Category Archives: Indigenous Sovereignty

Decolonizing Power: Returning to Indigenous Collective Governance in Mexico

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/sites/default/files/styles/max_1300x1300/public/26%20%282%29%21%21%21.jpg?itok=y_KbG4kU

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.

Click here to read the full article…

Decolonizing Our Communication

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/sites/default/files/styles/max_1300x1300/public/13879454%21%21%21%21.jpg?itok=dIPkd9nM

Sócrates Vásquez Garcia, Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine

Too often, discussions about Indigenous communication have been reduced to an analysis of the use of communications technology. It is important to approach Indigenous communication beyond just technology use and explain it from Indigenous points of view. In our towns and communities, we affirm, with increasing force, that we existed long before the arrival of the European colonizers. Our social organization is collective in nature and is rooted in a relationship with Mother Earth. This statement seems simple and is easy to repeat today, but it represents years of resistance, struggle, transformation, and the contradictions that continue among Peoples in Abya Yala (Latin America).

These forms of collective organization rooted in relationships with nature are being revitalized and transformed. After five centuries of domination in military, economic, political, philosophical, and religious spheres, it is clear that colonization has not ended. We must name it and denounce it. We also have to talk about the “myth of modernity” in its purest expression, which is developmentalism. This idea has its origin in the medieval cities of Europe and was reaffirmed through the “discoveries” of other lands, which amounted to controlling, forcing, and stripping Native peoples of their livelihoods. This process, which is called “discovery,” is, in reality, a suppression of the other. This suppression represents centuries of resistance, adaptation, and sometimes adoption of the ways imposed by the colonizing power.

Click here to read the full article…

Decolonizing Our Relationships with Each Other and Mother Earth

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/sites/default/files/styles/max_1300x1300/public/chenae%20%21%21%21%21%20%283%29crop.jpg?itok=JfnysfR8

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. 

Click here to read the full article…

Decolonizing History and Mother Earth’s Story

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/sites/default/files/styles/max_1300x1300/public/33378148_%21%21%21%21.jpg?itok=QFBuyPf_

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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. 

Click here to read the full article…

Colonization and the shadow of belonging

By Chris Corrigan

The great shadow of North American history I think is that settlers know deep down that we don’t belong here. The idea of “settling” the west was predicated on the continent being cleansed of its original inhabitants. This happened in a number of ways. There was outright murder perpetuated by war, disease and neglect. There were treaties which ripped people from their territories and bound the loyalties of indigenous people to the Crown rather than their own laws. There was the residential school system which had as its goal the “education” and “civilization” of indigenous children such that they would no longer be indigenous, which resulted in hundreds of thousands being torn from their families and raised by many abusive and unwell priests, nuns, administrators, social workers, nurses, doctors, coaches and teachers.

It seems everywhere settlers ventured on this continent, they have left unsettled peoples, lands, animal populations and communities. The devastation of indigenous population over 500 years and including to the present day through the loss of lands, language, autonomy, self-governance, dignity, health and resources has been rightly called genocide, and documented as such in the last decades’ inquiries into residential school legacies and missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. There has been a deliberation erasure of peoples here, which made possible economies that have resulted in some of the monetarily richest people in human history living some of the most prosperous lives humans have ever lived.

And I think deep down, every knows that it was gained on the backs of genocide.

So that has some bearing on whether settlers can even feel at home here. And I think that unresolved cognitive dissonance – maybe deeper, maybe a soul dissonance – perpetuates inhumane level of violence towards people, land and community. On this continent the world’s mightiest military power has taken root, supported by the world’s mightiest economic engine and spread death and exploitation around the world.

Read more…

Post-Apocalyptic Theatre on Native Land

A tombstone labeled "Dead American Theatre" on the dirt in front of blue curtains. Various signs are on the curtains and vegetation is behind them.
Illustration by Silent Fox, inspired by the essay.

