Category Archives: Indigenous Solidarity

A Settler Reflects on Organizing for Palestine on the Oregon Trail

Chehalis First Nations people of so-called

Chehalis First Nations people of so-called “British Columbia”, 1910 (Source: Wikipedia)

By Sara Swetzoff, Muftah.org

After living in Portland, Oregon, I finally came to understand the meaning of “the Western frontier.” Removed from my East Coast hometown and associated mythologies of belonging, I learned to see myself as a settler for the first time. A white settler heading west, as so many have before me. From metropolis to frontier, like an Israeli moving from Tel Aviv to the West Bank settlements.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the settler projects called the United States and Canada are especially young. With a low settler population density, Native pride and sovereignty is more visible in this region, especially amongst the First Nations of British Columbia (Canada). In fact, Portland has one of the biggest populations of Native Americans of any American city.

Here, on the frontier, the settler state is stretched thin, and all around me I see its criminal logic with startling clarity.

A new economic era brings new branding: instead of promising parcels of land for orchards and cattle ranches, the frontier now lures predominantly urban pioneers with trendy restaurants and mountain holidays. Buzzwords like “sustainable” and “local” adorn every amenity. This is the neoliberal version of Manifest Destiny, camouflaged with a hip veneer of clean living and conscientious consumerism.

In Portland, this newest wave of settlement is pushing the Native population to the fringes, once again. In recent years, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) relocated from the city’s central Mississippi Avenue district to the industrial outskirts of North Portland; elders remember the area as the Chinook fishing village of Neerchokikoo. Next-door is a giant parking lot of Caterpillar bulldozers – the same ones that knock down Palestinian homes thousands of miles away.

Despite its branding, the underlying logic of the settler project in Portland and beyond is clearly anything but local. It is deeply embedded within the matrix of global capital and extraction economics. Nike, Intel, Microsoft, and a plethora of Internet start-ups intentionally employ the most successful, mostly white newcomers to Portland and Seattle. The rest of the population works in the low-wage service industries that keep the affluent fed and entertained.

To the north of us in British Columbia, this same insatiable pattern of development and growth drives the metal mining that swallows First Nations land and poisons their salmon runs. Midwestern extraction industries plot to lace the Northwest with coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and tar sands transport corridors. China has already built the refineries – they need the fuel to make our phones.

As settlers moving west, we are modern-day seekers of the American Promised Land. But there are many more frontiers of colonization across the country, in both urban and rural locations, and not all stakeholders are white. Assimilationist multiculturalism opens up more and more opportunities for people of color to reap the benefits of settlement, even as the state continues to enslave and exploit others from the same communities.

The mechanisms of settler colonialism are complex and insidious: just as the white Ashkenazi elite in Israel pits Mizrahi laborer against African refugee against Palestinian farmer, so does American white supremacy sow divisions amongst its most oppressed in order to prevent them from recognizing they share more with each other and local Indigenous Peoples than with the white settler establishment.

Each of us must examine our complicity together with our community and strategize accordingly. As students, we have to recognize that our universities are by default bound up in the economic dynamics of the colonizer state. We cannot undermine Israel – a client state settler project bankrolled by the United States – without also working for decolonization here in the heart of the empire.

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Hawaii: Building an indigenous coalition for radical resistance to colonialism

We talk with Kanaka Maoli David Maile about indigenous coalition The Red Nation’s efforts to unite different native people in radical resistance to colonialism, and how Native Hawaiians can stand in solidarity with other native peoples.

By Will Caron, The Hawaii Independent

Yesterday, indigenous rights and decolonization coalition The Red Nation issued a statement of solidarity with the Native Hawaiians currently protesting the development of the massive Thirty-Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. This statement of solidarity is in line with The Red Nation’s goal of building unity between indigenous peoples around the world and teaching these people effective methods of radical resistance to colonial-capitalist systems of oppression.

The Red Nation was envisioned by two Ph.D. students at the University of New Mexico, Nick Estes and Melanie Yazzie, and is comprised of both indigenous and non-indigenous activists, scholars, educators and community organizers—all working toward the liberation of indigenous peoples from colonialism. The coalition seeks to center native peoples’ agendas and struggles through advocacy, mobilization and education about ways of working outside the these subversive systems (hence, radical).

