Monday, January 09, 2006

Why I Don't Vote 2.0

per·pet·u·ate
1. To cause to continue indefinitely; make perpetual, as in "perpetuate a myth."

It is not uncommon for non-Indigenous politicians to covet the Aboriginal vote. It is no longer uncommon for happy Aboriginals to encourage other Aboriginals to vote. Heck, they even have their own party now. I still maintain that voting in settler elections is not only a waste of a good Indigenous person's time, it serves only to perpetuate the corrupt myth of Canadian legitimacy on Indigenous lands. I still encounter my share blank faces when I make such statements. Let me take another crack at it and see if I can't win you over.

Many of you may have seen One Dead Indian on TV last week. Although I did not catch it (I even own the book which I have yet to read), a review did catch my eye. The review, titled, "Movie takes sides in deadly standoff" was written by Steve Tilley of the Ottawa Sun. For me, one line stood out amongst all others: "Based on Peter Edwards' book of the same name, One Dead Indian is firmly on the side of the Stoney Point Band members and it doesn't try to look at the larger ongoing issue of illegal land occupation by Native protesters."

Journalism 101: Writing about the locals
"First Nations" are happy, singing folk.
"Natives" are angry and often break the law.
"Aboriginals" get lots of money.
"Indians" only seem to appear in the National Post and Fraser Institute publications (Interestingly, the term now seems to offend Aboriginals and their friends but does not seem to perturb Indigenous people too much anymore)

As you may have guessed I take exception to Tilley's assertion that "illegal land occupation by Native protesters" is a larger ongoing issue that is somehow being ignored here. My contention is of course, that the larger ongoing issue is the illegal ongoing occupation of Indigenous lands by illegitimate settler governments, their citizens, police and military. Tilley of course is merely acting upon the myth that Canada is some bastion of freedom and justice void of any colonial past or present.

This view is so pervasive that most people don't even question it any more. Indigenous culture and language and institutions belong in the museum. Even our own people have come to accept this myth. In fact we perpetuate it by acknowledging, willing now it seems, through our actions of going to court, voting, running for colonial office and every other action that recognizes the Canadian government. We ignore our own institutions, our own Indigenous governance structures. I mean "we" in the collective sense. There are pockets of resistance and hope but they are sparse.

Many of us are taught that to not vote is an act of inaction, apathy, unproductive and negative. Many of us are taught that to criticize is wrong, to think critically is wrong, to question the general direction and wisdom of our current crop of Aboriginal leaders is wrong. To be clear, I have never advocated for or promoted senseless or malicious criticism. We seem to be taught that the only logical voice of change is the one currently being encouraged by the AFN and other similar institutions. I disagree.

I will take the time to encourage anyone to not participate in the settler elections that seem to drive our people crazy for 6 weeks and then leave us standing at the alter of good intentions, alone again. Not voting is an important first step. What you do with that energy is an even more important second step. Sit with your elders. Learn your language. Revive and adapt your own traditions, teachings and stories. Breathe life into your Indigenous ways and ignore the myths that serve only to keep our people down.

If you must vote, vote for Pedro.

W

7 Comments:

At 3:42 PM, Blogger OldManRivers said...

Again you have swayed me W. I will not vote!

Viva la revolution!

 
At 9:59 PM, Blogger Na'cha'uaht said...

Haha, cool. Hey, you're not even old enough to vote yet!

 
At 5:45 AM, Blogger swanky panky said...

I know I know you have seen me comment already, but you have such good material here!! I like this blogg...
I vote... I am Dene/Native/Aboriginal... I vote because the decisions they make in Ottawa and all over Canada affect me, my children, my people. I cannot sit by and let them do whatever they please, they have done that in the past. And we got residential schools, land taken away and small reserves on which there is no good land to live a real traditional life, woman had thier status removed. When we started speaking up the woman got thier status reinstated, we were able to vote (since 1960), we are trying to make a difference.

We deserve to have a voice and we have a huge population of Native Youth rising up right now. If we got every one of them to start voting along with the elders we could change the whole face of Canada. We could even have a Native Prime Minister one day.

This generation of Natives deserve better than the last, it is our duty to our elders to make sure what they suffered does not pass away quietly.

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger Na'cha'uaht said...

You are welcome to comment as much as you like, as long as you agree with me and adhere to the terms of the "Mutual Admiration Society" terms of reference...jk. :p

This site is all about thought provocation and engagement of divergent opinions (even wrong ones)...lol.

We need more swanky panky Denes around here. :D

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

I liked your post so much I reposted it my blog
http://canadared.blogspot.com/

I hope you don't mind.You write good keep it up

 
At 7:30 PM, Blogger Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

Hi, as one of the Indians that wrote for the NP at one time I would concur.

We should talk sometime. I have some funny stories about a couple of interesting things that went on there, and why it will be a frosty friday in july before I'd write for them again, especially under this management.

BTW - I've linked ya.

Curios CoHo books.
I used to live in Alberni down near Little Chicago.
Went to ADSS in 1990.

 
At 7:33 PM, Blogger Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

Oh and you are 100% right... I won't vote. No Treaty - No Votey.

Until a treaty is signed - a REAL treaty not a "land claims agreement" - then my nation is not part of confederation.

I did run for the Pot-Party, though as a favour to a friend of mine, Marc Emery, even though I don't smoke grass.... mostly becasue I think the war on drugs is a failure and that the prison industrial complex being created in Canada is the new NEW RESERVE system for Indians.

 

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