Settler Culture? I Dunno. Ask Dickens.

I have a few questions.

  1. Why is Dickens (for example) studied in literature class at our local university, but not saskatoon leaves like this in the fall?

Is this not writing? Is there not reading here?

2. Why do students not demand it?

3. No, really. Why do students, who argue for an end to colonial culture and a recognition of non-normative selves, not demand a truly post-settler-culture literature? Like this?

4. Is it a game?

5. I know that universities have taken on the idea of protest, to destroy the ongoing normalization of words, and I know that a lot of White people are writing anti-settler culture papers right now, but why are they not reading saskatoon leaves and then writing in that language?

6. Or, crikes, choke cherries?

7. Why, in a system that advertises itself as universal, is Indigenous culture not honoured?

I’ll say this much: books are honoured in this system. If it’s in a book, it’s real. If it’s not in a book, it can form no part of any argument, proposal or discussion. But that’s just the thing:

8. Shouldn’t we be discussing how this…

Choke Cherries Behind Fronds of Leaves

… and this…

Bee Dens Behind Fronds of Grass

… are the same? Because the bees fertilize the choke cherries from here. This is not metaphor. It’s not a stylistic device. It’s a circle, in which two beings take part as one. So…

10. Why this resistance to be a part of things? And:

11. Why this desire to maintain settler culture at the cost of the Earth? I dunno. Ask Dickens. Charles?

12. Isn’t it time to put the 19th century to bed?

8 replies »

  1. Academia is another expression of colonialism. That’s why. Colonialism is about modifying behaviour patterns. It destroys indigenous patterns and instills colonial ones. It hasn’t been and isn’t done through education (as we understand it in a colonial context). It’s primarily behavioural based and secondarily educational. Education doesn’t affect change. Behaviour modelling that does something different and provides a different experience affects the real change. Academia is a colonial design of behaviour. It’s barely better than residential schools.

    Indigenous knowledge and culture is transferred through mentorship. True mentorship where an entire village is involved. It’s designed to help integrate real experiences rather than force feed abstract concepts that haven’t been experienced. What you propose here is an indigenous model. It still exists. People have to experience it to understand how to do it. Did you get it from a book?

    Colonialism cultivates an unconscious belief in Tabula Rasa where the behaviour patterns are effectively nihilistic. Molding and fixing other people and things, not ourselves. Indigenous cultures start from a place of believing we’re born into this world carrying something that’s needed for this creation, which is effectively a regenerative concept that supports regenerative patterns. It cultivates behaviour patterns of growing into something that you’re called to become, rather than molding you from a blank slate, or piece of clay; from nothing. It’s patterns are about tending and supporting to help something grow organically into what it already inherently is.

    Even academic revolutionaries are using colonial models of behaviour. It’s curious that many indigenous groups don’t actively participate in our colonial systems and continue to actively resist using them, isn’t it?

    Health and happiness to you Harold!


    • Health and happiness to you! Well said, Kurt. Interesting comment: education doesn’t affect change. Another: it’s barely better than residential schools. Yes, a few comments on that in my upcoming book on tree pruning and literacy. I love this: to help something grow organically into what it already inherently is. Or, perhaps (?): to grow organically into what it is with the addition of attention and support. It’s still an open question, regarding indigenous culture vs participation. Resistance might not be the goal, so much as making a separate way. It would seem that land is the key concept of settlement, thus a new definition of land would seem to be an open path. At the moment, land is being redefined as urban space and property, unwilded. That troubles me.


  2. Hello again Harold! I hope you and yours are well. I appreciate your openness to sharing your insights and ideas.

    I just recognized my first comment here is a perfect illustration of these patterns I referred to. I’m still healing from my own colonial upbringing and continue to unconsciously fall into these broken, disconnective patterns. My apologies.

    What I’m referring to is that I didn’t start my comment by greeting and welcoming you. I just went straight into expressing my perspective. I’m wondering how that made you feel? To me it’s just like I walked into a conversation uninvited and told you something and left. Like a hit and run. An indigenous pattern would have been me saying hello and greeting you in a welcoming way… maybe with some appreciation. Feels more connective, doesn’t it?

    Behaviour patterns.

    All the best!


  3. Thank you, Harold, for this post. I don’t claim to be a “good reader” of saskatoons, but I often find myself alone in trying for a creational “literacy.” Your columns sometimes mystify me, but also prod me to rethink and re-experience the world in which I am privileged to live.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.