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A trip to a First Nation Reserve

Updated on October 7, 2011

I woke up one morning, (a little over a month ago) determined to go to a Native reserve. I had never been to one and it seemed like the time to visit one was long overdue. I admire the determination and the resilience of the Native people of North America and I seek the knowledge they have been passing down through generations for thousands and thousands of years.

From sixty million, the Native people of North America were left with a mere eight hundred thousand of them after the Europeans fully settled. There is no greater genocide known to human kind! We, (the Europeans) almost wiped them off completely. Their traditions, their customs, values, teachings … all was almost lost. One of my struggles is now to find ways in which to help the people of this land (the Natives); to regain their strength, their dignity and stability as a people.

I had no idea of what to expect and while driving on the dirt road on the reserve, I could not stop thinking of how the presence of a white man would be looked upon. I brought no alcohol with me, took off the Dutch flag (I was cheering for the Netherlands during the World Cup) off my Volkswagen, all in good faith that I would not insult in any way my hosts.

I am not sure how I did overall. The looks I got when I told them that I liked sage too because it tastes great when cooking meat, were something I will not forget. I could see the few Native people around me at the time look at each other worryingly.

“Here’s the barbaric European, ready to eat our sacred plants, watch him!”

Everyone was extremely patient with me. I appreciated that. I suppose having a Pow Wow where non-natives are allowed to attend, clueless guys like me are often roaming around. I had to be told to put down my camera for the Grand Opening (photos not allowed) but the warning came in a most polite and caring manner. After several minutes I was free to shoot again and I didn’t stop for quite a while.

I felt like I was part of some sort of a fairy tale or some long forgotten story: the drum beats, the regalia, and the people dancing … I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I wasn’t. The Dokis First Nation Reserve is real and so are the Ojibwa people.

Such hospitality as I encountered there, I had not experienced in quite a while. I had the privilege to eat a moose burger and I can vouch that that burger was the tastiest burger ever! The rest of the food was great too: beans, corn, salad … there were fries and lemonade which they made right there in front of you. I never tried the bison burger but I am sure that would have been great as well!

My entire time spent there was truly amazing! I loved the people, the food, the entire atmosphere was great! Everyone was having fun and there were people from all over the world. One dancer I spoke to was Parisian, from France. That was odd, I thought to myself only until I turned around to meet a guy from Brazil. There were native people in costumes from different parts of the United States too and a guy from Peru was selling sweaters and all sorts of other hand-crafted ornaments. I felt a little more at ease when I realized I wasn’t the only tourist around.

I saw no alcohol at the Pow Wow and I was happy not to have brought any with me. I knew from before that many reserves are turning to become “dry” reserves, where alcohol is actually illegal. When I inquired about the alcohol situation I was told that the Dokis First Nation reserve allows alcohol but not too many people drink it. Indeed, later that night when my host (I was invited by the Mink clan and stayed with an aunt of a friend of mine) took me to a friends house where we sat outside chatting and roasting marshmallows, I did see a couple of people drinking wine and a couple of others drinking beer. That was it though in terms of alcohol and I was happy to see so few people drink it. I think, beside the diseases the Europeans brought with them, alcohol was the worst gift. It clouded the Native mind for centuries!

For now, it is our duty (the white man) I think, since for better or worse we have to share this continent (North America) to learn what we can from the Native people of this land and to engage them as well in the planning of our future. My call is for the Natives, to become more involved in not only the political system but on the socio-economic level as well. I do not think it is right to have the Native people in this country (Canada) living in some of the conditions I have seen them live far up in the north (living in portables which they call home and having to boil their water because it isn’t potable). Human rights are too often ignored when it comes to the question of how Native people live in Canada. We should all try to get a little more involved in what really needs to be done in this country and the world for that matter; if we make the world better for others it will be a better world to live in for ourselves too. It seems logical.


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    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank You very much for the visit Mrs. Freecampingaussie! This was my first visit there three years ago. Now I can't stop going.

      I am glad You enjoyed the photos, cheers!

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 5 years ago from Southern Spain

      Wow ! Voting this up ,thanks for sharing the awesome photos and an interesting visit with some amazing people .

