Idle No More: A White Man Speaks

Today’s blog is written by guest blogger, Thomas D. Taylor.  He is the Co-Creator of the Midnight In Chicago initiative as well as the Author of  “Geo-213: The Lost Expedition” and “Evil Creeps In: A Tale Of Exorcism” and a number of other books. 

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Thank you to First Perspective for re-publishing
this blog article to their website.

Thank you to The Journey for re-posting
this blog article to their blog site.

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At the time of this writing, I am 81,000 words into my upcoming anthology of short horror stories and near to the point of finishing the last story in the anthology. Soon will come the laborious process of revising and proof reading, and then the pre-launch activities.

It’s a very exiting time, and a very tense time. People who write will tell you that whenever you write, never mind when you are entering the final lap of the race, you should do it in private, free from distractions, so you can concentrate and apply the full amount of your attention to what you are doing. After all, though readers derive a lot of pleasure from reading, writers are writing not only for the pleasure of it, but to make money. It’s a job, and as with any job, it needs a considerable amount of concentration, effort and devotion to do the job right.

Be all that as it may, I find it necessary to pull myself away from the writing process to address a topic that is much more important than my job and also, I daresay, the pleasure of my fans.

I am talking about the rights of North American Indigenous People.

Human rights in other words.

Thanks to our media, which really only airs, prints, and transmits what sells, most people are not aware of what’s been going on in Canada with Bill C-45, the Idle No More movement, and Chief Theresa Spence. And so if you are ignorant of what’s been happening, it may not entirely be your fault.

What is going on?

Well, on the one hand, it’s complicated. Trying to understand what’s happening — especially if you are white like I am — means understanding not only what is going on now, but also understanding what has happened in the past. One has to understand things like treaties, land rights, residential schools, missing Native women, and many more important issues.

One has to understand the relationship between Native people in Canada with their government, how white people in Canada perceive Natives. One needs to the relationship between Native peoples and government approved Chiefs. One needs to have a grasp of what a Governor General’s job is and how the pen in the hand of such a person can determine the optimistic future or pessimistic fate of so many people. One needs to know the perspective the relationship between Native people in the U.S. with their counterparts in Canada, and one would do well to understand how worldwide government bodies view the rights of indigenous peoples.

On the other hand, maybe you don’t need to know all of that to understand the fact that human rights have been violated in Canada.

If I was going to oversimplify the dichotomy of views as I see them, taking only one issue as an example, imagine how you would feel if you were told your land was your land for all time, and at a later date, a bill was passed into law which stated that your land could be taken away from you by the government any time and sold to someone else? Further, what if this bill voided all previous agreements which certified that your lands would never be a subject for disagreement again?

I think everyone in the world can relate to how indigenous people in Canada must feel.

A treaty is an agreement between two parties, and is meant to be honored. It would seem, however, that treaties are only respected by parties with good intentions.

Let’s look at when the US bought the land that we call Alaska from the what we now call Russia. The US got the land for a paltry amount. Years later, it’s been found that billions of dollars worth of oil have been discovered beneath the surface of Alaska. But did Russia ever go back and demand additional compensation from the US for the US getting this land at such a steal? Not that I recall.

For some odd reason, it now seems that the Canadian government believes it’s time to void the terms of many treaties struck with indigenous people. The government may have reasons, but it really doesn’t matter what those reasons are. The treaties were signed long ago and the terms of those treaties must be honored now and forevermore.

When we go into a store and buy an item for a dollar, and then see later on that some other store is selling the same item for fifty cents, do we go back to the first store and demand fifty cents? No. And unless the store has a price match guarantee, we should not expect the store to pay us anything. When the money we pay for the item we are purchasing is accepted by the cashier, we have made a contract. That at some later date we do not like the contract is not the store’s problem. The item is ours for the amount we paid for it. Let the buyer beware.

Likewise, so should the signers of treaties beware.

At any rate, setting treaties aside for the moment, there is a larger issue here: How indigenous people are treated generally.

To digress for a moment, in 1965, segregation between blacks and whites was ended in the US, but discrimination persisted afterwards, and continues to this day. From any way you look at it, the egregious violations of human rights that have been committed against African Americans (and — prior to that — Africans) cannot be made up for. What amount of money does one give for every lash of the whip upon a person’s back? How do we make up for denying an entire population of people the right drink out of the same water fountains as whites did for so long? How do we tally all the times the N-word has been used and make amends? And what should be given as compensation? Money? Goods? Services? An apology?

