Don’t Call Me Indian
Don’t Call Me Indian
Hello to the FNSSA Community!
We hope that you are all enjoying your summers! The FNSSA’s Blog team is currently looking for 2 assistant editors to help in maintaining and uploading content to our Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Blog! You’ll handle submissions coming in from students that will be uploaded to the site, and maintain News, Events, and Contact ages. While experience in blogging/web production/design and social media are assets, they are not mandatory. We’re just looking for a couple of cool people interested in helping out for a couple hours a week throughout the year. This is a great opportunity for students hoping to get involved but aren’t sure how. If you’re interested in getting involved and would like more details, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a message to the FNSSA Facebook Page. You do not have to be a current member or First Nations Studies Student to be considered.
PERKS OF THE JOB:
You get to hang out with some of the coolest people on campus! You will be up and up on all the latest happenings within the UBC Indigenous community! You’ll gain practical skills! Did I mention you get to hang out with really really cool people? Plus you’ll become a member of (one of) the best club(s) on campus!
My desire to lead
Is born from adversity
And personal revelations
About the capacity for an individual to change.
By the ever present Gitchi Manitou
Whom instills seeds of wisdom
And rainfalls of abundance.
The abundance is triggered by a belief,
A belief in the unknown,
A belief in the unseen forces that want to do good through me.
My life is a reflection
Of the infinite intelligence
That resides within each of us.
The Creator hears a genuine prayer
And seeks me out.
I beam the light of truth and compassion for my people.
The compounded efforts of my sweat, blood, and tears will move mountains,
Overcome any obstacles,
And fulfill the 7 fires prophecy.
I will lead a cultural revolution,
I will bring back the ways of my ancestors,
I will make them proud.
Walkways are silence
An eerie feeling looms
I look around and see death
Life without death
You can almost hear the screams of the artifacts
Screams to mother earth
From which they were born
From which they belong
People say they are just items
Aboriginal protocol says different
We breathe life into everything we make
Each possessing power
Each possessing life
Museums preserve life
Museums prevent death
Museums break the cycle of life
Break the cycle of death
Thump thump Thump thump… …thump… … …thump
As if my body
Is caught between
Sprayed with chemicals
Or not moved
Just always there
A broken cycle
A devastating cycle
A deathless cycle
A cycle of constant
Even though the only constant should be
Interested in getting involved on campus and being a part of an exciting student community?
The First Nation Studies Student’s Association will be holding general elections at the beginning of March 2014. We would like to invite any new or interested students to attend our general meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4th at the UBC Global Lounge to get to know current FNSSA members and learn about new and upcoming events and opportunities. Membership for the 2014/2015 session of FNSSA is $5.00. Throughout the academic year, we meet on Tuesdays at 6:30 to discuss current events and opportunities on and off campus. FNSSA is very engaged with the First Nation Studies Program as well as with many other clubs and organizations within the UBC community.
Please LIKE our Facebook page for more information on current events or email us at email@example.com
Every time I enter the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), I feel hopeful that this time it will be different. I feel good, at first, in the minimalist space, enveloped by concrete, natural light, and high ceilings. Tucked between cedars, on the edge of a cliff that overlooks the windy Pacific, MOA is located on a powerful, spiritual piece of land. But it doesn’t take long before the bitterness and resentment start to wash over me. I see and hear that MOA is trying. Artworks by Musqueam artists stand at the entrance, evidence that a more positive relationship is being forged between the institution and the Indigenous peoples on whose traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory the institution stands. But as soon as I enter through the doors, and I feel the spirits of the totems standing there, so far from home, I start to feel sick. Uprooted. That is the word that came to me on my first visit, and it is the word that still haunts me. I come upon my partner’s family house post, and I speak to my great-grandfather-in-law. Meegwich moshum. Thank-you for standing here. You are loved. You are missed. You are remembered. By the time I enter the multiversity gallery I can’t keep the disdain off my face. I remind myself that MOA is doing some great work to create space for relationship building. Native youth give tours. Some of the display cases are curated in partnership with First Nations. But the walls and the drawers are so crammed full of items, I wonder how the spirits have room to breathe. To move. To dance. There are so many masks, drums, carvings, baskets, and tools it is as if I have entered an ethnographic hoarding situation. Why are these here? How did they get here? Who do these belong to? I am not the first person to ask these questions. They are questions folks who tour the museum, who write about the museum, and who work at the museum constantly ask.
