Syzygy Revolutionary Liberation Gospel
7/9/1996 – 11/11/2011
The Indians it seems are in constant struggle for land rights and claims. They are in struggle for cultural rights, like the practice of their indigenous religion, etc. Yet, in a survey that was done on a random cross section of the Canadian people, it was determined that the majority thought that the Indians are doing rather well. Where did this opinion come from? We have been led to believe that the Indians are doing well, because they can set up businesses without being taxed, they have fishing and hunting rights year round and they get Indian grants from the government. The propaganda has been so pervasive as to suggest that even their culture has become a tourist attraction, so why all the fuss over their heritage.
The problem stems from the real treatment that the Indigenous people have received at the outset of European settlement as it is euphemistically called. From the beginning, the Indigenous peoples have been subjected to starvation, relocation, genocide and cultural destruction. When the Europeans made their first landings, they were often welcomed with open arms by the Indigenous peoples, but the favor was not returned in kind. The cultural and especially the technological differences saw that the Europeans had the advantage in the end. As the European settlement grew to a flood, the Indians were systematically driven from their homeland. They were deliberately infected with diseases like smallpox to which they had no resistance. They also succumbed to tuberculosis, influenza and the common cold which was unknown to them prior to the arrival of the Europeans. The plains buffalo were nearly driven to extinction in a bid to destroy the food supply and thus the plains tribes were decimated by at least 90% through starvation and the forced march west on the trail of tears. Everywhere the Europeans advanced, the Indians were driven back. Their children were simply stolen to be reeducated into white christian culture. Of over 500 treaties made to the natives, not one remains inviolate.
What members of Indigenous society that survived being killed by sickness, starvation or by just being shot, ended up on reservations. The reservations turned out to be mostly garbage land that had no value to the Europeans at the time of resettlement. These lands were deserts, Arctic barrens, swamps and rocky ravines unsuitable for either European or Indigenous lifestyles. The plains Indians wound up in desert reserves. The Inuit in one case were promised a “paradise” which turned out to be a high Arctic solid rock, ice infested wasteland where they could neither hunt, build shelter or survive. When the Indigenous peoples were nearly driven to extinction, they were given some hunting and fishing rights as their small remaining numbers were perceived as no threat to the ecosystem. In addition, children were just taken for “welfare” reasons and reeducated to fit into white culture. This ensured that the remaining Indigenous population remained small and ineffectual. They were by and large kept out of sight in squalid conditions beyond third world standards.
What of all the wonderful things they have gratis that the rest of us have to sweat for if we’re lucky enough to have meaningful work that will allow for dreams? Well, if you took the time to visit the real reserves, you’ll find appalling situations that are more in line with third world living standards. Most natives live in tiny shacks with no running water, no electricity and no central heating. In other words, they are a little less than a squat in an abandoned shell of a derelict building. In addition, there can be as many as 14 people in a building that is not much larger in total than the living/sleeping area of a small bachelor apartment. The land that they are on is often worthless for agricultural production, so they are often dependent on the system that is less and less inclined to support dependency. Although they have enjoyed fishing and hunting rights, these are being more and more restricted as are the social programs that were to replace these modes of living. Typically, natives have high unemployment on the reserves. Unemployment is often as high as 98%. It would be 100% if it weren’t for the government subsidized chiefs and bureaucrats that oversee the “distribution” of goods, which translates into goodies for the few and immiseration for the rest. This is why the youth flee to the cities to find a better life, only to run smack into racism and poverty. This is why the first nations suffer chronically from low moral and self esteem. They are a people in a constant state of depression. “Welfare” is supposed to correct this, but Indians on reserves don’t get welfare, they are supported by Indian Status Moneys paid out by the Federal government. The youth who abandon the terrible conditions of the reserves to find their life in white culture, often wind up on welfare.
