no natives allowed

I’ve just checked the Donner Prize for this 2009. They didn’t get it.  Who? Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard, that’s who. They were nominated for “Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry” etc. I agree, they don’t deserve it although I’m amazed it got as far as it did.


I noted elsewhere, the last minute PR push with full-chapter reprints got me wondering if an award could be won by chequebook rather than quality. 


I’m not falling into Widdowson’s and Howard’s pre-emptive trap, to allow them to use reverse racism as an excuse, or to allow them to portray themselves as victims of political correctness. No one has sought to ban their opinions, so we shouldn’t allow them to proclaim themselves poster children for free speech either. They put their stuff out, they had plenty of opportunity to express themselves in the media (thanks, mindless bots), and their opinions have been found wanting. Too many academics have found their work wanting. 


Widdowson and Howard had plenty of opportunity to flog their opinions – and that’s exactly what they are, poorly researched, flawed, and highly prejudicial opinions pretending to be academic study. The authors didn’t seem to understand or to appreciate what it was that they actually advocated. Or if they did, they didn’t care.


I think, I hope, that Canadians are wary of anything that smells of cultural genocide given their past as well as their present, as they send sons and daughters off to fight and die in foreign lands. Difficult to justify fighting for respect and human dignity out there when the opposite may be taking place at home.


At risk of taking this off on a tangent, here’s a link to a story by Mark Dowie in the Boston Globe. It’s about the past, and the present, and  a centuries-old struggle to be heard and to be allowed to be heard. I think it fits the tone of this post. 


I suspect that Widdowson and Howard wouldn’t agree with this story, but then I don’t really care what they think anymore.




Filed under Aboriginal peoples, Canada, Canadian politics, Canadian politics, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous rights, journalism, United States

4 responses to “no natives allowed

  1. Pingback: Daily News About Canada : A few links about Canada - Sunday, 03 May 2009 14:45

  2. This sort of comment is typical of a particular mentality. It crawls out consistantly, making claims that have no supporting evidence, often hiding behind a pseudonym. We did not get the Donner Prize, but were shortlisted – quite an achievement in a strong field. When books are reviewed and nominated for prestigious prizes, the publishers naturally promote it. The comment about reverse racism is incomprehensible, but the one-sided claim that our book was found wanting by “too many academics” is not true. Many distinguished academics applauded the book. There were also a number of responses consistant with this one by “Shmohawk”, subjective, with unsupported accusations and claims. Of course, one can’t be sure with anonymous commentators, but my guess is that this one benefits from keeping native people isolated and in need of whatever he pretends to supply.

  3. shmohawk

    First, haven’t you heard about spell check?

    You’re upset about my “reverse racism” comment? Maybe the following will jog your memory. It’s about your reaction to a review by Taiaiake Alfred, Professor of Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria:

    Alicia Elliott wrote:
    “Widdowson once responded to an advertised position with a Dene aboriginal organization before she formed her opinions about the Aboriginal Industry, but she wasn’t interviewed.”
    “Alfred’s attacks on responsible “community colleges” and “vocational schools” (where we supposedly have been “hired on”) are flimsy when considered in light of where he might be teaching today were it not for the insidious presence of affirmative action in today’s postmodern university culture.”

    Should I state the obvious? It sounds like these are two people who are angry that their race is actually failing to get them what they want. In both of these quotes it’s fairly easy to see that Widdowson and Howard seem to subscribe to the idea that they, as white people, have some sort of “right” to something.

    So Widdowson didn’t get an interview for a job? It must be because she’s not Indigenous, right? It must be the fault of that awful affirmative action, which is only necessary because people in positions to hire hold unfair and unsubstantiated ideas of people of colour.

    The second comment and it’s evident disdain for affirmative action just links both writers to a tradition of white people who feel like they are somehow being disenfranchised despite the fact that their race still make up the vast majority of high-paying and high status positions in society. So you can’t cash in your unearned racial privilege because of government-passed legislation? Why don’t you try to break down the system of racial oppression that you yourselves unknowingly continue so the government doesn’t have to pass such legislation?

    The fact that these authors seem to be paradoxically fighting for the “freeing” of Aboriginals from an exploitive and discriminatory system, while simultaneously calling their culture, language and way of life “barbaric” simply because it does not pass the “White Western-Based Measure of Civilization and Thought” test is nothing short of bizarre.

    I think this woman’s response about sums it up. Your book is nothing more than ugly racial prejudice pretending to be academic study.

  4. I must agree completely with Mr. Howard. The academic and methodological rigor for which the Widdowson/Howard team is so justly renowned was just as striking in this magnificent work as it was in Ms. Widdowson’s recent penetrating analysis of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

    You know, the one where she claimed that the AHF hadn’t been evaluated (wrong), then that they had only been evaluated internally (wrong), then that the evaluations didn’t count because they had been commissioned by the AHF?

    The one where she claimed that the organization’s CEO wasn’t Aboriginal? (Wrong).

    Yes, an impressive display of rigour.

    Al, Marxist ideologues are notoriously humorless. But I wonder if even you could be helped to perceive the irony in your last two sentences, above? You know, the one that accuses Shmohawk of “unsupported accusations and claims”, and then continues: “My guess is that this one benefits from keeping native people isolated and in need of whatever he pretends to supply.”

    Try REAL hard, Al.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s