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Indigenous radicalism today


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									Indigenous radicalism today
THE ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS ASSEMBLED FOR THIS SPECIAL                 These aspects of empire impede our freedom, sabotage our
edition on the struggles of indigenous peoples in North             health and destroy the well-being of our communities.
America demonstrate the myriad and multifaceted ways in             Today’s indigenous warriors understand and practice resist-
which the original people of this continent are fighting            ance as a means of transcending these forces. In this sense,
against contemporary colonialism in all of its forms. The           “resistance” is no longer a sufficient term to describe what is
indigenous peoples of North America, in their cultural, polit-      happening among our people; personalities are being recon-
ical and intellectual struggles, are redefining what it means to    structed, lives re-made and communities re-formed in a
be radical.                                                         process more akin to “regeneration.”
   The catalyst for this publication was the 2006 Indigenous            Our aim is twofold: to illustrate the elements and dynam-
Leadership Forum that took place on June 5-16 at the                ics of this movement among indigenous peoples; and to
University of Victoria. During that gathering, 31 participants      enliven the struggle of all peoples who are confronting capi-
committed to building Wasáse, a new radical indigenous              talism and imperialism by showing the connections that exist
movement. As we go to press, the Wasáse network has swelled         between our movements. To this end we have also sought out
to 79 people from 26 indigenous nations in North America.           contributions from non-indigenous allies.
Nineteen settlers within the Canadian state have registered             Indigenous peoples are cognizant that we cannot defeat
solidarity with the movement. All of the authors in this issue      colonial aggression alone. A winning strategy requires that we
are either formal supporters or fellow travelers of the move-       actively promote solidarity and cooperative action with those
ment.                                                               who share similar ethical and political commitments. But
    We have joined forces with New Socialist in collecting          solidarity is hard work. It requires a great deal of critical self-
these voices of the Wasáse movement because we share in             reflection and commitment to action on the part of the settler
common the belief that an essential challenge of indigenous         population. Coming to grips with colonial privilege by
self-determination is the question of how to stop, roll back        acknowledging the role that settlers play in the maintenance
and dismantle capitalism. Being land-based societies, indige-       of empire must be seen as a necessary aspect of the struggle to
nous peoples have always been the prime targets of capitalist       decolonize.
expansion and imperialist objectives. Today they remain at             Indigenous peoples today are articulating a new vision of a
the forefront of contemporary radicalism and the struggle to        human existence for the 21st century. We are critically
live with dignity and in harmony with others and the natural        rethinking and refashioning the basis of our social and polit-
environment.                                                        ical lives toward the realization of our freedom as the original
    Indigenous peoples are also redefining what it means to         peoples of this land. We invite readers of this magazine to
resist empire. Contemporary colonialism rarely maintains            help build the movement. 5
itself solely through the blunt forces of capitalist exploitation              Guest Editors: Taiaiake Alfred (Kanien’kehaka) and
and dispossession. Indeed, in order to achieve so much polit-         Glen Coulthard (Dene); www.wasáse.org; contact@wasáse.org
ical control and physical destruction, colonialism has had to
solidify its gains by normalizing the injustices it has perpe-      THE ONGOING CONFRONTATION AND OVERT RACISM AT SIX
trated against indigenous people.                                   Nations is an ugly reminder that the theft of indigenous lands
                                                                    and oppression of indigenous peoples is a cornerstone of the
    This means that resistance must confront not only the ille-
                                                                    Canadian state and economy. Solidarity with indigenous
gitimate exercise of state and corporate power, but also the
                                                                    movements for self-determination is a critical aspect of social-
colonial ideas, values and beliefs that have seeped into our
                                                                    ist organising in Canada. This collaboration with members
cultures and psyches. Our freedom is not only constrained by
                                                                    and supporters of Wasáse sheds light on what solidarity and
the overtly structural relations of power that we face on a
                                                                    self-determination mean in theory and practice. Many thanks
daily basis – such as capitalism, white supremacy, hetero-
                                                                    to Taiaiake Alfred, Glen Coulthard, and our other contribu-
patriarchy, state domination and environmental destruction;
                                                                    tors for initiating this important dialogue. 5
it is also subverted by the reproduction of these forms of
power by and within our communities.                                                       Deborah Simmons (Settler), Guest Editor

new                                                                                                         Box 167, 253 College St.
                                                                                                               Toronto, ON M5T 1R5
                                                                                                                       (416) 955-1581

Issue #58: September-October 2006
                                                                                                           w w w. n e w s o c i a l i s t . o rg

