Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘indigenous people’

“November 27th marks a dark day in the history of the Battlefords. It is the anniversary of the executions which took place at Battleford in 1885, which were also the largest mass execution in Canadian history.

Six nêhiyawak (Plains Cree) and two Assiniboine men were hung at Battleford and their bodies dumped into an unmarked grave that remained undiscovered until the 1970s when erosion on the riverbank exposed some of the remains.

The men were named:

Kah – Paypamahchukways (Wandering Spirit)
Pah Pah-Me-Kee-Sick (Walking the Sky)
Manchoose (Bad Arrow)
Kit-Ahwah-Ke-Ni (Miserable Man)
Nahpase (Iron Body)
A-Pis-Chas-Koos (Little Bear)
Itka (Crooked Leg)
Waywahnitch (Man Without Blood)

Some facts about the hangings at Battleford:

1. Judge Rouleau, the man who sentenced the eight men to die at Battleford, had his house in Battleford burned during the Resistance: The local newspaper at the time reported that Judge Rouleau: “is reported to have threatened that every Indian and Half-breed and rebel brought before him after the insurrection was suppressed, would be sent to the gallows if possible. In view of all the circumstances, and particularly as Judge Rouleau was a heavy loser pecuniarily by the Indian outbreak at Battleford, it is contended that he should not have been allowed to preside at the trial of the prisoners. A memorial has been received by the Department of Justice asking that the matter be investigated.”

2. Although the men spoke Cree – not English, none were provided with a translator at their trials.

3. Almost all of the historical writings about the hangings were written from the perspective of settlers. Blood Red the Sun and other narrative accounts paint the men as criminals. Barry Degenstein, local author of In Pursuit of Riel, as one relatively recent example, has continued to assert the men were “cold blooded murderers of innocent civilians.” (See: https://www.newsoptimist.ca/…/grave-not-that-of-heroes-and-…) It is important to remember that the North West Mounted Police (now Royal Canadian Mounted Police) played a major role in colonizing the region around the Battlefords and committed serious violent acts against Indigenous people here. The history of the Battle of Cut Knife Hill and other major events are primarily told in history books and other accounts from the perspective of the colonizers and settlers. (See also: Views from Fort Battleford: Constructed Visions of an Anglo-Canadian West https://archive.org/details/ViewsFromFtBattleford)

4. Hayter Reed, the Assistant Indian Commissioner in 1885, wanted a public execution. He asked the Lieutenant Governor to send any Indians who were sentenced to death during the second series of Regina trials so they could be executed with those sentenced to die in Battleford. He insisted that “the punishment be public as I am desirous of having the Indians witness it – no sound thrashing having been given them, I think a sight of this sort will cause them to meditate for many a day and besides have ocular demonstration of the fact.” This was echoed in the local newspaper. The Saskatchewan Herald’s P.G. Laurie understood the importance to the government of making the hangings a public spectacle. “We are not in favor of public executions as a rule,” wrote Laurie, “but we believe that in this instance it would have a wholesome influence on the Indians at large to have the extreme penalty of the law so carried out on those whom the court may find guilty.” Laurie viewed the hangings as a type of deterrence to further violence, arguing that the calm administration of punishment would impress the Native population more than further battlefield bloodshed. Laurie also agreed with the government that the executions should happen at the place of the capital trials, in Battleford. Laurie argued, “[I]f the Department of Justice will.. .permit the executions to be public, the sight will have such an effect upon the native beholders as will make them think twice before they again take up arms.” (See “A Lesson They Would Not Soon Forget” Chapter 3: https://drive.google.com/…/1yvqkd4LfbfO4YC5mWcQS0QfCPVEWNo_k)

5. The biography of Senator John Tootoosis notes at page 77 that among the witnesses at the hangings were “the Indian children from the Battleford Industrial School who had also been brought to see the eight men die. It was a part of their education that none of them would soon forget!”

6. One week prior to the hangings, Prime Minister John A. MacDonald wrote in a confidential letter to the Indian Commissioner: “The executions… ought to convince the Red Man that the White Man governs.”

