mouse chronicles (interrupted)

I was smack in the middle of writing about my misadventures with live mouse traps and female overlords when my morning was sidelined by an unwelcome intrusion. The incident caused me to re-examine my reasons for writing some of the things I do. It also made me consider yet again whether my blog is doing what it should. The internal debate continues whether Shmohawk, the personna and the blog, are heading in the right direction.

This I know: a lot of people, and a lot of journalists, will never understand or agree with my views on public affairs or life. It’s a free country. There are lots of people who prefer safe confines and walled communities to exploration. It’s easier to reject something than to put yourself out there and try to understand other peoples and their perspectives. Believe me, because I find it so hard to get out of my realities and attempt to understand yours.

As a journalist, I found that other journalists read less about life, and more about what they needed for that day. They don’t make time or feel the need for grand ideas which tend to be shoved out the back door while bureaucratic reports jam the front one. It isn’t that they don’t want to be better informed, but daily journalism is insular. Lost focus and intellectual wandering may lead to fuzzy thinking. This, I think, is why so many try to negotiate time to tackle larger issues with bigger stories. These are gross oversimplifications, stereotypes which are the stock-in-trade of journalism.

I know as well that the body reacts, at first, to anything it considers foreign or even dangerous. Ideas, for example, especially powerful ones, can be infectious. Some ideas may be beneficial but new ideas are almost always attacked. The body may eventually use the idea to develop an immunity to more destructive illnesses. At least that’s how I like to think about information, and journalism, and why I decided to get into the game. That’s right. I wanted to infect as many people as possible with ideas. I wanted to use them to counter racism; the dreaded “r” word that shall not be spoken in polite company. But I know racism to be a destructive illness that needs to be confronted. Ignored or avoided, race hatred can infect and even destroy the host.

It isn’t completely selfless. I’m just as worried about my welfare as anyone else’s. You see, racism is an everyday fact of my life. Race and racism are unfortunate side effects of being an Indigenous person today. I cannot pretend it doesn’t exist. I can try to pass, and hope no one notices. I can dye my hair, bleach my skin, insert tinted contact lenses to change the colour of my eyes. I have friends who have been told to change their accents. Cut their braids. Stop being so damn Indian! I know some Mohawks who have done it all in order to try to fit, to escape, to survive. But I know a whole lot more who are prepared to stand and fight, if necessary. Bring it.

Getting back to ideas, I’m going to post Article 8 of the UN’s Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I sense that most people in Canada haven’t a clue what it states, what it means or might mean for the average Canadian. I suspect it’s because they’ve depended on news people to explain the Declaration to them. Never a good plan.

I hope anyone reading this gets a little more curious about why Canada is one of only four nations in the world that refuses to sign it. Go, find it and read it for yourself. A Canadian mind is a terrible thing to waste.

I hope this helps explain a little behind Shmohawk, the personna and the blog. It won’t reveal everything, but it may help me decide whether to continue down this path or, as Bugs Bunny put it, take that left turn at Albuquerque.

Article 8 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples deals with assimilation and forced integration:

  1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
  2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
  • Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;
  • Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
  • Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
  • Any form of forced assimilation or integration;
  • Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.


Filed under Aboriginal peoples, Canada, Canadian politics, human rights, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous rights, journalism, racism, writing

5 responses to “mouse chronicles (interrupted)

  1. Chasman

    Keep it coming, Mr. Schmohawk. Hell, I’ve only just bookmarked you.

  2. shmohawk

    I’m not going anywhere. I had another blog but ended that one because I found myself getting into a role I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be a political commentator, a political critic, sniping at Indigenous organizations and people, or slamming government policies. It was just too easy, and way to easy to fall into nasty snarkdom. When I started this blog, I saw myself falling back into that same old routine – much to my dismay.

    I think there’s a place for someone to do this type of blogging. I know some who do it quite well. They try to capture the low boil in the communities and express that by poking fun at the policy, those who created it, or others who are charge with enforcing it. I include in my sights those who actively support those policies, especially those who hold my culture in disdain, push the assimilationist point of view, do so with half-truth and insinuation instead of fact. Of course, facts can be disputed. And this tends to lead into territory I’m neither equipped for nor relish – long drawn out conversations with people. It winds up going something like this:

    Me: The sky’s blue.
    Them: No, it’s slightly mauve.
    Me: Dark blue.
    Them: Purplish actually. Much less than blue.

    And so on until they’re telling me the sky is really green.

    I know a blue sky when I see one. I don’t care to debate with idiots. There are some things that are self-evident. The right to a people to determine for themselves what is best for them. I distrust those who appoint themselves as saviours of peoples, bringing along so-called expert solutions to the situations in Indigenous communities in Canada, but who are really advocating an old, old policy that has been tried and pushed in Canada for the past 250 years or so. What I cannot understand is why they think this is new or innovative. Or makes any sense at all. It reminds me so much of that old adage from the Vietnam War: We had to destroy the village to save it. Only, in Canada, the modern version is more like: We had to destroy Indigenous rights and cultures to save them.

    You see? I think there are lots of people out there who believe as I do that these people need to be confronted at each instance, their idiocies made clear. So why don’t they do it?

    Because I want to write about other things.

  3. shmohawk

    Great article. “To Kill A Mockingbird” has been a favourite of mine as a book and a movie. I have to admit that I never analyzed either to the extent that Gladwell does. At the same time, I also must admit that I have always felt slightly uneasy, guilty somehow, with the hero, Finch. That feeling, I think, came from my sympathy or empathy with Robinson, the Black man on trial. I could identify with him as the victim in the story more than I could with the good liberal white man as saviour.

    I’ve had “Finches” come into my life from time to time. They’re there to help, to support, but only to an extent that they feel comfortable with. Unfortunately, the topics we’re talking about aren’t very nice. We’re talking about the deliberate destruction of peoples and their cultures, or as one woman here once told the media: Canada has all kinds of laws. Don’t walk here. Don’t stand there. Don’t step on the grass. But they don’t have a law that says don’t step on native people.

    That’s the ugly truth that draws a line that they can’t or won’t step over because it makes them uncomfortable. In some ways, They’re almost as bad as the assimilationists who see a final solution as the only answer; get rid of the Indian in the child until there are no Indians and no Indian problem. Simple and simplistic. It might have been acceptable by so-called civilized society a hundred years ago (not by us but by themselves), but it’s known in law as cultural genocide today. BTW, that doesn’t excuse past generations just as they cannot be absolved of anti-semitism at the turn of the last century just because everybody was doing it back then.

    Thanks for the article. It helps.

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