In the context of ongoing colonial genocide through the Algonquin land claims process in Ontario, and Canada’s broader municipalization of First Nation communities that continues to deny land and resources, it is especially important for people claiming to be Indigenous or who are portraying themselves to be Algonquin Anishinaabe to clearly substantiate their identity beyond that of the oral tradition and beyond that of an ancestor who was, or might have been, Algonquin in the 1600s, 1700s, or 1800s. The traditional protocol is that we clearly state who we are and how we are related to one another.
In the current context of Algonquin genocide there are administrators, professors, teachers, language speakers, artists, ceremonialists, funders, chiefs, elders, heads of families, and cultural gate keepers who in their positions have access to power, yet they are not the Algonquin they claim to be or who they portray themselves to be. For that matter some are not even Indigenous.
Portraying as Algonquin is the Worst
Remember, and offering an example, being a language speaker in itself does not mean a person is Indigenous or Algonquin. Not at all. Language is foremost a social process. We need to keep in mind that many of the fur traders picked up the Anishinaabemowin language as it was the language of the fur trade. The same applies with picking up a jingle dress, a pipe, or an Eagle feather.
It is about a misuse of power
The biggest problem with people claiming to be Algonquin when they are not is that they are usurping and appropriating important positions, space, and resources in the process of making decisions on important topics, yet they lack a genuine legitimate Algonquin voice, where as such they are unable to shape, guide, or direct knowledge production, change, resurgence, and resistance in ways that are legitimately and genuinely Algonquin. Because they have less conviction, internal fortitude, and commitment in who they are claiming to be as Algonquin, these individuals become the tokens of powerful institutions because they are, and will be, more accommodating and obliging employees of the institution’s agenda. They will be easier to manage and manipulate because, ultimately, they are more needful in their identity claim. It is precisely in this way that they are interfering and harming legitimate Algonquin agency and direction forward. These people who do not have the conviction of who they claim to be, or who they portray themselves to be, are interfering with Algonquin recovery and sovereignty efforts. This is contrary to the Two Row non-interfering philosophy.
It is about protecting our sovereignty
In offering this important critical thinking it must be kept in mind that just because some Algonquin are standing up and asking you to be clear about the identity you are claiming, or portraying to be, this does not mean we are identity policing, being unkind, suffering from internalized oppression, or flourishing lateral violence. Not at all. We are asking the question because our very framework understands how institutional power is used to manipulate people who have less conviction in who they are claiming to be.
It does not matter if they are your friend
As the Algonquin struggle to move forward within the context of genocide it may be a good idea to think to yourself that just because someone is a friend, did a good thing for you, or is doing work that you like, this in itself does not mean they are Algonquin. Please do not allow your subjectivity to interfere with who and who is not a legitimate Algonquin, and do not default to the notion that we are “identity policing” and engaging in lateral violence. We are not!
While I understand universal truths do not exist, and I understand that blood and community essentialism have huge limitations, and I understand the non-sense of the Status versus non-Status, and I understand that Indigenous nations adopted and assimilated new members into their nations, and I also understand that a “race shifting framework” is different than a “social identity framework”, within the context of ongoing Algonquin genocide illegitimately usurping Algonquin identity is really harmful.
If you cannot stand with conviction in who you claim to be as an Algonquin, or who you are portraying yourself to be, it is asked that you stop appropriating an Algonquin identity because you are harming the Algonquin.