Nuxalk Nation

A website dedicated to Nuxalk community

The question that forms the title of this blog post is actually a loaded question. A loaded question can be interpreted as a question that begs an answer that it already has.

We beg to differ. The title is a loaded question in the sense that it is so packed with so many different ways you can go that it really opens many different conversations at many different levels. You see, an ethnic identity can be defined in many ways. This is still up for debate.

Some people define ethnic identity primarily in terms of DNA. In other words, they look at body chemistry, body configuration and physiology as the main determinant of ethnic identity. This is a problem because your genes don’t carry your culture.

Culture is something that you learn. Culture is a function of nurture not nature. Just because somebody physically looks like they come from a specific community doesn’t necessarily mean that they have all the cultural attributes of that particular community. It also doesn’t mean that they naturally care about such cultural prerogatives and concerns.

Other people define ethnicity in terms of culture, so instead of focusing on what you look like, they focus on a community of concerns and sensibility. This is crucial because you can tell somebody comes from a specific culture based on how they look at the world and how they see themselves in that world.

When you are trained as a little kid to look at the world in a certain way and define certain big concepts in life, like what is the good life, what is good, what are the things to strive for in life, and so on and so forth, you walk away with the distinct take on the world and an attitude about it that nobody can readily take away from you, unless they brainwash you. This is the definition of an ethnic identity we subscribe to, and accordingly, we work hard to keep that alive.

They originated in Canada,

in a region called Acadia.

The good news is, since an ethnic identity is not genetic physical or based on physical characteristics alone or exclusively, there’s a lot of room to move as far as keeping these social constructs and concepts alive. In particular, it all boils down to history.

History creates and breaks ethnic peoples. If you need proof of this, read up on the history of the Cajun. They originated in Canada, in a region called Acadia. When the French lost to the British, many Acadians are moved to the Louisiana area of the United States. This was a part of the extensive French holdings of the United States, which the French, under Napoleon, ultimately sold to the American government arising from the 13 original colonies.

The Cajuns actually descended from many different people, like the Scots, the Irish, the British, and the French. What they shared in common was not just the language because a lot of them actually just spoke English exclusively with Cajun accent. Instead, what united them is their shared history. This is crucial to keeping ethnic identity alive.

When people feel that they’re part of a certain history, and they have a responsibility to keep that history alive and to transmit it from generation to generation, that ethnic identity remains vibrant. People feel connected to it. People feel emotionally invested in it. This is how we keep Nuxalk ethnic identity alive on this website. We highlight certain points in history.

We also describe the sensibilities that arise from this. It is our hope that people place proper importance on this and tell their kids about them, so they can always reference these collective values, which form, to a large extent, a distinctive, collective identity.