Decolonization Is for Everyone

Nikki Sanchez | TEDxSFU

“This history is not your fault, but it is absolutely your responsibility.” A history of colonization exists and persists all around us. Nikki discusses what colonization looks like and how it can be addressed through decolonization. An equitable and just future depends on the courage we show today. “Let’s make our grandchildren proud”

Decolonizing Environmental Education

(Turtle icon by Zackary Cloe from the Noun Project)

(Turtle icon by Zackary Cloe from the Noun Project)

A beginner’s guide to disrupting colonial practices in environmental education

By Olivia Balcos

For my second year at the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at UW, I worked at the Education Center in the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA with the project of creating a zine on Decolonizing Environmental Education. I created this zine as a tool for myself and for anyone else in the environmental field to start a conversation about changing how we think about and execute environmental educational spaces. While this was made with environmental educators in in mind, we all have a responsibility to teach each other about the land and its indigenous peoples. This zine is made for anyone and everyone to aid in their journey to decolonize environmental education.

Indigenous Resistance as Re-occupation of Land at the Forefront of Climate Justice

Protest against Trans Mountain pipeline in BC.

Protest against Trans Mountain pipeline in BC.

By Litsa Chatzivasileiou

I write as a settler on this land. I am not speaking on behalf of Aboriginal people but rather as an unconditional ally to their struggles. I will specifically address Indigenous resistance in the form of re-occupation of Turtle Island and in particular of so-called Canada. Re-occupation of the land is a kind of resistance and decolonization to dismantle settler relations to the land as commodity or as property. It is a form of what Nishnaabeg Leanne Betasamosake Simpson calls Indigenous resurgence that is based on restoring Indigenous relationships with the land and how to treat the land in a reciprocal and profoundly respectful way: “It refuses dispossession of both Indigenous bodies and land as the focal point of resurgent thinking and action…It calls for…radical resurgent organizing as direct action…against the dispossessive forces of capitalism, heteropatriarchy and white supremacy. These are actions that engage in generative refusal of…state control…and they embody an Indigenous alternative”. (Simpson 2017). As I understand it this alternative implies both the return of the land to Aboriginal people (and thus the dismantling of settler colonialism) coupled with the literal social, political and economic overthrow of the settler, capitalist state that has wreaked havoc on the planet. More on the tactic of re-occupation shortly. But first, some context on how settler colonialism and ecocide go hand in hand is in order.

Ecocide or the annihilation of the planet and our very life support system is also an industrial genocide of Indigenous peoples symptomatic of what many scholars have called the cancerous diseases of capitalism and settler colonialism. They are both predicated on infinite expansion and growth, the reduction of earth to a lifeless commodity, the mindset of land as frontiers of conquest and the obliteration of what Naomi Klein calls sacrificial zones and people standing on their way. Under capitalism “the expansion of commodity frontiers fosters conditions of social and environmental degradation and conflict.” The commodification process inherent in capitalism begun with the sugar complex in the fifteenth century, spurred early colonialism, and continues to operate in settler colonialism and land grabs through mining and fossil fuel industries and corporate interests: “[f]urther expansion is possible as long as there remains un-commodified land, products, and relations. Here land should be seen the equivalent to the space to grow food or to extract minerals, or the sea for oil or gas exploration” (Conde and Walter 2015). Although today the process of commodification has been exported from the European colonial empires to its colonies and it is rampant globally under the new neo-liberal world order it was initiated within Europe with the uprooting of European peasants, their loss of traditional forms of subsistence, their disconnection from the soil and natural environment, the subsequent flow of products from the countryside to the big urban centers and the degradation and toxification of the places of extraction and consumption. The rise of wage labour accompanied the commodification of land and labour while the “dispossession of subsistence farmers and herders from common land resulted in the proletarianization of rural populations, who flooded to urban centers in search of work…Those still in possession of land generally became indebted, fostering instability and overexploitation by capitalists. This process led to declining productivity, driving the frontier further in search of fresh supplies of labour and land.” (Conde and Walter 72).

