History of Colonization

History of Colonization
Last night went well.  It’s kind of hard for me to gauge how well as I was one of the presenters and we didn’t have a lot of time for Q and A.  The feedback I received was very good though.  Mark blogged about it.

The subject of native issues is a very deep one and it is impossible to even summarize all the major issues in one evening.  The following is a list of some the historical injustices that the First Nations have endured.

  •  Treaties were negotiated with the best interests of the crown
  • Canada has failed to recognize the nation-to-nation status of the treaty negotiations 
  • Christian missionaries taught First Nation’s people that every aspect of their culture was evil
  • Reserve lands were arbitrarily siezed
  • It has taken over 100 years to resolve land claims issues, many are still outstanding
  • Residential schools were often harsh places where many were abused
  • The entire aboriginal way of life was in flux and many turned to alcohol
  • A cycle of abuse and dependancy was perpetuated
  • The Canadian gov’t has acted paternally assuming Aboriginals are incapable of governing themselves
  • Racism constantly blocks the progress of a marginalized people
  • False social theories about aboriginal people and culture were spread in order to justify mistreatment
  • Many First Nations people have internalized a sense of inferiority and hate their own identity
  • Young people were disconnected from their heritage and family members when they were forced to speak english and barred from speaking their own language
  • Non-aboriginals are often ignorant of the deeper issues and have judged entire people groups based on misinformation spread through the media and word of mouth

I used to believe that the First Nation’s people should respond like any other marginalized group, suck it up and work their way of their problems.  After researching the subject more I realize how difficult this is.  The self perpetuating cycle of racism, abuse and addictions make it very difficult to create real change.

What grieves me the most is that my people have treated another group so poorly for so long that many First Nations people hate their own identity.  I have had personal friends that internalized a sense of inferiority.  It’s usually combined with some form of depression.  I can’t just go to them and say ‘suck it up and get to work’.  That doesn’t work.  In many cases it probably makes things worse.  I can’t imagine living in a community where internalized inferiority, depression, suicide and hopelessness are commonplace. 

I hope to recruit some First Nation’s people in to blogging so they can share their stories.  I think it could be a marvelous step in helping some of us to understand. 

  1. #1 by Randall on June 24, 2003 - 10:20 am

    “Many First Nations people have internalized a sense of inferiority and hate their own identity”

    Yeah, that’s the statement that troubles me the most.

    I/we need to find ways to honour this people. To bless them and find value in their race. One of the things that has helped me the most with this is to explore how God has created the different people groups with different gifts and strengths.

    Look at the Germans and you see (I realize I’m doing major generalizing here, humor me…)a people driven by a desire for excellence. The French, what, Love? “The language of love.” The Italians, hmm, passion?

    What are the redemptive gifts of a people? A gift given of God, but when used apart fom God, gets messed up.

    It’s been my experience that the Native people are very sensitive people, very Spiritually sensitive at that.

    We need to look deeper to find ways to bless them and their gifts and strengths.

    Let’s look.

  2. #2 by Chris on June 24, 2003 - 12:04 pm

    Please don’t feel the need to “recruit” First Natios people to do anything. We’re already blogging, already sharing our stories and some of it is so recognizable that you might even not notice that we are here.

    I appreciate you seeing us and getting a sense of the historical context of colonization. Your lst bullet point about non-Aboriginal judging us based on misinformatin is a good one and I wanted to senstively apply it to Randall’s comments.

    I realize what you are trying to do with your generalizations, but they really are not all that helpful. All of the characteristics you apply to Germans Italians and French people apply to me as well. First Nations people are also driven by excellence, love and passion. We are also sensitive souls and spiritual people. And some of us aren’t spiritually sensitive at all.

    You are looking for deeper ways to see other people, and so I take your comments in that spirit. But practice it by getting beyond the surfaces and seeing what’s underneath. And don;t assume anything about any group of people. Only see what you can in each person.

    Read my blog and you’d think I was a poetry reading compartive theology auto-didact with an interest in love, Spirit, hockey, self-organization and a talent for playing the Irish flute. You’d be right. I’m also Ojibway.

  3. #3 by Randall on June 24, 2003 - 12:50 pm

    Yeah, that’s fair. So many of our problems come from generalizations.

