August 1st, 2023 | JOHN MILLER

This Book Isn't What You Think

A review of Rez Rules by Chief Clarence Louie.
Chief Clarence Louie has been a significant leading figure for decades and now that he’s on the cusp of retirement he has decided to put together a legacy book entitled, Rez Rules: My Indictment of Canada's and America's Systemic Racism Against Indigenous Peoples.
Don’t let the title scare you off; this book isn’t a woke grievance rundown by some progressive scholar looking to white-shame. Chief Louie has a large axe to grind, but he grinds it against everybody who stands in his way, regardless of skin colour, heritage, political philosophy, or vested interests. Former Prime Minister Paul Martin writes the introduction, and he carefully selects his words, making sure the reader understands that his respect for Chief Louie isn’t an endorsement of every opinion contained within.
I don’t think Chief Louie minds or even really cares what Paul Martin thinks or doesn’t think. Chief Louie is a no-nonsense, call-it-how-I-see-it type of leader who lays out his perspective in the book with incendiary commentary. This is not an objective book and I was, at times, left rolling my eyes or feeling ready to fact-check and debate, but the value in reading it is to learn and appreciate Chief Louie’s perspective on things, even if you disagree with him on many points.
Why does it matter?
Chief Louie presided over the “Miracle in the Desert” by governing the Osoyoos reserve from a poverty-stricken ghetto into a burgeoning and successful economic community. Despite all the handwringing by liberals and conservatives alike, Chief Louie just made success happen using the tools and life lessons he had at his disposal.
Today the Osoyoos reserve has more jobs than people and earns over $120 million a year from business revenue. This from a reserve of only 540 members. Vineyards, forestry, a cement company, a racetrack…this reserve is a model for what good governance and capitalist hustle is capable of achieving.
Which brings us to a lot of Chief Louie’s philosophy. Self-sufficiency is key and that comes with hard work and good sense. The best parts of the book are when he turns his sites inward and demands accountability and responsibility from individuals themselves, no excuses.   

My mom doesn’t like what she sees as modern “Indian laziness.” Like many Elders, she grew up working hard and never had an entitlement attitude. Many years ago, she gave me this advice: 'The bank should rent a van and load it up with all the healthy young people who don’t want to get a full-time job or go to school-all the lazy asses-and fly them to Iraq and drop them off. All the ones that make it back on their own are the keepers.'” – Rez Rules

The above quote shocked me because that sounds like something I would say. Typically, we hear official "Indians" do everything in their power to play the victim. This works nicely on white liberal progressives with a guilt complex, but tends to be greeted with chagrin and hostility amongst those of us who don’t play the game. How refreshing to hear that Indians themselves judge and police one another as do all other people across cultures.

I once asked a woman what her adult grandson was doing. She said, “Being a couch warrior”. When I asked what that meant, she replied, “He’s lying around on the couch all day waiting for the next roadblock, then he’ll jump up and put his camo pants on.” I told her if he wants to be a warrior, he should get his lazy butt in a job and feed himself and help pay the electric bill that keeps the TV on all day rather than depending on his gramma to pay the bills. A real warrior gets up early and works every day and keeps the Rez clean-especially their gramma’s house and yard. – Rez Rules

The book is full of stuff like this, and it is a breath of fresh air in contrast to the legacy media frame of Indians as helpless victims from whom nothing better can ever be expected. This is also the key to Chief Louie’s success in governing the reserve and creating a trickle-down culture of heightened expectations.
Chief Louie also brings nuance to typical grievances, such as residential schools, which break the established narrative. Here’s one quick passage…

When I asked my gramma what she remembered about kids being sent to residential school, she said, “I would see some parents dragging their kids crying to the train or bus pushing their kids away.” I asked, why would parents do that to their kids? My gramma replied, “So they could go drinking.” – Rez Rules

Lest you think that Louie is a race traitor, make no mistake, he saves his biggest criticisms for whites and views history with a bitter snarl. I don’t blame him, as there are many snarl-worthy instances throughout history of the Indians being slaughtered and deceived by white adversaries. Louie goes too far in my opinion, but his perspective is coloured by his people and his position. This doesn’t excuse falling for straight-up fake news like this…

In Canada from the late 1800s to the 1990s, some 150,000 children were taken from their families and sent off to residential schools. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates that over four thousand of them died while at these schools, but the exact number will never be known because no one (government or church) was really keeping count – no one cared. Many of the children were buried in unmarked graves, as the church and the federal government had no shame in not providing a proper burial…
In May of 2021, the skeletal remains of 215 children were discovered at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Canada lowered its flags and all levels of government offered prayers and sympathy. I have had enough of nice gestures for the day or the week – I want a full criminal investigation. Those unmarked graves should be declared a crime scene. What would Canada and the RCMP do if the remains of even two white children were found? The children that were by Canadian law sent to residential schools were not lost, they were stolen. It is well documented in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that over four thousand Native children died at residential schools across Canada. – Rez Rules

This book was published when Canada’s legacy media was going haywire about “mass graves” that subsequently turned out to be wildly, insanely overblown. This was in 2021, before the trucker convoy revealed how debased, corrupt and unreliable legacy journalism has become. Chief Louie should know better, but one of his hallmarks isn’t just being an Indian Chief, it’s also being a Baby Boomer… and broadcast media is the crack cocaine of Boomer information.
Residential schools got politicized about 20 years ago, once people realized there was legal money on the table. Before that they were usually just viewed as authoritarian boarding schools where life was hard and respect for cultural differences was low. Education was difficult to deliver, and Canada was a third world country compared to what we have today.
I suspect Chief Louie recognizes that as bad as things may have been, it’s no excuse now to wallow or give up.

