Category Archives: Decolonization & Unsettling

Colonialism and Decolonization Processes in Brazilian Witchcraft

"Are we giving real support to indigenous peoples, offering their proper place in society and fighting against their still present eradication process? Or are we only concerned with gaining more knowledge for our spiritual evolution, thinking that these spirits are also here for us to use because they are similar to the Europeans ones we know, or even that these spirits could feel honored if we force them into our Witchcraft boxes with European, foreign and white roots?"  - Lilo Assenci

“Are we giving real support to indigenous peoples, offering their proper place in society and fighting against their still present eradication process? Or are we only concerned with gaining more knowledge for our spiritual evolution, thinking that these spirits are also here for us to use because they are similar to the Europeans ones we know, or even that these spirits could feel honored if we force them into our Witchcraft boxes with European, foreign and white roots?” – Lilo Assenci

By Lilo Assenci, Gods & Radicals Press

I begin this text by acknowledging the place where I write it and develop my reflections. A long time ago, its true name was lost, and not even the original and real name of the traditional people who lived here resisted the colonization process. Therefore, I describe the place where I live from it’s three main rivers in their original names: Aperetei, Y-gûasu and Guandu, names given by the indigenous people who lived here, the Jacutinga people (and later, the Cariri Chocó, Guarani Mbya, Puri, Tabajara and Tupinambá). I acknowledge their suffered, bloody history, and the open wound that still exists due to the years of erasure and eradication of the indigenous people who lived here. This recognition comes with the commitment to radically analyze the colonizing power relations that still exist in this land today called Nova Iguaçu, in Rio de Janeiro, subverting and dismantling this legacy, in search of recovering the history, memory and honor of the Jacutinga, Cariri Chocó, Guarani Mbya, Puri, Tabajara and Tupinambá peoples.

Conducting land acknowledgment at the beginning of this text is, first of all, a way of acknowledging the lands where I am currently living and their history. And not only the story told in Eurocentric textbooks or that story that your high school teacher explained in a Eurocentric way. To acknowledge a land in this way is to acknowledge a history of colonization, of blood poured out, of genocide and an open and silent wound in our society. No matter where you are in the country, these lands are indigenous. They were and still are. Rather, administered, cared for, cultivated, and loved by the traditional peoples who lived here before the invasion by European countries. According to Abel R. Gomez, Clarie Chuck Bohman, & Corrina Gould (2020):

With the coming of European settlement came the violent, and ongoing theft of Indigenous lands. This process is often described as settler colonialism. Maile Arvin, Eve Tuck, and Angie Morill offer a useful definition: “Settler colonialism is a persistent social and political formation in which newcomers/colonizers/settlers come to a place, claim it as their own, and do whatever it takes to disappear the Indigenous peoples that are there.” As they describe it, settler colonialism set in motion of host of systems including the imposition of white supremacy, and patriarchy, gender binaries, and compulsory heterosexuality, and various forms of dominance to control, regulate, and annihilate Indigenous communities.

Although we understand that Brazil is no longer a colony, the effects of what we previously called settler colonialism persist in less evident and quieter ways. When the Brazilian government has a president that states that “more and more, indigenous people are becoming human beings like us”, he denies the existence of Native peoples as humans. When the national public policy regarding indigenous peoples continues to be dismantled and their lands remain not demarcated, we not only deny their existence, but we silence and abandon them. Also, when we want to put an evangelizer of indigenous peoples in a high position within an official Brazilian organization responsible for indigenous policy. That is why, nowadays, studies on decolonial processes are extremely important.

We understand decolonization as a constant process, an ongoing struggle, where we are not thinking of transcending history and coloniality, but rather radically analyzing the colonial processes still existing in our society (as mentioned above), in “an urgent task for subversion of the colonial power pattern today” (Resende, 2014). A decolonial view of our society is an analytical view that aims to observe the movements carried out by Western human beings, in all their institutional-social-economic-biological apparatus, to eradicate, silence, erase and dehumanize any and all indigenous peoples in this country. And not any analysis, but one that allows us to think of ways to subvert and dismantle this power, this continuous coloniality.

