“1492.0” A Poem to #AbolishColumbusDay

Originally posted on Righting Red:

UPDATE: My latest article over at Everyday Feminism: “4 Ways To Celebrate Columbus Day (Without Celebrating Columbus Day)

TW: Explicit images and words depicting slavery, brutality, and other atrocities.

To hear me perform in ironic pentameter, click here


In fourteen hundred ninety-two

An explorer sailed for Asia true

But lost, got he, this Italian chap

Unsure East from West – who needs a map?

So upon an island Columbus’ ships did land

Land filled with many a child, woman, and man

Despite the Taino Arawak people, Columbus did proclaim

“’Tis the Indies! (Or whatever. I declare it for Spain.)”

The explorer could do no wrong

His wit was short as his sword was long

He demanded gold from the people there

When he got some – then none – he did despair

So he murdered and pillaged and raped with abandon

All of…

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Gaagegoo Dabakaanan miiniwaa Debenjigejig (No Borders, Indigenous Sovereignty)

Originally posted on Decolonization:

by Dylan Miner

Miner_Migration1. ‘No fences, no borders. Free movement for all.’

During the mid-1990s, I remember frequently crossing the Canada-USA border – as was common for youth living in the borderlands – to go to clubs and restaurants and, more importantly, for punk and hardcore shows. I was an art school student (and then art school dropout) living in Detroit, located on the US-side of the Detroit River, just across the Medicine Line from Windsor, Ontario.

Sometime in 1996, following the release of Propagandhi’s second album, Less Talk, More Rock, I decided to cross the Ambassador bridge and see the Winnipeg-based punk band play a show somewhere in southern Ontario (maybe London or Guelph or Hamilton, I don’t recall). Traveling with an Arab-American friend, we were stopped and questioned for potential gang involvement. This border stoppage delayed us enough so that we barely made the show – that…

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Celebrating Columbus? The Myths Behind the Man

 Christopher Columbus and his men hunted Natives with war-dogs.

Christopher Columbus and his men hunted Natives with war-dogs.

By Steve Russell, Indian Country Today Media Network

Cristóbal Colón aka Cristóvão Colombo aka Cristoforo Colombo aka Christopher Columbus has gotten lots of breaks from history. He escapes blame for the massive die-off of the peoples in this hemisphere on the theory he did not intend the spread of disease, but he also gets a pass on his barbaric personal conduct among the Taino people.

The exploration package he finally sold to the monarchs of what would be Spain (after failing to interest Portugal, England, Venice, and even his hometown of Genoa) involved making him governor of the lands he discovered and conjuring up a new title just for him. He had requested “Great Admiral of the Ocean” but he settled for “Admiral of the Ocean Sea.”

Note that Columbus was Genoan rather than Italian because Italy did not exist. From the fall of the Roman Empire to the middle of the 19th century, the peninsula was a land of warring and conspiring city-states. It was culturally rich but politically fragmented, like the Indians of North America.

Of course, there was no “Spain” either, but the marriage of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon laid the geographical and political basis for a nation that would become an empire based on looting of the Americas by the conquistadores who followed Columbus. The miscalculation of the monarchs who turned down Columbus would be unmatched in history until Decca Records turned down The Beatles, but of course the Fab Four were not thieves.

Click here to read the full article…

No One Is Illegal, Canada is Illegal! Negotiating the relationships between settler colonialism and border imperialism through political slogans

Originally posted on Decolonization:

by Craig Fortier

“No borders, no nations, stop the deportations!”

“We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!”

“Land, justice, self-determination! Canada is an illegal nation!”

“No one is illegal, Canada is illegal!”

Photo by David Ball Photo by David Ball

These are four variations of chants that have been regularly heard during migrant justice rallies organized by No One Is Illegal in the city of Toronto over the past ten years. While these chants do not originate among activists in Toronto nor are they used exclusively in this city, they exist as part of a broad lexicon of political slogans that help to assert a radical anti-nationalist politics within contemporary migrant justice movements.