7. Little Bear continued to assert that he was innocent until his death.

8. Loyal Til Death (a thoughtful account of the true history of this period by Blair Stonechild and Bill Waiser – https://www.amazon.ca/Loyal-Till-Death-North-West-Rebell…/…/) discusses the terrorizing effect the hangings had on Indigenous people in the region: “As for the Indians assembled in front of the gallows, they watched in quiet horror as the men dropped to their doom and then silently moved off once the bodies had been placed in the coffins. Nothing was said or done. They simply returned to their reserves, trying to put behind them the shock of the executions. But to this day, the executions have remained a numbing event, comparable to an old scar on the soul of a people. Elder Paul Chicken of the Sweetgrass reserve recalled how the Indians of the area lived in morbid fear of being picked up and tried before "Hanging Judge Rouleau.” Dressyman’s grandson, meanwhile, related how his reprieved grandfather and several other men were forced to watch the executions and threatened with a similar fate if there was any more trouble. “My grandfather was there, he saw them hung, he watched it all,” he recounted. “They didn’t like the hanging… the law overdone it.” Don Chastis, a descendent of one of the Cut Knife warriors, said that he often heard the Elders speak of the bravery of the condemned men, how they all sang on the platform in the face of death. He also speculated that the police refused to release the bodies for a traditional burial because the government did not want the men glorified as braves. “So they were forbidden to have anything to do with them. That’s why they buried them right there in a mass grave,” Chastis said. “It would have defeated the whole purpose of the hanging if they let these people [bodies] go.” The Battleford trials and executions accelerated the exodus of Indians to the relative safety of the United States.“ (At page 226-227 of Loyal Til Death.)

9. There are almost no artistic works or photographs that depict the hangings other than the attached illustration from "Loyal Til Death” by Blair Stonechild and Bill Waiser – https://www.amazon.ca/Loyal-Till-Death-North-West-Rebell…/…/

We remember the eight men who were executed at Battleford, and encourage people to consider the perspective of the historical accounts and begin working to decolonize the accounts of this history.

Is it time to consider exonerating or posthumously pardoning the eight warriors executed at Battleford?

(See: https://www.cbc.ca/…/pm-trudeau-exonerate-tsilhqotin-chiefs…)”

– from the Battleford Residential School Facebook page

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

“…in the late 19th century, a British naval officer discovered the extraordinarily remote community in the Andaman Sea. Fascinated, the officer, Maurice Vidal Portman, essentially kidnapped several islanders, according to the New York Times.

He took them to a British-run prison on a larger island where he watched the adults grow sick and die. After that, he returned the children to their home and ended his experiment, calling it a failure.

Over the next few centuries, few outsiders ever returned and the islanders were left to deal with the traumatic experience.

“We cannot be said to have done anything more than increase their general terror of, and hostility to, all comers,” Mr Portman admitted in his 1899 book. Centuries later, in the 1960s, anthropologists succeeded in exchanging gifts and conducting field visits but abandoned their efforts some 25 years ago in the face of renewed hostility.

No one really knows why they are deeply suspicious of outsiders but perhaps it could stem from the trauma of the original kidnapping. [Epidemic disease] could be another traumatising factor behind the aggressive hostility of the Sentinelese.

When the British first made attempts to colonise these islands in the 19th century, their population was estimated to be some 8000. Now, their current population is believed to be 150, although a national census based on photos taken from afar put their numbers as low as 15.

Veteran anthropologist T.N. Pandit, who visited North Sentinel 50 years ago, believes there should be no rush to make contact with the Sentinelese.

Of the four Andaman tribal communities, we have seen that those in close contact with the outside world have suffered the most. They have declined demographically and culturally,” he told Down To Earth magazine in a recent interview. […] Survival International, an organisation that works for the rights of tribal people, said Mr Chau may have been encouraged by recent changes to Indian rules about visiting.

While special permissions are still required, visits are now theoretically allowed in some parts of the Andamans where they used to be entirely forbidden.

