Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gord Hill, "500 years of Indigenous Resistance"

(PM Press, 2009)

PM Press has reprinted, with minimal black and white graphics, Gord Hill's 1992 piece in the indigenous newspaper OH-TOH-KIN commemorating 500 years of indigenous struggle. 1992 marked 500 years since the "discovery" of Turtle Island by Europeans; Hill's response to culturally insensitive if not downright hateful imperialist celebrations surrounding the date was to provide a concise account of the amerindian genocide while emphasizing the active and noble role of native american peoples in resisting colonization.

As a critically minded Canadian of settler stock, I was glad to see a sharp analysis of Canada's indigenous policy up to 1992 (Hill himself is based in Vancouver). The notion that Canada pursued a kinder, gentler approach to what was considered "the native problem" is refuted by an analysis of British geo-military policy and the systematic dispossession and discrimination which has long ridden on Canadian law and institutions. It's also gratifying to suss out of Hill's short narrative an anticapitalist and generally anticolonialist line. Of interest on this count is his treatment of how slavery in the United States intersected with indigenous struggle.

Hill's account is brisk; it would have been nice, if possible, to read a fleshed out and updated version. The graphics add a nice touch, though some of them are low-resolution. Readers more graphically inclined should know that a comic book version of the text is available from Arsenal Pulp Press.

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