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  • race and culture not the same

    ************************************************** ***********
    This Message is Reprinted Under the Fair Use
    Doctrine of International Copyright Law:
    _http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html_
    (Donate to the Legal Information Institute)
    ************************************************** ***********

    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.
    Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic

  • #2
    race and culture not the same

    thats a grate title!
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass..It's about learning to dance in the rain. for me and the wolf

    Comment


    • #3
      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!!!
      Listen to my heart, not just my mouth! The most powerfull thing we can do is,,,share,,, if we don't it dies with us.

      It is the year of the bear, I am sharpening my claws and will no longer tollerate harrassment.

      Born in Winnipeg raised in the Pikwakanagan, Deutschland was never home! Army brat that had no choice in a parents duties to home and country. I Too Serve our flag and work for the uniform.
      Stand behind our troops or stand IN FRONT of them.

      Comment


      • #4
        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....

        Comment


        • #5
          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.
          ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ - Anigiduwagi
          Till I Die!

          Comment


          • #6
            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.
            Don't compromise yourself. It's all you've got.

            Janis Joplin

            Comment


            • #7
              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!!!!
              Listen to my heart, not just my mouth! The most powerfull thing we can do is,,,share,,, if we don't it dies with us.

              It is the year of the bear, I am sharpening my claws and will no longer tollerate harrassment.

              Born in Winnipeg raised in the Pikwakanagan, Deutschland was never home! Army brat that had no choice in a parents duties to home and country. I Too Serve our flag and work for the uniform.
              Stand behind our troops or stand IN FRONT of them.

              Comment


              • #8
                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!
                Don't ask me what I think about something unless you want a truthful anwser. It may not be the anwser you are looking for.

                It's better to fly with the eagles then drive with the turkeys.

                Duct tape has a light side and dark side that binds our universe together.

                Bad attatude lessons available here. To inquire, Check the box to the right. []

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.
                  thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

                  *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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.
                      thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

                      *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yea this guy seems to not know who he is.
                        The only time its too late to start dancing is when you're dead.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Blackbear View Post
                          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...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            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)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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.

                              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.

                              Comment

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