Bayshore Broadcasting Corporation

From Where I Sit

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August 14, 2012
by: David McLaren

Repeating Mistakes


What happens when you forget history? You make the same mistakes.

You don't have to know anything about First Nations to know that the Harper Governmentís proposal for private ownership of reserve land will backfire. You don't even have to like Native people to know that the First Nation Property Ownership Act is just plain wrong.

Why? Because in 1887 the US government passed the Dawes Act.

By then, Crazy Horse had been killed in custody. Sitting Bull, the victor at Little Big Horn, had surrendered. Geronimo was holed up in the hills of Mexico. And their people were being forced onto reservations.

Under the Dawes Act, the US government allotted the head of each family 160 acres of reserve land to farm. Never mind that theirs was a hunting culture. Never mind that land was traditionally held in common.

Any land left over was sold to whites. After 25 years, even the allotted land could be sold to whites. And thatís just what happened. By the time President Franklin D Roosevelt stopped the allotments, 90,000 people had been dispossessed of 90 million acres of their homeland. Thatís wrong by anyoneís ethics.

The stated goal of the Dawes Act was to break tribal culture and encourage individual initiative. It was a conscious and malicious effort to wipe out a culture by assimilation. We had the same purpose here, but our targets were children and our instrument was the Indian Residential School System. 

Our Prime Minister apologized for that horror. And now heís setting the stage for another.

I'm David McLaren


From Where I Sit is on 560 CFOS Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 7:08 am and 5:08 pm

Posted: 2012-08-15 13:18:37

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