Moving on, the tour starts to get more personal. I come upon the small section devoted to the Plains. My people. A relative’s moccasins. A relative’s headdress. A relative’s basket. I look closely at the glass display cases. If I am entirely honest, my agitation is coupled with a bit of desperation. I am looking for medicines, looking for signs of my relatives. It is part of my search to recover my own Nahkawe-Nehiyaw identity, something that was also seized temporarily by colonization. I am looking for something that might help quell the ancestral grief that lives in my bones, if just for today. I put my hand on the cool copper handle of the drawer beneath the glass case. I have heard these drawers are special. Imported from Europe. Very expensive, you know. The drawer slides open gracefully. I almost cry out when I see what is inside. Sacred pipes. I am told that Pipes were given to the world to help to heal the people. Pipes are meant to smoked, to carry our prayers to Gihzwe Manido. Pipes are meant to be in ceremony. Pipes are meant to be lovingly carried in beaded buckskin, and feasted. And here they are, sitting in a bourgeois anthropological museum, objects of curiosity.
It has been over a month since I saw the pipes at the MOA, and I am still thinking about them. I see how much healing my Indigenous communities, friends, and family need, and I know those pipes can help to do that work. It is hard for me to know that they are in there, unable to carry out their original instructions. I could hear the pipes singing songs of sadness, loneliness…their spirits are hungry for love.
Following my encounter with the pipes at MOA, I felt inspired to respond. I drew a comic strip, titled “pipe dreams”, which allowed me to explore new possibilities through imagination and fantasy. While pipe dreams is clearly a critique of museums, and MOA in particular, it is not meant to discount the good work that is being done in those institutions. The Museum of Anthropology is a world leader for its progressive policy reform and extensive efforts to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples, thanks to Indigenous activism and visionary work done by museum staff. Community outcry to past displays of sacred ceremonial objects has resulted in teachable moments for both the institutions and the public. Today, an empty display case in the Multiversity Gallery makes a statement that educates visitors on respect for cultural protocol. Evidence of the institution’s humility, many exhibits at MOA provoke interrogation of museum practices. And perhaps the most encouraging aspect of MOA is that it has demonstrated a commitment to working with the Indigenous community. In these ways, MOA has shown that museums can simultaneously be sites of colonization and decolonization.
And yet, I cannot ignore the way I felt in my body and spirit during my last visit. Sometimes I wonder, why do museums have to exist, as a given? I see the value in galleries displaying objects, art, and artifact with permission of those who made them (or their descendants). But for those items that were stolen or otherwise dishonourably acquired, for the items that are shown with question marks on their identification cards…do those items have to be kept? It cannot be ignored that MOA is a multi-million dollar facility that draws in tourists. What message is being sent to those who do not have the tools to think so critically, or those who are not so familiar with the nuanced histories and context of MOA and its collection? While those questions are important, the questions that are really on my mind, and that I mean to pose with pipe dreams, are this: What are our responsibilities, as Indigenous peoples, to objects that were given to use to care for by our ancestors, but are now locked behind glass? And, knowing that they may or may not eventually return to our communities, how can we feed their spirits?
