Open Letter from a Capilano Indian: 'I Was Born 1,000 Years Ago.'

UNESCO Courier, May-June 1986 | Go to article overview

Open Letter from a Capilano Indian: 'I Was Born 1,000 Years Ago.'


Open letter from a Capilano Indian:

"I was born 1,000 years ago'

My very good dear friends,

I was born a thousand years ago, born in a culture of bows and arrows. But within the span of half a lifetime I was flung across the ages to the culture of the atom bomb.

I was born when people loved nature and spoke to it as though it has a soul: I can remember going up Indian River with my father when I was very young. I can remember him watching the sunlight fires on Mount Pe-Ne-Ne. I can remember him singing his thanks to it as he often did, singing the Indian word "thanks' very vary softly.

And the new people came, more and more people came, like a crushing rushing wave they came, hurling the years aside, and suddenly I found myself a young man in the midst of the twentieth century.

I found myself and my people adrift in this new age but not a part of it, engulfed by its rushing tide but only as a captive eddy going round and round. On little reserves and plots of land, we floated in a kind of grey unreality, ashamed of our culture which you ridiculed, unsure of who we were and where we were going, uncertain of our grip on the present, weak in our hope of the future.

We did not have time to adjust to the startling upheaval around us; we seem to have lost what we had without finding a replacement.

Do you know what it is like to be without moorings? Do you know what it is like to live in surroundings that are ugly? It depresses man, for man must be surrounded by the beautiful if his soul is to grow.

Do you know what it is like to have your race belittled, and have you been made aware of the fact that you are only a burden to the country? Maybe we did not have the skills to make a meaningful contribution, but no one would wait for us to catch up. …

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