And the patriotic olymptrix circus leaves town by Dustin Johnson

Glad the 2010 freak show is over, Bring on Indigenous events for us and by us!
Witnessing the 2010 Winter Olympic party occupy our part of the world for the past 2 weeks was disturbing to say the least. Competitive athleticism of the best is a great thing for any human society, but not with all of the corporate strings attached and deep-rooted symbols of oppression to go along with it. The Olympics is a propaganda machine that uses a pretty face to cover up ugly realities. Things like an increasing police state, erosion of mountains for yuppie recreation, drunken festivals, increased pollution from overpopulation of tourists and motorists, increases in diseases, homelessness, crime and drug use rates.

You’ve heard it all before. How could any of these damn ‘gifts’ from leftover Europeans (you too, Canada), be good for us as Native people? It’s frustrating when you see many people you know celebrating ‘Go Canada Go!’ as if there’s no political or social aspect to it. The Olympic Games is always political, from day one to Nazi Germany’s 1936 Games to Mexico’s bloody 1969 Games to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. We were born into politicized identities, Indian. Isn’t this the same country that is polluting our territories that we have not surrendered or given up?

What is that, Stockholm Syndrome, when an oppressed group self-destructively develops what psychologists call a ‘trauma bond’ with their oppressors that continue to do them harm? The same foreign occupying government still has a ‘comprehensive lands claims policy’ that basically submits short-sighted Band Councilors to surrender their community’s territory for chump change and assimilate their identities into the melting pot of misplaced Canadianism. It is a fact that most white Canadians weren’t legally Canadians until 1982, when the constitution was ‘repatriated’ from Britain and written down for the first time as a legal document. It is also a fact that Status Indians are still considered ‘wards of the crown’ in trust of the Queen of England. Wasn’t Canada named after a Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) term called ‘Kanata,’ meaning ‘squatters in the village’? Isn’t there something wrong with that, and celebrating ‘Go Canada Go!’ at the same time? Did we forget we descend from a warrior people during these past 2 weeks?

Some of us who don’t give in so easily would rather be proud of something we are then feel forced to cheer on something we are clearly not, and that my friends is ‘Canadian.’ Sure, some people like hockey, I used to play ice hockey and collected hockey cards as a kid myself, until I realized I needed to decolonize my values and stop worshipping white-washed values that blindly promoted false patriotism. Yes, the original form of hockey was invented by the Mikmaw, but that tradition has long been consumerized by non-Natives. As an alternative to events like the Olympics, let’s hope the North American Indigenous Games aren’t co-opted by some evil mining companies and other glorified hustlers looking to manipulate Natives and pollute the earth. And not to let major Native sporting events be called ‘Indian Olympics.’

Even in the relatively remote Tsimshian territories on the northwest coast, the ‘Olympic fever’ was evident with families glued to television sets mesmerized by the spectacle of the closing ceremonies. Complicating my feelings about the Olympics was the fact that I had friends and relatives on both sides of the Olympic fortress. Some friends and relatives are artists, and saw this time as an opportunity to showcase their work to the world. I fully support that because these same artists rely on the sale of their art products to make a living and feed their families. There’s a price to pay for that, though.

I was raised to look for the good in every situation, and the only good that I could see that came about with the 2010 Olympics was the amount of good-looking Natives that converged in Vancouver and the west coast. Dance groups, youth gatherings, old friends meeting up again. Other then that, it was almost as if people surrendered their true identity to put on the fake cloak of Canadian patriotism and a two-week party that was never really intended to include us. All those damn Canadian flags! And that lame music!

Jeezus, where are my pills…oh right, I need to head back to the bush and walk down by the water for fresh air and the natural sanctuary to recover and spiritual de-toxify from the annoying brainwashing spectacle we just witnessed. The most important lesson to be taken from these Games is how easy it is for a large entity to swoop in and occupy the mind space of our peoples. People will only believe what they see immediately in front of them, and their feelings during that time. And since the Olympics have long mastered articulating that the Games are only about sports, they have refined deception to a science and have achieved in pulling the wool over the eyes of the masses. We must strive to organize our own events on a large scale and do the work ourselves. Our nations used to have traditional competitions such as wrestling, hand-to-hand combat and duels, and events like the All-Native Basketball Tournament and the North American Indigenous Games are kinda close to bringing back those traditions, or at least the feeling of sporting events to call our own. Let’s just not let them slip away from our control.

“We live in a time that values the cult of celebrity over actual accomplishment, and that we have become so obsessed with fame that we have lost the ability to make qualitative value judgments.”

Dustin Johnson is a Tsimshian from the Blackfish Clan originally from Kitkatla and raised in Lax Kw’Alaams and Kitsumkalum. He is also the former editor of Redwire Mag and focuses on fitness and martial arts training and healthy community organizing with Alugyiget culture on the northwest coast.

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