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· Encourage meaningful interaction with Elders from her community. Children can learn respect and wisdom from Elders.

· Support him to learn traditional stories and legends.

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· Provide her with books, videos, traditional games, dance and music that reinforce her traditional, family and daily life.

· Speak frankly to him about discrimination.

· Network with other Aboriginal parents, colleagues and Elders to share experiences and ideas.

A Native Narrative

The following is an excerpt from Thomas King’s  The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative, an analysis of the Federal Government’s attempt to eliminate status Indians. There is a link below to the whole narrative. This piece was produced for the CBC Massey Lectures and it illustrates a colonial practice of extinguishing status, rights and treaty agreements through the intergenerational “cut-off” clause.

In 1985, Bill C-31 amended the Indian Act, in part to redress the discrimination against Native women. Prior to C-31 any Indian woman who married a non-Indian or a non-Status man automatically lost her status, as did any children. The same was not true for Indian men. If they married a non-Indian or a non-status Indian, the (non Aboriginal) woman gained status, as did her children.

Bill C-31 allowed Native women who had lost status because of the Indian Act to regain status, along with their children. And in that respect, the Bill was a great success.

Since the Act was amended in 1985, some hundred thousand Native people who were non-status because of the discriminatory provisions of the Indian Act have been able to regain their status. And if we look at that figure alone, it would appear that Bill C-31 is about the business of creating new Indians (as it were) rather than legislating us out of existence.

So, before Bill C-31, you could gain status or lose status through marriage depending on gender. After Bill C-31, no one could gain or lose status through marriage. You would suppose then that status is safe, protected by legislation, approved by the government, available to every treaty Indian in Canada.

Did I mention about appearances being deceiving? Status, as it is currently defined, is safe only as long as status Indians marry status Indians and their children marry status Indians. The minute a status Indian marries out of status, their children and their children’s children are at risk.

Because, as it turns out, while you can’t gain or lose status through marriage, your children can. And here’s how it works.

A status Indian marries a status Indian. They have two children, both of whom are status. One child marries a status person and the other child marries a non-status person. The children produced by the status/status couple are status. The children produced by the status/non-status couple are status.

Nothing amiss so far.

Now those children get married. The child from the status/status couple marries a status person and the child from the status/ non-status couple marries another non-status person. The children from the status/status/ status couple are status. The children from the status/ non-status/non-status couple are not. Even if everyone married full-blood Indians. Even though everyone has status great-grandparents.

It’s actually more fun than I’m making it, because within the category of status are two sub-categories called euphoniously enough six-ones and six-twos, referring, of course, to the sections of the legislation that create status. Six-one Indians are status and for legal purposes, are considered to be full-bloods even if they aren’t , while six-two Indians are status and for legal purposes are considered to be half-bloods even if they aren’t.

Now I won’t swear that this is absolutely accurate, but as I understand the effects of the Indian Act and Bill C-31 are as follows: Six-ones who marry six-ones produce six-one children. Six–ones who marry six-twos produce six-one children. Six-ones who marry non-status produce six-two children.

And six-twos who marry six-twos, or who marry non-status, produce non-status children. And those children can never, ever be status.

Now that’s a good trick.

But what the hell happened?

If we were in the United States, the answer would be blood quantum. But here in Canada we have what is called the “two generation cut-off clause.” Marry out of status for two generations, and the children from the last union are non-status.

Oh, you can continue to call yourself an Indian, but you can’t live on a reserve. You can continue to tell people that you’re Cree or Blackfoot or Ojibway or Mohawk, but you can’t vote in band elections. You can go to powwows, sing at drum dances, sell arts and crafts if you like, but you are no longer eligible for treaty benefits and neither are your children or their children or their children or their children right down to the end of time.

The two generation cut-off clause.

No need to send in the cavalry with guns blazing. Legislation will do just as nicely.

And right now about 50 percent of status Indians are marrying non-status folk. No one knows for sure how long it will take, but according to John Borrows and Leroy Little Bear, two of Canada’s leading Aboriginal scholars and teachers, if this rate holds steady, in fifty to seventy-five years time there will be no status Indians left in Canada. We’ll still have the treaties and we’ll still have treaty land held in trust for status Indians by the government.

We just won’t have any Indians.

Legally, that is.

So, as the Ducks would say, what is it about us that you don’t like?

(King, 2003, “The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative.”)

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