I understand all right, but you missed my point

Posted: Monday, January 24, 2000

James Brouillette has a knack for criticism, but he missed my point entirely in his letter to the editor. And as for my ``lack of understanding of the Native culture,`` don't confuse understanding with sympathy.

The unavoidable evolution I spoke about in my letter comes from within the culture. I was not talking about what the non-Natives did to the Natives. History is full of wars. That, unfortunately, is human nature and the Native American culture was just as guilty of warfare as any other. I don't agree with how things happened, and yes things happened that were unfair - but war is war. Natives were just as brutal to the people they defeated.

My point, which he blatantly overlooked, was that the Natives are just as much to blame for their own cultural demise today as anyone else. Except for a very select few, the Natives aren't trying to keep it alive. Just like any other culture, Native children want what their friends have. They don't want to go back to traditional ways. The most detrimental thing the non-Native did to the Native culture was not war and subjugation. It was instead the introduction to a new way of life (and no, I didn't say better. I said new.)

Natives now have just as many rights (in most cases, more) than non-Natives. They also have the right to go back to their traditional lifestyle if they so desire. Most of them don't. If they really wanted to return to their tradition, a white man's job would hold no interest for them. They would instead be living the subsistence lifestyle of their ancestors. So don't bother bringing equal opportunity employment into this. This is not an employment issue. Equal opportunity employment has no history in the Native culture. Neither do any other of the white man's ways. The fact remains that Natives now have every right to return to their culture without any interference.

In addition, I never said that the subsistence lifestyle was reserved to Natives. If you read the article you will see mention of float houses and remote cabins. Subsistence rights apply to all equally who decide to adopt this lifestyle. That was my point. If the Natives want these rights, they need to adopt the lifestyle.

I am sorry to hear that he has a friend that takes advantage of this system. It was most definitely not created for a rich man's pleasure. As for the poor people in urban areas not being able to take advantage of this system, there are other systems of which they do take advantage. And if they feel that they would be better suited depending on their own skills in the wilderness, they can leave the urban areas and take advantage of subsistence rights as well. But I bet they won't.

So much for my lack of understanding. I understand all too well. I just don't sympathize.

Patrick McGonegal

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