Category Archives: Indigenous Solidarity

Decolonization Workshop – Unist’ot’en Camp 2014

Confronting Our Colonialism

This video was presented on the unceded territory of the Secwepemc Nation, at the Thompson Rivers University Undergrad Research Conference on March 28, 2014. This video was created for an assignment for an Anthropology class called “Canadian Status/Treaty Indian Reserve Communities.”

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Mel Bazil on “Anarchy, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Decolonization” The Final Straw

Streaming at AshevilleFM through June 15nd, 2014, then podcasting later at and airing on KOWA-LPFM in Olympia, WA, KWTF in Bodega Bay, CA, KXCF in Marshall, CA, and WCRS-LP Columbus Community Radio 98.3 and 102.1 FM

This week’s episode features a workshop by Mel Bazil, an indigenous Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en organizer, sovereigntist, and anarchist of the Unist’ot’en Action Camp. For folks in the listening audience, Unist’ot’en is located on unceded native lands in so-called British Colombia, Canada. More about the Unist’ot’en Action Camp can be found at

This audio is from an almost hour and a half presentation that Mel gave on Saturday the 24th of May at the Montreal Anarchist Bookfaire, entitled “Anarchy, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Decolonization.” Many thanks to CKUT Radio in Montreal for sharing this content with the Final Straw. More info on CKUT can be found at

This week we’ll be presenting the first of two parts of Mel’s presentation, the second will be aired in coming weeks and linked together on the Final Straw website soon.

Firstly though, an announcement about the health of longterm political prisoner, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson. The following text was found at, where one can seek further updates on the situation.

For anyone in the Durham area of North Carolina, there is a call-out on June 13th for a Noise Demo at the jail. More info can be found at here.

For more info on the prisoner hunger strike at Polk CI in Butner, NC, including their demands, click here.

The playlist for this episode is here.

Settler Colonialism Primer

decolonize inverse
By Laura Hurwitz & Shawn Bourque, Unsettling Klamath River Coyuntura

Colonialism and Settler Colonialism

Colonialism is a system that occupies and usurps labor/land/resources from one group of people for the benefit of another.  Colonialism is derived from the Latin word Colonia.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in the Roman Empire, “Colonia” was a “ farm,” “landed estate,” or “settlement” granted to Roman soldiers in hostile or newly conquered territories.

There are different types of colonial projects.  Exploitation colonialism involves a small amount of colonists whose main objective is to profit from the colonies resources and exploit Indigenous labor, usual exported to the metropole or “mother city” (think of the British in India).  Plantation colonies utilize a mix of exploitation and settler colonialism in different regions and areas.  In settler colonialism land, not labor, is key.  In this system, Indigenous Peoples are literally replaced by settlers. As Patrick Wolfe puts it:

Land is life—or, at least, land is necessary for life. Thus contests for land can be—indeed, often are—contests for life.

Indigenous Peoples are erased through out right genocide, assimilation and interbreeding (including rape).  In this process, racialized categories become important for perpetuating the system (see “Racial Formulation” section below).
Settlers are also different from other colonizers in that they are there to stay, unlike in other colonial systems where the colonizer returns to their home country after profiting.  Here, the land itself is the profit.  Another important concept in understanding this system is the idea that in settler colonialism, “invasion is a structure not an event.”  This means that settler colonialism is not just a vicious thing of the past, such as the gold rush, but exists as long as settlers are living on appropriated land and thus exists today.

Who is a Settler?

“There are no good settlers . . . There are no bad settlers . . . There are settlers.”
–Corey Snelgrove

Anyone not Indigenous, living in a settler colonial situation is a settler.  Therefore all non-Indigenous people living in what is today called the “U.S.” are settlers living on stolen land.  Settlers do not all benefit equally from settler colonialism.  Many people were brought to settler states as slaves, indentured servants, refugees, etc.  Race and class largely prefigure which settlers benefit the most from usurped Indigenous homelands.  But as the Unsettling Minnesota Source Book proclaims, “it is all of our responsibilities as settlers, especially those of us who descended from European colonizers, to challenge the systems of domination from which we benefit.”

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Pas D’Allies, Des Complices – “Accomplices Not Allies” now translated into Québécois French



Par Indigenous Action Media (4 mai 2014)
See original article in English
Traduction Christine Prat

Un point de vue et une provocation Autochtones

Cette provocation a pour but d’intervenir dans certaines tensions actuelles relatives au travail de solidarité/soutien, vu que les trajectoires actuelles sont contre-libératrices, de mon point de vue. Remerciements à DS à Phoenix pour les échanges qui ont conduit à ce pamphlet et à tous ceux qui ont fait des commentaires, posé des questions, exprimé des désaccords. N’imaginez pas que ceci s’adresse aux « jeunes alliés blancs de la classe moyenne », mais seulement aux activistes payés, aux organisations à but non lucratif, ou, comme l’a dit un ami, aux « anarchistes et étudiants à la mobilité tirant vers le bas. » Il y a beaucoup de soi-disant « alliés » dans la lutte pour les droits des migrants qui soutiennent la « réforme complète de l’immigration » qui intensifie la militarisation de territoires Autochtones.

