White people: stop defining us and defiling our symbolism.

I first saw this picture last week. Several people alerted me to this image. The graphic rates well for shock effect. It was published to accompany an article published in the September edition of Maisonneuve magazine, to go along with Halifax’s Saint-Mary University professor Darryl Leroux’s article “Self-Made Métis,” in which he writes how tens of thousands of Canadians have begun calling themselves Métis, and now they’re trying to get the courts to agree. 

I can’t tell you who the artist is or whether s.he is Indigenous. It’s obvious that whoever made this drawing knows something about Indigenous symbolism and was going for a shock factor.

Everyone should be concerned about this image.

Who might fit a stereotypical image of the Noble Indian?

Before you continue reading, stop. Ask yourself if your grandchildren’s grandchildren would loose claim to your Nation, to your community, based on how s.he may physically appear on the outside.

The drawing is being used as a commentary on identity politics between First Nations without status and Métis from outside the branded Métis “Nation” (a specific geographic area that excludes parts of BC and Ontario, as well as all of the NWT, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.)

Let’s face facts:

This picture is violent in nature. It’s blasphemous. It’s full of imagery and innuendos intended to send a clear message of segregation. The image clearly mirrors disrespect for Indigenous symbolism by way of poking fun of sacred objects such as the Medicine Wheel and traditional Regalia. It uses the stereotype of a Caucasian, Aryan-looking male desecrating the Peaked Hood  worn as part of the women of the Wabanaki Confederacy Regalia.

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Traditionally embroidered with beaded swirls, the Peaked Hood is sacred to the woman of the Confederacy. In this case, a Christian crucifix that looks like a Nazi cross replaces the bottom embroidery.

The Peaked Hood is placed on top of a camouflage-coloured baseball cap that would somehow imply that everybody seeking to assert Indigenous identity is doing so for hunting privileges.

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Along with the rappala fishing lure that misappropriates the use of the Sacred Medicine Wheel, while featuring colours of the four directions in wrong order, the graphic seeks to reaffirm the trope that Indigenous Peoples get free, unlimited money and harvesting rights in Canada.

The Fleurs de Lys: an image associated with the French-Indian war, a symbol used by Louis Riel’s provisional government. The Fleur de Lys was a symbol of resistance to the Hudson Bay Company and to British colonization.

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In what should be seriously examined as an affront to all Métis, the artist misuses the Fleurs de Lys, a symbol close to the heart of every Métis with French ancestry as well as every First Nation  who held alliances with France.

S.he makes it about how Québécois identity is not compatible with Indigenous identity and reduces the history of Indigenous Peoples to British colonial rule.

Last but not least, the red nose. Symbolism of the drunk native. Reducing to a stereotype the blood quantum theory at the basis of the Indian act.

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One can assume the image content displays that whatever DNA is left in a mixed-blood native individual is a genetic leftover of generational alcohol dependency. The drunken Indian stereotype, one of the most harmful discriminatory tropes associated with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, seemingly is what remains during Whitewashing, all cultural traits diminish and are lost yet only the worst stereotype remains, carrying forward to future generations.

I’m sure I’m missing a few more imageries in this egregious art piece. I’ve relied on the keen eye of a few Métis and First Nation artists (who wish to remain anonymous).

Readers may or may not agree on the definitions of Indigenous identity.  These are important, crucial discussions that should not be influenced by White academia, in my opinion, no more than the criteria that states community acceptance be dictated by its Own People and not by the Settler’s governments.

We owe it to ourselves to speak out. We need to do it for our grandchildren’s grandchildren; those not yet born, for whom we hold land, traditions and culture.

The image has been made public and no copyright infringement is intended during this artistic critique and study of this work. 

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Culling the Indians: A Timeline

Everybody tends to refer to 1876 as the benchmark of Canada’s legacy of colonialism. But the intent to terminate Indigenous rights began 103 years prior to the Indian Act.

Here’s the timeline:

1763: The Royal Proclamation. Proclaimed as the “Indian Magna Carta“. It guaranteed certain rights and protections. It established how Britain could acquire lands.

