Settlers on the Red Road: A Conversation on Indigeneity, Belonging, and Responsibility

The start of a discussion around indigeneity and identity within the anarchist movement.

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By Tawinikay

This zine is not going to be comfortable for some people to read. It is likely to personally challenge a few of you out there who may yourself be dipping a toe in the pond of indigeneity, trying it out to see how it feels. This zine is not going to beat around the bush, because the bush has been thoroughly beaten around.

This is the start of a larger discussion on indigeneity, belonging, and responsibility in our anarchist community. But there is something here for everyone, even if you don’t call yourself an anarchist. At the time of it’s writing, it is already long overdue. In the past two years in southern Ontario, there have been multiple incidents of settlers claiming indigeneity within our intersecting anarchist circles, incidents which caused great harm to relationship and undermined solidarity with Indigenous communities. In Quebec, the rise of the “Eastern Métis” threatens to bleed over into radical spaces. In this era of state-sponsored reconciliation, the line between settlers and Indians is being purposefully blurred by Canada in an attempt to gently complete the assimilation initiated long ago and, try as anarchists might to keep ourselves separate, the dominant culture has a way of creeping in.

This is not a defense of identity. In fact, it will be a critique of identity in many ways, particularly of the way we drape identities over ourselves to give us a purpose for fighting injustice. A rail against the culture of identity that breaks people into hard categories and fuels each of our dark indulgent desires to join the ranks of the oppressed instead of being satisfied to fight for the dignity of all living things from wherever we happen to stand. But it will also be a critique of individuals and their choices, and it will urge each one of you to think not only about your potential complicity in trying on indigeneity but in allowing your friends and comrades to do so as well.

Click here to read more…

Decolonization, A Guidebook For Settlers Living On Stolen Land

By Tanya Rodriguez, Medium

I learned something yesterday….

When I share with a white person they can not decolonize on stolen land they get really really fragile and pissed that yet again, another brown azz takes away their new shiny thing…

Decolonization.

The process of decolonization is a violent, brutal, and involuntary act. It costs lives and destroys cities. Decolonization is the rematiration of tradition and culture to Indigenous people. Decolonization is the repatriation of land and sovereignty to Indigenous people.

It is not for White people, Black people, or P.O.C. people to do while on stolen land.

Decolonization is for Indigenous people only. To assume as a settler, that it is possible to decolonize while still benefiting from systems of oppression, is like the white guy appropriating from the Wixárika people, while erasing their existence by calling them Huichol, and when asked what he does to give back to the people he takes from responds…”I try to sing their songs to the best of my ability” while insinuating he is saving their culture from themselves.

I know I am guilty for using decolonization as a metaphor and the group I am honored to steward, Global Decolonization Initiative, was created traipsing the line of decolonization and social justice. For that I apologize for my misstep, and am doing the work to correct the misinterpretation of the term as well as bringing awareness to the depth of vigilance it takes to keep settler colonizers from colonizing decolonization while completely erasing Indigenous sovereignty in favor of another rung in the race to supremacy.

The more we progress towards collective liberation and the more that I and y’all are learning, the more important it is to give back the term of decolonization to those that have been harmed by colonialism the most-

Us, Indigenous people.

For clarification, settlers can UNCOLONIZE, as that is voluntarily distancing, detaching from colonial moreys. However to truly decolonize, is a commitment I’m pretty sure a very small percentage of you reading this is willing to accept.

Settlers….this is a guide for you. This guide is for you to use as a basic understanding of what decolonization is NOT and how to recognize when decolonization is being used as a metaphor. It is a guide for you to use in being vigilant and humble when walking the path of uncolonizing your inner world and to give space to actual decolonization efforts led by Indigenous people.

This list is compiled from the many ways I’ve seen decolonization being used as a metaphor, as well as those that see the phrase and use it incorrectly as a buzzword for social justice.

Please be mindful of when your triggers come up reading this, as the deep reality of those triggers are that they are coming from a place of domination. Hundreds of years of not listening to native voices, of talking over native voices, of bypassing native voices in favor of a default to a settler colonialist narrative. Which is exactly the reason for the depth of importance and the vital need for this clarification….

Click here to read the full article on Medium

Notes on fake decolonization

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Photo by Mohd Aram on Unsplash

What counts as “authentic” decolonization as the term takes over our social media and influencer bubbles? And how we can sharpen our activism.

By Bhakti Shringarpure, Africa Is A Country

Decolonization has taken over our social media timelines with a vengeance. With hundreds of thousands of “decolonize” hashtags, several articles, op-eds, and surveys on the subject—and plenty of Twitter fighting over the term—one thing is clear: decolonization is all kinds of trendy these days. So, we are naturally forced to ask: What counts as “authentic” decolonization in 2020? Much irritation is generated around how terms like “decolonization” or “decolonize” or “decolonizing” are used, and who is allowed to use them. Only this week, a writer was being flogged on Twitter for saying that it is time to “decolonize” the World Bank and IMF on Al Jazeera. No real attention was paid to the powerful institutions he was criticizing but to the fact that the writer used the term “decolonize.” With these debates getting so territorial and snarky, it’s time to break it down for the haters and the mockers so we can discern the fake from the feeble and the nefarious from the silly.

