I'm sitting in Doctor Baker's Dentist chair. He has just brought me the local History of Indian Head and District which he had seen me reading in the waiting area. He is thoughtful like this. Mindful. I look at the blue cover with the round Bell barn, the tree farm, the railroad and agriculture etched in shiny gold.
I feel like a jerk. I'm skimming through the first eight pages, not as an admirer of a community -- very much like the one I was raised in. No, I'm skimming the first eight pages critically. There are 798 pages, and only eight are focused on the first people. I have thought about this imbalance inCanadian history books before, but right now, sitting in the dentist chair, reading the caption "Indians at Indian Head", I am facing the reality of my own history, just like the tender holes in two of my back teeth. No, I'm not very good about flossing, Dr. Baker. Yes, I should have admitted the problem sooner, Dr. Baker. I wonder if it's too late to save those teeth.
I flip the page.
"Are you finding some family in there?" says Dr. Baker as he passes by. They are short staffed this afternoon, so he is his own assistant.
"No, I'm a mad blogger," I say. "I've been blogging about the treaties and this book is just like Settlers of the Hills from my Grandmother's people in Southern Saskatchewan, but I can't believe how it hardly represents First Nations people."
"That's because it's written by Europeans," says Dr. Baker. His mouth is covered in a mask, but his eyebrows raise, a subtle exclamation mark. I think he's saying, it's human nature to see things from your own backyard, and he's right. When I read Settlers of the Hills as a little girl, I never asked, "Where are the first people?" Maybe only now, having moved to Fort Qu'Appelle, past the All Nations Healing Hospital, past the Treaty Four powwow grounds, past the world's largest inhabited tipi, past the Governance Centre, I've finally realized that my own backyard is treaty territory.
Dr. Baker does some long over-due work on my teeth. It wasn't too late.