My favorite guest lecture was easily the lesson about the Cheslatta native people in Canada. This was a very interesting look at the plight of native people in fairly recent times. When we learn about Native Americans’ struggle in the United States it is easy for some people to brush it off and act like atrocities like the trail of tears happened so long ago that it’s not relevant any more. Obviously this isn’t true, but many people find it easier to ignore systematic discrimination that started hundreds of years ago, than to ignore oppression that has very recent and devastating history.
The problems the Cheslatta face are very real and relevant right now due to issues with commercially controlled flooding in the area. This has disrupted the Cheslatta people’s culture and their burial rituals. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for the Cheslatta to move their ancestor’s bodies out of the cemeteries before every flood, especially since burial rituals have a big spiritual significance for the Cheslatta. Every time they have to move the bodies and spirit houses (I think that’s what they were called), they have both a Christian priest and a native religious person (representing their animism beliefs). The saddest part of the lecture is when I learned that the Cheslatta people occasionally find ancestral bones washed up on the beach. For the Cheslatta, these floods are desecrating the remains of their ancestors so finding the bones is almost a traumatizing experience for the community.
Hopefully the Cheslatta will eventually receive money from the Kenney Dam. This won’t bring back years of being forced out of their lands or the desecration of their ancestors, but it could provide a beginning for a new life for the Cheslatta.
Before blogging about Nigeria, all I knew about the country was that it’s located in West Africa and that Boko Haram is located in Nigeria. I now have a much better understanding of the country’s culture and history after this class. I had no idea how ethnically diverse the country is and I was surprised that despite only knowing about terrorist groups like Boko Haram before researching, the country really isn’t plagued by constant terrorism. Yes, Nigeria has a long way to go in terms of toppling Boko Haram and increasing rights for young women and LGBTQ individuals, but Nigeria is on the rise economically. As ignorant as it sounds, I assumed that since Boko Haram was present in Nigeria, that the country might not be as developed as it is.
This project pointed out my personal biases toward other countries. Personally, I do not know a lot about other countries besides some European countries, this means that I automatically make some assumptions about other countries based on generalizations about their location or what little I know about the country. This project has allowed me to look more in-depth about the very important country of Nigeria.