Response to Op-Ed piece in Kingston Whig-Standard

Sorry, Whig.

The Indian-as-uncivilized savage metaphors just don¹t cut it any more.  Laws are also the foundation of indigenous societies.

Check Britannica and you might be surprised to learn that the framers of the U.S. Constitution borrowed their division of federal and state powers from the Haudenosaunee, who had incorporated the concept in their Great Law almost 1,000 years ago.

Anishinabek peoples had societal codes forbidding family inter-marriage when the crowned heads of Europe were as inbred as poodles.

The Mayans were probing such natural laws as the movement of the stars when Catholics were burning scholars at the stake for suggesting that the earth revolved around the sun.

Midewiwin taught the one-Creator gospel at a time when the Greeks and Romans were groveling before idols of humans depicted with wings, horns, and multiple bosoms.

No, your attempt to dismiss us as recalcitrant trouble-makers flouting the “rule of law” just doesn¹t cut it.

You betray your ignorance of the concept of aboriginal rights by comparing the Algonquins¹ struggle to keep uranium-mining squatters off their traditional territory to a spat between divorced spouses.

First Nations citizens have never been “married” to Canadians; the Royal Proclamation of 1763 respected us as distinct ³nations², a concept regularly upheld by Canada¹s courts and constitution.

But if you insist on sticking with your absurd attempt to over-simplify this complex topic, at least do it right.

Consider that you are the spouse of a husband determined to deprive you of any share of the fruits of your marriage.

He hires the most expensive lawyers money can buy, who wins possession of your house, and gets the judge to issue a court order that  results in a bailiff tossing you out onto the street with no money to buy your children food, health care, or schooling. (You also learn that he has infected you with a life-threatening venereal disease.)

Then you learn that he has sold your marital home and property for two million dollars to a land developer who has been coveting the site for years. In divorce court, another judge says you and your children are not entitled to any of the proceeds.

And, oh yes — your legal outcome is similar to that experienced by all women in your family since 1867.

Your options:  go “ho-hum ­ guess I¹ll respect the rule of law” or take whatever action you feel necessary to protect you and your children.

In the landmark report of the Ipperwash Inquiry into the death of unarmed Native protester Dudley George, Justice Sidney Linden pleaded for Canadian and Ontario governments to end “centuries of discrimination and dispossession.”

For this to happen, institutions like the Kingston Whig-Standard need to have a much greater understanding of Native issues than they apparently do now.

Maurice Switzer
Director of Communications
Union of Ontario Indians

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