Written and recorded in the second half of 2006, "This is our Land" explores some of my conflicting feelings about treaty rights and reparations in British Columbia and Canada as a whole. I'm not entirely certain about what I conclude in the song, and I think that's OK. But I often feel conflicted about treaty rights because they are necessary, but they also delineate legislative difference between different peoples. But I also acknowledge the continuing legislative history involved in the process. (Note that I am fully aware at my overuse of "but" in that paragraph.)
Musically, the song contains no more than two chords. It's the first song I recorded with the Acoustica Beatcraft drum program, and its drumbeat is way too simple. I used a Boss SYB-1 for the bass parts, recorded in mono but I isolated the synth distortion to move from speaker to speaker. I wrote and recorded the song in Hope, BC, from 2005-2006.
Note the presence of the Fender Rhodes, which I bought for myself in the Summer of 2006. I'm not good at playing the thing, but I appreciate its warm tones.
I saw the image of Chief Poundmaker
On a puzzle box through a toy store window
It cost $22.95
His dignity pulled my gaze, stopped my step.
Airbrushed and modern, it didn’t seem right
Some puzzles can’t be solved
The pieces just don’t fit
Jammed with wanton interest
In Cutknife Creek and Treaty 6
But his words remain – articulate and relevant —
And sometimes when I sleep I hear his voice proclaim
This is our land
It’s not a piece of pemmican
To be divided up and sold back to us
This is our sustenance
Misused, abused, maligned
E’er since you came to us
I can’t say I’ve fully understood the terms of lawyers and lobby groups
Executives of government, activists and chiefs
I hear them on the radio – their confident clear voices
Their passion seeps through murky, legal words
But I’m entitled to my space as they’re entitled to their birthright
As I’m entitled to my privacy.
(Sometimes it seemed so simple)
No fear of reparations, ‘cause all their power’s been taken
It still barely affects me when I hear rich voices say
This is our land
It’s not a piece of property
Settled by one and one alone
And it’s so far away
And I’m sure they know their place
To share that land I’ll never walk on
And to think that the Island farm where I was raised
Was once unbounded forest – I can’t imagine!
And to think the place that I call “home” –
It simply wasn’t there! Hell, it wasn’t at all!
Nothing defined my property line
Non-existent, unideaed, without form or void
And when I step inside our house
I can’t help but be astounded
by my absentee stewardship
when I still I want to shout
This is my land!
A vital piece of my family, of my childhood
Of the way I’d climb these trees and hills
Of my need to get away
This is my context
The foundation of my Self
my inherited aspect ratio
my narrow field of view
But this ain’t our land
We’ve merely named it and claimed it
Merely set up camp
This isn’t our land
‘Tis but a piece from whence we came
A piece to where we turn
from Once and Over Again,
released September 22, 2007
Jeffrey Nordstrom: vocals, guitars, bass, programming, electric piano.