Category Archives: colonialism

Settlers in the Land: Decolonising Permaculture

David Pritchett explores how we can ‘read’ the cultural landscape and become more educated about the ‘invisible structures’ that exclude people from the land and from the wider permaculture movement.

“I am a settler in this land, too,” Randy says. We are sitting in a talking circle on the back porch of the farmhouse of Edith and Randy Woodley. This is the beginning of a day-long workshop on forest gardening at the Woodley’s 4-acre homestead. Before I taught about forest garden theory and practice, Randy insisted that we first talk about how we as people relate to the land. I’m glad he did.

Randy is a legal descendent of the Keetoowah Cherokee, while Edith, his wife, is a member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe. They both take their heritage seriously, and with equal gravity they recognize that the land on which they live and make a living belongs to the Kalapuya. When they purchased the homestead in disrepair, the first thing they did was visit the elders of the Grande Ronde, a reservation that is now the living place of many tribes of the Pacific Northwest dispossessed of their homelands. They asked how they could honor the Kalapuya people: “Plant huckleberries,” the elder said. And they did. Since then, Edith and Randy have worked hard to restore the farm, using permaculture principles and techniques as they learned, as well as growing vegetables and medicinal herbs with the methods of their own people.

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(De)Constructing Knowledge: Decolonization is not a metaphor

We Are Theorists highlights that marginalized people are experts in their own experience. Theory creates frameworks used to examine and explain social phenomena. Theory does not need to be inaccessible and use heavy academic jargon. It does not need to have been created by aging white male scholars to be legitimate knowledge production. Indeed, the lived experiences and reflections of marginalized people on their own oppression and worlds is theory in and of itself. If you would like to contribute a piece to We Are Theorists, please email poconlineclassroom@gmail.com.

By Abaki Beck, POC Online Classroom

In order to further engage with the resources, the second Tuesday each month we’ll “deconstruct” one of the texts featured on POC Online Classroom. This month, we’re looking at Decolonization is not a metaphor by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang.

Wait! Before we start, let’s quickly define “settler-colonialism,” since it is used frequently in this article. Unlike other forms of colonialism, settler-colonialism is when colonists come not only to exploit resources and people, but to stay and “create” a new nation. This makes decolonial practices in the United States and other settler-colonial nations unique, because the colonists will never leave and there will be no “post-colonial” United States. Patrick Wolfe, a well known settler-colonial theorist, argues that settler-colonialism is not a historic “event” (as we typically think of colonialism), but is instead a structure. Its violences permeate every aspect of American culture and politics.

To summarize the text in thirteen words: Land was taken, so decolonization does not occur until that land is returned. But what does it mean to do the work of decolonization? Does it mean centering indigenous knowledge or ways of being? How can land be “given back” in a settler-colonial nation, in which the settlers aren’t going anywhere? In this piece,Tuck and Yang address an issue that they see within discussions of decolonization: that it is often relegated to the metaphorical realm, enabling settlers to “move to innocence”.

For Tuck and Yang, decolonization is not just about privileging indigenous ideologies (see “decolonize our schools” and other expressions), it is quite literally about returning land and restoring indigenous relationships to that land. As they say, “critical consciousness does not translate into action that disrupts settler colonialism” (19). That is, even if an indigenous person is empowered, they are still in a “subordinate” position in a settler-society. More must be done than simply ensuring that indigenous people are “equal” within a society that thrives economically off of land stolen from them. This does not mean returning to “how things were” or attempting to rewrite history, but giving indigenous people agency and control over their homelands. Of course, many may argue that in a place like the United States this is not possible or even necessarily desirable. The authors emphasize that decolonization must be uncomfortable and indeed “unsettling.”

