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Native Comeback

Native peoples in Canada are portrayed as tragedies in the media. We get one story about the residential schools, one story about missing women, another story about how their cultural traditions are being destroyed… It seems as though they are bound for misery.

Not at all. Some communities are blooming. Native youths are resisting. Elderly Aboriginals are smiling at them.

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Native American Poli-techs

Note: This article was originally published on February 18th, 2013 on the blog The Lighthouse.

The most accessible accounts of the arrival of Europeans in the Americas are those of European conquerors and their men. In these accounts, which are the source of many stereotypes, Native Americans are often depicted as being ignorant, backwards and weak. Although the technology available

Great seal of the United States
Great seal of the United States. The 13 arrows representing the original 13 colonies are based on an Iroquois symbol representing the original Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee), which consisted of five nations instead of six.

to them in the 16th century was not as advanced as European technology, Native Americans were able to run empires and maintain political relations. Their social and political organization even influenced the politics of the modern United States. The United States owe their unification to the Iroquois League and the Inca’s political system, which was an early form of socialism, demonstrates the ability of Native Americans to run empires.

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Distorting Assassin’s Creed III

Note: This article was originally published on November 22nd, 2012 on the blog The Lighthouse

In its November 14th‘s editorial, The Globe and Mail accused Ubisoft Montreal of producing propaganda through its latest adventure game, Assassin’s Creed III, which is set during the American Revolution. The Canadian newspaper accused the Montreal-based studio of being biased towards American fans for economic reasons, of making false claims about the allegiance of Native Americans during colonial times, and of degrading the British, which is, according to The Globe and Mail, condescending towards Canada’s history. Most of the editorial is slander towards the game and Ubisoft Montreal.

The controversial Assassin’s Creed III Trailer

North American fans of the game can easily be lead to believe that Assassin’s Creed III is biased towards Americans because of Ubisoft Montreal’s North American advertising campaign. The game’s trailers do glorify the United-States, which is normal given the game’s historical context. Ubisoft Montreal had two advertising campaigns: one for North America and one for the United Kingdom. In the UK trailers, Connor Ratonhnhaké:ton Kenway, the game’s protagonist, can be seen killing American soldiers whereas the North American trailers were partially censored.  Long time fans of Assassin’s Creed know that the game is about a feud between the Assassins and the Templars. Connor’s goals are protecting his village and assassinating Templars and not winning the revolution for the Americans. Connor’s targets include both Brits and Americans.  Ubisoft Montreal may have censored their North American trailers to win over American fans, but the game itself does not favour the United-States.

The Globe and Mail claimed that First Nations fought side by side with the British during the war of 1812. That is irrelevant since the game is set during the American Revolution. Whether it was the war of 1812 or the American Revolution though, Native American tribes sided with European nations who could best serve their interests. As a result, some tribes were actually pitted against each other. The authors of the Globe‘s editorial probably made their bold claim because they were thinking of Joseph Thayendanegea Brandt, a Mohawk chief famous for fighting alongside the British during the American Revolution. Yet, Joseph Louis Cook (Akiatonharónkwen), an influential leader of African and Abenaki ancestry among the Mohawks, held a grudge against the British and fought them at Valley Forge. The rivalry between Brandt and Cook indeed divided the Mohawks. The Globe and Mail‘s argument is based on historical misconceptions and an oversimplification of history.

It seems that The Globe and Mail‘s editorial was more about boosting the popularity of the Queen of England and Canada’s British colonial past than pointing out historical inaccuracies. What better thing to do than attack a popular game developed in a popular studio based in Quebec, the province that has been most critical of England’s role in Canadian history?  If Canada wants to find its identity, it must, of course, remember its past, but it should not cling on to symbols that are contrary to its independence. Ubisoft Montreal worked with Mohawk consultants on the game and popular magazines and gaming websites have thoroughly reviewed Assassin’s Creed III. They did their homework: The Globe and Mail should have done theirs too.

 

 

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