Tag Archives: decolonization

Six Critical Actions for Healing

From Awakening The Horse People:

As settlers on stolen lands, how do we navigate the complicated path of helping to heal the destruction and pain caused by our people’s colonization of other’s lands like Turtle Island, while also doing what is necessary to heal the source of this colonization which is our own broken relationships of culture with our ancestral places, peoples, and lifeways?

The following list provides six critical actions for walking this complicated path. Three of these actions are centered on aiding the decolonization of Turtle Island and other lands by their Indigenous peoples.  Three other actions are focused on creating real and meaningful connection and healing with our own ancestral peoples and places.

Three Settler Actions to Support Indigenous Decolonization

1)   Return Indigenous lands, access, and resources back to Indigenous peoples so that Indigenous lifeway can be lived through real independence, and allowing for Indigenous peoples to heal themselves using their own cultural understandings. Land and resources should be returned to traditional, language speaking peoples if they are available – not those complicit with colonial governments or their tribal surrogates (like U.S. BIA Tribal Governments).

2)   Transform settler positioning: through

a)   Return or immigrate back to one’s ancestral homeplace/s; or,

b)   Develop long-term, trust building relationships with Indigenous peoples.  Based on these relationships, following Indigenous direction including submitting to, and defending, Indigenous jurisdiction and strategically leaving colonial citizenship and jurisdiction.
It should be noted b) applies to all non-Native people, not just people of european heritage.

3)   Leave Indigenous people alone – and strategically defend their right to be left alone.

Three Settler Actions for Our Own Cultural Recovery

1)   Go home. Establish authentic relationships with Life in natural places in your home. Relationships with Life are based in Indigenous language, so….

2)   Learn your ancestral language.  Indigenous language is the primary transformer of consciousness from euro-centric thought and philosophy to Indigenous thought and philosophy. This step cannot be ignored, evaded, or explained away. Learn your language!

3)   Re-unite or re-join your people. ‪We must transform the consciousness of colonial “I” to the Indigenous “We” by reuniting or rejoining our people/s in europe.  Authentic decolonization and cultural recovery cannot occur within the colonial egotism of “I”.  It just doesn’t work that way. This is different than being the sole survivor of a people and working to grow one’s people again.

In the author’s experiences involving both the decolonization of Turtle Island and the cultural recovery for people of euro-heritage, multiple actions from both lists occur simultaneously and strengthen each other.  Other people of european heritage share the same experience – the building of authentic relationships with Indigenous people in resistance provides important experiential growth and motivation to recovering one’s own cultural identity.

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(De)Constructing Knowledge: Decolonization is not a metaphor

We Are Theorists highlights that marginalized people are experts in their own experience. Theory creates frameworks used to examine and explain social phenomena. Theory does not need to be inaccessible and use heavy academic jargon. It does not need to have been created by aging white male scholars to be legitimate knowledge production. Indeed, the lived experiences and reflections of marginalized people on their own oppression and worlds is theory in and of itself. If you would like to contribute a piece to We Are Theorists, please email poconlineclassroom@gmail.com.

By Abaki Beck, POC Online Classroom

In order to further engage with the resources, the second Tuesday each month we’ll “deconstruct” one of the texts featured on POC Online Classroom. This month, we’re looking at Decolonization is not a metaphor by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang.

Wait! Before we start, let’s quickly define “settler-colonialism,” since it is used frequently in this article. Unlike other forms of colonialism, settler-colonialism is when colonists come not only to exploit resources and people, but to stay and “create” a new nation. This makes decolonial practices in the United States and other settler-colonial nations unique, because the colonists will never leave and there will be no “post-colonial” United States. Patrick Wolfe, a well known settler-colonial theorist, argues that settler-colonialism is not a historic “event” (as we typically think of colonialism), but is instead a structure. Its violences permeate every aspect of American culture and politics.

To summarize the text in thirteen words: Land was taken, so decolonization does not occur until that land is returned. But what does it mean to do the work of decolonization? Does it mean centering indigenous knowledge or ways of being? How can land be “given back” in a settler-colonial nation, in which the settlers aren’t going anywhere? In this piece,Tuck and Yang address an issue that they see within discussions of decolonization: that it is often relegated to the metaphorical realm, enabling settlers to “move to innocence”.

