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1 Duran and Duran use this term to define the psychic wound inflicted collectively on each Indigenous people, beginning with the occupation of their lands by settler society. Since that initial wounding, the emerging mythology, dreams, and culture of the people express the wound, which is also manifested in the social and health problems of the people over generations of colonization (45).
2 Westcott and Garroutte point out a fundamental difference between the representational “narrative,” or set of cultural assumptions with which story is approached, in Pierre Bourdieu’s terms, and the “narrative” of Indigenous sacred stories. The representational story reaches out only to other humans; all representations are mediated; and stories exercise no powers over material reality. Yet Garroutte and Westcott point out that Indigenous sacred stories establish links with non-human beings, conduct humans to an unmediated reality, and literally heal the human body (in addition to the mind and soul) (73-74).
3 Richard Thatcher uses statistical evidence to prove that fewer Indigenous people drink regularly than those of other populations (23) and that more Indigenous people than others are abstinent (24), but that Indigenous people drink more when they drink (22). Thatcher argues that the excesses of a relatively small group have been generalized to the entire population.
4 Cindy Blackstock notes that the state’s depredations on Indigenous families continue: the number of Indigenous children now in some form of state care is three times the number it was at the height of residential schools (165); one in ten First Nations children is now in alternative care compared to one in two hundred for non-First Nations; and reserves receive 22% less funding for child care than other Canadian jurisdictions (168).
5 Ann LauraStoler argues that the definition of “empire” should not be “based on a British imperial steady-state” model but on “a notion of empire that puts movement and oscillation at the center” (9). She argues that “domestic colonialism” or “internal colonialism” are terms that usefully define different manifestations of empire (12).
6 Residential schools were rife with evidence of biopolitics: in addition to the sexual abuse, the forcible removal from the home; the prevention of parental visits; the corporal punishment, solitary confinement, and regimentation; the haircuts that made boys look like porcupines and girls like china dolls (Alexie); the replacement of Indigenous names with numbers or anglicized, and usually Christianized, names; the uniform Caucasian clothing, sometimes made by the students from recycled army uniforms; the inadequate diet for students and the sumptuous one for staff; the excessive labour to compensate for inadequate funding; the mortality rate that was reputed to be as high as 50% (Inconvenient 120); and the inadequate medical care.
7 The text here paraphrases the words of the architect of the American residential school system: Ward Churchill records that Captain Richard Henry Pratt, superintendent of the prototype Indian Industrial School at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, publicly declaimed in 1895 that the goal of the system was to “kill the Indian, save the man” in every pupil (14). Duncan Campbell Scott, deputy superintendent general of the Indian Department in Canada, stated before a parliamentary committee in 1920 that the Canadian system had the same objective, saying, “I want to get rid of the Indian problem.” He declared that he hoped to do so by closing the Indian Department and absorbing all Indians into the body politic (Milloy 46).
8 It is important to affirm a general model of Indigenous maleness that contrasts with colonial hypermasculinity but also important to keep the discussion indeterminate, fluid, inclusive, and open. Thus, as part of a general model, I propose only the fundamental Indigenous value of responsibility to family and kinship networks.
9 In The Manitous: The Spiritual World of the Ojibway (2001), Basil Johnston notes that the word manitous means not only “mystery” but also “spiritual, mystical, supernatural, godlike or spiritlike, quiddity, essence” (xxi). In Ojibway Ceremonies, he again notes the evocative power of this word (30).
10 In 1991, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate made their apology, and in February 2014, shortly before the final hearings of the TRC, the Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories offered theirs. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI expressed “sorrow” for the “deplorable” treatment of students at Catholic-run residential schools, but this was not an apology or a statement of responsibility, and there has been no centralized apology issued by the Catholic Church.
The narrator introduces himself as Saul Indian Horse. He’s a descendant of the Fish Clan, a tribe of Indigenous people from northern Ojibway, a region of North America. The Fish Clan lives near the Winnipeg River in Canada. For centuries, they’ve lived in places that the white man, or “Zhaunagush,” doesn’t go. The people of the Fish Clan have long, straight hair and deep brown eyes. Their legends describe how they emerged from Mother Earth’s womb. When Saul was still a child, the Fish Clan still talked in terms of legends like this. Nowadays, however, they don’t.
Saul Indian Horse, the protagonist and narrator of the book, is a member of an Indigenous Canadian tribe. He emphasizes his pride in his people, but he suggests that the Fish Clan aren’t what they used to be. During Saul’s lifetime, the Canadian government’s systematic mistreatment of tribes like the Fish Clan has led to the deterioration of their once rich and vibrant culture. This is the tragedy to which Saul subtly alludes in this passage.