Le complexe industriel de la ‘solidarité’ a été édifié par des activistes dont la carrière dépend des ‘problèmes’ auxquels ils travaillent. Ces capitalistes à but non lucratif font avancer leurs carrières au dépend des luttes qu’ils soutiennent ostensiblement. Ils travaillent souvent sous couvert de ‘la base’ ou de ‘la communauté’ et ne sont pas nécessairement liés à une organisation.
Ils construisent un pouvoir ou des capacités organisationnels ou individuels, et s’établissent confortablement au sommet de leur hiérarchie de l’oppression en s’efforçant de devenir les alliés ‘vedettes’ de la majorité des opprimés. Tandis que l’exploitation de la solidarité et du soutien n’est pas nouvelle, la marchandisation et l’exploitation de l’ ‘solidarité’ est une tendance montante dans l’industrie du militantisme.

Quiconque s’implique dans les luttes contre l’oppression et pour la libération collective a, à un moment ou à un autre, participé à des ateliers, lu des manifestes ou pris part à de profondes discussions sur comment être un ‘bon’ allié. Vous pouvez maintenant payer des centaines de dollars pour aller dans des instituts ésotériques vous procurer un certificat d’allié anti-oppression. Vous pouvez participer à des ateliers et recevoir un badge d’allié. Pour faire de la lutte une marchandise, il faut d’abord l’objectiver. C’est révélé par la façon dont les ‘problèmes’ sont ‘présentés’ et ‘étiquetés’. Quand la lutte est une marchandise, la ‘solidarité’ est une monnaie d’échange.

Etre un allié est aussi devenu une identité désincarnée, hors de toute compréhension ou soutien réels. Le terme ‘allié’ est devenu inefficace et vide de sens.

Complices, pas alliés
Nom : complice ; pluriel : complices
Une personne qui en aide une autre à commettre un crime.

Cliquez ici pour en savoir plus

Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex

An Indigenous perspective & provocation.

pdf-128Printable version available here (PDF | 3.3MB)
(Backup PDF available via Warrior Publications & Unsettling America)

(Now translated into Québécois French!)

This provocation is intended to intervene in some of the current tensions around solidarity/support work as the current trajectories are counter-liberatory from my perspective. Special thanks to DS in Phoenix for convos that lead to this ‘zine and all those who provided comments/questions/disagreements. Don’t construe this as being for “white young middle class allies”, just for paid activists, non-profits, or as a friend said, “downwardly-mobile anarchists or students.” There are many so-called “allies” in the migrant rights struggle who support “comprehensive immigration reform” which furthers militarization of Indigenous lands.

abolish-ally-industrial-complexThe ally industrial complex has been established by activists who’s careers depend on the “issues” they work to address. These nonprofit capitalists advance their careers off  the struggles they ostensibly support. They often work in the guise of “grassroots” or “community-based” and are not necessarily tied to any organization.

They build organizational or individual capacity and power, establishing themselves comfortably among the top ranks in their hierarchy of oppression as they strive to become the ally “champions” of the most oppressed. While the exploitation of solidarity and support is nothing new, the commodification and exploitation of allyship is a growing trend in the activism industry.

Anyone who concerns themselves with anti-oppression struggles and collective liberation has at some point either participated in workshops, read ‘zines, or been parts of deep discussions on how to be a “good” ally. You can now pay hundreds of dollars to go to esoteric institutes for an allyship certificate in anti-oppression. You can go through workshops and receive an allyship badge.

In order to commodify struggle it must first be objectified. This is exhibited in how “issues” are “framed” & “branded.” Where struggle is commodity, allyship is currency.

Ally has also become an identity, disembodied from any real mutual understanding of support.

The term ally has been rendered ineffective and meaningless.

Accomplices not allies.

noun: accomplice; plural noun: accomplices
a person who helps another commit a crime.

There exists a fiercely unrelenting desire to achieve total liberation, with the land and, together.

At some point there is a “we”, and we most likely will have to work together. This means, at the least, formulating mutual understandings that are not entirely antagonistic, otherwise we may find ourselves, our desires, and our struggles, to be incompatible.

There are certain understandings that may not be negotiable. There are contradictions that we must come to terms with and certainly we will do this on our own terms.

But we need to know who has our backs, or more appropriately: who is with us, at our sides?