However, both white people and people of color can make “moves to innocence” that decenter indigenous peoples in these struggles and erase them in settler society, making decolonization even more difficult to attain. For white settlers, this often takes the form of “becoming” native (lowercase n). For example, it is a well known phenomena for settlers to claim indigenous heritage even if they do not have a familial or community connection (please see white people who are descended from “Cherokee royalty”). In addition, white people being adopted by/into Native American tribes is a common trope in U.S. literary history (please see Dances with Wolves or the Last of the Mohicans). Both of these work to erase actual indigenous people, instead replacing them with settlers who are somehow more “deserving” of being native than Natives are. This wanting to become and replace the Native is a very different racial construction in the U.S. than blackness. Because historically black people were property in the U.S., the authors argue that blackness is expansive, which brought about the historical “one drop rule.” Indigenous people in settler societies, however, are not “valuable” in the same way – in fact, they are a barrier to settlers access to land and thus must disappear.The erasure of indigenous people was/is both physical (through warfare, allotment, boarding schools, and other policies) and social (through adoption fantasies, settlers claiming Native heritage, etc.).

Because of these distinct racial formations, struggles for black versus indigenous racial justice movements cannot and should not be collapsed, or the specific marginalization of each community may be overlooked. The authors note that this often occurs in social justice settings, in which decolonization is placed under the umbrella of social justice or racial justice, even if the unique marginalization of indigenous people is not specifically addressed. This allows racial justice activists to “move to innocence;” to claim inclusivity even while they refuse to address their own privilege as settlers. Similarly, non-indigenous people of color can be complicit in settler-colonial structures of power. The authors note that people of color often express the need to “decolonize their minds,” even if they are not indigenous people. Tuck and Yang call this “colonial equivocation.” Colonial equivocation enables people of color to remove themselves from the position of settler, a position of power and dominance in U.S. society. As the authors note, “for many people of color, becoming a subordinate settler is an option even when becoming white is not” (18). They argue that diluting the word “colonization” by using it as a replacement for any kind of racial oppression works to further erase indigenous people.

As this text expresses, there is a lot of work to be done to decolonize the U.S. Though this piece is an obviously “academic” text, to me it is just as much about theory as it is about how to be an ally in decolonial struggles. It would be remiss of me not to mention that I did not agree with everything I read in the article. Even as an indigenous person who thinks myself to be very liberal, some points made by the authors made me slightly uncomfortable and seemed too “extreme” (I will not elaborate to allow readers to form their own opinions). However, I want to sit in this discomfort. This work will be challenging for indigenous people as much as it is for settlers and non-indigenous people of color. Because indigenous peoples and histories are so often left out and erased from school curriculum, policies, and other measurements of “existence” in U.S. society, work to decolonize and bring justice for indigenous peoples must be proactive, and in many ways, confrontational. By addressing some of the “moves to innocence” that Tuck and Yang discuss, decolonization becomes less daunting. When our society begins to recognize the worth, rights, and power of indigenous people, granting them the ability to control their lands and destiny becomes a more accessible idea, and perhaps even realistic.

Land Education

Kate McCoy is Associate Professor of Educational Foundations and affiliated faculty of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at SUNY New Paltz, NY, USA. Her scholarship focuses on qualitative research methods and representation, cultural studies of addiction and drug use, and historical and contemporary uses of drug-crop agriculture in colonial processes.  Eve Tuck is Associate Professor at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada. Her scholarship focuses on the ethics of social science research and educational research, Indigenous social and political thought, decolonizing research methodologies and theories of change, and the consequences of neoliberal accountability policies on school completion.  Marcia McKenzie is Associate Professor of Educational Foundations and Director of the Sustainability Education Research Institute at University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Her scholarship focuses on the intersections of environment and education, educational policy and practice, youth identity and place, and the politics of social science research.Rethinking Pedagogies of Place from Indigenous, Postcolonial, and Decolonizing Perspectives

Edited by Kate McCoy, Eve Tuck, Marcia McKenzie

© 2016 – Routledge

This important book on Land Education offers critical analysis of the paths forward for education on Indigenous land. This analysis discusses the necessity of centring historical and current contexts of colonization in education on and in relation to land. In addition, contributors explore the intersections of environmentalism and Indigenous rights, in part inspired by the realisation that the specifics of geography and community matter for how environmental education can be engaged.

This edited volume suggests how place-based pedagogies can respond to issues of colonialism and Indigenous sovereignty. Through dynamic new empirical and conceptual studies, international contributors examine settler colonialism, Indigenous cosmologies, Indigenous land rights, and language as key aspects of Land Education. The book invites readers to rethink ‘pedagogies of place’ from various Indigenous, postcolonial, and decolonizing perspectives. This book was originally published as a special issue of Environmental Education Research.

