Friday, March 25, 2011

6 - Truth

"The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable." - James A. Garfield

As a teacher, I think about what exactly it is that I would like my students to learn. I have been thinking a lot about this as I have started writing. Only this time I am the student. There is one question that eats at me. Why did so many hide their identity? Why did they deny who they were? I don't blame them. I am sure that people do things they have to do for reasons we may never understand, but the question nags at me just the same.

This week, I ordered, and finally received a copy of Daniel Paul's excellent book called We Were Not the Savages. This book has a striking cover painted by Mi'kmaq artist Leonard Paul. I have been looking at this cover  for about 8 months now and I have to admit that I have been avoiding reading the book. The man on the cover seems to know this and stares knowingly back at me. He is a Mi'kmaq warrior wearing a business suit. In my heart, I already know what is inside. Documented atrocities against the Mi'kmaq.

The quote at the top of my post sums up how I feel about this book. It is necessary in my journey, but it's going to be hard. Daniel Paul has done a tremendous job with telling this history. The book is simply excellent. Well written and researched. At this point, I am not into the whole of the atrocities, but Paul is painting the Mi'kmaq to be a particularly kind and  trusting people with great respect for God, mother earth and their fellow man. The Europeans they encounter are a completely different species. This tears at me a bit, because I am a bit of both. I will continue my reading. I know that these chapters in history are directly related to the Bras d'Or Indians and I think I will find some of my answers here. I will keep you posted.

On a completely different note, I received in the mail today a book by Mi'kmaq poet Rita Joe. The book is called "Lnu and Indians We're Called." I have never read a poem by Rita Joe before today, but let me say that there is a reason she is celebrated. I read the whole book because I couldn't stop. I know I will come back to it many times and look for more of her work.

What I love, is that despite the hardships of her life, the poems are so optimistic and hopeful. This is the voice of a survivor. Many of these poems brought tears to my eyes. She is so clear. They are beautifully written and resonate with me. Perhaps more so because of my journey to discover this part of myself.  If only there weren't copyright laws, I'd be sharing one with you now! One that struck me particularly was called I Do Not Like Hearing The Wrong. It fits with what I am writing about today. Reading her work was a happy ending to a long day.

As chance would have it,  my copy of Rita Joe's book is a signed copy.  I take this to be a sign from above to keep going. The journey's good!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you wrote this blog. I'm really enjoying reading it; and I feel that it legitamizes my feelings, as I'm just embarking on this journey as well. In my case, though, my Mi'kmaq ancestry is so far in the past that I feel like a fraud for claiming it. In fact it's my fear that "real" Mi'kmaq will be offended by my need to learn more. After all, I've lived happily as an Acadian (from Southwest Nova Scotia) for 46 years... I know the Acadians turned their backs on the Mi'kmaq when they no longer needed them... and that makes me feel like my skin couldn't be any whiter... I look forward to reading the rest of your blog entries.