Offended by Offence

Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry – New Reviews and Responses

A new review of Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry by Daniel Salée has appeared in the International Journal of Canadian Studies (“Indigenous Peoples and Settler Angst in Canada” – posted on The Aboriginal Industry Disrobed page of this blog).  While the review is not supportive of the book, it represents an important breakthrough in that it is a serious academic response to our arguments.  Salée has stressed in the past that it is important to debate these matters, and it is good to see that this is finally happening.

There also are a number of other important developments.  First, MediaIndigena is publishing my critical response to Charles C. Mann (author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus) in two parts (“Sewing a shirt of a button: the pseudeoarchaeology of 1491” – http://www.mediaindigena.com, August 30, 2010).  Mann’s work has been embraced by a number of Native Studies scholars (Taiaiake Alfred, Rauna Kuokkanen, Niigowedom Sinclair) because it denies the theory of cultural evolution.  Those who are taken with Mann’s arguments should be aware of the pseudoarchaeological character of this book.

Secondly, Upping the Anti is publishing a 1,000 word response that Albert Howard and I made to Tom Keefer’s review of Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry.  We are hoping that this response will lead some rational materialist thinkers to question Keefer’s romanticism and ultraleftism (Keefer’s review is posted on The Aboriginal Industry Disrobed page).

Thirdly, Wicazo Sa Review will publish our analysis of Leanne Simpson’s diatribe (also posted on this blog) in their next issue.  This is a particularly important development because of the acceptance of censorship in Native Studies.  Robert Innes, for example, in a recent presentation at Trent University entitled “The Widdowson Question: To Engage or not Engage?”, noted that many scholars in this field “have expressed their concern about Widdowson and Howard’s perspectives and have argued that Native Studies should not engage in their works and that their works should not be included in Native Studies courses”.  Although Innes is critical of our work, he opposes this censorship, maintaining that “Native Studies students should have the opportunity to read and, in the tradition of the founders of the discipline, form articulate assessments of these works (http://www.trentu.ca/academic/nativestudies/celebratingindigenousknowledges/).

Finally, Randy Fred, the creator of FACE: Aboriginal life and culture, has written a favourable review of the book (http://face-siem.com/?p=134).  Fred is very aware of the existence of the Aboriginal Industry (unlike Salée), and it is encouraging to see that there is increasing recognition of this parasitic and socially destructive entity.   This is what we originally hoped when we published the book; to understand a problem, one first has to understand its cause, and the Aboriginal Industry has an interest in obfuscating this understanding.