1850: An Act for the better protection of the Lands and Property of the Indians in Lower Canada. Included are all descendants of such people, non-Indians who “intermarried with such Indians,” people whose parents were considered Indians, and “all persons adopted by them”

1857: An Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in the Province was passed by the fifth Parliament of the Province of Canada. Any Indian who can read or speak English or French, has no debts and is of good character becomes considered as a “legal Person” and “civilized” in the eyes of the British government.

1869: An Act for the Gradual Enfranchisement of Indians, the Better Management of Indian Affairs, and to Extend the Provisions of the Act. This further restricted definition of who was regarded a Indian. Only persons of one quarter Indian blood could be acknowledged Indian.

1870: The Manitoba Act.  Individuals residing in the vicinity of present-day Winnipeg were offered Scrip, a promissory note giving each individual a private ownership of 64 hectares in exchange of their Indian land title.

1876: The Indian Act. Meant to consolidate all the previous ordinances aiming to terminate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. Much of the Act pertaining to identity and the exclusions based on gender have since been repealed and the act has gone through several amendments.

Any descendants of the people who became excluded by any of these laws remain victims of historic injustices as a result their colonization. We are prevented from exercising, in particular, our right to development in accordance with our own needs and interests and denied our right to self-determination.

 

The Sillery “reduction” and Pachirini’s fief: first reserves for christian Indigenous

In 1637, missionaries of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, found a mission outside the village of Kébec. The Jesuits choose an important site for the First Nations, known as Kamisk8a 8angachitthe eel tip and the place to fish (known as Sillery).

Initially, the reduction of Sillery is called the St. Joseph Mission (not to be confused with its namesake created in 1680 in the Country of the Illinois Nation). The goal is sedentarization, conversion to Catholicism, and the education of the neighboring First Nations – Innu Nations, Atikamekw, Algonquin, the Wendat Nation, and even some converts from the Mohawk and Abenaki Nation. At the same time, unions between Nations, including that of the Settlers, are encouraged by missionaries because this type of union

will oblige all savages to love the French as their brothers. They testify to wish it with passion, for they never have more satisfaction with our speeches when we promise them that we will take their daughters in marriage, for after that there is a thousand applause. They tell us that when we do this marriage, they will hold us as their nation, considering the descent and kinship of families by their wives and not by men, all the more so, say he, that we know that the mother of the child, but not sternly who is the father.

At first, the Jesuits think that

These marriages can not produce any bad inconvenience, for never will savage wives seduce their husbands to live miserable in the woods, as do the peoples of New France, and the children who will be born of these marriages may be none other than Christians, nourished and raise up among the French and in their dwelling, besides that there is no appearance, in the docility of this people who is not warned of any other religion, that the married woman can not easily be solved. to follow the religion of her husband, in which, when she considers only the diversity of life, she will embrace a life of angels instead of the misery of other savage women

In the first decade, the mission was renamed in honor of Noël BRÛLARD de Sillery, a Frenchman turned Jesuit who donated his property to establish a mission to evangelize the First Nations of New France. Houses, a chapel, a mill and a bastioned enclosure are built there.

Thanks to the Sillery Register, which contains marriages and baptisms, the list of residents of 1666 and the Confession and Enumeration of 1678, we can see the acts of some 400 men, women and children who lived at the Mission.

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The Sillery Register reflects the “Pan-Indigenous” role of Sillery’s mission. Representatives of several Nations visit or stay there: in addition to Montagnais and Algonquins of the beginning, there are Attikameks, Hurons, Nipissiriens, Abenaki, Socoquis, etc., who come to learn about the faith. . The presence or stay in Sillery of great figures of the Amerindian world like Noël Negabamat / Tekouerimat, Makheabichigiou, Pigarouich and Tgondatsa, confirm the role played by Sillery in Amerindian relations. Originally intended for the Algonquins and Montagnais, Sillery then welcomed the Abenaki, whose presence is reported from 1676 to 1688. This is the densest period of the register for the frequency of baptisms. In fact, most of the Aboriginal baptisms attributed to Sillery (1,099 out of 1,716, or 64%)

At birth, the child receives a Native American name of his own; at baptism, we give him a Christian name. Amerindians have no surnames and it is exceptional that the child has the same name as his father. Some
many Amerindians have inherited French nicknames, indicated in French in the Latin text: L’Arquebuze, Le Marchant, Castillon, Compere Colas, the great Jacques, etc.