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What Decolonization Is, and What It Means to Me

Decolonizing is about reclaiming what was taken and honoring what we still have.

, Teen Vogue

In this op-ed, Tina Curiel-Allen, a Xicana/Boricua poet, writer, and activist, explains decolonization for those who may not be familiar with the term or process. It is important to note that Tina is writing from California, in what is now known as the United States; her family comes from California, other parts of the U.S., and parts of Mexico. She is not attempting to speak for all peoples with regard to decolonization but rather for the community she is a part of, as well as the elders and teachers she says she’s fortunate enough to know.

To talk about decolonization, people need an understanding of what we are decolonizing from. Colonization is when a dominant group or system takes over and exploits and extracts from the land and its native peoples. Colonization has taken place all over the globe, through the stealing of lands; the raping of women; the taking of slaves; the breaking of bodies through fighting, labor, imprisonment, and genocide; the stealing of children; the enforcement of religion; the destruction—or attempts to destroy—spiritual ways of life. All of these things have left a psychological, spiritual, and physical imprint on indigenous peoples, and a governmental ruling system that we did not create, that was not made for us. These are the things we need to heal from, where we need to start reclaiming. This is where organizing and decolonizing comes in.

How do those who have been colonized go about decolonizing? It is in the interest of the colonizer to divide and conquer, to separate us from community, so speaking from a place of we is necessary when talking about decolonization. It is as political and communal as it is personal.

Click here to read the full article…

The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia

Thousands of President Evo Morales’s supporters gather in the Plaza Murillo in La Paz, Bolivia, on December 15, 2007, to show their support for the country’s new constitution. Photographer: Bear Guerra.

An excerpt from The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia (AK Press, 2019)

By Benjamin Dangl

After centuries of colonial domination and a twentieth century riddled with dictatorships, indigenous peoples in Bolivia embarked upon a social and political struggle that would change the country forever. As part of that project activists took control of their own history, starting in the 1960s, by reaching back to oral traditions and then forward to new forms of print and broadcast media. This book tells the fascinating story of how indigenous Bolivians recovered and popularized histories of past rebellions, political models, and leaders, using them to build movements for rights, land, autonomy, and political power. Drawing from rich archival sources and the author’s lively interviews with indigenous leaders and activist-historians, The Five Hundred Year Rebellion describes how movements tapped into centuries-old veins of oral history and memory to produce manifestos, booklets, and radio programs on histories of resistance, wielding them as tools to expand their struggles and radically transform society.

The following is an excerpt from the new book.

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Decolonization-Decoloniality-Marxism

Maehkōn Ahpēhtesewen

I am not a marxist-leninist, nor a marxist-leninist-maoist, nor a trotskyist. For people who have followed me for a while, across previous iterations of this blog (this being somewhere between the 3rd and 6th depending on how you count) or who have had the joy of working with me in real life, this is no real secret.

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Settler Sexuality

Resistance to State-Sanctioned Violence, Reclamation of Anti-Colonial Knowledges & Liberation for All – An Indigenous Feminist Zine

From K’É Infoshop
(download PDF in booklet format)

Created with the knowledge shared at the K’é Infoshop in Tségháhoodzání, Dinétah (Window Rock, AZ) and among the indigenous students living in Quinnipiac, Mashpee Wampanoag, Pokonoket Wampanoag, and Narragansett territories.

“Indigenous feminisms transcend the general fight for rights and recognition within a nation-state — indigenous feminisms speak to the responsibilities we have to one another and to our relationship to the physical and non-physical world.”

