By: Johnny Hawke
“Since the arrival of the Europeans and Christianity, Nana’b’oozoo’s kin and neighbors had forsaken him and espoused new heroes and heroines, new values, everything. Not only was he neglected, he was now regarded as no more than a “trickster” and a “fool” by many of the people he had served. Spurned and scorned, hurt and humiliated, Nana’b’oozoo, taking his Grandmother with him, moved out of the lives of the Anishinabe.”
– Basil H Johnston , Scholar, Historian, Anishinabe Nation
Sleeping Giant, Thunder Bay Ontario
My people the Anishinabe held in high regards Nana’b’oozoo, Original Man, our Teacher so much so that when we greet each other we use his name. Nana’b’oozoo was half spirit and half man sent by Creator to wander the Earth to name all things and to learn lessons clearing the path for his descendents, the Anishinabe. Nana’b’oozoo lived amongst our people from the time we were created until the coming of the Europeans. Our Elders say that Nana’b’oozoo left our people because we were turning our backs on him.
Before Colonial Policies were enforced on our people, we had a Nation to Nation relationship with the Europeans and it is in this time where we started exchanging our lifestyle for their capitalistic values and became dependant on their products, this is the time when Nana’b’oozoo left our people. Nana’b’oozo lying down on the ground fell asleep and turned himself into an island to protect an underground Silver Mine and is still their sleeping over top of the mine and waiting for the people to awaken his spirit. Today Nana’b’oozoo can be seen sleeping on the shores of what is now known as Thunder Bay, Ontario.
We are in the time of the Seventh Fire Prophecy and are about the light the Eighth and final fire. We have a choice in the Eighth Fire in our prophecies where we can either choose to destroy ourselves with the “White Mans” values and products, where the Earth will play a part in cleansing herself of the Human Race, which is now happening, or we can return to our original instructions and light an ever lasting Fire of Spiritual Balance working in harmony with the Earth. It is of urgency that we awaken the Sleeping Giant that is the Anishinabek Nation for the benefit of all Earths People.
My name is Kai Kai Kons, Young Hawk of the Anishinabe Ojibway Nation and am 26 years old and am of the Bird Clan, a Clan recognized for our voice and leadership. My English name is Johnny Hawke and I reside on Chimnissing Anishinabe Territory some of my people who accept Colonial Authority also call all our home Beausoleil First Nation, Christian Island, Ontario Canada. We are located on the southern shores of Georgian Bay, two hours north of Toronto, Ontario.
As I become a man with an ever more increasing responsibility to retain our Sovereignty and to stand up for the Earth I am writing this article for the young ones who are coming up behind me and who choose to walk this path of Resistance and Resurgence. I want to share what I have observed this far in our struggle and in my own life as an Anishinabe. I am not writing this article as an ego trip or as some veteran in the movement as I am quite fresh. This article is not a how-to-do it yourself manual. I am just sharing some frustrations and barriers we need to watch out for as we as a Nation struggle to retain our Sovereignty. If our youth are our future then consider this article a living frustration from a youth who is trying to put our teachings into place finding that our worst enemy is ourselves.
I am very much rooted and have been brought up in the responsibilities of my Clan and as a Man being that Fire Keeper and Provider. I have been rooted in our Anishinabe Ceremonies, Spirituality, History and Sovereignty by my family. I have been active in the defense of my own and other brother and sisters Indigenous Territories enforcing our Sovereignty from the encroachment of Colonial Governments and Corporations standing on the frontlines for the past few years of my young life.
I am a multimedia artist with a College Diploma in Broadcast Journalism. I am a writer, musician, traditional dancer, painter, videographer and carver and like everyone else I have my faults and am no Saint. I try my best to walk the way of Okijida, to have a “Big Heart” and to walk an Anishinabe way.
With the education, dedication and skills I have I can make a comfortable life for myself through participating in a capitalist society but I choose not too and I dedicate my lifestyle to walking this path of Resistance and Resurgence waking this Sleeping Giant up. Some may call this the Indigenous Resistance Movement, American Indian Movement, Native Youth Movement, Okijida, Activism or Warrior Society what ever it is it is a global movement where oppressed people are waking up along with an angry Earth Mother to cleanse and reclaim ourselves. The following is not only my story but our story.