Click here to read the full article from Gods & Radicals

Lilo Assenci is a Witch, a Priest, a Moon Rabbit, translator and teacher. Member of the Gods & Radicals Editorial Committee, his work is deeply connected with anarchism, witchcraft, paganism, Brazillian folklore and political-magical activism. He is part of the Feri, Reclaiming and Hekate’s Tribe Traditions, weaving magic, healing, activism into a self-possession and integration work. He also loves coffee and reading.

Decolonization Is Essential to Successfully Resist Extractivism

“Decolonization begins with the very Earth itself,” say the editors of “Standing with Standing Rock.”

By Samantha Borek,Truthout

“Colonialism, imperialism, and racial capitalism are impacting people across the globe, both historically and in the contemporary moment,” write Nick Estes and Jaskiran Dhillon, editors of Standing With Standing Rock: Voices From the #NoDAPL Movement. In this interview, Estes and Dhillon discuss how this collection situates the #NoDAPL movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline within a broader historical context — a context that transcends the Oceti Sakowin-led movement and emphasizes Indigenous sovereignty and decolonization as central to successfully resisting extractivism.

Samantha Borek: Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement is an extensive collection of essays, strategies, reflections, interviews and even poetry from the movement. How does this curation of work function now almost three years after the removal of the Oceti Sakowin camps?

Nick Estes and Jaskiran Dhillon: The perspectives offered within Standing with Standing Rock show that the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline didn’t necessarily begin at Standing Rock in April 2016, with the creation of Sacred Stone Camp, nor did resistance technically end in February 2017, with the eviction of Oceti Sakowin and Sacred Stone camps. Almost three years later, this collection functions as a critical historical archive of movement voices while also situating it within a long historical arc. It also offers a deep contextualization on the social, cultural and spiritual significance of the #NoDAPL movement from a distinct viewpoint of Oceti Sakowin writers, scholars and knowledge-keepers. The centrality of Indigenous knowledge and necessity for decolonization continue to be glossed over in mainstream climate movements. In that sense, this volume exceeds the category of what is typically seen as just a “local culture” or just an “Indian problem.” Within these pages, thinkers, organizers, and Water Protectors also connect Black and Palestinian liberation with Indigenous struggles across time and space. Standing Rock was, after all, one uprising among a constellation of ongoing Indigenous uprisings, such as at Unist’ot’en Camp and Mauna Kea.

Click here to read the full article on Truthout

 Amid the Standing Rock movement to protect the land and the water that millions depend on for life, the Oceti Sakowin (the Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota people) reunited. Through poetry and prose, essays, photography, interviews, and polemical interventions, the contributors reflect on Indigenous history and politics and on the movement’s significance. Their work challenges our understanding of colonial history not simply as “lessons learned” but as essential guideposts for activism.

Dispatches of radical political engagement from people taking a stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline

Are You a Settler?

Settler-colonialism, Capitalism and Marxism on Turtle Island

By Brian Ward, New Politics

Everything in U.S. history is about the land. Who oversaw and cultivated it, fished its waters, maintained its wildlife; who invaded and stole it; how it became a commodity (“real estate”) broken into pieces, to be bought and sold on the market.

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

The politics of solidarity on display during the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline have raised the issue of Indigenous liberation more and more sharply to people on the left. Activists have started to recognize that their struggles against ecological destruction, imperialism, and colonization are linked to the fight for Native self-determination that has gone on now for decades, even centuries. The recent struggles Standing Rock and Keystone XL stand in the tradition of organizations like Black Hills Alliance in the 1980s that brought together Natives and non-natives in the Black Hills in South Dakota to try to stop uranium mining.

A whole new generation of activists has learned the long history of the United States continually breaking treaties with the Indigenous Nations—stomping upon their self-determination any time the government and corporations demand access to Native lands to extract energy and raw materials. The climate justice movement is coming to an understanding that treaties must be upheld and extended, as demanded by Indigenous Nations, based on their traditional territories. We have an urgent need to bring the fight against Native oppression into all the economic and social struggles of today. And that means grasping, as clearly and firmly as possible, that the struggle for Native liberation means keeping the question of land rights central.

