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How To Talk About #NoDAPL: A Native Perspective

Transformative Spaces

October 27, 2016

by Kelly Hayes

Water Protectors gather after a day of prayer and direct action. (Photo: Desiree Kane)

This piece is very personal because, as an Indigenous woman, my analysis is very personal, as is the analysis that my friends on the frontlines have shared with me. We obviously can’t speak for everyone involved, as Native beliefs and perspectives are as diverse as the convictions of any people. But as my friends hold strong on the frontlines of Standing Rock, and I watch, transfixed with both pride and worry, we feel the need to say a few things.

I’ve been in and out of communication with my friends at Standing Rock all day. As you might imagine, as much as they don’t want me to worry, it’s pretty hard for them to stay in touch. I asked if there was anything they wanted me to convey on social media, as most of them are maintaining a very limited presence on such platforms. The following is my best effort to summarize what they had to say, and to chime in with a few corresponding thoughts of my own.

It is crucial that people recognize that Standing Rock is part of an ongoing struggle against colonial violence. #NoDAPL is a front of struggle in a long-erased war against Native peoples — a war that has been active since first contact, and waged without interruption. Our efforts to survive the conditions of this anti-Native society have gone largely unnoticed because white supremacy is the law of the land, and because we, as Native people, have been pushed beyond the limits of public consciousness.

The fact that we are more likely to be killed by law enforcement than any other group speaks to the fact that Native erasure is ubiquitous, both culturally and literally, but pushed from public view. Our struggles intersect with numerous others, but are perpetrated with different motives and intentions. Anti-Black violence, for example, is publicly performed for the sake of social and economic control, whereas the violence against us has always had one pragmatic aim: our total erasure.

The struggle at Standing Rock is an effort to prevent the construction of a deadly, destructive mechanism, created by greed-driven people with no regard for our lives. It has always been this way. We die, and have died, for the sake of expansion and white wealth, and for the maintenance of both.

The harms committed against us have long been relegated to the history books. This erasure has occurred for the sake of both white supremacy and US mythology, such as American exceptionalism. It has also been perpetuated to sustain the comfort of those who benefit from harms committed against us. Our struggles have been kept both out of sight and out of mind — easily forgotten by those who aren’t directly impacted.

It should be clear to everyone that we are not simply here in those rare moments when others bear witness.

To reiterate (what should be obvious): We are not simply here when you see us.

We have always been here, fighting for our lives, surviving colonization, and that reality is rarely acknowledged. Even people who believe in freedom frequently overlook our issues, as well as the intersections of their issues with our own. It matters that more of the world is bearing witness in this historic moment, but we feel the need to point out that the dialogue around #NoDAPL has become extremely climate oriented. Yes, there is an undeniable connectivity between this front of struggle and the larger fight to combat climate change. We fully recognize that all of humanity is at risk of extinction, whether they realize it or not. But intersectionality does not mean focusing exclusively on the intersections of our respective work.

It sometimes means taking a journey well outside the bounds of those intersections.

In discussing #NoDAPL, too few people have started from a place of naming that we have a right to defend our water and our lives, simply because we have a natural right to defend ourselves and our communities. When “climate justice”, in a very broad sense, becomes the center of conversation, our fronts of struggle are often reduced to a staging ground for the messaging of NGOs.

This is happening far too frequently in public discussion of #NoDAPL.

Yes, everyone should be talking about climate change, but you should also be talking about the fact that Native communities deserve to survive, because our lives are worth defending in their own right — not simply because “this affects us all.”

So when you talk about Standing Rock, please begin by acknowledging that this pipeline was redirected from an area where it was most likely to impact white people. And please remind people that our people are struggling to survive the violence of colonization on many fronts, and that people shouldn’t simply engage with or retweet such stories when they see a concrete connection to their own issues — or a jumping off point to discuss their own issues. Our friends, allies and accomplices should be fighting alongside us because they value our humanity and right to live, in addition to whatever else they believe in.

Every Native at Standing Rock — every Native on this continent — has survived the genocide of a hundred million of our people. That means that every Indigenous child born is a victory against colonialism, but we are all born into a fight for our very existence. We need that to be named and centered, which is a courtesy we are rarely afforded.

This message is not a condemnation. It’s an ask.

We are asking that you help ensure that dialogue around this issue begins with and centers a discussion of anti-Native violence and policies, no matter what other connections you might ultimately make, because those discussions simply don’t happen in this country. There obviously aren’t enough people talking about climate change, but there are even fewer people — and let’s be real, far fewer people — discussing the various forms of violence we are up against, and acting in solidarity with us. And while such discussions have always been deserved, we are living in a moment when Native Water Protectors and Water Warriors have more than earned both acknowledgement and solidarity.

