Category Archives: Indigenous Solidarity

Decolonizing Power: Returning to Indigenous Collective Governance in Mexico

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By Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez López, Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine

The path to achieving political autonomy in local government has been very complicated for Indigenous Peoples in Mexico. Many barriers have been placed in the way of exercising their rights. Political and social violence, long processes for those who seek recognition from the State, and the invisibility of those who already exercise autonomy under the shadow of State power, are just some of the problems faced. The national recognition of the historical, so-called “Indigenous normative systems” and others that are emerging in various states, has yet to be realized.

Many Indigenous communities have maintained their forms of community organization rooted in resistance against the pressures from the State. This almost always includes a collective and rotating form of governance, as well as the administration and collective ownership of land. In these communities, family representatives make up the community assembly, the most important body of power in the community. In assembly meetings, key decisions are made for the community, such as the election of government representatives, approval of the use of the community budget, the performance of community works, and the appointment of authorities. The positions are considered service and have a relatively short duration, generally between one to three years.

Although several communities in Mexico have managed to maintain this collective form of governance, many times they live in the shadows; at the local level they maintain their collective forms of governance, but they must also participate in the political party system, which implies accepting the installation of polling stations and political propaganda in their communities and voting in municipal, state, and federal elections. Participating in a political party system has kept communities in constant political and social crisis due to power disputes between those parties. In many cases, chiefdoms and political monopolies have been established in the communities.

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Decolonizing Our Relationships with Each Other and Mother Earth

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By Chenae Bullock, Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine

My given name is Sagkompanau Mishoon Netooeusqau, which translates to “I lead canoe I am Butterflywoman” in the Shinnecock and Montauk language. I am a member of the Shinnecock Nation and a descendant of the Montauk people of Long Island, New York. The foundation of my work has been based on the resurgence of the traditional canoe culture of the Northeast coastal Algonquin communities. Not only have I worked with Indigenous communities globally, I have worked to create stewardship between these communities and non-Indigenous communities. I have organized historically sacred paddles in the ancient waterways of the Northeastern seaboard to spread awareness of the roles Indigenous communities contribute to ocean sustainability internationally and at places like the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the Earth Institute at Columbia Law School, and International Treaty Commission at the United Nations, and I have assessed many sites for signs of submerged cultural history for Atlantic Shores Cultural Core Analysis. I have dedicated my life for the betterment of not only my community, but for our Earth. I have invested energy in reviving and sustaining our traditional lifeways.

In the fall of 2016, I dedicated six months of my life to help the people at the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock prepare their camps for the winter. The Elders came to my campsite after standing on the banks of Cannonball River and emotionally watching cross-deputized authorities from non-Indigenous police departments show a presence on a sacred site to the Hunkpapa Peoples. They asked me to paddle around to see how these non-Indigenous police officers were getting to the sacred site. Using a donated canoe and paddles they had made with a 4×4 piece of wood, two other water protectors and I paddled in the Cannonball River as the Elders asked. While I was paddling, I looked into the faces of the Oceti Sakowin Peoples on the river banks. I witnessed a few swim with their horses as far as they could, but the water was too muddy and deep to make it across. I prayed that what was taking place that day somehow would bring them back to their ancient canoe ways. At that moment, I realized there was more to do than prepare camps for the winter for the Oceti Sakowin while being there. 

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Decolonizing History and Mother Earth’s Story

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By Edson Krenak Naknanuk, Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine

When the European colonial powers ruled our territories of Abya Yala, they implemented policies of oppression by ransacking, dispossessing, and enslaving mainly Black and Indigenous populations. In the last five centuries those policies were driven fundamentally by racism. Colonialism created a bureaucratic, institutional, and political process to discriminate and subjugate different ethnic groups. Centuries of colonial policies produced not only economic and social disadvantages, but also spiritual and emotional traumas for generations.

Colonial trauma, and therefore our liberation, affects all spheres of our lives: our being (who am I, and who is “the other?” How do I feel in relation to the other?); our power (who commands and who obeys? Who occupies the places of power? Who decides? Who leads?); our knowing (which knowledge is most valid? Who seems to have more authority when speaking?); and our doing (who has access to education, to the creation of valid knowledge, etc.? Who produces or co-creates? What is the impact of the making on the environment? Who benefits from the making?)

Colonization as a systematic source for structural racism, prejudice, and inequality persists because Western society constantly fails to recognize and acknowledge it. Decolonizing is a process that starts with identifying and analyzing the unequal power relations. When the subject matter is history, we must see it as a discourse, an ideological object that has an owner.

Decolonizing history is an exercise that we must start by questioning the story that is told, who tells it, and which voices have been silenced that still exist and live among us. Indigenous Peoples point out that the history of mankind is inseparable from the history of the other species, and is deeply connected with the planet (the Pachamama for some relatives of Abya Yala), Mother Earth.

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Decolonizing Our Dreams

Art by Ася Лысогорская/Adobe Stock

Dreams aren’t practical, they are a vision of what is possible.

By Samir Doshi, Yes! Magazine

We live in a country of colonized cultures. The project that is the United States is a melting pot of bodies that have been marginalized from its inception. Still today, those who have been othered by supremacy culture continue to strive to cultivate a sense of belonging and freedom despite the perpetual attempts to oppress us. 

