Category Archives: Indigenous Sovereignty

‘Building rage’: Decolonizing class war

decolonize_turtle_islandBy Natalie Knight, Rabble.ca

The following is a speech by Natalie Knight delivered at “Decolonization 101,” a panel organized by Streams of Justice on June 2, 2014. The panel took place at Grandview Baptist Church, Unceded Coast Salish Territories.

I want to acknowledge that we are on occupied and unceded Coast Salish territories which are Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw lands.

On February 26 of this year, an Inuk woman named Loretta Saunders was found murdered and dumped on the side of the road in Salisbury, New Brunswick. Her death raised a national conversation about violence against Indigenous women. It is a deeply sad loss, and an acute effect of colonialism. And I also wonder about the reasons why Loretta received a more mainstream response than others or those that can’t even be reported, those deaths that are basically sanctioned by the police. Loretta was in university and maybe it was easier for Canada’s white-dominated society to recognize her and her violent absence. Maybe an Inuk woman who goes to university is more comprehensible than the over 1,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women who have been documented in the recent RCMP report, and the many Indigenous women still in certain shadows, including those missing and murdered below the colonial border.

In a series of online articles, Indigenous activists and writers expressed outrage, love, and wrote to contextualize Loretta Saunders within a much larger web of daily assault against Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous women, that goes unseen. Siku Allooloo wrote a piece called “From Outrage to Radical Love,” which starts by saying: “I’ve been in a building rage. I am outraged at the status quo, at the overwhelming rate of gender violence and murder suffered by Indigenous women and girls in this country. I am disgusted with the lived experience of that; of gender violence as a pervasive experience that the majority of Indigenous women and young girls face in various forms throughout our lifetimes.”[1]

Siku Allooloo goes on to argue for the power of love to bind Indigenous people together in the face of horrific violence. And we definitely need more love. But I want to linger on this “building rage” that she had because I feel it and I don’t actually want to transform that rage into anything other than a decolonized class war that finds its power in leadership by militant Indigenous and racialized women.

But looking for Indigenous and racialized women leadership is not ultimately about identity. It’s not about just centring some voices who don’t get heard and asking others to be quiet and listen. It’s not about making adjustments in representational democracy or ensuring that we have the right ratios of identities in our spaces, it’s not just about breaking the visible signs of white supremacy by assimilating some racialized people into spaces that haven’t actually changed. Decolonization is instead about breaking the entire system that creates and maintains identity categories that act to severely limit class solidarity. It is also about refusal, dissonance, and an unrelenting commitment to remaking myself, my relationships, and politics along lines that I can’t really predict and that won’t be recognized by whatever dominant social structures are around. For me this is the power of decolonization, and in the settler colonial state of Canada, it might be the only way to revitalize class politics that reflect our real lived lives and are relevant to a much larger international class war.

I think that the political impulse of decolonization means coming to understand that we have a shared enemy; but, needing to understand who and what that enemy is — and that it is a big part of many of us.

However, the word “decolonization” can stand in for all kinds of politics and interpretations. For me, decolonization is not about treaty processes and forms of self-management that strike a deal with the colonial and capitalist state. It’s not about emulating private property and heteropatriarchal government systems that cede the core of the dangerous difference and threat posed by Indigenous people to the state.

Decolonization is also not about rights; it’s not about civil rights for Indigenous people. Decolonization isn’t about civil rights because civil rights have only ever applied to intra-settler disputes and sometimes to settler resistance to state oppression. They leave out Indigenous people; they have always been defined against Indigenous people. Huanani-Kay Trask writes about this situation in Hawaii and says that it’s not so much “a struggle for civil rights, but a struggle against our planned disappearance.” [2] This isn’t an exaggeration. What connects the conditions of Indigenous people in Hawaii, in the U.S. mainland, and in Canada, are struggles over land. Dispossession of land means trying to disappear a whole people. I don’t think this can be said enough because this centrality of land seems to slide off the sophisticated rhetoric we can develop about class struggle, the working class, and the exploitation of wage labour.

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An Introduction to Settler Colonialism at UBC

UBC’s Alternative Student Press

This three-part series on settler colonialism is co-authored between two people: one who identifies as a michif (Métis) man from Saskatoon, the other who identifies as a racialized, non-Indigenous female settler. As co-authors, we are speaking from our own perspectives as an Indigenous person (Justin) and as a settler (Kay).

