Category Archives: Indigenous Solidarity

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…

‘Building rage': Decolonizing class war

decolonize_turtle_islandBy Natalie Knight, Rabble.ca

The following is a speech by Natalie Knight delivered at “Decolonization 101,” a panel organized by Streams of Justice on June 2, 2014. The panel took place at Grandview Baptist Church, Unceded Coast Salish Territories.

I want to acknowledge that we are on occupied and unceded Coast Salish territories which are Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw lands.

On February 26 of this year, an Inuk woman named Loretta Saunders was found murdered and dumped on the side of the road in Salisbury, New Brunswick. Her death raised a national conversation about violence against Indigenous women. It is a deeply sad loss, and an acute effect of colonialism. And I also wonder about the reasons why Loretta received a more mainstream response than others or those that can’t even be reported, those deaths that are basically sanctioned by the police. Loretta was in university and maybe it was easier for Canada’s white-dominated society to recognize her and her violent absence. Maybe an Inuk woman who goes to university is more comprehensible than the over 1,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women who have been documented in the recent RCMP report, and the many Indigenous women still in certain shadows, including those missing and murdered below the colonial border.

In a series of online articles, Indigenous activists and writers expressed outrage, love, and wrote to contextualize Loretta Saunders within a much larger web of daily assault against Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous women, that goes unseen. Siku Allooloo wrote a piece called “From Outrage to Radical Love,” which starts by saying: “I’ve been in a building rage. I am outraged at the status quo, at the overwhelming rate of gender violence and murder suffered by Indigenous women and girls in this country. I am disgusted with the lived experience of that; of gender violence as a pervasive experience that the majority of Indigenous women and young girls face in various forms throughout our lifetimes.”[1]

Siku Allooloo goes on to argue for the power of love to bind Indigenous people together in the face of horrific violence. And we definitely need more love. But I want to linger on this “building rage” that she had because I feel it and I don’t actually want to transform that rage into anything other than a decolonized class war that finds its power in leadership by militant Indigenous and racialized women.

But looking for Indigenous and racialized women leadership is not ultimately about identity. It’s not about just centring some voices who don’t get heard and asking others to be quiet and listen. It’s not about making adjustments in representational democracy or ensuring that we have the right ratios of identities in our spaces, it’s not just about breaking the visible signs of white supremacy by assimilating some racialized people into spaces that haven’t actually changed. Decolonization is instead about breaking the entire system that creates and maintains identity categories that act to severely limit class solidarity. It is also about refusal, dissonance, and an unrelenting commitment to remaking myself, my relationships, and politics along lines that I can’t really predict and that won’t be recognized by whatever dominant social structures are around. For me this is the power of decolonization, and in the settler colonial state of Canada, it might be the only way to revitalize class politics that reflect our real lived lives and are relevant to a much larger international class war.

I think that the political impulse of decolonization means coming to understand that we have a shared enemy; but, needing to understand who and what that enemy is — and that it is a big part of many of us.

However, the word “decolonization” can stand in for all kinds of politics and interpretations. For me, decolonization is not about treaty processes and forms of self-management that strike a deal with the colonial and capitalist state. It’s not about emulating private property and heteropatriarchal government systems that cede the core of the dangerous difference and threat posed by Indigenous people to the state.

Decolonization is also not about rights; it’s not about civil rights for Indigenous people. Decolonization isn’t about civil rights because civil rights have only ever applied to intra-settler disputes and sometimes to settler resistance to state oppression. They leave out Indigenous people; they have always been defined against Indigenous people. Huanani-Kay Trask writes about this situation in Hawaii and says that it’s not so much “a struggle for civil rights, but a struggle against our planned disappearance.” [2] This isn’t an exaggeration. What connects the conditions of Indigenous people in Hawaii, in the U.S. mainland, and in Canada, are struggles over land. Dispossession of land means trying to disappear a whole people. I don’t think this can be said enough because this centrality of land seems to slide off the sophisticated rhetoric we can develop about class struggle, the working class, and the exploitation of wage labour.

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An Introduction to Settler Colonialism at UBC

UBC’s Alternative Student Press

This three-part series on settler colonialism is co-authored between two people: one who identifies as a michif (Métis) man from Saskatoon, the other who identifies as a racialized, non-Indigenous female settler. As co-authors, we are speaking from our own perspectives as an Indigenous person (Justin) and as a settler (Kay).

This series is informed through an anti-colonial, anti-racist, and intersectional feminist lens. We have tried to make it as accessible as possible, but fully acknowledge that we were not completely successful. We have attempted to frame it as a discussion as much as possible, and have embedded links for further learning and hope this can make the piece more accessible and informative. We hope this article can serve as an introduction to some important (and complicated) issues; in our opinion, an understanding of settler-colonialism, and our complicity in it, is essential to building a better future.

Part I | Part II | Part III

Unsettling settler colonialism

The discourse and politics of settlers, and solidarity with Indigenous nations

By Corey Snelgrove, Rita Dhamoon, Jeff Corntassel, Decolonization, Vol 3, No 2 (2014)

Our goal in this article is to intervene and disrupt current contentious debates regarding the predominant lines of inquiry bourgeoning in settler colonial studies, the use of ‘settler’, and the politics of building solidarities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Settler colonial studies, ‘settler’, and solidarity, then, operate as the central themes of this paper. While somewhat jarring, our assessment of the debates is interspersed with our discussions in their original form, as we seek to explore possible lines of solidarity, accountability, and relationality to one another and to decolonization struggles both locally and globally. Our overall conclusion is that without centering Indigenous peoples’ articulations, without deploying a relational approach to settler colonial power, and without paying attention to the conditions and contingency of settler colonialism, studies of settler colonialism and practices of solidarity run the risk of reifying (and possibly replicating) settler colonial as well as other modes of domination.

Full Text: PDF

Decolonization Workshop – Unist’ot’en Camp 2014

Confronting Our Colonialism

This video was presented on the unceded territory of the Secwepemc Nation, at the Thompson Rivers University Undergrad Research Conference on March 28, 2014. This video was created for an assignment for an Anthropology class called “Canadian Status/Treaty Indian Reserve Communities.”

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