NEW SOCIALIST offers radical              5 THEORY AND PRACTICE 5
analysis of politics, social movements
and culture in the Canadian state and     What are warrior societies? . . . . . . . . . . . . .Taiaiake Alfred and Lana Lowe                   4
internationally. Our magazine is a
forum for people who want to
                                          Final communique of the West Coast Warrior Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                 8
strengthen today’s activism and for       Indigenous peoples and the politics of recognition . . . . . . . .Glen Coulthard                     9
those who wish to replace global
capitalism with a genuinely democratic    Socialism from below and Indigenous peoples . . . . . . . .Deborah Simmons                          13
socialism. We believe that the
                                          Indigenous feminism without apology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Andrea Smith                 16
liberation of the working class and
oppressed peoples can be won only         Canadian capitalism and dispossession of Indigenous peoples Todd Gordon                             18
through their own struggles. For more
information about the publisher of this
magazine, the New Socialist Group,        5 THE WASÁSE MOVEMENT: RETHINKING STRUGGLE 5
please see the inside back cover.
                                          Wasase statement of principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    20
GUEST EDITORS                             Voices From the Indigenous leadership forum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             21
Taiaiake Alfred
Glen Coulthard
Deborah Simmons                           5 HOMEFRONT 5
EDITORIAL ASSOCIATES                      A young warrior’s perspective on the conflict at Six Nations .Taiaiake Alfred                       23
Shannon Badcock
Richard Banner
                                          Anarchist-Indigenous solidarity at Six Nations .Richard Day & Sean Haberle                          26
Neil Braganza                             Labour-Indigenous solidarity at Six Nations . . . . . . . . . . .Rolf Gerstenberger                 28
Jackie Esmonde
Susan Ferguson                            Nuu-chah-nulth struggles
Todd Gordon
                                          against sexual violence. . . . . . . . . Interview with Na’cha’uaht & Chiinuuks                     29
Denise Hammond
Clarice Kuhling                           Indigenous labour organizing in Saskatchewan . . . . . .Brock Pitawanakwat                          32
Sebastian Lamb
Harold Lavender                           Nunavut: the party’s over . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jackie Price     34
Alex Levant
Morgan MacLeod
David McNally                             5 INTERNATIONAL 5
Keith O’Regan
Sandra Sarner                             To be ungovernable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jeff Corntassel     35
Hamid Sodeifi
                                          Why are Indigenous soldiers serving in Iraq? . . . . . . . .Michael Yellow Bird                     38
Nathaniel Thomas
Tony Tracy                                Barred From the “socialist” paradise . . . . . . . . . .Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer                    39
Jeff Webber
DESIGN & COVERS                           5 CULTURE AND REVIEWS 5
Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer (front cover
images) Gord Hill (back cover images)     Howard Adam’s OTAPAWY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deborah Simmons                    40
Greg Sharzer (front cover layout)
Sandra Sarner (design/layout).            Alan Cairn’s First Nations and
Signed articles do not necessarily        the Canadian state. . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .Adam Barker & Taiaiake Alfred               41
represent the views of the Editors or
members of the New Socialist Group.       Basics of Wasase Essentials List. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   42
New Socialist is a member of the CMPA.
Printed at JT Printing, a union shop      5 TIME TO ORGANIZE 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            43

                                                                                                                       SOCIALIST               3
What are warrior
societies?                                                           BY TAIAIAKE ALFRED AND LANA LOWE

T       he history of indigenous peoples in the modern era is,
fundamentally, a story of struggle to overcome the effects of
colonization. And it is a story of the Canadian government’s
manipulation of vulnerabilities that have been created
through the process of dispossession. The indigenous strug-
gle has expressed itself in efforts to gain intellectual and
cultural self-determination, economic self-sufficiency, spiri-
tual freedom, health and healing, and recognition of political
autonomy and rights to use and occupy un-surrendered
lands. The re-emergence of warrior societies in the modern
era is one element of a larger struggle of indigenous peoples