For Tuck and Yang, decolonization is not just about privileging indigenous ideologies (see “decolonize our schools” and other expressions), it is quite literally about returning land and restoring indigenous relationships to that land. As they say, “critical consciousness does not translate into action that disrupts settler colonialism” (19). That is, even if an indigenous person is empowered, they are still in a “subordinate” position in a settler-society. More must be done than simply ensuring that indigenous people are “equal” within a society that thrives economically off of land stolen from them. This does not mean returning to “how things were” or attempting to rewrite history, but giving indigenous people agency and control over their homelands. Of course, many may argue that in a place like the United States this is not possible or even necessarily desirable. The authors emphasize that decolonization must be uncomfortable and indeed “unsettling.”

However, both white people and people of color can make “moves to innocence” that decenter indigenous peoples in these struggles and erase them in settler society, making decolonization even more difficult to attain. For white settlers, this often takes the form of “becoming” native (lowercase n). For example, it is a well known phenomena for settlers to claim indigenous heritage even if they do not have a familial or community connection (please see white people who are descended from “Cherokee royalty”). In addition, white people being adopted by/into Native American tribes is a common trope in U.S. literary history (please see Dances with Wolves or the Last of the Mohicans). Both of these work to erase actual indigenous people, instead replacing them with settlers who are somehow more “deserving” of being native than Natives are. This wanting to become and replace the Native is a very different racial construction in the U.S. than blackness. Because historically black people were property in the U.S., the authors argue that blackness is expansive, which brought about the historical “one drop rule.” Indigenous people in settler societies, however, are not “valuable” in the same way – in fact, they are a barrier to settlers access to land and thus must disappear.The erasure of indigenous people was/is both physical (through warfare, allotment, boarding schools, and other policies) and social (through adoption fantasies, settlers claiming Native heritage, etc.).

Because of these distinct racial formations, struggles for black versus indigenous racial justice movements cannot and should not be collapsed, or the specific marginalization of each community may be overlooked. The authors note that this often occurs in social justice settings, in which decolonization is placed under the umbrella of social justice or racial justice, even if the unique marginalization of indigenous people is not specifically addressed. This allows racial justice activists to “move to innocence;” to claim inclusivity even while they refuse to address their own privilege as settlers. Similarly, non-indigenous people of color can be complicit in settler-colonial structures of power. The authors note that people of color often express the need to “decolonize their minds,” even if they are not indigenous people. Tuck and Yang call this “colonial equivocation.” Colonial equivocation enables people of color to remove themselves from the position of settler, a position of power and dominance in U.S. society. As the authors note, “for many people of color, becoming a subordinate settler is an option even when becoming white is not” (18). They argue that diluting the word “colonization” by using it as a replacement for any kind of racial oppression works to further erase indigenous people.

As this text expresses, there is a lot of work to be done to decolonize the U.S. Though this piece is an obviously “academic” text, to me it is just as much about theory as it is about how to be an ally in decolonial struggles. It would be remiss of me not to mention that I did not agree with everything I read in the article. Even as an indigenous person who thinks myself to be very liberal, some points made by the authors made me slightly uncomfortable and seemed too “extreme” (I will not elaborate to allow readers to form their own opinions). However, I want to sit in this discomfort. This work will be challenging for indigenous people as much as it is for settlers and non-indigenous people of color. Because indigenous peoples and histories are so often left out and erased from school curriculum, policies, and other measurements of “existence” in U.S. society, work to decolonize and bring justice for indigenous peoples must be proactive, and in many ways, confrontational. By addressing some of the “moves to innocence” that Tuck and Yang discuss, decolonization becomes less daunting. When our society begins to recognize the worth, rights, and power of indigenous people, granting them the ability to control their lands and destiny becomes a more accessible idea, and perhaps even realistic.

Land Education

Kate McCoy is Associate Professor of Educational Foundations and affiliated faculty of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at SUNY New Paltz, NY, USA. Her scholarship focuses on qualitative research methods and representation, cultural studies of addiction and drug use, and historical and contemporary uses of drug-crop agriculture in colonial processes.  Eve Tuck is Associate Professor at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada. Her scholarship focuses on the ethics of social science research and educational research, Indigenous social and political thought, decolonizing research methodologies and theories of change, and the consequences of neoliberal accountability policies on school completion.  Marcia McKenzie is Associate Professor of Educational Foundations and Director of the Sustainability Education Research Institute at University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Her scholarship focuses on the intersections of environment and education, educational policy and practice, youth identity and place, and the politics of social science research.Rethinking Pedagogies of Place from Indigenous, Postcolonial, and Decolonizing Perspectives

Edited by Kate McCoy, Eve Tuck, Marcia McKenzie

© 2016 – Routledge

This important book on Land Education offers critical analysis of the paths forward for education on Indigenous land. This analysis discusses the necessity of centring historical and current contexts of colonization in education on and in relation to land. In addition, contributors explore the intersections of environmentalism and Indigenous rights, in part inspired by the realisation that the specifics of geography and community matter for how environmental education can be engaged.