Rally chants play an important role in sustaining a high level of energy and enthusiasm within political demonstrations but they also bring into the public realm political debates that are happening within movements. As political context, analysis, relationships, and…

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Nationalist narratives, Immigration and Coloniality

Originally posted on Decolonization:

by Leigh Patel

“I’ll tell you what freedom is to me. No fear. I mean, really! No fear”

Nina Simone

“Take me to another place

Take me to another land

Make me forget all that hurts me

Let me understand your plan”

Arrested Development

I am the daughter of immigrants. My family’s mixed history of sanctioned and subjugated migration has indelibly imbued our lives as well as our relationships to cultural practices, home and receiving countries, and to land. I am also a United States citizen and a scholar who studies migration. I have marched for immigrants’ rights and have met with local, state, and national policymakers to speak about the experiences of undocumented youth. I believe that the current push and pull of vulnerablized beings across nation-state borders is a project of dehumanization wrought by the insatiable settler capitalist project.

It is because of this mix of experiences that…

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Forged in Struggle: How Migration, Resistance and Decolonization Shape Black Identities and Liberation Movements in North America

Originally posted on Decolonization:

by Benjamin Ndugga-Kabuye & Tia Oso (Black Alliance for Just Immigration)

There is a graveyard at the center of American democracy. At this late moment we are still coming to terms with how Black migration inspires anxiety for anyone concerned with the maintenance of empire, nationhood, and even the process of decolonization. “A really broad notion of who is Black America” opens a transnational dialogue that can excavate the global scale and varied manifestations of antiblackness. In the U.S. the displacement and surveilling of Black bodies has been and still is central to democracy, especially since Black-led movements in the U.S. have made progress and grown with independence movements on the African continent and throughout the African Diaspora. In examining the nature of migration throughout the colonies, we find exploitative economic forces combined with punitive racialized policies, alongside resistance struggles to gain concessions such as conditional citizenship, but have…

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Special decolonization issue of Geez magazine

Issue 39The Decolonization Issue
Issue 39, Fall 2015

“There are good and bad things in our society, successes and failures. But there is only one fundamental reality that remains unaddressed. That is the situation of indigenous peoples. This is the single most important issue before us, whether we are recently arrived in Canada or have been here for centuries.” – John Ralston Saul

In the midst of production for this issue of Geez, editor Aiden Enns sat down with guest editors Leah Gazan and Steve Heinrichs to get a sense of what readers could expect from an issue on decolonization. What follows is a brief excerpt based on their conversation.

Aiden Enns: What does decolonization mean to you?

Leah Gazan: For me, decolonization is about reconnecting back to land and place and an identity that was defined prior to colonization. We very often talk about building communities through economic development but there’s no greater poverty than poverty of the spirit. So I think decolonization means rejuvenating the spirit that’s rooted in land and ceremony and identity and relationships and an understanding of everybody’s role in that.

Steve Heinrichs: A simple metaphor many folks bring up is the guest-host relationship. It’s a bit simplistic but it rings true. You have people coming into another family’s home and occupying the space, with the original owners in the attic while the guests have the run of the house and dictate the rules.

Most of us non-native folks in Canada have not recognized our connection to host peoples and our obligation to honour our relationships with them. Decolonization is not just a fancy umbrella word for undoing sexism, undoing racism – the oppressions list. It is specifically talking about settler colonialism.

Patrick Wolfe says settler colonialism is not an event, it is a structure. It’s not simply a history which we’re trying to become aware of and lament and then move toward respectful relationships. It is a structure, so that means this relationship continues. It means fundamentally reworking our relationship into a place of mutuality and respect.

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A Settler Reflects on Organizing for Palestine on the Oregon Trail

Chehalis First Nations people of so-called

Chehalis First Nations people of so-called “British Columbia”, 1910 (Source: Wikipedia)

By Sara Swetzoff, Muftah.org

After living in Portland, Oregon, I finally came to understand the meaning of “the Western frontier.” Removed from my East Coast hometown and associated mythologies of belonging, I learned to see myself as a settler for the first time. A white settler heading west, as so many have before me. From metropolis to frontier, like an Israeli moving from Tel Aviv to the West Bank settlements.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the settler projects called the United States and Canada are especially young. With a low settler population density, Native pride and sovereignty is more visible in this region, especially amongst the First Nations of British Columbia (Canada). In fact, Portland has one of the biggest populations of Native Americans of any American city.

Here, on the frontier, the settler state is stretched thin, and all around me I see its criminal logic with startling clarity.

