The other day, I sat down and wrote a blog, along with 40 others, it sits in drafts. I tell you that I don't care what I say..but..I guess I lie a little. Some subjects, especially the ones that have me requested to start walking on the short pier, make me take pause, before hitting the publish button. I don't do it because I am afraid of backlash towards myself..that I enjoy, mostly because when I set things down, I do so with some research on my part. or, personal experience.
Some subjects, however,regard those who I cannot comment on, because, they do not affect me. Well, you know what, they have, and still do affect me, but politics can skew things, especially things in regards to FN's, and along with the politics come the militants, and those who will claim I have no right, so although I can argue my right in the following, I will attempt to wade into this slowly.
Our government has managed to destroy First Nations own traditional government. A system of governing that was almost perfect. A system that our own was based loosely on. The FN I speak of ,( I understand there are others that are different) are the same that have been in the midst of the LNG business rushing in at warp speed.
Just going to give a short history lesson that will begin with Clans..because I know everyone has heard this word. So, we have a Clan, a large group of people situated in a specific territory. This is land that belongs to them. Within this Clan, we have the Chief. He is the person who has the duty to ensure his Clan flourishes. Each person within his Clan, is, in fact, his family. Truth of the matter, his children, are not. See, most FN are matriarchal which means, they follow their mother. His children are the responsibility of another Clan Chief, so his focus is solely on his Clan, no favoritism for his kids, no special gifts for his wife. When the Clan is too large for a single group, they evolve into "Houses",all the same family, but now they live within sub-groups, and each sub-group has what was called a "Wing Chief". To ensure all the Houses remained under the Chief's care, the Wing Chiefs would speak for their House. Nothing was done within the Clan, unless all the Wing Chiefs were consulted. It worked almost perfectly, nothing was ever a surprise, because each House was party to what involved the Clan as a whole.
Strangely enough, our government is based on a system, somewhat the same. However, as Canadian's we have seen this system failed drastically. The little holes appeared when certain (lets call them Territories) Territories felt they were entitled to more, and because their "Clans" were bigger, our "Chief 'allowed them to speak more than the smaller Clans. Then our Chief decided he would start handing out riches from the smaller Clans to the big ones. Oh, he listened to all the "Wing Chiefs" for a little while, but then, because he lived in the big territory, he decided it was easier to keep that one happy, and since the other smaller clans were so far away, he decided to do things without consulting the Wing Chiefs. Hey, it was so much faster, right? Plus, the big Clans were happy. Suddenly instead of consulting to see what the faraway Clans needed, or felt about something, the Chief decided he knew what was best for all, and the Wing Chiefs words fell on deaf ears.
Hey, just trying to keep this all together...Throughout all of this, our (I call him "our" in the Canadian sense) Chief decides he is going to tweak FN's, so he sets up Reserves. (I'm not going back so far as the Indian Agent this Chief set in power..I will simply go into Band Councils)He sends this new government money each month to keep things running on the reserve. The reserve is NOT a Clan, or even a House, it is simply a collection of people from many Clans, who live in a small piece of land set aside for their use. That money is not governed by a Chief and Wing Chiefs, it is controlled by a Chief elected by those on Reserve (and those off get the right to vote as well) and Council members, also elected in. Guess what, that Chief and those Council members don't have a Clan based mindset. Of course, they are governing a reserve, right? They can hand out money to their children, their wives and husbands, their cousins, their friends, so you have special treatment going to the ones the Chief likes, and the councilors, totally opposite of the traditional way.
Now, keep in mind, the Clans are still there, the Houses are still there, the Traditional Chief and Wing Chiefs still remain a part of the Feast system..Hola...I didn't even mention that, and it is the base of FN government..Well, it was!!! The Feast hall was the place everything that involved Clan business was done. Every person in the Clan, every House was informed of happening in the Feast. It was not just the place the people went to celebrate, or mourn, it was their Parliament as well. It was the place disagreements were dealt with, crimes were punished, achievements were acknowledged, it was the epicenter, or hub of FN's government.
However, with the advent of Reserves, and what has become a tier system within FN's, you have the on-reserve and off-reserve people. You have those connected through Band Council and those not. You have deals made by "our" Chief and his Wing Chiefs with Council and perhaps a couple of Clan Chiefs, who have forgotten their traditions. They forgot the Feast Hall, they forgot their Clan is their family,not their children. They have forgotten their duty is to their Clan and all their Houses, and that they are to gather their Wing Chiefs from each House who will speak to the members, and in the end, allow their Clan , as a whole to flourish.
I am Umshewa (white). I despise how our Chief has forgotten the small Clans, and handed what belongs in this territory to other Clans. I looked to FN's government as something that was right and fair, almost perfect. I have seen that like so many other things right and fair, it has disappeared, and been sold off by those who did not own it. In FN tradition all that is in the present ,is a gift from the past, and only a loan ,to be kept for the future.
The future has been handed away...and the money that has passed hands, will disappear. The price has been at the cost of those yet to come, and there is no doubt, it was not worth what was received..
As usual, folks, this is my own personal opinion...take it for what it's worth.