By: Kaikaikons (Johnny Hawk)
“We want decent education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society. We believe in an educational system that will give to our people knowledge of the self. If you do not have knowledge of yourself and your position in the society and in the world, then you will have little chance to know anything else.” – # 5 Point of the Black Panther Party: 10 Point Program
The miss-education of our rights and history in the current educational institutes or the lack there of, including the absence of our own Indigenous institutions only prolongs our ignorance of whom we really are which only benefit the racist colonial matrix we are imprisoned in. If we want self-determination and liberation we must understand the myth that is Indian Control of Indian Education.
Through the collective soundbites, slogans and general knowledge shared by our people about our treaties throughout “Indian Country” many including leaders have a promote a biased education on our treaties and the intent in which they were created. This symptom of ignorance is reflective on the common belief that our treaties were created in the spirit of friendship, which is a colonial fabrication of history where these agreements were made under duress, coercion and fraud. This demonstrates the urgent need to control our education but what does that mean?
The historic and current educational industry exists only to create obedient workers to sustain the current globalized political, socio and economic conditions which conflicts aggressively with all that we are as Indigenous Nations. Educational Institutes were used to “kill the Indian within the child” for the colonial agenda and today for the global agenda it is used to kill the humanity within the human being. We need to find solutions to combat how we learn and how our knowledge is applied to live sustainable coexisting with our Earth.
The foreign values and institutions we’ve come to be dependent on, program us to believe that the treaties are as sacred as the land we lease in these very agreements. We confuse our inherit rights as treaty rights in which we surrender in this tool of oppression. Many cling on to the treaties and cherish these rations that are treaty rights while our so-called ally the crown continuously breaches these contracts. They can break such laws because they know these treaties, the Indian Bands and their so called country called Canada and it’s laws are all fiction. Canada is a defacto government with a fabricated constitution not ratified by the people in 1867 or 1982 which is really a corporation owned by the Crown. Canada and it’s treaties, laws which is also a sophisticated con to steal resources of Indigenous Peoples and theft on so called Canadians or more appropriate the subjects of the Crown by imposing fraudulently taxes to pay fictitious compounded debt to international private banks who are also owned by the same global elitists.
The rent payments from Treaty are always in arrears and never reflect the current inflation rate while these so called allies continue to prosper from extracting our resources at the expense of our health and health of the environment. These so called allies tirelessly attempt to extinguish their underlying obligation they have to our Nations by cunningly reshaping and introducing “self termination” policies and agreements with assimilated factions of our people.
These termination policies have always been incorporated within our treaty rights, treaty rights such as Education, which is exemplified in the Residential School era to today’s Educational Institutes and Education Policies, Agreements and Constitutions these Indian Act bands are establishing that are based on fraudulent treaties and acknowledge the corporation of Canada as a government. The Anishinabek Education Agreements that the Union of Ontario Indians is promoting to its membership require Indian Act Bands to create a constitution before benefiting from such agreement. As I hear echoes from the 70’s of “Indian Control of Indian Education” from today’s Indian Act Leaders and Governments, we the grassroots people need to separate ourselves from such neo colonial tactics and factions and organize and learn from our past, present and future.
LEARNING FROM OUR PAST
We were a very advanced people who had our own institutions prior to contact. We never separated our children from the rest of our community nor separate our educational institutes from our collective existence, we were all connected. Our Authentic Anishinabek Educational Institution is our Aatisookaanak, our sacred understandings which is our experiences of the Sprit World, Star World and Mother Earth, we are Her Story not His Story.
Western Science is based upon Newtonian Science which relies on matter and what is seen to determine what is real. The current western science and world view is based on Newtonian Science which is not wrong but incomplete. Quantum Science is based upon unseen energy which is also equally real. Quantum Science gives our adversaries the research and a language to create a bridge for to understand our Indigenous Education paradigm, Science and World View which is more advanced. Indigenous Science is what is all seen is a manifestation of the very real unseen infinite energy systems.
In 1705 in a case between the Mohegan Tribe vs Connecticut the Crown acknowledged and affirmed that Indigenous Peoples of North America were not subject to colonial jurisdictions established for settlers but to their own jurisdiction, customs and institutions. This has never been repealed. In the 1760’s Anishinabek War Chief Pontiac was leading a successful alliance of French and other Indigenous Warriors to evict the British from our Territories as a result for not upholding their promises. In 1764 the British Crown surrendered by offering their peace through the 1764 Niagara Covenant Chain Belt. This agreement between 24 Indigenous Nations and the Crown established a relationship based upon Peace, Coexistence and Non-Interference. This Treaty serves as one of Canada’s foundational constitutional documents and set the stage for Crown and Indigenous Relations.