The task is overwhelming.

We can try to make up for what’s happened in the past. And we should try. But while we are doing that, we have to respect those in the present with whom the disagreements lie.

It gives me great pain that I should even have to write this blog entry because I would have thought that civilized countries would have made more progress towards respecting the rights of their own indigenous peoples.

I am in my forties now, and many of the same prejudices toward indigenous peoples that were drummed into my head in elementary school are still in existence today — decades later. In reality, no significant progress has been made in terms of how those in charge relate to those who are subjugated, and no significant attempt has been made to reverse the ignorant misconceptions perpetuated by inaccurate textbooks, and, yes, even government propaganda.

I have tweeted extensively in support of the Idle No More movement and Chief Theresa Spence and will continue to support Idle No More and Chief Spence in whatever ways I feel will be most impactful. This blog entry is an example of that.

I hold little hope that we will see any kind of resolution in the short term, however, because it seems ignorance is stubbornly preventing any coherent solutions to the situation from presenting themselves. For example, I was watching the news the other day and saw that some white shopkeepers in a mall were shutting their stores, fearing violence or shoplifting on the part of the indigenous flash mob participants.

Really now.

If you looked at the participants, you saw men, women, and children. Good people in other words. Many of the dancers were whole extended families. These people were doing nothing to impede the flow of shoppers. They bore no weapons. They used no foul or provocative language.

Had the shopkeepers succumbed to their curiosity instead of their fears, they might have learned something about native culture. Had they taken the time to see who it was that was dancing, they might have learned that — gee whiz! — these people weren’t thugs. They were good, upstanding citizens who — like everyone else in the world — wanted to live according to their own morals, values and ethics on their own property (whether that property lies among the whites or on a reservation), legally, and without interference from government.

In another instance, a security guard — and I am paraphrasing here — told flash mob round dance participants that the mall in question was not a reservation, and that if they wanted to dance, they should dance “there.” As if all Native Americans live on a reservations. It’s a prejudicial statement pronounced by an ignorant person.

I am not going to presume to pontificate at much more length about the Idle No More movement because, not being Native American, I cannot say that I know what it is like to feel what indigenous people feel, but I will say this:  There needs to be some understanding on the part of whites for any of this to be resolved.

Many Native Americans believe that there are four colors of man: Red, White, Yellow, and Black. But in terms of white Christian spiritual beliefs, there is only Adam and Eve, and the presumption is that Adam and Eve are white. Go to any church in Europe and Jesus will be white. In Italy, he’ll look a little Italian. In South America, he’ll look Spanish, thanks to the influence of the Spanish explorers and their foisting of Christianity on native peoples. Sometimes in Africa, Jesus will look black, but one gets the sense that this a sop to Africans to get them to believe in the Christian God.

What religious white Christians would do well to remember, however, is that men were made in God’s image, and, — guess what — there ARE four colors of man. That means God is a little bit red, a little bit white, a little bit yellow, a little bit black. Therefore, when we mistreat a fellow human being, we are, in effect dishonoring the God in whose image all human beings are made.

What other religious and non-religious whites would do well to remember that it doesn’t matter whether there is or isn’t a God. All that matters is that all human beings have certain inalienable human rights, and when the rights of even one human being are denied, it means that a statement has been made: All people are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Now, given that at present, some of humanity has been allowed more rights than others, the question is, if you — whether you are white, black, red or yellow — have all of your rights, will you use the rights you’ve been given to help those whose rights are in jeopardy, or whose rights are being taken away?

Don’t know where to start?

Begin by learning more about the Idle No More movement, and learn to about what Chief Theresa Spence is doing, and why.

Feel free to leave any comments.

Racist ones will not be put through in order to demonstrate to bigots what it’s like to be suppressed, and left without a voice.

