n 1491, the Indian People of Turtle Island, a.k.a. North America, had
their own systems of government. Most, if not all, had a variation of
the grand council format. In its basic and simplest form, it consisted
of a family council, a clan council, a community council, a regional
council and a grand council. Leaders, or so-called chiefs, either male
or female, were chosen by the clan mothers. Decisions on issues were
made through consensus and this consensus was strictly adhered to
throughout the systems of governance. The guiding principle throughout
this system was that we sit in council for the Seventh Generation.
Author: Dan Ennis
It was this system of government that kept our people
strong, united and spiritually connected. It was this system that
allowed for the preservation of the clean and pristine paradise that
Europeans found when they came to our homelands in 1492. Also, it was
this system and paradise that Europeans immediately began to set about
changing to suit their own selfish needs and wants. Our people were
viewed as simple savages who stood in the way of white progress and
development and who were very much in need of "Christian-izing"
The transplanted Europeans had the perfect answer to
what they began referring to as the "Indian problem". It was
their God given "white is right" and "might is
right" mind set. These principles have been their driving force for
the last 500 years. This is the force that managed to annihilate the
Beothuk of Newfoundland and so many more of our people.
Initially, because of our superior numbers, the
Euro-Canadians were forced to show some respect for our people while all
along conspiring on ways to subdue and control our people. One way this
was achieved was to sign treaties with our people. Treaties that the
Euro-Canadians themselves wrote and read to our people to get them to
sign since our people could neither read nor write.
Even though our people could not read or write they
insisted upon peace and friendship treaties without any mention of
signing away any of our birthrights as Indian people, nor any of our
land. As Indians, we could neither own, buy nor sell land. We were
merely the caretakers of the land for the Seventh Generation.
Through these treaties, Euro-Canadians felt that they
now had at least a toehold within our homelands. The Euro-Canadians
exploited and took full advantage of the respectful and generous ways of
our people. Their numbers began to multiply and they began to outnumber
Upon reaching superior numbers, the Euro-Canadians began
to exert their power and will over our people. Then they began to either
annihilate or civilize our people. Either way, they would still achieve
their ultimate objective, possession of our homelands.
At some point, one of those civilized Euro-Canadians got
the idea of a reservation as a place to put Indians, thereby controlling
and confining the "Indian problem" to a small and manageable
location. The Euro-Canadian thinking was/is that with the "Indian
problem" confined to a small reservation, it could be controlled,
managed and have some predictability.
In order to give the process of the theft of Indian
rights and land an air of legitimacy, the Euro-Canadians began enacting
legislation under the guise of helping the poor Indian. They enacted the
first Indian Act. This Indian Act was designed and written to eliminate
the Indian as a distinct people one way or another. They enacted
legislation forcing Euro-Canadian religion and education upon our
people. They enacted legislation forcing our people to receive
permission (pass-laws) in order to leave the reservation for any reason,
under penalty of law. They enacted legislation forbidding our people
from hiring lawyers. They passed legislation converting our homeland
into something that was referred to as Indian crown land but which is
now called crown land. I wonder what happened to the word Indian?
Given the fact that Indian nations and Euro-Canadian
nations signed treaties to ensure peace and friendship between them why
did one feel the need to enact the aforementioned legislation? Also why
is there not similar legislation for other peoples, such as an English
or French or Italian or German Act? Could one infer the existence of a
German problem given two world wars?
The legislation was for the purpose of legitimizing the
theft of our land and for the denial of our birthrights to our Indian
identity, our spirituality, our language, our heritage and our own form
of government. It was to acquire control, maintain control and to
perpetuate control over our people as a means of holding on to stolen
No amount of legislation, nor intellectualizing, nor
rationalizing will change the following facts: 1) Indian people have
called "Canada" their homeland for some 20 000 years, at least
according to Euro-Academics. 2) Our homeland was stolen by the European
newcomers. 3) The European newcomers accomplished the theft of our
homeland through genocide, state terrorism, lies and cheating. 4) They
continue to hold on to their ill-gotten land through the same
"white is right" and "might is right" means, namely
genocide, state terrorism, deceit and denial.
Today, Indian people are beginning to ask questions, to
find out, to expose and to demand; therefore, Euro-Canadians and their
governments are finding it more and more difficult to hide the truth
about our 500 year, one-sided relationship. The government's only
solution to the Indian problem is an old one--enact more legislation in
the form of a so-called Governance Act. It has worked in the past with
their people and with ours so maybe it will work again. We are still
thought of as the dumb savage.
In its headlong rush to force a new Indian Act upon our
people, the government is completely ignoring its 57 million dollar
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs report with all of its excellent
All My Relations.