Are White People Indigenous?

By Pegi Eyers, Stone Circle Press

The colonial history of the places we call home, and current political realities shape how we use the language of “nativization” and “re-indigenization” to describe our process of re-bonding with the land.  This blog addresses the current (and unresolved) controversy on the use of these terms, and describes the boundaries that are in place to ensure that as Settler-Allies we continue to support the First Nations of Turtle Island in their ongoing cultural and spiritual recoveries.

To talk about the ambiguities we encounter in our re-indigenization process as white folks, let’s start off by asking – who is indigenous?  And how do we define indigeneity?   

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(Originally published 10/7/2016)

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Settler Colonialism and the Struggle for Abolition

This episode of Rustbelt Abolition Radio grapples with the relation between incarceration and settler colonialism. Kelly Lytle Hernández, abolitionist writer and professor of History and African American studies at the University of California-Los Angeles, discusses her latest book, City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles.

Hernández reveals the underlying logic of elimination and conquest that is foundational to our settler colonial society by interrogating the construction of the settler-carceral state over two centuries. In this historical analysis, Hernández draws from what she calls “The Rebel Archive,” a constellation of historical materials that emerged from struggles against conquest and elimination.

As resistance against conquest continues, how can abolitionists take seriously the reality of envisioning another world on occupied land?

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For transcript, click here.

 

Decolonization and National Liberation: From Turtle Island to Ireland

“[D]ecolonization, in its fullest expression, is a future beyond capitalism and beyond the liberal nation-state. Decolonization is a future-oriented project that requires imagining, building, and fighting for forms of nationhood and self-determination not premised on the relations of exploitation, dispossession, elimination, and extraction that define liberal nationalisms and capitalist, imperial, and colonial formations. Decolonization requires forms of nationhood and self-determination based on relationality of a different kind…”

IMG_3497.jpeg A mural of Native freedom fighter and political prisoner, Leonard Peltier, appears alongside several murals of imprisoned revolutionaries from Palestine, Ireland, Turtle Island, and other liberation struggles. The murals feature prominently in the blocks-long Falls Road murals that line this major thoroughfare in West Belfast. During my three days in Belfast, almost every male advocate for Irish liberation I met–regardless of his generation in the struggle–had spent considerable time in prison for his political activity. State repression of Irish self-determination, and the targeted criminalization of Republicans and anti-imperialists more broadly, is an everyday reality in Northern Ireland. There is thus a profound public consciousness about the issue of political prisoners and widespread support for campaigns to free political prisoners like Peltier elsewhere. Credit: Seamus McHenry

This talk was delivered at the Royal Geographical Society’s International Conference in London, England, August 28, 2017

by Melanie Yazzie

Good evening. I want to…

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Decolonization is a global project: From Palestine to the Americas

Editorial by Linda Tabar & Chandni Desa, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society, Vol. 6, No. 1

This special issue brings Palestine into conversation with Settler Colonial Studies, Critical Indigenous Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, other critical scholarship and political practices. In doing so, we write in opposition to the way in which Palestine is often taken up and framed in the mainstream media and academic scholarship. In 1948, the Zionist settler colonization of Palestine culminated in the mass eviction of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous Palestinian people (over 800,000 people) who were expelled from their homes and forcefully dispossessed from their lands. They were unable to return and became refugees as Zionist militias attacked and destroyed villages, towns and cities across Palestine. Palestinians have termed this the al-Nakba (catastrophe) which signifies the theft and loss of their land and the establishment of the Israeli settler colonial state. During the 1967 war, what was left of historic Palestine (Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza) became occupied by Israel. Palestine remains colonized as the Israeli state continues to militarily occupy and confiscate Palestinian land to build colonies for Jewish settlers, while exercising routine violence through massacres, bombings, mass incarceration, targeted assassinations, restricted movement, home demolitions, sexual violence, and implementing racist apartheid policies that fragments the Palestinian population into Bantustans.

