Thomas King’s humorous, insightful and at times disturbing book, The Inconvient Indian, defines “Dead Indians” as, “the stereotypes and clichés that North America has conjured up out of experience and out of its collective imaginings and fears…war bonnets, beaded shirts, fringed deerskin dresses, loincloths, headbands, feathered lances, tomahawks, moccasins, face paint and bone chokers.”
King continues, “When we dance, when we sing at the drum, when we perform ceremonies, we are not doing it for North America’s entertainment …we [Live Indians] do these things to remind ourselves of who we are, to remind ourselves of where we come from, and to remind ourselves of our relationship with the earth…Land has always been a defining element of Aboriginal culture. It provides water, air, shelter, and food. Land participates in the ceremonies and songs. And land is home…A great many Native people have a long-standing relationship with the natural world. But that relationship is equally available to non-Natives.” We don’t need to throw out the trappings, but this is the lesson we need to share with our campers.
King’s book helps us to understand and challenges us to confront the uncomfortable and urgent reality of native peoples today.
For those in the Toronto area, Kids in Camp Charity is hosting a fundraising event on Tuesday April 9, 2013. After dinner, The Hon. Dr. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.D., will introduce Steve Paikin of TVO in conversation with Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Ph.D., Vice Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives) at Lakehead University about “Sharing Our Canadian Roots.”