Friday, November 07, 2008

Article on Atikameksheng Anishnawbek Land Claim

Check out this great article by Shailagh Keaney called "Two Ways to Be a Nation: Struggle for control of the "trillion-dollar Sudbury basin." It lays out the basis of a recent $550 billion lawsuit launched by the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek people, previously known as the Whitefish Lake First Nation, in response to the theft of the lands promised them by the settler government and the wealth stolen from them through the exploitation of those lands. The land stolen from them includes most of what is now called "Sudbury" as well as the immense mineral wealth (nickel, copper, and other metals) that is being extracted from this territory every day.

Keaney writes:

Although the lawsuit's dollar figure has thus far garnered the most media attention, there is much more to this land claim than money. Survival and autonomy are also at the foundation of Petahtegoose's motivations for involving himself in the land claim.

To date, the vast majority of the resources extracted from the treaty lands has resulted in little or no compensation for the Anishnawbek of Atikameksheng.

Instead, there is rampant poverty on the reserve, as is the case for so many reserves across the land now known as Canada. Petahtegoose thinks the resources derived from the land of his people should go towards educating and supporting the community.

On an equally important level, the Anishnawbek of the area consider the land their home and their legacy: "For our people, it's part of our sense of being and there's a sacredness of this place because it's where our ancestors lived. This land is the mother, grandmother, grandfather of our people. We stay here because this is our home, We teach our children that it is our home. If you choose to live here, you must teach you children the same, that there is no other place to be as desirable."

And later on in the article she quotes Art Petahtegoose, a former chief of the nation in question:

Petahtegoose explains that he doesn't want to see anyone kicked out of their homes. And he philosophizes, "There are two sides, two ways to be a nation. One is that you create fence and you say 'this is mine.' You demonstrate with your behaviour all the ways that this is mine, and you don't invite people from outside the nation to take part. You make them unwelcome. Or two, you remove the fence. You share the resources because you both have to survive. That is the method that we have to work with."

And so, the distinction between the Anishnawbek and the colonizers is clear: "They put up fences,” explains Petahtegoose, “and said ‘this is mine.’"

Check out the whole article!

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