Key Terms and Definitions

  • settler-colonialism — the ongoing process of non-Native settlers occupying Native land, demanding their world views, morals, and economies be followed, while attempting to erase and assimilate the original inhabitants
  • heteropatriarchy — the societal structure in which heterosexual men possess the most amount of control and power compared to womxn and queer people, who are disempowered by the system
  • imperialism — policy, action, and ongoing process of extending power over foreign land and people often with the violent intent to control their affairs
  • capitalism — an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state/by the people, exchange relies on currency, overall system relies on individualistic thought and competition
  • subjectivity — ideas, perspectives, feelings, experiences, and desires of an individual/collective expressed with agency and consciousness
  • queer — unspecific non-heterosexual identity/subjectivity, cannot fully describe Indigenous perspectives of gender/sexuality
  • Two-Spirit — contemporary pan-Indigenous term for non-binary/queer individuals, unspecific.
  • globalization — the process of international interaction and integration between people, goods, technology, governments, and economies
  • neoliberalism — hyper-capitalism; deregulation of the market, free-market capitalism alongside liberal agendas to erase race and homogenize queerness
  • decolonization — the action and practice of dismantling harmful structures of power, reclaiming previous subjectivities, and envisioning a future built on previous and current understandings of compassion, relation, and accountability
  • Indigenous feminisms — intersectional theory and practice of decolonial feminism, directly challenges settler-colonialism, capitalism, and western conceptions of “gender” and “sexuality.”

The policing of indigenous genders and sexualities as a means to further the larger settler-colonial project led to the development of a “settler sexuality.” Scott Morgensen (settler scholar) defines settler sexuality as “a white national heteronormativity that regulates Indigenous sexuality and gender by supplanting them with the sexual modernity of settler subjects.” In non-academic speak, settler sexuality can be described as an “exceptional” form of sexual expression enforced by the settler-state. The setter-state deems heterosexual monogamy as “exceptional” and “normal,” and anything beyond those confines as “primitive” and “unexceptional.”

Beginning with the early violence inflicted upon indigenous people in North America and the origins of settler sexuality, the zine goes onto to describe how such regimes were used to further the larger settler-colonial project to pillage Native land and eradicate Native populations. Indigenous feminisms are then presented in order to illuminate paths toward decolonization. Radically different from mainstream conceptions of feminism, the zine highlights the need for Indigenous feminisms in the larger aims to eliminate structures of power harmful to indigenous existence, such as heteropatriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy. Indigenous feminisms act as a way to challenge settler sexuality and settler colonialism on the whole.

The language used throughout, such as “gender” and “sexuality,” do not and cannot fully describe and communicate the ways in which our ancestors understood them. Western interpretations of gender and sexuality have, from the time they have been articulated and policed, been used to define each other. For instance, “homosexuality” focuses on the “act” of “same-sex” relations. Indigenous gender and sexuality extend beyond such definitions. Gender encapsulates the mental, emotional, and social experience and expression of an individual; Gender has never been about the biological or physical.

“Queer” is also used minimally throughout the zine to loosely refer to sexual subjectivities generally not accepted or embraced by settler-colonial heteropatriarchy. The broadness of the term can be violent, but the English language can’t really describe something so complicated and abstract. Most recently, the pan-tribal term “Two-Spirit,” a translated Anishinaabe word, has been used to reclaim Indigenous trans subjectivities. However, there is pushback both within and beyond academia due to the broadness, the perpetuation of the gender binary and colonial understandings of gender. “Queerness” as we understand it today differs largely from the way our ancestors understood gender and sexuality. The term “indigenous,” as used in this zine refers to the native inhabitants of so-called North America.

So much more could also be added to this final product, this only does a fraction of the work grassroots organizers throughout the world manage.

