On “Ceremonial Meetings” and Great White Fathers
Lee Sprague in Native Condition.
A ‘Ceremonial Meeting’ has two meanings: When a colonial government describes a meeting as ceremonial, it is a meeting of no substance. You show up; admire the quaint costumes; and get your required photo-op with the Natives. You try to assuage their troubled native souls as the Great White Father. You may give them a medal, yet still keep their lands, tax their steps, move them to another location until the government finds something the Indian has that the government must have. The government always seems to want what the Indians has left, including our dignity. Not saying they will get it, just that they covet what the Indian has.
Lee Sprague Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
So since “ceremony” is an English word, its meaning can change. We witness this when we look at the words on paper, and then 150 years later, the government tells us what it means now. The other words supposedly are dead and have become meaningless. The fact that the government is persistent in changing the meanings of words is a characteristic we have identified, we are not dull.
On the other hand, when the American Indian has a ceremonial meeting, it is a meeting of substance, of consequence, as it should be if you lead a ceremonial life.
Midewiwin is our spiritual way of life among American Indians in region of Indian country. It is the way that you live, wonder at the great mysteries of life, and clearly see those who disregard those mysteries of life. Not a ceremony just on a weekend day or during a ‘Meeting with the Natives’.
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence – who today is in Day 35 of a hunger strike – having a ceremonial life understands the difference. Prime Minister Harper obviously does not understand a ceremonial life.
Prime Minister Harper knows his status in history depends on not caving in to the First Nations peoples is substance, while getting signatures on a piece of paper that become dead words as soon as the ink dries.
The Great White fathers of a colonial state is not a racial or gender position or designation. Black or female would not change how the Great White Father operates.
The Great White father is a position that must covet what the Indian has.
Here in the United States, President Obama is a Great White Father – even though his skin pigmentation is darker than his predecessors. American Indian concerns about the Keystone XL pipeline have not been properly considered. The State of Nebraska concerns have been. American Indian concerns on water, air and the condition of our forests, our clan relations are diminished.
The Great White Father is more than racial or gender. We do not escape the Great White Father if a black person, or female person holds the Power of the Great White Father. Great White Father has more than one meaning it appears and I am not fooled. Great White Father is colonial in nature as it manifest itself in our lives. The Great White Father is continually, pervasively, undermining American Indian sensibilities as it must. The position of Great White Father is in turn coveted, and by more than white men.
With Deep Concern.
Lee Sprague is a tribal member of Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, based in Manistee, Michigan. He currently serves on the Tribal Council.
posted January 14, 2013 8:10 am est