Decolonization ~ Meaning What Exactly?

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By Pegi Eyers, Stone Circle Press

With all the dialogue happening on decolonization today, a reminder on baseline definitions can be helpful, before widening out to other personal/collective interpretations and actions. There are movements happening right now across ethnic and cultural lines (including the dominant white society) that use “decolonization” to describe a wide array of practices. Do we need to re-examine how we use the term? What does “decolonization” mean to you? The following definitions can offer starting points for discussion, and for action going forward.

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Christopher Columbus: No Monuments for Murderers

“Twenty-five years ago, I wrote an article, “Once Upon a Genocide,” reviewing the major children’s literature about Columbus. My conclusion was that these books teach young readers that colonialism and racism are normal.”

The world is still sliced in two between the worthy — the owning classes, the corporate masters, the generals — and the nobodies. The invaded, the owned, the bombed, the poisoned, the silenced.

By

A New York Times article, following the white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the murder of anti-racist activist Heather Heyer, described the growing calls to remove monuments that celebrate the Confederacy. The article went on to cite some who balk, however, when “the symbolism is far murkier, like Christopher Columbus.”

But there is nothing murky about Columbus’ legacy of slavery and terrorism in the Americas. The record is clear and overwhelming. The fact that The New York Times could report this with such confidence — adding that “most Americans learn rather innocently, in 1492 [Columbus] sailed the ocean blue until he discovered the New World” — means that educators and activists still have much work to do.

In fact, Christopher Columbus launched the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1494, when he sent back at least two dozen enslaved Taínos, including children, to Spain. In February of that year, Columbus dispatched 12 of his 17 ships from the Caribbean back to Spain with a letter to be delivered to the king and queen by Antonio de Torres, captain of the returning fleet.

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Uprooting Colonialism: The Limitations of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

From Indigenous Action:

Declarations, Disconnect, & Decolonial Recuperation

As momentum has accelerated for occupying forces to issue declarations of “Indigenous Peoples’ Day (IPD),” we can’t help but feel disconnected from the revelry.

Aside from psychic solace, if the state dismantles these statues and proclaims Indigenous Peoples’ Days, what do we actually achieve if the structures and systems rooted in colonial violence remain intact? Is it merely political posturing or window dressing to diminish liberatory agitations? Our senses are heightened as most re-brandings of Columbus Day into IPD appear to whitewash ongoing colonial legacies.

The statistics are all too familiar: Indigenous Peoples in the “U.S.” are the ethnic group that faces the highest police murder rate, the highest rates of incarnation, homelessness, and sexual violence.

So yes, we have very good reason to be skeptical of symbolic gestures.

We’re all for removing colonial symbols and nationalistic myths, so long as structures such as colonialism and racism go along with them. Problem is they are not. These edicts are readily embraced by their advocates as “steps in the right direction” for Indigenous interests, yet—as we’ll assert here—only serve to calcify colonial rule. What else are we to glean from superficial declarations handed down by occupying governing bodies?

Decolonial aspirations are stunted with liberal cosmetology if nothing concrete is done to address historical and ongoing anti-Indigenous brutality. This is an insidious conciliatory process of decolonial recuperation that is rooted in cultural and symbolic change primarily fixated on transforming social stature. It fails to meaningfully confront and transform social power.

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Fall 2017 (v1.0)

Edits and contributions by
Indigenous Action Media Collective & friends

www.indigenousaction.org

Downloadable PDFs | Readable | Printable (zine format)

Food Sovereignty in Rebellion: Decolonization, Autonomy, Gender Equity and the Zapatista Solution

Zapatista women standing with raised fists in January, 2014. (Photo: Visual Research)

By Levi Gahman, Solutions, via TruthOut:

The battle for humanity and against neoliberalism was and is ours,

And also that of many others from below.

Against death — We demand life.

