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COMMENTARY · 14th January 2013
Merv Ritchie
What is really behind the Idle No More controversy - Follow the Money!

The rising tide of indigenous protests has writers, media personalities and politicians struggling to understand. In their failing efforts extremists on both sides use the sound bites of misinformation to further the already potential hostile stand-off. The non-indigenous who proclaim to support the Idle-No-More movement are accused by others of “white liberal guilt”.

Almost all hostility begins when the two sides of a confrontation do not understand their adversary. Almost all confrontation begins with ignorance. And this is what both sides of the Idle No More movement are struggling with. They each demand the other understand, yet neither has discovered a non-confrontational manner to do just that.

The angry white person proclaims the Indians should just get over it, get a job and participate in 21st century society. They accuse those supporting the Indians of suffering from “liberal guilt”. “Why should I have to feel guilty for something that happened over a hundred years ago” said one associate.

Most Canadians were not educated on these issues. Many believe they raised the Indian peoples out of a life of squalor. Others proclaim the Indians were living a Stone Age existence and the white settlers improved on this. It is a curious thing when we reflect on our grade school history lessons. We spend years teaching about world history from the Egyptian pharaohs, through the Greeks to the renaissance, but spend very little time, and very little honesty, on the last 400 years specific to our own Country.

To understand “liberal guilt” requires understanding the truth not taught in Canadian Schools. To avoid more hostilities, to resolve this ‘Idle No More’ movement all sides must have full and complete knowledge. Once we understand the issues we can address the concerns. If we choose to remain in ignorance we can be certain hostilities and confrontations will occur. The following is an attempt to again provide context and understanding of the issues. If one is going to be guilty, at least they should understand what they are feeling guilty for.

In a very short timeline summary we can address the history to the present day. The "Coles Notes" on North America if you will. Shorter notes with links click here

Discoverers, Explorers, Traders, Settlers, Missionaries, Treaties.

When the very first European discoverers landed on the eastern shores of North and Central America they discovered indigenous peoples welcoming them. In most cases, including those who ventured inland to explore the territories, the “Indians” helped them to survive.

When reports of the bounty of the land arrived in Europe, the traders came to take advantage. This was the beginning of the problems and the conflicts. These first traders, those who followed the discoverers and explorers arrived with only one goal, to maximize their profits. It was entirely an economic venture. As the business venture of gathering the local resources and shipping them to Europe increased, the traders brought their families over with them and began ‘settlements’. With the arrival of the wives and daughters, the women, the settlements required ministers and churches. This is what begat what we call civilized life in the new frontiers.

Two things occurred, which likely serve as the foundation of today’s ‘Idle No More’ movement. Alcohol and disease. As the demand for greater profits increased the traders began using trickery, deceit and, just like today across the globe, fraud, bribes and payoffs. Alcohol was used to inhibit the Indians good sense and make off with their furs and other valuables. When originally the trade measure agreed to, for a stack of furs or pelts, was the length of a rifle barrel; extra long, specially fabricated, rifles were brought over to deceive.

Conflicts arose over these fraudulent business practices yet the lesson taught in school was the Indians were hostile. When Indian leaders attempted to address the hardship their families and people were suffering at the hands of the traders, they had to go to the settlements. Just like today with the Prime Minister of Canada the Indians complaining of mistreatment were belittled. It is the foundation of all hostilities.

With more arriving settlers the Indians began to get in the way of the resource extraction processes.

Initially, such as in Newfoundland, they simply shot all the Indians. The Beothuk were exterminated. In 1756 the government in Nova Scotia passed a proclamation to initiate scalping Indians for money. Twenty-five pounds for every male scalp. In 1757 Massachusetts increased the pay to $300 pounds for every male scalp promoting it as a profitable business.

When the King of England got word of the deceit, fraud and trickery the traders were using to abuse the Indians he issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This was supposed to be a foundation of trust and decency. Yet on July 16, 1763 Lord Amherst advised Colonel Bouquet “to use every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race” and began by suggesting he “use blankets to Innoculate the Indians”.

