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Re: <nettime> The Messy, Dirty, Silly Interplay of Art and Activis Artiv
tobias c. van Veen on Thu, 15 Nov 2007 10:06:10 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The Messy, Dirty, Silly Interplay of Art and Activis Artivistic 2007

dear Ben:

I hear what you are trying to say, I think, though I wonder
if 'critique' -- this Eurocentric form of precision but also,
unfortunately, smugness -- is what is needed when *thinking*
indigenous rights -- at least in the context which Artivistic
addressed, which is not only Canadian, but French-Canadian.

Let me now not engage you in debate (what's the point? I don't like
Nettime 'debates') but rather express a 'critical' frustration at
suggestions of this kind that would ignore the context in which this
exchange is taking place.

In Quebec, First Nations are often suppressed as first peoples in the
political mythology that prioritizes the founding status of the 'pur
laine' franE7aises. In Separatist arguments that call for the right of
secession from Canada, the right of First Nations peoples to secede
from Quebec as a 'nation'(or Canada) is usually disregarded if not
denied insofar as it would claim most if not all of the territory of
'French' Quebec. To this day the Separatist argument merely recognises
the status of First Nations as first peoples without recognising that,
in this context of right to secession, the First Nations have the most
established right of all parties to leave the Federation -- and take
vast territory with them. In the current context, the colonial powers
(French/English) have a right, apparently, to fight out their pithy
yet disastrous battle for power in the Northern Americas while the
First Nations -- which host a multitude of perspectives and groups,
from the Inuit to the Cree to the Mohawk, among others, in Quebec --
do not.

Well, it's very easy to 'critique the concept of indigenous' but if
the 'critiqued now-non-indigenous peoples' aren't around to hear
what you're saying, you're talking into rareified air... words to
nothing. Head up North to Nunavut, chew some whale blubber, then
begin talking about how the 'indigenous' peoples merely have 'beliefs
about themselves' as being the first peoples of the area, and that,
consequently, the mining companies and military installations --
increasing as the polar ice melts and the NorthWest passage comes
under territorial dispute as a potential economic thoroughfare -- have
the right to overrun the hunting grounds and territory of the Inuit.

You're liable to be shot, and I probably wouldn't be surprised. Two
RCMP officers have recently been shot in 'isolated' communities of the

It is intriguing also to see 'indigenous' clarified for all First
Nations people as 'a belief about themselves'. How does this relate to
the history of organised colonial genocide in the Americas?

Isn't 'critique' a mere 'belief of themselves' of the academic tribe?
We should study this tribe that goes around telling other peoples
that their territorial disputes and histories of oppression are

Well, thanks for the article. I get the point. I even hold it at,
perhaps, at various strata. But we are not in that strata here. For
my part, I would recommend reading up a little bit on the 1990 Oka
crisis in Quebec which pitted the Canadian army against Mohawk actions
to (forcefully) reclaim territory. It resulted in three deaths. I'd
also read up a bit on the history of 'aboriginal' rights in Canada,
at least the timeline, and the historic Nisga'a agreement of 2000
(in 'British' Columbia) that grants supranational status to Nisga'a
territory: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/pr/info/abr_e.html

Perhaps yelling a 'critique' of 'indigenous' status to the Mohawk
Warrior snipers would have set those 'beliefs' straight?


Apologies for being snip(p)y.

First, we all have to sit at the table. And the table might not be in
Ottawa (Canada's capital). It might not be even a table. The powers
that be might have to get down on hands and knees to enter a different
space. And in Canada, as strategic priority it would be 'racist' and
'colonialist' *not* to recognise the a priori rights of First Nations
to the territory. The first stage of deconstruction is reversal of
existing power politics. Only after this is strategically achieved can
one rethink the concept of 'indigenous' and put its force back into
the reconstituted & re-formed system. This might occur simultaneously
(reconceptualization & reversal) but -- when talking politics and not
texts -- it can only occur with the full participation of the peoples
whose 'beliefs' are not only under 'question', but still feel the
effects of historical violence as overdetermining their future.

-- tV

tobias c. van Veen -----------++++
http://www.quadrantcrossing.org --
McGill Communication & Philosophy

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