Sunday, December 09, 2007

I'm on a hiatus.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's not business, just personal

One of my favourite lines from one of my favourite "old school" bloggers went something like this: "When I was young, I kept a journal and I would have died if anyone read it. Now I blog and I fear no one will read it."

I feel the need to express myself but at the same time be vague: Enter the world of blogging. Emotional exhibitionist anonymity. Sort of.

So, I'm researching for a paper and came across some rebellious classics on my bookshelf (Fanon, Galeano, Magon) and I couldn't help but be brought back in time. It was not that long ago that I swallowed the red pill. They were exciting times. We had confusion, despair, hope, dysfunction, passion, but above all, for me at least, the feeling that "I am not alone, and I am not crazy." One cannot underestimate the power of solidarity in sustaining one's belief in the movement. Sure, it can lead to hasty alliances and errors in judgement, but it sure helps when you feel your weakest.

I don't know where this is going, maybe no where. All I know is that hope is important, and for some reason sanity seems to be too. I'll leave you with one of my favourite of Galeano's passages from his book, We Say No:

"We have come from different countries, and we are here, reunited under the generous shade of Pablo Neruda - to join the people of Chile, who say no.
We also say no.
We say no to the praise of money and of death. We say no to a system that assigns prices to people...
We say no to a system that neither feeds its people nor loves them, that condemns many to a hunger for food and many more to a hunger for the embrace...
We say no to the lie...
The colonial inheritance obliges the so-called Third World - populated by third-class people - to accept as its own the memory of the victors who conquered it and to take on the lies of others and use them as its own reality. They reward our obedience, punish our intelligence, and discourage our creative energy...
We say no to fear. No to fear of speaking, of doing, of being...
As it happens, we are saying no, and by saying no we are saying yes...
By saying no to the devastating empire of greed, whose centre lies in North America, we are saying yes to another possible America, which will be born of the most ancient of American traditions, the communitarian tradition that the Chilean Indians have defended desperately, defeat after defeat, during the last five centuries.
In saying no to a peace without dignity, we are saying yes to the sacred right of rebellion against injustice and its long history as long as the history of popular resistance on the long map of Chile. By saying no to the freedom of money, we are saying yes to the freedom of people: a mistreated and wounded freedom, a thousand times defeated as in Chile and, as in Chile, a thousand times arisen."

I miss our conversations...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

did you know?

So, I'm doing a paper on indigenous peoples' participation in Canadian party politics, and I'm trying to determine whether this has proven an effective strategy, specifically in comparison to the visions articulated by some of the old school leaders like George Manuel, Andy Paull, Philip Paul, James Gosnell, Gus Gottfriedson, and later Harold Cardinal and Vine Deloria, Jr. If you know anything about me and my politics you can guess where I'm headed with this.

Did you know that when Andy Paull from Sḵwxwú7mesh was the head of the Native American Indian Brotherhood in 1947 he rejected the idea of re-granting indigenous people in BC the right to vote "on the grounds that it would open the door to assimilation and loss of rights and privileges."1

Hmmm...

On another somewhat less significant but nonetheless "grocery store line-up interesting note," did you know that Tina Keeper, the indigenous woman who played an RCMP constable on North of 60 was elected as a Member of Parliament for the Liberal Party in Churchill, MB last year?

1. Tennant, Paul. Aboriginal Peoples and Politics. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 1990, p. 121.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nuu-chah-nulth United

So, I've been living with an ewok, Single Joe, for about a month and a half now (and no we don't have a bunk bed, we do have separate rooms). If you know ewoks, in addition to being cute, furry and friendly, they are also crazy about soccer, and Joe is no exception. Joe is a goalkeeper and I even noticed a "top goalie" trophy on his bookshelf from the glory days (2001).

I've been thinking about a return to the game of soccer for some time now. Would you believe that it has been about 16 years since I played competitively? Maybe is was Galeano who got me thinking about it again, in between scathing critiques of amnesia and neoliberalism with his Soccer in Sun and Shadow. Perhaps it was knowing that my buddy, Wiwchar of A Channel fame is still out there on the pitch, playing dirty at 40. It could just be the magnetic pull of "the simplest game" and the "passion of the people."

So, a few weeks ago I started talking about developing a Nuu-chah-nulth men's soccer team to start competing in next Spring's native soccer touranment circuit. I guess this is noteworthy, cause my good friend 'Cilla mentioned it casually amongst a gathering of Kwakwak'awakws (the previously referenced "ewoks"), and they all laughed and when it comes up again they still laugh. You see, in addition to being the only coastal people crazy enough to hunt for whales, the Nuu-chah-nulth are known for some pretty dominant play on the hardwood. We can hoop it up with the best of 'em but aside from a few hardcore players lately, our prowess on the pitch is unheard of.

Even though I too, laughed when I heard the retelling of the story, "my friend Cliff is thinking of starting a soccer team..." from that moment, I was committed. It will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. I'm already counting on the participation of Jose, Johnny and Darren, some training and coaching from Hazel, Carol-Anne, and Joe, support from Chiinuuks, A-in-chut, my pops and all the aunties and uncles.

In the spirit of sport, dignity and perseverance, I'll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Mohandas K. Gandhi:

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hegelian gazing at my classmates

A couple weeks ago, Professor Tully in a transition lecture from Kant to Mill, talked about a cat named Hegel (oh and I don't mean in the feline sense, I mean a dude. Can you dig it?)

Anyway, so this cat Hegel was a German philosopher (18-19th centuries) who came up with what has become known as the "Hegelian dialectic" or Master/Slave dialectic. Basically, I understand that Hegel believed that it dominated all human relations and it begins with a gaze. He said that we develop a consciousness in gazing upon others and having others gaze upon us. Not only do we become aware of others' gaze, and not only do we feel self-conscious , but we actually submit or dominate.

I don't know if I agree with the whole master/slave thing but I did find the idea intriguing, especially since I usually assume a rather deferential posture in most situations.

So the next day I decided to work on my Hegelian gaze and dominate my classmates into submission by the mere ferocity of my gaze, and wouldn't you know it, it works! Risky and Jimmy Nations would be proud.

Try it.

Bow down slaves!!! ):D

Sunday, October 21, 2007

new kumtux blog: the right man for the job

New blog about the role of the Lieutenant-Governor and the BC Treaty Process here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

4 i's

I know I need to smile more, but here's a pic of me wearing my new glasses ('cause I know all ya'll were waiting with bated breath).

FYI, I'll be blogging on Kumtux soon about the recent appointment of former Justice Stephen Point as the Queen's representative for British Columbia, and of course the Tsawwassen Final Agreement (It's not actually a treaty), and what an indigenous rebel is to think (and perhaps do) about it all.

2V's
From the mean streets of occupied Lekwungen and WSANIC territories

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I can see clearly now...

Once again, the world is vivid and alive. I have come out of a fog, the extent to which, I was not fully aware of until now. No, I have not renounced my revolutionary ways and seen the light of Dancing with Dollars nor have I pledged my support for Aboriginal electoral participation. Heavens no.

W has bought some new spectacles and although my prescription has remained the same (with only a minor adjustment for a slight astigmatism in my right eye), I am taken aback by how clear the world seems again. I can truly see individual blades of grass across the street! It is as if I was a newborn baby again seeing with new eyes. Everything jumps out at me and I'm fascinated by it. They don't call 'em mundane adventures for nothing.

From the windy streets of our colonial capitol
Don W

p.s. I've recently moved into a new apartment - this time co-habiting with Single Joe. So far so good. We are both pretty mellow and considerate so I'm confident we will be a good match. I'm just about finished unpacking everything and boy do I really have a lot of books. I need another bookshelf.

p.p.s. Thus far, in this my final year of my B.A., I've written two short papers and two exams. Sorry, Robert Williams, I have no desire to link arms together (not just yet), and Kant, you were an imperial bastard.

Monday, September 10, 2007

the lonely wolf and his facebook addiction

This weBLOG is of a rather personal nature, so if that is not your thing, consider this fair warning.