To learn more about The Red Nation, native coalition building, and these radical methods of native resistance to colonialism, we talked with David Maile, a Kanaka Maoli and 2006 graduate of Kamehameha Schools , and a member of The Red Nation who is currently a Ph.D. student in American Studies at the University of New Mexico.

Click here to read the full article…

Why Racial Justice Work Needs to Address Settler Colonialism and Native Rights

By , Everyday Feminism

“To recognize one’s own role in the oppression of others is not about blame but about opening our eyes to see how power works and how we can redirect it so it doesn’t diminish us all.” —Shona Jackson

I am Taiwanese American, and I still struggle to make sense of what that really means. My relationship to nationhood and to space has been about trying to seek belonging and acceptance.

I am not seen as fully American, yet when I visit Taiwan, it is clear that I am not Taiwanese.

One thing I am clear on: I am not white – though some white folks don’t immediately read me as a person of color.

Most often, I am invisible. I am always from somewhere else.

While I typically self-identify as a second-generation Taiwanese American, there are already a few issues with that identity marker. For example, even though my generational status marks my family’s recent immigration history – which is a critical part of my Taiwanese American ethnic experience – it erases histories prior to contact with the United States. 

By I prioritizing my US citizenship, I am demanding to be a part of an imperialist system that literally needs my membership to toot its horn as a “multicultural melting pot.” Yet, my membership as an American citizen is still contested.

Consequently, I am racially categorized as a “perpetual foreigner” – as an Asian American, my belonging on this land, to this nation, and in this space, is constantly in question.

White supremacy has never completely accepted the presence of Asians in the United States and history demonstrates this through institutionalized exclusion, internment, objectification, and hate crimes.

Yet despite knowing that I am unwanted, I still find myself thinking – hoping – that if I can change the “non-American” parts of myself, I can finally experience the benefits of belonging.

And so, I attempt to remove my “Asian-ness.”

In the classroom, I over-perform my version of “American-ness” because I am frustrated when professors confuse me with Asian international students – who get stereotyped as not being able to speak English and, as a result, have to deal with learning from impatient and xenophobic professors.

In order to avoid this, I have found myself betraying members of my community by trying to prove I’m not just “one of them”.

When I am asked the question, “Where are you really from?” I purposefully erase my roots and reply that I am from the United States.

The ways I’ve learned to survive and belong in a country that marginalizes and labels me as a foreigner is rooted in the legacy of oppressing others.

But it’s taken me a while to even understand this phenomenon.

I do racial justice work to address identity-based oppression, and through this work, I’ve started to learn more deeply about colonialism.

I’ve realized that the way I’ve been taught to construct my identity and prioritize my “American-ness is dependent on the impact of United States’ colonial history and current oppressive practices towards Indigenous and Native communities.

And that is just one of the ways anti-racism work often colludes with colonialism. To truly do racial justice work, we, non-Native people of color, can’t solely focus on just the ways we’ve been marginalized or oppressed.

As people of color living in the United States, while we experience many forms of oppression, we are also still complicit in ongoing projects of colonization.

Colonization involves the extension of domination of one group over another, targeting Native groups from US “states and territories,” from places impacted by global capitalism, and groups Indigenous to lands they were stolen and/or displaced from.

While most people of color have experienced forms of colonial control, being a person of color does not automatically carry a direct colonial history.

We – especially those of us doing racial justice work – need to start looking at all the different forms of oppression and how they’re related to one another.

Settler colonialism and racism are connected and co-dependent, but they are not the same thing. Their impacts are experienced differently across communities.

We erase each other’s unique struggles and legacies when we appropriate each other’s oppressions and that’s not accountable racial justice work.

Here are some of the places I’ve started to think through racism and settler colonialism

Click here to read the full article…

Toward Decolonizing Conservation

Humpback whale breaching, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, Haida Gwaii.

