urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
Not to inflate the last post too much, here's Amnesty's report: Stolen Sisters: Discrimination and violence against Indigenous women in Canada, which I unaccountably forgot to link.

And, yeah, similar factors are pointed out:
According to a Canadian government statistic, young Indigenous women are five times more likely than other women of the same age to die as the result of violence.

Indigenous women have long struggled to draw attention to violence within their own families and communities. Canadian police and public officials have also long been aware of a pattern of racist violence against Indigenous women in Canadian cities – but have done little to prevent it.

The pattern looks like this:

* Racist and sexist stereotypes deny the dignity and worth of Indigenous women, encouraging some men to feel they can get away with acts of hatred against them.

* Decades of government policy have impoverished and broken apart Indigenous families and communities, leaving many Indigenous women and girls extremely vulnerable to exploitation and attack.

* Many police forces have failed to institute necessary measures – such as training, protocols and accountability mechanisms – to ensure that officers understand and respect the Indigenous communities they serve. Without such measures, police too often fail to do all they can to ensure the safety of Indigenous women and girls whose lives are in danger.

Deep rooted patterns of racism and discrimination in Canadian society have contributed to this violence in a number of ways. These include pushing Indigenous women into situations of increased vulnerability to violence, denying many Indigenous women adequate protection of police and the justice system, and sending a message to Indigenous and non-Indigenous men alike that they can likely get away with acts of violence against Indigenous women...

It is also clear from these stories that all Indigenous women – whether or not they have ever had involvement with what police and politicians sometimes label “high risk lifestyles” – may be targeted for violence or denied protection from violence simply because they are Indigenous women. The 1991 Manitoba Justice Inquiry concluded that racism and sexism intersect in dangerous stereotypes of Indigenous women as sexually “available” to men.

I cannot readily find stats on how many of these crimes are committed by non-Indigenous men, unlike the 86% figure for the US.

But, in the previous post, we're talking about more than 500 missing and murdered women, "half of them since the year 2000...the equivalent of 18,000 missing and murdered non-aboriginal women". And this is still getting treated as a few isolated cases.

ETA: See also Jessica Yee's Making the connections: Sexual Violence in Native Communities, now that I've located the link. She goes into how little attention this usually gets, and asks some excellent questions:
HOW is it that you don’t know?...WHY don’t the women in our Native communities measure up in priority?...WHAT are YOU going to do with this information now that you know about it?
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
I felt like I needed a bath in Clorox after making the mistake of reading some comments on a commentary piece by Renee Martin at the Guardian, "On Canada's 'Highway of Tears': Violence against indigenous women is not only a crime, but a reflection of Canada's refusal to repudiate its colonial history".

Yeah, I usually avoid comments on larger news sites. I almost wish I had this time. I have noticed hostility before whenever colonialism is brought up, but the attempts at derailing and nastiness on this one are something special. (Throw together misogyny, willful ignorance*, and enduring colonial racism, and that's not really a surprise.) They seem bent on proving her main point:
These murders and disappearances will only be seen as the great loss that they are when Canadians acknowledge the value each indigenous woman has.

The way defensiveness and general arsiness overrides any sense of humanity is probably what bothered me the most. No colonialist attitudes there! *headdesk*

An example of the kind of internal sense even the not-so-blatantly-trolly ones make:
The cases mention raise several points for me -

1) Truck drivers and the roads they operate on are inextricably linked with the murder of lone, vulnerable women. This is true the world over.

2) Women from ethnic minorities are more likely to be poor and therefore more likely to be victims of this type of crime either because they are sex workers or because they are put in position where the only means of transport avaiable is hitch-hiking. Again, this is true the world over.

3) The Highway of Tears does not demonstrate Canada's "failure to stem the tide of violence that aboriginal women face". Rather, these are isolated and extreme cases. I'm sure most of the violence committed against these women is perpetrated by partners and family members who are themselves indigenous.

4) There is no clear, tenable link between these crimes and Canada's "colonial past". That's a leap too far.

Yeah. You get a lot of poor, desperate indigenous (now minority) women spontaneously appearing out of thin air to get killed by their Own Kind, or inevitably by truck drivers, in some kind of economic and social vacuum--no colonialism required. And that was from one of the less blatantly trolly comments.

And this isn't even the Daily Fail.


* Like the bit that says:
According to the US Department of Justice, in at least 86 per cent of the reported cases of rape or sexual assault against American Indian and Alaska Native women, survivors report that the perpetrators are non-Native men. [similar holds for stalking, etc.- U.]

Sexual violence against Indigenous women is the result of a number of factors including a history of widespread and egregious human rights violations against Indigenous peoples in the USA. Indigenous women were raped by settlers and soldiers in many infamous episodes including during the Trail of Tears and the Long Walk. Such attacks were not random or individual; they were tools of conquest and colonization. The underlying attitudes towards Indigenous peoples that supported these human rights violations committed against them continue to be present in society and culture in the USA. They contribute to the present high rates of sexual violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and help to shield their attackers from justice.