                                                                                                                                       DRAWING BY GORD HILL, KWA KWAKA WAKW
to survive.
    Contemporary warrior societies emerged in the late 1960s,
with the rise of the Mohawk Warrior Society at Akwesasne
and Kahnawake. The Mohawk Warrior Society was estab-
lished by a group of young people committed to reviving
traditional Kanien’kehaka teachings, language and structures
in Kanien’kehaka territories. Accordingly, the strategy and
tactics employed by the Mohawk Warrior Society are commu-
nity and/or land based. The overall strategy was to repossess
and protect Kanien’kehaka territories according to the
Kaienerekoawa, the Great Law of Peace. The tactics employed
by the Mohawk Warrior Society included barricades and
roadblocks (to prevent Canadian and U.S. authorities from
                                                                     advocate for what at the time were called “Indian rights.”
entering Kanien’kehaka territories), evictions (of unwanted
                                                                     This political awareness was grounded in the philosophy and
people living in Kanien’kehaka reserve lands) and occupations
                                                                     tactics of the American civil rights movement: sit-ins, rallies
(repossession of lands within Kanien’kehaka territory).
                                                                     and marches to pressure the US and Canadian governments
1970S: RED POWER ALLIANCES                                           to treat indigenous people fairly and to honour treaties. It is
   The emergence of the Mohawk Warrior Society coincided             worth noting that contrary to the Mohawk Warrior Society’s
with the emergence of what was termed the Red Power                  strong roots in Kanien’kehaka cultural and spiritual tradi-
movement, an urban-based movement established in the                 tions, the Red Power movement reflected the diverse racial
United States to resist oppression and discrimination against        and national backgrounds of its urban membership. It was
indigenous people in all of North America. The overall strat-        grounded in a pan-indigenous culture and spirituality that
egy of the Red Power movement was to raise political, spiri-         was not reflective of a single nation exclusively.
tual and cultural awareness among indigenous people and to              There were other fundamental differences between
                                                                     warrior societies and the Red Power movement. Warrior soci-
Taiaiake Alfred is Kanien’kehaka and a professor in the Indigenous   eties emerged from within (and remain a part of ) indigenous
Governance Programs at the University of Victoria. Lana Lowe is a    communities. Like the Mohawk Warrior Society, they are
member of the Fort Nelson Dene First Nation and works with           grounded in the indigenous traditions of their own commu-
indigenous peoples in Central America. This article is a
condensed version of a background paper by the authors entitled
                                                                     nities, and are accountable to traditional leadership bodies.
“Warrior Societies in Indigenous Communities,” prepared for the      Red Power organizations emerged from within urban centres,
Ipperwash Inquiry and available on the commission’s website and      were highly mobile and often formed a loose network of
in its archive.                                                      “chapters.” They focused their activities in urban centres
unless called upon by people in indigenous communities
during times of crisis. Once in a community, a Red Power
organization was held accountable to its hosts and adjusted
its approach accordingly. Whatever the differences between
them though, warrior societies and Red Power organizations
did draw on the same spirit of discontent among young
indigenous people and focused on the same fundamental
problems; thus warrior societies and Red Power organizations
naturally formed alliances in conflict situations.
    Warrior societies and the Red Power movement expanded
throughout the 1970s, often working together during
episodes of crisis and mobilization. In 1973, the Mohawk
Warrior Society stood in armed resistance against the Quebec
Provincial Police at Kahnawake. The prominent Red Power
organization, the American Indian Movement (AIM),
formed an alliance with the Mohawk Warrior Society during
this time. Later that year, AIM adopted the term “warrior        A warrior stares down a soldier at Oka.
society” for its promotional poster, A Red Man’s
International Warrior Society, and attributed its imagery and        The Ojibway Warrior Society gained prominence in 1974
words to the Kahnawake Mohawk Warrior Society leader,            when they occupied Anicinabe Park in Ontario. This Society
Louis Hall (Karoniaktajeh). The text of the AIM poster is        was similar in ideological orientation to the other movements
illustrative of the spirit of the times and of that movement:    that emerged during that era. The Ojibway Warrior Society
                                                                 appears to have been a unique combination of the urban and
   Pledged to fight White Man’s injustice to Indians, his        “revolutionary” (in outlook and strategic objective) Red
   oppression, persecution, discrimination and malfea-           Power movement with the culturally and community rooted
   sance in the handling of Indian Affairs. No area in           Mohawk Warrior Society. Tellingly, Louis Cameron, the
   North America is too remote when trouble impends              Society’s leader, commented that the name “warrior society”
   for Indians. AIM shall be there to help the Native            was only chosen because of its growing currency at the time
   People regain human rights and achieve restitutions           and in response to pressure from outside of the movement to
   and restorations.                                             label itself – it is quite evident that the Ojibway Warrior
   The promotional poster produced by AIM in 1973                Society did not stem from an ideological struggle. Rather,
depicts a Mohawk man (indicated by the three upright feath-      ideology and the label of a warrior society was grafted onto a
ers of the Rotinoshonni style Gustoweh, or headdress) stand-     movement that developed within the Ojibway community
ing atop inverted United States and Canadian flags. This         and in North western Ontario in response to systemic and
imagery gained prominence in 1974, when the Mohawk               immediate injustices against indigenous peoples. In this basic
Warrior Society re-established the territory of Ganienkeh        way, the Ojibway Warrior Society joined AIM and the
after repossessing Kanien’kehaka lands that had been occu-       Mohawk Warrior Society on the list of organic movements
pied privately in New York State.                                expressing long-standing grievances in a vocabulary that
   Karoniaktajeh himself was instrumental in the reposses-       reflected both traditional culture and contemporary political
sion of Ganienkeh territory, and it was there that he unfurled   discourse.
the “Indian Flag,” sometimes called the “Ganienkeh Flag.”            Later that same year, in the fall of 1974, the Bonaparte
The flag symbolized a mighty Union of Indian Nations,            Indian Band in the interior region of British Columbia set up
depicting a generic indigenous man’s head with long hair and     an armed roadblock on the highway that passed through their
one feather (symbolizing, according to Karoniaktajeh,            reserve to demand better housing. Louis Cameron and
indigenous peoples being “all of one mind”). Since               members of AIM led a Native People’s Caravan to Parliament
Ganienkeh was envisioned as the staging ground for such a        Hill in Ottawa, where they were met with barricades and riot
