By B.H. Bates
From bows and arrows to quills and computers. From mud huts and tepees
to condos and mansions. Natives have come a long way, in such a short
period of time.
Even though it’s been, roughly, five hundred years since natives first
made contact with the paleface, natives have made great strides and against great odds, too. Natives have faced wars, pestilence, starvation and disease . . . Hey! Wait a minute, doesn’t that sound a lot like the four horsemen of the apocalypse?
Even my own dear Grandmother (may the Great Spirit watch over her) witnessed many, many changes in her life time. Let’s take transportation, for instance. Annie Sellars (my Grandmother), lived long enough to see the introduction of the horse, to the horseless carriage, to seeing some horse’s ass hitting a golf ball on the moon!
In the past, natives have been beaten, starved, shot and even dismembered and that was only in last week’s newspaper . . . Yet, we’re still here! Natives have been robbed, cheated, conned and lied to – that, was on page two! And yet, we’re still here!
If it wasn’t for the famous, or should I say infamous, General Custer,
we natives wouldn’t have gotten any press at all. “Savages, nothing but Godless, red skinned heathens that place no value on life nor property!”
Little did they know, back then, nothing could’ve been further from the truth.
It’s only been in the last few generations that non-natives have come to the realizations, that natives were right all along. Only after many years of trial and error, substantial pollution to the environment, wild fires and the destruction of irreplaceable resources, have non-natives taken a closer look at the “ways of the red skinned heathens!”
Natives weren’t Godless after all. Natives worshiped, that which gave us life itself. Everything had it’s own spirit and it’s own place on this Earth. Natives gave thanks to the deer for giving its life, so that we may live another day. And natives never took more than they could use. Natives also had much more respect for the land, than that shown by the other races of humans! And as far as the ‘red skinned’ part goes . . . don’t ask me where they got that from. The last time I looked in the mirror, I was still a nice warm brownish colour!
I’d wager that the person that first coined the phrase “Doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief”, had little or no idea, that one day, he could be talking about a single individual. I’m, of course, referring to the Chief, natives have come a long way . . . baby!
We’ve gone from ‘scalping’ to ‘scalpels,’ from the defendant’ to the
‘Judge!’ From Indian Chief to . . . well, you get the idea. And that’s
only the tip of the iceberg, there are natives in almost every profession you can think of. And it’s only the beginning of things to come. Who knows, maybe one day a native could be watching his T.V. and say, “Hey, look! It’s Chief Horse’s Ass and he’s hitting a golf ball on the moon!”
Speaking of the ‘boob tube,’ the Aboriginal Achievement Awards are once again about to put feathers in many a deserving cap. Natives from across this great land will be recognized for their talents in their chosen fields.
It’s a show every native should watch at least once. If you’re a first time viewer of this awards show, you’ll see first hand just how accomplised and how diversified natives have become.
Only a few moons ago, our own parents (if you’re over forty), would never have dreamt of the things natives are doing today. We have our own television network (APTN), natives produce movies, are gifted entertainers, actors, writers, musicians, aritists, athletes and yes . . . “Doctors, lawyers and Indian Chiefs!”
The Aboriginal Achievement Awards show has made me stop and think of the ‘big picture.’ The native population is a very small part of the more than six billion humans on this Earth. Natives have been faced with extinction from a number of things. Natives have lived through ice ages, invasions and the stick that makes thunder (guns) . . . and yet, we’re still here!
Tough as weeds and as stubborn as a nagging wife (who knows she’s right). We’re as hard to get rid of as a jailhouse tattoo. Natives should be very proud of all of their accomplishments and one of those is getting this far into the history books!
I, for one, am looking forward to the future. Who knows what the next few generations can do, considering they will be armed with better educations and good breeding
. . . Good breeding!