Wednesday, March 23, 2016

John S. Long 1948-2016 RIP: treaty historian

Today Active History carries an unsigned memorial to John Long, longtime teacher of history and education at Nipissing University, and before that teacher and researcher with the Mushkegowuk Cree at Moose Factory, who died recently in North Bay.

John's book Treaty 9: Making the Agreement to Share the Land in Far Northern Ontario in 1905 opened my eyes to treaty history and treaty policy, and really made possible my 2011 Ideas documentary "George MacMartin's Big Canoe Trip" in which he was an interviewee. The book was also basic to Alanis Obomsawin's 2014 documentary Trick or Treaty.

Yesterday the federal government committed itself to relatively large amounts of spending on First Nations schooling, housing, and other needs.  But it's still a top-down, helping-out strategy.  I think John would have said that addressing the treaties in ways that would enable First Nations to run their own affairs is the solution that could work in the long run.

“What I’d like to see is treaty implementation,” John is quoted as saying.  Not yet, I guess.

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