The many treaties, policies and agreements made after this original treaty have been enforced by deceptive manipulation and under circumstances of duress which breached our original contract. Such Treaties and Policies enforced in this manner are invalid and their continued imposition invalidates the legitimacy of the Canadian State. If Canada is disregarding this first agreement of our relationship then there is no Canada or Provinces, it is all an illusion. Treaty Rights are also an illusion equivalent to Rights permitted to Prisoners of War. Before we attempt to address such issues as Indian Control over Indian Education we must organize ourselves and make sure any agreements, policies and benefits we receive are reflective of our original Nation to Nation Treaty. If we continue to accept our rent under these illegal treaties and policies we shall remain under illegitimate conditions of our tenants when we are the landlords and I’m sure many of our people are not ready to evict our tenants as Uncle Pontiac did.
As these illegal treaties we being created our Nations were given the Treaty Right to give up a lifestyle of hunting for farming. We were given the Treaty Right that banned our ceremonies and to adopt Christianity. In this time we were given Treaty Rights to education where our children for generations were kidnapped and withheld in Residential School where they were subjected to and learned all about sexual and physical abuse first hand and that their customs and beliefs were evil. We eventual learned to be something we were not and adopted a very different way of life that most our people today are comfortable living and forget who they are and our original agreement we have with our so-called ally, the Crown.
In 1972 the National Indian Brotherhood predecessor of the Assembly of First Nations issued to the Government of Canada a response to PM Trudeau’s White Paper Policy.
The White Paper was Canada’s attempt to finally exterminate our so-called treaty rights, reserves and status as Indians. The response tilted Citizens Plus also known as the Red Paper was written by principal author Harold Cardinal who was instrumental in helping to form the National Indian Brotherhood which stated;
“The educational system is primarily geared to develop individuals who will operate in a highly competitive society. Many of our native groups are members of a culture which place the group above the individual and where the basic philosophy of life is more co-operative than competitive.”
Another declaration to combat this policy from the National Indian Brotherhood was titled “Indian Control of Indian Education” which addressed;
“The time has come for a radical change in Indian education. Our aim is to make education relevant to the philosophy and needs of the Indian people. We want education to give our children a strong sense of identity, with confidence in their personal worth and ability.”
As the battle for Indian Control over Indian Education progressed alongside our peoples Political Organizing and Mobilization this resurgence of our own institutions eventually became co-opted as we mimicked our adversary’s structures and the spirit of which this rebirth was founded upon became lost. The National Indian Brotherhood which had politically savvy young grassroots leaders eventually through the decades shifted into a corporate bureaucratic chief’s organization now called the Assembly of First Nations. As our people evolved in our political organizing so did many good Indigenous Education programs, colleges where our knowledge has been accepted into the mainstream educational institutes as credible.
During the time of the 1969 White Paper our people were mobilizing in various ways politically, educationally and artistically. The Band leaderships in so-called Canada were inspired by the times to organize in way that was needed but also in way that gave legitimacy to same policies they were fighting against. At the same time in so-called Canada and the United States our relatives were mobilizing more assertively through the American Indian Movement and through actions such as Anicinabe Park, Alcatraz, Wounded Knee II and in communities such as Restigouche, Awkesasne and Kanawake.
Our Spiritual and Warrior Societies were revived and served as educational institutions for a generation of youth looking to reclaim their identity. Without Funding from the Government the American Indian Movement took examples from the Black Panther Party to establish freedom schools.
In June 1969, the Black Panther Party launched its first liberation school in Berkeley, California. In the next few years, the Panthers opened additional liberation schools in African American communities across the United States from Seattle to San Francisco to Philadelphia to New York. Targeting African American elementary and middle school children, the schools epitomized Panther hopes of creating a new, revolutionary Black consciousness. Like the organization that created them, the Panther schools offered African American youth an alternative to the ideologies of White racial supremacy and economic oppression that surrounded them.
The American Indian Movement modelled some of their services in their urban communities from the Black Panthers in which they took control over their education creating Survival Schools. The Schools set out to provide an entirely different kind of education than the public schools. They wanted to help Indigenous youth discover and take pride in their Indigenous identities, as a foundation for personal development and as a source for a new sense of self-worth. The schools taught students Native languages as well as ancestral knowledge, skills, values, and beliefs. School founders educated their youth to become community-minded, spiritually grounded leaders for their people. They also incorporated students’ families and other community members into the processes of cultural discovery, community building, identity development, and personal growth. Ultimately, survival school organizers worked to repair the cultural losses of the past and regain the ability to determine their own future.
LEARNING FROM THE PRESENT
Today as Indian Act Leaderships rally for First Nation Control of First Nation Education we must first identify the misinterpretations of what this currently means within our communities. With the explosion of Indigenous Academia that parallel Chief organizations which are mere tokens of our own authentic institutions we continue to compromise who we are to accommodate the very matrix that conflicts with everything we are. Taaiake Alfred who is an academic and professor teaching Indigenous Governance in a Western Institution in his book Wassase explains;
“The experience of resurgence and regeneration in Onkwehonwe communities thus far proves that change cannot be made from within the colonial structure. Institutions and ideas that are the creation of the colonial relationship are not capable of ensuring our survival.”
