Category Archives: Indigenous Sovereignty

Indigenous peoples and the politics of water

Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society
Vol 7 No 1 (2018): Indigenous Peoples and the Politics of Water

Introduction by Melanie Yazzie and Cutcha Risling Baldy

In recent history, we have seen water assume a distinct and prominent role in Indigenous political formations. Indigenous peoples around the world are increasingly forced to formulate innovative and powerful responses to the contamination, exploitation, and theft of water, even as our efforts are silenced or dismissed by genocidal schemes reproduced through legal, corporate, state, and academic means. The articles in this issue offer multiple perspectives on these pressing issues. They contend that struggles over water figure centrally in concerns about self-determination, sovereignty, nationhood, autonomy, resistance, survival, and futurity. Together, they offer us a language to challenge and resist the violence enacted through and against water, as well as a way to envision and build alternative futures where water is protected and liberated from enclosures imposed by settler colonialism, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy.

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Articles

 

‘The Only Way to Save the Land is to Give It Back’: A Critique of Settler Conservationism

By Majerle Lister, The Red Nation

The narrative that conservationism is an ally of Indigenous people and Indigenous land serves the opportunistic purpose of unifying Indigenous people and pro-conservationist to fight for the land. At the center of the US conservation movement is Theodore Roosevelt, a notable racist and violent imperialist. Any act or criticism against conservation is painted as an insult to the president — or the innocence of a settler nation. Settler conservation, however, has provided great victories for Indigenous people in the form of protecting sacred lands from capitalist development, such as, most recently, the protection of Bears Ears National Monument. Settler conservation plays a dual role, it keeps land away from Indigenous control while conserving land for the settler public. Narratives like this usually flow from one person to another without evaluating the reality from which it was created, all the while ignoring the historical dispossession of Indigenous lands.

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth president of the US, is the soul of settler conservationism. Roosevelt, a “big stick” imperialist, supported the US military invasion of Cuba in 1898, the violent annexation of the Philippines in 1900, the blockade of Panama and annexation of the Panama Canal in 1903. His bloody foreign policy matched his Indian policy. As part of his famous conservation policies, Roosevelt worked to transfer 230 million acres of Indigenous land to public lands. Besides calling Indigenous people “squalid savages,” he firmly believed that the land belonged to the “white race” through conquest and superiority, a staple of imperialism by violently increasing the land mass of the invading settler nation. Roosevelt also defended the Dawes Act of 1887, which opened 90 million acres of Indigenous land for white settlement. He praised the Act because it “pulverized” the tribal land mass and encouraged private ownership and the dissolution of collective tribal lands.

The history of the US conservation movement is a history settler colonialism.

Settler colonialism operates on certain myths so that it can reproduce itself. One of those myths is that Indigenous people of the U.S. were unproductive with the land therefore white settlers were entitled to the land. There are two main points in this myth, the capitalistic characteristic of productivity and the notion of white supremacy. When settlers came over, they deemed the land unproductive despite the complex use of the land by Indigenous people. Following this, they believed they were entitled to the land because they thought themselves superior to manage land and labor. This white supremacy ideology initiated the Indigenous genocide, Indigenous land dispossession, and the enslavement of the African people. Settler land management operates on this notion that indigenous people cannot management their lands themselves despite the romanticism of the “ecological” Indian. If Indigenous people cannot manage the land, who should be in charge? The discussion of control of stolen land shifts to a discussion of the public vs the private.

Indigenous people are quick to recognize the land grabs by the Federal government, or any other government, as the continuation of colonial land accumulation. Yet on the other end, conservationists see it as consolidating lands for the public. The conservationists rally around the term “Public lands” harkening to the spirit of Wood Guthrie’s, “This Land is Your Land.” This shifts the narrative away from Indigenous land claims and dispossession towards a discussion of the public good. Indigenous lands become the public’s land and “the public” — which excludes the original owners of the land — should be the ones who manage and control the land. Examples demonstrating the shift away from Indigenous land control are seen by corporations and non-profits, such as Sierra Club and Patagonia.

Click here to read the full article from The Red Nation

The Red Nation is dedicated to the liberation of Native peoples from capitalism and colonialism. They center Native political agendas and struggles through direct action, advocacy, mobilization, and education. Click here to read more.

Native Resistance and the Carceral State

Image credit: “Wilding” Cops at Standing Rock, Josh Yoder

Image credit: “Wilding” Cops at Standing Rock, Josh Yoder

Via Rustbelt Abolition Radio:

Nick Estes identifies the anti-Indian origins of the carceral state within the U.S. settler colonial project and argues that indigenous liberation offers critical frameworks for understanding how to abolish it. Estes is a co-founder of The Red Nation: an anti-profit coalition dedicated to the liberation of Native Nations, lands, and peoples. He holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of New Mexico and is a fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.

