(July 2, 1950 - )
Sto:lo Author, Poet, Instructor [University of Toronto - INS] and Traditional Teacher First Nations House.
“During the colonization of Canada, both land and knowledge were appropriated—that is, expropriated without permission from the owners. On the one hand, we were separated from our knowledge, and on the other, Europeans were entitled to appropriate the knowledge associated with the use of items they purchased. For instance, Johnny Whiteman purchases squaw vine for his wife’s menopausal condition from Lee’s gramma. He copyrights the knowledge he acquires. Lee is sent to school and cannot access her gramma’s knowledge about squaw vine while away because she is separated from her gramma and someone else owns the copyright of the information. Gramma dies while Lee is in school. Johnny Whiteman publishes a book and includes the squaw vine knowledge of Lee’s gramma, and on her return from school. Lee learns that in order for her to access her gramma’s knowledge, she must purchase Johnny Whiteman’s book. She is purchasing from the appropriator access to her inheritance. Johnny Whiteman receives all royalties from the sale of the book, while Lee, the intended inheritor of the intellectual property of her gramma, must now contribute to the wealth Johnny Whiteman gained by having access to her gramma while she was separated from her. […]
For this appropriation to have been possible, the authority of the original people had to be abrogated and usurped by the official representatives (the Crown) of the would-be appropriators and Indigenous access to the knowledge and land severed; as well, the appropriated authority had to be rationalized and maintained. That is the very nature of how colonialism works.
The rationale for this complicated fraud was threefold: first, non-recognition of the validity of Indigenous governance; second, the infantilization of the oral nature of Indigenous knowledge as not deserving of the same recognition and protection as written knowledge; and third, the dismissal of the Indigenous relationship to the land as non-ownership and non-civilized—that is, non-private property. Private property is the foundation of citizenship and civilization in European society, and intellectual property is an extension of private property. While the power of our names, our stories, and our songs is what our inheritance is about.”
Excerpt from "My Conversations with Canadians"
(Book Thug, 2017).