In writing about the ongoing settler colonization of Palestine, we start by recognizing our locations on the traditional territories of the Huron Wendat, Haudenosaunee, the Seneca and most recently the Mississaugas of the Credit River, and the waters that sustain life on these stolen lands. In contending with this positionality, we recognize that our locations are required by the Canadian settler state to maintain its settler project and as such it actively solicits our identification and participation in the ongoing colonization and erasure of Indigenous people. In this issue we also draw attention to some of the histories of forced movement and displacement that underlie our presence on these lands, and the ways our location in this settler state can be disrupted and transformed through alliances and relations of solidarity. Specifically, these traditional territories have been a central site in which Palestinians and their allies have advanced global solidarity with the indigenous Palestinian struggle, while simultaneously expressing solidarity and building ties with Indigenous peoples from Six Nations, Tyendinaga, and across Turtle Island (Krebs and Olwan, 2012, Juma’ 2007). Mike Krebs and Dana Olwan (2012) and others document this distinct local history of connecting the struggles against the settler colonial states of Canada and Israel, which we and some of the contributors in this special issue have been part of building for over a decade. This history is significant because Palestinians and their allies on these territories were building these relationships at a time when both of these Indigenous struggles were hardly recognized, well before the time of reconciliation (in Canada), and the popularization of the global solidarity movement with Palestine. This history of connection has produced its own conversations, political analysis, critiques, tensions, and praxis, which this issue is both informed by and seeks to consolidate and take forward.

These ongoing political relationships center and are rooted in a responsibility to decolonial struggles on these lands, what Steven Salaita in his contribution in this special issue calls an “ethical imperative” which he reissues to the Palestine solidarity movement. Political intimacies (Lowe, 2015) between the Palestinian liberation struggle, Indigenous movements and other struggles are not new. Salaita reminds us that “dialogue between Natives and Palestinians goes back at least half a century” and suggests “the first substantive interchange occurred during the heyday of the American Indian Movement [AIM], when Native activists, like their Black Panther peers, looked to global liberation struggles for inspiration and solidarity, proffering both to anti-colonial movements in return” (2017, para 25). What is significant here is the way that such past and present relationships have disrupted and work against settler categories and imaginaries that have configured the native as always ‘disappeared’ or ‘defeated’, which has at times precluded solidarity across these geographies. This is not to deny that solidarity is difficult and that at times there have been tensions when forging ties between struggles (which have been written about by Amadahy, 2013; Bhandar & Ziadah, 2016; Kelley, 2016; Krebs & Olwan, 2012; Tabar, 2016), but we want to stress that by coming together through ethical responsibilities these movements also rupture the ideological structures, racial hierarchies and discourses of settler colonial states. Moreover, these settler colonial ideologies rationalize and sustain settler projects of land theft, ongoing genocide, and anti-black racism (rooted in the history of transatlantic slavery), and coercive labour regimes in a global geography, in which similar racial categories enable capitalist accumulation, exploitation, dispossession and white supremacy across different territories. Thus we and our contributors in this special issue emphasize and expand upon how creating ways of seeing across colonial ideologies and the racialized, sexualized logics that sanction dominance and state terror, is part of a necessary internationalist decolonial project to transform systems of power.

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What Does it Mean to be a Weapon of War?: Settler Colonialism and Black Labor

From Decolonized Tech, an Anti/De/Postcolonial Informed Tech, Gaming, and Comic Blog:

“If liberation is at its base about freeing oneself from an oppressive system, then our knowledge of our relationship to white settler colonialism needs to be taking into account. I think for many people, liberation is primarily articulated in relationship to your community specifically. For Black people on Turtle Island liberation means something more than simply freeing ourselves from the grasps of our slaveowners. Because we are important parts of the genocidal war machine, our liberation also impacts indigenous peoples and their struggle against the same system. For example, the struggles we have with Black liberals who want a place within the settler system has added meaning in that their need for inclusion not only fucks us but also means continuing to contribute to the settler project. Solidarity between Black and Indigenous peoples in this context is not a matter of convenience or “we are all suffering”, but a matter of our oppression upholding theirs and vice versa. Its not a matter of non-Black people demands for our labor, but coming to terms with the true weight that our labor holds over this whole system beyond just our relationship to whiteness, and how refusing to do labor is an even more revolutionary act that we often give it credit for.”