I believe that many of our recent efforts to abolish harmful systems of oppression are being done with consideration of the white gaze, through a lens of scarcity and lack. Our responses to oppression have been colonized. If we are to be successful at dismantling the systems of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and anthropocentrism that enforce domination and oppression over people and ecosystems, we have to start seeing our abundance. It’s imperative for us to move forward and live in right relationship with each other and the planet.

The late Grace Lee Boggs said, “The time has come for a new dream, that’s what being a revolutionary is. I don’t know what the next American revolution is going to be like, but you might be able to imagine it, if your imagination were rich enough.” How do we liberate ourselves from all supremacy culture to dream the new dream that Boggs speaks of? Dreams are an essential part of our human cognition, identity, and being. They allow us to bring our whole selves and our communities into imagining new worlds and realities. They conjure the unseen and unknown, while redesigning our notions of what is possible.

I often reflect on the dreams of my parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from India in 1973. Like many other immigrants from the Global Majority, they arrived here with very few possessions—and a dream. One of economic and physical security for their newly arrived family, their family back home in India, and also their future generations. Their dream of familial economic and physical security is not exclusive; it’s a dream that all people have, but the oppressive structures that exist in this country and around the world actively prevent queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color from realizing our dreams. 

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The Politics of Indigeneity, Anarchist Praxis, and Decolonization

Cover: Debra Yepa-Pappan, “Whirling Corn Maiden,” digital print on antique ledger paper, 2017

Via Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies

Guest Editor: J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies (ADCS) is an international peer reviewed and open access journal to the study of new and emerging perpsectives in anarchist thought. ADCS is an attempt to bring anarchist thought into contact with innumerable points of connection. We publish articles, reviews/debates, announcements and unique contributions that: (1) adopt an anarchist perpective with regards to analyses of language, discourse, culture, and power, (2) investigate various facets of anarchist thought and practice from a non-anarchist standpoint, and (3) investigate or incorporate elements of non-anarchist thought and practice from the standpoint of traditional anarchist thought.

Web Published and Distributed Online: University of Victoria, located on unceded Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ territories.

Creative Commons License
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Published: 2021-05-24

Articles

Book Reviews

Settlers on the Red Road: A Conversation on Indigeneity, Belonging, and Responsibility

The start of a discussion around indigeneity and identity within the anarchist movement.

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By Tawinikay

This zine is not going to be comfortable for some people to read. It is likely to personally challenge a few of you out there who may yourself be dipping a toe in the pond of indigeneity, trying it out to see how it feels. This zine is not going to beat around the bush, because the bush has been thoroughly beaten around.

This is the start of a larger discussion on indigeneity, belonging, and responsibility in our anarchist community. But there is something here for everyone, even if you don’t call yourself an anarchist. At the time of it’s writing, it is already long overdue. In the past two years in southern Ontario, there have been multiple incidents of settlers claiming indigeneity within our intersecting anarchist circles, incidents which caused great harm to relationship and undermined solidarity with Indigenous communities. In Quebec, the rise of the “Eastern Métis” threatens to bleed over into radical spaces. In this era of state-sponsored reconciliation, the line between settlers and Indians is being purposefully blurred by Canada in an attempt to gently complete the assimilation initiated long ago and, try as anarchists might to keep ourselves separate, the dominant culture has a way of creeping in.

This is not a defense of identity. In fact, it will be a critique of identity in many ways, particularly of the way we drape identities over ourselves to give us a purpose for fighting injustice. A rail against the culture of identity that breaks people into hard categories and fuels each of our dark indulgent desires to join the ranks of the oppressed instead of being satisfied to fight for the dignity of all living things from wherever we happen to stand. But it will also be a critique of individuals and their choices, and it will urge each one of you to think not only about your potential complicity in trying on indigeneity but in allowing your friends and comrades to do so as well.

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Let Empire collapse: why we need a decolonial revolution

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Member of the American Indian movement poses next to a toppled Columbus statue in Minneapolis. JUNE 10, 2020 Photo: Ben Hovland / Shutterstock.com

Repatriating Indigenous land and organizing anti-state Indigenous-Black-POC Power alternatives is better than pouring resources into the liberal-progressive vote.

By Mohamed Abdou, Roar Magazine

I am part of a We that says: “Let Empire collapse.” A We that says to build alternatives to Empire, we must expose the illegitimacy of the dreadful dream we are in. Instead of trying to shore or salvage the world as it is, we need to recognize with Audre Lorde that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

I am part of a We that says: “We love and respect you, Angela Davis and your behemoth ongoing legacy of indispensable teachings that are fundamental to the centuries-old struggle we confront,” but we will not be castigated into voting or fall into the trap of “lesser of two evil” arguments that have been critiqued time and time again.

We do not buy the story that we are at a crossroads and have the opportunity to finally fulfill America’s promise by ushering in a new era of Dwight D. Eisenhower-inspired eco-friendly dominance. We are not fooled by the repackaged, false, liberal-progressive hope of a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris-Bernie Sanders coalition that normalizes — rather than contends with — America’s imperialist settler-colonial existence. And which by design cannot allow life-saving reforms such as universal healthcare, student debt cancellations, housing and immigrant rights, racial and environmental justice, abolitionist defunding and dismantlement initiatives and worker protections.

We anticipated Donald J. Trump’s ascendance and expected Bernie Sanders’ demise when few did. We tell you, here, now, as a cautionary tale that it will be no surprise if Trump wins a second term. In fact, the seeds for his potential victory were laid the day of his inauguration because of how resistance and liberation came to be defined — as resistance to Trump rather than liberation from settler-colonial oppression.

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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.

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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.

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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.