SETTLER SEXUALITY ON STOLEN LAND

Capitalism, Imperialism, and Race

Indigenous womxn, “queer,” transgender, and non-binary people endure unspeakable violence at the hands of non-native settlers and even their own community members, however they continue to resist and pave a path toward brighter tomorrows. Indigenous womxn, trans folk, queers stand at the forefront of the larger decolonial movement to reclaim previous subjectivities and to build bright collective futures. Decolonization is often mistaken as an effort to “go back” to precolonial ways, but the active process of such carries much more gravity than that. Indigenous people not only demand the total repatriation of land, but we continually envision and push for a world void of structures such as settler-colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, racism, fascism, and heteropatriarchy. Decolonization involves reclaiming previous ways of living – horizontal leadership, collectivism, and recognition of universal relations — and pushing such lifeways into practice and action in order to develop a sustainable future. It’s not all about the past, it’s about what we want for our communities in the years to come. Indigenous womxn and queers lead the larger movement for such futures despite the violence they experience under settler-colonialism, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy.

Click here to read the full text…

Thanksgiving: The National Day of Mourning

Photo: Native American Girls Gather At Plymouth For Day Of Mourning, November 26, 1992. By Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Photo: Native American Girls Gather At Plymouth For Day Of Mourning, November 26, 1992. By Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

By Allen Salway, Paper Magazine

Being a young, Native student in America during October to late-November is complete mental exhaustion. This time of year in particular, society continuously pushes us into oppressive climates where we are gaslighted through a series of holidays that either reimagine history, play on and exploit painful stereotypes, or both.

Columbus Day dresses up the genocide of our people as ‘civilizing us,’ Halloween perpetuates the stereotypical “Indian,” and the worst yet is Thanksgiving: the most nationalized, white-washed version of history ever to happen to a marginalized group. On top of the very real, everyday problems Natives currently still face, like living without running water or electricity, respected national institutions readily erase our history on this holiday. They mock us by wearing brown shirts to mimic our skin, using us in their plays and crafting sacred cultural items — like dream-catchers and headdresses — for classroom festivities.

Bear in mind, we Native Americans were prohibited from practicing our own culture until just under 40 years ago. But still, schools take aspects of our culture and distort them for fun and offensive activities, in the name of teaching ‘history.’

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Allen Salway is a 20-year-old Diné, Oglala Lakota, Tohono O’odham student, writer and community organizer from the Navajo Nation. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Settler Fragility: Why Settler Privilege Is So Hard to Talk About

From “Our colonial history from the discovery of America to the close of the revolution,” 1915. French trading with Native Americans.

From “Our colonial history from the discovery of America to the close of the revolution,” 1915. French trading with Native Americans.

By Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Beacon Broadside

Robin DiAngelo’s brilliant 2018 manifesto on white fragility was a much-needed truth bomb at a time when it’s more clear than ever that we are light years away from the “post-racial state.” Perhaps most important about the book was its clarity that racism is systemic and structural, that no white people are immune from it, and that their fragility about it is based on a belief that they are being judged as bad people (the good-bad binary). In this second part of a two-part series (see part one here), I take on the similar but very different concept we in Indian country call settler privilege and its companion, settler fragility.

Settler fragility stems from settler privilege, which is similar to white privilege in that it is systemic, structural, and based on white supremacy, making it difficult to identify. Only in some ways, settler privilege is far more covert and cunning. The reason is because of the ubiquitous ways the US is normalized; that is, the US settler state is the “water we swim in.” US citizens of all races and ethnic groups have been indoctrinated their entire lives with messages designed to foster a sense of national pride and belonging in the making of what has been called an “imagined community,” which always occurs on Indigenous lands. Their citizenship and their very identity are taken for granted without critical consciousness about the US’s contradictory foundational structures and narratives.

Settler colonialism is said to be a structure, not an historic event, whose endgame is always the elimination of the Natives in order to acquire their land, which it does in countless seen and unseen ways. These techniques are woven throughout the US’s national discourse at all levels of society. Manifest Destiny—that is, the US’s divinely sanctioned inevitability—is like a computer program always operating unnoticeably in the background. In this program, genocide and land dispossession are continually both justified and denied.

