Indigenous or Non-Indigenous? A Field Guide.

To be Indigenous means you come from the land, and are of the land. This land, for example.

This is an outcropping on Turtle Ridge in Vernon. Note the red lichen stains.

Typically, these stains come from lichens that inhabit places soaked with bird or animal urine: points of presence or habitation, often with a darned good view. In other words, they mark the markings that non-human people have put on the land, while placing themselves in a point of sight or visibility. These non-human people are called animals today. In an Indigenous world-view, humans are no different than those other people, and make the same marks, with one difference: the humans are conscious of following the pattern. Here is an elk and an eagle from the Tsilqhot’in Illahie.

Note how it is embedded among animal-lichen pairings. Now, note what non-Indigenous marking looks like (below), even on a Kwakwaka’wakw ancestral stone.

Discovery Passage, Looking Over Cape Mudge

It is an individual rather than an environmental marking, and makes the collision of individuals the environment. Not indigenous. Simple.

Indigenous Land Ownership Rules

The Snow Buckwheat Country:

All at Once

The Grass Country:


One…

…by…

…one.

It’s not indigenous if it isn’t expressing the energies of the land.

The energies are there for all to read, all together or one at a time.

One for the Porcupine

So, you think you’re going to build a trail system across the porcupine’s trail to an orchard’s compost pile, eh, and water some trees along it to protect the people on the trail from spray drift from the orchard. Yeah, sure. You just go try that.

Trickle Irrigation Hose, Gnawed

Good thing the water was turned off to this system a few years back, due to lack of funds to maintain what was started. When a development goes bankrupt, all environmental promises are annulled.

The farmer continues to use the compost pile. The farm has been in the family for generations. I’m sure they know the score. All that was achieved, really, was a bunch of dead trees and a continually irritated porcupine.

Just to be clear: this is not a wild porcupine, but a relationship between a farm and a hill, with prickly bits and hose-cutting teeth.

The End of White Privilege in the Okanagan

For about 125 years, my valley has been the setting for the creation of a White homeland. It started in a British Empire that was largely Asian, looking for a racial state for a Britain driven to overpopulation by industrialization: the same force that drove Americans west across the continent to dislodge native peoples there. After the First World War, the whiting of the Okanagan continued by embracing other Europeans, after the British population was decimated by insane class-based military bungling in the trenches in France. During these two seminal generations,the indigenous population was confined ever more tightly to tiny “Indian Reserves” and the land that it had cared for for 6,000 years, was now approached out of european ignorance as “nature.” Its wealth was soon drawn down ecologically until now it is a ruin of weeds and burning forests and smoke. Well, it’s all over. It ended this summer. It is the end of White privilege in the Okanagan.

“The Rise” Development

Government ecological-protection legislation allowed for the legal ruin of essential grassland here in Vernon, through, in part, its replanting with native bunchgrass. This image shows how invasive cheatgrass is rapidly making inroads. It will soon replace the bunchgrass with a one-species wasteland of drought, because no one is minding the show. They’re not doing so because this is “nature”, and hence outside of human control. What nonsense.

Sure, land will continue to be abused, indigenous people will continue to be excluded from decision making processes or land use, but it’s all done on borrowed time now. Still, white culture continues to build for its views (all that foreigners can understand of a landscape) and continues to play, even when the valley is full of the smoke of burning forests caused by a hundred years of forest mismanagement, in general, and 25 years specifically. The smoke is “nature”, the pillar of whiteness, burning up.

Okanagan Lake, Below Bella Vista Road and Okanagan Hills Boulevard

 

White culture is so affluent that even in the smoke it can continue to offer elite views to the working class. Working class? Yes. The wealthy part of it. You can be sure that the elite white classes have already packed up for their second or third homes in Maui or Bermuda or Portugal or are the colonial elite teaching English in China.

As it was in the beginning, White settlement in the valley is fortress culture….

…and every view of smoke and shame is for sale, on the bluff that it is still a view of “nature.”

Even a view of smoke and shame. As I said, White culture has so much power it will continue for a long time here, but it will do it out in the open now. It does not own this land. That’s not to say that the syilx, our indigenous people, do. No-one does. But we all do together. Fire certainly does. At the moment, we all own the shame and the smoke. We could all own the pride. This couple just over the mountains at Willow Point already do:

 

Gymnasts in the Lavender

Oh, hello.
It’s a thing. With legs like hers (she is, let’s say, about 7 centimetres from tip to tip ), you can jump from twig to twig, in three dimensional space. It’s not like a bee in the flowers, though. This is hunting.

There were four in this bush, hunting together. So, here’s the thing: there are regulations for protecting indigenous landscapes, for the planting of bunchgrasses, mostly. These improvements are welcome, especially in disturbed lands in housing developments, but when the mule deer are locked into them and eat all the wild flowers down to their roots, and it gets on the middle of August, the place is close to a desert. Planting lavender and  Russian sage helps, so does the dill in my garden, not to mention a bit of queen anne’s lace and some red orach, while we sort out how to make deer corridors, hack down the sagebrush, and replant the wild flowers, especially thistles and all the species  that used to grow along the borders of valley bottom wetlands that are no more. Our wetlands are our houses now. The survival of wasps, like these beautiful gymnasts, is up to us. “Wildness” does not come into question. That’s just White thinking, and we don’t need that any more. Or maybe just some wild lettuce. We could manage that.

Or just some smokebush. Look at this tiny wasp below. She likes smokebush.

And, hey, smokebush, that’s a pharmaceutical plant. We could do our lungs some good at the same time.

The Glacial Sky of Cascadia in the Morning

This is not an image of mountains, not of what rises or mounts, but what held against the ice that cut all else away.

The Coast Mountains

The ice is now air. Humans, bears,  martins,  squirrels, eagles and bobcats, to name a few, pass through it: the people of the ice. Nice.

Juvenile Stars About to Leave the Nesting Colony

They are still being born.

They are countless and perfect.

Born from suns themselves.

At home in the complex interstellar environment.

And now they are leaving home.

Soon they will drift on the interstellar winds.

Among supernovae.

Through solar flares.

Among nebulae…

… and star clusters of all kinds.

It is the season for floating to the far corners of the universe.

… and beginning again.

The universe doesn’t extend.

It deepens and curves.