In this essay I will demonstrate how settler-colonialism was and is vital to the development and maintenance of capitalism by using historical examples. Understanding the history and ongoing process of Settler-colonialism adds to our understanding of capitalism, while ignoring it perpetuates the erasure from history of Native peoples and their resistance to that process. I will do my best to use actual Indigenous Nation names such as the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota (Oceti Sakowin) or Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) or the Dine (Navajo) but will also use the words “Indigenous,” “Native,” “Native American,” “American Indian,” and “Indian” when appropriate, such as in quotations. I will often lump the United States and Canada together because their experience with Indigenous people are very similar.

Among Indigenous people, the common name for the continent of North America—and the one I will use accordingly—is Turtle Island.

Hundreds of different social organizations existed on Turtle Island prior to the arrival of capitalist markets, but one common feature was that most Indigenous Nations treated the land as something held in common. The idea of nonhuman life being someone’s “private property” was almost literally unthinkable. Many Indigenous theorists now consider “modes of relationship” a more useful concept than “modes of production” when talking about what Winona LaDuke, a citizen of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation, has called the co-evolution of Indigenous peoples and their environment and surroundings. Material conditions required Nations to develop relationships with human and nonhuman life in order to thrive. Indigenous people didn’t pursue a sustainable existence out of some mystical nobility but because reality demanded it.

Writing in the Communist Manifesto in 1848, Karl Marx said, “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.” From an Indigenous perspective, that expanding market transformed abundance into scarcity.

Exploitation, expropriation, and extraction of the land’s riches created wealth for those colonizing land and enforcing their claim to it by violence. Marx’s term for this process as it had occurred in Europe is usually called “primitive accumulation,” although it might be better translated as “primary” or “original” accumulation.

Click here to read the full article…

Rethinking Thanksgiving Toolkit

Artwork by Kandi White, Indigenous Environmental Network, CultureStrike and Micah Bazant

Artwork by Kandi White, Indigenous Environmental Network, CultureStrike and Micah Bazant

From the Indigenous Solidarity Network

Introduction

For many Indigenous People, giving thanks is a way of life. Among the Haudenushonne (Iroquois) Nations an opening address, or Great Thanksgiving, are the words spoken at start of day and before any important gathering of people commences its activity… Other Indigenous People also begin their days and activities with a prayer of Thanksgiving for all creation. We put our tobacco down as a gift of thanks. Thanksgiving, respect and reciprocity are core to our life ways.

– Barb Munson (Oneida Nation), Wisconsin Indian Education Association, Indian Mascot And Logo Taskforce

There are many different experiences we will have over Thanksgiving – some of us will have lots of food, some of us will struggle to have enough. Some will be surrounded by people and some will be alone or with just one other person. For many, it’s an important time of coming together with family. This day also gives us a chance to look at and change stories we have about our families and ourselves. Thanksgiving is based on myths that hide and erase the genocide that the United States is founded upon. What would it mean to tell a different story; an honest story?

This past year has been filled with an emboldening of white supremacy. At the same time, more and more people are working to create something different. We cannot expect that justice will ever come if we are not willing to face the injustices of our past and present. Holidays can be a time to connect and talk about these realities and touch people’s hearts in profound ways. This can be fertile ground for lasting change.

The Indigenous Solidarity Network has developed this toolkit geared for white folks to discuss settler privilege and Thanksgiving with family, friends, and broader community. Deep gratitude to Dina Gilio-Whitaker and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz for sharing the chapter “Thanksgiving Proves the Indians Welcomed the Pilgrims” from their book All the Real Indians Died Off: and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans. We need to talk about the history and ongoing reality of settler colonialism. (Meaning how European people violently took over lands and peoples for their own gains, and came to stay. In the US, this process of settling included enslaving people of African descent to build a country on Indigenous land.)

If you’re having these conversations with People of Color and/or Indigenous peoples, listen to what they’re bringing. It’s important to look at the complex ways that the colonization of Indigenous Nations went hand in hand with enslaving African people to work that land and how the violence is ongoing, as is Indigenous and People of Color led resistance. It can be hard for any of us to confront the ways we benefit from oppression and hard to talk about with people who do not agree with us. But this is how change starts and gives us the chance for real healing.

