This Land is Your land? This Land is My Land?

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Billings, Montana

The reason I wanted to come to Montana was to learn more about Native Americans at Crow Fair. I’m fascinated at how modern society treats its indigenous roots.

In New Zealand it seemed to be celebrated and an integral part of tourism. In South America it is a mixed bag depending on where you go. In Ecuador there is much respect for the indigenous whereas in Argentina the population was wiped out.

In Canada we do not do a great job either. I learned about our First Nations in Grade 7 social studies but after the mandatory unit nothing was said again.

I am ashamed to say we tend to equate the population with casinos on reservations, cheap cigarettes and alcohol issues. Truthfully I didn’t think about them at all.

It wasn’t until the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics that I realized how little I knew. The ceremony highlighted Canada’s First Nations and in a lot of ways I felt like it was a false show put on for the international community.


indian grave

Visiting Montana I see a completely different approach that is both interesting and challenging.

There are more opportunities to learn about Native Americans and the history but I still feel the underlying tension. The community seems separate and I’ve heard small jokes whispered about.

Maybe in time it will change as new generations don’t remember the history or conflict. And despite the murmurs and jokes I like how Montana provides an opportunity to learn and interact more.

It’s made me realize I need to make an effort to learn about the First Nations in my own country.

I may not be cracking jokes but I’m no better if I don’t make an effort to learn about my own country’s history.



Disclosure:I was a guest of Visit Montana but they did not request that I write a favourable review or have such a revelation while at Little Big Horn.

Join the Conversation

  1. I guess learning about Canada’s first nations depends on where you grew up. Growing up on the West Coast it was definitely part of my education so, to me, the Olympics didn’t seem like a “false show”.

    1. I was thinking the same thing when I read this post! I’m an American, but I spent a summer in the Vancouver area a few years ago, and I was very impressed by the presence of First Nations and the respect shown to them by my fellow classmates.

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Canada is so large, maybe the West Coast does a much better job than the East.

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      From other people’s comments I think the West Coast may have done a better job than the East in this regard.

  2. Chrystal McKay says:

    Having grown up in Thunder Bay meant the first nations culture was always part of my upbringing – both the knowledge and the negativity. There is a huge divide in the city’s population but it slowly diverging as the City itself makes more of an effort to honour the first nations with art exhibits and learning opportunities and fairs for the city to partake in. It is an incredible culture and one I loved learning about growing up.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It always seems there is an unspoken divide, which is so silly, hopefully that changes in future generations.

  3. Ashley of Ashley Abroad says:

    It’s true that while in Central and South American the indigenous culture and peoples are still very much a part of society, in North America they don’t receive enough respect or recognition. I’ve read a lot of great books about it – I would recommend 1491, as well as any books by Sherman Alexie or Louise Erdich.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I fixed that typo 🙂 and thanks for the book recommendation. I’m going to look into it.

  4. Ashley of Ashley Abroad says:

    *don’t receive. BIG typo!

  5. I’d say what we learn in school and associate with Native Americans is similar to what you mentioned in Canada. It’s sad but we tend to sweep the less desirable parts of our history under the rug.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know and if anything the less desirable is how we treated them! We forget about them so we can forget about what we did.

  6. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy says:

    The treatment of the natives in North America is one of the most depressing parts of human history in my view. I’m fascinated whenever I go to museums that have Native American displays, but I always wonder what more can be done to honor their history and acknowledge their continued existence. Thanks for the post!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am starting to think I need to spend less time in museums and more time in cultural activities, it was really great meeting with people and they were so open to talk to me about their culture and elements of the pow wow.

  7. Yeah, I think we do a pretty awful job of being educated about our native Canadians. Two years ago, when I tore my achilles tendon and was on the couch for 6 weeks, I watched all of CBC’s documentary “Canada: A People’s History” and learned so much.

    If you have a spare 30+ hours or so (ha!), I would highly recommend it. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      If it weren’t for the CBC and those Heritage Commercials I wouldn’t know anything at all.

  8. I’m not going to get into a huge thing about the history of North America because it really is disgusting how ignored the indigenous population are and how American history is taught *so* incorrectly just to fit in with the “white man’s” idea of what children should learn. I’m really happy that you’re interested in finding out more about the history of your continent though. That’s really admirable. So many people ignore it.

    Someone here once asked me if Europeans felt proud of what we’d “accomplished” in conquering North America. I told them flat out, NO. Most Europeans are ashamed of what their ancestors did to the poor indigenous folks who were already there and would rather distance themselves from the association!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I spent so much time in Latin America being interested in indigenous communities it made me realize that I was so ignorant about my own. I am definitely going to fix that.

  9. You are now entering “Indian Country”

  10. Susan @ Travel Blogger Freak says:

    Well, this title and the first pictures reminds me my childhood life because when I was child me and my friends play Age of Empire Game on computer and we always said “this land is yours and this land is mine”. Hehehe

  11. Maddy @ I'm Not Home says:

    Australia is terrible, and Tasmania (where we’re from) is even worse. The problem there is that people THINK they know all these “facts” about our indigenous people, yet they actually have it all wrong.

    I should write a post about this sometime, thanks Ayngelina.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You really should. This could be wrong but I once read that until the 70s it was legal to kill an aboriginal. Are you a fan at all of Xavier Rudd, I really like what he is doing to make people think through music.

  12. I don’t know much about Native Americans either. I know we learned about them in school, mostly about the tribes that lived in our area. I wonder if it isn’t mentioned much because most people don’t really want to bring attention to the fact that our ancestors almost completely obliterated a huge group of people who did nothing wrong.

  13. I’m part native american (Cherokee) but my family kind of just ignored it since we didn’t have to suffer. It makes me so miserable to know how horribly native americans are treated. I always felt kind of weird celebrating Thanksgiving in the US because of our heritage.

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