This edited volume suggests how place-based pedagogies can respond to issues of colonialism and Indigenous sovereignty. Through dynamic new empirical and conceptual studies, international contributors examine settler colonialism, Indigenous cosmologies, Indigenous land rights, and language as key aspects of Land Education. The book invites readers to rethink ‘pedagogies of place’ from various Indigenous, postcolonial, and decolonizing perspectives. This book was originally published as a special issue of Environmental Education Research.

Learning from the land: Indigenous land based pedagogy and decolonization

Vol 3, No 3 (2014) Table of ContentsBy Matthew Wildcat, Mandee McDonald, Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Glen Coulthard, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society, Vol 3, No 3 (2014)

This paper introduces the special issue of Decolonization on land-based education. We begin with the premise that, if colonization is fundamentally about dispossessing Indigenous peoples from land, decolonization must involve forms of education that reconnect Indigenous peoples to land and the social relations, knowledges and languages that arise from the land. An important aspect of each article is then highlighted, as we explore the complexities and nuances of Indigenous land-based education in different contexts, places and methods. We close with some reflections on issues that we believe deserve further attention and research in regards to land-based education, including gender, spirituality, intersectional decolonization approaches, and sources of funding for land-based education initiatives.

Full Text: PDF

Refugees and Dissidents in an Invasion of Farce

liberation no deportation!

By Matt Hanson

Abstract: International refugees and dissidents share a common fate in relation to the United States, particularly with respect to their precarious recognition by the officialdoms of U.S. Immigration at the border. The history of border imperialism in the 20th century is important to understand as a prelude to the current strife facing American border security today. As the nation grapples with the humanitarian politics necessary to processing tens of thousands of child migrants from Central America, the policy debate is rooted in a cultural history. In response, the ultra-conservative “invasion” rhetoric is revealing. It is important to examine the defining features of a nation-state with respect to the transnational characteristics of social exchange. Economic inequality, and partisan politics set American society apart from within, and without. The cultural history of international dissidents censured by U.S. Immigration is significant, opening a context for understanding the narrative of child migrants through news analysis, and literary research. With respect to Indigenous Peoples, and decolonization, the historic crises of U.S. Immigration are held under special scrutiny. The fundamental humanitarian assumptions of border protection, and the mythos of America as an immigrant nation of multicultural syncretism are herein questioned, and critiqued.

Introduction

In North America, and elsewhere around the world, for example in Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy, there is a growing antipathy for migrants. The United States and Canada are not alone in the increasing volume of political distaste for migrants. In the United States in particular, there is an inherent contradiction within this debate, and this crisis of asylum, as concerns the identification of migrants as invaders.

With unabated trends favoring economic globalization, such as the overshadowing precedence of international free trade agreements, wealthy nations have a greater responsibility to receive economic migrants, and equally, forced migrants fleeing life-threatening persecution. To deny this responsibility is to reject the foundations of humanity, and to delegitimize the standard of national boundaries as security zones. Instead, national boundaries fulfill their original purpose, militarized demarcations, where the history of an invasion has simply taken another form.

In other words, the misperception of migrants as invaders exposes the fundamental myth of the modern nation state as a cultural, social, political, or economic distinction. As is most apparent outside of North America and Europe, however within as well, cultural, social, political and economic phenomena observably transcend state boundaries, merging in varying forms transnationally. Similarly, all people, as such, are a part of the transnational social capital that exists in every nation individually, and collectively throughout the globe. The inequalities of the global marketplace are manifest in the story of the modern immigrant.

Immigrant is a very different term than migrant. With its special legal, political, social and cultural ramifications, immigration is a process whereby a foreigner resides permanently in a country other than that of their origin. Immigration also connotes official identification, as recognized by the country wherein one is immigrating. Whereas migration is a primordial concept, immigration entails the officialdoms of international law, and domestic policy.

