Die Stromschnellen von St Marie (The Rapids Of St Mary), Frank Buchser, 1868
By kind permission of the Kunsthaus Art Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland
This website was created by teacher Peter White for the Algoma District School Board
A note from Peter White about the use of
the word “Indian” in this project
Words, even though they exist only in our minds, are very powerful “things.” Words also change meaning over time and, to complicate matters, the same word can carry different meanings when coming from different mouths, assumptions and intentions.
Early on in this project I had to make a decision about the word “Indian.” As most know, the Aboriginal people of North America have been called “Indians” since 1492, when the explorer Christopher Columbus mistook the natives he encountered for East Indians. Wrong though he was, the word stuck and was perhaps the most common reference for Aboriginal peoples of the Americas throughout the historical documents that I researched for this project.
Today the word is a problem, being right at the top of a long list of labels imposed on a people who today are doing much to reclaim and re-establish their identity. On the other hand, the thought of imposing new words on a historical period that did not know or use them seemed to be a denial of the story as it really happened; a not letting the truth be true both in its ugliness and beauty.
For this reason I chose to include the word “Indian” in this project. That being said, I want to emphasize (as I believe the songs do), that I hold the Aboriginal peoples of this area (the Anishinaabe as they are now correctly known) in the deepest respect.