The risks of an ally who provides support or solidarity (usually on a temporary basis) in a fight are much different than that of an accomplice. When we fight back or forward, together, becoming complicit in a struggle towards liberation, we are accomplices. Abolishing allyship can occur through the criminalization of support and solidarity.

While the strategies and tactics of asserting (or abolishing depending on your view) social power and political power may be diverse, there are some hard lessons that could bear not replicating.

Consider the following to be a guide for identifying points of intervention against the ally industrial complex.

Click here to read the full article from Indigenous Action Media

Click here to read the full article from Warrior Publications

A Settler’s Guide to Understanding the First Nations Education Act

Originally posted on Bones for War:

You may not be aware of this, but there is a important and heated debate going on among Indigenous communities right now. The issue at hand is a federal bill designed, ostensibly, to return control of First Nations education to the First Nations themselves.

But there’s a larger issue at play—one that those of us who are non-Indigenous would do well to pay attention to. The debate is a uniquely colonial one, the kind that is provoked when one nation refuses to give up control over what is rightfully the jurisdiction of another nation (or in this case, 633 nations). It’s impossible to understand the debate around the First Nation Education Act without an understanding of Indigenous people’s inherent and treaty rights.

What do inherent rights have to do with it?

Inherent rights are the fundamental and existing rights of Indigenous peoples, based on their original and long-standing occupation of…

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Free Zapatista textbooks now available in English!

by , Intercontinental Cry

Put on your thinking caps because two of four Zapatista textbooks from last year’s widely popular escuelita (little school) have been translated to English.

For those who are not yet familiar, the Zapatista Escuelita (Zapatista little school), brought 1630 students from around the world to learn what it really means to be Zapatista. Contrary to what some might believe, there’s a lot more to the Zapatista than “smashing the state” or looking good doing it!

You can download the first two books, entitled, Autonomous Government I by clicking the corresponding linkd below. The remaining links will be posted here as they become available.

Autonomous Government I

Download now

Autonomous Government I

Autonomous Government II

Download now

Autonomous Gov II

Textbooks to follow

Participation of Women in Autonomous Government

(available no later than May 8th)

Participation of Women

Autonomous Resistance

(available no later than June 8th)

Autonomous Resistance

Reflections on the “Decolonization and Anarchism” Panel at the 2014 Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair

From Kurukshetra:

A few weeks ago was the annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair, which hosted a series of panels and workshops on various topics related to anarchism, anti-state and anti-capitalist organizing, and so on.  One of the panels was titled “Decolonization and Anarchism”, and whose purpose was to investigate the intersection of the decolonization struggle with the anarchist movement in the Bay Area.

What was noteworthy in and of itself was that the six panelists were all people of color–a rare event given that anarchism in the Bay Area seems (on the surface at least) to be dominated by White people.  I don’t think I remember ever attending an event related to anarchism in the Bay Area that was lead entirely by people of color.  The audience was also very large–at least a hundred people, if not more.

In general, the panel–which went on for about an hour and a half–was less about investigating the rigorous theoretical connections between decolonization and anarchism, than it was about the individual panelists talking about their own personal perspectives and experiences as revolutionary people of color.  There wasn’t much discussion about the practical steps around synthesizing the current anarchist movement with the theory and practice of decolonization that communities of color in the Bay are already engaging in, which was a bit disappointing; but it was still nice to hear something about the intersection, and the personal opinions of dedicated revolutionaries (even if the discussion was, in general, rather unstructured and somewhat scattered).

I want to emphasize that this reflection is heavily biased by my own preconceptions, and my own limited ability to take notes.  I took notes on what was interesting to me, and there are definitely subjects and issues that were brought up that I do not discuss here.  I might also mix up who said what, or even if certain arguments were said in the first place.  There is also a chance that I misinterpreted what was said–a consequence of both my own biases, as well as the unstructured and personal nature of the panel.

Ecological Limits and Indigenous-Diaspora Solidarity

The first person to talk was a man named Bryan.  He didn’t say much; he talked about how he personally was very interested in discussing and theorizing about the intersection of anarchism and decolonization, but also raised the question of whether there is an intersection in the first place, and the idea that perhaps anarchism was actually irrelevant to the decolonial struggle.

What really caught my interest was when he touched upon the idea that the ecological crisis is, in some ways, the ultimate limit of capitalism, and how this limit needs to be intimately tied with the struggle of indigenous peoples for their sovereignty and well-being.  He mentioned the connections between the struggles of First Nations in Canada against tar sands extraction, and the struggles of people in Richmond against the Chevron oil refinery.  I really appreciated this point, because the anti-carbon struggle in the Bay Area is something I have been investing a lot of energy into, and I really want to see more involvement of the radical community in this struggle (I’ve written a background piece about the nature of the oil industry in the Bay here, and a piece on the way that the struggle constitutes an anti-colonial struggle here).