From 1687, and for non-obvious reasons, the Pan-Indigenous families, now fluent in the French language, leave Sillery and the mission is abandoned.

At the same time, the Pan-Indigenous families of the late Charles PACHIRINI, Sachem of the Makwag clan of the WESKARINI Nation (nicknamed the Little Mission), leave the Montmagny Fief near the Tapiskwan River (known as the Saint-Maurice) where these Christian First Nations settled.

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From 1690 onward, we begin to find the families from these two sites at the Seigneury of the ile Dupas-et-du-Chicot, which Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye had conceded to Louis DANDONNEAU and his brother-in-law Jacques BRISSET. The site, which consists of a network of islands upstream of Lake Nebesek (also known as Angouleme and Saint-Pierre), had never been inhabited continuously before. The archipelago was a fishing and hunting area used by many neighboring First Nations.

In 1699, both Sillery and Pachirini’s fief were removed from the “Savages” and handed over to the Jesuits. The document indicates that the “Indians” had abandoned the sites near the Jesuit lands. The document was made between Hector de CALLIÈRES and the Jesuits, without any participation or consent of any First Nations representative or their descendants.


Further research is needed to examine the impacts of this legal document on the land claims of First Nations and Metis descendants who had their rights revoked in these territories.

Sources:

Pierre de SESMAISONS, Raisons qui peuvent induire Sa Saincteté à permettre aux François qui habitent la Nouvelle-France d’espouser dez filles sauvages, quoyque non baptisées ny mesmes encorre beaucoup instruictes à la foy chrestienne [avant 1635] MNFIII

Léo-Paul HÉBERT, Évangéliser les Amérindiens : Le vieux Registre de Sillery (1638-1688) Je me souviens… Numéro 31, automne 1992 URI : id.erudit.org/iderudit/8112ac

Jean COURNOYER, La Mémoire du Québec, de 1534 à nos jours, Stanké 2001

 

La réduction de Sillery et le fief Pachirini: premières réserves des autochtones chrétiens

En 1637, des missionaires de la Société de Jésus, les Jésuites, fondent une mission à l’extérieur du village de Kébec. Les Jésuites choisissent un site important aux Premières Nations, connue comme étant Kamisk8a 8angachitla pointe aux anguilles et l’endroit ou aller pêcher (connue ausdi comme Sillery).

Initialement, la réduction de Sillery est appelée la mission Saint-Joseph (à ne pas confondre avec son homonyme créé en 1680 au Pays des Illinois). L’objectif est la sédentarisation, la converstion au catholicisme et l’éducation des Premières Nations avoisinantes, soit des Nations Innue, Atikamekw,  Algonquin, la Nation Wendat et même quelques convertis de la Nation des Agniers et Abénakis. En même temps, les unions entre les Nations, incluant les colons, est encouragée par les missionaires, car ce type d’union

obligera tous les sauvages à aymer les François comme leurs frères. Ils nous tesmoignent le souhaiter avec passion, car ilz n’ont jamais plus de contentement de noz discours lors que nous leur promettons que nous prendrons leurs filles en mariage, car après cela ilz nous font mille aplaudissements. Ilz nous disent que quand nous ferons ce mariage, ilz nous tiendront comme de leur nation, considérant la descente et parenté des familles par leurs femmes et non par les hommes, d’autant, disent-ilz, que l’on sçait asseurément quelle est la mère de l’énfant, mais non pas asseurément qui en est le père.

Au début, les Jésuites pensent que

ces mariages ne peuvent produire aucun mauvais inconvénient, car jamais les femmes sauvages ne séduiront leurs maris pour vivre misérables dans les bois, comme font les peuples de la Nouvelle-France et les enfans qui naisteront de ces mariages ne peuvent estre autres que chrestiens, nouris et eslevez parmy les François et dans leur habitation, outre qu’il n’y a pas d’apparence, dans la docilité de ce peuple qui n’est prévenu d’aucune autre religion, que la femme estant mariée ne se laisse facilement résoudre a suivre la religion de son mary dans laquelle, quand elle ne considéreroit que la diversité de la vie, elle goustera une vie des anges auprès de la misère des autres femmes sauvages

Dans la première décennie, on renomma la mission en l’honneur de Noël BRÛLARD de Sillery, un Français devenu Jésuite qui avait donné ses biens pour établir une mission visant l’évangélisation des Premières Nations de la Nouvelle-France. On y bâtit des maisons, une chapelle, un moulin et une enceinte bastionnée.