A new economic era brings new branding: instead of promising parcels of land for orchards and cattle ranches, the frontier now lures predominantly urban pioneers with trendy restaurants and mountain holidays. Buzzwords like “sustainable” and “local” adorn every amenity. This is the neoliberal version of Manifest Destiny, camouflaged with a hip veneer of clean living and conscientious consumerism.

In Portland, this newest wave of settlement is pushing the Native population to the fringes, once again. In recent years, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) relocated from the city’s central Mississippi Avenue district to the industrial outskirts of North Portland; elders remember the area as the Chinook fishing village of Neerchokikoo. Next-door is a giant parking lot of Caterpillar bulldozers – the same ones that knock down Palestinian homes thousands of miles away.

Despite its branding, the underlying logic of the settler project in Portland and beyond is clearly anything but local. It is deeply embedded within the matrix of global capital and extraction economics. Nike, Intel, Microsoft, and a plethora of Internet start-ups intentionally employ the most successful, mostly white newcomers to Portland and Seattle. The rest of the population works in the low-wage service industries that keep the affluent fed and entertained.

To the north of us in British Columbia, this same insatiable pattern of development and growth drives the metal mining that swallows First Nations land and poisons their salmon runs. Midwestern extraction industries plot to lace the Northwest with coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and tar sands transport corridors. China has already built the refineries – they need the fuel to make our phones.

As settlers moving west, we are modern-day seekers of the American Promised Land. But there are many more frontiers of colonization across the country, in both urban and rural locations, and not all stakeholders are white. Assimilationist multiculturalism opens up more and more opportunities for people of color to reap the benefits of settlement, even as the state continues to enslave and exploit others from the same communities.

The mechanisms of settler colonialism are complex and insidious: just as the white Ashkenazi elite in Israel pits Mizrahi laborer against African refugee against Palestinian farmer, so does American white supremacy sow divisions amongst its most oppressed in order to prevent them from recognizing they share more with each other and local Indigenous Peoples than with the white settler establishment.

Each of us must examine our complicity together with our community and strategize accordingly. As students, we have to recognize that our universities are by default bound up in the economic dynamics of the colonizer state. We cannot undermine Israel – a client state settler project bankrolled by the United States – without also working for decolonization here in the heart of the empire.

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Hawaii: Building an indigenous coalition for radical resistance to colonialism

We talk with Kanaka Maoli David Maile about indigenous coalition The Red Nation’s efforts to unite different native people in radical resistance to colonialism, and how Native Hawaiians can stand in solidarity with other native peoples.

By Will Caron, The Hawaii Independent

Yesterday, indigenous rights and decolonization coalition The Red Nation issued a statement of solidarity with the Native Hawaiians currently protesting the development of the massive Thirty-Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. This statement of solidarity is in line with The Red Nation’s goal of building unity between indigenous peoples around the world and teaching these people effective methods of radical resistance to colonial-capitalist systems of oppression.

The Red Nation was envisioned by two Ph.D. students at the University of New Mexico, Nick Estes and Melanie Yazzie, and is comprised of both indigenous and non-indigenous activists, scholars, educators and community organizers—all working toward the liberation of indigenous peoples from colonialism. The coalition seeks to center native peoples’ agendas and struggles through advocacy, mobilization and education about ways of working outside the these subversive systems (hence, radical).

To learn more about The Red Nation, native coalition building, and these radical methods of native resistance to colonialism, we talked with David Maile, a Kanaka Maoli and 2006 graduate of Kamehameha Schools , and a member of The Red Nation who is currently a Ph.D. student in American Studies at the University of New Mexico.

Click here to read the full article…

That deadly academic silence: outspoken Indigenous students & unsettling the Canadian university

Originally posted on Moontime Warrior:

A letter to myself, 2025 (2030?!): if you become a professor, don’t sell out Native students.

If a Native student comes to your office in tears about an encounter with institutional racism, don’t tell her “Oh, that’s too bad. But just stick it out, you’re almost done.”

If microaggressions occur in your classroom, don’t ignore them and assume students haven’t noted this complicity as consent.

If microaggressions occur in an institutional setting (say, a departmental gathering) and your students are present, challenge it. They are watching.

Precarity in academia is a hot topic, but sometimes in a way that upholds academic hierarchies and dishonestly represent the privileged as powerless.

As a professor, you have so much power. 
Even when you think you don’t. Even as an Indigenous professor, woman, or professor of color. (tenured white male profs: your level of privilege & power is off the charts here, FYI). You…

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