Bryan also used the struggle in Richmond as a way to elaborate on the need for there to be more solidarity work between indigenous people, and people of the diaspora (immigrants).  There is a natural anti-colonial axis on which this solidarity could revolve around; both indigenous peoples, and people of the diaspora (especially Latin American and South-East Asian peoples) have suffered excessive amounts of violence at the hands of US colonialism and imperialism (and capitalism in general), and thus it makes sense for there to be closer solidarity work between the two groups of people.

But in addition, it was argued that ultimately the diaspora should be following the example and fulfilling the needs of indigenous people first, due to the fact that in the end, this land is their land.  I have mixed feelings about this idea; on one hand, of course we of the diaspora should be engaged in the struggle of indigenous people–but at the same time, we should recognize the very fluid nature of what constitutes indigeneity.  The Ohlone people–the nation which lived in what is now known as the Bay Area–are undeniably the original occupants of the region.  But what about the Mexican peoples who came in during the 17th and 18th century–who themselves tend to be a mix of Spanish and indigenous Central American descent?   And does the fact that Latin America in general is an irreversible result of Spanish imperial conquest render all Latin Americans in the United States as “diaspora” rather than “indigenous”?  And just to be clear, this isn’t to invalidate the idea of privileging indigenous struggle–just that the term “indigenous” is a term that is arguably fluid and confusing, and deserves much more discussion around.

I am personally very interested in seeing more collaboration between the diaspora and indigenous peoples.  I’m of South Asian descent, so I’m very clearly part of the diaspora; and I definitely see a strong parallel between the experiences of indigenous peoples in the Americas facing off against American colonialism, and the experience of South Asians under British occupation.  I see strong parallels between the cultural and linguistic dynamics of the two regions; both have incredibly diverse religious and cultural traditions, a wide variety of languages and dialectics, and general diversity within their own populations.  Indeed, it is arguably still a mistake to homogenize the two regions’ populations under the term “indigenous American” or “South Asian”, given the vast differences in internal history, politics, and practices.  But of course, the parallels have limits; while tens of millions of South Asians were killed under the British Raj, the devastation does not come close to the violence and destruction that resulted from the European invasion of the Americas.

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A Colonized Ally Meets a Decolonized Ally: This is What They Learn

From Lynn Gehl:

1. A colonized ally stands in the front.  A decolonized ally stands behind.

2. A colonized ally stands behind an oppressive patriarchy.  A decolonized ally stands behind women and children.

3. A colonized ally makes assumptions about the process.  A decolonized ally values there may be principles in the process they are not aware of.

4. A colonized ally wants knowledge now!  A decolonized ally values their own relationship to the knowledge.

5. A colonized ally finds an Indigenous token.  A decolonized ally is more objective in the process.

6. A colonized ally equates their money and hard work on the land as meaning land ownership.  A decolonized ally knows that land ownership is more about social hierarchy and privilege.

7. A colonized ally projects guilt.  A decolonized ally knows it is their work to do.

8. A colonized ally projects emotions.  A decolonized ally knows Indigenous people have too much to deal with already.

9. A colonized ally has no respect for Indigenous intellectuals.  A decolonized ally knows Indigenous people have their own intellectuals.

10. A colonized ally has no idea they need to decolonize.  A decolonized ally understands they have to continually decolonize.

11. A colonized ally has no idea of the concomitant realities of Indigenous oppression.  A decolonized ally understands the many, layered, and intersectional oppressions Indigenous people live under.

12. A colonized ally speaks for Indigenous people.  A decolonized ally listens.

13. A colonized ally takes on work an Indigenous person can do and is doing. A decolonized ally takes on other work that needs to be done.

14. A colonized ally makes things worse.  A decolonized ally understands.

15. A colonized ally says, “It is time to get over it.”  A decolonized ally realizes one’s relationship to the harm is subjective.

16. A colonized ally appropriates another nation’s Indigenous knowledge.  A decolonized ally does the hard work to uncover their own Indigenous knowledge.

17. A colonized ally will loath this truth offered.  A decolonized ally will recognize the hard work telling this truth is.

Additional ally resources are available here and on Unsettling America here.

Picture Lynn Gehl is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley.  She has a section 15 Charter challenge regarding the continued sex discrimination in The Indian Act, and is an outspoken critic of the Ontario Algonquin land claims and self-government process. She recently published a book entitled Anishinaabeg Stories: Featuring Petroglyphs, Petrographs, and Wampum Belts, and her second book, The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin of the Algonquin Land Claims Process, will be published in March 2014.  You can reach her at and see more of her work at