I've been called a lone wolf a number of times - as a criticism for my aversion to group conformity (under the guise of group cohesion I contend) and as a compliment for my defiant independence. I think both views are fair and fairly accurate. I've always been somewhat of a solitary figure. When I was younger I tended to pride myself in my capacity to be alone without being lonely. I guess in a way, I've always felt different from others and less able or willing to fit in.

In my recent, more politically oriented life, it is a given that my unorthodox beliefs tend to alienate me not only from mainstream settler folk, but also many of my own people as well (specifically the "Aboriginals", old timers and others who just want to live their lives in peace). This gap is not insurmountable by any means, as evidenced by my ability to come to terms with family members who hold radically divergent political views from my own, or others who are relatively apathetic. I love my family of course and that love is of an unconditional nature which makes accommodation perhaps not only easier, but necessary.

My love life might be what you would describe as that of a "serial-monogamist." Between the ages of 18 and 32, I was never really alone for more than a few months and those times that I was, I was insanely busy, working a job that all but consumed my waking hours. The past few years have been different and this past summer in particular was a significant departure from the normal routine of most of my adult life. Last September, when I returned to school for the first time in 12 years also marked the first time I was to live alone, ever.

And this past summer, although technically I had a room mate, in reality I only saw him about four times all summer. Even at my summer job, circumstances dictated that I worked alone for significant periods of time. I don't begrudge my room mate or my workplace. I think I needed it. I've found that often when we fail to learn lessons, life just keeps tossing us more opportunities until we finally get it. I don't know if I got it this summer but I think I learned a bit more about myself.

Enter Facebook. I recently came across this CBC article which prompted me not only to think about my coping with being alone, but also the media desensitization and virtual ADHD that is characteristic of our high-speed wireless times. The article references a study that suggests that which most of us already know: online networking sites connect us with hundreds and sometimes thousands of people in a rather shallow way but do little to enhance real world intimacy. Now I know it is not one or the other, all or nothing, and there are often exceptions to rule, but I can account for my own incessant checking and rechecking of my Facebook inbox all day long.

I've come to realize that in the absence of real world intimacy and connection, I've at times, tried to substitute with online connections. There is a reason people call it crackbook (no disrespect to those affected by real substance abuse problems). It's cheap. It's fast, and it fades quickly. Academics say that we are overstimulated, what with hundreds of TV channels, high-speed online surfing, satellite radio, mobile phones, text messaging, and iPods.

I did have a couple of opportunities to connect with people in the real world this summer and I was reminded of how good it feels. In my radical-indigenous-political circles we often talk about theory, practice and praxis. As a student this is no more evident than upon graduation and the inevitable confrontation with the so-called real world. At one low point of lamenting the challenges of life I commented, "the real world sucks" to which a companera replied, "this is the real world."

aaniikwaa. It is what it is.

I won't say that I've figured anything out but I think I'm pointed in the right direction. I continue my commitment to add as few applications as possible to my lil Facebook pipe. I will unplug when I need to and I will attempt to overcome my social awkwardness and connect with more people in real life more often.

Sigh, the Matrix has us all (especially if you are reading this...haha).

Friday, September 07, 2007

my best comeback of the year...

[Female friend]: Where are all the real Indian men?

[Me]: Probably hanging out with the real Indian women.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rambling about the Troubles on Vancouver Ireland

I haven't really rambled on here in awhile, so much so that I've been thinking I need to do some more rambling. Expect no thoroughly coherent or comprehensive thoughts - that's not what the Mundane Adventures are about.

300 came out on DVD at the end of July. Can you believe I waited almost 2 weeks before I bought my copy?!? (Food before entertainment). Again, some of my favourite quotes:

Leonidas: "In the end, a Spartan's true strength is the warrior next to him. So give respect and honour to him and it will be returned to you."

Leonidas: "First, you fight with your head..." (Queen) Gorgo"...then you fight with your heart."

Leonidas: "Before you speak Persian, know that everyone in Sparta, even a King's messenger is held accountable for the words of his voice."

Gorgo: "...Because only Spartan women give birth to real men."

And of course I've adapted one of my favourite scenes as follows:

You bring the headdresses and heads of conquered chiefs to my village.
You insult my Hakuum.
You threaten my people with citizenship and economic development.
Oh, I've chosen my words carefully Mr. Treaty Commissioner.
Perhaps you should have done the same.

This is blasphemy! This is madness!

Madness...This is Ahousaht!!!
(boot)

Of course in real life, things seem more complicated. Our communities continue to exist in poverty and our chiefs sign protocol agreements with fish farm companies, and others sign Final Agreements (note: that they do not actually meet the international standard of a "treaty").

The world is indeed grey. ):I

Speaking of grey, I've recently finished re-reading Fools Crow by James Welch. This time I read it with a group of friends, a radical book club, if ever there was one, and I've truly appreciated the perspective of my good friend, Chiinuuks. I'm ashamed to say, I did not notice the perpetuation of stereotypes of indigenous women during my first read, last winter. It sure reads different this time. While I don't believe the old days to be some sort of utopia, it seems as though Welch writes the Pikuni women through a truly colonial filter. I believe that it still offers a contribution to an understanding of non-hierarchical organizing (especially in warrior societies), and the daunting challenge of preserving an indigenous way of life in the face of overwhelming settler encroachment, Welch's writing deserves criticism for his poor rendering of women and male/female relations.

Speaking of indigenous male/female relations...I am not beyond humility myself, however someone recently accused me of perpetuating male dominance by "choosing where and when I step back and create space." For the record, I have never stated that I have "created" space for indigenous women. I have talked of "vacating" space*. And further, I do not believe that I have chosen the time and place, other than as a response to strong women who have stepped forward. Their courageous actions and words have set the agenda, not mine. I've been unable to engage in this discussion directly, so I say my peace (piece?) here. [*Note: I have talked of "creating political space" but that was in reference to overall indigenous/settler relations, not indigenous gender relations.]

Only 2 and a half weeks until school! I can't wait. I know, I'm a nerd. I wear both straps on my backpack.

Off to the gym, I go. Only 14 months till next year's bathing suit season.

Dubya
From the western shores of occupied Vancouver Ireland

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

kumtux blog: Negotiating the Terms of Surrender

Some thoughts and feelings on the current state of "treaty" negotiations in British Columbia: http://kumtux.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 19, 2007

a (brief) vision for Nuu-chah-nulth community resurgence

I submitted the following for a scholarship application responding to the question, "What is your vision for your First Nation community?"

I was honoured to give the keynote speech at this year’s Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Post-Secondary Grad/Scholarship Celebration Dinner. Among the words of advice I shared with my fellow students was that our emerging leaders must challenge themselves to dream, to be idealistic, to be visionary, and to act deliberately. I related the common dichotomy of “theory” and “real life.” In school we are often encouraged to dream and think critically; to take the time to carefully contemplate our decisions with all the information we can access, and make the best determinations possible. Upon graduation this experience changes profoundly. More often than not, we are assaulted with the ubiquitous confines of “reality” and are told, “That is just the way it is.” Obviously this can be very disconcerting and one cannot help but wonder why. There are those who believe that we must be pragmatic and do the best we can with what we have. Indeed these are sound assertions, but I believe they must coexist within a larger vision of indigenous resurgence that includes a broad spectrum of thought and action. It is not without a sense of irony that young people learn of the great sacrifices and efforts of historical leaders, women and men who were visionary and often uncompromising, and yet at the same time our people are subtly yet strongly encouraged to merely get by. We endure immense pressure to tow the line, to plug in, to go along, to get along, and certainly not to rock the boat. I humbly disagree. Now is precisely the time for visionary leadership. Our people need hope, and yes they certainty need the ability to provide for their basic human needs, but I do not believe these to be mutually exclusive. My vision for our indigenous communities is rooted in a resurgence of our own indigenous principles, thoughtful action with a focus on adaptation not assimilation, and leadership that inspires hope for our collective future.

