Friends, after four years of work on it and the contract signed, my memoirs will see the light of print, hopefully about a year from now, in October of 2018.

With the help of the NWT Arts Council and the Denendeh Development Corporation here is an excerpt, about the connection between the Nazi Holocaust and the Canadian residential schools.

One of the references I’ve made throughout From Bear Rock Mountain has to do with those between our residential school experiences and the Nazi Holocaust.

The 2012 bio drama movie, Hannah Arendt, explores the philosopher and political theorist and how her writings of the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann revealed a to then unthought-of human condition, “the banality of evil.”

Following his 1961 capture in South America, Eichmann was brought to justice, to stand trial for his major part in crimes against humanity.

Up to then the matter of ethics was born, after the 1945/6 Nuremberg Trials, of twenty-four top Nazi military and political officials, for their part in the extermination of the Jews.

Writing for the New Yorker, the storm of controversy Hanna Arendt brought to bear had to do with her initial impression of the man on trial, Adolf Eichmann, in no way impressing her as anything but ordinary, to the point of mediocre, and certainly not the devil he was being portrayed as.

Facing the Allied Tribunal, Eichmann adamantly averred throughout that he was simply a cog in the machine, just doing his job.

In philosophical terms this university professor also saw through his official status within the Nazi’s Third Reich, to reveal how it was the man, the person, and not any system nor ideology which was being brought to justice.

Up to them there had been no legal precedence for such a situation.

Her argument for this “banality of evil” even extended to protracted personal attacks, by colleagues and friends, claiming that as a Jew she was defending the wrong side.

One would simply have to suspect, that, like colonialism, this new and potentially virulent form of banal evil is by its insidious nature, one which can both provide the perfect practical and legal screen.

How, for instance, would one take a robot or other non-human entities, like a corporation, or even a church, to task for wrongs done? Or the dread ‘my cellphone made me do it’ defense.

Thus the problem continues, as Hannah Arendt herself, by extension infers, that we, as a civilization having all of our individuality systematically robbed of us, are beginning to be, like Eichmann, all alike in so many ordinary, and intrusive, ways.

Sadly, in such a philosophical vacuum, a lack of belief would be the ideal, if not the ultimate goal.

Which explains the religious order, in its way, at the core of the residential schools.

For instance, except for the uniform bad breath and smelling of human neglect, there was nothing out of the ordinary about the priests and nuns who took knowing and willing part in the cultural genocide of our Indigenous Peoples.

A final and chilling note is that for the most part, when their lifetime of commitment and unquestioned service to the church was done, they just faded off in obscurity, to retirement homes, like cows to pasture.

It should be noticed, too, that unlike the war criminal Adolf Eichmann, none but a handful were ever brought to justice.

Antoine Mountain

Antoine Mountain is a Dene artist and writer originally from Radilih Koe/Fort Good Hope. He can be reached at

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