“Sometimes they have to kill us. They have to kill us, because they can’t break our Spirit. We choose the Right to be who we are. We know the difference between the reality of freedom and the illusion of freedom.” – James Looks Twice/ John Trudell
Disrobing the Modern Small Pox Blankets
The White Man has infected us with Capitalism by disguising his institutions with our cultural symbols and placing them within our communities so he no longer has to kill us out in the open but rather we destroy ourselves internally. These institutions are the modern day smallpox blankets in which we need to disrobe of as quickly as we can, replacing them with our own original socio political institutions in order for us to remain as Anishinabe.
The following institutions are painted to look like our own but exploit our cultural symbols so we are fooled into believing that these things belong to us. Underneath they are still colonial and benefit only the “white man” for his capitalist agenda. Beware of the following as you try to make change within our Indigenous Communities and I encourage you to see beyond the smoke and mirrors even if it is dressed up with our culture.
Indian Act First Nations: In the Northern Part of Turtle Island our Indigenous Nations are subjected to the Indian Act enforced by the British Crown under the governance of Canada. The Act including the elected Chief and Council system is a system imposed on communities in our territory. It is in breach of our inherit Sovereignty, Treaties, Canadian Constitution, Royal Proclamation, the Two Row Wampum, 1764 Niagara Covenant Chain Belt and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which acknowledge our title to our Lands and Rights including our Sovereignty. In order to retain our Sovereignty we need to reject the First Nation Reserve System, Chief and Council and most treaties. Most treaties which ceded our lands and rights are invalid because they were signed by Chiefs who were given authority by the Government in their Indian Act system and not the by our people and our system. The very existence of INAC Chief and Council and our Reserve Communities today and their day to day operations are not only breaking Canada’s own law but our own laws and Sovereignty.
AFN/Chiefs/Union of Ontario Indians: These types of Chiefs organizations claim to represent our People however the leadership is elected only by Chiefs and they are funded by the Government. They want to embrace Capitalism over our own Traditional Indigenous Economic Systems so in turn they become hypocrites in advocating for our Culture, Rights, Treaties and Sovereignty. You can’t advocate for our Cultural ways and then not put them to use for what they encompass and teach. They consistently advocate the Governments for more funds which are never seen on a community level only through a bureaucratic nepotistic funding structure where assistants to the assistants are hired to create a failing economy, while our children continue to starve. They also ask the Colonizers for our Sovereignty when we already have it and just need to enforce.
Anishinabek Police Service: These officers are enforcing Canadian Laws in our own Community which breaches our Right to be a Sovereign Nation with our own laws. Anishinabek Clan system is responsible for correcting inappropriate behaviors therefore there is no need for lawyers, judges, jails where we become a product set up only to benefit the Capitalist system. If you don’t like the police and foreign laws lets organize and patrol and become responsible for our own community. These thugs do more harm to our communities handing our people over to a foreign judicial system which creates more conflict in correcting an individual’s behavior. These thugs make us dependant on their service so we do not become responsible in resolving our own problems through our own holistic ways as a community.
Aboriginal Economic Development: First Nations are now collaborating with Mining, Gas, Oil, Mineral, Forestry Corporations and Governments to extract resources on our Traditional Territories becoming sell-outs to the very foundation of what makes us Indigenous. We have our own Anishinabe Economic Systems based on common ownership of lands of the people and cooperative management and allocation of resources which works in harmony with the Earth. Remember only after all the fish are gone then you will know you can’t eat money. We cannot remain as Anishinabe with Anishinabe principles and values if we embrace Capitalism. Either Capitalism will fail or being Anishinabe will fail.
Aboriginal Social Services: Social Service Agreements that are administered by First Nations create dependency on the state, which is the institution that protects Capitalism. It is Capitalism that creates poverty conditions which requires our society to implement these Social Service Programs. It also diverts our people living in poverty from uprising and replacing the Capitalist Society with our Sovereignty. Everyone in our Anishinabek Society had a job which we depended on and no one lived in poverty. if we remove the Social Services Welfare system we will begin to see how fast the majority of our people will begin to organize and start putting food on our tables and stopping this dependency. We survived an Ice Age, a Great Flood; I am sure we can provide for ourselves and find jobs in this time. The Welfare system is the number one cause of being on Welfare.