Before I get too far, I will properly introduce myself so that you may better understand who I am, where I come from, and why I say and do the things that I do. My Nuu-chah-nulth name is Na’cha’uaht. It means, “Everyone is watching you.” It was given to me by A-in-chut, from the house of Tlaa-kish-pitl. A-in-chut is my first cousin and one of the three principal hereditary chiefs of the Ahousaht people. His father Umeek is the older brother of my father, Wickaninnish. My mother was born Edna Bolton. Her mother and father were Charlotte and Ed Bolton, from Kitselas and Kitsumkalum respectively of the Tsimshian people. We are of the house of Nishaywaaxs of Kitselas. Who we are and where we come from are of vital importance to the revitalization of our communities. As I’ve alluded to already, there is a subtle yet persistent pressure to be something we are not. Despite the fact that Canada has assumed jurisdiction over our lands, waters, and in fact, our very lives, we have not yet officially surrendered. There exists within each of us, a fighting spirit yet. I believe that we are living in a very important time, one simultaneously filled with opportunity and danger. By reviving our time-tested teachings we keep the hope alive that we will not only preserve our unique indigenous ways of living, but create a space where our people can once again flourish, and perhaps positively impact the newcomers to our lands.

Perhaps two of the most important Nuu-chah-nulth principles are embodied in the terms, iisaak and Hishuuk-ish Tsa’waak. The first means “respect,” indicating a rather universal respect for all things, places, people, and beings. The second phrase is usually translated into, “everything is one.” Umeek states in his book, Tsawalk: A Nuu-chah-nulth Worldview, that creation is complete and that everything is indeed whole and interconnected. While these principles might seem very simple, they are of profound importance to understanding a Nuu-chah-nulth worldview and way of being in creation. There is little doubt that we have adapted over the generations, and must continue to adapt our practices to deal with current challenges. I argue that while adaptation of our practices is necessary and even desirable at times, we must not significantly alter our underlying philosophical principles. To do so would risk losing who we are, fundamentally as a people. Herein lies a tool that can be utilized when contemplating an indigenous life in a predominantly settler society. This approach is not so much prescriptive as much as it provides a guiding reference on how we conduct ourselves as individuals, families and communities. The way of our ancestors was the way of action. After careful contemplation and preparation, our actions were deliberate. The Nuu-chah-nulth term for warrior is wii’uk (wit’waak being the plural). To be wii’uk was to be prepared and to act without fear. Of course it is easy to point to happier times and find what seem like superhuman examples beyond our grasp, but to truly understand our ways is to appreciate the principle of interconnection and practice of preparation.

Among many things, the Atleo family was also a whaling family. My great-great grandfather, Kiista was one of the last Nuu-chah-nulth chiefs to land a whale. To undertake such a large endeavour required great preparation not just physically, but mentally, and spiritually as well. I am only able to provide a simplified rendering here, but the lesson is that great things can be accomplished with the proper preparation and understanding of the interconnection of all life. At first glance, these philosophical underpinnings might also seem esoteric, but I believe they are vital to true and lasting community resurgence. The name Atleo is an anglicized version of a Nuu-chah-nulth word, identifying the main rope used by the whalers. A Nuu-chah-nulth historian recently shared this insight and pointed to the importance of fully understanding the meaning. A single strand of the rope is fine and easily broken. Dozens and dozens of strands, woven together makes the rope strong; strong enough to land a great whale weighing many tons, and strong enough to provide for the community. In practical terms, we must work to shed the influences of Euro-Canadian individualism and materialism, work together as families and communities, utilizing our traditional principles and languages to adapt practices suitable for current realities. Greater than we are sometimes led to believe, our praxis must embody the best of who we are as indigenous people, and in today’s day and age, one might consider that downright revolutionary.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

new kumtux blog

Friends, Tsimshians, Countrywomen,

I've updated my Kumtux blog with an article I wrote for the '07 Summer issue of the New Socialist magazine.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

indigenous book review: Trinity by Leon Uris

It's not indigenous to these parts, but I'm an indigenous dude and the book, about Northern Ireland from about 1850 to the beginning of the Easter Rising in 1916, has some relevance to struggles for freedom the world over. Uris has written a brilliant work of historical fiction that had me laughing, crying, indignant, heartbroken yet hopeful, and using more adjectives than I ever thought I would.

Trinity follows the lives of several Irish families, most notably the lives of Conor Larkin and Seamus O'Neill, a couple of poor Catholic "croppies" from a small town in the province of Ulster. Other people are better at summarizing themes and plots so I will focus on what most resonated with me and the similarities with indigenous struggles for freedom here in the Americas.

The most obvious similarity is the colonial experience at the hands of the English, for the Irish beginning over 800 years ago. And there (at least in Ulster) as here, the English never really left, so both peoples experience an ongoing occupation. Uris also takes us into the corporate offices and dining halls of the English nobility and their loyalist collaborators. Interestingly, his rendition juxtaposes their humanity with the utterly dehumanizing way in which the Irish are regarded and treated. This has long been a complex theme in oppressive/abusive relationships and a challenge for would-be liberators, that is for them not to lose their humanity in trying to save it.

My good friend, "Chii-a-is" guffawed at my recent captivation with the Irish, stating that it was the Scottish that actually defeated the British. I'm not here to get into that debate, but I have to concur that along with my love of opera, tragic women, and the writings of people like Galeano and Zinn, all of these stories resonate with an aspirant indigenous rebel dreaming of the impossible. 800 years of struggle. 500 years of struggle. A lifetime of struggle.

Uris also touches on the seemingly endless frustrations that come with any desire to organize people to fight for freedom and justice. There are the ubiquitous "people", whose miseries get appropriated by everyone, the vanguard-like liberators, the militants, the intellectuals, the artists, and the collaborators. One can draw many parallels. I like how the fictional character Long Dan Sweeney puts it, "I hope you're not in a hurry...the true revolutionary is patient...and remember what I said about informants."

The book is over 700 pages long and is rich and complex and hard to put down, but I wish to touch on one more element. Conor (our hero) is confronted several times with love; being a revolutionary and falling in love. "Che" Guevara alluded to romanticism and love several times, but it's a tough go all around. At times it seems one cannot be truly committed to the cause (meaning different things for different people) and sustain a loving relationship at the same time and yet, one cannot imagine anything else worth fighting for. Ah, I do love paradox as well. In the story, there is a moment that Conor is perfectly willing to give it all up for the love of a young Protestant woman...I won't spoil it for you. I've found several copies in used bookstores. Go forth, young rebels and be inspired.

From the western shores of Occupied Canada
Dubya

P.S. I was also inspired to look up some cool Irish Rebel Music tunes by groups like the Wolfe Tones and Eire Og. Good fun!

Friday, June 15, 2007

kinda reminds me...

It is hard to believe that I've been working at the Du Quah Gallery for 5 weeks already! It kinda reminds me of my fishing days - working for my uncles in my early to mid teen years. Of course, I don't have a skipper screaming at me and when it's cold and rainy outside, Cedar (the gallery cat) and I, are huddled, dry and warm inside. Actually, Cedar and I do very little huddling together since I'm allergic to cats, but I do talk to her and she does talk back (mostly complaining that I don't pick her up or pet her, short of a few gentle nudges with my moccasin-clad feed, I suspect).

And of course the work is not physically demanding, and I usually come out of each day smelling pretty decent. However, there are some similarities. From what I can tell this gallery relies upon its 22+ year reputation, good relations with its fellow service-tourist related businesses, and word of mouth. I have attempted to understand all the variables that go into a successful day of sales. Considerations include the weather, time of year, day of the week, time of the day, the Canadian dollar vis-a-vis the American dollar and the Euro, plus the internal considerations such as art pieces available, display, arrangement and so on. Obviously, I also have the time to think of all these things. I've often wondered if it would make any sense to put it all into a spreadsheet and churn out pie-charts to optimize sales next year.