We invite you to take a moment to pause and breathe. What is happening in your body right now? How are you? Holidays are intense for many of us – whether they are filled with joy or sorrow and struggle, or a combination. Taking time to pause and notice how we are doing and what is happening can support us to continue to be in hard conversations.

As with any work in which we are acting in solidarity against oppression, we recognize that we do this work not ‘for’ Indigenous Peoples, but in partnership. We act out of mutual interest, recognizing that we are all facing the crisis of climate catastrophe and environmental destruction. It is Indigenous peoples who are fighting back most intensely and defending their lands. Supporting Indigenous protection of lands and waters ensures they will be protected for future generations.

Click here to read more…

The Indigenous Solidarity Network initially grew out of SURJ, Catalyst and other folks work at Standing Rock and following ongoing solidarity efforts with Standing Rock fighting the DAPL pipeline and to protect the water.  It has since become a network to share resources, and actions for non-native people to be in solidarity with indigenous struggles.  We host quarterly video calls, send e-mail updates, and action alerts.  Join the email list to keep updated by emailing anticolonialsolidarity@gmail.com.

Thanksgiving Is Dedicated to Erasing the Ruthlessness of English Settlers

Settler colonialism is based not on giving thanks but on the taking of Native life and land

By Joseph M. Pierce, Truthout

Thanksgiving is a colonial holiday meant to erase the ruthlessness of English settlers. In a way, Thanksgiving is the perfect American holiday: It is based on the erasure of Indigenous peoples, promotes a false vision of peaceful cooperation between nations, and has now become an excuse to indulge in the spectacles of hyper-consumption and football.

The historical record is murky about exactly when and where the first “Thanksgiving” was held. Most Americans say it was 1621 in what is now Massachusetts, when a group of Pilgrims and Indians gathered to celebrate the first harvest after the arrival of the Mayflower. Some point to when President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a federal holiday in 1863 as a way of reconciling communities during the Civil War. Both of those dates obscure the 1637 massacre of more than 700 Pequot men, women, children and elders in what is now Connecticut. The state governor celebrated that massacre with a Thanksgiving feast. There is a good case to be made that Thanksgiving is in fact a celebration of that genocide.

I have been thinking about the ruthlessness of this holiday and of what it conceals. Settlers are ruthless. Capitalism is ruthless. Patriarchy is ruthless. All of these were forced upon Indigenous communities without our consent. “Ruthless” comes from the old English word “rue” (to feel regret). Ruthlessness means having no regrets.

Click here to read the full article from Truthout…

Joseph M. Pierce is associate professor in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature at Stony Brook University. He is the author of Argentine Intimacies: Queer Kinship in an Age of Splendor, 1890-1910 (SUNY Press, 2019) and co-editor of Políticas del amor: Derechos sexuales y escrituras disidentes en el Cono Sur (Cuarto Propio, 2018). He is also one of the editors of the Syllabus project “Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee Citizenship, and DNA Testing,” published by Critical Ethnic Studies. He is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

The End of American Thanksgivings: A Cause for Universal Rejoicing

By Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report

The mythology that Thanksgiving nurtures is itself inherently evil.

“The Mayflower’s cultural heirs are programmed to find glory In their own depravity and savagery in their most helpless victims.”

Nobody but Americans celebrates Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity.

We at BC are thankful that the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy. Then we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for the blessings of humanity’s deliverance from the rule of evil men.

Thanksgiving is much more than a lie – if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the “flaw” in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events – subsequently revised – were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England. The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise – Act One of the American Dream. African Slavery commenced contemporaneously – an overlapping and ultimately inseparable Act Two.

The last Act in the American drama must be the “root and branch” eradication of all vestiges of Act One and Two – America’s seminal crimes and formative projects. Thanksgiving as presently celebrated – that is, as a national political event – is an affront to civilization.

Click here to read the full article from Black Agenda Report

This article first appeared in the November 27, 2003 issue of The Black Commentator.

Thanksgiving and the African Revolutionary

, Hood Communist

Well, it’s that time of the year, comrades when we are gravitated by guilt back towards our family for the Colonizer’s Holiday Season. The first Holiday is Thanksgiving, where the resources of the working class are pocketed by farmers and airlines.