Like white fragility, settler fragility is the inability to talk about unearned privilege—in this case, the privilege of living on lands that were taken in the name of democracy through profound violence and injustice. Like white privilege, white supremacy is also at the root of settler fragility. The difference is that foreign invasion, dispossession of Indigenous lands, and genocide were based on (white) European religious and cultural supremacy as encoded in the doctrine of discovery, not racial supremacy. And, unlike for other people of color who have made significant legal gains in the US legal system, the nearly two-centuries-old doctrine of discovery is at the foundation of the legal system that still paternalistically determines Native lives and lands.

Settler privilege thus simultaneously implicates and is beyond racism, which is one reason why, paradoxically, even non-Native people of color can experience a type of privilege and fragility. Fragility stems from the need to distance oneself from complicity in settler colonialism, in what some scholars have called “settler moves to innocence.” The good-bad binary is part of this distancing impulse, because like racism, nobody wants to be associated with genocide and injustice, especially in a country that touts its democracy and equality, and especially for people who have been oppressed by it in other ways. But compared to white privilege, this is what makes settler privilege so much more beguiling and difficult: it cuts to the core of American identity in all its iterations, subtly calling into question the legitimacy of the US and the sense of belonging on the land.

Click here to read the full article…

Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes) is a lecturer of American Indian Studies at California State University San Marcos, and a consultant and educator in environmental justice policy planning. Her research interests focus on Indigenous nationalism, self-determination, environmental justice, and education. She also works within the field of critical sports studies, examining the intersections of indigeneity and the sport of surfing. She is co-author with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz of Beacon Press’s “All the Real Indians Died Off” and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans, and her forthcoming book, As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock, is scheduled for release by Beacon Press in April 2019. Follow her on Twitter at @DinaGWhit and visit her website.

Beyond Columbus Day: Changing the Name Is Just the First Step

Rene Roman Nose addresses the crowd during a celebration marking Indigenous Peoples' Day at the Daybreak Star Cultural Center on October 13, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. Earlier that afternoon, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed a resolution designating the second Monday in October to be Indigenous Peoples' Day. (David Ryder / Getty Images)

Rene Roman Nose addresses the crowd during a celebration marking Indigenous Peoples’ Day at the Daybreak Star Cultural Center on October 13, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. Earlier that afternoon, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed a resolution designating the second Monday in October to be Indigenous Peoples’ Day. (David Ryder / Getty Images)

By Jacqueline KeelerTruthout

On Wednesday, October 3, the Cincinnati city council joined a growing trend when it voted to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It is now one of more than 70 cities across the country to do so. The first was Berkeley, California, which adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1992, in recognition of the 500–year anniversary of the European arrival in the Western Hemisphere and the ensuing devastation to Indigenous nations already here in what became known as the Americas.

Other cities that have made the change include Los Angeles, Seattle and Phoenix, as well as states like Minnesota, South Dakota and Alaska, which have significant Native American and Alaskan Native populations. In 2017, the island country of Trinidad and Tobago made the change after a statue of Columbus was splattered in blood-colored paint. A grassroots group called the Cross Rhodes Freedom Project posted an explanation for the vandalism on Facebook at the time, explaining that the painting was soaked in red to protest the celebration of the “Genocidal Genovese Sailor” who “decimated the first peoples of the Americas, destroyed their way of life, then turned around and denied their humanity.”

There are rumors of more cities, including Dallas, Texas, following suit by today. More than 90 different entities (including cities, counties, colleges, universities, states and one country) have changed from honoring Columbus to honoring Indigenous people — at least in name — since 1990.

“I think history tells us that Christopher Columbus was not a good representation of the kind of people we’d want to value and appreciate,” said Chris Seelbach, a Cincinnati councilman, when explaining his vote. He also tweeted, “We can’t re-write history, but we can acknowledge the millions of people who didn’t need to be ‘discovered.’”

Click here to read the full article…

Jacqueline Keeler is a Diné/Ihanktonwan Dakota writer. Her book The Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears is available from Torrey House Press and the forthcoming Standing Rock to the Bundy Standoff: Occupation, Native Sovereignty, and the Fight for Sacred Landscapes will be released next year.