We Have The Right To Exist, by Wub-e-ke-niew:  Chapter VII -  History and time.  "The Euro-Americans have been hiding the truth about history from generation to generation, hoping that the Aboriginal Indigenous people would be absorbed into the Métis community under the ersatz identity of Indian, or disappear into extinction like the Indigenous Tasmanians of another English colony; like so many of the Aboriginal Indigenous peoples and Nations of this Continent who have vanished from Euro-American time. ... "
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 We Have The Right To Exist, by Wub-e-ke-niew

- Chapter VII -
            History and time

            The Euro-Americans have been hiding the truth about history from generation to generation, hoping that the Aboriginal Indigenous people would be absorbed into the Métis community under the ersatz identity of Indian, or disappear into extinction like the Indigenous Tasmanians of another English colony; like so many of the Aboriginal Indigenous peoples and Nations of this Continent who have vanished from Euro-American time.

            In Western European linear time, the past vanishes into obscurity, perceived as dimensionless and infinitely small at the vanishing point of linear perspective.  Their history becomes what they describe as the dead past, hypothetical and in a sense perennially unknowable, inaccessible in the abstract.  The Western Europeans become detached from their continuity in time, and thus seemingly insulated from their history, encapsulated in a present reality which has been severed at its roots.  The elaborate centralized revision of history described by George Orwell in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four[i] is unnecessary, a metaphorical example of the Western Europeans' extant relationship to time.  The elderly and the young are polarized, and communication across time has been broken for all but the artificial aristocracy who define history as only their own, and claim time in terms like the month of Julius Caesar, Year of Our Lord, A.D.  Euro-American culture has been manipulated by corporate advertisers in the media to idolize youth, so that the people molded as consumers become convinced that the young know more than their elders.  Their oral history is discarded, and the peerage at the top turns to a new page in the history of their relationship with those they subordinate every generation, maintaining a socialistic Utopia in the First Estate, and exploiting the resources and the time of everyone else within their hierarchical domain.

            In Ahnishinahbæótjibway time, the circle always comes around, and the past is never gone.  This is the nature of our history and our time, and no matter how long the European peoples remain on this Continent, they cannot hide from the truth and the lies of their own history in the annals of linear, academic time.  They cannot run away from the consequences of their past, because it is inextricably part of their present time.  Even if they run away to outer space, as they dream to do in so much of their science and fiction, they cannot hide--they always carry with them the legacy of time.

            Ahnishinahbæótjibway time is perennial and unending, harmonized with the cycles of the seasons, flowing as an inseparable part of reality.  Ahnishinahbæótjibway time is intrinsically life and death, Grandmother Earth, Grandfather Midé.  Western European time is fragmented, splintered into mechanically defined seconds and minutes and hours, boxed into externally imposed segmented days on a blank calendar, defined without dimension or texture.  It is an artificial, abstract construct.  Western European time has a beginning--the Biblical Creation and the Big Bang are metaphysically and structurally equivalent--and therefore logically has an end.

            I have spent a time studying the White man, and have heard him use the motto, "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for tomorrow we may die."  (I have heard Indian alcoholics say the same thing, "I might as well drink, they have the atomic bomb.")  From an Ahnishinahbæótjibway perspective, this is a very strange thing to say, a morbid declaration of complete powerlessness and utter lack of hope, a pathological symptom of linear time and Western European languages.  Judeo-Christianity's underlying thanatolatristic philosophy, their assertion which has endured for a millennium that "The World Will End," their comic-strip archetype fakirs carrying "The End is Coming" signs, enables brutal hierarchy to exist by warping time, and deludes their subject peoples into both a terrible hopelessness and sense of futility.

            By sticking their heads into the sands of their history to hide from the consequences of their past, Western European culture has lost the meaning of both life and death, which are part of the same harmonious totality.  Since the Greeks consigned their ancestors to Hades, the Western Europeans have been lost souls.  The Judeo-Christian's world may end along with the Indian world, but the time has come to debunk their paradox, and their lethal self-fulfilling prophecies including the Indian Religions' reflections of Judeo-Christianity.  There will be changes--the Western Europeans have come full circle and have met the beginning and thus the end of their paradigm of exploitive expansion, but the reality expressed in Ahnishinahbæótjibway philosophy will endure.

            The Lislakhs' future time has been stolen from them to balance the denial of their past time, so they don't plan for their children or grandchildren.  They leave huge deficits, ecological disasters, and plundered resources for the next generations.  They justify their irresponsibility in time with the disempowerment of their hierarchy: they never know when they will be conscripted to go fight in another war--they can't refuse, because their citizenship can be taken away, and they will be thrown in prison.  The Western Europeans' myth-spinners are still depending on the "next frontier," and there are no more frontiers.  They have reached the end of their expansion, and have replaced reality with mirage.

