A Western Effect on Indians in Canada

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“A short history of Indians in Canada” is a comedic approach to the sad truth of how western culture has belittled the first nations people and their culture. This short story follows group of white men who engage in discussion over witnessing a flock of “birds” fly into the side of a skyscraper. “Look out! Bob shouts. There are Indians flying into the skyscrapers and falling on the sidewalk.” King is using clear imagery to describe the tragic history the indians have experienced, while adding a twist of comedy. While reading this short story, I couldn’t help but make connections to colonization.

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First nations people were forced to give up their land, to adapt to western culture, and ultimately forget their own. “By the time the commuters show up, you’ll never even know the indians were here.” King is making a connection and voicing his issue with the fact that before colonization, it’s as if nothing mattered or even existed. When king describes the flock of indians flying into the side of the buildings, the buildings and skyscrapers represent the industrialization that western culture has built, and the flock of bird flying into the side of them, represents the indians trying to adapt to a new society, and failing. There is a common stereotype that Indians are “savage”, and “wild” which is why King refers to them as animals in his story, specifically birds. Another reasoning for King choosing to refer to the indians as animals, could be due to the fact that nature plays a big part in First nations culture, First nation people believe they have a special relationship with the earth, and all the living things within it.

Canada attempted to commit cultural genocide on the Indian people, and force civilization upon them. “Killing the indian in the child” was a mindset westerners had to get rid of all the indians in Canada. We listen in on a conversation between Bill, and Bob discussing what happens when they find a “stunned”, and injured, indian. Bob explains that they take them back to a shelter, and nurse them to health, and then return them into the wild. Bill then continues by saying “If we don’t find them right away, they don’t stand a chance”.

This is King’s way of mocking western culture for forcing indians into becoming civilized. “Tragedy is my topic, comedy is my strategy.” I enjoy reading King’s story, and find it easy to follow along and visualize the points he’s trying to make in the story. My initial reaction was frustration, because I wasn’t sure if comedy would be the way to go with such a delicate and converserversial topic. Although after thoroughly analysing and re – reading, I think King did a great job at getting all the points across visually, while making an interesting read at the same time. I find the more you read this story, the more you discover and think about the connections he’s making within the story. After reading this short story, you feel as though it’s a spectacle, or as though it would never occur. If you sit back and think about the points made in the story, and connect it to real life, it makes sense. Indian culture is so misunderstood, especially by western culture. We have slowly started taking steps to accepting new cultures and allowing change. Although in order for us to accept it, we must first understand it.

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