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Letter: Cartoon works to advance “assimilationist propaganda”


Letter to the Editor







Dear Editor:
Re: Cartoon by Rank Comix, May 2011, Windspeaker.
While we obviously disagree on the voting question, this is not something that bothers me as I know that I stand with most Natives in my views (check the statistics). I have no problem being disagreed with in public and critiqued from a reasoned perspective. It’s a part of being in politics.

On that basis, the [cartoon] fails because everyone knows taxes are forced on people (including every First Nation person who works off reserve in Canada and all American Indians), whereas voting in Canadian elections is a political choice that [we] make. There’s a big difference between the two that is obvious to everyone but you.

I know from previous experience as a contributor that you are a poseur Native newspaper, but I would never have expected you to stoop to the level of right-wing journalists who twist images and misquote people to support their editorial positions.

Here are the direct quotes from the article on voting posted on my Web site, including the only time I use the word hypocritical, which you focused on in your cartoon:
“An Indian giving a vote to a political candidate in a Canadian election is the same thing as giving an “OK,” and smiling high five to the whole system that’s been created to control us and take away our rights. If one chooses to validate their rule over us in this way, it becomes hypocritical to claim distinct nationhood as “First Nations,” treaty Indians or Indigenous peoples.”

“Indian people who vote in Canadian elections are not consciously betraying principles, but vote simply because they have not considered all of the implications of the act.”

This is quite a different point of view towards Natives who vote than the words you ascribe to me in your cartoon. I never called Natives who vote hypocrites nor said that they are contributing to our oppression.

Being an advocate and advancing Native issues requires being honest and showing respect even in debate with those people you disagree with. Your publication of this cartoon demonstrates that you are more interested in advancing assimilationist propaganda than engaging Native issues with integrity.

Dr. Taiaiake Alfred

Editor’s Note: Rank Comix is the creation of the talented Adam Martin, a Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory who lives in Regina, SK. His cartoons are generally motivated by news stories of his own choosing, as was last month’s offering, and the space we provide in Windspeaker allows him a regular venue for his perspective to be recorded and read, just as we have allowed space to other columnists to express a wide range of opinions. Subscribers who took the time to read last month’s issue will know that Windspeaker took no editorial position regarding First Nations voting in the Canadian election as Dr. Alfred suggests in the letter above.