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Old 12-01-2008, 04:01 AM   #1
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Lightbulb race and culture not the same

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FROM:
_http://www.winnipegsun.com/News/Columnists/Quesnel_Joseph/2008/11/28/7573501-sun.html_
(winnipegsun.com - Joseph Quesnel - Race and culture not the same)

Race and culture not the same

By JOSEPH QUESNEL




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Culture is not destiny, especially when that culture is frozen in time.
This is the argument of Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry, a newly-released
book by two academics that is making waves within the academic world. In the
work, Frances Widdowson, a political scientist, and Albert Howard, a former
government and aboriginal group consultant, suggest that indigenous peoples did
not exist at the same level of social and cultural development as Europeans
when they first encountered each other. Even more controversially, they
suggest many pre-modern characteristics of indigenous societies still exist in
First Nation communities today and prevent them from integrating into modern
society and succeeding.
This, they argue, is the problem confronting First Nations today: they need
to catch up culturally.
Before one assumes this is a "racist" argument, one must understand there is
a big difference between race and culture. All societies, including European
ones, passed through periods of cultural evolution, which is determined by
environmental factors, not biology. At one point, European societies were
small, kinship-based societies just like indigenous peoples. Because they lacked
surplus food production, First Nation societies did not enjoy the division of
labour that European civilizations had at the time and did not have the
sophisticated, literate society that grew out of that.
The failure to see obvious differences in civilizations, they argue, is part
of the "post-modern" thinking dominating academia.
The problem as they see it is that well-intentioned academics, seeing the
disadvantages First Nations face, feel guilty and as a result, never criticize
First Nations, no matter how problematic some aspects of their cultures are
for modern life.
I have Mohawk and other indigenous backgrounds. However, I am quite pleased
my ancestors came into contact with Europeans. I do not think I would enjoy a
low-technology, nomadic existence and being confined to subsistence
agriculture. I appreciate the blessings of individual rights and modern women's
freedoms. I take advantage of modern medicine and science. I have French-Canadian
heritage, but I do not regret that my ancestors encountered the British who
held to a more efficient form of land ownership and a market economy, not to
mention democracy.
Does all this make me a "traitor" to my people? I don't think so, as
pre-modern economic and social features are not intrinsic to any people.
Some cultural traditions are not worthy of holding. Years ago, the Canadian
Museum of Civilization held an exhibit on the Bog People of Northern Europe.
One of the exhibits was of a girl with a rope around her neck. According to
the description, she likely was sacrificed because she had an awkward gait and
curved spine. I am glad that tradition was discarded.
One wonders how post-moderns would respond if they were present when Spanish
explorer Hernando Cortes witnessed the Aztecs sacrificing the hearts of
prisoners to prevent the cosmos from collapsing. Would they pass judgment in that
case?
First Nation people better honour their ancestors and their children by
improving their conditions, which often means abandoning ways that do not
subscribe to modernity.


You know the writer of this "enlightening " article forgets that if he lived in dem "olden times" that none of this european crap or her modern ideals would matter to him. It would be all a normal thing and not something that he despises. And that's exactly how he comes off to me as someone that despises his people's past. I agree with working hard to improve conditions but abandoning what ways is he friggin talking about? Just the comment itself is so vague that it's like saying, the forest floor is filthy. Einsteins like himself need to make their thoughts a bit clearer instead of saying.. well I'm part indian but I don't have these post European hangups like the rest of these indians do. He like many point out what they percieve to be the problem then give a half azzed comment with a simple solution... and it's always, quit living in the past...... l wish for once they would come up with a few ideas instead of how to do this or just tell me which of the traditional ways of life and beliefs and ways we should toss out that would magically make the situations on reservations and native communities better.
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Old 12-01-2008, 06:24 AM   #2
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race and culture not the same

thats a grate title!
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:41 AM   #3
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I guess that there is one thing missing here, honesty , cause I see a lot of judging in the article! Pegholing too! Can we not respect who we are rather than what we want to see others to be!!!
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Old 12-01-2008, 10:01 AM   #4
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First, whenever I hear someone saying they're part Indian before saying something like Indians need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and assimilate... I find that usually that person's parents did assimilate and they have no idea what their culture is/was like. Frequently they hold distorted dominant culture misconceptions. But anyway, abandoning the ad hominem attacks....

The author seems to be a victim of several pop-culture fallacies: 1) the mechanism of biological evolution is progressive. 2) superior technology leads to superior culture

Cultural evolution as a pseudo-Darwinian progression from from the cultural "apes" of pre-contact Africa and America to that "human" apex the European business man is a myth. I suggest the author should read Guns Germs and Steel before assuming some "superior" European culture rather than superior European access to a particular set of resources and European exposure to (and population selection by) various domestic animal borne zoonosises. That European cultures came to form the dominant culture in the Americas has nothing to do with superiority or "higher" evolution, and everything to do with germs, guns, and a feeling of "manifest destiny."