Image credit: “Wilding” Cops at Standing Rock, Josh Yoder

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Decolonizing Anarchism at the Institute for Advanced Troublemaking

This workshop by Maia Ramnath will explore the history, structure, function, and ideologies of colonialism, anticolonialism, and decolonization from an anarchist perspective. It will be organized in three parts. The first one, anarchism in anticolonial action, will offer a historical overview of colonialism and its various manifestations over the past five hundred years. This requires understanding and confronting the interconnections of empire, capitalism, race, and resource extraction. Part two will focus on how anarchists (in both colonizing and colonized positions) have related to anticolonial struggles, including those identified as national liberation struggles. It will consider various specifically located traditions of resistance and liberation philosophy/praxis that have affinity or share some key concepts with anarchism. Finally, part three will center on anarchism and decolonization today, concentrating on some contemporary hot spots of empire and settler colonialism, and touching on both ethical and practical concerns for action, taking into consideration how anarchistic thought and praxis might look in different political, social, and cultural contexts.

More info…

Maia is a writer, historian, teacher, activist, and performing artist based in New York City. She has taught modern South Asian and world history, written two books (and is working on a third) and numerous articles on transnational radical anticolonial movements. Coming up on her twentieth anniversary as a “self-identified anarchist,” she has worn many different organizing hats to face a range of intersecting issues of social, economic, racial and environmental justice, Palestine solidarity and indigenous solidarity, all understood as interlinked aspects of the same imperial/colonial system. Check out Maia’s book Decolonizing Anarchism : An Antiauthoritarian History of India’s Liberation Struggle

White Allies, Let’s Be Honest About Decolonization

How can settler allies move beyond being sympathetic beneficiaries of colonialism? What approach is legitimately decolonizing? (Photo by Josué Rivas.)

How can settler allies move beyond being sympathetic beneficiaries of colonialism? What approach is legitimately decolonizing? (Photo by Josué Rivas.)

I want to experience the solidarity of allied actions that refuse fantastical narratives of commonality and hope.

By , Yes! Magazine

Indigenous environmental movements in North America are among the oldest and most provocative—from the Dish With One Spoon Treaty between Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples to the Mni Wiconi (“Water Is Life”) movement of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. As a Potawatomi environmental justice advocate, I often get asked by other environmentalists in the U.S. to share my views on what they can do to be good allies to Indigenous peoples. Those who ask usually identify themselves as being non-Indigenous, white, and privileged. They are U.S. settlers: people who have privileges that arise from the historic and ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples.

Whether one participates in settler colonialism is not entirely a matter of when or how one’s ancestors came to the U.S. Having settler privilege means that some combination of one’s economic security, U.S. citizenship, sense of relationship to the land, mental and physical health, cultural integrity, family values, career aspirations, and spiritual lives are not possible—literally!—without the territorial dispossession of Indigenous peoples.

How then can settler allies move beyond being sympathetic beneficiaries of colonialism? What approach is legitimately decolonizing?

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Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization

Via The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC

We are pleased to announce the publication of Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization; inspired by a 2016 speaking tour  by Arthur Manuel, less than a year before his untimely passing in January 2017. The book contains two essays from Manuel, described as the Nelson Mandela of Canada, and essays from renowned Indigenous writers Taiaiake Alfred, Glen Coulthard, Russell Diabo, Beverly Jacobs, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Kanahus Manuel, Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour, Pamela Palmater, Shiri Pasternak, Nicole Schabus, Senator Murray Sinclair, and Sharon Venne. FPSE is honoured to support this publication.

Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization will be available free to the public as an e-book Thursday March 15, 2018, at 7pm PST.  Authors will be speaking at a series of events throughout BC following the book’s release.

Attachments:

 

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Cracks in the Wall of Capitalism: The Zapatistas and the Struggle to Decolonize Science

Zapatista women taking notes at ConCiencias. Photo credit: David Meek
Zapatista women taking notes at ConCiencias. Photo credit: David Meek

By , Toward Freedom

Below images of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, and a many-headed hydra consuming humanity, sit two groups. To the right, facing a stage, are approximately 200 delegates of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), seated as a homogenous block. Wearing black ski masks, they furiously take notes. To the left, 300 scientists and observers from throughout the world are seated.