In the book Descendants of Warriors by Kamao Cappo, there is a section I very much agree with, which reads:
There has been talk about our people first needing nurturing and healing before we can properly address our economic developments issues…one would need to imagine 200 years ago and a young man with a family sitting in the teepee and he refuses to go out and hunt buffalo with the other men because he feels he needs nurturing or healing first. The point is self-explanatory, in that the men would have to fulfill their function of going out and providing for the family and only later in their free time would they seek out an Elder for guidance or they would attend a ceremony to assist themselves. – Rez Rules

Chief Louie extends this observation to this fact…

According to recent estimates, forty thousand Native kids are in the child welfare system in Canada. That is more than half the total number of kids in care in the country – yet Indigenous children make up only 7% of Canada’s child population. – Rez Rules

The game of demanding that white people provide solutions to Indian problems and then blaming them when those solutions aren’t perfect seems to be coming to an end. Residential schools were the proposed solution to providing educations to Indian children, yet severe problems remained.
The Sixties Scoop is given a nod in the book as another black mark against white intervention, but that was an attempt to protect children from even worse outcomes remaining for them inside their own homes. Today we’ve got foster care programs in place in an attempt to help children escape abusive situations, and that too is viewed as racist through the lens of Woke politics.
Chief Louie isn’t wrong to ascribe blame to whites where it’s due, but he tries to keep one foot in the grievance industry while recognizing that the deeper and more fundamental problems lay elsewhere.

I have noticed most cab drivers have an accent and are people of colour, so I ask, “Where did you come from?” Usually, it’s some poor overseas country. Many have only been in the country for a few years, and yet these newcomers have somehow internalized the image of the “Lazy Drunken Indian who gets everything free from the government.” How can this be?
The country they were raised in did not embed this myth in their mind. So where do so many recently arrived cab drivers learn this? The fact is, there is too much racism in every Canadian and American city. The fact is, too many Canadians and Americans don’t know the real truth of their country’s origin and history. Most people’s knowledge of Indigenous people comes from John Wayne movies or the news – for example, when Natives get pushed to the limit and put up a roadblock to protest. – Rez Rules

This is where Chief Louie’s Baby Boomer pedigree shines through once again. Does he really think people have formed opinions about Indians based on John Wayne movies? How many people under 50 even know who John Wayne was? Does he really think those immigrant cab drivers have formed a stereotypical impression of the “lazy drunk Indian” because they watched The Searchers on Turner Classic Movies that one time?
As for legacy news media, could Natives have better and more sympathetic allies than Canadian broadcasters? Indians are portrayed as innocent victims or noble heroes in whatever news story hits the airwaves.
No. The reason there are still bad stereotypes out there in the culture is because there are too many real-life examples of the stereotypes in existence. This isn’t a condemnation of Indian people, it’s just an honest admission of reality. This is where Chief Louie and his self-sufficiency message resonates the loudest and offers the best path forward.
Playing the grievance game is coming to an end. Canada is projected to be majority non-White by around 2045. By the end of the 21st century, only 20% of Canada will be white. As power slowly gets severed from historical “Settler” connections, the new non-White bosses of the future are unlikely to look kindly upon current Indian excuses for failure. Tales of woe won’t find the sympathy they currently do with pathologically compassionate Whites. Blaming social dysfunction on your Indian grandfather’s boarding school isn’t going to fly with non-Whites who see that their very own parents escaped from third world countries riddled with corruption and poverty and flourished in Canada within a single generation.
Fixating on the past is a dead end. History is awash in bloodshed and power struggles. Indians and whites have partnered together and advanced as a team. The benefits of contact have been felt by both groups and the more we can look forward together the better off everyone will be.
Indians are survivors. They spent thousands of years in the Americas living sustainable lifestyles and meeting challenges of both man and nature with hardcore determination and skill. When Europeans showed up with advanced technology and exotic disease, Indians were able to endure, adapt and succeed. Today there are more Indians in Canada than ever before and thanks to leaders like Chief Louie, the stage is being set for huge leaps forward in power and achievement.
The days of begging and whining for crumbs from the feds are over. The real power is shifting to people who can generate wealth and construct a future for themselves and their communities. Self-sufficiency and autonomy are allowing for a freedom-orientated culture focused on success and achievement to supplant the injustices and bitterness of the recent past.
You’ve got to know where you’ve been if you know where you’re going and in Rez Rules Chief Louie does a really good job of painting a picture of the changes throughout his life. The question remains to be seen, however, as to whether or not his successors will keep their eyes on the horizon or if they will fall into the trap of currently-fashionable Woke grievance harvesting and self-pity.
Despite his retirement, I hope this isn’t the last we hear of Chief Louie, as there is still much work to be done. Read the book, it’s well worth your time.


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