There is a perception that by incorporating technologies, foods or ideas into our native culture from the outside, we are no longer native. I’ve heard such comments as “you can’t skidoo down the aboriginal trail forever,” or the infamous argument made by lawyers in the 1970s court cases that since Crees ate cheese, we were no longer Cree. This is an interesting comment when you look at the contributions that the aboriginal race made to the world.

Before the “boat people” came over from Europe, there were less than 30 varieties of vegetables utilized in the “known” world. Today, there are over 200, the vast majority compliments of native agricultural practices. Where would Europe have been today without the potato or tomato? Perhaps you wouldn’t miss corn? Vegetarians everywhere should thank the native people for making their lives easier and tastier.

Canoes and snowshoes are still in use today and in the past helped to open up this continent to early non-native immigrants. Kayaking is an Olympic sport. All are native technologies adopted and utilized by non-natives to this day.

The American constitution is based in part upon the Great Laws of the Iroquois Six Nations Confederacy. Not at all a bad idea, yet I do not see the non-native American adopting all the manners, culture, ideologies, etc. of the native. No, they incorporated what they needed to make their society grow and progress.

This is what I want also, that our society will grow and progress in a beneficial manner. To this end I will look at all examples of what is around in my environment and utilize what is necessary for it to do so.

The point of this is that I do not want our society to stagnate so that we can fit into some non-native’s perception of what natives “really are.” Only the members of any given society have the right to determine the future of their society. For an outside force to change that, no matter how beneficial the intentions, is still oppression. Is this not what the Québécois have been saying all along? That they wish to control their destiny and culture in the manner they see fit?

Why then is it so strange that native people would want the same thing?

I would propose that in Quebec the elements that are into creating and maintaining derogratory native stereotypes be recognized as the small-time hypocrites that they are. For two minorities in Canada to fight each other in such a fashion is neither logical nor productive. I would go further and say that we should be allies in our campaigns to ensure the survival and well-being of our respective communities.