Monday, August 4, 2008

Sacred Artifacts

Today, I'm going with my friend Caroline to visit the dig site where the new Museum of Human Rights will be situated, in Winnipeg. Her brother is in charge of the Archaeologists working on the dig. It's kind of neat being friends with an archaeologist.

Interestingly, the site crew have been visited by a rather hostile gentleman. He claims that they are disturbing the sacred artifacts of the Indigenous people who, historically, used The Forks as a burial ground. Perhaps my white bread point of view creates a bias in me, but last time I looked, the reason the crew is there, is to dig up, preserve and make sure the museum doesn't destroy any of those precious artifacts in building this monument to Human Rights & Human Suffering.

It turns out the complainant isn't even Native/Aboriginal. He is, however, an Indigenous South American. So, he feels justified in screaming at the white man for the destruction of Indigenous holiness. Whether language or cultural barriers prevent this man from understanding the work that these Archaeologists sweat and toil over, or whether the bee in his bonnet is so firmly rooted that he's beyond reasoning with, it's sad that he refuses the invitation in to witness the preservation of Indigenous artifacts & history, and needs to be removed, kicking and screaming, by Security.

Part of me understands why he feels he needs to fight. Since time immemorial, land, people and objects have the been conquered by those who suppress & oppress. Consider that history is written by those 'winners'; that is, has been written by the White Man. I'm pretty white bred (bit of a mutt) but somehow I don't feel like our history makes me a winner. Surely, the stories as we've learned them only tell one side of the story? Being in Manitoba at the moment, I'm thinking, specifically, of Louis Riel. It depends who you ask....was he a traitor? Or, a hero?

Such is the paradox in never knowing whether to be proud or ashamed that I'm so white.

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