When reading Guns and Utu I was struck by a point made by Mathew Wright, the author, about a misunderstanding by colonizers regarding Māori inter-iwi conflict which I think parallels a similar misunderstanding made about the First Nations of what has become Canada. What I think is important here is that this misunderstanding (which is conveniently more or less prevalent as the situation dictates) continues to colour Pākehā and non-First Nations perceptions.
So what Wright said (I think this counts as the most delayed lead in the history of delayed leads) was that, to the outsider, inter-Iwi warfare was perceived as being akin to a British civil war when, in fact, it was more like France attacking England or Austria invading Belgium. I think, to a different degree many people still hold this view of the various Māori iwi within New Zealand Aotearoa.
I think that there is an echo of this thought process within Canada which has certainly raised it’s head in comments from the non-First Nations community surrounding the Idle No More movement* (#IdleNoMore on twitter and http://idlenomore.ca/ on the web). Many many people are asking “what do Indians want?”. Well, first, which “Indians” do you mean? Which nation? From which region? Urban? Rural? Northern? Southern? Coastal? Second, and this is pretty key, so pay attention: Asking that question is like asking “what do all the white people want?”. Think on that for a minute, I’ll wait here. Back? Cool. Just as there are conservative white folk, and lefty white folk and white folk in the middle etc, there are First Nations people in those slots as well. Additionally just like people in Alberta and Quebec may have different views of how Canada should be run, someone from the Sunchild First Nation may well have a very different view on things from someone born in Kahnawake.
This, I think, is something that bears keeping in mind BEFORE one opens ones mouth and starts pontificating on “Indians”.
I have other thoughts but I’ve been summoned to help with a puzzle. Because my life is excitement embodied!
* Readers in Aotearoa will find some of the Idle No More movement’s aims to be very familiar and close to the Māori Council’s attempts to stop asset sales… in this case swap asset sales for a ridiculous Omnibus Budget that changes a whole bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with a budget and you’ve got the picture. Also remember that a) the CPC has a bigger majority than the Nats and b) the other party’s (NDP, LPC et al) aren’t really in the mood for another election.