Touch The Pen

A new historical statement I learned over the summer and have since read a few books that mentioned this statement several times:

Touch the pen.

What does this statement mean? Well, it basically signifies the act of signing of a treaty long ago. The treaties between the Canadian government and the First Nations chiefs.

I never knew this happened. I thought the signing of a single “X” was bad enough. Now I have recently learned that the chiefs didn’t even sign the “X” they just touched the top of the pen while the government official signed the “X” for the chief. Yeah, I didn’t think it could have gotten worse but this whole “touch the pen” bit makes this signing of the treaties a whole lot worse.

The chiefs were granted many things from the government officials but a lot of those things have been taken away or the chiefs and their people taken advantage of. It makes me very frustrated and angry that I only learned about these historical events now. Not during history class. Not in a history textbook.

It’s a shame that the true Canadian history is never told. That needs to change.

I am trying to find out more about Canada’s true history and reading as much as I can related to this history because certainly the education system can’t even get it right. Like I said before, I like learning but I hate education.

More about “Touch the pen” (Yes it is an American document but the same happened in Canada. It is a shame)

Wind Talkers Code Talkers

I am writing this post after reading this article titled Code Talkers Have Served The Military Well–And Often Secretly and not long after I purchased (by chance) one of my favorite movies titled “Wind Talkers.”

I never heard the term Wind Talkers before until this movie came out. The movie came out in 2002. The correct term is “Code Talker.” I am not sure why or how Hollywood came up with the title “Wind Talker” but nobody ever said Hollywood articulately and correctly portrays history 100% of the time. I thought about why this title was chosen and I came up with 2 possible reasons:

1) They weren’t allowed to use “Code Talkers”
2) The irony with the Code Talkers is that they were not recognized/honored for their work from 1989 until 2008 (where according to the above article link, the US just passed a Code Talkers Recognition Act to honor remaining Code Talkers of both World Wars). So maybe, the title signifies that their service/work was just figuratively speaking “blown” away (in other words, unrecognized). (Hmmmm I don’t know but if anyone who reads this has another interpretation–by all means share in comments below)

But this movie, Wind Talkers, is a good movie. I mean, besides the title, it shows the inner-conflict between the Native and non-Native marines and some of the obstacles that both possibly had to overcome. What I like about it best is that it shows Adam Beach’s character (one of the Code Talkers) being somewhat of a comic but serious all at the same time. It’s sort of a subtle humor without taking away of the seriousness of the actual bigger story line of the importance of the Code Talkers during the World War II yet the little recognition or respect that they failed to receive. (This movie highlights the Code Talkers of WWII; however, Code Talkers were used in both World Wars.)

Not too many people know about these Native men and their important contributions to both World Wars. The “code” that Code Talkers had spoken/developed was never cracked. According to the Official Site of the Navajo Code Talkers, it was also considered a “secret too important” to divulge. The Navajo Code Talkers were also sworn to secrecy, as noted in the initial article mentioned. The Navajo code was developed by 29 Navajo men known as “The Original 29,” where 600 words were used within the code. On the Official Site of The Navajo Code Talkers, you can visit their page called The Code to view some of the Navajo words used and their English translation.

I did a search of Navajo Code Talkers at my university library (online of course) and I was able to find an entire Navajo Code Talkers’ Dictionary. I don’t know if anyone without an account to this library can find this dictionary online but I suggest you at least try to. It was interesting to see some of the words and what they translated to in the Navajo language but what they were used during the War. Some of the words that I found interesting were:

Navajo Word in English Translation Code word
Dog is patch Dispatch
Deer ice strict District
Small dummy Dud
Big dummy dummy

You can see that they had to know the English Language, or at least develop words that would make sense or sound like the English word for the Code. Like the word “District” when translated from the Navajo language, it’s literal translation is “Deer ice strict.” Say “Deer ice strict” really fast 3x and you will eventually come up with “district.” Interesting.

I know that this history is mostly part of American History, but I wish they would teach it in Canadian History. These Code Talkers had their land first taken from them when white settlers arrived, then forced to live on reservations and then just like in Canada, denied the right to continue to speak their language or practice their culture. Then, after all that, it is their own language (the same one they were denied to speak) that saves the very same country that stole their land from losing a World War a million miles away. Ironic or no?

