I'm sure that if the fathers of Confederation were around today putting together the newfangled piece of legislation they called the Indian Act, there would be a new provision. Something akin to "Under no circumstances will the government build a road, bridge, railway or anything blockadable across native land."
Once more the First Nations voice is being heard in Canada via stalled traffic and irate commuters. The Mohawks of the Tyendinaga, near Belleville, are using the ancient Aboriginal negotiation tactic of parking a school bus across a VIA rail line to highlight another ancient Aboriginal tradition: frustration with government negotiations.
It's yet another tent on the campground of unfortunate yet inevitable Aboriginal reaction.
This time the issue is the disputed future of a gravel pit and management of resources located on reserve land.
Blockades were not part of our traditional culture. Historically, Canada had too many wide-open spaces for native people to successfully blockade anything. But we are an adaptable people. After a while, we learned to blockade roads and railways, just as we learned to hunt with guns, cook with flour and lard and ride in cars. It seems like a natural progression.
Sadly, this image of the camouflaged native as blockader is replacing the drunken Indian as Canada's favourite new stereotype.
Children are in danger of becoming more familiar with the Indian wearing a bandana to hide his face than with the mighty warrior on a horse hunting buffalo. In the U.S., the dominant stereotype is the casino Indian.
Here in Canada, I know many people who've been involved in blockades and other acts of civil disobedience. They do not make these choices lightly. Most of them know things will get worse before they get better.
Everybody remembers the tragic images in Alanis Obomsawin's brilliant documentary Rocks At Whiskey Trench of local whites stoning Mohawks who were being evacuated from Kahnawake during the Oka crisis, resulting in one man dying of a heart attack.
Most people have come to understand that natives' actions at Oka, Ipperwash and other standoffs were justified. All involved years of trying to settle land claims with little response from the federal government. The ante needed to be upped.
On the news, I heard an annoyed VIA passenger bitterly condemn the native blockade: "I didn't think they were allowed to do that, but I guess they can do whatever they want." Our elders used to say the same thing about white people.
Admittedly, I would have been a little annoyed, too, if I'd been on the train. But what these passengers need to know is that First Nations people don't enjoy doing this. It's not a field trip. They don't get paid for it.
Oka was not a First Nations Woodstock. Ipperwash wasn't an Outward Bound for political Aboriginals. Most of these people would rather be home with their families or making corn soup or watching the playoffs. Sound familiar, Canada?
Of course, there's always the threat that the police will come in with guns blazing. That's always a huge inducement at the "what will we do this weekend" meeting.
Remember that ferry that went down in British Columbia last year? It was mostly fishing boats from a nearby native community that ended up ferrying everybody to safety.
Contrary to popular paranoia, Aboriginal blockades are not going to spread across the country like wildfire. Take my community, for example. It's on a peninsula with one road in and one road out. Putting up a blockade would be kind of self-defeating.
Simply put, forget all those images you remember as a child of multitudes of feathered and screaming Indians attacking wagon trains in the American West. They have nothing to do with today's blockades.
At the very least, irate VIA passengers will have an amusing tale to tell their grandkids. "I was part of the great Tyendinaga Railway Blockade of 07." I'm sure insurance will cover those companies or individuals who may have lost money because of the inconvenience. There must be some sort of "Act of Indian" clause somewhere.