Danette Jubinville, 3rd Year FNSP Major, Saulteaux, Cree, French, German, Jewish, Scottish & English ancestry
To recognize trickster
Trickster was a crafty spirit
He took many forms in the past
Raven, coyote, …
In the past he was
In the present he is
Today we look around
His face all around
He is inside our bodies
He hides behind our eyes
Hides behind our eyes
We see stereotypes through our eyes
We look at others and Judge
Judge their looks
Apply the appropriate stereotype
Act according to that stereotype
It is that trickster that creates stereotypes
He creates them within our eyes
So we see nothing but them
A clever spirit ready to create problems
Ready to separate
Ready to judge
Ready to fight
However we are clever
We are wise
We know right from wrong
We know what hurts
Know bad judgment
And we know that no is different than know
That we should say no suffering
And know right from wrong
We should take it upon ourselves to know people
To love people
To cherish our lives with each other
And to walk with soft steps
To recognize trickster
To pull that clever spirit from our bodies
To clean our eyes with truth
To know ourselves
It is up to us to know trickster
And to say no more
To be idle no more
To remember the true purpose
Of tricksters actions
Which is to teach
To become knowledgeable
To say no to stereotypes
And to know each other
Crystal Smith de Molina
This past Sunday, I attended the Elders Craft Fair at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre. My shopping list included smoked salmon, beaded earrings, and hopefully (fingers crossed!) some bannock. The gymnasium was full of tables with Kookum’s and Mushum’s selling their wares; deer hide roses, cedar weaved baskets and jewelry, stunning beaded creations, carvings and gorgeous Cowichan sweaters, bags and hats (take that Aritzia). My shopping list was successfully fulfilled by the end of the morning, however the most memorable part of my Elders Craft Fair experience was a small sign at a table that read “Will Trade”.
I immediately thought of the system of trade that had been unintentionally set up between a small community of Indigenous students on UBC campus. Last year, I was gifted a large amount of moose meat. Upon preparing it in a slow-cooker for eight hours, I gifted the majority of it to friends that I knew would appreciate its origins as a Moose that had been tracked by hunters who understood the importance of respectively hunting and harvesting an animal. The following weeks, I was gifted Elk sausage, more Moose meat, Deer, and Salmon. This system of trade has persisted and I am reminded of the resurgence of the Potlatch System, where our economies were supported by giving and not consuming. I could have easily consumed that Moose all to myself, but my sending it out into a community of loved ones, I was gifted a diverse and rich amount of meat and friendship. The Elders sign signified an intelligible and community oriented way of accumulating wealth: through building relations and giving for the purpose of trade. I cannot imagine a more powerful form of community oriented and anti-capitalist, grassroots resurgence.
The Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal and Blog, xʷnaʔələmxʷ sχəχi:ls, has been selected to present as a Highlighted Project at this years 2014 Student Leadership Conference under the working title, Shifting Stories and Mending Misconceptions alongside PUNK (Promoting Understanding of North Korea). Blog-editors Matthew Ward and Anna McKenzie will be speaking about how this project has come to be through the hard work and leadership skills of FNSSA members, while incorporating their own personal story and development. More information about how to register for the conference on January 11th, 2014 will be posted as made available. FNSSA is excited to be bringing Indigenous voices and perspectives to a new venue, engaging over 1000 delegates composed of students, faculty, staff, and visiting community members! We hope to see you there in the New Year!
To keep updated with the latest, please check out the First Nations Studies Student Association’s new Facebook page!
The Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal and Blog decided that it would be appropriate to approach Elder Larry Grant and the Musqueam Language & Culture Program to gift our journal and blog a meaningful name. Our mandate is to create a space for Musqueam language as we are guests on the unceded and ancestral territory of the hən’q’əmin’əm speaking Musqueam First Nation. We would like to thank the Musqueam First Nation for hosting us as students on their traditional territory and for allowing us to do this important work. A resurgence of language, protocol and recognition is very important to the First Nation Studies Student Association in terms of decolonizing the way we think and the spaces we live and work in.
Our Journal and Blogs is named xʷnaʔələmxʷ sχəχi:ls, meaning “first peoples writing” in hən’q’əmin’əm’, the language of the Musqueam First Nation whose land UBC is situated on. We would also like to thank Elder Larry Grant and the Musqueam Language & Culture Program for gifting the Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal with our name.