Anti-immigration is the result of geopolitical insecurity, while deeply rooted in forms of racism steeped in multigenerational, and colonialist inequality. The prevailing myth of nationalism, as a harbinger of progressive social values conceived during the European Enlightenment, purveys concepts as elusive as freedom. In modern Greece, and in the European Parliament today there are openly anti-Semitic officials who hold seats of government, and who won those seats based on an anti-immigrant platform (Cossé, 2014).[i] Unfortunately, in this extreme case, anti-immigrant policies are aligned within an unfounded, racist political paradigm. In the United States, the racism inherent in anti-immigration rhetoric is no less apparent.

Currently, tens of thousands of unaccompanied child migrants are arriving to the United States. They are largely detained, registered as criminals within the overburdened border protection zone along the U.S.-Mexico border, and deported. The trials wherein these children are sentenced to be deported are often pitiful displays of justice, held in a language that the child largely does not understand, and through mostly unintelligible proceedings. While the children are evidently running to border guards after surviving the harsh, overland trip from Central America, they are pegged as invaders. Politicians, such as Texas Governor, and hopeful presidential candidate Rick Perry said, of the child migrants, “I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault” (Prupis, 2014).[ii] Curiously, Perry was indicted for abuse of power on August 15th, and now faces potential jail time following charges related to blocking funding for a government anti-corruption agency (Achisa, 2014).[iii]

Meanwhile, more moderate politicians, only Democrats at present, are expressing compassion by standing together on the House floor (Lee, 2014).[iv] Not surprisingly, however, their sentiments also source religious conviction. For example, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick emotionally referred to his Christian faith at the Sheltering of Unaccompanied Children Press Conference, held on July 18th, while standing at his gubernatorial podium with two clergymen. “My faith teaches that if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him but rather love him as yourself,” said Patrick (Brownell, 2014).[v]

Despite acting on good faith, such a strong political and religious backing merely perpetuates the historic relationship between marginalized, stateless and illegal migrants. Internally displaced Native American communities have forcibly migrated, not only geographically, but also between federal regulation and socioeconomic ostracism. Similarly, Latin American migrant children are the subjects of political, and religious leadership, while politicians and religionists have been among the most exploitative, and misguided with regard to saving vulnerable peoples. Outside of the political arena, religious people nationwide are standing as a purported moral compass for the nation’s overt politicization of the basic humanitarian crisis of child migrants (Paulson, 2014).[vi]

The combination of religious zeal, and overt militarization clearly resembles the colonial legacy of an invasion history that is much better documented, that of the European in the lands of Indigenous Peoples, now commonly referred to as the United States, Mexico, Central America and beyond. From 1914 to 1917, the U.S. historically invaded Mexico on two accounts. At the time, Woodrow Wilson expressly backed the first invasion due to domestic pressures from business, politics and the press (Veterans Museum & Memorial Center, 2003-2007).[vii] Now, representatives of the rightwing press advocate for a new invasion into Mexico, in response to the purported aggressions of the Mexican Army, as well as other armed forces along the border, which have allegedly resulted in the shooting of a Tucson man, multiple violent confrontations with U.S. Border Patrol personnel, and the occupation of a small Texas town (Agni, 2014).[viii]

Power politics, as well as propaganda-style journalism, as with belligerent profiteering, merely exposes the ugly continuance of colonialist exploitation at the expense of migrants. Across the globe, migrants are exploited, often to advance racism, militarism, or politics in the name of extremist nationalism. Migrants are exploited because they are often the most vulnerable to the economic abuses that dominant societies depend on to expand. The migrant is not an invader, and has never been. The migrant simply embodies the human will to live. The institutions of immigration, namely border control, and the geographical, political, social, and economic demarcations that are founded on the ongoing histories of conflict, are the bastions of imperialism.

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Sage Against the Machine: Being Truth to Power

Hwy401 Blockade

By , Indigenous Nationhood Movement

In the wake of two horrific world wars, American Quakers coined the phrase “speak truth to power” as part of a campaign for peace. The truth they wished to voice to the American public, its leaders, and to power itself was a familiar one: “love endures and overcomes.” Speaking truth to power stood in contrast to the silence of cold obedience as exemplified by the professional soldier. Here, the Quakers follow a long-standing tradition in western political thought of identifying speech with agency and disobedience.