This series is informed through an anti-colonial, anti-racist, and intersectional feminist lens. We have tried to make it as accessible as possible, but fully acknowledge that we were not completely successful. We have attempted to frame it as a discussion as much as possible, and have embedded links for further learning and hope this can make the piece more accessible and informative. We hope this article can serve as an introduction to some important (and complicated) issues; in our opinion, an understanding of settler-colonialism, and our complicity in it, is essential to building a better future.

Part I | Part II | Part III

On Settlers, Occupiers, and Warriors with Sakej Ward

Warriors and warrior societies have a sacred and powerful place in Indigenous culture and resistance. While colonial culture has and continues to undermine and deride the role and reality of Indigenous warriors, warrior societies have continued to form and function in order to resist the destructive and dangerous effects of occupation and settler-colonial culture. Sakej Ward sits down with Radio-BED for a conversation on the contemporary warrior and warrior societies, so leave your stereotypes at the door and pay attention. This is serious.

Decolonization Workshop – Unist’ot’en Camp 2014

Got Land? Thank an Indian

Karuk Ancestral Territory

Settler Colonialism and the White Settler in the Karuk Ancestral Territory

By Laura Hurwitz, Humboldt Journal of Social Relations (Issue #36, 2014) [PDF]

Abstract

From the time of European invasion of what now constitutes the United States, the settler colonial system has aimed to exterminate Indigenous Peoples and replace them with settlers on the land. While settler colonialism benefi ts the settler at the cost of the Indigenous, all life on Earth suffers from the continuation of this system. This research examines how white settlers living in the Karuk Ancestral Territory, located in Humboldt County, California, understand our role in the settler colonial system. The goal of this study is to begin a collective pursuit of a white settler ethic of accountability, which is a difficult task even in preliminary stages, as it requires the admission of being a beneficiary of and acco mplice to the vicious system of settler colonialism. This could bring about the loss of an already fragile identity and an insecure settler future. Yet settler society has a responsibility to face our role in the settler colonial system.

Introduction

This article is written from the perspective of a white settler. For nearly two decades, I have lived in the Karuk Ancestral Territory, situated on the Klamath River in Humboldt County, California. Many of the people currently living in this place, both Indigenous and settler alike, are interested in living a sustainable lifestyle and surviving amongst the environmental, social, political, and economic uncertainty of the times. Here some bridges have been built between Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents and a somewhat cordial coexistence exists; nevertheless, tensions do stem from a settler colonial system that benefits one group of people at the expense of another. The acute awareness among members of the Karuk tribe of displacement from their ancestral territory can be read on the T-shirt of one Karuk elder: “Got Land ? Thank an Indian!”

I came to live in the Karuk Ancestral Territory in search of a better life, one that was not destructive to, but rather more connected with land and life. I did not realize I was moving to a place where Indigenous Peoples had remained in their aboriginal territory and retained connection to their traditional way of life, in spite of European invasion. Neither had I considered that the neighborhood in which I grew up was also occupied Indigenous land. In fact, growing up, I largely thought a bout Native Americans as a “thing” of the past. I learned in school, on television, in movies, through the media, and from accepted social discourse that the original people of North America no longer existed. As a child, I had a thick cardboard book that depicted a ball, a book, and an “Indian” together on the “things” page . My indoctrination to view Indigenous Peoples as less than human began quite early. This is no accident, but rather part of the justification of the settler colonial system.

In the first section of this paper, I carry out a review of existing literature regarding settler colonialism, the settler, white privilege, and white supremacism. Next I discuss the methods used to conduct this research. Thirdly, I unpack white settler identity and how settlers comprehend their position within the settler colonial system, which manifests itself as a complicit settler subject in the Karuk Ancestral Territory. In the concluding segment, I outline some unsettling ideas and situate the white settler in the complicated conundrum within movements for decolonization.

This research seeks to find a starting place from which to collectively pursue a white settler ethic of accountability—a difficult task, even in preliminary stages, as it requires the admission of being a beneficiary of and an accomplice to the vicious system of settler colonialism, and could bring about the loss of an already fragile identity and an insecure settler future. Settler society has a responsibility to acknowledge our role in the settler colonial system.

Click here to read the full article [PDF]…

Big Day For The Struggle Against Ongoing Colonialism

Originally posted on Profane Existence:

by Comrade Black

Today has been a big day for those interested in or involved in Indigenous resistance and anti-colonial struggle. It is also a good reminder of how much work remains to be done.

