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Booklet on Aboriginal issues released as PDF for printing or online reading

by greg macdougall

Booklet on Aboriginal issues released as PDF for printing or online reading

"My Entry into Aboriginal Understanding" is a collection of eight articles written by Greg Macdougall, member of IPSMO - Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa.

The articles cover a range of topics from culture and language to sovereignty and activism.

The booklet has just been released online as a PDF (16 pgs,  or 8 pgs when printed doublesided) in two formats:

  • one, a 'front-to-back' version that can be read online (or printed)
  • two, a 'print-formatted' version that folds/staples into a booklet when printed.

IPSMO has handed out a couple hundred of these booklets in print form over the past year, but now it is also available online:

Please take a look, and also feel free to print multiple copies for distribution or for use in schools or other educational settings.

Table of contents: Cover image by Tania Willard ~ Intro ~ Burnt Church ~ Ward Churchill (article and interview) ~ Violet Shawanda: keeper of the language ~ James Bartelman ~ Aboriginal Awareness conference ~ Shannon Thunderbird ~ Herb Joseph ~ Wolverine ~ Spirit Connections youth camp ~ Outro


Some excerpts:

"In 1988, Bernard Nicheman did a global survey of armed conflicts ... he cataloged 125 wars that were ongoing on the planet at the time, and of those, 85 per cent ... were between indigenous peoples and one or more nation states that presumed to have an overarching sovereign authority. It is saying, basically, 'Bullshit - now, you can back off this way or you can back off that way, but basically we're going to assert our right to self-determination like any other peoples are entitled to, as codified in the United Nations charter and innumerable elements of international law, and if you don't like it you're going to have to fight us about it.'"

- interview w/ Ward Churchill


In anishnaabe there is power and sacredness of words. All people are considered equal. The language and culture cannot be separated.

Basil Johnston says language is the key for ideas and aspirations.

It reflects freedom, generosity, sharing, admiration for
resourcefulness, talent, imagination, respect for mystery, and
spirituality -> gzhe-mnidoo, which represents the great mystery.

The seven grandfathers (something like the ten commandments):
wisdom -> to cherish knowledge is to know wisdom
love -> to know love is to know peace
respect -> to know all of creation is to have respect
bravery -> is to face the foe with integrity
honesty -> in facing a situation is to be brave
humility -> is to know yourself as a sacred part of creation
truth -> is to know all of these things

- teachings of Violet Shawanda, keeper of the language (Ojibwe / Anishnaabe)


She talked about how there's this balance, where people in a society have different roles, that they're good at, and how everyone doing what they do best is in the best interests of the society.

She described the buffalo hunt. First, it is the role of the spirit doctor (not the Asian name 'shaman', she says she hopes no one still believes in the Bering Strait theory, none of the elders' stories talks of coming over the Bering Strait) .. it is the role of the spirit doctor to go into transcendental state, to see it is time. Then it is the turn of the buffalo caller (also a spirit doctor), who prays and calls the buffalo to come to the hunters. The buffalo (tatanka) spirits are happy to offer themselves to the hunters if they will take only what they need, use everything, and waste nothing - if they will honour the buffalo. Calling the buffalo will lead to hearing a rumble on the horizon.

- teachings of Shannon Thunderbird


It is important that we all work together, collectively, different aboriginal peoples working together, and aboriginal and nonaboriginal peoples working together. It was noted that something that is often not mentioned is how the support of non-native people has been very important in the struggle for native rights and way of life.

We have to realize that the government, through repressing and taking away native culture, has been committing the soft manner of genocide, not as blatant as shooting or gassing, but equally as effective in killing a culture.

- teachings of Herb Joseph

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