 — Subcomandante Galeano/Marcos

One of the biggest threats to food security the world currently faces is neoliberalism. It’s logic, which has become status quo over the past 70 years and valorizes global ‘free market’ capitalism, is made manifest through economic policies that facilitate privatization, deregulation, and cuts to social spending, as well as a discourse that promotes competition, individualism, and self-commodification. Despite rarely being criticized, or even mentioned, by state officials and mainstream media, neoliberal programs and practices continue to give rise to unprecedented levels of poverty, hunger, and suffering. The consequences of neoliberalism are so acutely visceral that the Zapatistas called the 21st century’s most highly lauded free-trade policy, NAFTA, a ‘death certificate’ for Indigenous people.[1] This is because economic liberalization meant that imported commodities (e.g., subsidized corn from the U.S.) would flood Mexican markets, devalue the products of peasant farmers, and lead to widespread food insecurity. As a response, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), primarily Indigenous peasants themselves, led an armed insurrection in Chiapas, Mexico on January 1, 1994 — the day NAFTA went into effect.

The Zapatistas, primarily Indigenous Ch’ol, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tojolobal, Mam, and Zoque rebels, were rising up against 500 years of colonial oppression. For this piece, I draw from my experiences learning from them, not ‘researching’ them. Importantly, I neither speak for the Zapatistas nor do my words do them justice. In a sense, then, this piece is nothing other than a modest ‘suggestion’ that the Zapatistas may offer us some ideas about solutions to the problems of the food systems we find ourselves in.

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This Reconciliation is for the Colonizer

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Indigenous based child-rearing in today’s generation resides in watching the restoration of unfaltering kinship in our Indigenous family systems unfold and allowing that to reside in the raising of our children with the knowing of who they are, and where they come from, wildly and unapologetically

indigenous motherhood

This reconciliation is for the colonizer.

This settler-colonial reconciliation branded by the government is artificially sweetened with handshake photo-ops and small pockets of money buying out silence on real issues.

The fad and conversation of reconciliation that our people are playing a role in is immobilizing “leadership” and converting indigenous peoples into colonially operated marionettes.

This type of reconciliation is a distraction.

Instead of being idle no more, we are “reconciling some more” with present day Indian act agents whose hands are choking out our voices for land, water, and our children’s minds.

This type of reconciliation is for the ones who want to be “friends” with the Indians for land commodification reasoning, for the ones who whisper the words “im sorry” as they watched the priests and nuns rape our children, for the ones who shut their eyes and turned away when genocide was bleeding into their forts, for…

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From Recognition to Decolonization: An Interview with Glen Coulthard

Coulthard challenges recognition as a method of organizing difference and identity in liberal politics, questioning the assumption that contemporary difference and past histories of destructive colonialism between the state and Indigenous peoples can be reconciled through a process of acknowledgment. He examines an alternative politics, seeking to revalue, reconstruct, and redeploy Indigenous cultural practices based on self-recognition. By Karl Gardner and Devin Clancy,
Upping the Anti

Glen Coulthard is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and an associate professor of political science and Indigenous studies at the University of British Colombia in Vancouver. Coulthard’s recent book, Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (2014) is an incisive critique of Canadian settler colonialism that centres Indigenous peoples’ resistance to the state and capital. In May 2016, Coulthard was a visiting scholar at York University in Toronto where he taught a course on Indigenous resurgence, and hosted a public discussion at Beit Zatoun on “Symbolic Violence and Liberal Settler-Colonialism.” Joined by Leanne Simpson and Jarrett Martineau, the panel grappled with the challenges posed by a new Liberal government and its ongoing commitment to settler colonial dispossession and limited recognition of Indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination. Karl Gardner and Devin Clancy sat down with Coulthard to further explore the themes that emerged in these discussions.

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Support the “All Others” Gathering for Two Spirit and LGBQT people

From time to time, we like to post fundraisers that we encourage you to support. Today, we’re asking you to donate to the All Others Gathering, a gathering for Two Spirit and LGBTQ folks in so-called British Colombia:

“Opening closed doors in response to the reality of how important our two-spirit, LGBQT are and that we have spaces to gather, ceremony, and stand with each other in solidarity to heal with each other and build community.

The All Others Gathering is a gathering of two-spirit and LGBQT people at Ulluilsc (near so-called Lillooet, BC) in mid August 2017.