With a tiny pink ribbon pinned to her mask, Julía, a Zapatista delegate from Oventic, Chiapas, takes the microphone: “The rivers are drying up. We know that the people before had a way of planting their crops, but now it doesn’t rain like it’s expected to. Now, there are epidemics that weren’t common before, like cancer and diabetes…”

Julía is unequivocal about the linkages between science and capitalism in perpetuating this crisis. “Medicines just create dependence on the pharmaceutical industry,” she tells us. But Julía is also clear that science can function as a tool of resistance, if reimagined from the grassroots: “Brother and sister scientists, we ask you, according to your studies: why does all this happen? And who is responsible? We have come to hear you and bring this knowledge to the peoples, to our peoples.”

Over four days, from December 27th-30th 2017, the second iteration of ConCiencias, a conference creating dialogue between the Zapatista’s and leading left-wing scientists from throughout the world, took place at CIDECI—Universidad de la Tierra, located on the outskirts of San Cristobal de Las Casas—a city in Chiapas which has long been associated with the Zapatista’s struggle. Although it might seem tangential, the struggle to decolonize knowledge is part and parcel of the Zapatista’s broader project of resisting indigenous genocide, neoliberal capitalism, and political repression.

Click here to read the full article from Toward Freedom

Women’s Liberation Delegation to Chiapas

“Revolutionary struggles cannot achieve collective liberation for all people without addressing patriarchy, nor can women’s freedom be disentangled from racial, economic, & social justice.” -Victoria Law

By Corine Fairbanks, American Indian Movement Southeastern Ohio

The Zapatista women will host the First International Gathering of Politics, Art, Sport, and Culture for Women in Struggle in Chiapas, Mexico from March 7-11, 2018. A delegation of women from all walks of life, racial, social-economic, and cultural backgrounds strongly feel that we could learn much from our Zapatista sisters. Their indigenous perspectives and willingness to decolonize and reshape the political landscape into something that works for all people speaks to us as we look at the challenges we face in the US and Canada.

Here is an updated notice that the women of the Zapatista Movement put out.

The desire to go to this gathering and to form this delegation came after much discussion regarding women’s liberation and women voices after the January 20th, 2018 Cincinnati Women’s March. The national theme and platform for Women’s Marches across the United States was “Hear Our Vote”. Many of us were disappointed with this because we felt that it marginalized women that could not vote, or chose not to participate in voting. In response, Black Lives Matter Cincinnati (not affiliated with National BLM) organized an open forum discussion about how to effectively fight for women’s liberation. The dialogue about women’s liberation, was to be approached from several different angles, ideas, and points of view, and addressing the problems of believing that voting is the greatest and most important power as oppressed and exploited people.

There were many subjects touched on, and not everyone in the audience was comfortable with it, yet the forum was a huge success with almost 300 people in attendance, many of whom were standing. Featured panelists included were from Black Lives Matter Cincinnati, American Indian Movement of Southeastern Ohio, Concerned Citizens for Justice, Cincinnati Revolutionary Students, and Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Metro Cincinnati. Video footage of this panel can be found at Black Lives Matter Cincinnati Facebook group page; The final thoughts concluded that there needs to be more discussion on Women’s liberation, community empowerment, and teaching our young and old people to learn how to organize around these issues.

Then in the first part of January, a few of us within the radical justice community in Cincinnati, saw a call out for the Women’s gathering by the Zapatista Women. Knowing what we know about the Zapatista Army, women play an equal role in leading armed resistance and use the “Revolutionary Law of Women”. This document gives an overview of the combination of social and political struggles that the Zapatista women identified as needing to change. Some of these factors included; Poverty, Rape, Domestic Violence, Access to Health care, Medicine and Treatment, Alcoholism, issues of sovereignty over bodies and land, and to be treated fairly and with equal political voice at home, in the community, and in the Zapatista Army.

The women I spoke with about going to this gathering in Chiapas, agreed that our work in our own communities largely encompasses the same issues with that of the Zapatista women. An Anishinaabe Elder that lives in a rural area of Canada commented that these are the same issues she deals with in working with Residential Boarding School survivors. A Dineh young woman living in Los Angeles, working as a Social Worker for Los Angeles County, said the same thing. As the delegation started quickly forming, it became obvious that in order to continue discussion on women’s liberation, we had to also go to this gathering to get some more “tools” and bring them back to share with our communities to analyze and have critical discussion.

