For many years the North American Indian has been presented in countless Hollywood films as a painted savage, wearing feathers in his hair and carrying out atrocities against courageous white settlers.
For many years the North American Indian has been presented in countless Hollywood films as a painted savage, wearing feathers in his hair and carrying out atrocities against courageous white settlers. But the real story of the Indian has been one of exploitation by successive white governments, broken treaties and a policy that, at times, appeared to border on genocide. The Indians of Canada have fared better than their people south of the border in the United States, but the end result has been the same. Most of the Canada's Indians live on reservations and don not share the high standard of living enjoyed by other Canadians. Reporter Jim Downes recently travelled through Canada and took a hard look at the treatment of the Indians.
SYNOPSIS: This occasion is a government and industry sponsored re-enactment of a treaty signing a century ago. A clever treaty this; between the British and the Indian Blackfoot Nation. It won vast tracts of land, and the oil fields of Southern Alberta. It also avoided a bloody Indian war, with the cheating and brutality and genocide which, south of the United States border, were already established as the American way of dealing with Indians. Whether he wanted to or not, Prince Charles became an Indian this month. An honorary Indian, Red Crow. But while the peace pipe was being passed to the future king at Blackfoot Crossing, a thousand miles away, on a reservation in Ontario, Indians of the Ojibway tribe are carrying to their homes water from a lake poisoned by industrial pollution. The poison is mercury. Its effect, the dreaded Minamate disease.The Ontario government denies there is nay mercury poisoning in the river and lake system fishes by the Ojibways. But the very same government has banned commercial fishing there. The Government denies even the possibility of Minamata disease, but the National Indian Brotherhood brought specialist doctors from Japan to see some of their people. The Japanese verdict; some Indians did indeed show symptoms of Minamata disease. Elsewhere, the danger is that the old beliefs and the old languages, will die from neglect, because too few people will be interested enough to pass them on.