I hope that one day that stories of history are taught in classrooms, whether they are American or Canadian classrooms, so that others are more aware of the contributions that First Nations people have made to significant historical events. Even though original Code Talkers were sworn to secrecy and some have them have honored this, as noted in the same initial article, schools are not sworn to secrecy of historical contributes of First Nations people–in fact they should at least start telling the real truth regarding the history of North America.

You can see in this picture that I taken at the last youth gathering I attended, one of the youth whose name is seen in the picture (Quinn Meawasige) wrote the following words,

Incorporate an accurate history in Ontario/Canadian curriculum about the true history of Native peoples to create awareness among non-Native students. This way there will be a better understanding of First Nations people.

All I gotta say is, “Well put Quinn!” and I completely agree!

Check out the following links to read more about the Code Talkers

Intergenerational Problems: where is the solution?

It can be agreed upon by many people that the problems for Aboriginal people in Canada are considered “intergenerational.”

That means these problems have been passed down to present generation by the one preceding it, and that that current generation will pass it on to the generation succeeding it.

A lot of people say that change is going to happen because of the present generation (I am pretty sure they said this with the last generation…)

My experiences today I am finding other young people saying the same thing: I am angry. They are angry that other people don’t understand. They are angry because of the uneducated comments some people make regarding Aboriginal people.

I had a relative tell me during a hard time in my life about the grieving cycle, and it was my first suicide attempt. I don’t know why she told me this, but I have remembered it ever since (approximately 12 years ago).

She told me: lot of people get caught in the grieving cycle, in between anger and guilt. People caught in between anger and guilt in the grieving cycle are angry with what happened to them (and what ever it is they are grieving for) and then they start to feel guilty for being angry. Then they feel angry because they felt guilty, and so on. Some people are angry at themselves or are angry with others, when they are caught in this stage. This can go on for years.

In the most recent essay I handed in on Globalization (and how it has not benefited Aboriginal women), one of my sources said that Aboriginal people are on the road to recovery (after being caught in the grieving cycle for years/generations). I beg to differ. If there are current young people, including myself, still saying that they are “angry” with some of the things that are going on around them and some of the things that other people are saying in relation to Aboriginal people, then the only people on the road to recovery is the older generation–the ones who are part of our past. But what about the young people?

When will people realize that young Aboriginal are still angry! They are angry. Some of these young people don’t know why or how they got to be in certain situations that they are in–it’s a part of their past. They are angry and they eventually feel guilty blaming either themselves or other people. Just look around young Aboriginal people (not all, but some–a greater number than the general population), are as Phil Fontaine said, involved with gangs, violence, drugs, risky behaviors, and suicide/self-harming behaviors. These young people need to know that what is happening or has happened to them is not their fault! IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! They need to know that it’s okay to be angry, but they need to know that they should not feel guilty for feeling angry–It’s okay to feel angry and be angry but how you deal with the anger and how you react in response to your anger matters the most.

This is how we show concern for the next generation. We need to tell them: it is not your fault. But we also need to tell them: it’s up to you to choose how you react and it’s up to you to change the future.

When Aboriginal people show a concern for their past, they must not forget about their future.

I guess that is where history comes in: we learn about it, and we can relate it to our problems today–the intergenerational problems. Hmmmm… So is the solution to our problems in the past and healing the older generation, or showing concern for the young and telling them “It’s not your fault”? If it’s both, we must attempt to tackle them at the same time. That is the solution.

This post is in reply to my previous post titled, Past versus present.

Past versus Present

Today, I had the opportunity to sit in on a meet and greet with Phil Fontaine here at my university. Unfortunately, I walked in only half way. I regret missing the beginning of his talk.

I did walk in on something interest. He stated just minutes after I walked in relating to Canadian Aboriginal people’s past saying that we need to fill in the “missing chapters.” In question and answer period with the students, questions were asked. I asked a question relating to one of my essays I am working on pertaining to education and Aboriginal children. My essay’s hypothesis is: Aboriginal students’ confidence levels may increase if Aboriginal history and culture is taught. What I mean by Aboriginal history, is not just the horrible things that happened in the past but also the positive history stories.

