On being dispossessed, and planning a move


By Drew Hayden Taylor

Originally published in April 2011

It’s been said you can’t fight city hall, but can you fight the Band office?

That is a more contentious issue around here.

For you see, the house I have lived in for the past five years since I have returned home to the bosom of my community from the cold, alien city, will soon no longer be mine to seek shelter in.

The house that I have rented off the Band is about to be dedrewed. Dis-Haydened. It’s to be un-Taylored. Through no actions of my own, I am to be evicted and relocated against my will, like when the Cherokees were forcibly relocated from Georgia to Oklahoma. I don’t want to go to Oklahoma. I’ve been there. It’s humid and has lots of tornadoes.

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I do have strong feelings about this issue. I am just one lone man raging against the mega-governmental organization, the fearsome faceless Kafkaesque behemoth known as the Curve Lake Administration Centre. I fear I am not up to the battle.

So instead, come the fall, the Reserve police station will soon stand where I used to barbecue and cut wood. Where I once fed the raccoons, foxes, deer and bears, will now smell of pepper spray and donuts. And I am sad, truly sad. I thought the band council liked me… at least the ones I voted for.

It’s a truly lovely house, hidden in the woods, a place where I have struggled to create great art and master the perfect omelette.

But the Band council in their infinite wisdom, has decided my removal is for the best.

But I’m not bitter. Really I’m not. So I am still debating possibilities. Should I move back to the city where it is notoriously difficult for a landlord to evict a tenant unless they do something truly horrible, like castrating sheep in the dining room. Or renovate my mother’s house in downtown Curve Lake and maybe turn it into an abattoir, just to get a reaction. As I said, I am not bitter.

Let it be said, I have nothing against the Anishnabek Police Services. I know many of the fine officers personally. I even play poker with one of them – word of warning, never bluff a man who has access to a taser. But I guess the thing that bothers me is that if the Band wanted to turn this place into some paragon of law and order, they should have let me know.

I could have done something. I am a man of resources.

One of my good friends in Toronto is the head of the Police Services Board; basically, he’s the civilian boss of the Toronto Police department. I’m sure I could have gotten him to make me an honorary cop. And I already have some handcuffs somewhere around here left over from a prior and best left undiscussed relationship.

And my car has some bullet holes in it, again from a prior and best left un-discussed relationship. But what’s a guy to do? I am at the Band office’s mercy. For merely daring to object, my status card could be revoked.

Still, one tries to find solace where one can. When I was a kid, I read in a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, I think it was, that the main building lodging England’s Scotland Yard–that revered investigative and police organization–was built on an unsolved murder. Supposedly when they were digging the foundation, they found a human skeleton and never found out whose it was or where it came from.

Hmmm…. That gives me ideas. Maybe I should bury something around here before I leave. Not a body, obviously. I’m a little short on those. But perhaps something that will make me smile every time I drive by.

I must ponder that for sure.

But the short and sweet of the issue is, ‘What to do?’ Essentially, I guess just pack up and prepare to move. Or I could write a tell all about the Band office and council, but unfortunately, unlike a lot of Native communities and their politics, ours isn’t exactly rife with dissention or drama. I still have a couple months, so hope springs eternal.

I could do what the ancient Romans did to Carthage. Just before I leave, sow the ground with salt so nothing will ever grow there. It’s a tried and true expression of disapproval and social comment. But I don’t think the Police department would really care, and it would kind of go against many traditional First Nations teachings about honoring the Earth. As I said right off the bat, sometimes you just can’t fight city hall or the Band Office.

More to come, as the plot thickens.