Indians don’t get lost. We’re just not there yet.
Sometimes it just amazes me how many misconceptions there are about First Nations people. One of those misconceptions is people believing First Nations people don’t get lost, as if we have some kind of human compass that tells us what direction to go.
This past summer I spent time with a group of American fishermen. Actually, I was able pull off my “Genuine Indian Guide” persona and get myself hired. It seemed like every time we changed direction, either on foot or by boat, they would look at me as if I knew where I was going.
Truth be told, I didn’t have clue where the best fishing spots were, but I made it look like I did. And, to make it look really good, every now and then I would look at the sun or the stars. I noticed every time I looked towards the sky, my American friends would look, too.
Of course Indians get lost. In my case, I can get lost in an open field. I swear I can find my way out of any bush, but put me out in the flatlands of southern Saskatchewan and my coordinates go out of whack. And, believe me, the sense of panic is the same in an open field as it would be in the bush. So much for that built-in compass.
If Canada were under attack and a whole battalion of the armed forces is telling you to go one direction and a single Indian on horseback is telling you to go the opposite direction, who would you follow? Now answer honestly. And I bet you would choose to follow the Indian. Because we never get lost; we’re just not there yet.
The other big misconception is we have a direct connection to the weather gods. I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked to do a rain dance when there’s a heat wave, or a sun dance when the rain won’t stop. Of course sometimes people will ask in jest, but I swear there are those who actually believe we have some kind of a secret. We do have a secret — it’s called the Weather Channel.
And don’t even get me started on taxes, free housing and medical. There are those who believe First Nations people get free taxi and bus rides. I got tired of explaining, or at least trying to explain, there is no such thing as free. When the movie Titanic came out, I got my tickets in advance. That evening, when everyone else lined up, me and the people I was with just walked right through.
When I heard someone ask why we were allowed to go right in, I turned around and said, “It’s a treaty right.”
You should have seen the look on some of the people’s faces as they wondered if it was true. I bet at least one of those people went home to write a letter complaining how Indians are now getting free movie tickets.
The fact of the matter is I was able to think in advance and purchase the tickets to avoid the lineup. The reason why Indians never get lost? They jump ahead of the line.