 

            A Métis friend of mine told me about his brief job as an interpreter during World War I.  He needed to ask an Ahnishinahbæótjib­way their date of birth, a requirement of European time in filling out U.S. Government military conscription forms.  "When were you born," he asked.  "The year [the town of] Thief River was founded."  "What month," he asked.  "When the corn was so high," meaning the month of July.  My friend said he wondered, "how the hell can I write that," it's two different times, two different ways of relating to the world.  So, he figured it was time to quit, rather than trying to interpret time.  He could have translated this simple part of time, but it would have taken too much red tape, so that was the end of his short time as an interpreter.

 

            The Indians always talk about Indian time, which is a part of Western European Indian mythology, patterned by their masters on European time, and has nothing to do with Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' time.  Indian time is a mirror image of European time, an excuse for filling out the European projections of Indians being lazy and late.  Indians pat themselves on the back and call Indian time "the Grand Entrance," but to the White man it's watching subject people grinnin' and shufflin' in a demeaning role.  The people who say they live in Indian time have relinquished their own time.  The White man has tricked the Indians into filling out White stereotypes in the White man's time, and unwittingly supporting the White man's self-image that he's more intelligent and morally superior.

            Addicted Indians are trapped in Euro-American identities like "Drunken Indian."  They deal with alcohol and drugs in terms of Indian time, hours and minutes just the same as the Europeans.  Indians talk about going on a three-day drunk, and how long their hangover will last in linear time.  When their drug hit runs down, then it is time for another fix.  That is Indian time, which is the same kind of time as their White fathers'.  The Indians only walk in one world, and that one is within the lower echelons of the White man's world of Western European time.

            The White man says "time is money," and ascribes value to time in the context of his social class system: so many dollars an hour for wage-labor, so many dollars a year in salaries and compound interest.  Money and time are a part of the same thing.  A person is paid for their time--they are not on their own time.  Ahnishinahbæótjibway time is a part of the fabric of reality, and cannot be bought or sold.  This is part of the difference between Western European time and Ahnishinahbæótjibway time.  One of the reasons Euro-American immigrants have destroyed our ecosystem is to control us through their economic system, bought and paid for with our stolen property, in quantified monetary time.

            The United States Government promotes Indians, rather than face the consequences of their genocide of the Aboriginal Indigenous people here and in time.  They have the illusion that by obscuring their past, by focusing on and promoting the good/bad dichotomy of Indian stereotypes, they can buy time.  Most of the Indians have no idea of the ways in which they are being manipulated (although a few of them do).

            Aboriginal Indigenous time has absolutely nothing to do with hours and minutes.  We are on our own land, and our time is ancient and inseparable from our land.  The meaning of the Midé title of my great-grandfather, Bah-se-nos, is in part in honor of time, the four seasons and the four directions.  In European time, he has been dead for more than ninety years, and is therefore gone, forgotten.  In Ahnishinahbæ­ót­jibway time, Bah-se-nos is present and real, along with the phases of the moon, the intricate harmony of the time of the flowering and fruiting of each plant, the fledging of birds and the metamorphosis of insects, the time of making sugar, the time of dreams, the time of harvesting mahnomen.

            The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources tries to regulate Grandmother Earth according to European time.  They try to play their own God, and pass regulations mandating when mahnomen will be ripe, and can be harvested by fee-payment to the State, under State license.  Their regulations have nothing to do with the ripeness of mahnomen.

            Western European scientists think that they can manage the forests by brute force, applying insecticides and herbicides that will kill everything in time.  Everything in nature has a place, exterminating one species destroys the harmony, and other species become extinct in a chain reaction.  The bugs, the mosquitoes, the wood-ticks are all part of Grandmother Earth, they have a place here and they have a place in our religion.  Grandfather Midé, and Grandmother Earth: that is who we, the Ahnishinahbæótjibway are.  Mother Nature comes out in the Spring of the year, gives birth to all of the young.  The trees flower, the birds hatch, the deer and the bears and all of the other animals have their little ones.  The mosquitoes come out, and then the mosquito-hawks and the birds and the bats eat the mosquitoes.  When you spray DDT or any other insecticide, you unbalance everything.  Everything is walking around in the woods sick; there is no fruit because there aren't any insects to pollinate the flowers.