The authorities lifted one of the restrictions that had been protecting the Sentinelese tribe’s island from foreign tourists, which sent exactly the wrong message, and may have contributed to this terrible event,” the group said in a statement.”

– Julia Corderoy, “Traumatic history of isolated tribe who killed American missionary.” News Corp Australia Network, November 25, 2018.

Read Full Post »

“The Sentinelese are not “Stone Age” people. They live in the 21st century and, like all cultures, have changed and adapted, so are not somehow frozen in time. They use modern tools because they live now, and modern doesn’t have to mean industrialized.

When we call people “prehistoric” or “Stone Age” or “pre-literate” we assume (often without meaning to!) that other cultures have to catch up with the rest of us, and we miss that there are lots of perfectly valid ways to live in the world. The Three-Age System is useful for some European and Mediterranean archaeology, but it doesn’t even generally fit well outside of this region.

The language of the Capitalocene makes it hard for us to talk about groups of people anywhere without presuming 1. An inherent right to have our curiosity satisfied and 2. An assumption that the idea of “human progress” is linear and industrial.

These are all things that have been used to justify colonialism and “civilizing” projects. They also experience the Capitalocene, even to the extent that they’ve had to adapt to the constant threats industrialized societies pose to them.

Even if there weren’t the issue of lack of immunity to diseases of the industrialized world, they would still deserve their privacy and independence because the very least we can do as part of industrialized cultures is not to wreck everyone else’s lives by thinking we know better.

The protection of their space shouldn’t be paternalistic or infantilizing. They aren’t simple or more “natural”, they’re complex like all humans are. The problem isn’t that a guy wanted to tell them about Jesus, it’s that we mostly carry an unchallenged belief that dominant cultures have a right to access anything we want.

It’s colonialism and capitalism, and missionary work is a vector, but so is a lot of adventure travel, development work, and even academic research. We don’t have a right to know stuff about people without their consent. (This is how we got digital colonialism, too.)”

– Jane Ruffino, November 25, 2018.

Read Full Post »

“A decade-long access to information fight by Amnesty International has uncovered documents the organization says reveal a deep-seated bias in how the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) handled the Mohawks land dispute in 2008.

“From the very beginning we think the response to the land occupation and protests in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory were vastly disproportional to any credible evidence of any threat to public safety,” said Craig Benjamin, who works for the human rights organization.

“Do I really think the OPP are there for public safety? Absolutely not,” said Dan Doreen, a Mohawk land defender, who was on the frontlines of the land reclamation in Tyendinaga.

“Does public safety encompass Indigenous people? Absolutely not.”

Larry Hay is a Mohawk investigator based in Tyendinaga. He worked with Amnesty International to examine the OPP actions.

He said this is still very much a live issue for his community.

“Why is it important ten years on to move this forward? Because these issues have never been addressed,” said Hay.

Hay is a former RCMP officer and former chief of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Police.

“What happened here in 2008, here Tyendinaga at the Culbertson Tract turned out to be an example for police of how not to manage an Indigenous protest,” said Hay.

The Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, in southeastern Ontario, sits on the shores of the Bay of Quinte, framed by Highway 401, the train tracks to the north and two small towns on either side.

In 1995, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte filed a land claim for a 900 acre (364 hectares) area called the Culbertson Tract. Roughly a third of it is farmland, but it also includes part of the small town of Deseronto, which borders the reserve.

“All the important part of the town is on stolen land,” said Doreen.

The land claim is still under negotiation.

Back in 2007, the Mohawks had already protested a permit granted by the province to a local developer for a quarry in the land claim area.

They occupied the quarry site and shut it down.

That occupation was still going on a year later, when another property developer announced plans for 200 housing units in Deseronto, in another area that’s part of the land claim.

“It was always about the land and it was stopping development of the land,” said Doreen. “And we did that.”

The 2008 protests and police actions largely happened out of the public eye.

But through freedom of information, Amnesty International has accessed documents including officer’s notes, briefing books, police interviews, and footage recorded by the OPP – video never before seen by the public.

“Do you need 200 police officers to address a situation which is at most one of mischief? Or perhaps one where no laws are being broken?” asked Benjamin.