This view of politics extends back to the ancient Greeks and reflects the guiding intuition behind contemporary democratic institutions. Throughout that long history, the disruptive potential of speech has been a mainstay of emancipatory movements, struggles for the full inclusion of the marginalized, and the fight for basic equalities that have been historically denied. Dominant communities have accordingly sought to protect their privilege by limiting the ‘voice’ of groups who seek to speak their truths.

But a very different strategy of power is deployed when contending with groups who seek collective autonomy as opposed to equality and inclusion. In the past half-century, settler colonial society has come to realize that excluding Indigenous peoples and their perspectives from public discourse has not stopped them from speaking to one another or from strengthening their nations. These nations are, of course, rooted in the very lands over which dominant society unilaterally asserts its claim of sovereignty. Formal exclusion has proven a limited strategy. And so Indigenous nationhood movements have inspired a distinctive and seemingly counter-intuitive response from dominant society: an invitation (sometimes even a demand) that Indigenous peoples speak truth to power.

Why would colonial institutions accommodate and in some cases encourage the voices of Indigenous peoples? Because at its core, what settler society fears more than the disruptive potential of Indigenous speech is the inevitability that Indigenous peoples, once released from an imposed duty to justify themselves to the colonizer, will turn that massive investment of energy back into being truth to power. Being truth to power is reflected in those embodied practices of love for community and for the land, diverse practices that undermine the homogenizing violence that sustains colonial privilege. Accordingly, colonial power increasingly works through sites of dialogue designed to sap the vitality from these embodied practices of autonomy. The goal is to lift Indigenous peoples out of communities and off the land and drop them into a permanent state of explanation, a limbo wherein they are compelled to talk endlessly to settlers about community and about land.

When Indigenous peoples are not engaged in being truth to power, then, it is often because they have been induced to explain and justify themselves to a colonial audience. They have been tireless and resilient at the podium, these elders, activists, advocates, academics, lawyers, artists, teachers, and children. They have tapped every shared register and common understanding available in the hopes that genuine reciprocity might drip, however slowly, into the rusted tin can of colonial institutions. They have argued for nationhood through the abstract lens of high philosophy, through the concrete immediacy of violence against women, and from every location in between. They have deployed the arcane legal language that colonial courts revere as authoritative and they have attempted to transpose Indigenous perspectives into every idiom that the general public might understand. They have been repeating the message at every opportunity and in every institution be it the media, grade schools, universities, courts, legislatures, international governance bodies, conferences, committees, commissions, corporate boardrooms and negotiating tables.

Indigenous peoples are prompted to reach across the colonial abyss by the urgency and immediacy of threats to health and well-being. Despite the fact that these efforts have led to some important gains, from the perspective of settler colonial power there are advantages to promoting still more dialogue. For one, such exchanges are an important method of maintaining surveillance and control. As mentioned, they also sap and divert vital energy. But there is another, less obvious reason why settlers champion more robust discourse: Indigenous ‘voice’ is the primary source of narcissistic settler redemption.

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What Does the Land Mean to Us?

Wet'suwet'en Nation

A Warrior is the one who can use words so that everyone knows they are part of the same family. A Warrior says what is in the people’s hearts, talks about what the land means to them, brings them together to fight for it.

– Bighorse, Diné

By , Indigenous Nationhood Movement

If the goals of decolonization are justice and peace, as is often stated by governments and people in Native politics, then the process to achieve these goals must reflect a basic covenant on the part of both Onkwehonwe and Settlers to honour each others’ existences. This honouring cannot happen when one partner in the relationship is asked to sacrifice their heritage and identity in exchange for peace. This is why the only possibility of a just relationship between Onkwehonwe and the Settler society is the conception of a nation-to-nation partnership between peoples, the kind of relationship reflected in the original treaties of peace and friendship consecrated between indigenous peoples and the newcomers when white people first started arriving in our territories.

Settlers rebuke attempts to reason logically through the problem in this way. Mainstream arguments about restitution (paying for crimes and giving back land) and reconciliation (creating peace) always end up becoming conservative defences of obvious injustices against even the most principled and fair arguments for restitution. Tolerating crimes encourages criminality. But the present Settler argument presumes that since the injustices are historical and the passage of time has certainly led to changed circumstances for both the alleged perpetrators and for the victims, the crime has been erased and there is no obligation to pay for it. This is the sophisticated version of the common Settler sentiment: “The Indians may have had a rough go of it, but it’s not my fault: I wasn’t around 100 years ago” or, “I bought my ranch from the government, fair and square!”