Thomas D. Taylor

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90 Responses to “Idle No More: A White Man Speaks”

  1. Idle No More – A White Man Speaks | Thomas D. Taylor Says:

    […] (This post has also been published on Elyse Bruce’s blog. ) […]

    • AarinDokum Says:

      Thankyou Thomas D Taylor and Elysebruce for sharing. I am a native (OJibwe) of Canada living as tax payer and law biding citizen in Michigan’s Capital and because of hardship, I am unable to support this cause in person but I totally appreciate seeing what you have written so that anyone can understand what and why this movement should be supported.. My hat’s off to you and once again, Miigwetch, Thankyou

      • Elyse Bruce Says:

        Support comes in many shapes and forms, and taking a stand is one of those ways, AarinDokum. Let no one say that your contribution is a lesser contribution. It is not. Every voice counts. Tansi. Miigwetch. Thank you.

      • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

        As Elyse said, every voice counts, and you are welcome to use your voice here, or on my own blog.

  2. Jackie Says:

    Thank you for your words!

  3. sandra peltier Says:

    Thank you for writing this article. I wish everyone reads it for understanding. Our true history is not told. Only the history of the dominant culture.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      I agree. History does tend to be reinvented or vetted by whomever is dominant. It also gets covered up. Ask the average person what “Wounded Knee” is and they wouldn’t be able to tell you.

  4. ozzie osawamick Says:

    Miigwetch, for your being

  5. Sam Says:

    Thank YOU! I too am non-aboriginal and work and live in a community that is largely First Nations. I absolutely LOVE the culture and the people! Your post not only applies to me here in Canada’s north but also around the globe. Thank you for your words of wisdom to others. I can’t even express how much it is appreciated.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      I hear you, and thank you for commenting.

      I have a hard time understanding how one person can look at another and think “That person -by virtue of their race- is inferior to me.” There are seven billion people in the world, four colors of man, and one human race.

      Every person in this world is unique. Even identical twins are unique from each other. This means we all bring something special to this world. The question is, will we begin to see all this uniqueness -and all these differences- as gifts, or will be continue to erect boundaries between people, and think about things in terms of “we” and “they?”

  6. N Chackowsky Says:

    Thanks, Mr. Taylor.

  7. Brian Rae Says:

    God loves his children and he loves all people no matter how privileged one is in this society.

  8. Shanna Lesage Says:

    An awesome article that clarifies Idle No More. Thank you for that! I will continue to stand up with others who support Idle No More because if this bill passes, China will eventually own most of Canada, by the time my children have grandchildren. It’s unfortunate that the non-native people think it’s about payments and health…it’s not – it’s about having Canada remain as Canada!

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      Unfortunately, in that post, I have only talked in passing about the merest fraction of issues facing the indigenous people in north America, and I am not educated enough to be able to bring them all to light coherently enough for everyone to understand.

      My purpose and hope though, is that people who are as ignorant as I am or even moreso, will begin to see that right in front of our faces, in civilized countries such as Canada and the United States, there have been and are still many human rights violations going on, and more violations are actually LEGISLATED to begin soon.

      From the colonial period to the present, people who are native to the north American continent have been told they are a secondary people, and thought the erasure and removal of their rights and status have almost been made to believe it. This cannot be allowed to continue. It is wrong from any angle from which you choose to view it…ethically, morally, spiritually, politically, and even economically.

  9. tj Says:

    thank you for sharing your blog, palmela palmater does a great job of explaining details and misconceptions just you tube her.

  10. annie baxter Says:

    thank you for this , it makes my belief that we are not alone despite our color..in this time of “confusion” with our colors all blended to one dark color i still “pray and believe in Rainbows” , after all after every storm God”s Promise and Presence brilliantly shines right across the skies. May God Bless you with joy, prosperity, and fill your journey with rainbows..

  11. Michelle Says:

    wonderful please continue

  12. VillageRainbows Says:

    Thank you, Thomas, for writing this post. Thank you, Elyse, for posting it.
    I also am non-Aboriginal. I also am gravely disappointed by the actions that the Government of Canada continues to take. Forty years ago, I was employed by a First Nations organization and subsequently for one of the First Nations as they continued the struggle to have the terms of Treaty 6 honoured by the Government of Canada. Forty years have passed and the struggle has not ended – IDLE NO MORE is a continuation of that struggle. The struggle will only end at such time as the non-Aboriginal people of Canada make the choice to learn about the Treaties and then speak forcefully to the Government to have them respected and honoured.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      My fear is that so many people have their thumbs in their personal digital assistants that they won’t see the bigger picture. Why would they? They haven’t seen anything up until this point in time either?