Recently, I came up with the idea to put to use my talent of writing and drawing. I love to write and draw, and it’s always been a dream of mine to write a book–whether black and white print or a child’s book. I would really like to write a child’s book, and illustrate it as well. That would be my ultimate dream.

I presented to Phil Fontaine my idea and how I would like to write about the good things that Aboriginal people have done. After saying all this, I kind of felt frustrated because 1) I could not get my actual point across because of my emotions 2) He grew up in a different era than I. I know, not his fault.

I could not get my point across that yes. I acknowledge the past and I would like to write about the past, but what also needs to happen is the positive stories. Growing up, I had my family as my positive support and motivation. I was fortunate growing up because not all Aboriginal youth have this basic structure in their life: family. I looked up to my sisters, my mom and my dad. I remember watching my dad doing his essays for his university degree. I remember watching my mom as well. When I needed help with my school papers, my mom would always say, “Get your dad to edit your papers, he was really good at that.” I remember thinking that I wanted to be just like my dad and be good at writing. I wanted to be like my mom, in all her hard work she done as a student, a mother, a wife, and a community member. My mom and dad were great motivation because they gave us the freedom to pursue what we wanted, and together my parents, would provide the guidance and care as needed. My sisters were motivators because well, they were my first best friends and will always be my best friends.

However, I felt that I was most frustrated in that I could not say that when I was growing up and going to school, there was no motivation outside of school. I am thankful for my family for all the motivation they did provide, because where would I be without them? Phil Fontaine made a point that we need to acknowledge our history, and I acknowledge and appreciate where he is coming from as he is a residential school survivor. However, I wanted to make a point that we need to start young, and motivate young Aboriginal people to stay in school. I believe in my point, just as much as I appreciate his point and background. I believe in my point because if young Aboriginal people do not have the motivation or confidence to stay in school, where will the future of Aboriginal people’s be heading to (I say this as a frustrated young person: History doesn’t matter if you have no future).

The issue with Aboriginal young people is drugs, alcohol, suicide, gangs, violence, criminal activity, as Phil Fontaine presented. The bigger issue is not having the motivation or confidence to avoid those experiences. The issue is not being able to have outside motivators other than one’s own family. This is an issue because sometimes their family is not even a “family.”

If the education of Aboriginal history, both positive and negative experiences, begins at a younger age to both Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals, it will bring about a greater awareness to the situation of Aboriginals in Canada. That is my idea, a concern for the future. As these young people grow older, they will be more aware of what happened, and what is happening today (and maybe what the causes are of the present situation of Aboriginals). They will be better able to apply their knowledge to help provide for or at least attempt to provide for solutions to the Aboriginal people’s problems. They may know why there is a lot of substance abuse, and gangs, and violence, and why Aboriginal people are over-represented in the prison system. They may know what causes these multigenerational problems, like those of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse, and why these problems still persist today.

After hearing his response to my question and my idea, I felt that there is still the issue of young versus old, past versus present. We need to bring those two together to realize that one without the other cannot exist: Aboriginal people need their history as much as they need their young, and their young need to know their history to help them realize that the issues in their hometown or community are not their fault–that is the issue today. Most importantly, the rest of Canada needs to know this history in order to help their young, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to grow and understand each other. That is the solution, in my opinion. Getting rid of the “versus.”

Sign here: _____X____

I am going to start signing all my legal documents to the government with an “x”. If some of the past Aboriginal chiefs did it when signing treaties with the government, why can’t I do it today? Oh wait, signing an “x” means the government won’t be able actual know it was ME who signed it (you know, they care about my identity and the possibility of it being stolen… yeah, right) and it also tells the government that I don’t have “literacy” skills.

So, why was an “x” sufficient back then?


The image posted in my previous blog “Blogwriter App” and as well as this blog, I am curious about the building and its histories!

Nevertheless, this photo was taken on Manitoulin Island, more specifically while on Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve. I would like to know more about this building. I thought it was a residential school but my mom said it wasn’t. I asked her what it was then and she wasn’t quite sure but replied: house of Jesuits?!