Fishermen can also be very superstitious. We would often experiment with different lures at different times of the day and sometimes be secrative with the ones that were "hot" only sharing them with a few select friends on other boats. And I will never forget that the Spring salmon loved to bite when we blasted CCR's Midnight Special on the boat's cassette player. It makes me wonder weather customers prefer to bite when I play certain music. Almost everyone likes Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, but I've yet to keep track of exactly what is playing when they bite, especially the bigger fish, er customers, I mean.

While I've already suggested a great disparity in the physical difficulty of the work, I should say that my "fisherman's work ethic" (strongly instilled by my father), serves me well. There are downtimes - much more similar to seining than trolling - but overall, while it is not busy, I'm presented with the opportunity to vacuum, dust, clean glass, arrange and rearrange the artwork. Then again, I am writing this blog from work. What can I say, it's siesta time? I felt inspired. I better go clean some glass before the skipper comes back!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

home

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- from T.S. Eliot's Little Gidding

Thursday, June 07, 2007

wisdom from our diminutive green master...

Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy...the shadow of greed that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.

Monday, June 04, 2007

quote of the day

"Why do you always mix politics with things as noble as cookies?"
-Don Durito to Sup Marcos

Monday, May 28, 2007

ah, Neruda...


An excerpt from Neruda's Letter on the Road

Farewell, but you will be
with me, you will go within
a drop of blood circulating in my veins
or outside, a kiss that burns my face
or a belt of fire at my waist.
My sweet, accept
the great love that came out of my life
and that in you found no territory
like the explorer lost
in the isles of bread and honey.
I found you after
the storm,
the rain washed the air
and in the water
your sweet feet gleamed like fishes.

Adored one, I am off to my fighting...



[photo by www.jupiterimages.com]

Sunday, May 20, 2007

oh yeah, I live in a rain forest

As the dime-sized raindrops pelt my summer motorcycle jacket (read: not waterproof), and my windshield fogs up I remember, oh yeah, I live in a rain forest. It sounds so nice when you say “rain forest” doesn’t it? I imagine sitting in some cozy cabin, fire blazing, cup of hot chocolate warming my hands, a beautiful indigenous woman warming my heart with her smile as we look out a huge picture window at all the lush, wet green, out there. Sigh. I try to distract myself with such imaginings as my wet fingers go numb and as I squirm a little in my seat, the build-up of water from the moto draft slides off my pack down you know where. Nice.

It was sunny when I left Port Alberni in the morning. The afternoon torrential rain is characteristic of west coast weather. I’m a west coaster, even by blood. I should know better. Knowing that I still have about 45 minutes to go, all I can do is laugh and think of how I’m going to blog this little experience. Although these adventures are mundane for the most part, and utterly inane at times I do try and make some links, however far-fetched, to the indigenous world of decolonization, rebellion, and revolution.

I heat up for several seconds later in my ride, but I’ll save that for the end.

So the water is seeping through my jacket, through my hoodie, and my Greg Norman golf shirt (great gallery wear, courtesy of a thoughtful and generous mom), and my BMW summer riding pants (also not waterproof – who makes $275 pants that are not waterproof? Better yet, who buys them?). My winter riding gloves must be getting long in the tooth, cause they used to be waterproof. About the only thing holding out is my trusty Red Wing motorcycle boots. At least my feet are warm and dry, which brings me to my next point.

Among many coastal peoples there exists a ritual of bathing in very cold water. This was done in rivers, lakes and the sea. As I understand it, one could merely jump in, get clean and jump out, or one could observe a more spiritual rendition, praying and adhering to protocols, often specific to each family. I will not speak of the latter, but more generally about the benefits of cold-water bathing. It’s supposed to toughen you up, physically of course, but the more you do it the more you begin to appreciate how it can strengthen your character and resolve because next time, you know, you remember.

I don’t liken my 75-minute commute in the cold rain to this practice necessarily, but it did remind me of it and I was also reminded of the benefits of growing stronger through action. It’s not hard to notice, when you look around (especially in the mirror), that we are perhaps not as tough as we used to be, or should be. This whole process of decolonization and community resurgence requires strong, committed people. Our ancestors understood this clearly, and acted on a daily basis to grow and remain strong. I think we can too.

Now to the matter of my instant and fleeting warming sensation. No, I didn’t pee my pants. Here is what happened (Moms, you can stop reading at this point). As I round the last corner before the orange bridge (which is now silver) and am momentarily distracted by the new Tseheheh band office, I do not notice that the red Dodge truck in front of me has stopped at the end of the bridge. Evidently, the car in front of him has stopped in order to turn left and is waiting for a break in the oncoming traffic. You’re not supposed to break hard in the rain. I think, in the milliseconds that I have, that I have to break pretty damn fast. I begin to slide as if on black ice. It feels so smooth. A shot of adrenaline pulses through my body and I feel instantly warm. I put my feet down, lest my bike decides to kick out, and I subtly steer toward the two-foot gap between the truck’s back end and the high curb. I’m not sure if the driver noticed me sliding or not, but the road clears and he moves just as I get close enough to see the tiny rain droplets on his red paint. Deep breath. I sit up and take a few more. I certainly don’t think I defied death yesterday. I did not hear the angels sing, but it would not have been pretty. I give thanks and I inhale all those memories good and bad.

Again, I’m reminded that there are no ordinary moments.



[photo by David Heller]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

what dreams may come*

[click on the photo to enlarge] After dining at the Beijing Grand, IMHO, the best Chinese restaurant in Port Alberni, I received two fortunes in my fortune cookie. My favourite read, "There is new hope for projects you had almost given up on." I wondered, "does that include people?"

Over the past academic year, I've probably been negligent with my not-always-humble opinions, what with my diverted focus on books, papers, and all that fun stuff. I intend to make it up to you here, recently inspired by a muse, a fictional warrior, a real warrior, angry Indian chiefs, and knight-errant: Don Durito de la Lacandon.

Poetry works with the sweetest
ideas, and becomes the sweetest,
the nobelest, most sober and wise
Oh lady, delighting all eyes,
Accept my soul in these lines,
And by letting my earnest praise
enfold you, you earn yourself
Envy for the rest of your days,
And find your fortune raised
Higher than the moon in the skies.
-Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quijote

Ya basta!

So the "chiefs" are getting frustrated. The taps have run dry. There is a call for a "Day of Action." I hate to be a cynic, but I find it hard not be suspicious of their motives and of their genuine connection to the people. At the same time, division does us no good either. How can we come together, or are we really apart to begin with? Hish-uuk-ish Tsa'waak. Everything is one.

Perhaps some people will rise. Perhaps enough will rise. Perhaps the moderates and conservatives will have more on their hands than they can handle. That might be an adventure. Ebb and flow. Ebb and flow. Perhaps we can catch a wave and ride it for awhile.

Power in Movement. A day of action? How about a life of action.

Don Dubya, aspirant Jedi Knight-errant
From the shores of occupied Vancouver Island


*I borrowed the title from the critically unacclaimed movie with Robin Williams

Sunday, May 13, 2007

to the mothers...

One can always comment on the oddity perhaps of celebrating one day a year in honour of mothers, especially when they often do so much for us, give so much of themselves for our well-being. A rant however, is not appropriate here. Quite simply, I wish to give thanks to all the mothers in my life, especially my own and do my best to remember this gratitude the rest of my days.

Kleco, kleco for everything that you do, the magic and the mundane, from healing our cuts and scrapes to healing our souls. In retrospect, it is all magic, all wonderful, all beautiful, every last moment. I love you mom.

P.S. I cannot forget all the other mothers and grandmothers and aunties. I have too many to name, seriously, but I love and respect you all. And of course all you newer moms in my life, not my mom, but a mom to my nieces and nephews. My sisters, today is also a special day for you, newer at your jobs, but no less loving and caring, and appreciated. My sister, Ger, and mi hermanas y companeras, Chiinuuks, 'Cilla, Em, Bev, Andrea, Di, Jusquan, Amamas, Kristy, Mare, Kinwa, Dawn, Gloria. Salud to you all!