To get around the Royal proclamation the corporate interests needed to find another way to get the resources without incurring more costs. The best way was to kill all of the Indians. Purposefully spreading diseases was only one method. In the Prairies they determined to destroy all their food sources and massacred the buffalo leaving tens of thousands of carcasses to rot in the open.

In British Columbia, as late as this past century, Tsimshian and Gitxsan communities were being burnt and the much lauded doctor, Dr. Helmcken, was purposefully inoculating the Tsimshian, Haida, Nisga’a and most other west coast tribes before sending them back to their remote villages. Read More Here And in the bigoted Doctors own words, after reading from the previous links read this.

Traders travelling through the interior brought infected blankets with them to spread disease and there is even a documented case this past century of businessmen and workers digging up and taking the blankets from the graves of Indians who died of smallpox to give them to more Indians.

The treaties which were signed were generally under extreme duress. It was the only hope the Indian leadership had to save the last remaining, the last surviving members of their race.

The Canadian government residential schools were instituted long after the initial genocide. The law to force Indian children to attend residential schools wasn’t passed until 1920. Then in the 1930’s another law was passed to allow the church run schools to sterilize the Indian children. Canadian and British history is replete with laws and journals of; politicians, bureaucrats and traders detailing how they desired to exterminate every surviving Indian.

This is the history not taught to Canadian children.

When journalists, such as those extreme 'white' wing fanatics on the Sun News network, express outrage at the Idle No More movement and accuse those who stand with the Indian people as suffering from “White Liberal Guilt”, they ignore the reality. When people proclaim they shouldn’t have to suffer and pay for the wrongs of their ancestors they too suffer from severe misunderstanding. It is this lack of understanding which is used to ferment hostilities. This appears to be the purpose of the Canadian media today. No one is properly educating.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology for the residential schools system yet the last school closed its doors in 1996, only 16 years ago. All through the 1900’s Indian people were being abused and subjugated. Every time the Indian people attempted to use the law, the legal processes, to forward their claims of wrong doing, they were punished and outlawed. When they brought their claims direct to Ottawa and intelligently put forward a winning argument the government brought in harsher laws and penalties. It was after just such case, in the 1920’s, the attendance to Residential schools became mandatory for all Indian Children, which was enforced by the RCMP and gunboats. Their children were seized for God's sake.

They were so well educated already in 1920, their claims so well articulated, the Canadian Government made it illegal for a lawyer to represent them and for any person to fund raise to help the Indians. Nice eh?

Only a few decades ago were Indians elevated above the status of animals and it was only one year ago when Indians were legally allowed to sue their Indian Act Chiefs over issues of basic human rights.

The first white man to arrive to settle in Terrace, a small community in Northwest BC, (where this author is writing today), was only 100 years ago. George Little, the proclaimed founder of Terrace is reported to have been assisted by Emma and Charles Nelson, the high Raven Chief of the Kitsumkalum Tsimshian Nation. As was always the case with these people it began with an act of friendship. Soon the traders and settlers disrespected all the Indian people. In Terrace the railway was pushed through graveyards without any regard for the emotions of the people.

Communities were burned and disease purposefully spread. In a final act of indignity to Charles Nelson, during one winter a train with a snow plow scooped him and his dog team off the tracks. He never fully recovered and died in 1930.

To not feel any shame for the actions of our Canadian Government and the previous actions of the former British traders, to not feel any responsibility for the genocidal actions which have allowed us to live with the comforts we have today, is akin to accepting what the Germans did to the Jewish people in the 1940’s as understandable.

Until Canadians and the media begin to address facts and reality, to admit openly and honestly what happened, not just 300 years ago, but what happened only a few decades ago, (and still today) the lack of knowledge will foster even more hostility.

