Mountain View: Bury My Heart
Friends, one of the things you can do as a writer is interviewing, for print, TV or radio.
For some, radio in particular and this one for Bush or Cabin Radio, from Yellowknife, has provided a good break from the Covid isolation that we all have to go through from time to time.
People on their side also need to prepare. This one had to do with five books that you, as a writer, look fondly on.
The very first time I bought Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; a West Indian American story, I got about halfway there and just had to put it down. I couldn’t believe how different the truth was from what I had been taught in what our schools call history.
You run into this all the time, even with current colonialist tendencies in the “official” world. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not even attend an important vote on Indigenous justice, involving children, with a top aide Carolyn Bennett not voting at all.
What they want to make is that as aboriginal people we face impossible obstacles just to play on the same ground that all Canadians enjoy on our lands.
About six months after I left Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, I was like, “You know, Antoine, this is what your own people had to go through today in order for you to be alive, so at least learn your history.”
It is something we all need to do to at least appreciate all the misery my generation went through to ensure that Canadians live good lives.
Another of the five books I selected was In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen, which brought me to some truths that we have to face and hopefully overcome.
Matthiessen and the late John Trudell, one of the spearheads of the American Indian Movement, agreed that Lakota political prisoner Leonard Peltier would never be free, period. Even a black president, Obama, failed to do so. It would simply mean too much for our native struggle to still have some leaders among us.
I also chose Nina’s book by Eugene Burdick, best known for his The Ugly American. It was at a time when I had almost completed my 12 years of forced captivity in the hands of the RCMP, the Canadian government and the Roman Catholic Church, at three different residential schools.
I was particularly touched by the story of the young Holocaust prisoner and the doctor who fell in love with her.
The most recent readings were Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back and Research is Ceremony by Leanne Simpson, The Cree Perspective, Shawn Wilson on how our traditional beliefs match academic understandings of research.
One way or another, your own education has to deal with the reality of the world we live in. For too long, average Canadians have assumed that residential schools weren’t that bad and that we survivors should leave them like this.
What I would like to know is what would change for you, if you knew that the remains of 215 foundlings in Kamloops, BC, were white rather than Aboriginal? When does it become a crime scene investigation? What does it take for the truth to come out, let alone change things?
Mahsi, thank you.