...and before it gets too late, time to get my butt outta bed (yes, on my laptop writing a bedblog), and see about making some coffee and breakfast for the mothers in this house!

Friday, May 11, 2007

an ode to a kitten

Tonight, I part for the coast and a summer of new memories. Soon, padawan Kitten leaves for the valley of the mighty Nass River. Sooner or later all Kittens grow up and go home. We've had many a thoughtful conversation, pondering the mysteries of indigenous decolonization and resurgence. We've walked and talked our way through the same disillusionment, we've looked near and far and hopefully, we've glimpsed the same hope. Our battle is righteous and honourable. The red pill can sometimes be hard to choke down but it is what it is. Aaniikwaa.

We've also pondered the mysteries of the human heart. Perhaps they are one in the same. The force is strong in this one. She has a resilience and power that is already formidable. Honed and focused, and our enemies best watch out. It is true that she is my clan sister - We are Killerwhales from neighbouring nations. And Kitten has become more than a protege. She has become a friend and a sister in spirit and reality. Although our paths part ways for a time, we will remain steadfast, headed in the same direction.

It has been an honour and privilege.

welcome to this world Noelani

On Monday, April 30th, my good friends Ken and 'Cilla became the proud parents of Noelani Georgia, a beautiful baby girl and yours truly became the proud uncle of a 3rd baby in as many months (after babies Margo and Kimiwan). Congratulations my friends, and of course you too, T. As an elder brother you will be expected to care for and always uphold the dignity, honour, and happiness of your little sister. I will be here for you in every capacity I can for one can never be thankful enough to have friends as close as family.

Despite the ongoing problems of this world, it is moments like this that give us hope of a different possibility. It is not without a sense of paradox and irony of course for what other reality can we have than the one laid out before us? I believe in our ability to roll with the punches when we need to and create change when we must. Our struggle for peace with dignity and lives worth living will not be in vain. Today is indeed a beautiful day.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Goin' Coastal

It looks like W is goin' coastal this summer. I've just received word that I'll be working in the Du Quah art gallery in Ucluelet for my summer job and I have to say that I'm pretty damn stoked. :D (is "damn" still considered a swear word?)

This also means that my moto will be on the road very shortly as well! Woo hoo! Sausage Creatures be damned!

I have a feeling that it's going to be an awesome summer. (do people still say "awesome?")

It is time to make some new memories.

Hasta la victoria siempre!

[photo by Kevin Ebi]

Monday, May 07, 2007

Yaa-uk-mis

The Nuu-chah-nulth word for "love" also contains the experience of "pain."

They are linked, intertwined, inseparable.

Aaniikwaa.

Monday, April 23, 2007

all done...for now.

On Friday, April 20th at exactly 8:59pm, I finished my third year toward a BA in political science. It's only taken 15 years to get this far. I have to say that I really enjoyed my return to school. Despite the relatively heavy course load and endless stacks of books and journal articles and papers, I had fun. I hear some classmates who complain, and I've nothing against them and believe me, it feels good to be done, but I had no complaints this year. After 12 years in the working world, especially the bureaucratic, Aboriginal political working world, school was a breeze. All this time to read, and think and write, as I've said before, "what more could I ask for?"

And now, for the first time in 12 years, I'm looking for summer work again. I have a few promising leads and I'm looking forward to a summer of working, riding my motorcycle, BBQs, a road block or two, and of course some recreational rebellious reading. Last night was odd. After a very brief visit up island with family, I had to return to Mituunii to send some resumes, return library books and such, and I found myself with nothing to do at 9pm. With no cable or even Internet access at home, I found it hard to effectively vegetate. I wasn't quite in the mood to start my summer reading just then, so I ended up revising my resume and 'listening' to my favourite BSG season 3.0 episodes in the background.

So this year, I managed to live on my own for the first time EVER. I didn't starve, ate moderately well, and finally managed to take my father's advice and take cod liver oil diligently for the first time since I was a wee w. I am a true convert. Even though I was pretty hard on my body and immune system with many sleepless nights and last-minute cramming, which usually results in some sort of seemingly self-regulating illness, the cod liver oil did its job. While my classmates fell one by one to some bug or another, I was happy feeling rather "normal" fully appreciating that there indeed, are no ordinary moments.

In 8 months I went through 1.5 tubes of toothpaste, about 10 razors, half a litre of shampoo, about 750ml of contact lenses solution, 300ml of hair gel (thanks mom), many jars of fish (thanks pops, and family), copious amounts of oatmeal, about 6 large pizzas, maybe a quarter jar of oolichan grease (thanks Kitten), one bus pass (thanks NTC), probably about $100 in printing and copying fees, one iPod (thanks Mom and Sis and Gord), 30+ CDs for my friends, 20 episodes of BSG 3.0, 3 sushi and sake dinners, several Friday afternoons at Felicita's, and the unwaivering love and support of many friends and family members. Many klecos to you all.

To the summer of W. :D

(p.s. this picture at the top is my nephew, Kashus taken during my recent visit with him and my family in P.Dot. I think he really looks like my sister).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

what's next?

So, after months of guffawing at fellow students who wear sweatpants (although I don't seem to mind the prevalence of Lululemon on campus), and even a couple that wear their bathrobes to class, W has gained a new found appreciation for comfortable clothes. It's not that I'm really formal, and while I might even be accused of snobbery from time to time (:o), I have resisted the all-out comfort clothes at school, until today.

After a week in which I had three relatively sleepless nights, writing papers and such, it was all I could do to pull on my seldom-worn fleece sweat pants and hoody and drag my butt to school. W was sure shabby-looking but comfortable. They may be on to something.

What's next? Birkenstocks? Dreads? Bongo Drumming? Fear not companeros y companeras, while I may appreciate lounge wear, I will remain the W you all know and love (or despise). You all have permission to slap me if next year I show up with my pants around my knees, riding a skate board, with emo hair, and a Dakine backpack.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Here comes the Rain...the Ganhada has landed.

First, I need to issue an official web-welcome to the newest of the wit'waak initiates, Kimiwan ('Rain' in Cree). Kimiwan came into our world, joining his parents, Roots and Darren, and sister last Monday, March 26th. I saw him again last night, and he's doing great, getting used to his new digs, and keeping his parents up at all hours. I also spoke to Em, and baby Margo is also doing well. 'Cilla is the last of this round, and she's due around the 20th of this month. Congrats on your new pad with Mr. Watts and one step closer to respectability!

I also neglected to mention that I have a new tattoo...11 days old now, and just about healed. My bro, Hiish-miik designed it, and I got it done at Urge Studios here in Mituunii. In case you can't tell, it's a 'Ganhada' to honour my grandfather on my mother's side who was of the Raven clan (I already have a Gispidwuda on my left arm in recognition of my grandmother's clan, and therefore my mom's and mine). In this picture, it's about 15 minutes old.

Well, sports fans, I must return to my studies - I only have about 6,000 more words to write between now and tomorrow on democratization and ethnic conflict in Turkey and Indonesia...woo hoo! :D Summer's almost here!

Remember, there are no ordinary moments.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

a song...

...from Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach:

Food is dust in my mouth without you.
I see you in my dreams and all I want to do is sleep.
If my house was filled with gold, it would still be empty.
If I was king of the world, I'd still be alone.
If breath was all that was between us, I would stop breathing to be with you again.
The memory of you is my shadow and all my days are dark, but hold on to these memories until I can be with you again.
Only your laughter will make them light; only your smile will make them shine.
We are apart so that I will know the joy of being with you again.
Take care of yourself, wherever you are.
Take care of yourself, wherever you are.

my documentary life, web presence, and IRL




I used to have subscriptions to hi5, myspace, WAYN, bebo, ringo along with numerous MSN groups. Before school began, I cancelled all but my myspace account (declaring it the winner of the pseudo-networking site wars), mostly for the cool, independent tunes. After I returned to school, I discovered facebook. I signed up, attracted by the clean layout (no giant banners, flashing or audible smily-faces) and seemingly exclusive nature of - mostly for university/college students - but I think it has opened its doors to a wider audience as well. I've since been lured back to bebo but I draw a new line in the sand there.

