Jordan Peterson is quick to deflect accusations of bigotry by standing tall, throwing his shoulders back, and declaring that he was made a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw tribe, and he’s also quick to complain if anyone questions it.
You say "Peterson claims that he has been inducted into “the coastal Pacific Kwakwaka’wakw tribe” Just what do you mean by "claims" you peddler of nasty, underhanded innuendo, you dealer in lies and halftruths? https://t.co/ZLfe3Eg9Jn
— Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) March 20, 2018
Unfortunately for him, though, all those protestations motivated Robert Jago to actually investigate them.
What first drew my attention to Peterson’s ties to the Kwakwaka’wakw, however, was the way he seemed to be exploiting that “friendship.” He appeared to be deploying it as a talisman to ward off any social consequences for helping spread racial stereotypes about Indigenous people. It was a defence rooted in identity politics—his language was okay, because he is, after all, an “Indian” through his connection to Charles Joseph. Yet Peterson himself, in a Youtube video, called that “whole group-identity thing” a “pathology” and “reprehensible.”
So he did the obvious thing: he asked the Kwakwaka’wakw people if Peterson was a member of the tribe. Whoops, he’s not. Everyone agrees he’s not. He’s been formally recognized as a good friend of one family, which is nice, but that’s it.
Peterson’s Twitter outburst against what he called Mishra’s “lies and halftruths” has ignited a heated debate within the Kwakwaka’wakw people. The debate isn’t about whether or not Peterson is truly a member of the tribe. I spoke to community members, and each confirmed that the naming ceremony that Peterson took part in does not grant him membership. Instead, there is concern about the harm caused by the way he has boasted of and exaggerated his Kwakwaka’wakw connections. Juli Holloway, a Kwakwaka’wakw community member whose family is in the process of arranging for a similar adoption ceremony for a non-Native friend, describes how she sees the problem: “It’s the lack of humility that bothers me the most, I guess. It should not be a badge of honour. It’s for within the community, not for without.”
#NotYourShield, Dr Peterson.
Peterson has posted a “rebuttal“, only it’s not, not at all. He posts a lot of photos of his naming ceremony, which no one disputes happened, and tells of his long friendship with a Kwakwaka’wakw artist, which no one has denied, but it doesn’t address at all the accusation that he has misrepresented the purpose of the ceremony. He does declare that Jago is “chock full of underhanded allegations” and was “a muckraker with an agenda and not to be trusted”. I guess that settles that.