Grâce au Registre de Sillery, qui contient les mariages et baptêmes, la liste des résidents de 1666 ainsi que l’Aveu et  Dénombrement de 1678, nous pouvons constater les actes des quelques 400 hommes, femmes et enfants qui vivaient à la Mission.

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Le Registre de Sillery reflète bien le rôle «panamérindien» de la mission de Sillery. Des représentants de plusieurs nations y passent ou y séjournent: en plus des Montagnais et des Algonquins du début, il y a des Attikameks, des Hurons, des Nipissiriens, des Abénaquis, des Socoquis, etc., qui viennent s’initier à la foi. La présence ou le séjour à Sillery de grandes figures du monde amérindien comme Noël Negabamat/Tekouerimat, Makheabichigiou, Pigarouich et Tgondatsa, confirment le rôle joué par Sillery dans les relations amérindiennes. Destinée d’abord aux Algonquins et aux Montagnais, Sillery accueille ensuite les Abénaquis, dont la présence est signalée de 1676 à 1688. C’est la période la plus dense du registre pour la fréquence des baptêmes. D’ailleurs, on constate que la plupart des baptêmes d’autochtones conférés à Sillery (1 099 sur 1 716, soit 64%)

À sa naissance l’enfant reçoit un nom amérindien qui lui est propre; au baptême, on lui donne un prénom chrétien. Les Amérindiens n’ont pas de patronymes et il est exceptionnel que l’enfant porte le même nom que son père. Un certain
nombre d’Amérindiens ont hérité de surnoms à la française, indiqués en français dans le texte latin: L’Arquebuze, Le Marchant, Castillon, Compère Colas, le grand Jacques, etc.

A partir de 1687, et pour des raisons non-apparentes, les familles panamérindiennes, maintenant parlant couramment la langue française, quittent Sillery et la mission est abandonnée.

Simultanément, les familles panamérindiennes du défunt Charles PACHIRINI, Sachem du clan Makwag de la Nation WESKARINI (surnommée la Petite Mission), abandonnent le fief Montmagny près de la rivière Tapiskwan, (connue comme le Saint-Maurice) où s’étaient installés ces Sauvages chrétiens.

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Dès 1690, on commence à retrouver les familles issues de ces deux emplacements à la Seigneurie de l’île Dupas-et-du-Chicot, que Charles AUBERT de la Chesnaye avait concédé à Louis DANDONNEAU et son beau-frère Jacques BRISSET. L’emplacement, qui consiste d’un réseau d’îles à l’amont du lac Nebesek (connue aussi comme Angoulème et Saint-Pierre), n’avait jamais été habité de façon continue auparavant. L’archipel était un endroit de pêche et de chasse utilisé par plusieurs Premières Nations avoisinantes.

En 1699, les deux endroits se voient enlevés des “Sauvages” et remis aux Jésuites. Le document indique que les “Sauvages” avaient abandonné les emplacements situés près des terres des Jésuites. Le document fût effectué entre Hector de CALLIÈRES et les Jésuites, sans participation ni consentement d’aucun représentant des Premières Nations.

Des recherches plus approfondies doivent avoir lieu afin d’examiner les impacts de ce document sur les revendications territoriales des descendants des Premières Nations qui s’étaient vus abrogés leurs droits à ces territoires.

Sources:

Pierre de SESMAISONS, Raisons qui peuvent induire Sa Saincteté à permettre aux François qui habitent la Nouvelle-France d’espouser dez filles sauvages, quoyque non baptisées ny mesmes encorre beaucoup instruictes à la foy chrestienne [avant 1635] MNFIII

Léo-Paul HÉBERT, Évangéliser les Amérindiens : Le vieux Registre de Sillery (1638-1688) Je me souviens… Numéro 31, automne 1992 URI : id.erudit.org/iderudit/8112ac

Jean COURNOYER, La Mémoire du Québec, de 1534 à nos jours, Stanké 2001