Indian status: Why are we still hanging on? – Globe and Mail

Sept 6, 2016

Hayden King is Anishinaabe from Beausoleil First Nation on Gchi’mnissing in Huronia, Ont. He teaches in the School of Public Policy at Carleton University in Ottawa.

After my daughter was born, her first official document, before a health card or long-form birth certificate, was an Indian status card. There were few reasons to rush, but I somehow needed her identity confirmed in lamination. This, despite the knowledge that status is an artificial designation created by a colonial government to eradicate Indians, in a legal sense at least.

So, as I think about whether status is still important in 2016, I struggle to untangle the contradictions between the assimilatory aims of status and my eagerness to sign another generation up. Settler pre-occupation with defining “the other” in the Americas reaches back to Columbus and the question of how to legally steal land and enslave New World black and brown people. Theologians decided that faith in God was the mark of the civilized, which conferred rights to land and life. Coincidentally, no faith could be found in the Americas. Indian meant heretic.

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