August 09, 2011

Too many honorary chiefs

To be an honorary "Chief"

By Trevor GreyeyesI've noticed two stories this summer where non-First Nations people were acknowledged with the honorary title of "Chief."

The most recent comes out of Thunder Bay where Rev. Larry Kroker of St. Anne’s Church was honoured for his years of work with local First Nation communities with the title of honorary chief.

Earlier this year in July, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was also duly honoured with the same title by the Blood Tribe in Alberta.

I wondered why do some First Nations give out the honorary title of chief. Wouldn't it be just as important to be recognized with say an honorary citizenship with a First Nation? You know "adopted by the tribe" as Barack Obama was honoured with by a Crow Tribe during the US presidential campaign in 2008.

Maybe it's just in Canada where everyone dreams of being a chief but, for heaven's sake, who wants to be an Indian--of course, I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

And here is something else odd to note that under Indian Act band election codes, you can run for chief and be a chief without being from that community or even being a First Nations citizen.

It's like Johnny colonizer, in reference to the Johnny-come-lately Canadians to Turtle Island, dreamed that, yes, one day that Johnny too could become chief.

That kind of thinking though comes loaded with all sorts of racist assumptions that a white person can lead a group of Indians because the colonizing culture is superior to the First Nations culture.
Comment:  If I were a tribe, I might grant honorary citizenships, but I wouldn't name honorary chiefs. That's like saying a stranger is equivalent to a duly elected leader with a lifetime of cultural experience.

As Greyeyes indicates, it seems like pandering to the Great White Father. Like saying, "We're so naive and parochial that any white man can step in and lead our tribe."

For more on the subject, see Obama Joins Crow Nation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

During World War II, Stalin was made an honorary chief. Seriously.