Q: How many band councillors does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None, the chief likes to keep them in the dark.

Heh heh heh, but seriously folks… It’s been six months since The Nation started (it seems like yesterday). Twelve issues later, we’re still rolling along. First, I want to thank everyone who made it possible for The Nation to exist. There are a lot of people to thank. So many people gave their time and help making sure that you, the reader, can enjoy your favourite magazine every two weeks.

Most of us at the office still haven’t been paid for the time we worked. It is a labour of love. We are applying for various grants to pay salaries for the time being. We are slowly establishing ourselves. I want to thank Air Creebec and Northern Stores for making our jobs easier. When you pay your $1.50 to buy The Nation, it helps. I want to thank you for bearing with us during our transitional stages. Sometimes it wasn’t smooth going in terms of distribution, etc. If you don’t see The Nation ask for it.

Getting back to the joke… The written word is a foreign concept to Cree society introduced only recently during the hey-day of the missionaries. All our laws, customs, stories and knowledge was passed generation to generation through oral means. All information important to the people eventually spread throughout the land.

With all that is going on in the world, it is very easy to get lost especially when the information offered doesn’t reflect your ‘ needs, your viewpoint, your world. We have adapted to the different forces which surround us—adopting different tools or concepts to suit us.

One of the things we have been relatively slow to adopt is communications technology. Where is our Sesame Street? (Chisasibi Street?) Our Mister Rogers of the Cree neighbourhood? All our communities could and should be networked by radio, TV, computers and of course the written word. But also, Cree concepts must be used.

There is lots to talk about. People know that. Some people unfortunately feel that the issues should be dealt with quietly and without public knowledge or input. Helping people form their destiny can only help.

There were a lot of frustrations working as a journalist on the radio. There was so much to say. Too much information can turn people off. With print, people can reread and refer… I don’t want to turn this into a whine-fest, but with the newness of this medium and the issues faced, I feel we have to justify ourselves as journalists. I believe very strongly in the concept of a free press. It is about time Crees had the opportunity to hear and voice thier opinions on matters which affect them. To say it’s better that the people shouldn’t know is forgetting that the only way people can help themselves is by knowing.

There are those who say it won’t help to bring things out, especially to the outside world. I believe it won’t help either not to bring them out. How can people form opinions without information? How can people participate in meetings and bring solutions? By shutting yourself to the outside world, you also shut yourself from the people.

There is no reason to fear or ignore our current problems. We have survived much worse. There were efforts to eradicate our language, etc., but we stayed strong in terms keeping the faith. We stayed strong because of the land. The land helps to keep our being strong. The land keeps us strong because it binds us as Crees, it keeps our families and communities together. The land helps to keep our memories alive.

(A little while back I wrote about computers and networks. There are future articles I want to write to help you understand computers. There are also people looking into setting up a computer network for the Cree communities. If you are interested or want more info contact Cree-Comp through The Nation.)