then you must be white


finally a sign that isn't confusing


I just sent (another) note, a suggestion, a correction, to CBC online about the overuse and misuse of terms like “Aboriginal” and “native.” I get tired of complaining especially as nothing seems to work. How to get it through the thickness.

It was a CP obit on Sam George. It wasn’t a long story but still managed to have four references to “Aboriginal” and one of “native.” I explained that Sam wasn’t Inuit or Métis, and Kettle & Stony Point has no significant Inuit or Métis population. So I told the CBC that the umbrella terms were inaccurate?

Sam was Chippewa. The official name of his community is CHIPPEWAS of Kettle and Stony Point. Why confuse things?

How can I get through to these guys!? 

In another life, with another life partner, she had a funny tale to tell. It was about her trip to some Caribbean vacation spot. Barbados, I think. 

She did the usual things, went to the usual tourist spots, picked up the usual junk. Afterward, she went with her companion poolside to relax. The bartender looked at the two luxuriously tanned women and asked where they came from?

One said she was Mohawk from Canada. The other said Algonquin, also from Canada.  They were native people, they explained, in the vernacular of the times. 

Are you white, asked the bartender? No, replied both ladies, slightly confused by the question.

Well, said the bartender, if you’re not Black then you must be white? That’s just the way it is.

The two women looked at each other. Then one of them, I’m not sure which, asked if the bartender was a native person? No, he answered. He was Black.

Well, they replied, if you’re not an Indian then you must be white.

All of which is to say… I’m not Inuk.  I’m not part Métis (what the hell does that mean anyway?!). If you’re talking to me, in my Mohawk (or insert your Indigenous nation here) community, talking to other Mohawks, about a MOHAWK issue – never, ever write in your story that I’m “Aboriginal” or “native”!

Sheesh!  Be specific!  Accuracy matters.  Journalism should counter ignorance – not promote it.

Rant over.



Filed under Canada, humour, Indigenous peoples, journalism

2 responses to “then you must be white

  1. KevinG

    I was thinking of you the other day when my 10 year old was doing her homework. She was taught the difference between Aboriginal, Indian, Inuit and Métis. With a little practice she used them them with some precision — well precision for a 10 year old but at least she knew what was a subset of what.

  2. shmohawk

    I think you just made my month. That is so cool. Now can we send a bunch of journalists to your kid’s school because they really needs to be educated? They refuse to understand the need for accuracy. Of course if we do, the kids might object to lowering their obviously high standards. 😉

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