union, it was adopted there.                                     police.
   Later, Karoniaktajeh designed a flag for the Mohawk               Through the 1970s and 1980s, the Kahnawake-based
Warrior Society that depicted a Mohawk man’s head on the         Mohawk Warrior Society expanded to the neighbouring
same background of the “Indian Flag”— a sun on a red back-       community of Akwesasne and was instrumental in establish-
ground. However the printer made a mistake and printed one       ing a lucrative cigarette trade that generated revenue for both
feather instead of three! This flag has since been mass-         the Warrior Society and the traditional governments in the
produced and can be found everywhere in the world (most          Kanien’kehaka communities. Meanwhile, AIM intensified its
recently it has been seen flying at the UN Conference on the     activities in British Columbia and Alberta, establishing chap-
Environment in South Africa) and has been adopted by many        ters in major cities and attending the roadblocks, sit-ins and
indigenous people in their defence of land and nationhood.       “fish-ins” that were springing up throughout western Canada
                                                                                                        SOCIALIST             5
and the United States.                                                 Young indigenous people in communities across the land
                                                                   saw that it was indeed possible to defend oneself and one’s
                                                                   community against state violence deployed by governments
   By the end of the 1980s, the Mohawk Warrior Society had         in support of a corporate agenda and racist local govern-
been embroiled in several armed conflicts with Canadian and        ments. Perhaps more importantly, young indigenous people
United States authorities as a result of police invasion and       recognized the honour in what the Mohawks had done in
raiding of reserve cigarette stores, casinos and bingo halls.      standing up to what eventually were proven to be unjust and
And in 1988, the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society emerged out of            illegal actions on the part of the local non-indigenous
the community of Big Cove, New Brunswick.                          government. The Oka crisis led to an awakening and radical-
   Meanwhile, AIM’s influence had all but disintegrated.           ization of indigenous consciousness, as well as a broadening
The nature of the organization as a transient, urban-cultured      of the spectrum of possible responses to injustice.
movement had prevented any lasting connection to indige-               The Mi’kmaq Warrior Society had developed and main-
nous communities, and it failed to gain widespread support         tained a presence in several Atlantic communities, including
from indigenous people. AIM members were subsequently              Big Cove, Listiguj and Esgenoopetitj. In 1994, the Mi’kmaq
harassed, arrested and incarcerated by United States and           Warrior Society made headlines when they seized land once
Canadian authorities. First Nation politicians and leaders of      occupied by a residential school and demanded the land be
established political organizations publicly denounced the         returned to the Mi’kmaq people. A year later, the Mi’kmaq
confrontational approach taken by the organization, hoping         Warrior Society was called in to protect the community of Eel
to curry favour with Canadian governments in order to gain         Ground as they conducted their traditional salmon fishery in
access to negotiating processes. AIM was nowhere to be             the Miramichi River in defiance of Canadian regulations.
found during the mid-1980s, when several indigenous                    In 1995 in Vancouver, second-generation AIM activists
                                                                   established the Native Youth Movement (NYM), an urban-
                                                                   based youth organization grounded in Red Power traditions,
                                                                   philosophies and tactics. They too, wore camouflage and
    Images of armed, masked men                                    masks and carried the Mohawk warrior flag. For three years,
     [at Oka] shook mainstream                                     NYM engaged in sit-ins, rallies and marches throughout
                                                                   British Columbia to protest the province’s so-called Treaty
       Canada and galvanized                                       Process.
                                                                       In 1997, the Okiijida Warrior Society formed in Manitoba
          Indigenous people                                        as an alternative to urban youth gangs. The Okiijida Warrior
                                                                   Society soon affiliated with AIM and worked to raise aware-
         from coast to coast.                                      ness about indigenous peoples’ relationship with the
                                                                   Canadian government and encourage people to pressure
                                                                   Canada and the United States to treat indigenous people
communities in the interior and northern part of British           fairly. Since 2002, the Okiijida Warrior Society has helped
Columbia took direct action to defend their territories from       the Grassy Narrows community in Ontario maintain a block-
ongoing unsanctioned and rapacious resource extraction.            ade preventing logging trucks from entering their territory.
   In 1990, the Mohawk Warrior Society faced off with the          The Grassy Narrows blockade continues to this day, and is
Quebec Provincial Police and the Canadian Army to prevent          actively supported by the people in the community. It is a
the expansion of a municipal golf course in Kanesatake,            highly visible and accessible site, both physically and psycho-
another Kanien’kehaka territory. Images of armed, masked           logically, and indications from people involved are that the
men dressed in army fatigues, defending their land and the         blockade has served a galvanizing purpose. It is enabling
people from the full force of the Canadian state, shook main-      indigenous youth to learn from elders about the importance
stream Canada and galvanized indigenous people from coast          of land, spirituality, and the sustained connections to their
to coast. By the mid 1990s, warrior societies had emerged          heritage. Though situated within a conflict between the
throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and                  community and outside interests, the blockade has estab-
Manitoba.                                                          lished a fundamentally positive and motivating environment
   Many of the people who became involved in the warrior           for those involved at the community level.
society movements on the east and west coasts have cited the
1990 Oka crisis as a turning point in their lives, and the         DEFENDING INDIGENOUS TERRITORIES
watershed event of this generation’s political life. Indeed, the      In 1999, the Cheam First Nation recruited members of
Mohawk Warrior Society’s actions in 1990 around                    the NYM to assist them as they engaged in their Fraser
Kanesatake, Kahnawake and Akwesasne have provided                  River salmon fishery in defiance of Canadian regulations. In
crucial inspiration and motivation for the militant assertion      2000, these same members formed the West Coast Warrior
of indigenous nationhood.                                          Society. Soon, they donned their fatigues and set up a three-