The treaties which were made need to be respected not just on the terms they were made, but with the full acknowledgement they were made under duress of a complete genocide. The land in BC, which has yet to be settled by treaty, needs to be recognized as still belonging to the original people.

AND IT CONTINUES TODAY

The people in Northwest British Columbia, the Sacred Circle, the; Gitxsan, Wet’suwet’en, Tsimsian, Haisla, Haida, Tahltan, Nisga’a and Tlingit, still speak their original language, still practice their original culture and in some cases, still practice their original government. The historic Delgamuukw ruling by the Appeal Court of the Supreme Court of Canada detailed and described the land ownership and rights of these people of the Sacred Circle.

Today it is this specific territory the Canadian Government desires to access for the trade routes through to China and other Pacific Rim markets. The entire north western half of BC is owned by one or another of the eight Nations of the Sacred Circle.

This is what is being missed by everyone in the Idle No More movement. The entire controversy in Ottawa is likely being used as a diversionary tactic to distract the Canadian people from the methods of the International, Industrialists, “traders”, from maximizing their profits yet again, and/or, still. Nothing has changed. The genocide continues. And today we see Indian traitors working with the Canadian traders.

Recently with the Gitxsan Nation, the pipeline company wishing to access the lands and northwest coast, Enbridge, coerced Elmer Derrick and his government funded Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS) to sign a deal supporting them. The media in Canada promoted this without acknowledging he had no support from his Gitxsan Nation.

Today the society is found to be acting illegally and the lawyers representing them in Court applied to be removed from representing this illegal society, the one the International trader, Enbridge, neglected to do their due diligence on.

The Haisla, the Nation owning the Douglas Channel Port facilities region and all lands accessing the region, were engaged in a lawsuit initiated by secret deals made between former Premier, now ambassador to Britain, trader Gordon Campbell and the Haisla Indian Act Chief, Steve Wilson. This lawsuit was an attempt to discredit the hereditary system of governance. The end result would be to the benefit of the Mining Giant Rio Tinto and the worlds largest private company Bechtel. This legal success to discredit the true land owners, the Haisla Indians, opened the door for the new “Elected Indian Act” government to sell opportunities to all the worlds largest traders, the oil and gas companies. Now calling themselves the Haisla Nation Council, rather than rightfully, the Kitamaat Village Council, the trickery continues and was recently approved by the Canadian Government Indian Affairs branch.

The Tahltan Indian Nation traditional peoples occupied the Indian Act government offices in 2005 and 2006 to force another Indian out, Jerry Asp. The Tahltan had a small measure of success yet Asp continues to be promoted as a great mining company asset. The effort was in part to save the Klappan region which is the source of water for all the major rivers of the Sacred Circle Nations. International trader Royal Dutch Shell wanted to drill and fracture the area to recover the gas. Today Fortune Minerals has announced they have changed the name of their Klappan Coal Mine to the Arctos Project as they recognized the people of the Tahltan would associate the word Klappan with the region they plan to dig up. The deceit continues.

Even the mine already functioning in Tahltan territory has employed one of the worlds most despised internationalists, a company Danny Glover was arrested for protesting against, Sedexo. This company is bullying the workers at Imperial Metals Red Chris mine, which borders the Klappan in Tahltan territory, and pays the lowest wage possible as well as using imported workers.

The Tsimshian Nation is presently being divided by the BC treaty process. The Chief negotiator claiming to represent the Tsimshian Nation has held this position for 25 years. While Premier Campbell was actively engaged in corrupting the Haisla Nation he instituted a process which essentially divided the Tsimshian Nation, the Incremental Treaty Process. In order to ensure he maintained receiving approximately $150,000 per year, Tsimshian Indian Gerald Wesley started a new society (just like the Gitxsan, Elmer Derrick) claiming to represent all the Tsimshian. During a celebration in September of 2012 for a treaty agreement negotiated by Wesley, Derrick attended and shook his hand. The Tsimshian Nation is comprised of at least 9 distinct groups and together they represent the Nation. Wesley is presently encouraging two of these communities enter into a treaty with Canada. This would be no different than a city in Canada attempting to make a treaty with another country, bypassing Harper and the Canadian government. It is no less than treason against the Tsimshian Nation as a whole.