      But we have to remain optimistic. We all need to do what we can to spread the word. Thank you very much for your comments. They are graciously received.

  13. Keenan Keeshig Says:

    That’s good work. It makes me think to fully understand the past we all need to understand our present situation. I know making people aware by blogging, talking, & demonstrations is all worth it but what would obviously be more fair would be to teach it in school as a manditory course. It would certainly bring about great understanding as well as participation on both sides. It would certainly help out all the bloggers spending their own free time educating and wouldn’t be bias. It would certainly it would get everyone involved on a level they can grow to honour.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      Teaching these matters in school would be important, but I’m hoping any future plans will be much more ambitious in scale and scope than the limited education I was given in elementary school. In those days, we learned about indigenous people as part of “Social Studies” and more in terms of how different people “once lived” than in terms of how people with different cultural backgrounds lived then and live now. Also, they threw in the whole story of the American Thanksgiving, and that was it.

      We learned more about desegregation than we did about native peoples, and both subjects were only dealt with peripherally. It speaks to how the educational system, as influenced by the government, continues to marginalize those people which it sees either as a thorn in its side, or as unimportant.

      I should add that the Chinese were spoken of only in terms of their work in the railroads, and it wasn’t until I read George Takai’s book “To the Stars” that I learned about the camps Japanese Americans were kept in all through WWII.

      Something to think about is that if a government deems it necessary, they will have no qualms about removing people from their homes, jobs, and friends and relocating them somewhere else under close guard or tight controls. If it can happen to indigenous people and Japanese Americans -and if Africans can be enslaved, and African Americans can be segregated, then it just might be that these things can happen to anyone.

  14. elainealec Says:

    This is a great article. I’ve shared it with my friends because I believe that all sides need to understand the greater good of all human beings… and we all need to be educated on the things that are happening… thank you for being a part of this movement #IdleNoMore

  15. Derald Black Kettle Says:

    i also believe that education is key in understanding the true nature of our struggles! back in the 70’s and 80’s i spent a great deal of time going to different schools in Calgary (both public and separate) in an attempt to educate children at about a grade 5 level, not only on historical but contemporary issues as well. having taken several courses in psychology i learned that the average person soaks up and retain what we learn during this period, so i basically took this understanding and applied it to what i was doing. as long as fifteen years later i still had adults come and greet me explaining where they had met me and every single one of them thanked me for the insight i had provided them, so i agree wholeheartedly that these issues should be mandatory in school. i wish to also thank Thomas for this excellent and informative article. it carries much more weight from non-aboriginals and it is refreshing to know there are good people out there pulling for us.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      I’d like to thank you for your reply. I will be posting something else in the coming days which I think will be of interest to you, and which I am hoping you will share with others. It will be found on this blog as well as my own, which is at http://www.thomasdtaylor.wordpress.com.

      Specifically, Elyse wrote in her entry today that I have said to her “I didn’t realize that in the eyes of some Canadians, you’re a substandard person.”

      This is true, and I feel it necessary to talk a little more about that and how it can be that white people like myself have come to be so ignorant of important issues of the kind indigenous people are facing today the world over.

      For the present, I offer you my best wishes, and my best hopes for the future.

  16. Mi'gmewei E'pit Says:

    Let’s begin the movement away from harper and other “harpers” out there now. let’s vow that the next Prime Minister will be one thoroughly educated about our Indigenous Peoples and our histories, one who is comfortable sitting beside us, sitting with us, and enjoys our company. let’s vow that the next Prime Minister understands our Worldview, and that it was never about conquer and control, but of mutual respect, built on understanding, so that Peace has a strong foundation in which to rest. lets vow now, that all of us are in this together, and we need a Prime Minister that values our lives, our health, our land, and our water, for none of these exist without the other, and niether do We. let us move away from fear, let’s embrace the freedom of our Spirits to walk away from anyone and anything that does not respect these values. Because we have nothing else left to lose and we must believe in our ability to Co-create a world together that benefits us all without hurting our Grandchildren, who come from every corner of the world. Bless this movement, Bless this article. Creator believe in us, and give us the strength, knowledge, energy, compassion, and intelligence needed to move all of us forward.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      I couldn’t have said it better myself, and hope everyone who reads your words hears them, and thinks deeply.