            Ahnishinahbæótjibway and other Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' resources have been used to build the structure of Euro-American society.  It is our resources which have been stolen to "make American great," and it is our resources which have been changed into a foreign currency; and then that alien money system has been used to oppress us, destroy our community and our forest-based permacultural food supply, control our time and lock us into poverty.  We had immense wealth, spiritual together with material, in our forests and in our land.  Everything was kept in harmony, abundant and beautiful.

            In my great-grandfather's time, old-growth forests covered more than half of this Continent, from the Atlantic Ocean to the tallgrass prairies west of the Mississippi.  The trees rose to meet the skies, and the sentience of these ancient living beings was a part of our Ahnishinahbæótjibway community, part of the seamless continuity of time.  They were more magnificent than the finest of the Europeans' cathedrals, but they were not oppressively cold, psychologically manipulative man-made canyons of stone; nor flying-buttressed edifices like hordes of giant locusts crouched in waiting to devour the land and suck the life out of Grandmother Earth.  Our forests were comfortable and nurturing, like the haven of baby chicks under their mother hen's wings.  The forests were home, serene and secure, gentle and wise.  Theirs was a concert of voices: the sharp snapping of trees in the cold winter nights, the wind in the pines, the low calls of mother foxes to their young, the soft conversation of our Dodemian and the crackling of the fires in the sugarbushes, the spring symphony of birds, the drumsongs drifting across the water in summer, and the whooshing beat of the air as millions of birds flew south in the fall.  When I was young, I walked through these forests.  The earth was soft underfoot, like walking on a plush carpet.  The undisturbed primeval forests had very little underbrush, and a person could see a great distance.

            When we were young boys playing in the old-growth pine forests, we used to watch the flying squirrels in the pines in wonder and amazement.  We watched them glide from one tree to the next, walking behind them on a thick carpet of pine needles.  They were beautiful, graceful animals.  It's been more than forty years since I have seen a flying squirrel.  They have joined the vanishing species that disappear with the plunder of the ecology.  They are gone, because their home in the ancient pines has been clear-cut, replaced by aspen, and the whole ecosystem has changed.  There is no habitat for flying squirrels in aspen brush.  Where are the smallest of the woodpeckers, that used to be all over the woods when I was a boy?  In the last ten years, I have only seen three of these tiny birds.  Where are the cedar swamps, so thick that it was dark at noon?  I used to go down into these swamps and pick our swamp tea, and a few of the moccasin-flowers.  All of this is gone, and not one White man raised his voice in protest when this entire forest was destroyed.  It is only very recently that a few of the Euro-Americans are waking up, and realizing that all life on Earth is connected.  They are standing up in public and speaking out in defense of the spotted owls, and the kangaroo rat, and all of the other beings that are an integral part of Grandmother Earth, that gives us all life.  I applaud these courageous people.

            Most White men can not see into the forests; they can only see the edge of them.  Along the highways and lakeshores in Northern Minnesota is a Potemkin forest: a strip of trees about six trees deep.  What the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources calls "aesthetic buffers" mask ravaged clear-cut land.

            The old trees have been cut, replaced with what are called tree farms, in which the ground is hard, furrowed with plow ridges, and choked with underbrush.  These pitiful tree plantations are diseased monocultural plantings grown in an overload of insecticides and herbicides; barren unbalanced ecologies where the wildlife starves or is poisoned.  They bear no resemblance to the forests which belong here.

            The ecosystem in this area is in serious trouble.  The forest products companies will not--and cannot--restore what they are looting and ransacking.  A few trees cut down, will grow back in an intact forest, but forest ecosystems, once destroyed, are not renewable.  "Fish flies" are one example of our fine-tuned ecology.  Ask any old-timer about the clouds of fish flies, so thick they looked like smoke, that swirled and hummed every May.  I haven't seen a single fish fly in four or five years.  They may be "pesky," but they are a necessary part of the ecosystem, and provide food for the hatchling fish at the exact time that they need it.  When the Euro-Americans destroy the forests, they destroy everything, and ultimately themselves.

            The beauty which our people kept for thousands of generations  has been completely destroyed in my lifetime by the Euro-Americans and their Indians.  My children will never see much of what was our peoples' beautiful, magnificent heritage, because of the greed of the Whites and their Indians.  Our water is polluted, our fish are cancerous and infested with parasites, and the game has almost disappeared--because the inter-connected circles of life have been destroyed.  The children growing up now see aspen brush, and do not have any understanding of what a real forest means.  They are a lost generation, and nobody is telling them that a stand of aspen, which the D.N.R. defines as "forest," is something entirely different from the beautiful primeval forest which was once here.  Once clear-cut, the old forests are gone, and will require undisturbed centuries to regenerate.