                                                                                                                     the commercial fishery were to be given access to
                                                                                                                     fish for maximum commercial harvest while the
                                                                                                                     indigenous communities would receive token access
                                                                                                                     and benefit from the resource.
                                                                                                                         This was a direct threat to the salmon fishery,

                                                                                                                     the basis for their cultures and survival, and the
                                                                                                                     federal government again failed to intervene in a
                                                                                                                     principled manner. On the invitation of the five
                                                                                                                     Saanich communities and supported by the
                                                                                                                     communities’ band councils, the West Coast
                                                                                                                     Warrior Society remained in the community for
                                                                                                                     five weeks preparing to block the commercial
                                                                                                                     fishery. In the end, the fishery was cancelled
                                                                                                                     without physical confrontation and the West
                                                                                                                     Coast Warrior Society left the communities.
                                                                                                                     DEFENDING INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES
                                                                                                                        What has become clear through the history of
                                                                                                                     the warrior society movement is the continuing
                                       month roadblock to protect Cheam fishing camps. Later              and impressive patience of indigenous people in resolving
                                       that year, the West Coast Warrior Society travelled to             political matters in principled, fair, and legal (via interna-
                                       Esgenoopetitj to assist local indigenous communities in that       tional and national conventions) ways. In every instance
                                       region in their on-going conflict with local fishers and           where conflict has arisen between warrior societies and
                                       Canadian authorities over the conduct of traditional fish-         Canadian authorities, violent interactions have been insti-
                                       eries by the Mi’kmaq.                                              gated by police or other government authorities, or by local
                                           Since 1999, the Mi’kmaq people of Esgenoopetitj had            non-indigenous interests opposed to indigenous people.
                                       been asserting their treaty rights and conducting their own        Indigenous communities are comprised of normally coopera-
                                       lobster fishery in defiance of Canadian regulations that were      tive and peaceful people. In all cases, it is only when an over-
                                       prejudiced against them. After the government refused to           whelming injustice is perpetrated against them in the face of
                                       recognize the extreme disparity of access, the once uniformly      possible mutually beneficial alternatives that these people,
                                       cooperative indigenous community mobilized to demand fair          who are yet struggling to survive, rise up to demand just
                                       treatment and the Canadian government’s conformity with            treatment and fairer relations with the settler society.
                                       international and domestic law. This resulted in several              The warrior society strategy gains credence among indige-
                                       clashes with Canadian authorities and citizenry.                   nous people during a crisis situation because there is a deep-
                                           By the fall of 2000, Esgenoopetitj was under siege and the     rooted fear among all indigenous people that the Canadian
                                       waters of Miramichi Bay became the frontline. Warrior soci-        government is seeking to annihilate their existence. Most
                                       eties, activists, politicians and media descended on the           indigenous people favour peaceful and non-confrontational
                                       community. Members of the Mi’kmaq, Mohawk, Okiijida                methods of advancing their political agenda and of advancing
                                       and West Coast Warrior Societies all joined the Esgenoopetitj      the cause of justice. But at the same time, all indigenous
                                       and Listiguj Rangers in defence of Mi’kmaq communities             people have direct experience with or second-generation
                                       and fisheries. When the fishing season was over, the warrior       memory of the genocidal intent and capacity of the Canadian
                                       societies dispersed back to their home territories, with the       state. All have direct experience with the virulent forms of
                                       commander of the East Coast Warrior Society (which had             racism that still exist in most rural parts of Canada.
                                       emerged in Esgenoopetitj during the fall of 2000) travelling       Indigenous people understand well how ordinary Canadians
                                       to British Columbia to form an alliance with the West Coast        turn hostile and violent when indigenous peoples’ demands
                                       Warrior Society.                                                   for recognition of their land rights or political rights threat-
                                           In 2003, the West Coast Warrior Society was summoned to        ens white society’s economic privilege on the land.
                                       help five Saanich communities in protecting the viability of the      So, in a crisis situation, facing armed paramilitary force
                                       Goldstream salmon run in Saanich Inlet from a commercial           and the hostility of white society as a whole, in the context of
                                       fishery opening proposed by the Department of Fisheries and        impending violence capable of eliminating the very existence
                                       Oceans (DFO). Large commercial fishery interests were              of their communities, the raw realities of the colonial rela-
                                       demanding access to salmon runs that had been restored             tionship between indigenous peoples and the state are laid
                                       through the indigenous community’s own habitat rehabilita-         bare. In these situations, the warrior societies’ analysis of
                                       tion projects. The same inequity faced by the east coast           Canadian society is proven correct. The legitimacy of the
                                       communities and fishers was now facing these west coast            warrior society agenda and approach flows from this
                                       indigenous communities: large fleets and corporate interests in    dynamic. People do recognize in very pragmatic terms the