      • VillageRainbows Says:

        Mi’gmewei E’pit has spoken with the wisdom of the elders. Let these words pass around the circle, and let them touch, as you have said, deeply. Let this happen for the sake of our children, and the children of their children.

  17. Wendy Lanouette Says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article, and for explaining what Chief Spence and others across this land are trying to accomplish, not only for Aboriginal people but for non-Aboriginals as well.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      It’s all very complex. I would like to see people move on from what I have written to learning even more about the important issues indigenous people are facing today, and to reflect on the fact that what affects one segment of the population affects us all. No one in the world is exempt from what can happen. In some respects the Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land is no different than what the Canadian government has done and is proposing to do with native lands.

  18. Thomas D. Taylor Says:

    I have read every comment here so far, and appreciate everything everyone has written. Let’s hope others read and here what you have all said so that those who are ignorant can become better informed.

  19. Nelson Says:

    Miigwetch! (Thank You), An awesome article indeed

  20. sharonstrachan Says:

    excellant article ,, waiting for the next one, in the meantime , can you forward the article to Steven Harper and other members of our parliament , I am tired of hearing them argue human rights issues overseas when they refuse to look at human rights issues in their own backyard. I am aboriginal and greatly appreciate reading a post from a non aboriginal person,, I am now 62 years old and will probably not live to see land claims settled for First Nations across Canada,, i pray that my granchildren will. Perhaps “Idle No More” show be available to protest the next time our government is in a foreign country arguing their human rights issues.

  21. jammie Says:

    What a wonderful blog. All I can say is thank you for helping to bring attention to this cause and our native brothers and sisters.

  22. Audrey Isaac Says:

    thank you thomas d. taylor! it warms my heart to hear such support from our white brothers and sisters. I am a mi’gmaq woman, living in the first nation community of listuguj, quebec. i just came home from spending 9 hours at a peaceful protest that is set up by our railroad tracks. outside is -26 (with wind chill) but inside our teepee, we drummed, sang, told stories and had many important conversations. we said prayers for chief theresa spence and offered food to the sacred fire in her honor throughout the day. since december 27th, community members have dropped off food, blankets, warm clothing, firewood, medicines and other necessities to keep us going all winter if we have to. we all hope for a positive outcome…but more hunger strikes are taking place, as our own chief counselor has had his last meal tonight as he started his own hunger strike this very evening in support of chief spence. welalin!

  23. Kerry Says:

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I am an Ojibway woman living in Alberta. Yes, the same prejudices exist today as they did years ago. My son, Robert is 11 years old, Metis (German/Ojibway). I never cut his hair when he was small and by the time he went to school he had two full braids. Oddly enough, all of the children knew he was a boy and they were totally accepting of him just as he was. It was parents in the beginning kept saying ‘she’ or ‘her’ or ‘that girl’. He and I would politely correct them but it got old real fast. He’s been in the same elementary school since he started. Over the years, as new kids joined the school and were curious about why he had long hair. He once innocently said ‘because I’m First Nation’. My son is the most outgoing accepting boy you could ever meet because we did our best give him love, support and confidence as any other parent does. I’ve educated him on our history and he is proud of who he is. We have been abruptly confronted by people about ‘why he has long hair? He shouldn’t have long hair’. Robert once answered, ‘I have it because I can, why is your hair short?’
    He’s come home telling me stuff like ‘kid x’s parents says you’re an unemployed bum’. He is naive with prejudice and asks some tough questions. I do the best I can to answer them. Of course it hurts to hear someone says this about his mom but I calmed him down by telling him to ignore what others say especially when they’ve never been around us. I had a kid over to our house and say that their dad hates Indians. Blatantly tell me this in my own kitchen. I can’t be angry at kids who repeat what they hear but when they are in my space and repeat it, I give them a different perspective. I’ve taken kids to powwow and round dances, not on purpose but if they are spending the night with my son and we happen to be going, well they come too. They want to spend time at our house.
    I try to change perspectives in my immediate circle, so it spreads to other circles because all of our circles overlap. It’s my contribution to changing how we as Aboriginal people are valued and respected. It worked for me when I was growing up, can’t see why it wouldn’t work now.

