Dances with Dependency
Out of Poverty through Self-Reliance
by Calvin Helin
Orca Spirit Publishing | 313 pp | $23.94
Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Entertainment. Join the Discussion of this Book »
The 2008 world-wide economic crisis taught us there are no quick solutions to economic issues. Even with the economic stimulus plan in the United States that included a provision to create jobs, there are still far too many people unemployed.
American Indians in the United States and Aboriginals in Canada have a long history of high unemployment. Some reserves report unemployment rates that sometimes hit 70 percent. It is fair to say if there was 70 percent total unemployment in either the United States or Canada, the economy would totally collapse - and in all probability bring a revolution similar to what we are witnessing in Middle Eastern countries.
A revolution of sorts is what Calvin Helin calls for in his 2006 book, “Dances with Dependency: Out Poverty Through Self-Reliance”. Helin, from the Tsimshian Nation on the northwest coast of British Columbia, calls for Aboriginals in Canada to become self-sufficient.
The book is illustrated by master artist Bill Helin of the Tsimshian Nation. He is a cousin of the author.
“Dances with Dependency: Out Poverty Through Self-Reliance” provides an historical background of how the Europeans came and colonized the Americas. Prior to European domination, Aboriginals and American Indians were very self-reliant and lived in a system that allow for sustenance. They had their own economies, which utilized the barter system. Once colonization took over the continent, the indigenous people were stripped of their land, put on reservations and became dependent on government to sustain them.
Unfortunately, many Aboriginals in Canada and American Indians have learned to depend on the government to take care of them. Helin contends dependency on government transforms into “learned helplessness”.
In “Dances with Dependency: Out Poverty Through Self-Reliance” Helin seeks to revolutionize and inspire First Nations to move beyond dependency on government to self-sufficiency.
Helin is one of Canada’s best known attorneys. He founded the Native Investment and Trade Association and is the founding vice-president of the National Aboriginal Business Association. He writes about how influential his family - particularly- his grandmother was on the belief system he is governed by as a successful professional.
“Dances with Dependency: Out Poverty Through Self-Reliance” is integrated with concepts Helin learned from his family and what he has learned as a professional. Helin is strong on education playing the most important role in revolutionizing Aboriginals.
Helin provides an excellent case to move beyond dependency to self-sufficiency. The book should be read by all indigenous people of the Americas, as well as all government officials, social workers and other professionals who work with Native people.
As we have witnessed with the world-wide economic crisis, there are never quick fixes to greed. Nor are there quick fixes to revolutionize Native people to self-sufficiency, but “Dances with Dependency: Out Poverty Through Self-Reliance” provides fine food for thought.
posted November 5, 2011 11:40 am edt
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