Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Text Size

Editorial: A lesson about the use of power

Once destroyed, historical relics are gone forever

The Leader-Post

The man who literally wrote the book on Lake Diefenbaker and the Gardiner Dam gently declined to cast judgment on whether the massive project that built them in the 1960s was worthwhile.

 

Max Macdonald conceded the project's contributions to irrigation, flood control, recreation and the generation of electricity, but said more time must pass for it to be assessed.

And in his interviews about his 1999 book The Dam The Drought Built, he seemed saddened as he talked about the fate of Mistaseni, the sacred relic - a rock, estimated at 400 tons - in the valley of the South Saskatchewan River. It was a sacred place to First Nations - until the federal and provincial governments agreed to dam the river and somebody, somewhere decreed this sacred stone must go.

A campaign to preserve or even relocate Mistaseni (also spelled "Mistusinne" or "Mistasiniy" and pronounced like "misstoss-annee") was started. The StarPhoenix (where Macdonald was then editor-in-chief) covered it sympathetically.

Despite this, Mistaseni was destroyed by explosives in December 1966. Contemporary sources are lean on why this happened, but they suggest that federal government experts concluded it would endanger boats in the reservoir.

Granted, moving an object of 400 tons would be tough even today, but it's hard to believe this culturally important shrine could not have been left in place, and marked on marine charts and with buoys.

It would have been a gesture of respect to First Nations. It also would have been a reminder that man-made structures are passing things. At some point - maybe a century or two hence - that dam will be dismantled and Mistaseni would be there.

To put this in context, remember the outrage the world felt when the Afghani Taliban blew up centuries-old sculptures in 2000. Or recall how we seethe when a war memorial is desecrated - and you get an idea of the outrageousness of this act. As Macdonald (later the publisher of The Leader-Post) noted in his book, at least one settler's grave was carefully relocated by federal government crews. Why could the same respect not have been accorded to Mistaseni?

With this summer's rediscovery of Mistaseni's remnants by diver Steven Thair and his team, it's been observed that destroying a sacred First Nations object like it simply would not happen today. If so, good.

This story reminds us that governments and developers are not always correct and should respect the legitimate concerns of the people, race notwithstanding, affected by their decisons.

Having the legal authority to destroy something doesn't mean you should.

Let us learn once more from history and from our mistakes - mistakes like the destruction of Mistaseni.

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...

OBIDIAH

obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

JOBS

Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON

Responsibilities

Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014

EVENTS

September 2014
S M T W T F S
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
imageimageimageimageimage
cartoonscartoonscartoonscartoonscartoons

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday

 

Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins