Category Archives: colonialism

‘The Only Way to Save the Land is to Give It Back’: A Critique of Settler Conservationism

By Majerle Lister, The Red Nation

The narrative that conservationism is an ally of Indigenous people and Indigenous land serves the opportunistic purpose of unifying Indigenous people and pro-conservationist to fight for the land. At the center of the US conservation movement is Theodore Roosevelt, a notable racist and violent imperialist. Any act or criticism against conservation is painted as an insult to the president — or the innocence of a settler nation. Settler conservation, however, has provided great victories for Indigenous people in the form of protecting sacred lands from capitalist development, such as, most recently, the protection of Bears Ears National Monument. Settler conservation plays a dual role, it keeps land away from Indigenous control while conserving land for the settler public. Narratives like this usually flow from one person to another without evaluating the reality from which it was created, all the while ignoring the historical dispossession of Indigenous lands.

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth president of the US, is the soul of settler conservationism. Roosevelt, a “big stick” imperialist, supported the US military invasion of Cuba in 1898, the violent annexation of the Philippines in 1900, the blockade of Panama and annexation of the Panama Canal in 1903. His bloody foreign policy matched his Indian policy. As part of his famous conservation policies, Roosevelt worked to transfer 230 million acres of Indigenous land to public lands. Besides calling Indigenous people “squalid savages,” he firmly believed that the land belonged to the “white race” through conquest and superiority, a staple of imperialism by violently increasing the land mass of the invading settler nation. Roosevelt also defended the Dawes Act of 1887, which opened 90 million acres of Indigenous land for white settlement. He praised the Act because it “pulverized” the tribal land mass and encouraged private ownership and the dissolution of collective tribal lands.

The history of the US conservation movement is a history settler colonialism.

Settler colonialism operates on certain myths so that it can reproduce itself. One of those myths is that Indigenous people of the U.S. were unproductive with the land therefore white settlers were entitled to the land. There are two main points in this myth, the capitalistic characteristic of productivity and the notion of white supremacy. When settlers came over, they deemed the land unproductive despite the complex use of the land by Indigenous people. Following this, they believed they were entitled to the land because they thought themselves superior to manage land and labor. This white supremacy ideology initiated the Indigenous genocide, Indigenous land dispossession, and the enslavement of the African people. Settler land management operates on this notion that indigenous people cannot management their lands themselves despite the romanticism of the “ecological” Indian. If Indigenous people cannot manage the land, who should be in charge? The discussion of control of stolen land shifts to a discussion of the public vs the private.

Indigenous people are quick to recognize the land grabs by the Federal government, or any other government, as the continuation of colonial land accumulation. Yet on the other end, conservationists see it as consolidating lands for the public. The conservationists rally around the term “Public lands” harkening to the spirit of Wood Guthrie’s, “This Land is Your Land.” This shifts the narrative away from Indigenous land claims and dispossession towards a discussion of the public good. Indigenous lands become the public’s land and “the public” — which excludes the original owners of the land — should be the ones who manage and control the land. Examples demonstrating the shift away from Indigenous land control are seen by corporations and non-profits, such as Sierra Club and Patagonia.

Click here to read the full article from The Red Nation

The Red Nation is dedicated to the liberation of Native peoples from capitalism and colonialism. They center Native political agendas and struggles through direct action, advocacy, mobilization, and education. Click here to read more.

Return Fire on Colonisation

A glossary entry to accompany the U.K. green anarchist zine Return Fire, Volume 3 (PDF)

Imagine existing under occupation. Imagine life after the invasion of your home; the boots on the street, the suppression of differential ways of being, the erasure of potentials. Imagine you, the next generation, the one after, as compelled to abide by new strictures and disciplines, learning to call new and old phenomena by unfamiliar terms, both living in and understanding your bodies and surroundings in set and prescribed ways, contributing daily to a project not your own.

Is this what the term ‘colonisation’ evokes to you? For many of us, the initial connotations are the same: expropriation, persecution, enslavement, loss of culture and meaning, apartheid. For some, depending on one’s starting point, this picture will feel painfully present and fresh; an open sore not given respite to heal, a torment without end in sight, as the circumference of your life shrinks to fit your ghetto, house-hold, reservation, labour-camp or mental ward. For others, the impression would be like traces of a lingering nightmare – collective grief buried under daily survival; echoes of the kitchen-table laments of neglected elders or whispers of half-forgotten rebels. For others still, this will feel like the stuff of wide-screen dystopias or foreign dictatorships; figures from the past, maybe, without bearing on or relation to our ‘individually determined’ existence in The Free World.

The common usage is deceptively simple; one kind of culture invades and overwhelms another. The basis for this hostility towards the ‘other’, and the complex mindsets of differentiation and superiority within which it exists, is rooted in the settling of certain concepts and assumptions in the consciousness of its hosts. Often, however, discussion of the phenomena of colonisation stays hemmed into limited readings on the theme of race, or the moves of one specific culture on the stage of History, or even just to shrewd geopolitical calculations set apart from ideology. The truth is that contributions from such discussions continue to inform our perspectives on the matter, yet our use of the term conjures a logic far deeper and wider. We who are writing feel that opening out our understanding of this dynamic can equip us to better comprehend the indignities in all our lives, and the axes along which they intersect. This is why we wanted to dedicate this space to the topic.

Some of the descriptions to follow are straight from our own experiences, or those shared with us by others on a separate footing within the colonisation process, but some will be what has in one way or another been served to us as History (even in its antagonist version). Because this History is a slippery tool to wield, and more than a little implicated in the very process of worldview-shaping we’ll critique, we will at least be making more abundantly clear than usual which key sources we’ve worked from or what conversations we’re following in this line of inquiry.

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Native Resistance and the Carceral State

Image credit: “Wilding” Cops at Standing Rock, Josh Yoder

Image credit: “Wilding” Cops at Standing Rock, Josh Yoder

Via Rustbelt Abolition Radio:

Nick Estes identifies the anti-Indian origins of the carceral state within the U.S. settler colonial project and argues that indigenous liberation offers critical frameworks for understanding how to abolish it. Estes is a co-founder of The Red Nation: an anti-profit coalition dedicated to the liberation of Native Nations, lands, and peoples. He holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of New Mexico and is a fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.

Image credit: “Wilding” Cops at Standing Rock, Josh Yoder

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Decolonizing Anarchism at the Institute for Advanced Troublemaking

This workshop by Maia Ramnath will explore the history, structure, function, and ideologies of colonialism, anticolonialism, and decolonization from an anarchist perspective. It will be organized in three parts. The first one, anarchism in anticolonial action, will offer a historical overview of colonialism and its various manifestations over the past five hundred years. This requires understanding and confronting the interconnections of empire, capitalism, race, and resource extraction. Part two will focus on how anarchists (in both colonizing and colonized positions) have related to anticolonial struggles, including those identified as national liberation struggles. It will consider various specifically located traditions of resistance and liberation philosophy/praxis that have affinity or share some key concepts with anarchism. Finally, part three will center on anarchism and decolonization today, concentrating on some contemporary hot spots of empire and settler colonialism, and touching on both ethical and practical concerns for action, taking into consideration how anarchistic thought and praxis might look in different political, social, and cultural contexts.

More info…

Maia is a writer, historian, teacher, activist, and performing artist based in New York City. She has taught modern South Asian and world history, written two books (and is working on a third) and numerous articles on transnational radical anticolonial movements. Coming up on her twentieth anniversary as a “self-identified anarchist,” she has worn many different organizing hats to face a range of intersecting issues of social, economic, racial and environmental justice, Palestine solidarity and indigenous solidarity, all understood as interlinked aspects of the same imperial/colonial system. Check out Maia’s book Decolonizing Anarchism : An Antiauthoritarian History of India’s Liberation Struggle

Featured Book: The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism

The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in Seventeenth-Century North America and the Caribbean

By Gerald Horne, Monthly Review

Virtually no part of the modern United States—the economy, education, constitutional law, religious institutions, sports, literature, economics, even protest movements—can be understood without first understanding the slavery and dispossession that laid its foundation. To that end, historian Gerald Horne digs deeply into Europe’s colonization of Africa and the New World, when, from Columbus’s arrival until the Civil War, some 13 million Africans and some 5 million Native Americans were forced to build and cultivate a society extolling “liberty and justice for all.” The seventeenth century was, according to Horne, an era when the roots of slavery, white supremacy, and capitalism became inextricably tangled into a complex history involving war and revolts in Europe, England’s conquest of the Scots and Irish, the development of formidable new weaponry able to ensure Europe’s colonial dominance, the rebel merchants of North America who created “these United States,” and the hordes of Europeans whose newfound opportunities in this “free” land amounted to “combat pay” for their efforts as “white” settlers.