So if you have been with us in this fight, we appreciate you, but we are reaching out, right now, in these brave days for our people, and asking that you keep the aforementioned truths front and center as you discuss this effort. This moment is, first and foremost, about Native liberation, self determination and Native survival. That needs to be centered and celebrated.

Thanks,

K and friends


[Author’s note: Some of the language in this piece has been edited for clarity. The piece originally referred to anti-Blackness as “performative,” which was meant to convey that anti-Blackness is publicly performed, for the sake of social control and exploitation, whereas anti-Native violence is committed to completely and quietly erase Native peoples — a very simple, pragmatic approach to a structural oppression.
 I apologize if the words I originally chose did not effectively state what I was attempting to convey.]

Promoting Interracial Discord

Public Good Project

By Jay Taber

 

Lummi Image 12

Photo: Canoe and Bulk Carrier at Cowichan Bay, B.C. © 2008 klahowya.ca

 

For readers who might wonder why I make a big deal of “the appalling disrespect of Pacific International Terminals and BNSF Railroad toward the citizens of Whatcom County and Lummi Nation over the last five years, as well as the reprehensible behavior of Gateway Pacific Terminal spokesman Craig Cole” in my op-ed at Cascadia Weekly (Apr. 13, 2016 issue), the short answer is my twenty years of experience dealing with violent white supremacy instigated by industrial developers, a.k.a. Wise Use terrorism.

While some might think that “the sinister desecration of the sacred Lummi burial ground at Cherry Point in the dark of night” or “the lavish funding of Tea Party-led PACs run by KGMI hate radio hosts” or “the repeated corruption of elections year after year through money-laundering with the Republican Party” or “the intimidation and libeling of journalists that exposed their ongoing nefarious deeds” or “promoting interracial discord and anti-Indian resentment” is no big deal, allow me to explain why I think it is.

As you can read in my comment on a March 12, 2016 news story at Northwest Citizen, Sandra Robson, a former correspondent to Whatcom Watch, was recently named the Paul de Armond Citizen Journalist of the year for outing Pacific International Terminals and BNSF Railroad, who financed a CERA-promoting, Tea Party led-PAC to attack Lummi Nation for its opposition to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal-export facility. CERA, for those unfamiliar with the acronym, is Citizens Equal Rights Alliance, “the Ku Klux Klan of Indian country”.

Paul de Armond, former Public Good Project research director (who passed away in 2013), in the 1990s contributed to the apprehension of people engaged in violent intimidation of Indian treaty proponents and human rights activists. Seven of the white supremacist militia members Paul (and I) helped expose were, in 1997, convicted in U.S. District Court in Seattle for manufacturing bombs and machine guns to commit murder.

The militias had been hosted in Whatcom County by Wise Use organizer Skip Richards, a paid agent of the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County. More recently, Mr. Richards and Minuteman militia member Tom Williams of Lynden were the organizers of the April 6, 2013 CERA anti-Indian conference in Bellingham, Washington.

In February 2014, Sandra Robson was threatened with a SLAPP suit by Gateway Pacific Terminal spokesman, Craig Cole, over her January 2014 Whatcom Watchcover story. In October 2015, Robson came back fighting with an IC Magazinefeature story.

The full story of this injustice, perpetrated by some of the largest corporations in the United States, is told in my April 2016 Wrong Kind of Greenspecial report.

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and communications director at Public Good Project, Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website:www.jaytaber.com]

 

Further reading: Coast Salish Gathering briefing on treaty rights (2013): for-publication-april-2013-protecting-treaty-rights-sacred-places-and-lifeways

A New Frontier, But The Same Ol’ Game

Wrong Kind of Green

December 1, 2015

By Forrest Palmer

Congo 2

The Berlin conference was a meeting of the minds regarding European colonization of the African continent at one level, but at a more metaphysical level it was the last salvo fired into the heart of indigenous African humanism and dignity by global white supremacy that was founded in the Western world. Over the subsequent century, the resources drained from Africa have been at the forefront of all relationships between the African continent and its association with any outside power structures residing in other continents. Regarding this aspect of the adversarial relationship of Western colonization and global indigenous resistance, the Berlin conference was the culmination of the Western European world and its relationship with all other exterior lands in the Global South, which was based off economic and cultural domination and plunder. Ultimately, this was the apex of European domination of the Earth itself as it controlled almost every major land mass in the world at this juncture.

