Understanding the myriad of ways that people form themselves into communities requires that we understand differences between people. Without this understanding, overgeneralizing results. For any group of people that doesn’t belong to our own culture, family, group, nation, etc., this overgeneralizing often turns into negative stereotyping. An example of this is clearly seen when we examine the attitudes of settlers towards Indigenous peoples of any country. To prevent negative overgeneralization and stereotypes, it is critical that we acknowledge the many different types of communities.
Fortunately, Week 11 provides a brief overview of some of the diverse ways Indigenous peoples form communities. The term mythic community was unfamiliar to me; however, after reading the explanation I realized that this is a common method used by settlers to categorize Indigenous peoples. This could explain why Indigenous peoples were not recognized as complex human beings, but rather one- or two-dimensional people, and allowed settlers to dismiss the important contributions Indigenous peoples made to society as a whole.
When we think about the issues facing Canada as a whole (i.e., building pipelines), I often hear people lamenting that it would be easier to come to a conclusion if the Indigenous peoples could make up their minds and agree on something. This is an example of applying the concept of mythic community rather than recognizing the differences that exist between the different nations, communities, tribes, and groups of Indigenous peoples.
One of the most obvious lesson I’m learning from this MOOC is that we apply different rules to Indigenous peoples than we do to any other culture in Canada. For example, looking at the ethnic make up of Canada, according to the 2016 census, we have people identifying themselves as Basque, Britons, French, Acadians, and Quebecois. I don’t think any government would conceive of these different groups as being of one mind, one type.
And yet that is exactly what people expect whenever Indigenous issues arise. According to Wikipedia, there are over 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands in Canada. Each of these are distinct from the other, with their own language, traditions, and culture. There are over 1.5 million Indigenous peoples in Canada. With a population that large, it is obscene to think it is possible to have 100% agreement on any given topic.
Week 12’s lesson: Living Traditions: Expressions in Pop Culture and Art
You can access the MOOC through: https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada#faq