Video

The "Gift"

Terril Calder

2011, 02:00 minutes, colour, English, also available Close Captioned

TAPECODE 972.02

The "Gift" is an exploration of betrayal and deception wrapped in a cozy blanket infested with the small pox disease.

This issue has currently been resurrected for debate in an attempt to discredit the use of “Small pox blankets” as a myth. The attempt to debunk the legitimacy of the historical accounts of the use of disease to erase our people from the land does more to support the theory than it does to discredit it and only serves to obviate the blatant discrimination at its root. Our history reads like a moth eaten quilt with gaping holes where complete tribes have been erased. Oral history needs elders to pass on our traditions and stories. Astonishing numbers of our people, young and old, were infected and died by European diseases. This act of chemical warfare was just that, warfare. Is it noble to impale your foe with a sharpened flag pole bearing a white banner? The means of spreading the disease is the predominant symbol in this animated short. The woolen blanket represents all of the broken promises that are interwoven in our history. The deceptions run so deep that we still see evidence of it to this very day. It represents the abandoned native “Country Wife” used for her gifts and knowledge of the land. Her white husband like the blanket held promises of security, novelty, warmth and protection. Almost all of these early “marriages” were only to provide comfort to the European male who would later reunite with his European wife, taking with him the skills taught to him, leaving behind his children and the mother disconnected from their people. Understanding the underhanded nature of the “gifts” explains a historical distrust. Reading a log kept at the HBC fort would lead you to believe that our people hounded those men for food and relied on the company for provisions. Given that our people were completely self sufficient prior to the arrival of the company, this makes no sense unless our own hunters had fallen sick putting our people in a desperate situation. The repercussions of this truth must be taken into account when looking back at history. The depleted population of the tribes had a huge impact on decisions being made at that time. Understanding this betrayal is an excellent illustration to help make sense of where we are now and what we need to do in future. The denial of the “Small Pox Blankets” use does nothing more than to fortify the deception and makes it the gift that keeps on giving.

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