The history of First Nation relations with the new European settlers is a long and sad one, to me, all the more so because in the beginning everything looked like it was going to work out. It reminds me of when I read the Book Thief. I’d already seen the movie, so I knew that basically everyone was going to die in the end. I spent the entire time I was reading it desperately savouring the beginning, taking as long as possible, dreading the end of the book. I was torture seeing everyone so happy halfway through the book and knowing that it couldn’t last. It’s like that now. We read the residential school bit before the rest of the First Nations history, so when we did get around to it, it was terrible seeing the War of 1812 and the first few treaties when both groups seemed to be figuring out how to live peacefully knowing the entire time that it’s going to end with abhorrent evil and death for the Aboriginals. All I could do was hope against reality that this time I read it, history would change and it all would end for the better.
But what I would like to know is what actually caused this change in policy. I know that the Aboriginals ceased being useful to the new settlers once the threat of the Americans faded, and then were seen as inferior, but I find it strange that those days that the Europeans and the First Nations were getting along fairly peacefully could be forgotten so easily. It’s rather hard to believe that every single European mentally threw the Aboriginals under the horse drawn wagon; I mean, what of those soldiers who served in the War of 1812 along side Tecumseh and his warriors? I don’t believe they could forget so easily what the First Nations did for them. Where were these people when the Indian act and residential schools were initiated? Was the Indian act decided through a vote and majority? Was there actually some white folks who fought against the anti-First Nation measures taken by the government? And if so, why aren’t they mentioned a whole lot in the history books? I’d really be interested in exploring some of these questions in future TALONS discussions. These questions would mainly look more into the A’s, other aspects of B2 and a bit into C4. I’d also like to look into how First Nations are treated in the modern world and present day role of reserves and land. These would look into more C1 and again, more into B2.
Hope to adress some of these questions in class!