Click here to read the full article…

Compost the Colony: Exploring Anarchist Decolonization

Photo credit: RÍONA O’REGAN

By Alexander Dunlap, Tvergastein Journal

The term “decolonization” has gained prominence within the University over the last decade. From diets to international security, academics are talking about decolonizing. While the watering down and co-optation of the term “decolonization” is recognized (Tuck and Yang, 2012; Grosfoguel, 2016; IAM, 2017), this article briefly examines how anarchism might be useful for decolonization: what is anarchist decolonization or decoloniality? The recent article by Lina Álvarez and Brendan Coolsaet (2020) on “Decolonizing Environmental Justice Studies” indicates the affinity between anarchism and decolonization without saying it directly. In response, this article provides a conception of anarchist decolonization, which is accomplished by briefly reviewing a multiplicity of anarchist positions, before locating and responding to observable tensions within decolonial theory from which anarchist decolonization departs.

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Let Empire collapse: why we need a decolonial revolution

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Member of the American Indian movement poses next to a toppled Columbus statue in Minneapolis. JUNE 10, 2020 Photo: Ben Hovland / Shutterstock.com

Repatriating Indigenous land and organizing anti-state Indigenous-Black-POC Power alternatives is better than pouring resources into the liberal-progressive vote.

By Mohamed Abdou, Roar Magazine

I am part of a We that says: “Let Empire collapse.” A We that says to build alternatives to Empire, we must expose the illegitimacy of the dreadful dream we are in. Instead of trying to shore or salvage the world as it is, we need to recognize with Audre Lorde that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

I am part of a We that says: “We love and respect you, Angela Davis and your behemoth ongoing legacy of indispensable teachings that are fundamental to the centuries-old struggle we confront,” but we will not be castigated into voting or fall into the trap of “lesser of two evil” arguments that have been critiqued time and time again.

We do not buy the story that we are at a crossroads and have the opportunity to finally fulfill America’s promise by ushering in a new era of Dwight D. Eisenhower-inspired eco-friendly dominance. We are not fooled by the repackaged, false, liberal-progressive hope of a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris-Bernie Sanders coalition that normalizes — rather than contends with — America’s imperialist settler-colonial existence. And which by design cannot allow life-saving reforms such as universal healthcare, student debt cancellations, housing and immigrant rights, racial and environmental justice, abolitionist defunding and dismantlement initiatives and worker protections.

We anticipated Donald J. Trump’s ascendance and expected Bernie Sanders’ demise when few did. We tell you, here, now, as a cautionary tale that it will be no surprise if Trump wins a second term. In fact, the seeds for his potential victory were laid the day of his inauguration because of how resistance and liberation came to be defined — as resistance to Trump rather than liberation from settler-colonial oppression.

Click here to read the full article…

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The Settler Logics of (Outer) Space

“River of Souls” by Carl Gawboy (as published in Indian Country Today, 4/2/16)

By Deondre Smiles, Society+Space

In this essay, I position the logics of settler colonialism and the logics of space exploration dominion over both space on earth, and interplanetary space at the expense of Indigenous peoples. I then look to Indigenous conceptions of space as a potential foil to these colonial logics.

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Deondre Smiles, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral scholar at The Ohio State University. A citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, his ongoing research agenda is situated at the intersection of critical Indigenous geographies and political ecology, centered in the argument that tribal protection of remains, burial grounds, and more-than-human environments represents an effective form of ‘quotidian’ resistance against the settler colonial state.

Decolonizing ecology

By Jade Delisle, Briarpatch

Around the time wildfires were blanketing Calgary in smoke last year, I attended a local leftist reading group. They were discussing the impacts of capitalism on natural disasters, agreeing that the wildfires were exacerbated by both global warming and by neoliberal austerity. But when I put forward that invasive, non-indigenous plant species including trees and industrially farmed crops added degrees of severity to the crisis, and that traditional Indigenous systems of land stewardship could help mitigate or prevent natural disasters, I was taken aback by the group’s dismissive response. I was told by the main organizer that my approach to ecology was backwards-looking and idealized pre-capitalist societies, and that without an orientation to the future I risked venerating the stereotype of a “noble savage” in a “lost world.” 

At a time when Indigenous land defenders are fighting for cultural resurgence and the application of traditional knowledge to combat the climate crisis, they are often cast as the monolithic, mystical, degrowth opposition to the secular modernity of white leftists and their fully automated socialist future. In reality, solutions to ecological and social problems that were historically or are presently used by non-European cultures are compatible with modern technology, often in consensus with cutting-edge scientific findings, and more necessary than ever. 