By Phil Levin, SNAP.is

Six hundred miles northwest of my Seattle home lies British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii archipelago, nearly 100 miles off the mainland. It’s a seemingly pristine and timeless  place — old-growth forests and breaching humpback whales, endless rocky shores enveloped in pea-soup fog and the penetrating smell of decaying seaweed, and a silence broken only by the drumming of ocean waves and the occasional cry of a bald eagle.

After a visit here in 2010, as I flew back to Seattle, I snapped a picture from my airplane window and posted it on Facebook with the caption: “Haida Gwaii is a magical land devoid of people.”

I couldn’t have been more ignorant.

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Unceded Voices – Anticolonial Street Artists Convergence 2015

UNCEDED VOICES : Anticolonial Street Artists Convergence fosters the idea of bringing together street artists of indigenous and settler origins and build an artistic community of shared anticolonial values. The convergence will promote a type of street art that advocates the decolonization of Turtle Island and will remind Montrealers of the city’s colonial past and present. The artists, living across the Canadian and American states, already focus part of their work on issues related to indigenous resistance, anti-oppressive and anti-capitalist street art.

This second convergence is starting on August 14 and runs until August 23 in so-called Montreal, unceded Kanien’kéhá:ka and Algonquin territories.

UNCEDED VOICES : Anticolonial Street Artists Convergence will organize its activities around two different axes. The first artistic axe will bring together the street artists to create art pieces on the streets of Tiohtià:ke, so-called Montreal. The works will differ in medium, subject and relationship to the public sphere. The second community axe will foster the idea of creating spaces to discuss political issues related to colonialism between the participants and organisms devoted to the urban native community of Tiohtià:ke. There should also be activities specifically designed to involve Indigenous youth.

The  Convergence is a completely grassroots effort, with absolutely no state or corporate funding. We need money to finance the project this year again. We rely on donations to meet our expenses, which is predominantly travel and art materials (paint, paste, scaffoldings, printing costs,etc.). To finance a part of our spending with the project, we ask for $5000.

If you want to support us, we offer perks (patches, prints, posters, sticker packs, mixtape) made by the artists participating in the project.

Throughout the Anti-Colonial Street Artists Convergence, visiting and local artists will be creating art pieces on the streets of Tiohtià:ke between August 14 until August 23. Some of these collaborations will be open to the public: visit the facebook and website of the Convergence frequently for updates. There will also be several events open to the public (workshops, panels, screenings, etc.)

Nia:wen/Thank you /Merci for your support !

gofundme.com/uncededvoices
decolonizingstreetart.com
facebook.com/decolonizingstreetart

Towards an anti-colonial anarchism

Eurocentricism, re-colonization, and settler colonialism

By , Intercontinental Cry

Unnamed anarchist from Europe [interviewer]: Particularly in Canada, the term “First Nations” is frequently used to describe Indigenous societies. This tends to confuse radical Europeans who consider all references to “nations” as necessarily conservative. Can you shed some light on the Indigenous usage of the term?

Taiaike Alfred from the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawá:ke [interviewee]: Europeans should not transpose their experience with nationhood on others. I myself do not think the term accurately describes our people – only our own languages and words can do that – but it is useful in a sense; it conveys an equality of status in theory between our societies and that of the colonizer. And it reiterates the fact of our prior occupancy of this continent (Alfred, 2010).

The languages that we speak build walls. The English language, for instance, is noun-based, territorial and possessive by nature. Behind this language, however, is a distinct way of relating – one that is exemplified by the interview excerpt above. Sharing a language does not imply consensus or commonality. In this case, although Taiake Alfred does not agree in full with the term ‘First Nations’, he does differentiate First Nation and Indigenous Nationhood from European, Westphalia conceptions of nation-state. He dually describes why, from his perspective as a member of the Mohawk Nation from Kahnawá:ke, this terminology resists Eurocentric impositions of governance but also responds to colonial power-imbalances. Social movements, especially in North America, often fall carelessly into colonial traps of Eurocentric thought and colonial universalism, as exampled above[1]. On the surface, though, it is clear why anarchist movements and anarchic theory may be attracted to anti-colonial struggles.

