According to scientists who study animal evolution, dogs are descendants of wolves. Personally, I have my doubts about that. But for the sake of avoiding argument, let’s say that I agree that the old hound I saw today, tied by the neck to a bike railing at Loblaws had indeed an ancestor from long, long ago who was the alpha of a marauding wolf pack. Just between you and I, the old hound with his droopy, sad eyes, floppy ears and short legs does not have, in my opinion, any resemblance to the fierce wolves, science claims he possesses a blood connection to. The hound looks more to me like someone trained to track and take down wolves in the most cruelest of ways. I wonder what the wolf howling up at a summer moon would have to say if he were informed that the old hound, was claiming a close kinship to him. What would the wolf of the rugged and free forest say if the old hound one day, let it be known to all including the wolf that he (the hound) was renouncing his ‘houndness’ and wished forevermore to ‘identify’ as a wolf. I wonder if the moon, the birds and animals would believe Snoopy when he stepped forward and declared, “Behold, before you I stand today as a noble and proud wolf.” What would Creator think of it all?
To be clear, the view I share here is directed at people who, even though they lived a life of privilege (never experiencing the oppressive torment of the Indian Act) ID now as First Nations citizens. Too many of them do so to pillage grants being offered by Arts Councils put in place specifically for artists of Indigenous bloodlines. Other reasons why fraudsters declare themselves as Indigenous is their hope that they will become respected in the community as elders and spiritual leaders. Jobs created for Indigenous Peoples are being stolen by workers who self-ID as being First Nation. Who knows, some of them may even believe that their European bloodline alone, qualifies them to step forward as some kind of saviour of the poor, defenceless, ignorant ‘Indians’. It’s as if some self-ID people believe that if not for the Joseph Boydens and Michelle Latimers of this world, there would be no success to speak of in so-called ‘Indian Country’.
In this crazy world we live in we have people like Joseph Boyden and Michelle Latimer who claim a blood connection to the Indigenous Peoples. The ancestor they oh so lovingly embrace could be from several hundred years ago. The identity thieves exploit the unknown relative for all it’s worth. These shameless people, the ones who are outright liars, don their ribbon shirts and slip on moccasins before promoting themselves as artists, storytellers, elders etc. hailing from Algonquin, Cree, Huron or whatever other Nation they pull from the hat of many Nations. They go with pen on the ready to wherever money is being dished out supposedly for access to Indigenous People. They look for and then check off that small but powerful box in a grant application ‘are you First Nation?’. The pen comes out and they mark their X. Some of these people, who hardly have any more Indigenous blood in them than did the mosquito who sucked blood from my skin last spring, sadly, have a better than average chance of securing a grant simply because they were never weighted down in life by the oppression of the Indian Act. When you live a life of privilege the ‘con’ is much easier for the crooked-minded to pull off. The ‘self-ID’ gets the grant, his/her voice is heard while the voice of the First Nations artist whose family line was confronted by the ‘Indian Act’ for generation after generation falls silent. What a lot of the self-ID (the outright liars) produce is popcorn, hocus pocus, new age crap. Sickening as it is, the fraudsters want to tell ‘our story’.
Getting back to the wolf and the hound, if you want to hear the story of what life is for a wolf, do not expect to get an accurate account of it from a hound. Go to the wolf. What the wolf has to say will be authentic, what the hound tells will be make-believe. Make no mistake about it, a lot of the liars who self-ID as Algonquin are not in solidarity with the Algonquin Nation. What they really are is a nuisance, another obstacle, another tactic from an oppressive society to keep the Anishinabe down. If someone among them truly does have Indigenous blood in their veins/heart, then I, as a human rights activist, will stand in their defence. All I ask in return is that if your blood connection to the Anishinabe is from hundreds of years ago, please do not get in our way as an artist, nor steal jobs meant for Algonquins, nor as someone who expects to have a vote on the Algonquin land claim.
If Michelle Latimer is a talented artist, good for her. She did not however, have to ID as an Algonquin to be successful. Believe me, grant money that she got by checking off the box in an application is money an authentic Algonquin artist could have secured. Michelle’s voice was heard. The REAL voice was silenced. Let’s have some faith in our First Nations artists. They are talented. They are genuine. Give them a chance to prove it!
Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind (Albert Dumont)