Indigenous Peoples now make up less than five per cent of the world’s population, but the lands they maintain hold 80 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity. Protecting and restoring Indigenous Peoples’ lands is the fastest and most readily available way to sequester carbon and mitigate the impacts of climate change, a result of the optimally efficient relationships between fungi, plants, animals, and people in a given bioregion, which Indigenous cultures have coded into their knowledge systems over millennia of human-environmental interactions. 

Still, those lands are being stolen and mismanaged by colonists who believe that their environmental and clean energy projects – eco-tourism, national parks, and hydroelectric dams  – will be more effective than millennia of land stewardship by Indigenous Peoples. Even when they haven’t yet been invented or scaled-up, theoretical solutions like machines that suck carbon dioxide directly out of the air (which would, themselves, require absurd amounts of energy) are emphasized over habitat restoration. 

Click here to read the full article…

Land-Based Ethics and Settler Solidarity in a Time of Corona and Revolution

Artwork by Rae Minji Lee

By Natalie Avalos, The Arrow

Settler colonialism has been defined as a structure, not an event, meaning that settler societies like the U.S., Canada, and Australia endure over time through racist laws and ideologies that naturalize the dispossession of Indigenous populations. One of the most effective strategies that settler states rely on to eliminate Indigenous peoples and their power is the idea that their knowledges are primitive and superstitious, examples of failed epistemology. This view is rooted in an Enlightenment-born materialism that asserts that legitimate knowledge can only be produced through narrow empirical methods, relegating the negotiations of immaterial life to the social margins. As the colonial project progresses, legitimate knowledge production is simultaneously tethered to race and power (reserved to the white and landed), resulting in what we have come to know as modernity.

Settler colonialism seeks to eliminate Indigenous populations in order to monopolize resources for the sake of capital. It operates through laws and racist ideologies, but also through conceptualizations of the natural world as white men’s for the human taking. Settler colonialism operates from its own metaphysic, producing what I call a settler ecology, which dispossesses peoples but also lands. If settlers want to understand how to effectively address environmental crises, then they have to interrogate the logics of settler colonialism—racialization, white supremacy, and myths of development—as structural dimensions of modern life. Our collective quarantine has dovetailed into an all-out revolution; one that is an all-out indictment of colonialism itself. This time is ripe for this very conversation.

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COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset

“American Progress” by John Gast

By Kollibri terre Sonnenblume, Macska Moksha Press

COVID denialism in the US is problematic to say the least. The nation is facing a public health crisis that’s far worse than it needs to be, as shown by the examples of countless other nations around the world that have largely suppressed the first wave. In fact, the US is one of the most dangerous places to be for this pandemic.

We have failed to pursue common sense policies and collective action here due to the ignorant attitudes not only of our leadership but of a significant share of our population.

Three recent interviews I did for my podcast, “Voices for Nature & Peace,” highlighted the connection between this unfortunate state of affairs and our status as a settler-colonial state. These three guests were Margaret Kimberley, a columnist at the Black Agenda Report and member of the Black Alliance for Peace; Joanna Pocock, the Canadian-born, London-residing author of “Surrender,” a memoir about living in the western US; and Alley Valkyrie, a US American activist, writer and artist in France.

What is “settler colonialism”? A method of expanding a nation’s area in which ordinary citizens take the lead by physically occupying un-ceded land themselves, using violence or the threat of violence, often for resource extraction activities like mining, ranching, logging or farming. Spreading religion is another justification. When the area’s original inhabitants defend themselves—or even when they don’t, and just try to negotiate peacefully—they are moved or massacred by the nation’s military. (Hence the term, “calling in the cavalry.”)

The United States of America was founded this way, as waves of European colonists moved from east to west, dispossessing Native Americans of their home territories as they went. In fact, one of the two main reasons for seeking independence from the British was because they forbade colonists from stealing land west of the Appalachians. The other main reason was to preserve and spread the institution of slavery.

Though “the frontier” was officially declared closed in 1890, and the so-called “Indian Wars” are said to have ended by 1924, the US remains a settler colonial state. The physical occupation is ongoing, as well as the mindsets that motivate it.

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Decolonizing Psychology: Relegated To The Margins, Our Humanity with Sunil Bhatia

From Last Born In The Wilderness

At its root, Western Psychology is colonial. With that in mind, what would a decolonized psychology include and exclude in its framework? As Sunil addresses in his work and in this interview, Psychology, as a social science, has served the Western colonialist project in all its forms. Even as we have entered into a “post-colonial” period over the past century or more, the impacts of colonization on numerous populations around the world are still felt presently, profoundly so. Officially, Western nation-states have abandoned previously defined colonies to self-governance (after centuries of various forms of anti-colonial resistance). But, the processes of an “internalized colonization” continue to manifest from a globalized, neoliberal socioeconomic system that is structurally founded on the long-lasting legacies of colonialism and white supremacy. 

Click here to read more/listen…