"A Lament for Confederation" a speech by Chief Dan George in 1967 - APTN NewsAPTN News

“A Lament for Confederation” a speech by Chief Dan George in 1967



 

APTN National News

How long have I known you, Oh Canada? A hundred years? Yes, a hundred years. And many, many seelanum more. And today, when you celebrate your hundred years, Oh Canada, I am sad for all the Indian people throughout the land.

For I have known you when your forests were mine; when they gave me my meat and my clothing. I have known you in your streams and rivers where your fish flashed and danced in the sun, where the waters said ‘come, come and eat of my abundance.’ I have known you in the freedom of the winds. And my spirit, like the winds, once roamed your good lands.

But in the long hundred years since the white man came, I have seen my freedom disappear like the salmon going mysteriously out to sea. The white man’s strange customs, which I could not understand, pressed down upon me until I could no longer breathe.

When I fought to protect my land and my home, I was called a savage. When I neither understood nor welcomed his way of life, I was called lazy. When I tried to rule my people, I was stripped of my authority.

My nation was ignored in your history textbooks _ they were little more important in the history of Canada than the buffalo that ranged the plains. I was ridiculed in your plays and motion pictures, and when I drank your fire-water, I got drunk _ very, very drunk. And I forgot.

Oh Canada, how can I celebrate with you this centenary, this hundred years? Shall I thank you for the reserves that are left to me of my beautiful forests? For the canned fish of my rivers? For the loss of my pride and authority, even among my own people? For the lack of my will to fight back? No! I must forget what’s past and gone.

Oh God in heaven! Give me back the courage of the olden chiefs. Let me wrestle with my surroundings. Let me again, as in the days of old, dominate my environment. Let me humbly accept this new culture and through it rise up and go on.

Oh God! Like the thunderbird of old I shall rise again out of the sea; I shall grab the instruments of the white man’s success _ his education, his skills, and with these new tools I shall build my race into the proudest segment of your society. Before I follow the great chiefs who have gone before us, Oh Canada, I shall see these things come to pass.

I shall see our young braves and our chiefs sitting in the houses of law and government, ruling and being ruled by the knowledge and freedoms of our great land. So shall we shatter the barriers of our isolation. So shall the next hundred years be the greatest in the proud history of our tribes and nations.

 

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One Response to ““A Lament for Confederation” a speech by Chief Dan George in 1967”

  1. josepperez01@yahoo.ca'
    Josep Lluis Perez de Arce July 1, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

    Yes I do agree fully and totally with the Chief Dan George. His speech, after 100 years of Canadian history, is a reminder of what the British have done in this country and America. If you wish to destroy a Nation, as the British, the Spaniards and the French did, you only have to do is destroy its language, its culture, its customs and its history.

    When I came to Canada in 1976 I never was told of the existence of the First Nations, never I found in Canadian history books the history, culture, language and customs of the indigenous people. It’s time that Canada put the history of this Country not thru the eyes of the Conquerors but thru the eyes of the First Nations.

    Josep Lluís Perez de Arce
    President
    Catalan Center of Toronto