Calihoo, Robert; Hunter, RobertPublisher: McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, Canada
Year Published: 1991
Pages: 288pp ISBN: 0-7710-42957
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX7095
An autobiography of Robert Calihoo, a native Canadian activist who struggled to regain the reserve that his father had sold out to the Canadian government.
Abstract: An autobiography of Robert Calihoo, a native Canadian activist who struggled to regain the reserve that his father, through ignorance of governmental "Enfranchise" legalese and The Indian Act, had sold out to the Canadian government.
Co-author, Robert Hunter, first president and chairman of the board of the Greenpeace Foundation has done a fine collaboration that enables Bob Calihoo's own voice and spirit to speak out in this great book.
Calihoo was raised in Edmonton under the name Robert Royer by a white grandmother. After her death, when he was 10 years of age, Calihoo calls on his father, Albert Calihoo, whom he had not previously met. He discovers that Albert is a Native American, a Mohawk, whose family hails from Kahnawake. Calihoo is introduced to reservation life and its privations as he discovers what Canada has done to the people whose identity he is now assuming. Part of the book is his biography; the rest, by professional writer Robert Hunter, is an expose of conditions faced by First Peoples in Canada. Hunter also surveys Native contributions to many cultures, including the impact of the Iroquois on Locke, Thoreau, Tolstoy, and others, and, according to one reviewer, "their effect on American democracy, Marxist communism, the French revolution, and the Law of the Sea." In a chapter titled "The Great Gift of the Iroquois," this book describes the operation of the League of the Iroquois and its impact on the developing United States and its founders.
Occupied Canada is divided into four parts. The first part is Calihoo's early biography describing the events that led to his imprisonment and the chronically depressed living conditions that was endemic on the Michel Calihoo Band Reserve. While in prison he began reading The Indian Act and seeing the injustice that underlay it.
Part two: the history of the European occupation of the continent and the exploitation of its wealth and the attempt to remove the original peoples when they became more of an inconvenience than an asset, culminating in the British Crown's betrayal of the treaties.
Part three: continues to expose the "official" whitewash of history and provides many examples and motives of state and religious aggressions in North America, focusing particularly on the history of Confederation and the CPR and the related land grabs.
Part four: the 1960's and the era of activism. Calihoo saw a flaw in the Indian Act and managed to be reinstated as a Status Indian and become eligible for secondary school education. He developed a dream of standing up to Canada on its own terms. He was recognized by the system as a symbol of what Indians were demanding but was stymied by continual stonewalling of Native aspirations to be considered a 'distinct society'.
Despite years of frustrating times and the constant shifting of government policies to further erode the spirit of the First Nations survivors, his persistence succeeded in shedding light on the injustices, and with others at the time, starting the recovery and healing of the First Nations in the modern world.
[Abstract by John Warren]