In an interesting symbolic gesture, the city council of Vancouver voted to formally acknowledge that the land which the city is built on is stolen Indigenous lands that remain unceded. This means that no settlement or land treaties were ever made for the territories; and that the city council is now recognizing the Indigenous people have never given up their sovereignty to the land which Vancouver now occupies. In many respects while this move is only a symbolic gesture, many consider it an important first step down the road to ending colonialism. Yet the mayor of the city went out of his way to make it clear the gesture was entirely symbolic and “wouldn’t effect…

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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”

http://unistotencamp.com/Via The Final Straw

Streaming at AshevilleFM through June 15nd, 2014, then podcasting later at radio4all.net 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 unistotencamp.com

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 www.ckut.ca

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 rashidmod.com, 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.

Indigenous Peoples: Language Revitalization & Gender Identity

More posts tagged From Kwe Today: fierce indigenous feminism

At the core of European legal thought is sustaining binaries such as the colonizer v. the colonized, the conqueror v. the conquered, the civilized v. the savage, or the male v. the female. During her lecture on systemic violence at Concordia University, Andrea Smith explains how colonialism legitimized gender violence through the installation of patriarchy, a male system of domination over females (Smith, 2011). Smith (2011) states:

Of course, patriarchy is built on a gender binary system. You can’t have patriarchy unless you have two genders, one that dominates another gender. So consequently, in many Native communities that were not built on a gender binary system, those who did not fit that system were often targeted for destruction as well (at approximately 2:05).

Patriarchy in Native communities was essential to create a hierarchy “so that colonial domination would seem natural” (Smith, 2011, 2:13). Many North American Indigenous communities were matriarchal, which is in direct opposition to patriarchy and colonialism (Smith, 1999). The ways in which patriarchy furthered the expansion of colonialism occurred through sexual violence, the forced removal of children from their homes to residential schools, and the annihilation of Indigenous languages and cultures (McGeough, 2008). For Indigenous peoples, the loss of language translates to a loss of connection to their culture and other systems of being.

In Medicine Bundle of Contradictions, an essay authored by Lous Esme Cruz (2011), the limitations of the English language are examined in relation to Indigenous identities and gender identities. Cruz (2011) writes, “English is a very limited language that doesn’t give very many options for explaining gender expression and roles” (p. 54). Frantz Fanon (2004) in his work entitled Wretched of the Earth defines colonialism as the “entire conquest of land and people” (p. 14). Indigenous peoples were colonized through the loss of their land and languages and through—the less often talked about—the loss of important gender roles within their culture. Cruz states further, “gender is not a culture, it is a role within culture” (p. 55). Sometimes erased from this discussion of colonialism and loss of culture for Indigenous peoples is the loss of gender roles that exists outside the Western gender binary, male/female. For this paper, I will explore the connection between loss of language and colonialism and how the loss of language impacts gender identities in Indigenous populations. This paper will contribute to the larger discussion of gender identity, how both Western concepts and the English language is restrictive for gender roles and expressions, and the importance of language revitalization for Indigenous peoples.

Click here to read the entire article on Kwe Today

The Indigenous fight against colonial veganism

photo by natgeocreative.comBy Krystalline Kraus, Rabble.ca

There is even a ToolKit to support those rabblers who wish to pick up tools for the so called, “good fight.” You know, the fight between the grain eaters and the meat eaters.

But what is this fight really all about? The right to choose what to eat? The right to dictate that choice to others?

The epic battle between the Grain Eaters and the Meat Eaters

As with everything else, culture and context must be taken into account when dealing with Indigenous communities, no matter how important you think your cause is. And while I’ve met my share of gentle vegans who are willing to listen, there are also these eager crusaders of animal rights that seem to sweep across the land to belittle and humiliate someone who choose to eat meat.

Lessons are taught through hunting, trapping or herding and then consuming meat which include learning to never let anything go to waste, that is an insult to the animal spirit: use all the different parts that the animal has to offer regarding leather, wool, sinew and items for decoration with.

Also remember the Indigenous custom of honouring the animal killed with prayers and tobacco or reindeer antler as offering — or bear in the spring. The Bear Hunt is one of the most important ceremonies we Saami have.

Click here to read the full article on Rabble.ca