Centering his book on the Eastern Seaboard of North America, the Caribbean, Africa, and what is now Great Britain, Horne provides a deeply researched, harrowing account of the apocalyptic loss and misery that likely has no parallel in human history. This is an essential book that will not allow history to be told by the victors. It is especially needed now, in the age of Trump. For it has never been more vital, Horne writes, “to shed light on the contemporary moment wherein it appears that these malevolent forces have received a new lease on life.”

Gerald Horne returns to the scene of the crimes that birthed the modern world. With cinematic flair, he takes us through what at first may appear to be familiar terrain—slavery, dispossession, settler colonialism, the origins of capitalism—but by extending his analytical lens to the entire globe, he delivers a fresh interpretation of the 17th century. His careful attention to European militarism, technology, national and imperial political dynamics disrupt the now common Anglo North American story of the emergence of whiteness, racial slavery, and class consolidation. Thanks to Horne, what Marx once called the ‘secret of primitive accumulation’ is no longer such a secret.

—Robin D. G. Kelley, author, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

This is history as it should be done. Acutely perceptive and solidly documented, lucidly presented and uncompromising in its conclusions, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism reveals the roots of our present socioeconomic nightmare with a force and clarity unrivaled by anything previously available. Gerald Horne, already a leading voice in forging a counterhegemonic understanding of the ‘empire of liberty’ we now inhabit, has truly surpassed himself. This book simply must be read.

—Ward Churchill, author, A Little Matter of Genocide

Gerald Horne strengthens his stature as one of our leading global historians with this ambitious and engaging book. Taking settler colonialism seriously as central to the development of whiteness, he brilliantly situates changes in that tiny part of the 17th century world in what would become the U.S. within far wider worlds of increasingly racialized commodities and cruelties. Among much else Horne demonstrates that colonies were not marginal to capitalism nor to the politics of the colonial powers.

—David Roedgier, University of Kansas; author, Class, Race, And Marxism

Drilling down in the 17th Century Atlantic world made by European colonialism through invasions, occupations, ethnic cleansing, and enslavement of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and Africa, historian Gerald Horne reveals the roots of white nationalism and capitalism, the pillars of the United States political-economy today. This brilliant, concise monograph is a must-read for all who propose to change the social order.

—Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, author, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

One of the preeminent global historians of repression and resistance, Gerald Horne has done it again. The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism follows the “three horsemen” that gave rise to the West: slavery, white supremacy, and capitalism. Horne’s erudite look at this seventeenth-century apocalypse brings together the hemispheric struggles of Black and Indigenous peoples for reparations. He shows that transnational solidarity is the greatest foe of settler colonial domination.

—Dan Berger, University of Washington; author, Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era

The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism interrogates the roots of white supremacy, enslavement, and racism in the United States. Horne focuses on reconstructing England’s emergence as an empire and the impact of Cromwell’s ‘Glorious Revolution’ on its colonies in the Western Hemisphere in the 17th and early 18th centuries. He notes the ascendancy of the class interests of the ‘surging merchants’ or bourgeoisie in England and their white settler counterparts in the colonies, particularly in North America. The relationship between England’s Caribbean sugar colonies, particularly Jamaica and Barbados, with its settler colonies, is also explored. Horne’s text has relevance for our contemporary political reality and the persistence of settler colonialism ideology, structural racism, and racial capitalism today. His assessment that calls for a ‘massive program of reparations’ from African and Indigenous people to ‘repair immense damage inflicted over centuries’ is provocative and intriguing. The Apocalypse of Setter Colonialism is a must-read for all wishing to understand the historical roots of race oppression in the U.S. today.

—Akinyele Umoja, Professor and Department Chair, Department of African-American Studies, Georgia State University; author, We Will Shoot Back

Gerald Horne’s The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism is a meticulous history of the colonial era, one that opens portals into understanding the power of white nationalism to determine contemporary elections. Horne’s well-researched text maps the evolution of historical cross-class alliances among Europeans and settlers that enabled white voters to consistently choose racial animus over decency. Imperial capitalism, rapacious colonialism, human trade, genocidal wars—all were incubated by the white racism that stabilizes the present order. Apocalypse details how centuries of warfare, greed or need in both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ worlds were resolved by slavery and the spilling of African and Indigenous blood. Despite the efforts of maroonage to stem its rise, a ‘master race’ addicted to a b`ete noire-as-cash crop thrived. Essential reading for those who wish to comprehend how the past led to the violence of the present order, and how best to plot an alternate trajectory.