The author is correct in one area. Because the dominant culture defines the rules, Native cultural practices which run count to these rules are perceived by the dominant culture as ill-adaptive at best and sociopathic at worst. Cultural adaptation and borrowing has been and is necessary to enhance survival in "their" system. However, wholesale suppression and abandonment of cultural practices causes at least as much damage and anti-social behavior.

Technology is value neutral. Superiority is dependent on context. A metal knife is in many many ways superior to a stone knife. But stranded alone in the woods, I stand a better chance of fashioning a marginally useful cutting tool for gutting a fish from stone before I starve to death than trying to build a forge. Technology changes culture, but its uses are still determined by the fundamental values of the culture.

I'll rant about the surplus food production fallacies later....
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Old 12-01-2008, 10:40 AM   #5
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And yet why do they have some much Guilt???
I get the distinct feeling that there guilt will go away when we disappear and no longer around to remind them

Sigh

I read articles like this written by a so-called "part" Ndn, hope they realize that the very fact they are "part" ndn is the only reason they were published in the first place! Picture anyone else writing this article and it would have been shouted down as racist.

The very fact that we still are here despite the Boarding schools 100 year attempt to systematically destroy our culture our Language and our Identity as a separate race.
Thanks to James Watts who inadvertently in the mid 1980's started the dismantling of the Boarding School system
By shutting off funding!

Today my tribe runs that same School that under the BIA was a dumping ground
Today that same school has a waiting list to get in
Today it teaches indigenous languages instead of suppressing them
Today it graduates a higher rate than the whole state!!!
Today those that graduate have a higher probability of going on to College!!!

We have adapted
We no longer wear skins
We drive cars
We are not a backward sub-intelligent primative race that the Europeans thought they found when they came to these shores 500 years ago

We are still here.
And we now have Money.
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Old 12-01-2008, 10:58 AM   #6
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Thanks for sharing this article. It is always good to know what kind of "literature" is out there waiting to smack you in the face.
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Old 12-01-2008, 06:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
We are not a backward sub-intelligent primative race that the Europeans thought they found when they came to these shores 500 years ago
Hey Josiah, did you ever think that we were lost and that they did find us!!! LOL it just makes me sick to see this side of history still being twisted.

Here is a thought to put out there, what if we were to have invaded Europe and found those people over there and told them we found YOU! ROFLMAO!!!!
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Old 12-01-2008, 10:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
1. We have adapted
2. We no longer wear skins
3. We drive cars
4. We are not a backward sub-intelligent primative race that the Europeans thought they found when they came to these shores 500 years ago

5. We are still here.
6. And we now have Money.
1. We have been forced to adapt. The old ways worked. Why screw it up? It was a good, honest, and fair way.
2. Goes with forced to adapt. I still like the softness of deerskin.
3. Dude, I drive a Dodge truck. Many ponies!
4. How could they find us when we were never lost? Chris Columbus was the one who was lost. He ended up on the wrong contenant. Big mistake! So much for Europian map makers.....
5. Yes we are still here. Once the majority in this land, we are now the smallest minority and shrinking fast. Soon we will be reduced to a paragraph in a text book unless we do something fast!
6. Yep, we have money! No one wants to trade anymore. The all mighty dollar rules in this country. No cash? Up yours! The white man's way. What ever happened to people helping eachother? We help and they take! We're still getting screwed!

Sometimes I feel ashamed of my white ancestors. Thank God I'm part NDN!
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Old 12-01-2008, 10:59 PM   #9
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Respect i just have tons of it for my own elders and the way of life they created and lived. i seen cultures and races all the way around this world and im so proud im ojibwe and dine. even though the two tribes are sooo differnt id easily say the two cultures is pretty safe. i get alot of happiness attending ceremonies and just all around living my way/our way of life.

return thats what i did. i been everywhere and seen sooo much. i dreamed of things and wasnt scared to do any of it. i lived the things this guys read about in books. i lived most things video games are made of. in the end the more i got out into no mans land the more i dreamed of returning home. so the next logical step was to do so.

reinvent myself or my people.. yeah right. i enjoy modern things but im smart enough to maintain *very closely btw* my own cultural beliefs and customs. thats just the way it has to be.
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Old 12-01-2008, 11:13 PM   #10
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Um, Wow....OK so I think we're all on the same page about how we feel about this.

I do think the part ndn disclaimer is probably BS, most likely a white guy with some drop of ndn blood back a couple hundred years. So obvious that it's only there to pretend he's not racist, (do white people really think that we don't see trough such thin viels?) And for someone so worried about how we're treated by our Men, well I guess he never met one of them Mohawks he is apparently decended from, cause they are a good bunch of Men who know how to say "Yes Mom!"...thats why I married one (Jks)

Obviously ethnocentric view on what is success in this world. i don't measure my success by how much money & technology I got. In fact I think one of the success of my family is the low key approach to "things" that we take at x-mas while so many are going into dept shopping...I think the currant economy is proving that this brand of white success ain't working.

