January 21, 2009
Liberated Yet?, a weblog that uses self-publishing technology and the internet to publish content like text, images, art, and sometimes video and sound, is a tool I began as a means to accomplish a goal. This goal was originally designed to express my indignation as well as my idea’s, for many of the time those two are interconnected for me. I also set out with the goal to communicate with other individuals, both from my people, and the world. This weblog, once published, is put onto the internet and can be accessed by anyone in the world. With other internet projects, it’s also stored in databases forever. It was birth from two previous blogs that I tried out, learned from, then decided to re-imagine to create Liberated Yet?
The name comes from a question about an idea. As an indigenous person who either out of passion and interest or circumstance learned the context for his existence. That context is he is colonized. Colonialism is not just a process, but a paradigm too. It is apart of the social fabric coming from European, and later Euro-Canadian or Euro-American dominance in the world through it’s ideologies and paradigms. It’s intend is to abolish a pre-existing set of ideologies, paradigms, and the people and land within those, indigenous people and land. Theft of land, breaking down of pre-existing local indigenous population, culture, and societies, are all hallmarks of colonization. I’ve discussed this on more detail before.
The name of this blog comes from a question to an idea. Liberation, as a chant of hope, as a means to work to overcome dominance and control from something, as an opportunity to say an end to the oppression, is something I call a path for myself, and others, to see our indigenous people rise up. In some context, peoples have taken up liberation movements to rise up and out of oppression and foreign control. It comes from the word liberty, the freedom to act or believe without being stopped by unnecessary force. It’s something, I believe, our people had before colonization, and something we do not have now, but only if we can remain our ancestral memory and not the inoculated existence our colonizers gave us. So the question is really, are you liberated yet?
Within my community, a nation of 7 villages and a population of over 3,000, communication is in a desire state. I understand it to be the focal point for any community to network and be cohesive in any sense, either as self-knowledge or to accomplish shared visions. If we look into the past, the level of community was much more cohesive because of the close quarters of living and harmonious lifestyles between branches of families, extended families, inter-tribal relations, and spiritual connection to ceremonies, traditions, and customs.
Presently, the SN puts out a weekly flyer in North Vancouver and Squamish with ads, job postings, and the odd informational flyer. Decisions at the highest level are decided upon by the Band Councilors at weekly meeting where information on the decision to be made are mostly presented at those meetings. The inner-workings of said councilors in projects, committees, and negotiations are done and information of that is kept within that section of the SN. These effect things like what happens on our land, with development, trespassing, cultural significant area’s, and homes, and other things like employees, programs working to create, restore, to accomplish something for the population. Like I said, the information, from the highest order, is mostly kept within their ranks. In some cases, the happening of said initiatives are held secret from the community.
The Squamish Nation Band Council is similar to all Band Councils in the regard of how it deals with community dialogue in issues of concern and opposition. Simply put, it doesn’t like it. Like all colonial institutions, this political system is adversarial in nature. It puts A vs. B. If something happens and information about something the community disagrees with, there is some resistance. Water-cooler talk, and gossip, and some level of indignant letter writing. I know that first-hand because I’ve taken part in this since I became interested in politics. Generally, they operate on this belief that if they wait it out, the opposition will eventually die down and they can get back to work. This tends to horribly bad for the future of the community because in some cases the guiding forces at the Band Council are foreign influences. The guiding interests in where we as a community should go does not come from the community. This create awful situations where short-term idea’s, or in some extremes, self-interested benefits, come from the politicians and many time, energy, and work is put into it.
Within my community, we have no media. Before the Vancouver City election, it came out through a leak to the media that the Vancouver City council had given $100,000,000 dollars to the developers for the Olympics village. The secrecy of this cause a stir in the public and created a wave against the reigning Non-Partisan Alliance party. To keep politics of the society aware, understood, and investigated upon, there is a media to do that. A media to share the stories, information, and beliefs from all area’s of it’s society. Some parts of the world, it’s illegal to do that, and you will most likely result in death.
In my community, there is nothing to keep the politicians honest. There is also no means to keep the public informed of the what is happening in our community, in our territory, in the rooms of the current political leaders.
I have taken a stance before, but I do not identify as Squamish Nation. The Squamish Nation is an Indian Act governance structure imposed on the Skwxwu7mesh-ulh as a tactic of colonialism to fracture the people and usurp our land. I identify as my ancestors for thousands of years have identified: Skwxwu7mesh-ulh. The amalgamation of 1923 that was the de-facto formation of the Squamish Nation is shrouded in more mystery and myth then anything known by our people. If we are to take the thought that the amalgamation was the signing of a document by the then 16 “hereditary” chiefs of 16 Indian Act reserves as truth, it was exactly that. Indian Act chiefs, originally placed into power by the church then later the government after appropriating the historical governing system of “siyam”, formation a coalition to protect the reserves from being sold out.
My land doesn’t end where the imagery line for the reserves starts. My land is thousands of hectares used and stewarded by my ancestors for thousands of years. It does not belong to me, or any one person, family, or government. It’s used for resources gathering, and carried in stewardship for future generations to have the same abilities as we presently do, and the same as our ancestors. This land was stolen from my ancestors, and remains so presently. At the moment the beneficiaries of that theft are still allowed to benefit off that criminal act. Yes, that’s you Canadian population.
I don’t recognize the Squamish Nation Band Council as “my” government. My government was destroyed by the colonizers many decades ago. I recognize that the Squamish Nation, because of colonial constructs, has been able to assert and find a significant amount of power. This is through power of will in the people believing in this false institution, and through the power to wield many resources like money, people (staff), and legal authority.
To think critically is to think of other possibilities. To question the status-quo, goes without saying, is a strong indicator of a strong society. To debate idea’s and positions is a way that we better find the collective wisdom to ensure the best possible choice for where we move forward as a people. As our ancestors asked of themselves, we must strive to live to our highest ideals. I mean, live, to them.
It isn’t always the case to live to them always, or even that they agreed on the same values. Some think this gives them to the right to disposes others by veiled threats and attacks of betraying their cultural values, and thus betraying their ancestors. I don’t mean that by any means. I know I can be arrogant and sarcastic, but I still strive to live to my, decolonized, most important values. It’s why I question, it’s why I think critically, it’s why and how I care.
Why do I feel the need to defend myself? Partly to educate some because the feedback I’ve received. But also to be firm, confident, and strong in my position, not just on this blog but as a person who cares about his community, his culture, and where those go into the future. I intend to be a strong member of my community in a way to help and create things for the better. I hope to find others to do the same. I wish to create change through alternative means, because the status-quo disgusts my integrity to create the change that by the current way. I want to find my place a leader, like all previous strong leaders in our community have, and hopefully create more leaders, not more followers. I want to have a strong community that can face the most serious threats and crisis.
I want liberation.