadians. I abhor any group that gains incremental rights based on race or religion. Treat all people in Canada equally, including ‘first nations’. Disband the department of aboriginal affairs and help Canadians based on needs, not on race. By eliminating funding and special status, there will be few incentives to people to want to be a part of a racial club.”


There is a more evolved model of freedom. Decades of experience with multiculturalism has given Canadians a more informed point of view. Many have questioned the right of our ancestral cultures to inculcate us into a set of beliefs and a lifestyle. Why should our ancestry determine our lifestyle and beliefs? A free individual should be free to analyze and evaluate beliefs and lifestyles and choose from them, or develop their own.

“I am the son of two Holocaust survivors. In 1974, I went to live on a Kibbutz. At the Kibbutz, I experienced pressure to enrol in the Ulpan, where I would learn Hebrew and the culture of my race. I rejected the opportunity, since I saw this indulgence in racial chauvinism as being too similar to that practiced by the racial idealists who persecuted my parents.

“I wanted to develop my abilities in English. A language that would allow me to communicate with the largest number of people. I also found a flexible identity with the ‘Encyclopedists’, especially Diderot. They based their identity on empiricism, not a religious or political ideology. This was an identity that allowed me to enjoy the freedom to think for myself. A set of beliefs and lifestyle that could evolve, since it was not committed to any ideology.

“I have spoken with some ‘First Nation’ people regarding the conflict of individual freedom versus cultural identification and they have told me, as ‘First Nation’ people, they experienced greater pressure than me, to have their beliefs and lifestyles determined. They also said being pressured into ancestrally-determined lifestyles and beliefs was an abuse of their freedom.

Identity politics has victims. Well-meaning social activists cause injustices by championing erroneous ideals. People immersing themselves in their ancestral cultures could only claim to do so freely if they had autonomously consented to do so once they were capable of making a free and informed choice… Who belongs on a reserve? In a free society, those who have freely chosen to do so. Is that possible with the way identity politics is being practiced? Cultures should not be allowed to own people.”


See also:
If a Mohawk couple adopts a child who is not ‘indigenous’, the adoptive parents have committed an “offence”, according to a new law in Kahnawake, Que. The adoptive parents will lose their rights as Kahnawake Mohawks — which include voting here, living here, being buried here.
–‘More Mohawk Discrimination’:


This Is NOT the Canadian way:
–‘Mohawk man’s house targeted in Kahnawake because of “non-Indigenous” wife’:


‘Former Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller among Mohawks suing Kahnawake council’
“Seven people, including former Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller, are suing the Kahnawake Mohawk Council over its law that bans ‘mixed-race’ couples from living on its territory…”
–‘Can’t We All Just Get Along?’:


The one place in Canada where racism is still tolerated: native reserves
“Eventually, Canadians are going to have to make up their mind on the diversity-versus-segregation question. It’s simply untenable to say that while the ‘United Colors of Benetton’ are ideal for whites, natives should be free to construct miniature societies based on racist principles that were decisively rejected by Abolitionists two centuries ago. It’s an embarrassment to Canadian values, and a cruelty upon those natives who have committed no crime except to fall in love with someone of a different skin colour.”
–‘Racism On The Reserve’:
Post also at: 


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