By Vera Starbard (Tlingit/Dena’ina), via HowlRound Theatre Commons at Emerson College

In the Tlingit culture, there is a philosophy that everything has its time. When a totem pole decays you do not expend a lot of effort restoring and putting it back up; you let it fall, and it goes back to the earth it came from. A person’s legacy is only as old as the memory their grandchildren have of them; if a person has done good work, the grandchildren will take what the person gave them and grow it, but the elder’s responsibility to this earth is done.

I might also mention we have a strong value of not being afraid of death.

And so I must ask about American theatre: Is its time done? Are we expending effort to keep something simply because we believe it must continue to exist? Is it time for its death?

Click here to read more…

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

Let Empire collapse: why we need a decolonial revolution

https://i0.wp.com/publicseminar.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/shutterstock_1755510449-scaled.jpg?fit=1024%2C683&ssl=1
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.

Click here to read the full article…

https://roarmag.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Patreon-banner.jpg

Rethinking the Apocalypse: An Indigenous Anti-Futurist Manifesto

Via Indigenous Action

…This is a transmission from a future that will not happen. From a people who do not exist…

Rethinking the Apocalypse: An Indigenous Anti-Futurist Manifesto

[Readable PDF] [Printable zine PDF]

“The end is near. Or has it come and gone before?”
– An ancestor 

Why can we imagine the ending of the world, yet not the ending of colonialism?

We live the future of a past that is not our own.
It is a history of utopian fantasies and apocalyptic idealization.
It is a pathogenic global social order of imagined futures, built upon genocide, enslavement, ecocide, and total ruination.

What conclusions are to be realized in a world constructed of bones and empty metaphors? A world of fetishized endings calculated amidst the collective fiction of virulent specters. From religious tomes to fictionalized scientific entertainment, each imagined timeline constructed so predictably; beginning, middle, and ultimately, The End.

Inevitably in this narrative there’s a protagonist fighting an Enemy Other (a generic appropriation of African/Haitian spirituality, a “zombie”?), and spoiler alert: it’s not you or me. So many are eagerly ready to be the lone survivors of the “zombie apocalypse.” But these are interchangeable metaphors, this zombie/Other, this apocalypse. 

These empty metaphors, this linearity, only exist within the language of nightmares, they are at once part of the apocalyptic imagination and impulse.
 This way of “living,” or “culture,” is one of domination that consumes all for it’s own benefit. It is an economic and political reordering to fit a reality resting on pillars of competition, ownership, and control in pursuit of profit and permanent exploitation. It professes “freedom” yet its foundation is set on lands stolen while its very structure is built by stolen lives.

It is this very “culture” that must always have an Enemy Other, to lay blame, to lay claim, to affront, enslave and murder.

A subhuman enemy that any and all forms of extreme violence are not only permitted but expected to be put upon. If it doesn’t have an immediate Other, it meticulously constructs one. This Other is not made from fear but its destruction is compelled by it. This Other is constituted from apocalyptic axioms and permanent misery. This Othering, this wetiko disease, is perhaps best symptomatized in its simplest stratagem, in that of our silenced remakening:
They are dirty, They are unsuited for life, They are unable, They are incapable, They are disposable, They are non-believers, They are unworthy, They are made to benefit us, They hate our freedom, They are undocumented, They are queer, They are black, They are Indigenous, They are less than, They are against us, until finally, They are no more.

In this constant mantra of violence reframed, it’s either You or it’s Them.
It is the Other who is sacrificed for an immortal and cancerous continuity. It is the Other who is poisoned, who is bombed, who is left quietly beneath the rubble.

This way of unbeing, which has infected all aspects of our lives, which is responsible for the annihilation of entire species, the toxification of oceans, air and earth, the clear-cutting and burning of whole forests, mass incarceration, the technological possibility of world ending warfare, and raising the temperatures on a global scale, this is the deadly politics of capitalism, it’s pandemic.

Click here to read more…