Thanksgiving has a special place in the hearts of Colonized Revolutionaries. It either speaks to a time where you witnessed a family member exposing the colonial holiday for its brutal genocidal nature or you were that family member that did the exposing. I remember I learned about the natives being the first people of this land in first grade. No matter how nice my teacher tried to make the story about them three ships sound, I was very clear on who the bad guys and good guys were. I made an announcement on that Thanksgiving how disgusted I was by this story.

We should all know by now that Thanksgiving is nothing but the celebration of stolen land by way of murdering millions of indigenous people. It’s giving thanks for the bedrock of colonialism which birthed capitalism, which is white people’s life support. How do white people become the parasites of the human race and the planet and then find special days to celebrate that inhuman relationship is beyond me.

Click here to read the full article from Hood Communist

Leonard Peltier’s 2019 Thanksgiving Message: “Walking on Stolen Land”

Published November 23, 2019 – Native News Online

(Listen via Prison Radio)

COLEMAN, FLORIDA – Leonard Peltier, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who is incarcerated at the U.S. Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida, for his 1977 conviction in connection with a shootout with U.S. government forces, where two FBI agents and one young American Indian lost their lives.

Peltier, who is considered a political prisoner of war by many, released this statement on Thanksgiving through the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee:

The year of 2019 is coming to a close and with it, comes the day most Americans set aside as a day for Thanksgiving. As I let my mind wander beyond the steel bars and concrete walls, I try to imagine what the people who live outside the prison gates are doing, and what they are thinking. Do they ever think of the Indigenous people who were forced from their homelands? Do they understand that with every step they take, no matter the direction, that they are walking on stolen land? Can they imagine, even for one minute, what it was like to watch the suffering of the women, the children and babies and yes, the sick and elderly, as they were made to keep pushing west in freezing temperatures, with little or no food? These were my people and this was our land. There was a time when we enjoyed freedom and were able to hunt buffalo and gather the foods and sacred medicines. We were able to fish and we enjoyed the clean clear water! My people were generous, we shared everything we had, including the knowledge of how to survive the long harsh winters or the hot humid summers. We were appreciative of the gifts from our Creator and remembered to give thanks on a daily basis. We had ceremonies and special dances that were a celebration of life.

With the coming of foreigners to our shores, life as we knew it would change drastically. Individual ownership was foreign to my people. Fences?? Unheard of, back then. We were a communal people and we took care of each other. Our grandparents weren’t isolated from us! They were the wisdom keepers and story tellers and were an important link in our families. The babies? They were and are our future! Look at the brilliant young people who put themselves at risk, fighting to keep our water and environment clean and safe for the generations yet to come. They are willing to confront the giant, multi-national corporations by educating the general public of the devastation being caused. I smile with hope when I think of them. They are fearless and ready to speak the truth to all who are willing to listen. We also remember our brothers and sisters of Bolivia, who are rioting, in support of the first Indigenous President, Evo Morales. His commitment to the people, the land, their resources and protection against corruption is commendable. We recognize and identify with that struggle so well.

So today, I thank all of the people who are willing to have an open mind, those who are willing to accept the responsibility of planning for seven generations ahead, those who remember the sacrifices made by our ancestors so we can continue to speak our own language, practice our own way of thankfulness in our own skin, and that we always acknowledge and respect the Indigenous linage that we carry.

For those of you who are thankful that you have enough food to feed your families, please give to those who aren’t as fortunate. If you are warm and have a comfortable shelter to live in, please give to those who are cold and homeless, if you see someone hurting and in need of a kind word or two, be that person who steps forward and lends a hand. And especially, when you see injustice anywhere, please be brave enough to speak up to confront it.

I want to thank all who are kind enough to remember me and my family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for continuing to support and believe in me. There isn’t a minute in any day that passes without me hoping that this will be the day I will be granted freedom. I long for the day when I can smell clean fresh air, when I can feel a gentle breeze in my hair, witness the clouds as their movement hides the sun and when the moon shines the light on the path to the sacred Inipi. That would truly be a day I could call a day of Thanksgiving.

Thank you for listening to whomever is voicing my words. My Spirit is there with you.

Doksha,
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

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.