In an embarrassingly demoralizing act, the Tsimshian village of Kitsumkalum held a celebration last weekend to celebrate a new rail line into their territory; this while all the Idle No More rallies were being held across Canada. The rail line is required to deliver the rock from a quarry to build new port facilities for the pipelines and rail terminals, which of course, will require access to all the lands in the Sacred Circle.

The Sacred Circle, Northwest BC, is called the golden triangle by the international traders and industrialists. It is the last unspoiled region, virtually on the planet.

New associations of developers and names keep sprouting such as; The Northwest Corridor Development Corporation (NCDC) and the Asia Pacific Gateway. The economic opportunities are endless. The only thing standing in the way is the Indians.

There are literally billions, likely trillions of dollar of revenue to be earned from the region. Just the investment alone into 6 proposed projects is over 10 billon dollars. Gold mines, coal mines, pipelines, transmission lines and power generation plants. It is the Sacred Circle, the world’s largest, most prosperous region, traders want to come and exploit.

Just like the British did when they first arrived in Newfoundland, the Indians must be exterminated, their potential to frustrate must be removed. Prime Minister Harper, Chief Teresa Spence and others are distracting the world from the real issue at hand, where the real money is.

Follow the money. If we do not address this now, stop this extermination of the last surviving Indian peoples, those still living their original cultures, the "white liberal guilt" will last for many more centuries.`

Someone should advise all the Idle No More protesters of what is really going on.

As a footnote;

While everyone is looking at Ottawa the really action is out west, the northwest

The greatest insult to the entire affair is the man who is selling out the Tsimshian Nation. He has taken to proclaiming himself as the holder of the highest Kitsumkalum Tsimshian Hereditary title, that of the Raven clan previously held by Charles Nelson, the man who met George Little and was later hit by the train. And he took this name, not even being of the right clan (born into the Killerwhale clan) to hold it.

To add further insult to the injury of this sad tale is how during the time and at the event where he took this name was a celebration by a previous Chief and master carver. Clifford Bolton was a man who last attempted to assist in reviving the Tsimshian culture. It was during his tenure that he ordered the rail line be removed from accessing their territory. The last insult? Just after he passed away, not even a month had transpired, the Kitsumkalum Band allowed the tracks to be reinstalled.

Note - The map pictured at the top of this article is attached below the following pictures so it can be opened for a better view.
The Territories of the Nations of the Sacred Circle
The Territories of the Nations of the Sacred Circle
A map of BC for reference.    Note the Haida Territory of Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands.
A map of BC for reference. Note the Haida Territory of Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands.
When the major rivers are all highlighted a remarkable image becomes clear, almost as a sign of awareness demanded.
When the major rivers are all highlighted a remarkable image becomes clear, almost as a sign of awareness demanded.
When a Chief wearing traditional headress is compared to the outlined rivers it becomes even more outstanding
When a Chief wearing traditional headress is compared to the outlined rivers it becomes even more outstanding
Gold and tonnes of it
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 14th January 2013
One identified area alone, the Seabridge and Pretium deposits in the Tahltan territory suggest over 4000 tonnes of identified gold deposits. This property includes an estimated 13.7 million tonnes of copper.

The golden triangle indeed!

From the 2011 issue of British Columbia Mines and Exploration overview from the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines;

"[these] deposits comprise the largest in-ground gold resource identified to date in North America"
hmm..
Comment by naive on 14th January 2013
If this article is correct, I have been sadly misinformed.. as I'm sure a lot of Canadians are. Well written article, Merv. I easily followed along and it held my interest very well. I think more emphasis needs to be put on the fact that this is a fight to preserve the environment, regardless. We need unity.