The struggle for land rights takes the form of blockades and fruitless talks. When land rights are settled as in the recent Nishga settlement, they are contested by those who have interests in crown lands, like the giant forest and mining companies. Forestry and mining rights always come first as far as the “public” is concerned; after all, they mean jobs; that sacred siren call to prosperity in the minds of the duped. The “ unreasonable” land claims are after all a reaction to the land originally claimed by the Europeans for the old country and royalty by evicting the original inhabitants. In other words, the legitimate claimants were expropriated. The lands were never given or sold and in most cases are unceded territories of the First Nations. Spokespeople like former representative Ovid Mercrede make overtures to sovereignty considerations in lieu of the unproductive talks. There are also constant rumblings of civil disobedience.
Indigenous peoples suffer twice the poverty rate of white citizens even though they are perceived to live in luxury. But that propagandized opinion has been cultured by the bourgeois media and the tourist industry. The real picture is far different as is made plain in stories that come out of places like Davis Inlet and Kelly Lake. Most reserves are far out of sight of the white population and are not to be found on the tourist path. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find them on a road map. The conditions are of such squalor that many young people commit suicide, which is said to be 5 times the national average. The reserves have even been described as being the fourth world, which means that the third world squalor of Mexico or Ogonoland, Nigeria or Rondonia, Brazil are places that the Natives of Canada can look up to as being better off.
They have a difficult time escaping disease which is an outcome of their impoverishment. TB is said to be endemic on the reserves. An Edmonton, Alberta based study has determined that Indigenous people make up 20% of all new A.I.D.S./H.I.V. cases despite being only 5% of the population. This translates to an infection rate some 25 times higher than for the rest of the population. Native women, who are the oppressed of the oppressed, suffer the most. This breaks from the fact that A.I.D.S./H.I.V. is a “gay disease.” A.I.D.S./H.I.V. is a virus, not a lifestyle. It is opportunistic on poverty, much like TB. The fascist right wing element could not have planned it better, if indeed the disease is a product of germ warfare engineering. All their targets are impacted; the blacks, gays, Indians, IV drug users and Hispanics. Most of these people are also poor.
Despite the fact that the Indian Act, that is now targeted for “reform” (read destruction) allows for tax free and grant funded Indian business, most Natives are ignorant of such things. If they are aware, the jungle of red tape and bureaucratic inertia makes setting up a business almost impossible. Being a depressed people, many give up at the first utterance of “NO!”
Considering all the foregoing, this is where sovereignty comes in. As the misleaders of the first nations jockey to feather their own beds by making a drive for sovereignty. They imperil the rest of the people, as sovereignty means that they are supposed to be self supporting, which was historically targeted for destruction. The sovereignty issue is being brokered on the destruction of the Dept. of Indian affairs and the Indian Act. It is this act that made provisions for the first nations. Sovereignty translates into a kind of independence without the rights of that condition. Sovereignty means cutting off from all support. In the end, it means that the process of robbery will have been total.
Like the black slave of bygone days, the Indigenous peoples had no rights in white culture. This is even enshrined in the US Constitution where the First Nations are considered a defeated and conquered enemy under the conditions of the Articles of War instead of the Constitution and Civil Liberties. The conquerors did their best to absorb them into European culture, by banning ceremonies like the Sun Dance, tribal medicine ceremonies and the Potlatch, even forcing them to become christian through reeducation of the children in particular. Some Indians were even put to slavery. Prior to the emancipation of the blacks, the Indians sheltered escaped black slaves, recognizing them as being as oppressed as themselves. Part of the reeducation process has meant physical and sexual abuse by the church and state. Natives suffer from the highest murder rate as well, again particularly the native women within the inner cities. In the BC region, a group of First Nations women from the DTES are constantly protesting the injustice of the state dealing with disappeared women.
