INDG 2011 Chapter Notes - Chapter chapter 6 : William Commanda, Wampum, Culvert
Course CodeINDG 2011
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Over the past 400 years the Omamiwinini (Algonquin) people have struggled to maintain their long standing
relationship with the valley of the Kiji Sibi (Ottawa River) due to colonialism and other structures that come with it
The Algonquin people have been pushed to the outskirts of their land so that the Europeans can profit from the
The Algonquin people are reviving some of their old traditions as a way to resist colonialism and restore their
relationship to the Natural World.
These traditions will move them forward and help keep them inline with themselves
At no point was the Algonquin's land sold or surrender to the Crown, but yet the federal and provincial
governments operate from that land on a daily basis
Ardoch Algonquin First Nation also maintains a traditional council called Ka-pishkawandemin, which meets on a
regular basis to deal with internal and external issues of importance to the community.
The council is currently composed of nine men and women who range in age from thirty -five to eighty years
old. As a governance system, Ka-pishkawandemin enables all community members to have a voice in the
issues affecting the community and there fore a stake in striving to reach consensus on difficult issues.
The council works to reach balanced decisions through careful discussion and dialogue in which all families
participate through the Family Heads they have appointed to represent them.
Their lands are being appropriated and the resources are going to settler societies
The land has been illegally taken from the indigenous people and they endure wave after wave of colonial policies
that aim to eliminate them from the consciousness of Canada
The policies put forth by the canadain government has impacted the Algonquin people so that they know they
should feel a connection to the land, but they do not actually feel the connection any more
The Algonquin people wanted to build a centre for their teachings and culture but the MNR said they couldn’t do
that because it was not their land.
The Algonquin felt that it is still their land and were disgusted that the MNR was trying to give them land
that they never legally owned. The Algonquin felt it was never the MNR's land to give to them in the first
At some point the MNR in Bancroft was trying to "give back" the part of the land to the Algonquin people in the
form of a land-permit and they found this absolutely "disturbing"
On the surface, this gesture was interpreted as a sign of good faith by community members who wanted to
heal the rift in the relationship. Other community members doubted the sincerity of the MNR and came to
the conclusion that the gifts were probably contingent on recognizing MNR jurisdiction policy, and process.
To them, the gifts were nothing more than carrots that were being dangled out in front of them to lure them
in, creating a false sense of security and trust.
One of the more subtle approaches attempted by the MNR during this period was an offer of a free culvert for
seepage, and truckloads of logs for the centre, valued at over S 10,000.
Prior to 1995 there was a policy document titled "Guidelines for responding to aboriginal emergencies"
The Algonquin people feel that they cannot trust the MNR and will not accept gifts from them as they think the
gifts are just a ploy to gain control over the Algonquin people and land
The people also performed ceremonies on the site to ask for spiritual guidance
The site at Pine lake where they wanted to build the centre underwent a year long observation period so they
could see if there are any risks based on weather/ seasons and otherwise.
This upset near by cottagers because they were unaware of this and felt they had the right to "interfere"
with community plans because the site is close to a boat launch
The Algonquin people decided that the site was a good place to build the center, so they drew up some plans and
started to clear trees from the land.
The Algonquin community was met with very racist remarks and most people objected to the idea of the
The community held a meeting for the cottagers and other residents of the area so they could reveal the site plan
and to answer to questions
The Algonquin community then had to follow an environmental assessment process that would be under
direction of the Ministry
The cottagers banned together and complained to the MNR and the Township of North Frontenac
The township wanted the Algonquin people to have a permit to build on the land but the Algonquin people said
"no permits [will be] taken out to build on land that was already under Omaniwinini jurisdiction"
Some Algonquin people wanted to work with the MNR but others were absolutely against it.
This kind of friction and conflict within the council was very uncommon and led people away from the 7
Grandfather Teachings that normally provide guidance
Eventually, the council came to a decision to not work with the MNR but to hire a biologist to survey the and as
well and say that the site is fine to work on
Thus, allowing the MNR or the township to dictate and guide their interactions with the land is not culturally
sustainable and could jeopardize their survival.
Therefore, that interference should be limited if not stopped altogether.
Since Omamiwinini people are components of the land and Natural World. It could be the case that their survival
is dependent on the continued use of the land in culturally appropriate ways.
These principles for relating are all around us in cultural documents such as wampum belts that were passed
between Omamiwinini people and the French and English. Linking them in relationships that had corresponding
The Friendship Belt, for instance under the care of Omamiwinini Elder William Commanda, dates back to 1700 and
contains three figures, representing the French on one end, the English on the other end, and Omamiwinini
people in the centre.
All of this was said by the author (It is
not from my own opinions or ideas)
Week 2 Readings - Chapter 6 - pp 111-126 - Due Sept 18
September 18, 2017
INDG 2011 A.. A02 Page 1
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