But this idea, so commonly held by white people, is wrong; it assumes that the passage of time leads to changes in circumstance. This is fundamentally untrue, especially when made in relation to Onkwehonwe, Settler societies, and what has happened between us. Between the beginning of this century and the beginning of the last, people’s clothes may have changed, their names may be different, but the games they play are the same. Without a real change in the realities of our relationship, there is no way we can consider the wrongs that have been done as historical. The crime of colonialism is ongoing today, and its perpetrators are present among us.

Where are we on these questions now, as Onkwehonwe? When our demands are put forward to the Settler governments accurately — not co-opted or softened by aboriginal collaborators with white power, Onkwehonwe all over the Americas have three main demands:

1.     governance over a defined territory;
2.    control of resources within that territory, with the expectation of sharing the proceeds of development with the state; and
3.    the legal and political recognition of Onkwehonwe cultural beliefs and ways in that territory.

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For Our Nations to Live, Capitalism Must Die

SWN-Decol

By , Voices Rising (Indigenous Nationhood Movement)

There is a significant and to my mind problematic limitation that is increasingly being placed on Indigenous efforts to defend our rights and our lands. This constraint involves the type of tactics that are being represented as morally legitimate in our efforts to defend our land and rights as Indigenous peoples on the one hand, and those which are viewed at as morally illegitimate because of their disruptive and extra-legal character on the other.

With respect to those approaches deemed “legitimate” in defending our rights, emphasis is often placed on formal “negotiations” – usually carried out between “official” Aboriginal leadership (usually men) and representatives of the Crown (also usually men) – and if need be coupled with largely symbolic acts of peaceful, non-disruptive protest that must abide by Canada’s “rule of law.”

Then there are those approaches increasingly deemed “illegitimate.” These include but are not limited to forms of protest and direct action that seek to influence power through less mediated and sometimes more disruptive measures, like the slowing of traffic for the purpose of leafleting and solidarity-building, temporarily blocking access to Indigenous territories with the aim of impeding the exploitation of First Nations’ land and resources, or in rarer cases still, the re-occupation of a portion of Indigenous land (rural or urban) through the establishment of reclamation sites that also serve to disrupt, if not entirely block, access to Indigenous territories by state and capital for prolonged periods of time.

Regardless of their diversity and specificity, however, most of these activities tend to get branded in the media in a wholly negative manner: as reactionary, threatening, and disruptive.

Blockades and beyond

What the recent actions of the Mi’kmaq land and water defenders at Elsipogtog demonstrate is that direct actions in the form of Indigenous blockades are both a negation and an affirmation. They are a crucial act of negation insofar as they seek to impede or block the flow of resources currently being transported from oil and gas fields, refineries, lumber mills, mining operations, and hydro-electric facilities located on the dispossessed lands of Indigenous nations to international markets. These forms of direct action, in other words, seek to negatively impact the economic infrastructure that is core to the colonial accumulation of capital in settler political economies like Canada’s. Blocking access to this critical infrastructure has historically been quite effective in forging short-term gains for Indigenous communities. Over the last couple of decades, however, state and corporate powers have also become quite skilled at recuperating the losses incurred as a result of Indigenous peoples’ resistance by drawing our leaders off the land and into negotiations where the terms are always set by and in the interests of settler capital.

What tends to get ignored by many self-styled pundits is that these actions are also an affirmative gesture of Indigenous resurgence insofar as they embody an enactment of Indigenous law and the obligations such laws place on Indigenous peoples to uphold the relations of reciprocity that shape our engagements with the human and non-human world – the land. The question I want to explore here, albeit very briefly, is this: how might we begin to scale-up these often localized, resurgent land-based direct actions to produce a transformation in the colonial economy more generally? Said slightly differently, how might we move beyond a resurgent Indigenous politics that seeks to inhibit the destructive effects of capital to one that strives to create Indigenous alternatives to it?

Rebuilding our nations

In her recent interview with Naomi Klein, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson hints at what such an alternative or alternatives might entail for Indigenous nations. “People within the Idle No More movement who are talking about Indigenous nationhood are talking about a massive transformation, a massive decolonization”; they are calling for a “resurgence of Indigenous political thought” that is “land-based and very much tied to that intimate and close relationship to the land, which to me means a revitalization of sustainable local Indigenous economies.”