    • Leona Martin Says:

      I am grateful that I was lucky enough to not have preconceived predjudices against any different person….once living in a community near Algonquin persons, again I was lucky enough to have many of my friends of the beautiful brown skin…and lucky to learn the culture and beliefs and attend pow wows…never knowing the history to what lead to reservations and how poorly non whites were treated…..I have been blessed to care for those of many backgrounds as a visit nurse in Renfrew County over many years and have seen the reservation I live near grow and bring many wonderful services and respect to the community.
      Thanks to moms like you Kerry, I learned the beautiful side of native beliefs and culture, and am grateful for that so much.
      Leona Martin

    • Audrey Isaac Says:

      love your attitude kerry…education and positive approach to ignorance is the best way i believe. it is not their fault that our history and culture has been left out of the school books. keep up the good work with your son.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      I am hoping lots of people read what you have written and think carefully about it.

      PART II of Idle No More: A White Man Speaks is on my blog: http://thomasdtaylor.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/idle-no-more-a-white-man-speaks-part-ii/

      It will be posted on this blog (which belongs to Elyse) later. You might find it interesting to see what it was growing up white, and how we were taught about natives. Also, you will see what happened in my extended family when someone married into it who was Chippewa. That is what I talk about in Part II.

      My purpose in writing Part II is to show how misperceptions and prejudice begins and then grows into hatred. It ends by suggesting what we can all do to end the divisiveness and the bigotry. I do not pretend to have the answers to the problems we are all faced with. I only offer suggestions, but I am hoping it will help in some way.

  24. Marilyn Lewis Says:

    We need more allies like yourself, people like you are far and few in between. However, it is very refreshing to have non-Aboriginals who understand our struggle. May Gee shim minodoo bless you.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      My feeling is that there are many whites who feel as I do, but who don’t want to speak up. They will face rejection from their peers and things of that sort. I’ve already had to deny some comments from being posted on my blog (and Elyse has on this one) because they are purely hateful, and with nothing in them that pertains to the article I wrote, or to the conversations we are having here. As you can guess, the people making these censored comments are more likely than not white (although that is a presumption, but they are cruel, at any rate).

  25. Becky OtterWoman Big Canoe Says:

    Miigwech Thomas. I believe our common enemy is corporations because they have accumulated so much wealth which equals power in this society. We need to know who the wiindigo is if we are to slay it. All of us need to examine the source of everything we purchase and consume to bring these guys to their knees. We need to insist on new technology that isn’t oil dependent. We need to replace the use of trees with the use of hemp. We need to build unbreakable safeguards around the health of water and all of the life it contains. We need to fix the current education system so our stories are told to everybody. There are many things that could be done and many things that MUST be done to save the wellbeing of all four colors of man and all of our non-human relations as well. Miigwech Thomas.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      Thank you for bringing this perspective to the conversation. These words are very important and people should consider them also. In some respects, big corporations have a stranglehold on us, but as consumers, if we act collectively and don’t purchase from them, we can have an impact on their corporate policies (and profits).

  26. Raymond Christmas Sr Says:

    thank you verymuch. this article gives me hope for our children and their children.

  27. Marilyn Says:

    The Idle No More organizers have issued a press release and it is crucial that people read it cuz they have stated their position regarding the Chiefs.

  28. Joanne F Says:

    Bravo! Well said. As a person of mixed euro/ aboriginal heritage I can say that I have seen people on both sides who are bitter and resentful which is preventing them from looking at this objectively. Don’t look to see how we are different, instead, look to see how we are the same. The things that aboriginal people seek to protect – the land and water – are important to all of us. We need to seek the positive, and all parties need to be respectful.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      I agree that respect is the key. My feeling is that ignorance is what prevents people from respecting one another. To that end, I am trying to become more informed about issues like the ones we are talking about here, and I hope others will endeavor to do so, too.

  29. ozhiskian chiwayakameskung Says:

    thank you for your heart felt article..i am an aborigional person who is deeply connected to native spirituality as i was raised in that way of life..my parents taught me not to listen to foreign religious teachings as some is not true they are based on oppression to take our spirituality,culture and land away from us..i too was in residential school where i suffered a broken arm..again i thank you i hope people will start to understand what had happen to us aborigional peoples in the hands of christian churches and governments.and that’s the footsteps mr harper is following today…

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      I am Christian, and believe that Christian doctrine has been misused throughout the ages to exert control over others. I have read the Bible extensively and have come across no passage which states that it is man’s God given right to have control over any other man. I was taught that God created us all, and the fall of man began in the garden of Eden, continued when the Israelites decided to appoint their own King in the place of God, and persisted through the times recorded in the Bible.

