Indian Reservation versus First Nation

August 19th, 2009 by scott and becky

Travelling through Saskatchewan, our route took us along a highway that intersections with several “Indian Reservations”. In Saskatchewan the highway signs indicated “Entering Indian Reservation” and “Leaving Indian Reservation”. When we saw these signs, we both cringed at the terminology. Words are very powerful things, and the language used seemed rather offensive to us.

Prior to riding this section of highway, we had been warned about the road ahead. A kind person mentioned that all the stores in the area had bars on the window and warned us that it would not be safe for us to camp anywhere on the side of the road because it was Indian land. Riding through, we never felt uncomfortable or really all that different from riding anywhere else in Saskatchewan. Someone even pulled over while we were stopped to help ensure we were OK. So, we wonder at the power of language and if the use of the term “Indian Reservation” just reinforces stereotypes.

We wondered what alternative wording would feel more appropriate, and we saw it riding in Ontario – there was a sign announcing a “First Nation”. That certainly seems to be more politically correct, but also just feels better to us.

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3 Responses to “Indian Reservation versus First Nation”

  1. ed wiersema Says:

    I hope you liked the sign. Could you still pronounce the name? Hope trip is going well and enjoyed the company on sat and sunday morning. Will follow you until you arive at home.
    Regards
    ed

  2. Jenn Wudrich Says:

    There are some signs that say “First Nations” in Sask, but honestly, I have never encountered so much racism towards first nations people as I have here in Saskatchewan. My mother in law tells a story about how Dalton had a childhood friend who she thought was “native” and how she was so happy when she found out he wasn’t. 50% of the population here is aboriginal, I don’t understand how people can be so intolerant. It’s embarrassing.

    So you are in Thunder Bay! Woot!

    Jenn

  3. Julie Mallon Says:

    Hello Scott and Becky,

    I was wondering if you could tell me what highway or roadway you were travelling on in Saskatchewan that have the “Entering” or “Leaving” “Indian Reservation” signs. I tried to search for an image but only come up with signs in the U.S. I would like to see a Canadian example and thought I would be able to use google maps to do so. Would you remember what road you took? Also if in the future you do another bike blog, maybe you could incorporate a map with your route that could be updated?

    Thanks in advance,

    Julie

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