Without such a massive transformation in the political economy of contemporary settler-colonialism, any efforts to rebuild our nations will remain parasitic on capitalism, and thus on the perpetual exploitation of our lands and labour. Consider, for example, an approach to resurgence that would see Indigenous people begin to reconnect with their lands and land-based practices on either an individual or small-scale collective basis. This could take the form of “walking the land” in an effort to re-familiarize ourselves with the landscapes and places that give our histories, languages, and cultures shape and content; to revitalizing and engaging in land-based harvesting practices like hunting, fishing, and gathering, and/or cultural production activities like hide-tanning and carving, all of which also serve to assert our sovereign presence on our territories in ways that can be profoundly educational and empowering; to the re-occupation of sacred places for the purposes of relearning and practicing our ceremonial activities.

Although all of these place-based practices are crucial to our well-being and offer profound insights into life-ways that provide frameworks for thinking about alternatives to an economy predicated on the perpetual exploitation of the human and non-human world, at the micro-political level that these practices tend to operate they still require that we have access to a mode of subsistence detached from the practices themselves. In other words, they require that we have access to a very specific form of work – which, in our present economy depends on the expropriation of our labour and the theft of our time for the profit of others – in order to generate the cash required to spend this regenerative time on the land.

A similar problem informs self-determination efforts that seek to ameliorate our poverty and economic dependency through resource revenue sharing, more comprehensive impact benefit agreements, and affirmative action employment strategies negotiated through the state and with industries tearing-up Indigenous territories. Even though the capital generated by such an approach could, in theory, be spent subsidizing the revitalization of certain cultural traditions and practices, in the end they would still remain dependent on a predatory economy that is entirely at odds with the deep reciprocity that forms the cultural core of many Indigenous peoples’ relationships with land.

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Transformative Decolonization

Vi An's webpage - check it out!Immigrant Perspectives on Gendered Worldviews and Indigenous Art

By Vi An Diep and Matt Hanson

“How do you mobilize people who fear change, who fear shifting the status quo, and how do you suggest to them that as a minority they can win?”

—Dr. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies

Transformative art is rule-breaking art, all the more so when addressing the obsolete norms, values and laws hindering Indigenous rights and Decolonizing Gender. For the purposes herein, Decolonizing Gender is defined as the process of removing of all stigmas placed on gender roles by society, religion, and popular culture. For example, transforming the normative model of gender as a binary (i.e. male and female) is about transcending the concept that all outsider gender identities are freakish. A self-identified gendered person, here defined as a transgender-identified individual, is a person born of one gender, who eventually identifies with the opposite gender.

Decolonizing Gender is also a process that recognizes the ongoing history of colonization in relation to gender, whereby colonization is a defined, foremost, as a process of assimilation. Thereby, Decolonizing Gender recognizes the traumas of assimilation and offers an opportunity to self-educate and overcome through active participation in social justice. Decolonizing Gender affirms human identity as fluid, with regard to individual self-expression.

Indigenous cultures have a legacy recognizing two-spirit, or gendered identities. Settler (un)civilization is marred by an implacable lack of capacity to harmonize socio-economics with ecological sustainability. Nowhere is this dysfunctional relationship more revealing than in inter-social conflicts between dominant hetero-normative and settler cultures with Gendered and Indigenous ways of knowing, being and relating.

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Interview with Amanda Lickers on decolonization and opposition to Line 9

Amanda Lickers is an anarchaqueer Onkwehon:we cis-woman. She belongs to the Turtle Clan of the Onondowaga nation, part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Focusing on combating ecocide, hating the police, and harvesting medicines, Amanda hopes to work towards dismantling all systems of oppression, slashing at their social, cultural and material infrastructures.

This interview focuses on decolonization and opposition to Line 9, including commentary on the Swamp Line 9 blockade, decolonizing resistance and cultural revitalization. Including the importance of growing and harvesting foods and medicines, as well as her focus on learning Kanien’keha – one of the strongest Haudenosaunee languages – as crucial activities for her as an Onkwehon:we, or Indigenous person. Including discussion on dismantling the structures of oppression, ways of engaging with decolonization, the Swamp Line 9 blockade and the growing mobilization against Line 9.

With a selected bibliography on decolonization at the end!