Towards an Understanding of Cultural Appropriation in Rewilding

Rewild Or DieFrom Rewilding with Peter Michael Bauer

Dear White Rewilders,

I’m white too. Clearly. No hiding that fact. I have pale skin, blue eyes, and a lot of facial hair. If you are reading this, you are probably white too, as this letter is addressed to you, and the majority of the rewilding community is, at the time of this writing, white. While I (and maybe you) don’t identify as a white imperialist, or identify with “whiteness” at all, I live in a culture of white imperialism and I receive all the benefits of living as a white male in a white imperialist culture. As a white rewilder, I have often been accused of cultural appropriation by both Native and Non-Native people alike. Some of these accusations have been true and some false. The more I learn about appropriation, the more respectful and learned I have become. Rewilding is so important to me, and to our future, that I want to do whatever I can to create deeper connections between Native people and Non-Native people as we rewild. I’ve traversed this road for a while now and learned some things that can help us all work together more effectively. This is an open letter about cultural appropriation, how to avoid it, educate yourself on it, and learn from other cultures in a sincere and respectful way that will create collaborative partnerships. This isn’t a definitive guide. This is an intro to a never-ending conversation about this topic that we need to be having regularly.

[For those randomly reading this: Rewilding is a subcultural movement of people returning to, or attempting to re-create, pre-industrial, pre-agrarian cultures and lifeways of hunter-gatherers and/or horticultural societies. Rewilding takes inspiration from the most modern interpretations of prehistory provided by anthropology, archaeology, and ethnobiology. It is an anti-civilization critique that encourages the un-doing of empire and the culture of occupation. We believe that civilization (not to be conflated with civil societies) is inherently destructive, has caused the sixth mass extinction, and is currently in a state of long-term collapse. We are a niche within a niche within a niche. Here in the Americas, the dominant, popular culture continues to rob and mine Native Americans for everything they can, while continuing to treat them like they no longer exist, or only exist as historical stereotypes. It makes sense then, that if we want to rewild, to create sustainable cultures, to reclaim the inherent indigenousity that exists within everyone, that we need to create understanding between rewilders and the Native cultures that have lived here in this way for time immemorial. Most importantly we need to tread lightly and learn how to be respectful, and mutually beneficial as we rewild.]

I should make it clear right out that I am not speaking for Native people. I’m speaking along side them, and sharing what I have heard and learned from close friends and strangers alike. Native people speak for themselves, if you listen. However, they do get tired of having these conversations over and over again, so I thought I would address them from what I understand. Also, I’ve been told that white people tend to listen to other white people so it’s important for us to talk to each other about these issues as well.

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From Truth Telling to Land Return: 4 Ways White People Can Work for Indigenous Justice

By , Everyday Feminism

It’s important that when talking about Indigenous justice, we talk in specifics because of how colonization has impacted different Indigenous people in varied ways.

This article will focus on the context of colonization in what we now refer to as the United States, and it is informed by the activism and expertise of one Dakota person, Waziyatawin, Ph.D.

Thus, while there are surely ways that this article can inform activism outside of this context, it should be understood to be limited in this way.

In their seminal work linking Critical Race Theory to education entitled Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and Dr. William F. Tate, IV explain how the United States is founded fundamentally on property rights rather than human rights.

If human rights were central to the constitution (rather than property rights), it would have been far more difficult for European colonists to continually legally justify slavery, genocide, and the theft of virtually every acre of land in North America.

Thus, the mark of success in the US constitutional system is ownership of property. Whether we’re talking abstract “assets” like stock, the ownership of people, or ownership of land, the longest-running “smart investment” for those legally and financially able to access it, property, drives wealth and prosperity in the US and most Western, capitalist societies.

As a result, any conversation about Indigenous justice threatens the positionality of all settlers — non-Indigenous people — because, in the words of Dr. Wazayatawin, “[W]ithin Indigenous worldviews, land is life. Colonization, in its fundamental sense, involved disconnecting [Indigenous people] from our homelands (so our homelands could be occupied by settlers instead).”

