I have noted, preached against, argued about, condemned, aimed jokes at, and pulled my hair over the continuing laziness, ignorance or stupidity of people (notably journalists and others who work with words and language) over their constant misuse of generic, all-encompassing, one-size-fits-all terms like “Aboriginal.”
I don’t discriminate with my complaints. I don’t care if they’re aimed at Caucasian, Indian, Métis, Black, Asian, Eurasian, South Asian, Inuit or any number of other peoples. Individuals who work with words are supposed to make things clear – not confuse things even more. They are expected to agonize over limited space or time; to condense and simplify. In the end though, they should explain things so people may understand.
Instead, I keep complaining about people who think that “Aboriginal” can be used instead of “Indian,” that there are such things as Aboriginal reserves, and that an inukshuk is Aboriginal.
(brrrppp) WRONG! Everyone who agreed with that last sentence take one giant step backward.
I don’t know how many times that I’ve picked up a newspaper, watched a TV program, heard on the radio someone – very often a highly paid someone – talk about an “Aboriginal treaty” or an “Aboriginal non-status person.” On that first term, there ain’t no such thing. Only Indian NATIONS made treaty with the British, U.S., French, Spanish and later Canada in North America. That is a crucial legal and historic distinction from which many other distinctions flow.
Before I really get fuming… here’s an example from a draft book that crossed my computer HD. It isn’t written by some ignoramus but by a respected, highly educated and well-paid mixed-race professional person. Part North American Indian she says, and someone who should know better. Read on, McDuff…
When the French and British first took control of the land in what is now Canada, the land was considered to be owned by the King or Queen. Until it was granted or sold to individuals it was called Crown land.
Early Crown land records held by provincial governments include many references to Aboriginal peoples. When members of Aboriginal bands entitled to reserve land allocations married non-Aboriginals (or non-Status Indians), there was often some disagreement over entitlement to the land, and thus documentation of the relationships was produced. This documentation can be found in correspondence with representatives of the Crown and the records of special commissions set up to handle disputes.
There are also inspection and valuation reports in the Crown land records. In cases where these cover regions settled by Aboriginal peoples, their names may be listed, often identifying them as members of a First Nation Band, Métis or White. These records can be helpful for establishing identity and residence, although they do not tend to describe relationships between individuals.
There are so many things wrong with these three paragraphs that I shudder. “Aboriginal bands”? Do Métis or Inuit have reserves? Who the frig gave the King or Queen the right to… well enough of that!
In the last paragraph, she states that Aboriginal peoples settled on Crown lands!? WTF? Indians and Inuit are the original owners and inhabitants of the land. They didn’t settle on Crown land but were herded onto postage stamp reserves so the government could give their land to mostly European settlers.
Oh, then there’s an additional kick in the head with “First Nation band.”
Oy. Has the Canadian education system ever failed her. I need an aspirin.