—Joy James, Williams College; author, Seeking the Beloved Community: A Feminist Race Reader

Spirit Island review: Finally, an anti-colonialist board game

Like Pandemic, but people are the disease.

By Aaron Zimmerman, Ars Technica

A side effect of Euro-style board games’ preoccupation with European history as a theme is that many such games hinge on colonialism. Most board games are not “pro-colonialist,” of course, but simulating a long history of European imperialism necessarily means that a lot of us sit around on game nights trying to figure out the most efficient way to exploit the resources (and sometimes, uncomfortably, the people) of a newly “discovered” land.

Spirit Island, a cooperative strategy game for one to four players, flips this well-worn script on its head. Instead of playing as settlers building out villages and roads in a new land, you and your friends take on the role of god-like elemental spirits charged with protecting the island’s various landscapes from those pesky invaders, who are controlled by the game itself. It’s kind of like a complex, wildly asymmetric Pandemic—but here, people are the disease.

The island’s natives are there to help you fight back when they can, but it’s mostly up to you and your teammates to destroy the settlers’ fledgling cities, remove the blight they introduce as they ravage your pristine lands, and gain more and better powers to help you on your way. Gameplay is driven by cards, and as the game progresses, you’ll get more and better powers and strike more and more fear into the invaders’ hearts. Drive them off to win.

Click here to read the full review…

White Allies, Let’s Be Honest About Decolonization

How can settler allies move beyond being sympathetic beneficiaries of colonialism? What approach is legitimately decolonizing? (Photo by Josué Rivas.)

How can settler allies move beyond being sympathetic beneficiaries of colonialism? What approach is legitimately decolonizing? (Photo by Josué Rivas.)

I want to experience the solidarity of allied actions that refuse fantastical narratives of commonality and hope.

By , Yes! Magazine

Indigenous environmental movements in North America are among the oldest and most provocative—from the Dish With One Spoon Treaty between Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples to the Mni Wiconi (“Water Is Life”) movement of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. As a Potawatomi environmental justice advocate, I often get asked by other environmentalists in the U.S. to share my views on what they can do to be good allies to Indigenous peoples. Those who ask usually identify themselves as being non-Indigenous, white, and privileged. They are U.S. settlers: people who have privileges that arise from the historic and ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples.

Whether one participates in settler colonialism is not entirely a matter of when or how one’s ancestors came to the U.S. Having settler privilege means that some combination of one’s economic security, U.S. citizenship, sense of relationship to the land, mental and physical health, cultural integrity, family values, career aspirations, and spiritual lives are not possible—literally!—without the territorial dispossession of Indigenous peoples.

How then can settler allies move beyond being sympathetic beneficiaries of colonialism? What approach is legitimately decolonizing?

Click here to read the full article…

Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization

Via The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC

We are pleased to announce the publication of Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization; inspired by a 2016 speaking tour  by Arthur Manuel, less than a year before his untimely passing in January 2017. The book contains two essays from Manuel, described as the Nelson Mandela of Canada, and essays from renowned Indigenous writers Taiaiake Alfred, Glen Coulthard, Russell Diabo, Beverly Jacobs, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Kanahus Manuel, Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour, Pamela Palmater, Shiri Pasternak, Nicole Schabus, Senator Murray Sinclair, and Sharon Venne. FPSE is honoured to support this publication.

Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization will be available free to the public as an e-book Thursday March 15, 2018, at 7pm PST.  Authors will be speaking at a series of events throughout BC following the book’s release.

Attachments:

 

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Hayti – a historical novel

A historical novel set in the Caribbean during the sixteenth century

By Kurtis Sunday

During the Spanish Civil War a German anarchist and historian serving with the International Brigade discovered an account of how a Florentine nun led a mission to Hayti, Spain’s first American colony, two decades after its ‘discovery’ by Christopher Columbus. But she also had a secret assignment – to find out if the passage through to Asia depicted on a world map published by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller actually existed. During her investigations, she meets up with Fray Hugo de Montenegro, a Dominican monk who has been there for several years and has been collecting accounts of Spanish atrocities; and she comes into contact with Taíno freedom fighters and their allies, escaped African slaves who had been imported to work on the new sugar plantations, as well as to the attention of the brutal colonial authorities. The narrative unfolds against the background of the horrors of the Spanish Conquest of the Americas, the destruction of its original peoples, the commencement of the Atlantic slave trade and the beginnings of globalisation with the foundation of the Spanish Empire. But is it a factual account or the first work fiction written in the Americas?