The OPP deployed the Public Order unit, the Canine unit, a helicopter and the Tactics and Rescue Unit (TRU), commonly called the sniper squad or swat team.”

– Trina Roache, “Documents show deep-seated bias by police during operations against Mohawks of Tyendinaga.” APTN Investigates, November 23, 2018.

Read Full Post »

1974 Occupation of Anicinabe Park.

The year 1974 was seen by some as the turning point in the Red Power movement in Canada. One of the key events was the occupation of Anicinabe municipal Park in Kenora, Ontario, in July 1974. Louis Cameron from the nearby White Dog reserve organized a conference in the park, participants decided they needed to do more to assert their rights and make their demands heard. They were demanding better living conditions, education and access to land.
The July conference created an atmosphere to articulate other objectives including an end to police harassment in Kenora, better medical and dental services, cultural training for white police, creation of a local human rights committee, and appointment of First Nations justices of the peace. Ojibway Warrior Society Including dozens of young First Nations people from across the continent joined the protest in 1974.

One of the original protestors, Lorraine Major, said the people who were there with her should be remembered and honoured. “They had the guts to stand up for their rights. They had the guts to speak out against leadership.“

The occupation lasted 39 days, involving a stand-off between 100 First Nations participants and police. There were dozens of arrests but subsequent acquittals.

– Anthony Melting Tallow, November 18, 2018.

Read Full Post »

“The Giant Ke’-lok hurling hot Rocks at Wek’-Wek,” from an original painting by C. J. Hittell, 1909. From The dawn of the world: myths and weird tales told by the Mewan Indians of California. Collected and edited by C. Hart Merriam. Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1910. pg.77.

Then his grandfather told him that Ke-lok was his elder brother.

“All right,” said Wek-wek, “I’m going to play al’-leh with my brother.”

Nowadays al’-leh is a guessing game, played with two small bones, one wrapped or dressed to distinguish it from the other. But in those days it was different, for al’-leh was played by hurling rocks with intent to kill.

After a while Wek-wek arrived at Ke-lok’s han-na-boo, and when Ke-lok came out, said to him, “Brother, I have come to play hand-game with you.”

“All right,” answered Ke-lok, and he at once built a fire and put eight round rocks in it and heated them until they were red hot. Then he said, “ My young brother, you begin first.”

“No,” replied Wek-wek, “I want to see you play first; you begin.”

“All right,” said Ke -lok, and he immediately sprang up and darted up into the sky, for he was great and powerful and could do all things. As he went up he made a loud noise. Then he came down in a zig-zag course, and as he came, sang a song.

Then Wek-wek began to throw hot rocks at him but purposely missed him, for he did not want to kill his brother. His grandfather O-let-te the Coyote-man, called out to him from the south that if he hit Ke-lok in his body it would not kill him, but that his heart (wus-ke) was in his arm, under a white spot on the underside of the arm, and that if he hit that spot it would kill him ; that was the only place on his body where a blow would kill him.

Wek-wek answered, “I can easily hit that, but I don’t want to kill him.”

So he threw all the hot stones but took care not to hit the white spot under the arm. When he had fired all the rocks he picked them up and put them back in the fire to heat again.

Then it was Ke-lok’s turn.

Read Full Post »

“Indians Ask Ottawa Aid,” The Globe & Mail. October 27, 1938. Page 03.

Fort William, Oct. 26 (Special). – Seeking redress from the great white father for ills suffered by their tribesmen, five chiefs of Rainy River Indian bands left here today for Ottawa.

The five chiefs will protest particularly against prosecutions of Indians by the Ontario Department of Game and Fisheries for taking moose, deer and other food animals contrary to provincial regulations. They contend that treaties made in the time of Queen Victoria gave their bands perpetual right to hunt and fish. They also will protest against flooding of part of their reserves through control of river waters by lumber company dams.

Some of the Rainy River reserves escaped narrowly from the forest fires recently, which drove all game and fur bearing animals out of the vicinity and made the plight of the Indians more than usually difficult.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »