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Irony abounds in the politics of Indians.

Party's over, I guess. They tell me that I've missed another AFN golf tournament. Probably wise that I didn't venture to Halifax. Rumor had it that there were some furious Natives on the war path ready to ambush "mega-numb" at the annual beerbath. I wondered if they still hired the poet laureate who once wrote metaphors about a stogy in my mouth. I wondered if my old friend, the National Sheaf, missed my presence.

I've since read that he finally apologized to the chiefs. The headline read that the national chief apologized at the recent Assembly of Fumbling Natives (AFN) annual ho-down in Halifax. 'Sorry chiefs that I called you drunks' or something to that effect. My, my, isn't this guy one slick politician. First he slaps the chiefs in the face, then he combs and braids everybody's hair. Everyone goes back to the rez and life goes on.

He rubs his hands thinking himself cleansed enough to travel halfway around the world to sound off on racism in South Africa.

From the first day I began writing this column I have been asking for an interview with Fr. Matthew Coon Come. So far, Mr. National Sheaf has yet to return any of my calls. I have asked for his travel itinerary. I look at his daily horoscope. Anything, just in case I get to talk to the big guy.

It was a great summer and everyone, including "key AFNers," has told me to "keep up the heat." But where is my old friend Matthew? What happened to the man who introduces me as the guy who made him famous? I've been curious about the designation.

Back in the early nineties, during my life as a broadcast journalist, I followed Matthew to New York covering a story for the CBC about the James Bay Hydro Electric Project. I had been tracking him through my N.Y. city contacts and learned he was planning a fishing trip to Camelot, no less. Matthew and Robert Kennedy Jr. were planning a fishing trip in Kennedy's backyard pond.

By the time I showed up at the Kennedy compound, in White Plains, N. Y. in a CBC funded limousine, word had leaked about my journalistic "coup" and the CBC brass was frantic about who had the "first story." CBC Radio-Canada was there with a tiny Chevette. Meanwhile in the backyard, Matthew was baiting hooks with the well-known environmentalist Robert.

Slicker than deer guts on a door knob, here was the tiny chief about to lock down the most advantageous relationship in all of North American politics while journalistic egos were at war by his side.

Afterwards when I thought about the farcical situation, I remembered the lasting image of Matthew and Robert reeling in their lines on a man-made pond in a tiny wooden skiff using a rod and reel that was used by Joseph Kennedy on the Miramichi River. Irony on top of irony on top of irony.

So these days I have to wonder: what is happening to our political landscape? Has the chief who criticized his own people the ground to stand on when he used the genetic leftovers of the rum-running days to fight off the power hungry. James Bay Hydro Development project? Has the self-righteous "right" in the Aboriginal world taken over the national agenda?

I've spent the summer immersed in Haida art. Far from the trappings of the urban complex, I have been assigned to the Pacific Northwest enclave that some tourists spend a small fortune to experience. Up here in Haida Gwaii, politics are in your face. If no one likes you they tend to ignore you. If they like you they say hi and smile. And when it comes to the Minister of Indians and Natives After Causasians, the motto is: BETTER NAULT COME BACK.

Last June when the Haida celebrated the completion of six totem poles in a Herculean effort, they had Cowboy Bob in tow as one of the 'special' guests. He made a speech about how good he was and that he's in it for us. He made promises and more promises swearing that he'd be back! He claimed he would return in the very near future. But a few people noticed that he had his hands behind his back, and word is out that he had his fingers crossed. Well, that's not the only thing he's crossed.

Why do the ministers of our affairs constantly lie? Why to they betray their own promises and proudly exclaim their commitment to improve our lives? Why should we believe a man who will be yanked by his fearless strings at the-hands of a man who was once an Indian agent--the Great Crouton? Well folks, you can believe me if you like. I don't owe anybody anything for voting for me. Matter of fact, no one talks to me any more so everything I say comes to me from ravens and eagles flying by.

There are ravens and eagles everywhere in Haida Gwaii. After two months on the islands, I'd long ago surrendered to its magic and mystery. I have met, interviewed and shared dinner and laughs with the artists who are adding initiative to Haida art. They are from the seventh, fire and the keepers of our future. They are the source of knowledge, new and old.

As I sit to write this entry, ravens are talking in the background. A flock of geese fly by, their cacophony momentarily drowning out any other sounds.

It's noon and the traffic, ever so slight, can be heard above the trees, just past the huckleberry bush I have taken a liking to. People can be heard on the streets, on the wharf with such a clamor as to conjure memories of a summer carnival. From where I sit I can throw a stone and hit the wharf of Masset Harbor. Cowboy Bob and Fr. Matthew are but ripples fading into memory.

I crack open a frothy one as I move slowly away from my laptop. It's time to tee it up, four balls in all that I will drive into the backyard of our host location. I will drive them in all four directions into the Pacific tides of Masset Inlet. Heck, I might as well light a stogy and smoke to my old times, to my old friends, to wannabe poets, to pugnacious politicians, to the Great Crouton, and to the good times that might have been.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Bear, Jeff
Publication:Wind Speaker
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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