On the reservation, it’s so easy to fall into silence. During the decades when the U.S. government banned our potlatches and spiritual traditions, took away our livelihoods, and sent my grandparents’ generation to boarding schools where they were beaten and harassed for speaking their native language, native people learned to be silent just to survive. Those decades have stayed with us. We have hidden ourselves and our pain beneath addiction, abuse, and poverty. And we are still fighting to reclaim our identities.
Now silence tempts us with its promise not to hurt us, but it’s a promise always broken. We tell ourselves to keep our heads down and our mouths shut because it’s easier to leave our problems buried. Those who speak up ask for trouble; they stir up emotions that no one wants or knows how to deal with. When someone like Sherman Alexie comes along and exposes our pain, people get angry.
I’ve never wanted to betray my community, because the reservation is the one place I’ve always been able to return to. No matter what faults my community has, or what suffering it bears, when I am hurt, brokenhearted, or hopeless, the reservation has always taken me in. But I realize now that it’s not the secrecy that has held us together.
in the present what we see are corrupt and greedy band leaders pocketing millions of dollars while their fellow people go without. That isn't the fault of residential schools.
Don't get me started. The whole situation is an absolute disgrace and I am ashamed of the Canadian government. The issue as far as I'm concerned is the living conditions on these reserves, which are deplorable and there is absolutely no excuse for it. The British and Canadian governments and the churches created this situation through 200 years of colonization, discrimination and marginalization that still exists and then the people are blamed for their own misfortune like they want to live in abject poverty in overcrowded and squalid conditions. It's absolutely horrible in my opinion that there is even a concern about whether hand sanitizer that could help to stop the spread of this flu should be given to people. That just shouldn't ever be something people are even talking about. What enrages me more than anything is when the Canadian government sits there like bystanders acting like they have no idea what to do or that they aren't to blame and don't have any power to change things. This issue can't be looked at in isolation but rather as a symptom of a much much bigger problem. I guess if people who aren't familiar with the situation will become aware of the living conditions on reserves and the MetaFilter story will expose the Canadian government's shameful treatment of Aboriginal people as a result, then at least something good will come out of it.
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