Decolonized Tech

What does it mean to be a tool? This is a question that comes up in Afrofuturist conversations on the regular via discussions of AI, robots, their humanity, and exploitation. The question is rooted in the knowledge that under chattel slavery, stolen Africans were legally and socially rendered as objects, a process I call chattelment. Orlando Patterson alternatively called this objectification ‘social death’. As it would be taken up in afro-pessimist theory, social death creates an ontological divide between humans and non-humans, the non-humans of course being Black folks. Our history under chattel slavery amounted to us being used like cattle, lawnmowers, or shovels to till the land and produce profits and resources for our slaveowners. As a scholar interested in the intersections between Turtle Island Indigeneity and Blackness I wanted to think about this idea of “Blackness-as-technology” in the context of US settler colonialism and it brought…

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Horrors of Thanksgiving: Put down the d(r)um(b)stick

“Unlike Christopher Columbus day, which is clearly odious, Thanksgiving represents a celebration of an series of genocidal events, under an innocuous signifier “thanksgiving.” Not only does Thanksgiving complete ‘Manifest Destiny’s’ post-genocidal mental erasure and American historical amnesia, the holiday actually sanitizes itself. Thanksgiving literally white-washes genocide, and then goes to the ‘word laundromat’ afterwords, taking on a whole new series of meanings, completely killing the reality of the genocide it celebrates. Laundering symbols is profitable, mentally, emotionally and often economically, that is, if you’re not a Native American.”

Tony Cochran

Reminding US Americans, as I do every year, that Thanksgiving is an atrocity in-itself, a celebration of a series of atrocities committed by European colonialists and settlers against the Native Peoples of the Americas, is essential. Opposition arises, sometimes from the strangest places: echoing the right-wing notion of tradition, family and continuity, some liberals and leftists say that Thanksgiving is special time, a secular holiday, and a time for family and togetherness during the cold, dark months of the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere. To take from Elton John, Thanksgiving is their ‘candle in the wind,’ against grey skies and dropping temperatures. A ‘secular’ event, uniformly acceptable to all: multi-religious families can all get together and have a Turkey-happy time.

whos+the+illegalalienpilgrim-770x1075 Courtesy: http://www.creativeresistance.org/whos-the-illegal-alien-pilgrim/

Stories are important, as Donna Haraway following Ursula Le Guin noted in her recent lecture Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthuluscene: Staying With the Trouble,” and the wilful…

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The museum will not be decolonised

“Decolonising is deeper than just being represented. When projects and institutions proclaim a commitment to ‘diversity’, ‘inclusion’ or ‘decoloniality’ we need to attend to these claims with a critical eye. Decoloniality is a complex set of ideas – it requires complex processes, space, money, and time, otherwise it runs the risk of becoming another buzzword, like ‘diversity’.”

Media Diversified

Sumaya Kassim describes the challenges of trying to bring context to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” Audre Lorde, 1978

Earlier this year, I was part of a group of co-curators invited to set up an exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) which would use the Museum’s collection to confront history in new and challenging ways. The attempt is worthy – reflective of movements like ‘Rhodes must fall’ and ‘why is my curriculum white’, which call for a radical reassessment of history, an awareness of how colonial processes impact our present times. However, the exhibition brought into focus an important question – one of whether large British institutions like BMAG can and should promote ‘decolonial’ thinking, or…

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Dear Settlers: Before Using Our Medicine, Be Aware of Your White Privilege

Via From An Indigenous Perspective:

Authors Note: I’m not an Elder or Medicine Person, so I’m aware I have no authority to say who’s allowed to use our medicines and in what way. I simply want to explain how I feel and why.

I’ve noticed a lot of well-meaning non-Indigenous people have really taken a liking to our traditional Ceremony. This has me feeling a mixture of a few intense emotions that I’ve needed to unpack for a while.

Specifically, I’ve seen trendy hipster stores selling ‘emergency smudge kits’ with sage and a smudge bowl, maybe a feather, all promoted on Instagram. Or a non-Indigenous yogi selling dream-catchers to wear around your neck like a necklace. Or self-proclaimed spiritual healer who uses sage to smudge her clients and promotes it on Instagram. Or most recently, a non-Indigenous man leading a “medicine picking” excursion teaching others to pick sage.

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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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