Aboriginal Self Government: Portrayed as some form of Sovereignty self-government is the exact opposite. It transforms band councils into municipal governments under provincial & federal control. Reserve lands become fee simple property that can be bought & sold on the free market.
It’s the same goal as the 1876 Indian Act and the 1969 White Paper: the legal, political & economic assimilation of Indigenous peoples into Canada. Some bands are already well advanced in their self-government deals, including the Nisga’a, Sechelt, Westbank, Nunavut, James Bay Cree & Inuit, as well as the Gwich’in & other Yukon bands. In this way, self-government will really be the self-administration of our own oppression. The only Self Government that is being honored is under Government stipulations.
Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy: Healing Centers, Councilors and Social Workers and the work they do are based on Indigenous Culture which helps to “heal” individuals. This is very much needed but once a person becomes “healed” they go back into their impoverished communities and continue destructive behaviors as a result of social conditions which stem from capitalism. The Funding of this strategy is administered and depended on by Government sources. Social workers make a living off of “Aboriginal Misery” and the core issues are not being “healed” which makes our people again a product for the Capitalist system. “Whispering Four Winds Healing Treatment Centre” benefits the people on payroll more than the communities who have to deal with Colonization. Give a Community Economic Sustenance instead of a Treatment Centre and tell me which one “heals” social problems more efficiently. You can give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach him to fish and he’ll never go hungry.
Pan Indian Traditionalism: As we the prophetic Seventh Generation pick up what was taken from us, a melting pot of cultural knowledge, ceremonies and ideologies create a passive euphoric romanticized version of what we once used to be. It is filled with a majority of people who want to attain medicine person, elder and sainthood status and the role of the hunter and warrior are degraded into a savage militant threat to this harmonious way of life. If we deny the role of the warrior to appease a contemporary political correctness then we are denying everything our ancestors did to make sure that we are here today.
Compromising our own Nations customs and rituals to accommodate this new age melting pot of traditionalism dilutes the very meaning of what we are trying to preserve and awaken. Powwow and the openness of sharing of our knowledge has become a thing of honorarium and prestige. Sacred Dances such as Sundance, Raindance, the role of Heyoka and our medicine societies are replaced for an inter-tribal exhibition called powwow which creates the image that we are nothing but a powwowing culture, while our diversity is forgotten. Powwow a mish mash of culture that becomes our national image as a people. While Pan Indian Traditionalism creates a form of Nationalism which unites us at times however it can divide us as we do not who comes into our communities under what agenda. It creates the freedom for an individual to make themselves a self appointed Chief, Medicine Person, Warrior or Clan member without proper protocol, ceremony or accreditation in which the vulnerable can fall victim to such people.
This Pan Indian Traditionalism creates an outlet for our people to share our culture to the mainstream society where even non Indigenous people are provided to establish a career of selling out. Ego and greed and manipulation of culture to suite individual needs are than created which is in direct conflict of those teachings. Reestablishing our own Nation’s Sovereignty can filter out the manipulators and the people of all colors will benefit instead of the ever present Capitalism.
As I listen and try to exercise what Chiefs preach along with the wisdom of our teachings and historical agreements the more I feel like Nana’b’oozo the Sleeping Giant who our people now look at as a trickster and a fool.
As I listen to Indigenous Politicians speak of Nation to Nation Relationship with Canada and asserting our Sovereignty I see no real action to back up their talk but when I try they see me as a “fool trickster” who is shun.
When I attend the ceremonies of my people which preach on love and acceptance and how we learn from the animals I watch the bears loose there territory and when provoked I see them fight back and those same ceremonial Elders tell me to be quiet and that fighting back is not our way.
As I listen to rhetoric from my community to go and get educated and help our community I am faced with nepotism and social incest barriers. When I try to share my education and skills I can’t get employeed so for free to benefit my people I share but am denied the use of our community assets because I am not a band employee or a family member of those who are in power.
I know I am not a Saint but I am more than a fool and a trickster and before I am shun away like Nana’b’oozo I only ask those who are ready to walk the talk to help wake up this Sleeping Giant Up.