So then who am I, if not Indian? Do I remain the young woman whose grandfather fought for the formation of the Qalipu Nation so that I could be a Status Indian… After that very nation fought to take my Status away? Or am I just one in one hundred some odd thousand striving to be “Canada’s Next Top Pretendian”?Read Amy Hull's My Days as an Indian
I received a letter from INAC stating as of spring 2018, I will no longer be a Status Indian citing that I do not visit, communicate, or live in my community and that I don't practice my culture. This was arbitrarily and ignorantly decided by members of INAC and the band council based on a 13 point system. I feel outraged, betrayed, cheated, and desperate as a post-secondary student who will no longer have access to funding. My grandfather fought his whole life for the legal recognition of Newfoundland Mi'kmaq especially after confederation in 1949 when Joey Smallwood declared there was no Indigenous people in Newfoundland. My grandfather joined the spirit world in January 2011 and our fight for recognition was finally won in November, 2011.
I feel extremely misrepresented in the media as my band is often portrayed as every blonde-haired blue-eyed Newfoundlander that came out of the woodwork when it was time to register under the Indian Act. We're often represented to the greater Indigenous community by these people breaking ceremonial protocol and yelling nonsense about "Indian rights" on NTV news. Not to mention everyone including the chief pronounces the name of our band incorrectly. This slam poem is my revolt.
I performed this slam poem at a Canadian Roots Exchange fundraiser after which another member of my band approached me and asked why I was so upset about having my "piece of plastic" revoked. My soon to be invalid "piece of plastic" is my grandfather's legacy for me in this world.
My Days as an Indian
Who am I, if not Mi’kmaw?
Have I been lying or have I been lied to my whole life
Because this whole time I was under the impression
That being Mi’kmaw was enough for me to be considered Mi’kmaw.
Alas, my days as an Indian were short-lived because apparently Indian Status can be revoked as easily as one, two... thirteen!
So then who am I, if not Indian?
Do I remain the young woman whose grandfather fought for the formation of the Qalipu Nation so that I could be a Status Indian…
After that very nation fought to take my Status away?
Or am I just one in one hundred some odd thousand striving to be “Canada’s Next Top Pretendian”?
(Who should really be giving back their Indspire money and making a public apology...)
Is my identity based on blood? I have blood.
Is it based on knowledge? I’ve got that too.
Is it based on connection to community? Let me show you my birth certificate.
Is it based on money and corporate interest?
And why is it that those who tormented my brown Mi’kmaw body growing up now get to be card-toting Indians when all I’m left with is the memory of my grandfather slowly dying of cancer?
In which nation is that fair?
Not in mine...anymore.
The punchline here is that almost all of those kids have told me to my Mi’kmaw face that they only applied for Status to get money they think is free.
Now I know this might be offensive to those of you with multi-coloured craft feathers in your hair.
But I get it. My great-great grandmothers were raped too.
They had their languages beaten out of them too.
What concerns me is that all of a sudden in 2011 after my grandfather’s death I stopped being represented as a Mi’kmaw.
I started being represented as a white person with Mi’kmaq ancestry...
Not that my treaty rights had been taken seriously previously.
So then who will my children be, if they’ve been kicked out of their First Nation before even having been born?
To my great-great-grandchildren will I simply be a story of an “Indian Princess” in the family?
Will my bloodline disappear into the lines on my face?
Because I guess I was wrong this whole time
And I can’t be a Mi’kmaw if white Newfoundlanders don't accept me as one.
So I can’t tell if it’s my head spinning or if it’s my grandfather spinning in his grave
Because now by the Indian Act’s standards I am neither a 6-1 nor a 6-2
But by my own, I am a 5’1 Mi’kmaw woman
And I defy those who who claim my indigeneity depends on my geographical location
Because I am down here in Toronto getting my education
Now, without a community to bring it back to.
So now who am I?
Kitigan Zibi Algonquin First Nation
Six Nations of the Grand River Territory
Spectrum Community School, Victoria, BC