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Sean Carleton @SeanCarleton
, 17 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
1. It seems this tweet is hitting a nerve. I'm having a hard time keeping up with up the comments, questions, + threats. Now that the #Unistoten solidarity actions have finished for today, I wanted to take just a few moments to reflect +offer some further thoughts as a historian.
2. My tweet was one of solidarity; I originally intended it as an intervention into the emerging discussion by Canadians about the RCMP’s action against the #UnistotenCamp that was treating this kind of operation against Indigenous peoples as an anomaly, a one-off. It is not.
3. As a historian, I can tell you it is part of a longer pattern going back to the North-West Mounted Police's formation (later the Royal NWMP, later RCMP). Indeed, the origins of the "Mounties" are very much connected to colonization, sent out by John A. Macdonald no less.
4. I was almost surprised to read the backlash, threats, and denialism in response to the tweet, about the force's origins in colonization. Sure, you won't see this history played up at the Musical Ride…
5. Many historical and popular accounts of the NWMP/RNWMP/RCMP exist (Daniel Francis's ch in National Dreams is a good start, or Kieth Walden's book on the subject, Visions of Orders: The Canadian Mounties in Symbol and Myth) that make this very point re: colonization #cdnhist
6. It is not really debated in historical circles. The literature is pretty clear. But there was some push back on the *literal* comment, which was made more as a direct response to people expressing shock or disbelief that the RCMP could be used as an agent of colonization...
7. Some suggested origins in whiskey trade, and not Indigenous resistance that motivated the force; others, simply bought and stuck to the idea of the NWMP bringing "law and order" to the west. My tweet - trying to do much in 300 characters - was trying to draw Canada's attention
8. To the fact that the NWMP was created as an extension of the federal government's colonial agenda; yes JAM wanted to check whiskey trading, yes they wanted to prevent the US from annexing territory (like Canada did), but all of this was connected to anxiety and fears that...
9. Indigenous resistance could jeopardize Canada's plan for western expansion, as @le_shipster outlined in the comments; the whiskey trade targeted Indigenous groups and gov worried that conflicts could risk sparking Indigenous conflict; that conflict, if Canada did not intervene
10. to protect ITS COLONIAL INTERESTS, could be used by the US as a pretext for annexation/invasion etc etc. These fears became real with the Cypress Hills Massacre in 1873 which JAM used to justify creating +sending out the force. The colonial context of the origins is important
11. Most Indigenous folks know of all this, in different ways - and that is why I addressed my tweet to "Canada." Moreover, this is all pretty basic, easily accessible history: IT IS EVEN IN THE RCMP'S WIKI ENTRY:….
12. In short, Canada did not want to lose out on COLONIZING the west for its own benefit, so it created the NWMP, in part, to help contain Indigenous resistance, stabilize the area, +then used the force to further facilitate colonization and capitalist accumulation in 19th cent.
13. Since then the "Mounties" have gone through different transitions but a constant is that they have been USED, at different times +in different ways to perform surveillance, contain, + crack down on Indigenous resistance i.e. Gustafsen Lake (1995) Elsipogtog (2014) #Unistoten
14. That is to say nothing about the use of the RCMP to enforce residential school attendance etc etc OR Canada's use of military forces to contain and attack Indigenous resistance, from the War of 1885 to Oka (1990):…
15. This is a reality Canada needs to grapple with; history can help contextualize and highlight that #Unistoten is part of a larger pattern of the creation + deployment of Mounties as a force for colonial +capitalist interests. That SHOULD make us angry, but not at me or history
16. For now, my energies won't be spent battling trolls on twitter denying history - but directed, as they were across "Canada" today, in solidarity with #Unistoten #WetsuwetenStrong #knowurhistory…
14.5 See @KentMonkman's incredibly powerful "The Scream", on RCMP's role in taking children away from parents/communities (thanks @VeldonCoburn for the reminder). Really, everyone should check out Monkman's traveling exhibit:…
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