Friday, February 12, 2016

Yesterday a Tear Came to my Eye

       Now there are certain things that can bring a tear to my eye. I don't look at it as a bother or a weakness. Sometimes a situation overwhelms me and a tear or two fall. Yesterday something happened that brought a tear.

      As you know I spent 5 years in the Arctic and I've often said it was a life changing experience. I left the Arctic in 1969 but it's always remained close to me so I've read widely and gained much more insight about the people and the land. Experiences that happened long ago suddenly take on more meaning or a different meaning.

     In all too many cases the Inuit were moved without their consent or awareness as to what was happening. The part I was involved in was moving children 1000's of miles away from their homes so that they could go to a residential school. Communities were moved to where the white man wanted to build a town. Families were moved to isolated areas because the white man thought there was better hunting and trapping in an area. Many Inuit were brought south for medical reasons and some died and were not returned to their loved ones . More than that it seemed that records of these people were lost. In my settlement a toddler was murdered and the body taken to the south for a coroner's inquest. A year later one of the leaders asked me where the baby's body was. I couldn't tell him. I did refer him to those responsible and I'm not sure what he found.

    Before the 1900's Inuit were taken on trading and exploring ships as workers or pilots. Sometimes these people were taken back to their homes and many times they were just dropped off before the vessel returned to Europe.

    Yesterday, I listened to a radio interview about Inuit who were taken to France and exhibited as if they were in a Zoo. People payed to see an Esquimaux. Inuit today remember these people and continue to feel the loss of family and ancestors. At one point in the interview the Inuk was unable to continue and tell the feelings of his loss. There was a TV documentary on this event on the Nature of T
hings.

    The interview continued and at the end the inuk said "nakuriik" Which is thankyou. That is when the tear dropped. To hear the language again from an inuktitut speaker brought back so much of what I had experienced.


42 comments:

  1. Such a poignant post. I have similar feelings when I think about how America treated its native peoples.

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    1. None of us are innocent when it comes to the treatment of our aboriginals.

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  2. This is history that most of us know nothing about, but you lived it.

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    1. I only lived the part of bringing aboriginal kids into residential schools. Yes, I did hear the language everyday and was familiar with some of it.

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  3. Remarkable that after all that went wrong that the language has survived.

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    1. The language has survived in some places where outside influence is less.

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  4. Interesting. I don't know much about the Intuit experience but like most natives, I'm sure we used and abused them.

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    1. The used is certainly more than true where traders persuaded them to trap and kept them indebted so they had to continue to trap.

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  5. I can imagine you lost a tear. The white men have not been kind to the native people all over the world with their discoveries of new countries. It is a knowledge we now realise far to late, but that is how history goes. Ages later we are more educated and realise the mistakes our ancestors have made. But the natives have suffered a lot.

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    1. You are certainly correct about aboriginal people the world over and how they were treated by colonizers.

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  6. We reap what we sow and that is sad. We have so much to pay for.

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    1. It costs us now and we get very little return as things have been so messed up.

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  7. They were terribly tough times. Stephen is right, poignant, indeed. Heart-breaking what was done by governments.

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    1. Not just governments but churches and traders.

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  8. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with our inhumanity to one another and to the other creatures we share the planet with. But for every misdeed and tragedy such as the treatment of the Inuit, there are people who are caring and filled with love. I hope the good outweighs the bad.

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    1. We've got a lot of catching up to do. Our religious background tells us that men have dominion over earth and we've made a mess of it.

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  9. How awful. This post breaks my heart. What terrible things these people have been put through. Shameful...

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    1. There are many examples of people brought to the south for several years and then taken back.

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  10. So Red, you will be pleased to hear my Nephew teaches in a native town and much more than language has survived. He has learned their language and been adopted by the Chief as one of their own. My family has flown out west to be a part of some cultural celebrations and most recently, the birth of my great nephew. I have great respect for you and great respect for my Nephew, who loves his life and his job. Have a wonderful day.

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    1. I did not learn the language but heard it daily. We need more people like your nephew.

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  11. Very sad Red. Such a tragedy for these people.

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    1. Yes , and some forms of this abuse are still going on.

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  12. Hi Red, This is indeed a sad story but it is a good example of why I enjoy Hiawatha House so much. We are not so likely to find the "sugar coated" stuff here, but more likely the real stuff ... the good and bad and everything in between. Thanks for sharing your stories ... they may be sad, like this one, but they are all interesting.

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    1. I like your term sugar coated. as a teacher you know that there were times sugar coating was necessary to get somebody to take the bait!!!

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  13. The Native Americans in the states were often swept under the rug.Their health and well being was never considered.

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    1. They would have been lucky to be swept under the rug. Most of them were just murdered.

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  14. You hit my emotions as I read this. You lived it my friend.

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    1. I didn't live it but lived in it.

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  15. It is tough and it was so wrong. I watch a lot of pbs documentary shows and they did share some of the plight of a group of people who really were not looking for help or improvement.

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    1. They really had a quite successful means of survival under very severe conditions. When that was altered then problems began.

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  16. my heart swelled reading your recap here. i cannot imagine...

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    1. Cannot imagine is a term that fits exactly.

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  17. A loignant story. I've read of s few stories like this where indigenous people were put on display & treated like curiousuties far from home. So sad.

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    1. And to think that it was a way to make money.

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  18. This account was as sad as what happened to slaves in the U.S. years ago. Unfortunately, some conditions still exist today in many places.

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    1. Slaves all over the world have been badly treated. Racism is alive and well.

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  19. Red when I volunteered at the Truth and Reconciliation, once my shift was done I went to sit in on some of the telling of stories. After one story I had to leave as tears were flowing down my face, the horror, abuse and horrendous experiences survivors have lived through is heart wrenching. I'm glad that many are now able to share their stories as there is healing in retelling the story, as painful as it may be.

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  20. You are part of that history, and if you don't tell the stories they will be lost. I cannot imagine how lonely those children were. You are a sensitive man Red and that is okay:)

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  21. It's hard to imagine that Europeans didn't realize how deeply and terribly they were affecting the native populations. I guess they just didn't care and saw themselves as the rightful inhabitants of the land. It's bizarre and puzzling. (And yes, as you said, in many ways such ideas are not dead -- though I think we're much more enlightened than we were!)

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  22. Red, I love what you say about shedding a tear or two being not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, the tears can show the power of emotions, the positive vibes. Your stories from the time that you spent in the Arctic are interesting and that period obviously meant a lot in your life. I can understand why this interview moved you to tears. As many other nations, the Inuit have had the disadvantage of being the minority that can't defy those in power…

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  23. This resembles so much of what went on in the U.S. as well. It's just so heartbreaking. There was a lot of injustice done to the Hawaiian people as well. So much of this kind of history is covered over and hidden or altered.

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  24. There is no end to the affronts, the indignities and the genocide we have wreaked on indigenous people around the world. In Canada the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is starting to lay bare the horrors of the residential school system - and much else. We should hang our heads in shame.

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