And in my experience, any time we start talking about land return or reparations, White folks (those settlers like myself for whom this property-based system was built) collectively freak out.

If we’re going to talk about what justice actually can and must look like, we have to start talking about the decentering of settler identities and people and about the recentering of Indigenous people and struggle — no matter how uncomfortable that may make us.

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Counter Columbus, Confront Colonialism, Capitalism & Climate Crisis

v28 n4 OCT-DEC 2015 frontBy Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-Los Angeles/People Against Racist Terror (ARA-LA/PART)

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the US Civil War and the triumph of incipient industrial capitalism over earlier, deeply-rooted mercantile and slave-based and land-based forms of capitalism. It set the stage for what is coming to be known as the “Anthropocene.” This is a period of bio-geological development in which human activity is shaping the atmospheric, oceanic and planetary ecological systems in ways that the pre-existing natural systems can no longer contain or accommodate. The consequences of the ensuing 15 decades of intensive exploitation of carbon-based energy resources for warfare, agribusiness, industrial production, and transportation are becoming increasingly undeniable.

We are facing a climatological catastrophe, global mass extinctions, and a possibly irreversible environmental transformation that will mark the end of the 10,000 year period, the Holocene, during which human civilization, based on agriculture, has developed. Global warming, ocean acidification, melting of polar ice, sea level rise, extreme weather events including super-storms, floods and droughts, may soon make the planet unrecognizable, and possibly uninhabitable for humans and thousands of other species whose physical evolution and life cycles cannot keep pace with these transformations.

It behooves us, if we have any hope of staving off such calamities, or of surviving them if and as they occur, to analyze the roots of the social, political and economic behaviors and practices that have brought them about. We must also understand and undo the reasons for the failures of previous efforts to transform human society.

To do so, we must look further back in time, first to the birth of capitalism as a particular form of class society and of exploitation of nature and of humanity within nature, further into the beginnings of history and class society, and then into the entirety of the geological and biological development of earth including the emergence of our species. Doing that in a page or so of this newspaper, 2000 words, is an ambitious goal, so bear with me if what follows is particularly dense. It is also, though I begin by quoting Marx, not going to be the typical “Marxist” presentation of what purports to be class analysis or dialectical and historical materialism, because that has proven insufficient.

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Deceptive. Greedy. Murderer. Racist… Hero Who “Discovered” America?

Recently, eight U.S. cities have repealed Columbus Day. The holiday, however, remains a federally recognized holiday.

Recently, eight U.S. cities have repealed Columbus Day. The holiday, however, remains a federally recognized holiday.

Why More States, Cities Need to Repeal Columbus Day

By Sarah Sunshine Manning, Indian Country Today Media Network

Deceptive. Greedy. Murderer. Racist. Not exactly characteristics of a hero, and certainly not the makings of a man worthy of a national holiday.

Jig’s up, America. Christopher Columbus was a genocidal madman. America’s first and original terrorist. And as our global consciousness and awareness of humanity expands, it is time we give up defending Christopher Columbus as anything but otherwise.

Indigenous people have been protesting the Columbus Day holiday for decades. And for some, efforts have successfully resulted in change.

In 2014, the cities of Seattle and Minneapolis successfully abolished Columbus Day, replacing it with Indigenous Peoples Day. And recently, eight more cities have successfully made the change, too: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Lawrence, Kansas; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; Bexar County, Texas; Anadarko, Okalahoma; Olympia, Washington; and Alpena, Michigan.

Yet it was actually decades earlier, in 1990, that the State of South Dakota made the first waves, declaring the second Monday in October, as Native American Day.  South Dakota is currently the only state to have eliminated Columbus Day.

Click here to read the full article…

RELATED: Who Could Possibly Be in Favor of Columbus Day?