These funds will be used primarily to subsidise travel costs for two spirit people attending, and for food for the gathering.”

Click here to contribute.

For more groups we encourage you to contribute to, click here.

Born on the Fourth of July: Counterinsurgency, Indigenous Resistance, and Black Revolt

Commissioned by St. Louis beer-maker Anheuser-Busch in 1889, Otto Becker famously depicted “Custer’s Last Fight” for beer advertisements, adding to the myth of a valiant last stand scenario and the self-defense of an invading settler nation.

Commissioned by St. Louis beer-maker Anheuser-Busch in 1889, Otto Becker famously depicted “Custer’s Last Fight” for beer advertisements, adding to the myth of a valiant last stand scenario and the self-defense of an invading settler nation.

By Nick Estes, The Red Nation

On June 25, 1876, an alliance of Lakotas, Cheyennes, and Arapahos blew out the candles on the United States’ birthday cake. A week before celebrating one hundred years of “liberty,” at the Battle of Greasy Grass the historic Indigenous alliance wiped from the earth lieutenant colonel George A. Custer, a less well-known Civil War officer, and more than 250 of his men of the Seventh Calvary. Knocked from his horse by the Northern Cheyenne warrior woman Buffalo Calf Trail Woman and killed while running away, for his bravery Custer was promoted to the rank of general after his death and inglorious defeat.

Natives made Custer famous by killing him. To empire’s chagrin these same nations still celebrate this historic victory as a declaration of their prior and continuing independence, a week before the US’s own self-described “independence” from the British Empire. But a false image of Custer making a heroic last stand still lingers and does important political work. A last stand reverses the role of invasion and self-defense. It’s as innocent as playing cowboys and Indians, right? Who wants to be the Indians? (Put your hand down, Johnny Depp.)

Settlers often see themselves as victims, who are, just like Custer, surrounded by hostile, dark nations. Such depictions litter the genre of Western films. But a move to innocence isn’t harmless Americana. It’s the founding doctrine of the US and its counterinsurgency programs. It has been the justification for slavery, genocide, and war. One only need to read the Declaration of Independence to understand the origins of this clever inversion of history where aggressors become victims and where colonialism looks like self-defense.

The Declaration of Independence is an unlikely yet foundational location for US counterinsurgency doctrine. In the same breath that the “founding fathers” condemned arbitrary rule by an overseas sovereign, they called for the defense against those whose bodies they stole and those whose lands they took or intended to take. King George, they wrote, “has excited domestic [slave] insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes[,] and conditions.”

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Resistance 150: Why Canada’s birthday celebrations aren’t for everyone

Warrior Publications

No Justice Stolen Land logoby Jackie Dunham, CTV News, June 27, 2017

As organizers ramp up anticipation for Canada’s big bash honouring the 150th anniversary of Confederation, indigenous activists are rallying their own counter-celebrations.

The #Resistance150 movement was created nearly eight months ago by Anishinaabe traditional storyteller and teacher Isaac Murdoch, Michif visual artist Christi Belcourt, Cree activist Tanya Kappo and Métis author Maria Campbell while they were discussing the government’s planned festivities for Canada 150.

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Enrique Dussel: Without Epistemic Decolonization, There Is No Revolution

Professor Enrique Dussel speaking at Eco-socialist School of Critical Decolonial Thought of Our America held in Caracas October 7-14, 2016. (AVN)

Professor Enrique Dussel speaking at Eco-socialist School of Critical Decolonial Thought of Our America held in Caracas October 7-14, 2016. (AVN)

Via Venezuela Analysis:

Renowned Mexican-Argentine philosopher Enrique Dussel was in Caracas October 6-10, 2016, as part of the first ever Eco-socialist School of Critical Decolonial Thought of Our America. A founder of the Philosophy of Liberation movement, Dussel has played a protagonist role over the last decade as one of the key theorists and public intellectuals of the so-called “Pink Tide” of leftist and center-leftist governments that came to power across Latin America. In conversation with journalist Clodovaldo Hernandez, the philosopher stresses the urgent need to decolonize epistemic frameworks in order to learn from the series of recent defeats suffered by progressive forces across the continent. 

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