      I believe that because religion is a private matter between a person and that person’s God, most will not take issue with a spiritual belief because it may give offense. This gives people freedom to use religion as a weapon and vehicle to try and subjugate others for selfish and sometimes evil reasons.

  30. Janet Says:

    Great article! I especially like your last line about negative comments being suppressed and left without a voice – love it!

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      This blog belongs to Elyse Bruce, but I did go back on my words on my own blog and let one single comment through because I felt it needed to be addressed. It was by a person who claimed that Chief Spence wasn’t really starving herself because she was drinking water and consuming soup. I felt it necessary to say that while the body needs water, its caloric value is zero, and while soup does provide nutrients, its caloric value, and the nutrients she is getting, is insufficient to sustain her forever. I believe that unless something changes, she will indeed starve to death.

  31. Allison Lagace Says:

    may truth and honor lead the way to a time when we all are one ~ thank-you wordsmith

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      One of the reasons I have written this entry is so that everyone can have a voice, free from criticism from people who are full of hate. Let’s hope anyone who reads what people have written here hear what people have said and learn from it.

  32. AngChief Says:

    I am humbled by what I just read. Hiy Hiy for this Mr. Bruce. I am a First Nations Cree woman who has worked hard for most of my life. It has been disheartening to read such negative comments from Non-First Nations, and even some First Nations themselves. It breaks my heart to know that my children and grandchildren will not have a home once Harper is done with Canada 😦 I pray for the people that do not know any better. I pray for the future generations. I pray for Chief Theresa Spence. I even pray for Harper. Thank you for giving me hope 🙂

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      Your words give everyone hope because they show that even with all the hatred in this world, people who perpetuate that hatred can still be prayed for out of genuine caring and earnestness.

      Just to clarify, this is Elyse Bruce’s blog. I am Thomas D. Taylor. My blog is at http://www.thomasdtaylor.wordpress.com. We are each posting our respective opinions to both of our blogs. Mine comes from a white point of view; Hers is from a Metis one. Now you have given your view, for which we are both thankful.

  33. rob eshelby Says:

    Thank you Thomas for this
    Here’s a little history & a little insight from Russell Diabo, courtesy of Jenn Podemski:

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      Thank you. Elyse and I both listened to this, and I would encourage everyone who can, to watch it. This explains in an easy to understand way, the Indian Act and its repercussions for indigenous people (and by proxy, everyone who lives on this continent.)

  34. Terrence Sutherland Says:

    excellent post, keep sharing and keep speaking, these words mean so much to me

    thank you,

    terrence (jabbee) sutherland, citizen of the moose cree first nation

  35. Susan Bebonang Says:

    Aaniin (Greetings) I hope the rivers will continue to flow and the grass grows green around me. Let’s not wait till there is no more before we realize the importance in meaning on those words, once said so long ago. We all need to do our part as part of Creation and learn from one another. Let’s keep the “U” in education. Miigwech (Thank you).

  36. Kim Bowman Says:

    A friend of mine just clued me into the idle no more movement. Before tonight I had heard nothing about it. It saddens me that it took this long for news of it to reach me in the U.S.
    How quickly we forget how brutally these people were treated before the treaties were finally honored. That we should forget that we committed genocide by treachery with small pocks covered blankets, force marches, and all out war on men women and children. We owe these people far more than they have been given, and that some man in his ivory tower should be trying to take back what little was given to them just makes me sick to my stomach.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      Right. And let’s not forget how valiantly indigenous people have served the governments that rule over them in wars. “Windtalkers” deserve our thanks and respect as do indigenous people who have served in the military.

  37. Kate Miller Says:

    I want to say Wela’lin from Eel River Bar First Nation, NB. Your words were beautiful and educational and I cannot thank you enough for you support in this. Good luck with your anthology. Happy New Year.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      I have a little more to say about Idle No More. I have posted two entries thus far and will be posting at least one more. It should be understood that I am not writing to hear myself speak, but out of true concern for what is happening.

