As printed in a 1960/70’s NARP newsletter
[Note: The following extracts are from a speech given by Gerry Gambill at a
conference on Human Rights at Tobique Reserve in New Brunswick, in August,
1958. In this speech, he warned native people about how this society goes about
taking away the human rights of native people…]
“The art of denying Indians their human rights has been refined to a science. The
following list of commonly used techniques will be helpful in “burglar-proofing” your
reserves, and your rights.
GAIN THE INDIANS CO-OPERATION – It is much easier to steal someone’s human
rights if you can do it with his OWN co-operation. So…
1. Make him a non-person. Human rights are for people. Convince Indians their
ancestors were savages, that they were pagan, that Indians were drunkards.
Make them wards of the government. Make a legal distinction, as in the
Indian Act, between Indians and persons. Write history books that tell half the
2. Convince the Indian that he should be patient, that these things take time.
Tell him that we are making progress, and that progress takes time.
3. Make him believe that things are being done for his own good. Tell him you’re
sure that after he has experienced your laws and actions that he will realise
how good they have been. Tell the Indian he has to take a little of the bad in
order to enjoy the benefits you are conferring on him.
4. Get some Indian people to do the dirty work. There are always those who will
act for you to the disadvantage of their own people. Just give them a little
honor and praise. This is generally the function of band councils, chiefs, and
advisory councils: they have little legal power, but can handle the tough
decisions such as welfare, allocation of housing etc.
5. Consult the Indian, but do not act on the basis of what you hear. Tell the
Indian he has a voice and go through the motions of listening. Then interpret
what you have heard to suit your own needs.
6. Insist that the Indian “GOES THROUGH PROPER CHANNELS.” Make the
channels and the procedures so difficult that he won’t bother to do anything.
When he discovers what the proper channels are and becomes proficient at
the procedures, change them.
7. Make the Indian believe that you are working hard for him, putting in much
overtime and at a great sacrifice, and imply that he should be appreciative.
This is the ultimate in skills in stealing human rights; when you obtain the
thanks of your victim.
8. Allow a few individuals to “MAKE THE GRADE” and then point to them as
examples. Say that the ‘HARDWORKERS” AND THE “GOOD” Indians have
made it, and that therefore it is a person’s own fault if he doesn’t succeed.
9. Appeal to the Indian’s sense of fairness, and tell him that even though things
are pretty bad it is not right for him to make strong protests. Keep the
argument going on his form of protest and avoid talking about the real issue.
refuse to deal with him while he is protesting. Take all the fire out of his
10.Encourage the Indian to take his case to court. This is very expensive, takes
lots of time and energy and is very safe because laws are stacked against
him. The court’s ruling will defeat the Indian’s cause, but makes him think he
has obtained justice.
11. Make the Indian believe that things could be worse, and that instead of
complaining about the loss of human rights, to be grateful for the rights we do
have. In fact, convince him that to attempt to regain a right he has lost is likely
to jepordize the rights that he still has.
12. Set yourself up as the protector of the Indian’s human rights, and then you
can choose to act only on those violations you wish to act upon. By getting
successful on a few minor violations of human rights, you can point to these
as examples of your devotion to his cause. The burglar who is also the
doorman is the perfect combination.
13. Pretend that the reason for the loss of human rights is for some other reason
that the person is an Indian. Tell him some of your best friends are Indians,
and that his loss of rights is because of his housekeeping, his drinking, his
14. Make the situation more complicated than is necessary. Tell the Indian you
will have to take a survey to find out how many other Indians are being
discriminating against. Hire a group of professors to make a year-long
15. Insist on unanimity. Let the Indian know that when all the Indians in Canada
can make up their minds about just what they want as a group, then you will
act. Play one group’s special situation against another group’s wishes.
16. Select very limited alternatives, neither of which has much merit, and then tell
the Indian that indeed he has a choice. Ask, for instance, if he could or would
rather have council elections in June or December, instead of asking if he
wants them at all.
17. Convince the Indian that the leaders who are the most beneficial and
powerful are dangerous and not to be trusted. Or simply lock them up on
some charge like driving with no lights. Or refuse to listen to the real leaders
and spend much time with the weak ones. Keep the people split from their
leaders by sowing rumour. Attempt to get the best leaders into high paying
jobs where they have to keep quiet to keep their paycheck coming in.
18. Speak of the common good. Tell the Indian that you can’t consider yourselves
when there is a whole nation to think of. Tell him that he can’t think only of
himself. For instance, in regard to hunting rights, tell him we have to think of
all the hunters, or the sporting good industry.
19. Remove rights so gradually that people don’t realize what has happened until
it is too late. Again, in regard to hunting rights, first restrict the geographical
area where hunting is permitted, then cut the season to certain times of the
year, then cut the limits down gradually, then insist on licensing, and then
Indians will be on the same grounds as white sportsmen.
20. Rely on some reason and logic (your reason and logic) instead of rightness
and morality. Give thousands of reasons for things, but do not get trapped
into arguments about what is right.
Special thanks to dickshovel.com for the digital text version.