As Indigenous Academia theorize our conditions while active within these current structures and who fail to actively engage in reviving and legitimizing our own spheres as educational institutes they have the responsibility to equally acknowledge itself as perpetuating assimilation.
The tokenization of our so-called cultural identity and learning styles exists within our elementary schools. How we teach our children reflects what we will be in the future. In my Communities elementary school our Anishinabe Language is taught from Kindergarten to Grade 8, our history for me was taught by white teachers from mainstream accounts of our history and our cultural identity was condensed to only language, spirit days and Indian taco sales. During my High school education Anishinabe was still being offered however out of the 13 years of taking Native Language I never became fluent. Our language has a world view which cannot be taught in the limitations of a classroom. Today most of our people feel being educated in our so-called cultural identity is not significant to provide us with employment in the global community. This leaves us with a majority of our people who only will reclaim and learn and employ as much of our identity to what is acceptable in the mainstream. If we want to re-emerge our own educational institutions than we must also re-establish our own economies so we can sustain ourselves with our Indigenous Values and Knowledge.
The failure to do so can be seen in our current reality where our identity is shaped into a pan-Indian-casino-powwow-not fluent in our own language society, where we are no different than any other mainstream small town. Today even Powwows where we share our song and dance to pass on to our future generations needs funding but at what cost?
There have been very few of our own post-secondary institutions that are reflective of the vision of those who fought to have control of our own education. DQ University is one such current Institute that demonstrates the potential of an authentic Indigenous learning environment. The full name of the school is Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University. According to Hadenasaunee leaders, use of the spelled-out name of the university can be offensive because the first part of the name should be used only in an appropriate spiritual context. Therefore, it is usually referred to as D–Q University to avoid offense. The purpose of D–Q University was to provide alternative ideas and methods of education to Indigenous people. Among its goals were the preservation and re-institutionalization of traditional Indigenous values, the perpetuation and exercise of our religion and beliefs, the establishment of a Native American Research Institute and the maintenance of social and personal support systems for D-Q students and staff. The school opened in 1971, and obtained accreditation in 1977, but lost it in 2005, after which it closed. However, disputes among the board of trustees were settled in a lawsuit which resulted in the re-opening of D–Q University later that year. Declining enrollment and lack of funds led the board to dismiss the president in June 2006. While formal classes are not currently being held, elders and teachers have occupied the University grounds despite Board and police pressures to vacate the land. During several instances in 2008, students and supporters were arrested for occupying the grounds. DQ is a current example of what we can build upon that is an example of an authentic representation of sharinf our Indigenous Knowledge in our own learning styles.
“You cannot learn anything from me and I cannot learn anything from you but I can remind you of something and you can remind me of something and together we can remember. If people would understand that then they would take the hierarchy out of education and there would be no teacher student relationship there would only be a circle of people, scholars exchanging ideas.” – Dojon Banks DQ University Student
LEARNING FROM THE FUTURE
What inspired me to write this article was my five year old nephew, Embwakaat which means “Wise One” in Anishinabek. I spent the summer hanging out with him and trying to keep him occupied which he pretty much did on his own. This year I’ve been struggling as I stepped back from the frontlines to support my Dad in his battle with cancer and my Mother with the loss of her Sister and Brother. I’ve been struggling with these loss of many family and community members and in my relationship with my Girlfriend. I’ve realized this year that we are loosing our connections to our past rapidly in our communities and we need to reestablish our educational institutes immediatly.
This past year I have been emotionally, mentally and spiritually unbalanced where I’ve taken my nephew to pick medicine in the bush. I was showing him why and how we pick Cedar. He would come over to ask me if I was sad so we could go pick Cedar. He would tell his friends and teachers at school before the summer what he has been learning about our medicines. I also got to dance with him at our community powwow as my Mom made him a ribbon shirt where I shared what the dances mean
During the summer he reminded me about laughter and the innocenct spirit of the child and how we all need to keep in touch with these things, which been helping me through my depression. As he entered Grade 1 in September he would come over and visit and I would ask him about his day and he’d tell me of the rules and about the rewards given out for good behaviour. He helped me to remember that we learn so much from our children when we think we need to educate them. He also helped me remember who I really am and how important it is to remember who we are for the sake of our future generations and for our Mother the Earth. Writing this article I wanted to stay away from the bureaucratic details involving the AFN and the Government regarding Indian Control of Indian Ecucation because in the spirit of our original agreement, white man ways are not for us.
Below is a Draft Brochure of our Empowerment Workshops and Community Mentorship Programs and a preview of what we do in a YOUTUBE. ACTION Camps provide an authentic space for Indigenous Education to liberate our minds and communities in assertion in the resurgence of our Nationhood.