Comment by Bill Jackson

By Bill Jackson - The Regional

January 21, 2009

It was intriguing to find, on the front page of a native newspaper recently, that an 11-year old girl had been invited to attend US President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony this past Tuesday.

Actually, it wasn't the inauguration that she was invited to, but one of 10 Balls which were held in his honour on the night of his inauguration, according to the article.

After all, she is the daughter of "Lakota Chief, Avrol Looking Horse, 10th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, and Six Nations' Professor Dawn Martin-Hill, professor of Indigenous Studies and Anthropology at McMaster University." That's why she's going, apparently.

I personally have no problem with the trip. It's a great opportunity and if I had the money to go, I would.

But what I found a bit disturbing was a letter, written by the young girl to Mr. Obama, on page 2 of the newspaper.

"Please save my people," the letter reads. "I hope you save my people from extinction and the culture. This is our homeland and we have (been) forgetting the children's future. PLEASE HELP US!"

This is anything but inspiring.

Certainly, when I was 11 years old I wasn't thinking about petitioning the President or the Prime Minister for help. The dream died fast, but I was going to be a major league baseball player. The world was my oyster, or so it seemed.

People who constantly complain about native rights would say that is exactly the problem. I', not oppressed, because I'm a white boy. I argue that these days, it all depends on what we teach our kids and how we bring them up. We shouldn't brainwash them to believe they're subjugated before they can think for themselves.

If there's anything we can learn from the inauguration of the first black US President, it's that the world, although forever changing, has changed. And it's changed because of individuals like Barack Obama.

Turn to page 10 of the same newspaper and there's a picture of the Six Nations new year's baby. These things aren't always timed to be consistent with numbers, but could be put down to chance. How astounding it was that the new year's baby on Six Nations – a land with a population half of Haldimand – beat out this county's baby by a full day. If that was a Proline pick it would have probably paid $1.20. But that said, it's surprising this baby hasn’t' already written to the UN accusing Canada of genocide.

We must learn from our past to move forward. But keeping past injustices alive in the present, prevents us from going anywhere but backwards. Many people have proven this the last few years right here in Caledonia.

The election of a black president certainly signifies that we've come a long way in society. But continuing to celebrate that phenomenon while not focusing on the person – his accomplishments, character, as well as his agenda – serves as a contradiction and an oversight that will continue to endure and perpetuate a barrier between races.

Our belated new year's resolution should be to stop crying for help and change things for ourselves. Yes we can! That's what we should be teaching our children.

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

It takes a village to raise a child, not a U.S. President. I think he'd agree.