Opposition to the state and to capitalism, to domination and to oppression, are at the core of anarchist and autonomous movements; they are also at the core of anti-colonial struggles that see the state, and by mutual extension the capitalist system, as de-legitimate institutions of authority that ‘Other’ and colonize by way of white supremacist notions of cultural hegemony (see Fanon, 1967; Smith, 2006). Anarchist movements, however, often fail to account for the multiple layers of power that are at play, both contemporarily and historically. As Barker (2012) critically contends, many of the Occupy sites, for example, recolonized by uncritically occupying already occupied lands. The settler privilege of autonomous organizers within these movements upheld hegemonic/colonial territoriality. Romanticized for stewardship and place-based relations to land, Indigenous peoples have even been idolized as the ‘original’ anarchist societies (Barker & Pickerill, 2012). Indigenous Nationhood Movements actively seek to rebuild nation-to-nation relations with settlers by re-empowering Indigenous self-determination and traditional governments (Indigenous Nationhood Movement, 2015). Nation-to-nation, though, cannot be taken in its settler colonial form; indeed, this assumption concerning a homogenous form of government was, and is, at the core of colonialism: “modern government…the European believed, was based upon principles true in every country. Its strengths lay in its universalism” (Mitchell, 2002: 54). Respecting Indigenous Nationhood as a culturally, politically, and spiritually distinct movement propelled by and for Indigenous peoples is integral. Reasons for and tactics in support of these movements may vary, however they inevitably overlap in many offensives with anarchist anti-authoritarian agendas.

With Eurocentric understandings of an anti-colonial anarchism at the core of many activist oriented renditions of such thinking, activists and scholars alike have heeded words of advice to those amidst struggles against colonial forces in settler colonial contexts. As stated by Harsha Walia in discussing autonomy and cross-cultural, colonial-based struggle:

“Non-natives must recognize our own role in perpetuating colonialism within our solidarity efforts. We can actively counter this by… discussing the nuanced issues of solidarity, leadership, strategy and analysis – not in abstraction, but within our real and informed and sustained relationships with Indigenous peoples.” (2012)

By respecting difference, even spatializing autonomy, settler peoples would do well to not transplant – to settle – their perceptions of autonomy, of solidarity, of leadership, and of strategy onto Indigenous movements. Alternatively in settler colonial contexts, anarchist struggles against colonial authority, and thus capitalistic systems, invariably require respectful engagement with Indigenous movements. This is integral if re-colonizing tendencies of anarchist movements–oftentimes primarily driven by European settlers–are to be prevented. Anarchist actors, especially when operating in settler colonial spaces, must understand the nuances of place specific histories and colonial processes. As Lasky suggests, there is “potential for directly relating to each other and changing our relationships with each other in ways that withdraw consent from ‘the system’ and re-creates alternatives that empower our collective personhoods now” (2011: np). As Alfred mentions however, Eurocentric tendencies have oftentimes perpetuated colonial relations of power. As a result, the very structures of oppression that anarchic thought starkly opposes, but also stemmed from, creep into relational geographies.

References

Alfred, T. (2010). Interview with Gerald Taiaiake Alfred about Anarchism and Indigenism in North America. Retrieved from http://www.alpineanarchist.org/r_i_indigenism_english.html

Barker, A. (2012). Already Occupied: Indigenous Peoples, Settler Colonialism and the Occupy Movements in North America. Social Movement Studies, 11(3-4), 327–334. doi:10.1080/14742837.2012.708922

Barker, A. J., & Pickerill, J. (2012). Radicalizing Relationships To and Through Shared Geographies: Why Anarchists Need to Understand Indigenous Connections to Land and Place. Antipode, 44(5), 1705–1725. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8330.2012.01031.x

Fanon, F. (1967). Black skin, white masks. New York, NY: Grove Press.

Indigenous Nationhood Movement. (2015). About. Retrieved from http://nationsrising.org/about/

Lewis, A. (2012). Decolonizing anarchism: Expanding Anarcha-Indigenism in theory and practice (Masters thesis). Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. Retrieved from http://qspace.library.queensu.ca/bitstream/1974/7563/1/Lewis_Adam_G_201209_MA.pdf

Mitchell, T. (2002). Rule of experts: Egypt, techno-politics, modernity. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.

