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Gift of headdress to Pope draws condemnation from some First Nations people in Manitoba

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Some members of First Nations in Canada were angry that Pope Francis was given a headdress as a gift after apologizing on Monday for the role played by members of the Catholic Church in the Canadian housing school system. Say there is.

After the Pope’s apology in Maskwasis, Arta, Wilton Little Child, Honorary Chief of Elminskin First Country, presented the Pontiff with a headdress. The Pope wore regalia over his traditional pope’s head covering until it was quickly removed by a member of his staff.

“For them to give a gift [the Pope] This sacred item was disappointing, “said Kevin Takan, a knowledge holder and spiritual adviser to Sioux Valley Dakotanation in western Manitoba.

“It has become an admission of political leadership, and it is not intended that way.”

According to Takan, headdresses have traditionally been acquired by members who are doing important work to serve the community.

“”[People] You always have to prove yourself. They have to keep proving that they are heading for the future, they still deserve it. “

Kevin Takan, who works as a spiritual adviser to Souvaleda Kotanation, says he was disappointed to see the Pope being given a headdress. (Walther Bernal / CBC)

He also said that if the recipients did not support their work, a protocol was in place for spiritual leaders to remove the headdress.

According to Takan, many in Dakota believe that headdresses have diminished in importance due to the presentation of sacred indigenous goods to other people, such as politicians and popes, in the past.

“People have begun to say that headdresses no longer make sense, they are contaminated, that is, contaminated by politicians or those who just give it to someone.”

Followed protocol: Phil Fontaine

Others supported the idea of ​​gifts.

Phil Fontaine, a survivor of a housing school who served as both the National Chief of the First Nations Conference and the Grand Chief of the Manitoba Chiefs’ Conference, said Little Child followed the protocol when seeking permission to present headdresses. Said that.

“He went to the elders. He went to the leader and asked for permission to give the gift. [it was] They are in perfect agreement with the way they follow their habits and protocols, “Fontaine said.

Takan admits that some people, like Fontaine, support gifts, but he disagrees with them.

“I suppose [the Pope is] Their leader. But I don’t think the Pope is our remaining leader, “he said. It doesn’t work that way. “

Elder Wanbudi Wakita, a knowledge holder of Dakota, said that the type of feather headdress given to the Pope was sacred and derived from Dakota. They are traditionally made and given only in certain circumstances. He said that people must acquire the wings of their respective eagles by making a significant contribution to the community.

“If someone has a vision or the community decides,’This is a good leader, let’s choose him,’ they go, put a blanket around him, and put a headdress on him,” he said. Said. “They will decide.”

He said the shaman can also decide if someone deserves a headdress.

“He already knows-he got the information from it,” Wakita said.

Elder Wakita, a knowledge holder of Dakotanation, says that the sacred meaning of headdresses has been lost to many. (Travis Gorby / CBC)

He no longer believes that many people understand the meaning of headdresses.

“Sorry, our people do not understand the sacredness of this. It is not the importance, but the sacredness of something that came from the Creator.”

Chance Paupanekis from Kinosaoshi Picrenation (also known as Norway House) in northern Manitoba said he was angry when he first saw Little Child wearing a pope’s headdress.

“Many of these items need to be acquired through rituals and dedication,” said Paupanekis, an advocate of cultural revitalization and working with families through the First Nations Family Advocate’s Office.

He said that many young people no longer have access to these sacred or ritual items on their own and they are seeing them distributed. Paupanekis are worried about the impact of losing access to their cultural items.

Chance Paupanekis, from Kinosao Shipi Klee Nation, says he is worried about the impact of seeing sacred items distributed to young people. (Travis Gorby / CBC)

“My biggest concern is how young people who don’t really understand these complexities interpret this division,” said Paupanekis.

“It’s a division … it’s part of it Doctrine of discoveryHe said — a 15th-century papal edict that justified colonial expansion by allowing Europeans to claim indigenous lands as their own.

“It’s part of the colonialism of the Divide and Conquer Act, and we’re seeing it. We’ve seen it alive.”

Takan said it would be nice if there was a conversation between the Dakota state and traditional leaders about giving the Pope a headdress.

“It’s important for us to make these discussions, otherwise we’ll lose this part of our history,” he said.

Takan is also worried about the impact on indigenous youth.

“I hope young people will continue to earn money. [a headdress],” He said.

“I hope our people will recover and … remember the symbolism and its purpose, what the true purpose is. [the headdress] It was, and there is. “

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