So if you think the Indians are sitting in the lap of luxury, be remind that they would gladly swap places with you, regardless of how poor you are, except perhaps if you’ve been made homeless through economic collapse and downsizing. This is where the new reality sneaks in to engulf the unwary in its agenda. Increasingly, white youth are being jettisoned into the same conditions the Indigenous were subjected to almost from the outset. This is one source of a new unity between them and the First Nations. This is all being done due to automation and the drive for ever higher record profits. The automation that was to liberate us from drudgery has enslaved us in immiseration instead. Thus our lot is becoming increasingly that of the Indians. Since the Natives have already experienced the dark side of European culture, they are in a position to educate us by way of that knowledge. Increasingly, the poor disenfranchised children of the dominant white culture are finding themselves in the same lot the Indians have always been forced to take due to the original expropriations. In Canada, the white youth and the Indigenous are coming together in a common bond of immiseration and it will be that union that will form the growing movement to eradicate the disease of capitalism from the planet. The Indigenous people have the historical memory of the oppression and the youth of today are receiving the experience in contemporary times.
The struggles of Wounded Knee, Oka, Adam’s Lake, Kanasatake, Gustafsen Lake, Klayquat Sound and others are all reminders of that blatant inequality among peoples, for they have emerged as a result of these conditions. If the money spent on oppressing people were spent instead to develop opportunity, there would be no such thing as poverty. Unfortunately, capitalism means unequal distribution, enforced through brutality and legislated unequal rights. The court proceedings that went on against the Gustafsen Lake Sun Dancers was a sham. The so called ranch owner and the capitalist state that defends such expropriation should have been on trail for a host of crimes. Capitalism has proven itself through the Indian question, and in virtually all other areas, to be incapable of negotiating or respecting even more strident demonstrations of discontent such as seen in all of the Occupy movements around the world. The state is immobile in the face of reasoned debate and acts of intimidation designed to wake up the Canadian/U.S. working class and bureaucrats. There is but one recourse left and that is the direction of revolution. We have defended the Gustafsen Lake standoff and Oka and defended the victims of the roundup in court then and the new court harassment of the Occupy movements. We wait on the day when all the oppressed unite and work together to end the vile capitalist state.
Hate Mongering and Bad Economy Linked
7/2/1996 – 11/11/2011
Blacks, Jews, Indians, Asians and gays have known it all along, but the bourgeois media is only now saying it. Hate mongering and bashing on these minorities has been increasing. There’s something else that’s been growing and that’s the souring economy leading to massive downsizing for the working people in general. This fact took a qualitative jump in Sept. - Oct. 2008 with the bursting of the mortgage bubble that sent shock waves around the world still reverberating today. For the first time (7/2/1996) that we can recall, the bourgeois media has linked the downsizing and impoverishment of the workers with rising hate mongering and minority bashing. Hate has mounted in violent expression over the last 3 years, doubling in the number of assaults. In Toronto, Harris’ mecca of the right wing conservative “revolution”, the former prestige spot of the gay world, there has developed a systemic hatred in lockstep with the cutbacks everywhere. Verbal harassment and physical violence has exploded by 95% since 1993. They are following the lead of societal intolerance toward blacks, Jews, Indians, Asians and gays. Hate groups actively recruit in schools in a decades long campaign to gain membership and support. Part of the problem is in the combined fact that most victims don’t report and this is due to the fact that the police are often the source of the problem as well, by either ignoring the pleas of victims or helping to rough them up. In an earlier piece we reported that virtually 98% of 60,000 gay people victimized by brutality in the last two years didn’t call the police, because the police are part of the problem, not the solution they brag about. We even wrote on a couple of individual cases where the police beat up the victims and let the criminal escape, so the silence is not surprising. Then there are over 1,000 “mysterious” deaths of Indigenous women over the last decade in western Canada.
Unfortunately, the people doing the minority bashing are also victimized by the continually collapsing economy. But for the elite, the economy is doing very well with massive bailouts and export of production capital to the third world for cheap labor. Many Canadians, Americans and Europeans have been downsized and find themselves on assistance where it is still available under increasing austerity. So they attack others who they perceive as being somehow better off by various rationalizations. They attack others who are equally or more victimized than they themselves. Now if only they would learn to direct their anger at the real enemy in a united front with all other minorities.