Governance building on the Walpole Island First Nation in Ontario, Canada. Photo by P199 / Wikimedia Commons
Matthew Nadhee of the Walpole Island First Nation reflects on the influence of colonialism in indigenous politics:
Through colonialism, we have been taught to hate and distrust each other. The government has underfunded us and degraded our rights to the land and the glory it brings when influenced with our spirituality and connection to it. In a modern context, they encroach on our ancestral lands without compensation, fight furiously against our tiny beacons of economic hope, and ignore social issues brought on by the effects of colonialism. We cannot do this here or do that there, because the action isn’t Indian enough. Now we’ve created a world in our communities that we don’t do anything because we aren’t Indian enough.
Now we’ve all experienced this, in one way or another. Based on my daily conversations, most of our personal relationships with all governments, has made us feel “less than” in some way. That hurts. And will always hurt. But being called less valuable than something or systemically treated as an inconvenience to society usually brings people together. It builds a common foe and connects those with similar stories and backgrounds. We look for the strong, capable and willing to help us with these issues.
Well, where does my generation go? As many of my colleagues, friends and family embark on a path of indigenous value-based community support and progress, we see the sad and conflicted face of our own “governments”. Guising traditional values for election ballots. Intimidating the younger generation in order to keep their “job”. Putting up walls from the people they serve as part of their “regular but definitely not traditional” practice. We have countless experiences where Chief and Council, Tribal Chairpersons or public employees of our communities have bribed, lied and stolen from myself, my partners and the communities they live in. We’ve witnessed them steal from their own family. Then we’re told we’re the ones that cannot be trusted because we’re not “Indian” enough.
Get the Story:
Something in the Water: Thoughts on Indian Elections
(Indian Country Today 5/17)