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      Absolutely beautiful and breathtaking photos. I don't even have the words to describe them. Your experience must have been one that you will never forget and will stay imprinted on your mind forever. I voted up and awesome, because it's nothing short of awesome. Love your support for the native tribes, as they most definitely need it. It's time we stop holding them down, taking their land, and keeping them from being's time we start supporting them and aiding them in preservation of their beautiful and spiritually uplifting culture. Thank you for sharing this with me, it was truly special.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I sincerely thank you for your warm words. Migwetch. : )

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      You remind me a great-deal of my dear friend and brother Marty from BC.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment Mr. Dave. Your comment made me smile, thank you. May Wakan Tanka guide your path Amigo. All the very best.

      Paradise, thank you for your comment as well. I appreciate it. History certainly has some dark chapters but I am glad we can talk about them.

      And my apology Mrs. Gypsy Willow, I am terribly late in thanking you for reading my blog. I do wish you get to visit a Native Reserve, it would be a great experience. Cheers!

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I loved this hub and wished to thank you for writing it. Being part native american, I found myself drawn to what you have said here. It was a reminder of the past. Thank you...

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Terrific hub. I was married (my second marriage) to a full-blood American Indian, who was brought up on a reservation but left to find lucrative work in the construction business. There was a lot he DID tell me; other things he kept secret. For one thing, I never, even after being married to him, learned his Indian name.

      The genocide of the American Native Indians was not fully intentional or planned--many Indians died from European diseases, like smallpox and measles, to which they had developed no natural immunities, not having been exposed to these diseases before. Science had no vaccines at that time, either. Still, it is a heartsore in the heartland of America, on par with the brutal kidnapping, enslaving, and exploitation of African people.

      The pictures in this hub are simply awesome. Thank you so much for putting this up here.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      What a lovely introduction to Native American ways. I always feel guilty when I read of the struggles us white people have put them through. I will take the first chance I can to visit a tribe.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment guys and girls. Cheers!

    • profile image

      Jason Greene 7 years ago

      Here is a great site...

    • seanorjohn profile image

      seanorjohn 7 years ago

      Excellent hub Voted up.I often forget about the native Americans in Canada. I will find out more because of your hub Thanks. I will follow but don't follow back. I only write whimsical nonsense.

    • profile image

      Suzanne Smoke 7 years ago

      Mr. Happy, long ago are the days of wanton alcohol abuse. We are the Seventh Generation. We have picked up things from the white mans road, the bad things we have cast away and we survive through our art, our drum our language and ceremonies. Our children are our strength and our future and we must lead them on the good red road and share with them the ceremonies that are our original teachings from Creator. It is only the human race that has strayed from the orignal teachings and as anishinaabe, we have lost so much but slowly we are picking these things up and giving them to our children.

      Thank you for taking the time to spend some time with the anishinaabe people and reporting about the good life you have seen. We call it "Biimadiziwiin". living the good life!!

    • jiberish profile image

      jiberish 7 years ago from florida

      Mr. Happy, I have always been intrigued by Native Indians, when I lived in Asheville, NC. and my children were young, I took them several times to Cherokee where it seemed like we stepped back in time. Great Hub!

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 7 years ago

      Glad I read this hub and thank you for writing about the human rights of native people.The entire North America was their place, their home.I don't understand why the govt. maintain double standard about the rights of the native people.Thanks once again :)

    • amillar profile image

      amillar 7 years ago from Scotland, UK

      An excellent hub Mr. Happy. I don't know much about North American history, but if I understand human nature, I expect there'll be some sad tales. And as for justification, well - that's easy. I once saw a copy of Mein Kampf in the library; it was two inches thick; filled with words of justification, no doubt.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      The genocide of the Native Indian population of North America is one of the biggest tragedies of modern history, systematically ignored by the responsible governments of both Canada and United States.

      Years ago I went to an Indian reservation in Arizona and what I saw was nothing short of a “national funeral”; the sadness and apathy of those people is hard to imagine and even harder to forget.

      I happened to be in Washington D.C. the day the Smithsonian Indian Museum was inaugurated and an incredible parade celebrated the event. Representatives of Indians tribes from North and South America, wearing the most beautiful and colorful costumes participated; the music, the dances and the food was something I will definitely remember. The museum itself is impressive and a long overdue tribute to the Natives culture of peace, love and respect for Mother Earth, but is still way too little and far from enough.