(From a Canadian correspondent)—I decided to take the kids to the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, BC, last week. Now I like museums, they have a long history of rigorously checked fact-based conclusions. Well they used to.
The first display area we entered was the “First Nation” section. In the interest of full disclosure I need to preface this article with the fact I have extensive “First Nation” experience, both on and off the various Rez’s.
My Dene and Cree, while not fluent, is passable and I have spent many weeks camping and hunting with Aboriginals and Metis.
Forearmed with the knowledge that prior to the white man arriving, the North American aboriginals had no written language, mathematics or counting (beyond hands & toes) and no notion of the wheel, I was looking forward to a forensic analysis of what life must have been prior to white men arriving.
However, nothing could prepare me for the exhibition showcasing the biggest collection of paternalistic and sycophantic drivel this side of creation.
* The entrance had a number of “poles” that were playing greetings in various languages recorded on traditional non-volatile memory and supported by the equivalent written words. They were all saying hello, hi, thank you or some friendly, inane, and obviously white-selected phrase—showing us how marvelously the First Nations got on with everybody—and a complete deviation from the reality of the various tribes pausing only to hate and kill each other long enough to spend a little quality time with fractious inter-tribal politics. This behavior remains prevalent even today.
* No dates were given on most of the displays—and it was obvious that most were no older than 200 years, For example, the weaving in most of the traditional garments were so blatantly post-European in their creation it was an affront to the First Nations historical record—implying history only began when the man white man arrived!
Above: Supposedly “traditional” Aboriginal sewing and needlework… but all the materials and beads used were supplied by Europeans….
* The totem pole section was even worse, same lack of dates, a video showing how the totem poles were created using a traditional Stihl chainsaw. At least the video was in black and white, giving some authenticity to the date being post 1950.
A “traditional” dinner place setting . . . complete with European napkins . . .
* And oh, the excuses made up to try and explain or justify why the “First Nations” face so many challenges. Mainly whiteys’ fault of course.
* The reliance on the oral history to pass down information and learning is laughable. Yet it is treated as a revered, sacred and accurate. These stories change inter-generationally never mind trans-generationally and are notoriously unreliable. There are acute limitations to a society without a written language, both in terms of passing down learning, history, limiting abstract notions such as precision, time and mathematics.
Wooden carvings . . . supposedly “traditional” but all created with European-supplied carving knives….
* The biggest joke of all was the portrayal of the First Nations as guardians of the land. Now I know from firsthand experience that nothing brings more joy to our aboriginal brothers than speeding along in a traditional ATV or snowmobile, grinding up Mother Earth and only pausing to blast a moose or caribou to the Promised Land with a traditional high-velocity rifle. Because they can.
So I was deeply disappointed that the archaeological record was pretty much limited to the arrival of the white man. No significant history beyond a spear head was on display.
I would be acutely embarrassed had I been aboriginal of this white-derived trite. What was interesting was how the kids lapped it all up. Without firsthand knowledge of reality and robbed of the ability to question social history they believed it all implicitly.
I didn’t even try to raise the issues with the kids—they are so sheltered from the reality in their micro-social climate of equality and fairness generated by Government and the controlled media that they are as oblivious of reality as two Scandinavian women trekking across Morocco.