Smith, A. (2006). Heteropatriarchy and the three pillars of white supremacy. In Incite! (Ed.), The colour of violence: The INCITE! anthology (pp. 66–73). Cambridge, UK: South End Press.

Walia, H. (2012). Decolonizing together: Moving beyond a politics of solidarity toward a practice of decolonization. Briar Patch, January/February. Retrieved from http://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/decolonizing-together

[1] Adam (Lewis, 2012) explores this topic in depth.

Indigenous Groups are Calling for the Decolonization of Australia

 Protesters march on Parliament House in Canberra. Photo courtesy of Elenor Gilbert, Enlightening Productions

Protesters march on Parliament House in Canberra. Photo courtesy of Elenor Gilbert, Enlightening Productions

By Paul Gregoire, Vice News

On February 9, members of the National Freedom Movement gathered on the lawns at Parliament House in Canberra to present the Australian minister for Indigenous affairs, Nigel Scullion, with the Aboriginal Sovereign Manifesto of Demands. This document calls for negotiations between the Commonwealth government and Indigenous nations across the country to set out a framework for what’s known as “decolonization.”

The National Freedom Movement was born out of the Freedom Summit that took place in Alice Springs last November. The summit saw a delegation of Aboriginal leaders from around the nation meeting to declare the independence of Australia’s First Peoples and address the growing disparities they face. These include increasing levels of incarceration and suicide, the continuing forced removals of children from their families, and the Western Australian government’s intentions to close down up to 150 remote Indigenous communities.

On January 26, the delegates along with 500 supporters converged on Old Parliament House in Canberra to stage a sit-in, protesting the occupation of their land for the last 227 years. When they returned on the day federal parliament reopened to present the manifesto, politicians from both sides of government met with the leaders to discuss their grievances.

The National Freedom Movement is not alone in demanding decolonization. Other Indigenous movements, such as the youth group Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, are also calling for an end to the colonization of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

So just what would the decolonization of Indigenous Australia entail?

The Aboriginal Sovereign Manifesto is built around the 1992 High Court Mabo decision which recognized that Aboriginal land title survived British settlement, when it agreed with a ruling from a 1888 British Privy Council case.

Based on this, the manifesto calls for the Commonwealth of Australia to undertake a series of treaties with all Indigenous nations—a process that would require Australia to become an independent federated republic. These nations would then become self-governing territories within the republic. And a new constitution would be drafted, which would incorporate Aboriginal law as part of the legal system.

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Ohlone Activists speak about Colonialism, Resistance, and Solidarity

Recently at Qilombo, occupied Ohlone territory, so-called Oakland:

Ohlone activists speak in depth about their experience of neo-colonialism, the projects they are working, and what non-natives can do to be in solidarity with them.

Wicahpiluta Candelaria sings a song for the Diné who are resisting the desecration of their lands. Luta also speaks to his experience of colonialism, resistance, and solidarity.

WAR to launch new national Aboriginal magazine ‘Black Nations Rising’

by , via Intercontinental Cry

The Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) are pleased to announce that we will be launching our new national publication Black Nations Rising (BNR) in January 2015. We will publish independently, receiving no government or corporate funding. Our first edition will have a print run of 5000 copies thanks to the support of several trade unions.

The quarterly magazine will seek to inform Aboriginal people about decolonization and inspire them to take action in the anticolonial struggle. We will promote symbols, stories and strategies of resistance and revival. All content published in BNR will be consistent with WAR’s philosophy of Aboriginal nationalism.

We hope BNR follows in the footsteps of revolutionary print media initiatives like The Black Panther Intercommunal News Service (newspaper of Black Power movement in USA 1967-1980), Warrior Publications (manuals for Indigenous liberation 2006-current) and Black Nation (broadsheet of 1980s Aboriginal land rights movement).