    But where I was headed was a question on the differences between cultures and peoples. How much should we or do we (as a society) allow for those differences?

    and is there a place for being different? And is that ok?

  4. #4 by Leighton Tebay on June 24, 2003 - 1:13 pm

    I’m glad to see there are First Nations people blogging. I’ve done searches before and didn’t come up with much, perhaps I was looking in the wrong places.

    My desire to “recruit” First Nation’s people in to blogging is no different than my desire to get Christians blogging. Simply put I believe in the medium. It does not stem from a paternalistic desire to get some group of people to do what is best for them.

    There are lots people who would really like blogging if they actually knew anything about it. I try to recruit anyone who I feel has something worthwhile to say to blog. I would like to see more First Nations people blog because their stories enrich me and I want to hear more.

    Your response to my post, and your delicate response to Randall proves how effective online conversation can be at creating bridges of understanding.

  5. #5 by Chris on June 24, 2003 - 5:32 pm

    Randall…I am of the belief that only individuals can respect other people, and appreciate and understand differences. Societies don’t act, people do.

    So can people allow for difference? Well, I guess the fact is that there ARE differences between people. Whether you or I allow for them has little to no bearing on that reality. What we can do as people is be open to one another as individuals and respect and cherish the differences between us. Those differences are our cultural gene pool…the less diversity we have, the less likely we are to thrive and evolve as a species.

    Think about your question again…”Is there a place for being different?” Different from what?

    The fact is that you are as different from me as a book is from an avocado. Neither of us is “the regular one” from which the other is different. There is no baseline against which difference is measured. We are other to each other.

    The real question is can we open our hearts to the difference that IS and embrace our own identity while holding respect for the identities of the 6.5 billion other people with whom we share the world? Can we see ourselves as both whole beings as well as parts of the greater constructions of culture, society and species?

    If there is something we share it is this: we are both individuals and parts of groups. But when it comes right down to it, all we know is that we are different from one another. If we can open up to “allowing” ourselves to rest in that reality, society will follow.

  6. #6 by Leighton Tebay on June 24, 2003 - 5:37 pm

    I do believe there is a difference in spiritual sensitivity between more modern and less modern cultures. I doubt it has much do with our genes and more to do with our concept of how the world works. A culture so dependant on its own thinking and science is probably less likely to be spiritually sensitive.

    I think this is one of the reasons why I desire to dialogue more with First Nations people. Those of us struggling between the modern and the post-modern could find some valuable wisdom and guidance from those who have never really bought in to modernity.

  7. #7 by Randall on June 25, 2003 - 12:07 am

    Maybe I should quit while I’m behind, my communication skills seem to be falling apart.

    I agree with you Chris, and I should say you guys are dealing quite sensitively with the whole talk.

    I hope I’m clarifying when I say I’ve seen organizations that wish to deal with differences by enforcing a kind of “Sameness” onto everyone. The kind of sameness that doesn’t allow for diversity or distinctives.

    That’s how the early Christian missionaries did missions. The culture was unacceptable so we tried to beat, burn, and destroy it out of the people. We wanted to make them just like us. The same. Sing like us, act like us, talk like us, believe in God like us.

    Rereading my statement “How much should we or do we (as a society) allow for those differences?” perhaps implied that we should not be open to differences.

    I believe we should encourage our distinctives and uniqueness.

    We as a society are not great at allowing for differences. From the lady who speaks in another language, to the girl with green hair and a nose ring, to the guy who’s skin is a different colour. And for that matter, we as the church are just as horrible at it.

    I want this place to be a place where diversity is blessed, where difference is the norm. Where the true unity we enjoy is not found in some heavily enforced sameness but in the acceptance of the differences we enjoy.

    I want us to realize that underneath it all there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” in God’s eyes and neither should there be in ours.

    And if we can’t get it right in the world, why can’t we get it right in the church?

    I’m tired of the times I’ve stood in line with a friend at some government office, only to have her actually “overlooked.”

    Or of having to send a Caucasian person with one of our friends from Africa into a social workers office because we seem to get so much more help when we go along.