The main impetus for the domination of all people in the Global South was entirely due to this voluminous need of resources to fuel the expansions of markets by way of manufactured goods provided to consumers under a capitalist growth model. After World War II however, the old model of colonialism by the nation states of Europe was replaced by the multinational corporate state and the Western banking institutions that used loans and debts as the chains of oppression. So, as before resources were taken by force through expensive colonial governments, troops and the requisite armaments needed to control the local populaces, the new form of neo-colonialism was able to acquire the needed resources through the stroke of a pen, vis a vis economic sanctions, export and import control, currency manipulation, etc.

congo-dr

As the old saying goes though, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Currently, 80% of the raw materials produced in the Global South are consumed in the Global North. This is an imbalance of dramatic proportions and illustrates the reason why the countries in the Western nations have such resource intensive existences while the countries that provide said resources are more times often than not inundated with overwhelming poverty.

Yet, since capitalism must grow forever or die, financial projections state that the economy must be provided with 270 billion tons of raw materials to meet the demands of 9 billion inhabitants across the Earth by mid-century. This is going to be problematic since in 2010, humans were only able to extract 60 billion tons of raw materials for a population of approximately 7 billion. This means that within forty years we are going to have to somehow increase our raw material output across the Earth to two and a half times what we are producing now. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this will be impossible when even the most mainstream organizations are willing to admit that many essential resources are in decline. To quote the great George W. Bush (sarcasm), this all seems like “fuzzy math” to me.

space act1

As desperate times call for desperate measures though, we have now reached the astronomical aspects of a proverbial Hail Mary when it comes to actually reaching this unattainable goal of resource growth that must be in place to both have a stable economy and satiate a growing middle class that expects certain amenities. Recently, the United State Senate UNANIMOUSLY passed the Space Act of 2015, ” which grants U.S. citizens or corporations the right to legally claim non-living natural resources—including water and minerals—mined in the final frontier” . This whole episode just proves that delusion is definitely bipartisan. This legislation is basically saying that space exploration will be the salvation of our resource problem. Not surprisingly, the House is expected to pass the legislation and then undoubtedly signed by President Barry in the White House.

As the Western world has expanded across the globe and ravaged, pillaged and raped the world of all its natural resources, at least at the rate that is necessary to keep pace with its growth in population and economic stability, it is now attempting to gravitate this same destructive mindset to other planetary bodies. So, it begs the question, when will this madness end? Outside of a trip to the moon, sending a few unmanned spacecraft to Mars and recent space probe successfully sent out to Pluto, man hasn’t shown the ability to actually spend a prolonged period of time in outer space, let alone actually drill resources, load them up and bring them back to this planet.

What was once just a trip across the globe to abscond with the necessities of life has now reached the heights of craziness. As this act is the first salvo reminiscent of the aforementioned Berlin conference, the countries are now in the process of actually dividing up the universe and judging by the lack of reciprocity on Earth, we will see nothing but conflict over this.   Although the glaring difference is it could be an actual war over a non-starter since no one will be able to actually get the resources for which we could potentially go to war over, as they are all a world away. As we just learned that the oil companies have been unable to drill for oil in a melting Arctic on the planet in which they reside, what makes any fool believe that man can actually mine for resources on interplanetary bodies?

The late scientist Carl Sagan wrote the following quote:

“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

I would suggest that our illustrious leaders read and digest this profound thought because scarcity of resources seems to have been superseded by a scarcity of intelligence in this country. Although I think that we are starting to see that there is one commodity that may actually be infinite on this Earth: the utter stupidity of man.

Happy dreams of space mining…Pipe dreams, that is…

 

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

On Anger, “Love Voices”, and “Divisiveness” In Their Environmental Movement

October 27, 2013

by Kat Stevens

On Anger

Notes:

I do not speak for every non-white person, nor am I attempting to. I speak from my experiences, the experiences of my loved ones, and through personal analysis of white supremacy, systemic racism, and intersectionality.

I do not equate being an indigenous person of this continent with being a person of color who is present in “America” for other reasons, even those whose ancestors have been forcibly brought here. Being a person of color or even an indigenous person from another continent does not negate the fact that we (now I speak as a POC settler myself) are living, breathing, and struggling on stolen and occupied native lands. I don’t know the best language to use. When I say “POC/indigenous,” I mean racialized peoples, including people of multiple ethnic and racial identities which may include white. I explicitly encourage us to begin to create our own understandings and language around these concepts.   

Editorial | Reforming an Abomination

Editorial

Intercontinental Cry

By

Jun 23, 2012

Wrong Kind of Green exposes the nexus of white supremacy propaganda and high-tech genocide. Examining demonization, psychological warfare, the behavioral economics of hatred, and the marketplace of perceptions, they reveal the consumer-oriented complexities of promoting capitalist activism as an antidote to the evils of capitalism. In critiquing the illusion of reforming an abomination, Wrong Kind of Green details the methodology of capital in subverting citizenship, substituting meaningless consumer activities led by capitalist-funded fronts like SumOfUs, 350 and MoveOn.

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, an author, a correspondent to Fourth World Eye, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project.]