By Johnny Hawke
In this rant I will start to “decolonize” my writing style where from now on I will refer to our original “Indigenous” People of Turtle Island as “Anishinabek”, which is my peoples own term for ourselves. It is a multidimensional word that when broken down or spoken with its full intent it translate to, “Lowered from Above” and “Good Natured Beings”. The words Indian, Aboriginal, Native, Indigenous and First Nations are not our own descriptions of ourselves and in our decolonization process reclaiming our own words and using them as our new form of weapon is just as important as reclaiming our territories. If specifically I need to use the names of a particular Nation, I will use their own names they give themselves and will make it clear if I am talking about my own particular Anishinabek People but in this War Cry I will use “Anishinabek”, to refer to our whole Turtle Island Family of Red People.
By Johnny Hawke:
During this time of year as the trees nourish pulsating red colors of the fall season and shed into the white emptiness of winter, our Anishinabek Peoples fulfill various forms of a ceremony that honors the ancestors. In this time ancestors come to show themselves through dreams or in our physical reality reminding us that their spirits too need to be fed. This also helps to remember our history. The Feast of the Dead celebrates the lives of our ancestors and also serves to feed those spirits who have no one left on this side to speak for them as well as to help those spirits who are stuck in between worlds so the can pass on.
This is also a time of year when the Canadian and American people come together to honor the sacrifices of their Veterans who fought in the World Wars and other Global Conflicts. Many Anishinabek People on Turtle Island have volunteered in the Canadian or American Armed Forces for their own reasons where some say it was to serve their country, fight for freedom and to honor the treaties as military allies.
In my own Anishinabek Peoples language our word for Warrior, Soldier or Veteran is Ogitchida which means Big Hearted. In this time of year America and Canada take the time to remember and honor their Veterans and our Anishinabek Peoples come together to do the same.
As we feed the spirit of our Ogitchida who served in these “white man” wars we need to incorporate some truths in these contemporary ceremonies so we may remember how things came to be.
This time of year is soaked in military patriotism and nationalism of these colonial states. I do not intend to disrespect those Ogitchida who participated in both World Wars and other global conflicts but as we absorb ourselves in this shared military history of these oppressors most of our Anishianbek begin to think we are of the same country, flag, and anthem of the colonizers.
Some of our own people who choose to assimilate and call themselves American or Canadian have the free will to do so but for others who see themselves as Sovereign Anishinabek we deserve the very freedom that our Ogitchida fought for. The current ways we honor our Ogitchida only helps the Colonial State brainwash the minds of our Anishinabek People, it is our younger generation who needs to change these patterns and speak our history to feed the hungry spirit of Ogitchida.
Most of our own people say our Veterans fought to serve their Country, Fight for our Freedom and to Honor the Treaties as allies but this is only half truth. If you ask any Anishinabek Veteran or listen to family stories, the most common reason that they volunteered was to get away from the reserves and the dictatorships of Canada and America. They had rather go to War then to stay on the reserves, they were not obligated to fight but most of them lied about their ages and volunteered to enlist.
The Anishinabek Veterans who we honor in these Remembrance Days were of the generation of the Residential Schools, where they were forcibly removed from their communities and custody of their parents. They were sexually and physically abused at these schools and had their culture and language prohibited. Back at home the adults on the reservations had to seek permission if they wished to go off the reserves. Government Indian Agents made all the decisions for the community. These policies have since been reformed but still are in existence in Canada and America enforced on our Anishinabek Nations. These Veterans were fighting for freedom but only returned to face the same kind of enemies they were fighting over seas.
Canada and America have Nation to Nation agreements with our Anishinabek Nations where we are allies and where these contracts are based on peace, coexistence and non interference. Throughout the centuries our people have been subjected to wars, where our women and children were killed by these same Armed Forces that some of our Ogitchida served for. Bounties were placed on our Peoples and we were hunted for our scalps. We were sold as slaves to other countries. Germ Warfare through the distribution of smallpox was carried out on our people where hundreds of thousands of our people were killed.
It is obvious that we have been subjected to Genocide and these same policies enforced upon our Anishinabek Peoples are still in existence today as we stand alongside our “allies” every Remembrance Day to honor Wars of the past that was to liberate other Nations from oppression. Even though that these “allies” won these world wars, we are still being faced to a lesser degree, the same kind of things that would’ve occurred to us if the “enemies” won any of those world wars.
War is still being waged on our Anishinabek Peoples and we need to express this in a way on these types of Veteran Occasions and share our other Military histories and embrace our own forms of Nationalism or we can continue playing blind and perpetuating our own self assimilation.
In 1990 the Canadian Armed Forces were sent in to the Kanenkehka Community of Kanehsatake. These people were standing up to protect their burial grounds from a golf course development. Their own Warrior Societies stood beside their people to defend them and the land.
Our Anishinabek People are currently still enlisting in these Armed Forces. The Wars of these modern day have all been to take away other Nations around the globe lands and resources away. Our own people are now doing the same thing to other Nations that was done to us all around the World, under the flags of Canada and America.
Recently these Armed Forces assisted and even help give arms to citizens of other countries to liberate themselves from the Dictatorships. This contradicts their actions to what they are doing to our Nations
When we decide to stand up and defend ourselves through our own “Warrior Societies” our own Militancy is denounced by the majority of our own people. This is how confused we are and this needs to stop starting with incorporating our Military history on our own continent, our relationship with the colonial states and recognizing our Grassroots Ogitchida Societies.
I come from a family of Ogitchida who have participated in white mans wars and also in the defense of our own Nationhood right here on our own soil. In no way am I disrespecting those Brave Hearts who made the ultimate sacrifice in the White mans wars. I am just sharing what also needs to be included and sharing of what we need be watchful off as we honor and remember.
Our Ogitchida Spirit needs to be fed, Lest We Forget.
“You’re afraid to bleed. I said you are afraid to bleed. As long as the white man sent you to Korea, you bled. He sent you to Germany, you bled. He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled. You bleed for white people, but when it comes time to seeing your own churches being bombed, and little black girls murdered, you haven’t got no blood.” – Malcolm X Message to the Grassroots Speech Nov 10 1965