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
Climb a tree

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 and all that jazz...lots to report and reflect on anyway.