To mark the 200th anniverary of the death of Tecumseh (today… October 5th), I read an informative piece by Allan Gregg, published in HuffPo Canada.
I am taking the liberty of reproducing his second-to-last paragraph here.
Tecumseh believed that his people and whites were essentially different. He was and is right in this regard. The temperament, world vision, spiritualism and especially the history of aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians are worlds apart. Nothing in our history or experience would provide non-aboriginals with a frame of reference to understand why anyone would chose to live a 16th century and isolated lifestyle in our interconnected digital world; or why individual ownership of property would be contentious or divisive; or why preserving and protecting “the land” would take priority over exploiting and exhausting our resources; or why spiritualism, ceremony or respect could be more valued than materialism, competition and “winning.” And we lack this perspective not just because our history does not include the surrender of our property, or the removal from our homes or residential schools or the stigma of systematic second class citizenship – in sum, of being misunderstood, betrayed and ignored for 200 years. We lack this understanding because we have never cared enough to acknowledge these differences, learn their importance and accept their permanence.
When Gregg says that Tecumseh’s people and whites are “essentially different”, I stress his meaning as different in cultures, world views and philosophies. Of course he recognizes that we are all human beings, with all the things in common that that entails.
Generalizations lump people into groups… Tecumseh’s people, whites… that are often inappropriate at the individual level. Many of us, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, adapt and conform to mainstream laws and customs while at the same time acknowledging the worth and wisdom of other systems of belief and economy.