By Xhopakelxhit, Ancestral Pride [PDF]:
Every single time we speak publicly, or put ourselves out there we are always asked by other Indigenous Nations, settlers, and settlers of color: what can we do. We then go on to outline all the ways those who want to be potential allies can help us out in a tangible way, in a targeted way, and in a general way. Everyone takes notes, asks more questions, and seems really earnest. Then inevitably soon after something happens that we need to utilize these tools and reach out to our settler allies, guess what happens?! Not much. More understandably our indigenous friends and relatives who are resisting the forces of industrial occupation cannot usually leave their fight to join ours unless the situation is very dire. Yet settlers also seem to have problems with moving beyond the round dance rhetoric of the protest industry and organizing outside of that box.
This is when the reality of doing something other than agreeing with us, reveals the struggle that settlers face when it comes to actually being an active ally; the word ally evokes images of rallies or marchers and bullhorns and social media call outs complete with said ally in the pic standing next to indigenous whoever with fists raised! It is colonized, pretty, and almost as hard to swallow as not having allies at all.
Ally is a verb it implies action, there are more ways that settler allies or hopefuls can participate and help in the indigenous struggle for liberation from the colonial genocidal regime than marching. Our freedom as humans rely on this relationship but it has to be looked at a different way and our life long learned behaviours have to be shed.
Lets forget for a moment all the new mythology of canada and what it presents as the relationship it has with the indigenous people here on this continent called north america. Strike from your memory the silver screen shaman and the great joining of the rainbow warriors. Forget the lie that this is an awesome country founded expressly for your people and remember that is in fact a country that was born on top of our nations and the birth was a bloody abortion of humanity. Now that we have effectively tried to eradicate the lifetime of untruths we have learned in schools and through media, and society, we can come to a place where we can work together but there is more for settlers to know. A great unlearning is happening at a fast rate right now because of the status of the human race and the plight of the planet. We have come to the end of the era of the power and consumption phase, civilization always collapses and we are here to help it! This ending is bringing many new people to the battle that we are waging against the state, but many of our own people are happy with the colonial status quo and only want to secure their rights as far as they can still shop at star bucks and use power. Many settlers do not even care or can fathom giving up their privilege on this continent. It is our job to leave them behind and be the van guard of a new way of being that is based on how our governance systems worked here for millennia.
There has always been a great many of us who are not OK with being assimilated. Last year we seen many indigenous citizens of canada get upset and staged massive protests (INM) from ocean to ocean to prevent something that happened despite the mass mobilization, in the end the omnibus bill was passed. This exercise however was useful in weeding out those who were only in it for the short term or weren’t invested. It also helped to point out those who are really trying to shed the colonial system from themselves, their families, and their lands and for us to connect with each other. It also was a massive waste of momentum and people power!
So now we are here, the dawn of a new winter and more threats against Mother Earth and our very beings.
A few things to remember: Indigenous activists are not super human mythical indigenous beings who are all knowing and all wise. We have problems, we are easily triggered, can be dysfunctional, some are addicted to sex, drugs, alcohol, and ego. We are the perpetrators of lateral violence as we denounce it. We pay rent, work for the man, go shopping and partake in mainstream culture more then we should. We beat our wives and husbands and ourselves there is much we have suffered in our generation and this cannot be undone. We want change, we aspire to change, and we are the change but we are inherently flawed. There is nothing wrong with that, it is a human condition and we are products of our enforced enslavement and colonization but we have to acknowledge these things in ourselves and you do in us as well so we can really do what has to be done. It does no one any greater disservice then to put them on pedestals and many a good movement has been waylaid because we are all too human and the mutual disappointments have caused things to slow to a trickle.
Once we are in the place where we have left our egos and acknowledged our short comings as indigenous now we can touch on the great failings of the settler nation. Many have read the awesome and plentiful articles on settler colonialism, and have gained some insight and now use terms like: unceded coast salish, (insert whatever Nations name whose land you are occupying with privilege) territories, or maybe you dumpster dive and hate consumerism, maybe you have a rosy idea of what indigenous governance means and that you will be welcomed here with open arms and be part of the rainbow tribe. These are the newest forms of mythology that are coming up and into existence because the settler nation no matter how many indigenous you know, how enlightened, and down to earth you are, in your world view there is no future here on turtle island that you are not here. We need to fix this mythology and live the reality of our task.
Think of how 500 years of genocide, colonization, residential school, forced assimilation, cultural appropriation, and land theft and destruction would affect you. Think of the break down of our houses, our families, and ourselves, and how you would deal with that. PTSD is a reality, suicide affects us all daily, violence against our women, human trafficking of our children, alcoholism, drug abuse, and murder are our daily battles, add to that trying to survive everyday and the state of being on our own homelands, poverty stricken, oppressed, and marginalized people that are considered wards of a colonial crown. Supporting indigenous causes isn’t pretty or something to add to the activism resume, it often means accepting fierce strong humans at face value, saying you are in solidarity with indigenous people and sovereignty means you accept our laws and reject the illegal laws of the military state that is actively occupying our lands. If being disciplined or dealing with warrior justice scares or offends you then you are NOT ready to be an ally or to smash the system.