                                                                                                                                                  SOCIALIST             7
necessity of defending the community in physical terms from
outside aggression. The warrior societies provide a measure of
national defence.
    There is broad support among indigenous people every-
where for action, even militant action, against the continuing
unjust process by which they are being dispossessed of their
territories. The disagreement among indigenous peoples is
about their capacity to effectively confront state authorities
and to sustain a politic of contention, and whether or not the
costs (violence, further deprivation, hostility of society, etc.)
are worth the gains to be made in confronting the injustices
facing indigenous communities. Thus, there is no need for a

                                                                                                                                     DRAWING BY GORD HILL, KWA KWAKA WAKW
screening or filtering process whereby warrior societies would
judge the merit of various conflicts and decide which ones are
suitable engagements.
    Engagement does not need to be rationalized. The operat-
ing assumption is that all indigenous communities are facing
an injustice that needs to be confronted; the main factor
influencing whether a warrior society is involved in a conflict
is simply the existence of a conflict in a community where
there is a warrior society with the capacity to respond. Simply
put, warrior societies will become involved in conflicts
between their nation and outside forces if the people call for
their help, and if they possess the capacity to respond.
    In this sense, indigenous people, through warrior soci-
eties, are acting on their basic right and responsibility to          For a chronology of the Warrior Society Movement since 1968,
protect and defend their lands, their communities and their           see www.newsocialist.org
persons from unprovoked outside aggression. 5

Final Communique of the West Coast Warrier Society
COAST SALISH TERRITORY                         communities. This commitment is             determination. However, the police
AUGUST 2, 2005                                 stronger than our adherence to an           killings of Dudley George, J.J. Harper,
   The West Coast Warrior Society has          ideology or allegiance to an                Neil Stonechild, Anthany Dawson and
disbanded.                                     organization. We have talked with and       thousands more of our people
   As a result of the unlawful and             listened to our elders, our women,          confirm the need for us to maintain
unethical activities of Canadian police        and our children, and it is out of love     the right to defend ourselves and
agencies in targeting our members              and respect for them and concern for        protect our families from physical
and our organization, and the unfair           their well-being and security that we       harm.
branding of Indigenous activists as            have decided to end our association            We restate our dedication to fight
terrorists, we have concluded that it is       and operations.                             for the survival of our people and to
no longer possible for us to be                   We have never advocated the use          protect our way of life. Our
effective in carrying out our                  of violence to advance our cause. We        communities, cultures, and lands
responsibility to defend Indigenous            reiterate that our actions in Burnt         must be defended. We are
lands, communities, and rights as we           Church, Cheam, Esowista and                 disbanding as an organization
have been doing. The police have               Saanich, and in all of our other            dedicated to the physical defense of
used lies, misinformation, threats and         involvements, were acts of self-            Indigenous communities and we are
intimidation by law and force to               defense. They were legitimate and           embarking on the path of strictly
create a climate of fear surrounding           justified responses to the direct threat    nonviolent political and social
our organization and have                      posed to Indigenous peoples by racist       struggle. We are rededicating
undermined our support.                        policies and overzealous law                ourselves today as warriors and we
   It must be understood that we are           enforcement agencies. We restate our        are committing to advance
first and foremost men who are                 disavowal of the use of violent means       Indigenous people’s cultural and
committed to our families and                  to achieve the goal of Indigenous self-     political and social resurgence. 5