    Are there differences? Yes. Can we embrace those differences and be better for it as individuals AND as society, or at least a church? Man, I hope so cause we’re missing out on so much blessing.

  8. #8 by Chris on June 25, 2003 - 11:44 am


    Surely you don’t mean “less modern.” I’m going to give you the long reaching benefit of the doubt here.

    Aboriginal culture is a lot of things, but it is thoroughly modern. Amish culture is less modern.

    Here I am replying to comments on a weblog. How modern is that? Over the last two days on my weblogs I have written about a British painter, an American poet, quantum mechanics and self-organizing meeting methodologies. That’s all a part of being and Indian in this day and age.

    Ojibway culture is indigenous, which means that it has deep connections to the land. Our spirituality comes from the land as does our history and traditions. That doesn’t make us less modern. The same is true for Jews living in Israel. Judaism is a thoroughly modern religion rooted in strong connections to the land.

    When cultures move from their places of origin they enter into a different relationship with the land and they cease to be “indigenous.” Things become more abstract, separate and divorced from the environment in which they originated. I don’t think it’s fair to say that we are less modern because our spirituality and culture is tied to the land. If anything, perhaps we are charting a path past the western European notions of modernity and into a post-modern world.

    This is what Ken Wilber would call a pre/trans fallacy. I invite you to read his work, notably “A Brief History of Everything” or “Sex, Ecology and Spirituality” for some very sharp thinking about the struggle between modernity and post-modernity as it relates to Spirit.

    And Randall: I know you are saying society should be more open to difference, but my point is that it is really up to each of us to take responsibility for appreciating difference. Sometimes we say that society should do this or that, but we fail to actually take the responsibility ourselves. “Should” is he worst word in the English language as far as I am concerned. The way to combat that is to stop saying things like “we in the church are not good at it” and start saying things like “I am not good at it.” Once you realize what *you* are contributing to society, for better or worse, you can change the bad and encourage the good in yourself.

    So no one can enforce sameness, because there is no such thing as sameness. Trying to enforce sameness does not create sameness, it only creates stress. Thinking there should be sameness is a story that does not equate with reality, and refusing to accept reality is, well, a classical definition of insanity. Any society therefore that tries to “enforce sameness” is therefore insane. I think this is what you are saying, and I applaud your observations here.

    “Why can’t we get it right in the church?” is another story that is going to cause you stress. Look for the “should” in a statement like that and let it go. Should the church get it right? Does it? No? Well then it’s better to stop arguing with reality and get down to changing what you can about your own behaviors to model the kind of spiritual community you want to be a part of.

    You guys are struggling with some big issues here. Great conversation all round. Thanks for indulging me.

  9. #9 by Leighton Tebay on June 25, 2003 - 3:23 pm


    I think that you may be misunderstanding me. When I say less modern I’m not implying anything about technology and I am referring to mindset. I consider myself “less modern” than many of the people I work with at the college even though I am the network admin and own a webhosting company.

    I would argue that a modern mindset based on reason and science wouldn’t see any spirituality in land at all. It just a resource to be used. I see some very distinct differences between the traditional world view that many aboriginal societies have held, and modern rationalism.

    The implication of my previous comment is not that aboriginal cultures are less current, but that people who carry a predominately rational and scientific view of the world have trouble connecting spiritually.

  10. #10 by Chris on June 25, 2003 - 5:43 pm

    Thanks Leighton. See that’s the kind of misunderstanding that survives benefits of doubt…

    It may be true that modernity and rationalism undid spirituality, but I think we continue to move forward. I think we are now poised on the edge of a post-modern moment that includes the rationality of the post-Enlightment as well as the spirituality and pre-rationality of previous epochs and transcends it into something else. I think, basically, we’re moving on up.

    Many quantum physicists for example embrace spirituality precisely because their investigations have taken them deep into the mysteries of the universe and their spirits literally sing out with what they are finding there. Biologists posit the existence of Gaia, the living organism that is Earth, a body inhabited by a consciouness and spirit that resides in the life that teems over it.

    I think where we are is in the transcended moment, not dwelling in the pre-rational epoch. This is what Wilber means by a pre/trans fallacy. We confuse the present for a distant past when in reality we are actually ahead of the game.

    What a conversation this is turning out to be!

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