One look at me and you’ll see a Native looking back at you. But if you were to hear me on the phone you’d never guess that I was brown-ish.
Because of my environment, I never picked up the Native accent. We’ve all heard Native spokesmen on TV speaking with a lazy nasal tone. I’ve met some of these Rez boys and girls in person, and when speaking with them off camera they tend to sound just like any other Canadian.
Some things have changed over the years, but it’s not easy being brown.
Do you think that federal, provincial and local politics are hard to phantom? Imagine adding at least thirteen more layers of bilateral bureaucracies on top all that. That’s why you don’t see Native owned and operated businesses on reservations.
Take yours truly; I don’t live on my reservation, but I have traditional holdings and I’ve wanted to put businesses on my property for forty long years. The mountain of paperwork alone could kill a thousand trees.
The obstacles aren’t only government bureaucracy; they include things like the mood of the chief and councilors and who you’re related to.
Someone once said that the only constant is change. I can assure you they didn’t live on a reservation.
Not to belittle anyone’s ancestors; but first it was the fork-tongued devils who took Native lands. Today, Natives are stealing from Natives!
I know that’s a bold statement, but it’s as true as the sun will shine, waters flow and the grass gets smoked.
If I didn’t keep up the fight all these years; my own people had plans for Bates land.
It all goes back to the Indian act of 1867. Basically we Natives are owned by the government, and the land is controlled at the federal level.
There was a time not that many generations ago that a Native could hunt, fish and explore from horizon to horizon. Today most Natives are forced to work off reservation to make a living.
Canada will allow myself and others, to raise cows and chickens and such on our land, but we can’t use those traditional lands to start businesses – talk about keeping them down on the farm.
I once wrote a column about reservation brain drain. Any Native with any get-up and go, does exactly that. They pack up and leave, because of a lack of opportunity.
You want to hear an even bolder statement? I can’t stand the sound of those TV drum-beaters.
All these drummers who stand in the way of mining, development and pipelines because they don’t want to disturb the land are fools!
If some business people want to backup a truck of cash and drop it in your lap, and you say no – you deserve extinction.
Here is my reasoning; this planet has been through cataclysmic changes, and it has always ‘healed’. Volcanoes, Earthquakes and asteroids have all taken their shot at this planet, yet here we stand on solid ground.
With today’s environmental laws and reclamation contracts in place, it’s lunacy to turn down a chance to fund a brighter future for your tribe, and at the same time have the resources to recapture our past glory. Not to mention the pride that comes with being self-sufficient.
If the TV drum-beaters would stop and think; they’d realize that we are one invention away from oil becoming as obsolete as the steam engine.
Please feel free to Email Bernie Bates at: firstname.lastname@example.org