Indigenous peoples and
the ‘politics of recognition’

          ver the last 30 years, the self-determination efforts      “I subjected myself to an objective
O         and objectives of indigenous peoples in Canada
          have increasingly been cast in the language of
“recognition.” Consider, for example, the latest policy posi-
                                                                        examination, I discovered my
tion on self-determination published by the Assembly of                      blackness, my ethnic
First Nations (AFN) in the spring of 2005. According to the
AFN document, “a consensus has emerged […] around a                  characteristics; and I was battered
vision of the relationship between First Nations and Canada
which would lead to strengthening recognition and imple-              down by tom-toms, cannibalism,
mentation of First Nations’ governments.”
    This “vision,” the AFN goes on to explain, expands on the         intellectual deficiency, fetishism,
core principles outlined in the 1996 Report of Royal
Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: recognition of the nation-                 [and] racial defects.”
to-nation relationship between First Nations and the Crown;
recognition of the equal right of First Nations to self-deter-                              Frantz Fanon
mination; recognition of the Crown’s fiduciary obligation to
protect Aboriginal treaty rights; recognition of First Nation’s      RECOGNITION AND FREEDOM
inherent right to self-government; and recognition of the                The increase in recognition demands made by indigenous
right of First Nations to benefit from the development of            and other marginalized minorities over the last three decades
their lands and resources.                                           has prompted an explosion of intellectual work which has
    In this article I employ the work of anti-colonial revolu-       sought to unpack the ethical and political significance of
tionary and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon to challenge the idea          these types of claims. To date this literature has tended to
that the colonial relationship between indigenous peoples            focus on the contested relationship between the recognition
and the Canadian state can be transformed via a politics of          of cultural distinctiveness on the one hand, and the freedom
recognition. I take “politics of recognition” to refer to the        and well-being of marginalized individuals and groups living
now expansive range of recognition-based models of liberal           in ethnically diverse states on the other.
pluralism that seek to “reconcile” indigenous claims to                  At the centre of this debate has been the influential work
nationhood with Crown sovereignty by accommodating                   of Canadian political philosopher, Charles Taylor. In his
indigenous identities in some form of renewed relationship           1992 essay “The Politics of Recognition,” Taylor argues that
with (and within) the Canadian state.                                political communities such as Canada ought to provide
     Although these models vary in both theory and practice,         recognition and protection for certain sub-state cultural and
most tend to involve the delegation of land, capital and polit-      national communities because it is within and against the
ical power from the state to indigenous communities                  “horizon” of these communities that humans come to
through land claims, economic development and self-                  develop their identities, and thus the capacity to make sense
government processes. Against this vision, I argue that              of their lives and life choices.
instead of ushering in an era of peaceful coexistence                    Taylor’s reasoning goes something like this: as culturally
grounded on the ideal of mutuality, the politics of recogni-         situated beings we do not develop our identities in “isola-
tion in its contemporary form promises to reproduce the very         tion” – rather we form them through complex “relations of
configurations of colonial power that indigenous peoples             recognition” with others. However, given that our identities
have historically sought to transcend.                               are formed in this manner, it also follows that they can be
                                                                     significantly deformed when these processes run awry. In this
Glen Coulthard is a Dene activist and PhD student in political       sense, our identities are not only shaped by recognition, but
theory at the University of Victoria. He teaches in the Indigenous   also its absence, “often by the misrecognition of others.”
Governance Programs.