      I was pleased to see that The First Perspective put up a copy of this post, but I do wish that publications that are mostly read by white people would do the same. I am and have always been an ignorant person for the simple reason that I have never been directly affected or persecuted by government policy. I am sure that there are other white people who – if they were able to see things in a different light – would come to think about things differently than they already do.

      Thank you very much for your comments.

  38. Eugene Manitowabi Says:

    Chi Miigwetch for your comments/I was in Milwaukee Wis in the middle /late 60`s when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated/the watering hole I was in with my friend/we were merchant seaman at the time/when the news came on TV the entire establishment stood up clapping much like they would do had the Green bay Packers scored a touchdown/wonder how many of those then patrons are looking back today and notice every city in the U.S. has a MLK Way/my first introduction to the dark side of society/in our Council meeting yesterday here on the Wikwemikong Unceded Nation/I commented unless the Fed Gov`t rescinds the oppressive Omnibus Bill with its attached pieces of legislation we will need to continue Idlenomore/Mainstream needs to take a more active interest in this bill because in due course its`provision will also affect those outside of FN`s Life/Miigwetch for your comments -Eugene

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      I agree with you on all counts, especially that the mainstream needs to understand what is happening here. Most people don’t care about politics in the first place, and they care even less about bills and laws that they don’t THINK apply to them or affect them. No one understands that this legislation -in addition to many other things- is a kind of anti-environment bill as well. It will increased the destruction of the environment making it a more difficult world for everyone to live in. Strange that the environmentalists have not gotten actively involved in this movement.

  39. Idle No More: I’ve Been Suspended « Elyse Bruce Says:

    […] Idle No More: A White Man Speaks […]

  40. About Chief Spence and Prime Minister Harper: A White Man Speaks « Elyse Bruce Says:

    […] Part I was called: “Idle No More: A White Man Speaks.” […]

  41. Phila Says:

    Reblogged this on the journey and commented:
    Powerful words on Idle No More from a non-Native writer and a human-rights perspective: “What other religious and non-religious whites would do well to remember that it doesn’t matter whether there is or isn’t a God. All that matters is that all human beings have certain inalienable human rights, and when the rights of even one human being are denied, it means that a statement has been made: All people are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
    AHO.

  42. me Says:

    I think that there is one issue that never gets addressed and that is what about the people who are born with two ethnicities? Noone ever thinks to care how we are being affected by all this fighting or how it is for blonde fair natives to live on or off reserve. On reserve the fair ones get abused and off reserve the dark skin ones get abused. I think both sides are selfish because its like those kids in Vietnam during the war who had american fathers. Nobody wanted them and nobody cared. This is how I have had to live all my life. Im fairly tired of living this way because I have PTSD, social anxiety and severe depression. I am a good person but sometimes my anger at this life gets the better of me. I grew up hating my white side but when I got older I learned to accept myself for who I am. Its true sometimes I just cant understand white people tho because they hurt people so much. It makes me want to hurt myself sometimes. I have this war raging inside myself and it hurts

    • Elyse Bruce Says:

      I am so sorry to hear that sometimes you feel like hurting yourself and I urge you to speak with people you trust and/or your primary care practitioner to help you with this struggle.

      You may be interested in reading this article on my blog site: “Idle No More: Another View.”

      LINK: https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/idle-no-more-another-view/

      Please feel free to visit this blog site as often as you wish and to comment on any of the articles posted here.

    • Thomas D. Taylor Says:

      It must be difficult, feeling as though you are walking a fine line between two fences. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like.

      I am happy that you have told your story so that I and others can be educated by what you have posted however. This, I believe is one of the good things about the Idle No More movement. It has gotten people talking. It has encouraged understanding. It has caused ignorant people to become less so. Hopefully, everyone will come away from the movement with appreciation for and acceptance of, their fellow men and women.

      Thank you for commenting.

  43. Idle No More: A White Man Prays | Elyse Bruce Says:

    […] has been a long time since I’ve written “Idle No More: A White Man Speaks.” Although we have seen understanding bud and blossom within the minds of the ignorant, and […]

  44. Idle No More: A White Man Prays | Thomas D. Taylor Says:

    […] has been a long time since I’ve written “Idle No More: A White Man Speaks.” Although we have seen understanding bud and blossom within the minds of the ignorant, and […]


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