Before the coming of Christopher Columbus to Haiti in 1492 the country could, without danger of sounding too romantic, be described as a relative paradise … Within a generation … the islands were a graveyard … This is one of the greatest tragedies in the history of humanity. Kurtis Sunday is steeped in his knowledge of it … Hayti is an impressive achievement … David Thorpe, GOODREADS

Free ebook versions (epub, mobi for Kindle, PDF, non-commercial Creative Commons licence) now available via Unglue.itThe Internet Archive.

Ebook also available at: Cambria Books

Print edition available from:
Cambria Books
Amazon UK
Amazon USA
Amazon DE

Print edition ISBN: 978-0-9957601-4-1
Electronic edition ISBN: 978-0-9957601-5-8

From Colonial Rescue to Cultural Genocide

By Pegi Eyers

When our Ancestors arrived on the shores of Turtle Island, they brought their cultural beliefs and social mores with them. They were looking for a “fresh start,” but instead of taking their cues from the indigenous civilizations already thriving in the “new world” they replicated the familiar lifeways of home. Honoring natural law and living in balance with Earth Community had been outdated concepts for centuries, in the European lands from which they sprang. During the era of launching nation-states in the Americas, all over the world People of the Earth were still respecting nature and finding the sacred in wild places. Yet our Ancestors were part of a social organization based on hierarchy and control, and they went on to repeat the colonial pattern.

As we fast forward to the present, in my work as a social justice activist I am often asked if things could have been different in the beginning, in our “first contact” interactions with First Nations. But I honestly don’t think we can just imagine a kinder, more benevolent Settler Society into being! Driven by notions to fulfill some great “Manifest Destiny” on “Terra Nullius” (lands proclaimed empty by religious decree), the mad scrabble to build Empire and grab the “goodies” like land, resources, title and prestige were the priorities of the day. Our Ancestors were busy re-creating themselves into something grand, and other than trading partners and wilderness guides, First Nations had no place in that rosy picture.

And yet, as the settlement of what was to become “Canada” progressed, miracles were happening. As a Scottish family with a newborn baby wound their way through southern Ontario in 1832 by coach and Durham boat, their craft capsized in the waters known today as “The Narrows” at Lake Couchiching. The tiny baby was my third great-grandmother Eliza Emily Bailey, and she was rescued from the channel and brought safely to shore by a kind member of the Chippewa (Ojibway) Nation. As part of an immigrant wave that engulfed a pristine wilderness, the flourishing of my Ancestors has given me the haunting legacy of her miraculous rescue, and my deep roots in the Ontario landscape. Seven generations later, I am astonished at how Eliza’s story transcends ordinary ethnoautobiography, and am overcome by a set of questions tangled up with destiny, kindness, reciprocity, retribution, ancestral memory and structural inequality.

First of all, I wonder about the obvious, or would my family line even exist had Eliza perished in the waters of Lake Couchiching? And who was her rescuer exactly, and was he thanked profusely for his kindness? The story may be dramatic but it is far from unique, as countless narratives describe how the “first contact” Settler Society were welcomed, integrated, and dependent upon First Nations everywhere, who freely gave us gifts of food, land, medicine, and our very lives. The trail is cold, but their original generosity and kindness is deeply woven into the heritage fabric of our families and communities. Even the structure of Canada owes a great collective debt to the first peaceful treaty agreements between native and non-native leaders, and to the partnership model of indigenous diplomacy that contributed to our first constitutions and laws.

Canada’s first constitutional document, the 1763 Royal Proclamation, was ratified at the Treaty of Niagara in 1764 between the British and 2000 leaders from the First Nations surrounding the Great Lakes – the Nipissing, Anishnaabe, Algonquin, Odawa, Huron and Haudenosaunee. At this event, the British accepted a nation-to-nation relationship rooted in a policy of non-interference, and codified by the symbols of covenant chains and wampum belts in sacred ceremony, all parties agreed to benefit equally from the bounty of the land. The ongoing legitimacy of Canada, and our Canadian identity, stems from these original constitutional relationships between the Settler Society and First Nations. Rooted in the philosophy and practice of non-interference, peaceful co-existence and respect, the founding agreements make us all treaty people, and the legacy of indigenous diplomacy, law and peacemaking benefit all Canadians. The ensuing years of oppression, de facto apartheid, archaic legislation such as the Indian Act, and Euro-domination over Canada’s First Nations does not detract from the foundational status of the treaties.