Those factors don't somehow vanish once you cross the Canadian border. And with the hateful denialist shit that people feel like it's OK to say, no damned wonder the situation is the way it is.
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
I sometimes read Dan Casey's blog at the Roanoke Times site. He's gotten on my nerves several times before, but nothing like this.

He runs a weekly photo caption contest, and last week's was a doozy.

A photo of Governor Bob McDonnell with tribal representatives in regalia, by Michaele White, Governor's Photographer. Said representatives' names and offices were not even specified, unlike old Smirky Bob.

This appears to be the annual ceremonial rent payment to the Governor of Virginia, which has been going on for 300+ years. It started out specifying beaver pelts--at about the time of the Beaver Wars (which did spill down into Virginia)--but is more likely these days to consist of deer and turkeys. The Virginian-Pilot article took an interesting approach to why it's continued:
As the settlement grew stronger, tributes became more symbolic – a sign of a tribe’s submission to the new government. After a while, there was no need for that, either. The tribes were broken, no longer a concern.

There’s every chance the annual tribute would have ended long ago if it weren’t for the Indians themselves. They kept delivering.

I can't find the book right now, but there was an interesting story in We're Still Here: Contemporary Virginia Indians Tell Their Stories, from a man whose father had been partly responsible for making the ceremonial tribute when hunting was bad, IIRC in the 1930s. Both deer and turkeys were still very scarce from earlier overhunting (not so much by the "Powhatan" folks, much as they've been blamed; there weren't that many of them left!)--and there was also a drought. That year, working together, tribal members couldn't get any turkeys or deer in time. So they ended up buying a few symbolic turkeys from a farmer, out of (very understandable) concern that otherwise they'd be chucked off their land for not paying the ridiculous and humiliating symbolic rent for the first time in at least 250 years. It always served the purpose of displaying "submission to the new government"--at said government's insistence. And since there is still a Governor of Virginia, even if the larger government has changed, those terms still hold. Only one side is allowed to break treaties.

Then there are the recognition issues, common east of the Mississippi: no treaties with the U.S. government means no basis for federal recognition, without an act of Congress. The British Crown does not count. From Paper runs series on Virginia tribal recognition:
The tribes were the first to greet the European settlers at Jamestown. They also signed a treaty in 1677 with the Queen of England and have maintained ties to the nation.

But the tribes remain unrecognized by the U.S. A bill that passed the House last week and is working its way through the Senate could finally change the situation.

“We were here first,” Kenneth Branham, the chief of the Monacan Nation, told the paper. “We should be holding meetings to decide whether to recognize the European races here – not the other way around. It just really galls you.”

The tribes are mainly concerned about federal funding and acquiring land. The bill ensures they can follow the land-into-trust process but contains some limits. It also bars the tribes from engaging in gaming under federal or state law.

That bit of extortion ("we'll only give you recognition if you agree to give up some of your legal rights") is a pretty serious sovereignty erosion, popular as those clauses are these days. Also, that was written last year; I ran across another article from last month: Pamunkey tribe seeks federal recognition (and no doubt will be waiting for a very long time):
While the Pamunkey are seeking recognition from the federal government through an administrative process, six other Virginia tribes are seeking federal recognition through an act of Congress. They are the Chickahominy Tribe, Chickahominy Indian Tribe Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock Tribe, the Monacan Tribe and the Nansemond Tribe...An eighth tribe, the Mattaponi, which also has a reservation, has not sought formal federal recognition.

The state-recognized tribes have very, very little of their original land left. There are only two fragments of the original Crown trust reservations left, the Mattaponi and Pamunkey--and eight state-recognized tribes. (The Tutelo were part of the same federation as the Monacans, but did not give the British diplomatic recognition. So most of the western part of the state is screwed that way. There are more than eight remaining nations in Virginia.) It's a very galling situation anyway, especially having gotten the much-vaunted first permanent English settlement in North America. Camping on the "Powhatan Confederation" folks was the very beginning of the British Empire.

OK, maybe a bit heavy on the background, but some knowledge is necessary to get the full effect of the fail.

The winning entry for that caption contest?

Indian # 1: We make big wampum from casino one day…
Indian # 2: We make even bigger wampum when we go into liquor store business…
Indian # 3: Shhhhh! Don’t say anything until he’s finished signing…

by Elena

In case anyone was wondering just how popular ignorance and racism are, there you go. (Liquor stores?!) I don't expect much these days, but it was an extra slap in the face, coming from a self-consciously liberal columnist. No, we're just not real people. The comments are about what you'd expect.

And just in time for Thanksgiving--'tis the season, I suppose...

I ran across that the other night, and my eyes are still trying to bulge out of my head, looking at it again. I'm not so much pissed off at Dan Casey (though I am that, too), as freshly appalled at the general public levels of smugness and contempt. And it's not like Roanoke is somehow devoid of Native people.

September 2011

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