The REAL History Of Christopher Columbus

From The Young Turks

Monday, October 12th is Columbus Day, which we have celebrated in this country since the eighteenth century… and that’s probably long enough. When you find out the actual facts of what Columbus did when he got to America, you’ll find one of the darkest chapters in American history. Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola (Think Tank), hosts of the The Young Turks, break it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“Second, Columbus wasn’t a hero. When he set foot on that sandy beach in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, Columbus discovered that the islands were inhabited by friendly, peaceful people called the Lucayans, Taínos and Arawaks. Writing in his diary, Columbus said they were a handsome, smart and kind people. He noted that the gentle Arawaks were remarkable for their hospitality. “They offered to share with anyone and when you ask for something, they never say no,” he said. The Arawaks had no weapons; their society had neither criminals, prisons nor prisoners. They were so kind-hearted that Columbus noted in his diary that on the day the Santa Maria was shipwrecked, the Arawaks labored for hours to save his crew and cargo. The native people were so honest that not one thing was missing.

Columbus was so impressed with the hard work of these gentle islanders, that he immediately seized their land for Spain and enslaved them to work in his brutal gold mines. Within only two years, 125,000 (half of the population) of the original natives on the island were dead.”

For more info, check out Columbus Day? True Legacy: Cruelty and Slavery

Celebrating Columbus? The Myths Behind the Man

 Christopher Columbus and his men hunted Natives with war-dogs.

Christopher Columbus and his men hunted Natives with war-dogs.

By Steve Russell, Indian Country Today Media Network

Cristóbal Colón aka Cristóvão Colombo aka Cristoforo Colombo aka Christopher Columbus has gotten lots of breaks from history. He escapes blame for the massive die-off of the peoples in this hemisphere on the theory he did not intend the spread of disease, but he also gets a pass on his barbaric personal conduct among the Taino people.

The exploration package he finally sold to the monarchs of what would be Spain (after failing to interest Portugal, England, Venice, and even his hometown of Genoa) involved making him governor of the lands he discovered and conjuring up a new title just for him. He had requested “Great Admiral of the Ocean” but he settled for “Admiral of the Ocean Sea.”

Note that Columbus was Genoan rather than Italian because Italy did not exist. From the fall of the Roman Empire to the middle of the 19th century, the peninsula was a land of warring and conspiring city-states. It was culturally rich but politically fragmented, like the Indians of North America.

Of course, there was no “Spain” either, but the marriage of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon laid the geographical and political basis for a nation that would become an empire based on looting of the Americas by the conquistadores who followed Columbus. The miscalculation of the monarchs who turned down Columbus would be unmatched in history until Decca Records turned down The Beatles, but of course the Fab Four were not thieves.

Click here to read the full article…

Special decolonization issue of Geez magazine

Issue 39The Decolonization Issue
Issue 39, Fall 2015

“There are good and bad things in our society, successes and failures. But there is only one fundamental reality that remains unaddressed. That is the situation of indigenous peoples. This is the single most important issue before us, whether we are recently arrived in Canada or have been here for centuries.” – John Ralston Saul

In the midst of production for this issue of Geez, editor Aiden Enns sat down with guest editors Leah Gazan and Steve Heinrichs to get a sense of what readers could expect from an issue on decolonization. What follows is a brief excerpt based on their conversation.

Aiden Enns: What does decolonization mean to you?

Leah Gazan: For me, decolonization is about reconnecting back to land and place and an identity that was defined prior to colonization. We very often talk about building communities through economic development but there’s no greater poverty than poverty of the spirit. So I think decolonization means rejuvenating the spirit that’s rooted in land and ceremony and identity and relationships and an understanding of everybody’s role in that.

Steve Heinrichs: A simple metaphor many folks bring up is the guest-host relationship. It’s a bit simplistic but it rings true. You have people coming into another family’s home and occupying the space, with the original owners in the attic while the guests have the run of the house and dictate the rules.

Most of us non-native folks in Canada have not recognized our connection to host peoples and our obligation to honour our relationships with them. Decolonization is not just a fancy umbrella word for undoing sexism, undoing racism – the oppressions list. It is specifically talking about settler colonialism.

Patrick Wolfe says settler colonialism is not an event, it is a structure. It’s not simply a history which we’re trying to become aware of and lament and then move toward respectful relationships. It is a structure, so that means this relationship continues. It means fundamentally reworking our relationship into a place of mutuality and respect.

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