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.

Friday, January 19, 2007

coming soon...

Some thoughts on "Indigenous Philosophies" and I expect Old Man Rivers to offer an insightful and unabashed critique!

Monday, January 15, 2007


Here are my favourite lines from Pablo Neruda's poem, "Ode and Burgeonings":

My love, to my life
you came prepared
as a poppy and as a guerrilla fighter:
silken is the splendor that I stroke
with the hunger and thirst
that I brought to this world only for you,
and behind the silk
the girl of iron
who will fight at my side.
Love, love, here we are.
Silk and metal, come close to my mouth.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

fierce kitten hoops

Today, I played some hoops for the first time in awhile (I think the second time in a year). Kitten (a protege from the Nass) and I played these two foreign exchange students and lost 11-5. Then Kitten beat me at a game of Twenty-One, 21-3. Then I schooled her one-on-one. I was up 10-2 before we stopped and she beat me at Twenty-One again, this time 21-20. You think I would rule the paint, but the Kitten is fierce inside and knows how to use her elbows.

Stay tuned sports fans...I think I might try some lacrosse this year. My friend, Chii-a-is likes to say, "the boys of summer play baseball, the men of summer play lacrosse."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

It's official...

The W you all know and love is a nerd. Now this is not to be mistaken for a geek. According to Old Man Rivers, there is an important distinction. Nerds watch BSG, Geeks watch Star Trek. I finally received all my grades back from my recent return into the land of ivory towers: A, A-, B, and A+.

Yeah, I was dissapointed in the B too, but I take full responsibility. I shall make amends this semester. Watch out fellow nerds...Dubya is on a rampage.