Because WAR believes independent Aboriginal media to be an essential services in terms of pushing for social and political change, there will be no subscription cost for Aboriginal people. The ‘pay the rent’ subscription fee for non-Aboriginal people will be $50 per year, or $15 per copy. The magazine will be distributed via Aboriginal organizations and handed out at Aboriginal events (e.g. Invasion Day rallies, NAIDOC celebrations, football carnivals). Our volunteer staff consists of co-editors Pekeri Ruska (Goenpul/Yuggera) and Callum Clayton-Dixon (Nganyaywana), printing/distribution manager Merinda Meredith (Darambul), and artist Jade Slockee (Gumbaynggirr).

BNR is built upon the foundations laid down by Brisbane Blacks magazine (August 2013 – October 2014). Six issues of Brisbane Blacks magazine were published with over 6000 copies printed and distributed, with 120 pages of content produced. Like Brisbane Blacks magazine, copies of BNR will also be distributed to 200+ Aboriginal families in southeast Queensland via the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy Community Food Program. BNR issue one is slated for release (print and online) on January 19.

Criminal lawyer Pekeri Ruska says BNR will be the most powerful independent Aboriginal publication this country will see. “The information we collate and share will aid in the liberation of our people. We will reignite their strength and conscience to decolonize from the realms of colonial oppression.”

Founder of Brisbane Blacks magazine Callum Clayton-Dixon believes the Aboriginal movement and Aboriginal media should be one and the same. “A new era of Aboriginal activism dawns, and with it comes the need for strong independent Aboriginal media to echo the calls of Aboriginal nationalism and decolonization. Black Nations Rising will carry forward our agenda for change.”

For comment from WAR, call Pekeri Ruska on 0435 950 469 or Callum Clayton-Dixon on 0428 152 777

Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-blackness Conference

Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness” is a conversation that takes seriously the intellectual and political exchange between Native Studies and Black Studies, focusing on how anti-Black racism intersects with settler colonial logics. An opportunity for exploration and critical conversation, “Otherwise Worlds” stages a series of discussions that seek to interrogate concepts such as “people of color” and how such concepts operate to dilute the specificity of state violence. Particularly with the rise of Afropessmissm, increasingly more scholars in Black studies are focusing on the centrality of anti-Black racism within U.S. society. This work has intervened within Ethnic Studies by insisting on the specificity of anti-Black racism that cannot be addressed through either “people of color” politics or Ethnic Studies intellectual models. Similarly, scholars in Native Studies have often positioned Native studies in opposition to Ethnic Studies under the argument that Native peoples should be analyzed under the rubric of colonial domination rather than racial domination.

Not just a conversation of abstraction and critique, “Otherwise Worlds” proposes ways forward, ways to produce otherwise modes of being, otherwise modes of existence, that do not assent nor submit to the current epistemological ordering of the modern world. “Otherwise Worlds” presumes that possibilities for resistance, for refusal, are germane to otherwise existences, subaltern modalities, marginalized ways of life. In this event, we wish to explore the relationality between these forms of racisms and colonialisms as well as explore the political implications of these relationalities.

Date

Friday, April 10, 2015

Location

University of California, Riverside
Humanities and Social Sciences (HMNSS) 1500

Conference Organizers

Ashon Crawley, Ethnic Studies, and Andrea Smith, Media and Cultural Studies

More information on conference schedule coming soon.

Recommended reading from Unsettling America:

Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy by Andrea Smith [PDF]

The Colonialism That is Settled and the Colonialism That Never Happened: While both Black and Native studies scholars have rightfully argued that it is important to look at the distinctness of both anti-Blackness and Indigenous genocide, sometimes this focus on the distinctness obscures how, in fact, they are mutually reinforcing. There is much to be said about these interconnections, and this work has been explored by many in this blog series, in the #decolonizesaam Twitter discussion on anti-Blackness, and elsewhere. Here, I want to focus on how anti-Blackness and Indigenous genocide are connected through colonialism, and further expand on how colonialism constructs both the labor of Indigenous and Black peoples, in particular and different ways, in order to secure the settler state. In this article I want to focus on how settler colonialism is enabled through the erasure of colonialism against Black peoples as well as the erasure of Indigenous labor, with a particular emphasis on some of the legal proceedings that undergird these processes. Read more…