Obidiah Message to the new minister.
On the occasion of a new minister being appointed to be in charge of Indians. (Okay, a month after he was appointed. I've been busy preparing for the spring flood don't you know.)
Welcome, to our world.
So, here you are a white man. In charge of “Indians” eh? So isn't that a fine kettle of fish? How does your training and “civil society” steer through that one eh? But actually, it's easy. I mean you're elected to Parliament to serve the country and this is a part of that. You didn't... I mean we didn't design this arrangement. We were born into it eh? Yes. So let us see what things we will make of it.
1. And so what is the “rightful place of First Nations in Canada?” Are we to be a part of Canada, or apart from Canada? The French wanna separate. But here on the rez, we're fighting to be part of Canada but we're not getting very far. What we want is a fair share of the wealth of this land.
2. But you gotta see that the “experiment” – on both sides – hasn’t turned out quite the way we thought it would. On your side, uh, we're still here. We haven’t disappeared. Not yet.
3. And from our vantage point, the agreement hasn’t panned out the way we expected. Our leaders thought when you smoked the pipe with somebody and made sacred promises that the covenant would be kept eh? (We had strange ideas back then.)
4. Somebody said: “Doon worry, we outnumber them.” But that didn't last long. And so we have the present denoument. The present kettle of fish.
5. But everyday is another day of possibility isn't it? Each day, the white man in charge of Indians must put his smile on his face, put his head down and stride into it. The winds and the howls and the jeers and even the cheers.
6. And so what does one say at the dinner table? I don't mean at the home base. There, yeah, you can let it all hang out eh? “Goddam Indians don't know how fortunate they are!” Believe it or not, there are some of us out here who would agree with that sentiment. But relatively speaking. In this part of the world. We got problems.
7. The courts. What do the courts say? The courts agree with us. Our batting average in the courts is 900 or better. A recent book authored by a fella who knows the law in this area said we've won 170 straight cases and this should be grounds for a constitutional amendment that would clarify what the courts are saying about the recurring questions of treaties and aboriginal title, lands and resources. You gotta know we're on the right side of the scales there.
8. But the strategy in your government is to continue spending millions in the courts to buy time. A supreme court appeal holds things up for 10 – 20 years? Rather than settle up with us on some fair equation on how we factor in.
9. “So I think we should give Indians a share of the natural resources of the country!”
That would shut everybody up on that spot eh?
Or: “I think maybe it’s time that we moved to update the treaty terms!” Oh that would upset some of those company boardrooms.
10. But I know you can't go there. You're a minister for the white people, not the Indians. That's just the way it is. And who am I? Nobody. Just another Indian on the rez.
Have a good one.