On more than one occasion my friends have joked about taking pictures, specifically posing for pictures with the intent of posting then on myspace or facebook. One cannot ignore the irony of it all - as Old Man Rivers notes, the dichotomy between Life and Living. Are we truly living our lives or merely staging a bunch of photo-ops, or a bit of both? A few of my friends have done better than I, purging their entire web-presence. I've often been impressed by this, and at the same wonder how long they can keep it up.

Hopefully, possibly, my summer job (whatever that ends up being) might take me outdoors and away from the Internet and all my accounts and login IDs and passwords. Till then, I have papers to research, books to read, exams to study for. Only a few more weeks.

Smell the flowers
Turn off your mobile phone (or have a friend steal it from you)
Leave your watch at home
Go to the beach
Sit
Climb a tree
Breathe
Live
Life
Laugh
Play
Be
Now
Here

btw, IRL = In Real Life =D

dignified in defeat

It was inevitable. It had to happen. One cannot be king of the hill forever. Time and circumstance catch up with us all. On this day, the twenty-fifth day of the thirrd month of the year, two-thousand and seven, Kitten, champion of the Nass Valley, the hope of a valient and proud people, did defeat yours truly, humble W. Ok I admit, at a certain point the dramtics gets tiresome. Yeah, so Nic beat me today at 1-on-1. I think she alluded to being inspired by all the March Madness.

Kitten beat Dubya 11-9. It would be false to merely say that my shots were not falling because she played tougher defence, forcing me to alter my shots at the last minute. My only minor face-saving claim is to stuffing (blocking her shot) her a couple times. Good game fierce one.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Finding Dawn...Finding Hope

I've just left the Farquhar Auditorium at the University of Victoria, after having viewed the largest screening to date of Christine Welsh's film, Finding Dawn. I can't remember how many times I cried. We were told that it would be a 'heavy' film, but Christine truly manages to tell a moving, indignant, powerful, and ultimately, hopeful story about the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

It was hard to comment on when the film was over. My friends and I were almost rendered speechless. And at the same time, we cannot be. As indigenous communities, we've been silent about these matters for too long. HUNDREDS of missing and murdered indigenous women. Our sisters. Our mothers. Our aunties. Our daughters. Our cousins. Collectively, we must say, "Enough! No more!" Collectively, we must begin to act, to stop the violence, to restore balance, dignity, and honour to our families and communities.

I applaud Christine Welsh for her monumental achievement in creating this film, in finding the stories and allowing them to be told. So many times, we were brought to tears, as we met these women, their families, became aware of who they were. Christine not only humanizes these victims, she helps us remember our indigenous dignity. The stories are painful and heart-wrenching. I can hardly describe my own visceral, physical reaction.

But she does more than shed light on these issues, long kept silent. On her journey, she also finds hope. This hope reminds us of who we are, and our place in this world. This hope compels us not only to remember these women, but to act, to stop the violence, to uphold our sacred responsibilities. We haven't a moment to lose. We need to take inspiration from work like Christine's film and the stories of the women she shares, and restore, revitalize and rebuild our homes.

I'm looking forward to working with Chiinuuks, Muhwa, Ha'wiih'thlup, Hiish-miik, Seitcha, Wichaninnish, and all my brothers and sisters to Stop the Violence in Nuu-chah-nulth territory. The movement will not stop. It will continue this Spring, this time bringing the dual-message of awareness and hope, to the urban centres where more than 65% of our people live. If you get a chance, see the film, and get involved, and start a movement in your community.

Dignity and Hope.

I voted...for a Liberal!!! :I

I'll give you a moment to get back in your chair, and recover. Yes, it's true. W did vote last week and yes, I did just find out that I voted for a young Liberal. Allow me to explain.

It was a dark, stormy, blustery afternoon. The sea was angry that day, my friends! Ok, seriously. Friday, I and a few classmates had just been liberated from POLI 433 (Ethnic Conflict and International Security - or as I've come to affectionately know it, Why Poor Brown People Kill Each Other) and I was still high off of the adrenaline coursing through my veins due to presenting to the class. Now I don't normally get so amped about speaking publically, but our professor is a notoriously hard marker and well it was Friday to boot (I ended up getting my first B+ of the term by the way...see what I mean ]:I).

Anyway, grade-obsessing aside, as we exited the building I saw Rory approach. I recognized him from my POLI 318 (Chinese Politics) class. He had a bit of a frantic look on his face. It was about 3:30 and there was only going to be another hour or so to vote in the UVic Student Society elections and he was handing out last minute leaflets. I think he was running (as an independent) for Director of Finance. I hadn't paid the elections much mind, other than to notice that there seemed to be two distinct slates/factions about as distinguishable to an Indian as Liberals and Conservatives, or Democrats and Republicans - heck, even Chomskey and Zinn know there is very little REAL difference.

Right then and there, I decided to vote. It was something about the honest look in Rory's eyes and tone in his voice. Now, I know my long-time readers (especially fans of Kumtux), may be surprised, even a little dissapointed to hear that I, Sir Dubya voted. I will not try and rationalize it by stating that I feel these elections were of little consequence to students, much less indigenous students, or that because this was not a provincial or federal election that some Aboriginals actually think we can make a difference in. I voted because I thought Rory was a nice guy and he deserved my vote. :I

I doubt you will find this terribly interesting, other than the fact that once in awhile I like to indulge in a little self-deprecating humour and at times poke fun at my own seriousness. I'm reminded of a line from the Hagakure (and also in Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai), "Among the maxims on Lord Naoshige's wall there was this one: Matters of great concern should be treated lightly. Master Ittei wrote: Matters of small concern should be treated seriously."

And, it wasn't till later that I found out that Rory seems to be an aspiring Liberal. :I He didn't win, and I still think he's a nice guy.

Oh, and yes that is a sleeve of apple juice that I'm holding in the picture.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

300 and You

Ok, so I finally got to see 300 last week. First, I want to say that I think I'll stop reading film reviews and just make up my own mind. And thus, I feel fine if you ignore me now and make up yours as well. You also know I'm a bit of a sucker for certain elements of pop-fiction (Matrix, Fight Club, V for Vendetta, Batman Begins, etc.) So, my intention here is not to review the film or even comment on any of the hype or controversy, but to highlight certain aspects that I feel they are relevant to us rebellious indigenous types and allies.

Now, I know it is not a deep flick, and like I said, I'm a sucker sometimes, so sue me. I still think there is power in mythology. And like all power, it can be used for good and bad and everything in between (I say this because I don't believe ethics to be strictly dichotomous). Ok, so here is what I liked: Of course I dug the good ole testosterone-driven-warrior-culture and a life of training and preparation (also why I think women should call more of the shots). Speaking of women, I liked how King Leonidas wife responded to the messenger that "it takes a true Spartan woman to give birth to a strong man" or something to that effect.

Of course, I also liked the line, "A Spartan's greatest strength is the warrior next to him." I know there are a lot of cliches about this, "esprit de corps" and all, but I believe it to be true of brothers and sisters in arms, companeros y companeras. I've never been in combat myself, but I can attest to the importance of shared, difficult experiences in helping group cohesion. And I've already taken King Leonidas' line, "This is SPARTA!!!" and replaced Sparta with, Ahousaht! Toquaht, Tseshaht, Kitselas and any other village or home I can think of amongst my indigenous friends and family members (as I imagine booting some faceless messenger requesting our submission).

On a final note, I will end where I started. One thing I was reminded of when thinking of mythology was our own fierceness and brutality in war, historically. Specifically, I am speaking of my own people, the Nuu-chah-nulth and Tsimshian. I remember reading one anthropological account of our notorious "wars of annihilation." I'm reminded of the history of Ahousaht. I will not tell the story here, but I urge you to not think of your warrior traditions with shame or regret. True Wit'waak protected our communities, our women and children, the most vulnerable and above all, the law. I believe that we should think of our willingness to fight for that which we love and revere with dignity and honour; two things we could use more of, in addition to hope.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Muppets, Roots and Me

Roots and I are always joking that we are like Waldorf and Stadler. Get the two of us going on some Aboriginal politician or wayward radical Indian and hold on...yeah, we can get pretty merciless from our cozy balcony seats, but at least we can also be appropriately self-deprecating enough to compare ourselves to a couple of old (but funny) Muppets.

Speaking of Roots, she is due in exactly 8 days! I can hardly wait, and I bet neither can Roots, or her family. I know it may sound like a cliche to place hope in the generations, but what the heck, we're indigenous. I think of Risky, Kitten, Old Man Rivers (who's only 17!), Single Joe, Roots' daughter, my own nephew, and all the children of my so-called radical friends. How can I not feel a sense of hope and inter-generational persistence in our fight for a more just, fulfilling, indigenous way of life. Power to the lil peeps!

I know I have not posted on here much recently, and most of that I blame on school, which is still going well by the way. Despite my academic adventures, fear not dear family, friends, allies and enemies, I have not ceased my relentless pursuit of truth. I still think and theorize like there's no tomorrow, write in my journal and discuss and debate these issues with my companeros y companeras. I think it is fair that I be criticized for being somewhat of an essentialist. Most of the time, I do believe things are black and white. Life of course and a friend from time to time, reminds me that sometimes the world is gray. And while I cannot ignore this, I still believe that it is my place to strive for something as free of contradiction as possible.

I know that purity is an impossibility and perhaps, even undesirable, and that there is beauty in complexity. Alas, how can I resist and not fight for what I think is right? As I often do, I must also acknowledge my uncle Umeek, who taught me once that we all play a part. Everyone fulfills some role; an essential role significant to the whole. And maybe none of us are "right" but perhaps, even though we may disagree, we may be right together? Does that make any sense? Did I get it wrong?

This is how I recognize the timely nature of change, evolution and revolution, and my role in life. Recognition of the idea that true, substantial change may take generations is so counter-intuitive to the would-be revolutionary, and yet I still hold on to my revolutionary ideals and zeal, even though I may only be a rebel. All theories aside, I am humbled and honoured to have my parents, my sister, her husband, my nephew, all my father's family, and my mother's family. I'm grateful to my mentors and my padawans. I'm honoured to fight along side my brothers and sisters, and to build alliances with new brothers and sisters. The coalition of the unwilling seems to be growing, year by year, person by person, one warrior at a time. I am exactly where I want to be, right here, right now.

Monday, March 05, 2007

March Madness

Yes, I've been known to be a college hoops fan, but this post is not about basketball. Where do I start? It's been a busy month since I posted anything substantial. Well, school continues to go well. I still have not figured out what some people find to complain about. All I have to do here is think, read, write...what more could a guy ask for? To be fair, I am perhaps what some would call a "mature student." I know what I want for the most part. I want to be here. Right here, right now. I grew tired of my bureaucratic duties. It was sapping my soul. I appreciate the opportunity to spend this time thinking, reflecting, pushing my intellectual limits. At the same time, I can hear the grassroots critique. I'm aware that there is an academic bubble of sorts, and I am aware of the limits. Like I said, I'm right where I want to be.

My wonderful mother was kind enough to book me a flight home to Kitselas/Kitsumkalum (Terrace, BC) over reading break. (My Pops, also was generous in helping out with travel expenses). It was nice to be amongst that side of my family. I was fed like a king (although very aware of it all, I took the time to hit the gym a few times while there, or I would have come back 10 lbs. heavier!) There was a lot of family business we were able to address and I am not at liberty to share here, but needless to say, I am excited, encouraged, slightly afraid, and happy to be apart of something important to my family and our communities.

I believe no matter what we do as so-called indigenous academics, we must remain connected to home. What will it all before if we do not return home or at the least stay strongly connected, intimately involved with our home communities? It's all just theory, and my heart is at home, both Kitselas and Ahousaht. Sometimes, I feel academics can get lost in our readings, and big words (speaking from personal experience only), and not forget, but grow distant from home. It's all about home, about family.

On a lighter note, I have an appointment at Urge Tattoos in Victoria. It seems to take like a month to get in there, but I'm told by my friend 'Cilla, that it is worth the wait. The Gispidwuda on my left arm will have a Ganhada/Ko'ishin (Raven) mate on my right arm. My mother is Gispidwuda which is why I am. My grandfather was Ganhada, and thus my second tat, is meant to honour that side of my mother's family. Many Klecos to my brother Hiish-miik, for the design.

On the literary front, I highly recommend Ella Deloria's (Vine's aunty) Waterlily and the recently departed, James Welch's Fools Crow. The first is about Dakota life around the time of settlement/encroachment of the "west" from the perspective of several Dakota women, namely, Waterlily. It's a beautifully written account of Dakota life, focusing on the fundamental importance of family and kinship. We all understand and have heard of the importance of indigenous families to one degree or another, but Deloria truly paints a poignant, sometimes painful, yet beautiful literary picture for us.

Fools Crow is the second book I recommend to anyone, but especially those who find themselves in a position to be 'warriors' or leaders or both. It was recommended to me by two professors that I respect a great deal. I will need to read it again, to further appreciate the implications of leadership under immensely difficult and unprecedented circumstances. It is also set around the same time as Waterlily,but focuses on the life of Fools Crow, a young Pikuni (Blackfoot) man as he grows from relative obscurity to a warrior, healer and leader of great repute under difficult circumstances. Both books get 5 dubya-stars!

Till next time sports fans...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

missing in action

I know, I have not posted in a while, over three weeks! Fear not sports fans, I shall return soon...school and all that jazz...lots to report and reflect on anyway.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

quotes and random thoughts...

I've recently had the honour of becoming reacquainted with my friend, JM. I think we share both a concern for our communities and a desire to help shape something other than what is currently presented to "Aboriginal" people and First Nations. He recently returned from a visit home and proclaimed, "I can't think of anything worse for my soul than a band meeting." I'm sure many of you, who've partaken in the band politics of home, even as an observer, can relate. When I posted this quote on my Facebook page, Old Man Rivers sarcastically remarked, "but that's where real change happens!" :I

I hate being cynical. Am I? I think some would say I am. I've also been characterized as a hopeless romantic. I like being a romantic more than a cynic.

There are times, however, when I cannot but help feel so strongly about what is right and wrong about the world, especially our Indigenous world. And despite being a self-proclaimed "revolutionary turned rebel" I recognize that true and everlasting change will take time, more than I have at present. Despite this acknowledgement, we can all still play a fundamental part. I don't know what the answer is, but I think it involves some forms of righteous resistance, taking action when it is required, and re-creating a legacy of hope, dignity and justice for those who will follow us.

I've been feeling very reflective this past week. A lot has gone on it seems. What did brother Malcolm teach about chickens? They come home to roost. Que sera sera, what will be will be. C'est la vie. Aaniikwaa. Let the chips fall where they may. Let no appropriate cliche be neglected. I resist declarations and resolutions. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it is because I can't stand the disappointment. And this is not to say that I have never kept my word or accomplished things I've set out to do. Times, they are a changin'.

I recently watched Troy and The Last Samurai again. I'm still a sucker for movies. Two of my favourite quotes from those movies respectively, are: "Honour the Gods, love your woman, and defend your country." (I would say, "nation" instead though) - Hector; and "Life in every breath...that is the way of the warrior." - Katsumoto.

