we need a revolution.
There's discontent adrift and destined to meet up with the dreaded status quo. This does not bode well for the balance of power.
It's an ill wind, a veritable caldron of trouble. A challenge which cannot be avoided. And it's creeping inexorably closer to a way of life dominated by mainstream thought.
It's called Aboriginal Empowerment and it's showing up in the form of cultural revival, higher education and Traditional awareness. The days of Native stereotyping, generalisations and assumptions have come and gone.
Welcome to the First Nations of the 21st Century.
The unique culture of the First Nations quietly faded but never disappeared and is making a robust and visible resurgence. Native languages, traditions and beliefs are all being reexamined and re-taught. The wisdom of the elders is no longer viewed with an anachronistic eye... it's eagerly sought out and respected by all ages across Indian Country; following the Red Road has taken on greater importance and relevance in a time of a divisive and dominant culture.
Higher education is universally accepted as the method and mode of improving the condition of the First Nations. In Canada, organisations such as the Canadian Aboriginal Science and Technology Society (CASTS) and the Canadian Aboriginal Science and Engineering Association (CASEA) are actively and successfully encouraging Aboriginal students to enter scientific and technological fields of endeavour. The Indigenous Bar Association (IBA), the Native Physicians' Association (NPA), the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada (ANAC) and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) are all evidence of Aboriginal professionals.. and this doesn't include other professions in natural resources (mining, oil and gas, forestry, fishing).
This represents a quantum leap for a people who saw their own children removed to residential schools within a living generation... ostensibly for their own good but more often as a means to 'save the individual but kill the Indian'. Physically beating children who spoke their own Native language was one commonly used technique, but there are a myriad of other examples where the focus was unquestionably to eliminate any trace of Native culture or lifestyle. Cultural genocide was somehow a more acceptable practice in the attempt to assimilate those deemed 'reformable'.
Watching young Aboriginal people make remarkable achievement in education and the professional fields is beyond merely being encouraging; it's vital to the survival and success of Aboriginal North America. These are the new warriors in the defence of Native culture and vitality and few issues are any more important than the education of young (and not-so young) Native people. The battles of the future will be fought in the boardrooms, meeting rooms and university campuses and there's no doubt the next generation of Native heroes and leaders will be better educated and prepared.
What's even more encouraging is these Native 'revolutionaries' (if you will) are accomplishing their tasks and goals on their own terms as opposed to modifying their behaviour and/or values to fit the mainstream ideal. With a foot in traditional belief and the other in advanced technology, there's reason to believe remarkable things are in store for the First Nations. A Quiet Revolution to be sure, but most definitely an effective means to effect positive change despite the chronic challenges of a dominant government and society.
Matching wits and talent has more profound success than physical confrontation or verbal rhetoric.
The prospects for young Aboriginal Canada give cause for optimism. While the trail that lies ahead will present challenges unforeseen by today's perspectives, it's important to pause and reflect on the progress which has been made within the past fifty years or so. In the early- to mid-1950's, there were scant few Native people with university degrees, still fewer with lawyer or barrister positions and board-certified Native physicians were few and far between. The idea of an Aboriginal holding a seat in Parliament would have been scoffed at... Native corporate leaders were years away as well. Today, none of these realms of possibility are considered impossible or impractical; indeed, there's almost an air of expectation that Aboriginal people will be trained and competent to fill positions of influence and power.
Given that, why would a 'revolution' be necessary? If progress is moving along handily, why would it be necessary... or even desired... to challenge the status quo in a bid for prominence and equality?
Revolutions are agents of change. They disrupt the stream of thought which is too often never questioned, updated or analysed. Revolutions demand complacency and apathy be replaced with indignation and action. Native Empowerment is still a relatively new concept... one that is not universally embraced and welcomed by many in positions of authority and influence. By that token, anything LESS than a revolution could be construed as a concession... and advancements, successes and hard-fought battles could easily be reversed.
We've come too far as a people to allow ourselves to be shoved backward. Simply 'asking' for equality and autonomy cannot possibly have the same urgency and priority as 'demanding' equality and autonomy. Nothing less than a full intellectual and philosophical revolution can achieve, preserve and protect the advances made to this point. Without constant and relentless pressure, there's the risk of assumptions that Aboriginal people must be happy with their state of affairs and status within Turtle Island
Evolution is a slow, gradual process more often dictated by circumstance than directed by agenda. Revolution is a progressive and self-propelled initiative which forgoes circumstantial change in favour of a guided force which effects change. Revolution demands immediate attention while evolution simply notes the minutia of differences over extended periods of time. Revolution is a proactive process while evolution tends to be reactive in nature. One lets it happen... the other makes it happen.
And if positive change is to occur, it's up to the First Nations to make it happen on our own terms and as we see fit. Rather than some frightening prospect, revolution can be a refreshing and enlightening new movement where tremendous insight and knowledge can be gained by everybody.
We need a revolution.