Unfortunately, tolerance for cultural diversity or peaceful co-existence was never the policy of the Settler Society, and the ongoing agenda of Empire has given us permission to deny, forget about, or gloss over these early contributions to our well-being by First Nations. Like so many others in Canada, my family owes our lives to First Nations, but what have we done to return the favor? In stark contrast to the success of Eliza Emily Bailey and her descendants, what has been the experience of the Ojibway people since 1832? Beginning with genocide and the theft of their lands, the Settler Society has gone on to enact racism, oppression, assimilation, relocation and residential schools on First Nations. And to top it off, our Canadian society was founded with values of white supremacy. How can we reconcile the kindness our Ancestors experienced with the commonly-held stereotypes of “savage” and “primitive?” From our vantage point today, looking back at history we can see how racism and genocide were normalized, and imbedded into Empire-building. For if a human being is labelled “sub-human” who will feel remorse at their removal or passing?

So thorough were the policies of racism, that growing up in our secure and happy world in Ontario, we were completely oblivious to the First Nations all around us. Until quite recently, very few people wondered why preeminent First Nations folks were living like second-class citizens, or took the time to recognize the beauty and diversity of societies that had thrived in the area for millennia. In my own case, integrating the new information about Eliza Emily Bailey into my life came with a major shift from the personal to the political. I had been drawn to learning about First Nations culture and history for many years, and at the exact moment that I discovered the story of her miraculous rescue, I was already involved in social justice activism and solidarity with indigenous people. Connecting directly with an Ancestor is not an easy thing to do, but was I responding to Eliza’s directive on some deep level, to give back to the First Nations who had given so much to me? Today, my focus on First Nations solidarity work has increased far beyond what I would ever have imagined.

Right now, and in the interest of being a good Ancestor to the next generation, I have come to the conclusion that my purpose is to engage with the truth, challenge the racism found in whitestream society, and to create much-needed space for healing and reconciliation. The struggle for all descendants of the original Settler Society must be to shift from unconsciousness, denial and guilt about our colonial legacy, to the righteous anger of critical thinking, reflection and social justice activism. And as we come to an authentic recognition of our shared history with First Nations and explore the myths and misconceptions we have about each other, we can become empowered to use our new-found awareness to build solidarity, and as a catalyst for change. There is much we can do to eliminate institutional racism and contribute as allies to the anti-oppression, human rights and land claims struggles of our First Nations neighbours.

Even today, indigenous people are subject to genocide and assimilation, and are at the frontlines of the places affected most by ecocide and pollution. Can we even imagine what is must be like, to survive an apocalypse (i.e. the collapse of one’s society) only to face another holocaust in today’s potential for climate disaster and massive change? The hope for social justice and a new sustainable society will be built on egalitarian values that embrace all forms of difference – all colours, all ethnicities and all religions. Right now, learning intercultural competency skills, respecting indigenous cultures and lifeways, attending anti-racist trainings, and understanding white privilege are all key to this process.

As I hold the story of Eliza’s rescue deep in my cellular memory, my eternal gratitude for her rescuer is rooted in the no-time and no-place of the spirit world. And in the end, the interface of my own family with the Ojibway people leads me to believe that as we shake free of our colonial past, it is essential that we all become protectors of Turtle Island, to stop the destruction and plunder of what has become our ancestral lands as well. Yet how well do we truly know this place? Our Ancestors tried to recreate their homelands here, but at the heart and deep in the roots, these lands are not Europe, but something “other.” Perhaps as the years pass and we continue to experience privilege as part of the Settler Society, it may be a good idea to finally become intimate with the land. Not as a backdrop to our daily round, or as landscapes to enjoy, or sites for managed spaces like gardens, but as lands of the greatest beauty, that have their own right to life, that hold all the elements we need to thrive, sites of unimaginable destructive power, that are wild and unknowable, that have their own purpose and trajectory, that are held sacred, and that are beloved by countless diverse groups of indigenous peoples.

Can we also, before it is too late, dedicate ourselves to that love? By virtue of our rootedness in our communities, our buried Ancestors, and our mutual regard for the land, for better or worse both native and non-native people now share Canada, and it may not be too late to establish the peaceful co-existence that the colonial powers denied us all.

Pegi Eyers is the author of the award-winning book Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community. She lives in the countryside on the outskirts of Nogojiwanong in Mississauga Anishnaabe territory (Peterborough, Ontario), on a hilltop with views reaching for miles in all directions. www.stonecirclepress.com