Bee in the Bonnet: Young and Dumb

By Bernie Bates

With age comes wisdom – or so you would think. We’ve all met an Elder, whom you’d think would have had experienced enough in life, that he or she could tell you which path to walk. But, instead, just by looking into their eyes, you can tell that the campfire is burning, but the tepee is empty.

Why are some Elders as sharp as the point of an arrow while others are as dull as a politician’s speech on sewage, in other words: a bullshiter, talking shit, about crap? Is it genetic, environmental, instinctual, behavioral or education based? I believe all of these factors, factor into the character of the character.

GENETICS; The old saying that the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree, is not an old saying for nothing. For proof of this look no further than your parents: do you consider one or both of them to be ‘clever?’ If so, chances are, you too, will be able to assemble a barbeque, right out of the box, without looking at the instructions. If not, sadly, you and your family will be eating a lot of big Mac’s … would you like fries with that?

ENVIRONMENTAL; The same old saying that the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree – can also be applied to how dumb or un-dumb you are. I’m a huge believer in things like; You are what you eat. Stupid is as stupid does. And, if you crap in your own back yard, you have no one to blame but yourself, when you step in it. In other words: if you grew up in squalor, chances are you’re reading this column, wearing the same underwear as you wore yesterday. Did your parent’s home have a lawn or a rusted old car? Do you have a ‘fix-er-upper’ in your back yard or a green patch of good ol’ mother Earth?

INSTINCTUAL; Fear is one of the things that is bred into our nature. We’re hard-wired to avoid things like snakes, fire and poisonous plants. But everyday another idiot dies from things like: meth, crack cocain or alcohol. Just how stupid do you have to be to ingest poison? Would you kiss a rattle snake? Would you pour gas on your ass and light it on fire? Yet, day in and day out, I hear of another fool who’s trying to start a fire by rubbing two snakes together.

BEHAVIORAL; “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Some parents practice this quotation, while others believe in talking softly to little Johnny, and asking him about his inner feelings. I personally, would rather sit in a restaurant next to family who believed in ‘behavioral modification,’ rather than listen to little Johnny vent his displeasure about the special of the day. If there are no consequences to your actions – then what motivation does a person have to behave appropriately?

When I was a young and dumb: I had a friend, Arnold, who was a bad influence on me. One day we were setting in a tree, and my Mom overheard me swearing. She said, what did you say? Thinking that I was far enough up the tree, I repeated to her: “F**** you!” That was my first mistake, the second was – I wasn’t far enough up the tree! WHACK, BOOM, BANG!
EDUCATION; Getting a good education is one of the most important things you can do with your youth. It can change every disadvantage you might have. It can help you realize your potential; what kind of person you’ll become, who you’ll marry, how much money you’ll earn – even determine the future of your children. It can make your dreams come true: not only financially, but intellectually and emotionally as well. It can give you what everyone on this planet is wishing for; Peace of mind, joy of the heart and wampum up the whazoo!

Let’s see how dumb or un-dumb you really are. After reading the next paragraph – can you decipher the ingenious indiginous rationality?

Four men are sitting in a dark room playing poker. The first man has a pair of jacks: he leans to his right and asks the man to lend him something to bet with. He then lays down one thousand dollars worth of gold beads and trinkets. The second man has three sixes: and he raises the pot with a promise of a well paying government job. The third man has a straight: nine through to the king. He raises the pot with a deed to his ranch. The fourth man folds his four aces. Which one of these men is a Native?

The answer is: the fourth man. And his reasoning is; He knows through experience not to put his ‘aces’ on the line, when gambling with a man who has beads and trinkets, a man who promises government help and a man who is betting with stolen property!


Dear reader: Please feel free to contact, B. H. Bates at:

The Harper plan involves discussions over the course of the summer with First Nations and provincial and territorial governments with the goal of bringing forward legislation to implement the specific claims action plan in the fall.

The move comes in the days and weeks of growing apprehension unfolding across the nation over the AFN’s call for a national day of action among First Nations on June 29th, the leading national body put out following a special conference in Gatineau, Quebec in late May.

Fontaine raised the eyebrows of business across the country in a speech to the Canada Club of Ottawa where he warned of a summer of protests and the need for the government to move quickly to address land claims and poverty in aboriginal communities.

The most troubling aspect of the call for a national day of action for Canadians was perhaps the AFN’s call to the national railways to voluntarily shut down operations nationally in a show of support for First Nations.

Chief Terrance Nelson of the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation of Manitoba said he would blockade CN rail lines running through his reserve for a 24-hour period on the national day of action. His fiery rhetoric has cost him some measure of credibility among his own people who have called for his resignation.

In an interview on CTV Newnet’s Mike Duffy Live, Nelson told the nation, “… there are only two ways of dealing with the white man. One, either you pick up a gun, or you stand between the white man and his money.”

It was Nelson’s resolution at the special AFN conference in Gatineau, that called for the voluntary shutdown of national rail lines.

Nelson also applauded the federal announcement on specific claims, but said he could not call off his blockade because of “the simple promise of another white man.”
The Anishinabe chief sent a letter to Canadian National, offering a five-year truce with the company in exchange for CN’s agreement to voluntarily halt train traffic on June 29th and a promise on behalf of the company to pressure Ottawa on land claims.

The First Nations Leadership Council of British Columbia extended cautious optimism regarding the federal government’s announcement of a new independent body to make binding decisions on specific claims.

“An independent panel on specific claims is long overdue,” said AFN BC regional chief Shawn Atleo. “Given this body will possess the necessary mandate with full decision-making authority and an appropriate level of financial and human resources, e expect they ensure that specific claims are fairly considered and equitably resolved in a timely manner.”
The AFN has called for peaceful marches across the country on the “Day of Action.”