I also measure how great my life is by the number of kids I have (5), now white people may say they don't view this as a great thing but we arn't the ones with a negative population growth that's paying to get pregnant after thier careers cause they forgot to get knocked up when they were young enough to do so naturally.

I'm thankful that my culture is everything that mainstream culture isn't, I believe it's the lifeline that will save my kids from this souless world around us.
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Old 12-01-2008, 11:25 PM   #11
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race and culture not the same. the title tells on him. in even basic language theres no distiction. for ex, navajo, its "Ke'" visually if could draw a line with your fingers from your head to your heart,, this whole thing !! haha bare with me cause its hard to explain.

the guy does not know any better. politics, money, technology is not culture because they have no value. haha *to me anyways* lose your language and your way of life and then these things will be what you cling to. then it will be easy to confuse yourself into thinking this *way* is better.
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:31 AM   #12
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Yea this guy seems to not know who he is.
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:13 AM   #13
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You know the writer of this "enlightening " article forgets that if he lived in dem "olden times" that none of this european crap or her modern ideals would matter to him.
Which is a lot like saying, "If I didn't know about penicillin, I wouldn't mind dying from a scrape on my knee."

There are lots of arguments, both for and against, this article: but visions of romanticized Native Culture Utopia -- prior posts seem to contain a lot of this -- falls flat.

There's a TON to be actively critiqued...
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Old 12-02-2008, 08:50 AM   #14
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and so we finally here from the only NDN on the site who agrees with the white racist guy...way to go (we all knew where you'd stand)
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Old 12-02-2008, 10:32 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
...but visions of romanticized Native Culture Utopia -- prior posts seem to contain a lot of this -- falls flat.
I agree that many people -- mostly members of the dominant culture left -- romanticize pre-contact Native societies. They pine for the imagined Indian that they destroyed.

Among our own, this viewpoint arises in response to centuries of active and aggressive devaluing of Native culture. Much of the overblown rhetoric of the Utopians is an attempt to deny any foothold for outsiders to criticize.

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Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
There's a TON to be actively critiqued...
I'm not sure I'd agree with the quantity :) However, yes. Every culture has elements which can and should be examined and changed. But, to argue that superior technology and Adam Smith make for a superior culture is wrong. And while outside ideas are always a catalyst for change, it should be those within a culture who are the agents of change.
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Old 12-02-2008, 12:37 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by OLChemist View Post
And while outside ideas are always a catalyst for change, it should be those within a culture who are the agents of change.
But we have to have the courage to do it.

Instead, we are too busy being threatened, isolationist, hiding behind Traditionalism as a panacea, acting as social children, buying into the fallacies of quantum and psuedo-sovereignty, etc.

The author embedded such beliefs in her final paragraph, but had to state such in an academic manner.

Overall, I don't disagree.
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Old 12-02-2008, 01:27 PM   #17
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Which is a lot like saying, "If I didn't know about penicillin, I wouldn't mind dying from a scrape on my knee."
Well I gotta hand it to you, you sure did your homeowrk on this one! OUCH, not, where do you think those quack doctors forever get their answers to what is needed, from the First Nations, by observing and then stealing.
right now the best cancer treatment is still hidden from white society, mother nature produces both components right here on turtle island and yet the are blind to it. Many other illnesses are fought daily by plant remedies right from the sacred grounds around our homes. The europeans spary and kill these same plants and rip them out, do we, NO we care for them and nurture them. Mother Earth provides us our medicines. Your famous asprin comes from the soft white underbark of a willow, thank you bayer!
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:41 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Tibiki Kinew View Post
...where do you think those quack doctors forever get their answers to what is needed, from the First Nations, by observing and then stealing.
Oh, please. This is rampant, romanticized, hypocrisy.

Your kid gets deathly ill, where are you going? I'd bet it is a big building with red crosses on it, not "Turtle Island." And you'll be begging for doctors to save your child.

Get over yourself and admit the truth.

Which is, of course, the gist of the entire academic piece.

Last edited by Zeke; 12-02-2008 at 03:47 PM.. Reason: Troglodyte spelling.
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:50 PM   #19
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibiki Kinew View Post
Well I gotta hand it to you, you sure did your homeowrk on this one! OUCH, not, where do you think those quack doctors forever get their answers to what is needed, from the First Nations, by observing and then stealing.
right now the best cancer treatment is still hidden from white society, mother nature produces both components right here on turtle island and yet the are blind to it. Many other illnesses are fought daily by plant remedies right from the sacred grounds around our homes. The europeans spary and kill these same plants and rip them out, do we, NO we care for them and nurture them. Mother Earth provides us our medicines. Your famous asprin comes from the soft white underbark of a willow, thank you bayer!
2 elders from my community have gone up your way for that tea, they are better now.
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