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.