[Search Again] [Home]
WAY OF LIVING DEVELOPED OVER MILLENIA: EDMUND METATAWABIN (A)
An Interview with Edmund Metatawabin, Cree leader, author and sustainability expert who has radical lessons for anyone trying to quit an oppressive, wage-based way of life, and for an industrial society that is struggling to become sustainable. Covers an enormous range of subjects, providing alternative views of work, the economy, the nature of community, land ownership, and a community's long-term values and its sense of time. Metatawabin also gives a candid and horrifying account of his time in residential school, where he and so many others experienced cruelty and life-altering abuse. *Closed Captioned
Cree Season Changes (03:42)
Metatawabin describes how his tribe transitions from winter to spring, including geese hunting activities.
Maintaining Tribal Resources (03:25)
Metatawabin explains that each clan governs a specific territory in Northern Ontario; tribal law maintains water quality of the Kistachowan Sipi—renamed the Fort Albany River in English.
First Nations Migrations (02:38)
Metatawabin's clan stories date back to the Ice Age. He explains that they followed fresh water movement along James Bay until settling 200 miles south.
First Nations Economic Policy (03:29)
Metatawabin explains how clans respected territory boundaries, intermingled socially, and exchanged resources. Sharing food was an investment for community health and survival.
Cree Summer Activities (02:10)
Metatawabin describes strategies for sharing the spring geese hunt among North Ontario clans. Socializing is an important part of harvesting fish.
Cree Fall Migration Strategy (01:47)
Metatawabin describes how clans returned to upriver winter dwellings in increments so that those traveling farthest were supported along their journey.
Faith in the Land (04:05)
Metatawabin explains his tribal philosophy of trusting individual resourcefulness, avoiding fear of misfortune, and accepting fate. Harvesting just enough food is a concept lost to Westerners.
Cree Home Design (04:16)
Metatawabin describes his clan shelters; including caribou hide tents and mud houses. The fire was always kept burning in winter and families built a new dwelling each year.
Cree Work Concept (01:48)
Metatawabin explains that labor is an inevitable yet enjoyable social activity in his tribe.
Cree Spirituality (03:56)
Metatawabin explains the importance of laughter, singing and dancing to tribal well-being. Each age group relates to a different legendary figure; prayers and stories are interconnected.
Communicating with Spirits (05:43)
Metatawabin describes messages from entities representing plants and animals during Cree ceremonies, including instructions for maintaining clan health.
First Nation Place Relationships (01:21)
Metatawabin explains how Cree legends confirm tribal connection to geographical locations, such as the Ghost River where a battle occurred.
Cree Origin Myth (07:30)
Metatawabin tells the story of Nest Island, in which the Great Spider lowers a banished couple to the Lower World. The bear teaches them to survive.
Cree Kinship Structure (01:46)
Metatawabin discusses how tribal legends set an example for younger generations who are motivated to make their elders proud.
Tribal Marriage System (03:27)
Metatawabin outlines Cree rules for educating younger generations on survival skills. Men wait until 30 and women until 20 to start a family; love partnerships are known as sacred fires.
Integrated Tribal Education (02:17)
Metatawabin explains how multiple generations participate in raising children in the Cree culture.
Cree Longevity (07:02)
Metatawabin explains how elderly tribal members are cared for in exchange for wisdom. They stay in the family home, rather than being placed in a separate setting as in Western society.
Living on the Land (06:30)
Metatawabin reflects on differences between urban and rural lifestyles in terms of time and stress. In the Cree culture, work revolves around food harvests and basic existence rather than artificial deadlines.
Entering Residential School (03:19)
Metatawabin's father delayed his enrollment as long as possible. He recalls entering the abusive institution at age eight, where he stayed until he was 16.
Residential School Abuse (04:12)
Metatawabin describes physical and psychological punishments that undermined his tribal upbringing. The “education” system cost many First Nations children their self-confidence and put them at a disadvantage in white society.
Residential School Sexual Predators (06:17)
Metatawabin describes abuses suffered by First Nations children at the hands of pedophile priests and nuns. A friend of his was impregnated and forced to abort; she never recovered from losing her baby.
Perpetuating Abuse (02:25)
Four generations of First Nations children suffered in the residential school system. Metatawabin explains why the sexual abuse cycle continues in tribal communities.
Healing from Abuse (05:49)
Tribal spiritual practices and elder wisdom have helped Metatawabin's clan recover from residential school traumas and begin the cultural reestablishment process.
Modern Sustainability Challenges (03:40)
Metatawabin contrasts greed and resource exploitation in the capitalist system from preserving the natural world for future generations in traditional indigenous culture.
Living for Unborn Generations (02:36)
Metatawabin shares his inherently sustainable tribal philosophy of environmental stewardship.