Manual Difficult Times: Labradors Innu Indians

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In Nevada supersonic flying at both low and high altitudes produces frequent "carpet sonic booms" and even more intense "focus and superfocus booms" which crack the walls and foundations in houses and blow out car windshields. In recognition of the seriousness of the health problem posed by air combat training, the U.

Many medical professionals and researchers who are familiar with the literature on the effects of jet noise and sonic booms have concluded that military training operations such as those experienced by the Innu constitute a serious public health problem. According to Dr.

Richard Bargen, an MD living in Nevada who has studied the health effects of low-level and supersonic jet noise, "people cannot overcome the 'startle effect' induced by extremely loud and unexpected noise - they never habituate to this kind of adverse stimulus. The pair threshold for most people is somewhere between and dBA and permanent damage to the inner ear can occur as a result of exposure to noise in excess of dBA for more than five milliseconds.

Significantly the CAM report concludes that low-level jet noise and sonic booms are incompatible with the hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering activities of the Innu.

In Innu culture, given the great importance of harvesting various wildlife species, an increasingly stressful and threatening environment as a result of jet noise and sonic booms, associated with a decrease in the quality and abundance of wildlife, will be translated into a negative social impact for the community of La Romaine. Negative economic impact, resulting from military expansion, includes a decrease in revenues from the sale of furs and a decrease in the contribution of quality bush foods in the diet of La Romaine Innu.

The increasing jet noise and sonic booms will also result in a decreasing interest to practice their subsistence hunting way of life in the interior of the territory.

Innu (Montagnais-Naskapi)

Denied access to the country, the Innu will have more and more trouble passing on to their children all the important skills and knowledge that have been their heritage for thousands of years. Social problems such as alcohol abuse and family violence are just some of the consequences of denying the Innu access to the country and the resultant "cultural collapse. Frequent air combat exercises are likely to be held using large numbers of aircraft that undertake practice bombing runs, offensive air support rescue operations, rapid deployment exercises, helicopter and tank attacks, etc.


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All of this does not bode well for the future of the Innu people. The wildlife upon which the Innu depend also may be threatened by these developments. There is already evidence to show that many wildlife species including caribou, migratory waterfowl, furbearers and raptors could react adversely to the loud and unexpected noise. For example, female mink raised in captivity eat their young when exposed to extremely loud and unexpected noise. Federal and provincial government studies of the environmental and human impact of the present and proposed air combat training operations in the peninsula will not be complete until after NATO makes a final decision about where to build its training facility.

The Canadian government says it would not accept the base until impact assessment are finished. However, the fact that it is investing a great deal of money and energy in attempting to convince NATO to choose Goose Bay over Konya, Turkey, suggests that it has already committed itself to the idea of having the base in Goose Bay even if negative impacts are identified in the environmental impact assessments. Unfortunately, many of the frontiersmen in Goose Bay do not seem to be aware of the potentially harmful side effects of military expansion in the region.

The promise of increased business revenues and jobs in an area that is economically severely depressed, and a heavy dose of racism toward the Innu, have blinded them to what a military future has in store for them. The net effect of this has been to seriously polarize much of the population, with business interests, immigrant Newfoundlanders and settlers lining up on one side of the issue and the Innu and their non-Labradorian supporters on the other.

The Innu are branded as radicals and extremists for their desperate attempts to protect their health and culture. The outcome of the conflict over the military expansion is primarily a question of how successful the Innu will be in their efforts both to stimulate public awareness about their problem in Canada and Europe and to transform this awareness into some kind of substantive pressure on the Canadian government and its NATO allies.

Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine.

Elena Perlino

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc. Today we Innu have one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. We have one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the country. We have one of the highest rates of chronic disease. We have one of the lowest life expectancies. We have one of the highest rates of alcoholism. And every single Innu family has been touched by tragedy. Every single family has sons, daughters, nephews or nieces, uncles or aunts who have taken their own lives in despair at the state we have been reduced to.

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Because where our people once lived fulfilled lives, and were in control of our own destiny, now we are reduced to a state of total dependense on the government. And how many Innu have become doctors and lawyers, after forty years of "development"? You can count them on the fingers of one hand.

Development for us does not mean being forced to live like other Canadians, something which goes against the thousands of years of our own culture. It should mean being in control ourselves, in our own way, of our lives. We want to be part of Canada, but we also want to be Innu.

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In some months we still leave our settlements and go back to our land to hunt. Here we can find peace away from the terrible life in the settlements, we can feed ourselves by hunting rather than relying on others, and we can truly be ourselves. We're sure the Bushmen want to be part of Botswana, but they also want to be Bushmen. We cannot be Innu unless we are on our own land. We're sure the Bushmen cannot be Bushmen unless they are on their own land.