It's almost the start of another week. Have a good one. Make it a good one. cuu, W

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Near the end of Ella Cara Deloria’s Waterlily, the protagonist, for whom the novel is named, thinks to herself, “All my relatives are noble…They make of their duties toward others a privilege and a delight…When everyone was up to par in this kinship interchange of loyalty and mutual dependence, life could be close to perfect” (224). Despite enduring tremendous loss, upheaval, and tragedy, Waterlily unwaveringly embodies the kinship laws that our foundational to the success and harmony of Dakota life. And while the novel is focused on the life of Waterlily, it is truly a story about the complex yet subtle social structure and way of life of the Dakota people. Their worldview is one that is truly interconnected and interdependent and it begins early on with careful, and gentle yet strict child rearing. Deloria points out, “It was the custom to put children first in all things” (33). She goes on further to describe the budding relationship of mutual loyalty and responsibility that is fostered between Waterlily and her elder brother, Little Chief. The honour and respect that is encouraged between the siblings extends not only to direct interaction between the two, but in their independent conduct as well. Brother and sister are taught only to act in such a manner as to bring honour and happiness to one another. It is stated in the preface to the novel, “the ultimate aim of Dakota life, stripped of accessories, was quite simple: One must obey kinship rules; one must be a good relative” (x). In the face of life’s daily trials, joys and tragedies, such a way of life is perhaps simple, yet immensely powerful. Indeed, the survival of indigenous peoples, in the wake of colonization, genocide and occupation can largely be attributed to the inherent resiliency of the interconnected family and communal frameworks as exhibited by the Dakota people. As Waterlily’s life and reflection suggest, indigenous ways of life were not utopian, but they were close to perfect and there is something undeniably paradoxical and beautiful about that.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

one of my favourites...

"And if it were said of us that we are almost romantics, that we are incorrigible idealists, that we seek the impossible, then a thousand and one times we must answer that yes, we are." - Ernesto "Che" Guevara

Monday, January 29, 2007

like butta baby

Again, Nic (aka "Champ", aka "Fierce Kitten") and I met up at the gym about noon today and there were no other Indians in sight. Our shooting was brutal to say the least. I think we both missed our first six free-throw attempts before she finally got going and beat me 21-0. Then we played Horse and I think I lost that one too...H-O-R-S-E to H-O-R-S...then of course the main event...1-on-1 (which we play without "possession" just to be nice). Again, W ruled the paint and had more "and 1's" than he can remember, but Nic faired a little better getting 6 points I think before I got 11. AND then...we played 21 and this time, yours truly was victorious (21-18 I think). Thank you, thank you. Bragging rights for another week.

W "so money (but he doesn't know it)" Atleo

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

oh wynema!

I recently finished a book entitled, Wynema by S. Alice Callahan, originally published in 1891 (for my English 426 class). In summary it is about two women, a settler and an indigenous woman, named Wynema. Characteristic of many novels written at the time, it is a love story (or several) set amongst a backdrop of dispossession, allotment and genocide. I liked the book, but what I really want to share are some very specific excerpts by a Lakota warrior named, Wildfire prior to what is not too subtle a reference to the Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29th, 1890. I founded these passages the most moving and motivating of the whole book:

We were once a large and powerful nation, ruling over a vast portion of this country of yours. By the white man's cruelty and treachery we have been driven farther and farther away, until we now occupy this Government reservation, in a climate so cold and exposed to hardships that our numbers have diminished until we are but a handful - a mere speck of what we were. In the old days we were free; we hunted and fished as we pleased, while our (women) tilled the soil. Now we are driven to a small spot, chosen by the pale-faces, where we are watched over and controlled by agents who can starve us to death at their will. Think you, I can hear of peace when I see my noble companions slain because they refuse to obey the commands of the military men? When our (women) and children are shot down like dogs before our eyes? May the Great Father hear me when I say, let this arm wither, let these eyes grow dim, let this savage heart still its beating, when I stand still and make peace with a Government whose only policy is to exterminate my race.

If we cannot be free, let us die. What is life to a caged bird, threatened with death on all sides? The cat springs to catch it and hangs to the cage looking with greedy eyes at the victim. Strange, free birds gather round its prison and peck its eyes, taunting it with its captivity until it beats its wings against the cage and longs for freedom, yea, even the freedom of death. So it is with us. The white man has caged us, here, for his greedy brothers to devour.

You speak of my wife and children. Ah, well you may. It is for them I resist, for them I shall battle, and for them I shall die, if need be - that my sons may not grow up the oppressed wards of a mighty nation - the paltry beggars to whom a pitiful sum of one cent is doled out, when the whole vast country is theirs by right of inheritance...And again; is it right for the nation who have been trampled upon, whose land, whose property, whose liberty, whose everything but life, have been taken away, to meekly submit and still bow their heads for the yoke? Why the very ox has more spirit than that!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Who says pop-culture can't be revolutionary?

A quote from The Matrix, that Old Man Rivers reminded me of (I added a couple things as well ;-)

"The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. When you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters, Indian chiefs, bureaucrats, social workers. The very minds of people we're trying to save, but until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand that most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they're going to fight to protect it."

...although it may be a semantic issue, I would use the word 'enemy' more carefully...W

Sunday, January 21, 2007

some thoughts on indigenous philosophies

I thought that it was about time that I actually put some "work" into this blog again and share some thoughts of my own (along with a few other esteemed thinkers as well). First, should update you on my classes this term. I'm taking: PHIL 209 (Philosophy and First Nations Thought), ENGL 426 (Indigenous Women's Writing and Literary Decolonization), POLI 363 (Introduction to Indigenous Politics), POLI 371 (Chinese Politics) and POLI 433 (Ethnic Conflict and International Security). This should inform you to a certain extent where my head will be at this term, at least academically.

Obviously, I'm taking several Indigenous-themed courses this term. There was a time when one would interpret these as gimmies or easy. I think it's safe to say that that is not the case anymore. The level of thought and engagement on matters concerning indigenous peoples and issues has become increasingly complex and interesting over the years, in the academic arenas I mean. That being said, I think it does help to have an indigenous perspective or worldview when taking these courses. Over the past several years I've had the good fortune to rub elbows with many a smart, young indigenous thinker and rebel.

In taking my PHIL 209 course, I'm reminded of many things I've heard from my father, Wickaninnish and my uncle, Umeek. In particular, I can see the distinct way they see the world and the way they've tried to explain it to me. Being reaised in the city, perhaps it has taken me a little longer than people would have liked, but I believe that their influence along with many other indigenous mentors and teachers I've had has helped me come to the place I am at today (which is where? lol).

Brian Burkhart from the Univeristy of Indiana lays some of the distinctions out nicely in his article, What Coyote and Thales Can Teach Us: An Outline of American Indian Epistemology. First he suggests that a guiding question of life is "What is the right road for humans to walk?" This is to suggest that philosophy is not merely a navel-gazing activity for indigenous people, but the quest for knowledge about how best to live in this world. He then summarizes 4 principles common to many indigenous philosophies:

1) The Principle of Relatedness - all things and people stand in relation and knowing is relational. In Nuu-chah-nulth territory we have the principle of "hish-uuk-ish tsa-waak" (Everything is One). This is in contrast to the (predominant) Western Analytic Philosophical view that people, things and knowledge are 'atomistic.'

2) The Limits of Questioning Principle - Quite simply, the possibility of non-sensical questions arises here. Some things we are not meant to know or have little relevance to us. This of course contrasts with the Western idea that knowledge itself is 'value-free' and can, indeed should be, amassed. From an indigenous perspective, some questions are stupid and more of a sign of confusion than anything.

3) The Meaning-shaping Principle of Action - Knowledge if fluid and so are we. We act, and interact and the world and us change. This contrasts with the Western notion of taking 'snap-shots,' freezing knowledge in time, developing theories and then seeing if they are still relevant to the 'real world' again. Time does not stop and neither do we. We have a moral responsibility to listen and observe constantly.

4) The Principle of a Moral Universe - This again, relates to our rightly living and being in the world. The right way to live is connected to our ability to gain knowledge through our experiences and the experiences of others. This contrasts from the Western idea that knowledge itself if value-free. There is a right way of being and our endeavour to gain more knowledge should facilitate that.

Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but I think it's pretty cool so far. It might help explain, in part, why you see the world even just slightly differently.

cuu brothers and sisters.