This delegation is led by Native women. We are fundraising for 12 women to attend this gathering in March, Some Native, some not. Some of the Elders and Native women identify with “Indigenous feminism”, some do not. Some of the non-Native women identify as feminists. Yet all of us are working in our communities to better it; to keep our air clean, our waters protected, our lands from being raped by fuel extractions, and collaborating with various grassroots radical and revolutionary organizations on rural and urban landscapes with all of this and with social justice issues too. As activists and organizers, we are women, and we too are fighting to destroy patriarchal systems and structures- even within our own movements and within our Nations/Tribal structures. We believe that what we can learn from the experiences of the Zapatista women can be applied to our everyday struggles and within the current movements in our communities. In addition, we will be having fundraisers with a table set up to encourage attendees to write messages that they want us to take and share with the Zapatista people. We are not just limiting it to fundraising events to gather these messages, but also, we have made this request and offer on social media.

“We women attending the gathering would like to bring our Zapatista Relatives offerings from our homes. If you have any words of solidarity you would like us to share with our Zapatista sisters, please let us know. Upon our return, we hope to have community meetings and discussions to share what we have learned & our Zapatista Relatives responses to your messages as a way to provide a connection to them through us. “

If you are reading this before March 7th, and would like us to include your message, please send me an email at corine68@yahoo.com to be included in our presentation in Chiapas.

This conference is fast approaching and we are making a call out for help. We have fundraisers planned throughout the month of February to meet our goal of $8,000 for travel expenses. Please invest in our communities. Invest in us. Our Delegation is small but our women are from various areas of the US and Canada: represented:

American Indian Movement
Big Mountain Dineh Nation
Black Lives Matter Cincinnati
Biindigen Healing & Arts
Feminactivist
Idle No More Canada
Idle No More Detroit
Women of All Red Nations (WARN)
Water Protectors North/South Dakota

Any dollar amount that you can spare to help us reach this goal would be appreciated. Any effort to spread this message far and wide is greatly appreciated. Here is a link to our go fund me request.

Perhaps this endeavor of getting 12 women to Chiapas for this gathering is a bit ambitious. Perhaps the main purpose is to also role model to other communities that it takes a spark from an idea, and collectively working together, we can make it happen. Either way, we were not going to be intimidated by costs or pessimism to achieve this goal. Our Native Elders have taken this to ceremony and prayer and we feel that the women that are meant to go on this trip, will go. We believe that the 2 most important components to this mission is to first show solidarity because our Struggles are similar. Secondly, to bring back what we learn from our Zapatista Sisters, and share with our families and communities.

As diverse as this delegation is, we all agree that when women are free, communities are empowered, and everyone is free.

WOPILA TANKA /MIIGWECH/ AHEHEE’ / ANUSHIIK / GRACIAS/ THANK YOU

Yours in Solidarity

Corine Fairbanks, Oglala Lakota
American Indian Movement Southeastern Ohio

Settler colonialism and white settler responsibility in the Karuk, Konomihu, Shasta, and New River Shasta Homelands: a white unsettling manifesto

By Laura S. Hurwitz, from the Digital Commons @ Humboldt State University

Contributing to recent research into settler colonialism, this paper takes an on the ground look at how this system manifests today. This research turns its lens on the white settler, unmasks settler myths of innocence and contributes to an understanding of how whiteness and white supremacism shape settler colonialism in what is now called the United Sates. This is a placed based study, focusing on the Klamath and Salmon Rivers. Consequences and complexities of the “back to the land” movement are looked at, and the question of “back-to-whose-land?” is asked? A convivial research approach, which is a back and forth interplay of analysis and action, has been utilized for this project. Also examined are efforts by settlers to engage with unsettling, both as individuals and through a collective settler effort at organizing, under the name “Unsettling Klamath River.” Unsettling can be described as the work of white settlers within the broader movement to decolonize, that is led by Indigenous People. Some false narratives have begun to shift and yet, this population of white settlers remains largely in a state of paralysis due to; a fragile settler identity, a reliance on a false entitlement and a debilitating fear of what will happen if truth-telling occurs. Building upon lessons learned, this paper concludes by offering ways that white settlers can begin to chip away at oppressive structures and move forward out of a state of complicity into a sense of responsibility, that is long overdue.

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Are White People Indigenous?

By Pegi Eyers, Stone Circle Press

The colonial history of the places we call home, and current political realities shape how we use the language of “nativization” and “re-indigenization” to describe our process of re-bonding with the land.  This blog addresses the current (and unresolved) controversy on the use of these terms, and describes the boundaries that are in place to ensure that as Settler-Allies we continue to support the First Nations of Turtle Island in their ongoing cultural and spiritual recoveries.

To talk about the ambiguities we encounter in our re-indigenization process as white folks, let’s start off by asking – who is indigenous?  And how do we define indigeneity?   

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(Originally published 10/7/2016)