            You can plant tree farms to the horizon, and you still do not replace even one of the trees that was here.  A healthy forest is much more than trees, and planting trees will not restore an ecosystem which has been demolished.  It is said that the Europeans "can't see the forest for the trees."  Don't get me wrong--I'm certainly not against planting trees--but no matter how many trees you plant or tree farms you make, no matter how much public pomp and circumstance, and no matter how many scientific foresters with Ph.D.s, a tree farm has very little resemblance to the harmonious, intricate, and balanced ecosystem of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway A tree farm will not stop your lakes from drying up; it will not provide what forests must provide in order for the lakes and rivers to be full of fish.

            The scientists talk about forest management, but for them the bottom line is G.N.P.  They do not seem to understand that even a free-market, democratic economy cannot exist outside the reality of the ecosystem.  Allow the clear-cutting to continue, and you will see--you will feel the effects much closer to home than you expect.

            Such heedless destruction is sacrilegious to the Ahnishinahbæótji­bway.  The Midé is beyond European time, encompassing our lives, everything that we do and think and dream.  It is not a one-hour-a-week religion, like Christianity, where a person goes to Church on Sunday morning, and then goes back to destroying the environment again.  The Western Europeans have declared a war of total annihilation on our religion, on Grandmother Earth, and on Grandfather Midé, and then they have the gall to say that we, the Ahnishinahbæótjibway who have always been a non-violent people, are warlike.

            From an objective perspective, outside of the context of Western European traditions, there is no substantive difference between the Euro-Americans' Science and their religions.   When I didn't understand English, I thought that the reason that neither one made any sense was because I couldn't communicate.  But, after learning their language, what they are doing looks even worse.  The Euro-American policy of irreversible environmental destruction is justified and supported by accredited scientists with Ph.D.s.  But, the scientists do not live here, the stockholders of the resource corporations don't live here, and they don't care about the devastation and suffering that they leave in the wake of their greed.

            White urban dwellers live embedded in layer within layer of Lislakh linguistic and cultural artifacts, often completely discon­nected from reality.  In the man-made context of the city, they have no basis for personally evaluating the truth or falsehood of scientific assertions, and many uncritically accept ludicrous self-serving lies like Acting President Ronald Reagan's statement that "trees cause air pollution," or the U.S. Department of Agriculture's underlying thesis that "mature forests are bad."  But, the woods are a part of me, a part of my Midé religion, and I know the terrible destruction that has been done.  The Chippewa Indians have been used to sell the land and sell the woods, which is not their identity, and which is not a part of their religion.  Some of the most destructive loggers are White Chippewa Indians, including some of the Federally recognized Indian leaders.  The land and the forests are not theirs; they don't know anything about Ahnishinahbæótjibway customs and values.  They are Lislakh immigrants acting out a stereotyped caricature.

            The Indian leaders dress up in feathers, and are used to conjure up a public image that Aboriginal Indigenous people are quaint and nobly defeated anachronisms, living in tepees.  But, at night, these Indian leaders sleep in nice motels, paid for by the United States Government or the Christian's churches.  The White-appointed Indian leaders tell the general public about how the people on the Reservations are hungry, and then they go to a fancy restaurant to eat steak.  (Such selfishness is unspeakable in the context of Ahnishinahbæótjibway values.)  There are hungry people on the Reservations and in the urban ghettos: both Indians who are caught in the web of the Indian identity and the few surviving Aboriginal Indigenous people, who are blacklisted from anything more than a menial job by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and who are the ones who are hardest hit by the 50-90% unemployment rates on most Reservations.  But, what the Indian leaders discuss over their steaks is rhetoric which only entrenches the problems.

            I have lived under the oppression and genocidal tactics of which I write throughout this book, and writing about what has happened re-opens the old wounds.  I see the Ahnishinahbæótjibway whom I knew as a child.  I can hear their voices again, these, my people, who died along with their whole families, for the White man's greed.  Both myself and my children have been attacked, physically beaten by Euro-Americans, for no reason other than that we are Ahnishinah­bæótjib­way.  I do not want to dwell on the pain of the past, but it is necessary that it be addressed, because it is an inherent part of the larger structure of Western European civilization and it must be dealt with openly.  The past and the present must be addressed honestly and fully; we must build a better world for everybody.


 Notes for Chapter VII

[i].Eric Blair, 1984, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1949.



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