                                                                                                           SOCIALIST             9
   Thus Taylor writes: “A person or a group of people can
suffer real damage, real distortion, if the people or society
around them mirror back to them a confining or demeaning
or contemptible picture of themselves. Nonrecognition or
misrecognition can inflict harm, can be a form of oppression,
imprisoning one in a false, distorted, and reduced mode of
being.” It is this idea that unequal relations of recognition
can impede human freedom and flourishing that continues
to serve as one of the main theoretical justifications for state
policies geared toward the protection of indigenous cultural
    Interestingly, in the second half of “The Politics of
Recognition” Taylor identifies Frantz Fanon as one of the first
people to clearly outline the role that misrecognition plays in
propping up relations of colonial domination. I don’t dispute
Taylor’s affirmation of Fanon’s work in theorizing the subjec-
tivity of the oppressed. However, he is mistaken in invoking
Fanon to suggest that by institutionalizing a liberal regime of
mutual recognition we can somehow transcend the breadth
of power at play in colonial systems of domination.
    Fanon’s concern with the relationship between human
freedom and equality in relations of recognition represents a
central and reoccurring theme in much of his work. But his         Frantz Fanon
most concentrated examination of this relationship occurs in
his 1952 text, Black Skin, White Masks (BSWM). There
                                                                       This last point is made agonizingly clear in one of the
Fanon shows that a colonial system of governance that does
                                                                   most famous passages from BSWM, where Fanon shares an
not rely entirely on the execution of force must entice indige-
                                                                   alienating encounter on the streets of Paris with a little white
nous peoples to identify with the profoundly asymmetrical
                                                                   girl. “Look, a Negro!” Fanon recalls the girl saying, “Moma,
forms of recognition either imposed on or granted to them
                                                                   see the Negro! I’m frightened! frightened!” At that moment
by the colonial-state and society.
                                                                   the imposition of the child’s gaze “sealed” Fanon into a
    In essence, Fanon argues that in contexts of domination
                                                                   “crushing objecthood.” In his own words: “I subjected myself
(such as colonialism), the terms of recognition are usually
                                                                   to an objective examination, I discovered my blackness, my
determined by and in the interests of the oppressor.
                                                                   ethnic characteristics; and I was battered down by tom-toms,
Moreover, over time oppressed populations tend to develop
                                                                   cannibalism, intellectual deficiency, fetishism, [and] racial
what he called “psycho-affective” attachments to these
                                                                   defects.” Instead of being acknowledged as a “man among
master-sanctioned forms of recognition, and that this attach-
                                                                   men,” the child’s recognition reduced Fanon to “an object
ment is essential in maintaining the economic and political
                                                                   among other objects.”
structure of colonial relations themselves. For Fanon, then,
                                                                       Left as is, Fanon’s insights into the ultimately objectifying
colonialism can be said to operate on two levels: it includes
                                                                   nature of colonial recognition appear to square nicely with
“not only the interrelations of objective historical conditions
                                                                   the politics of recognition as it is conceived of and practiced
but also human attitudes to these conditions.” Fanon argues
                                                                   in Canada today. For example, although Fanon never uses the
that it is this interplay between the objective and subjective
                                                                   word himself, he does seem to be describing the debilitating
realms of colonialism that ensures its stability over time.
                                                                   effects associated with misrecognition in the sense that Taylor
    With respect to the subjective dimension, BSWM
                                                                   and others use the term. In fact, BSWM is littered with
painstakingly outlines the multiple ways in which those “atti-
                                                                   passages that illustrate the innumerable ways in which the
tudes” conducive to colonial rule are cultivated amongst the
                                                                   imposition of the settler’s gaze can inflict damage on indige-
colonized through the unequal exchange of institutionalized
                                                                   nous society at both the individual and collective levels.
and interpersonal patterns of recognition between the colo-
                                                                   However, a close reading of Fanon’s work renders problem-
nial society and the indigenous population. Fanon’s work
                                                                   atic the liberal-recognition approach in several interrelated
reveals how, over time, colonized populations tend to inter-
                                                                   and crucial respects.
nalize the derogatory images imposed on them by their colo-
nial “masters.” As a result of this process, these images, along   THE FANONIAN CRITIQUE
with the structural relations with which they are entwined,          The first problem has to do with the liberal-recognition
come to be recognized or endured as more or less natural.          approach’s failure to adequately confront the dual structure of

colonialism itself. Fanon insists, for example, that in order to    individual. Simply stated, for Fanon it is through struggle
transform a colonial configuration of power one has to attack       and conflict (and for the later Fanon, violent struggle and
it at both levels of operation: the objective and the subjective.   conflict) that the colonized come to be rid of the “arsenal of
This point is made at the outset of BSWM and reverberates           complexes” driven into the core of their being through the
throughout all of Fanon’s work.                                     colonial process.
    A significant portion of BSWM is committed to diagnos-              Struggle, in other words, serves as a mediating force
ing the “psychological” dimension of colonialism. But Fanon         through which the colonized come to shed their colonial
also emphasizes in his introduction that strategically, any         identities, thus restoring them to their “proper place.” In
“effective disalienation” of the colonized subject can only         contexts where recognition is conferred without struggle,
happen if one also addresses the “social and economic reali-        this fundamental self-transformation cannot occur, and as a
ties” of colonial rule. Fanon correctly situates “colonial-capi-    result authentic freedom is denied. Although the formal
talist” exploitation alongside misrecognition and alienation as     political structure of domination may change in this process
one of the foundational sources of imperial domination.             (the colonized are afforded “rights,” for example), the subjec-
    Of course, Fanon was enough of a Marxist to understand          tivity of the Native remains the same – they remain colo-
that capitalist economic relations play a foundational role in      nized at the level of their being.
exacerbating asymmetrical relations of recognition. However,            However, when Fanon speaks of a lack of struggle in the
he was also much more perceptive than many Marxists in his          decolonization movements of his day he doesn’t mean to
insistence that the subjective realm of colonialism had to be       suggest that the colonized in these contexts simply remained
the target of strategic transformation along with the socio-        passive recipients of colonial practices. He readily admits, for
economic structure. The colonized person “must wage war on          example, that the colonized may indeed fight “for Liberty
both levels,” in Fanon’s view. “Since historically they influ-      and Justice.” However, when this fight is carried out in a
ence each other, any unilateral liberation is incomplete, and       manner that does not pose a foundational challenge to colo-
the gravest mistake would be to believe in their automatic
interdependence.” Attacking colonial power on one front, in
other words, does not guarantee the subversion of its effects
on the other.                                                         “Those of us struggling against
    Fanon’s insights here immediately expose the limits of the
politics of recognition for restructuring indigenous-state rela-    colonialism must ‘turn away’ from
tions in Canada. This project has largely been conceived of in
terms of reformist state redistribution schemes like granting              the assimilative lure of
certain “cultural rights” and concessions to indigenous
communities through self-government and land claims                    the politics of recognition and
processes. Although this approach may alter some of the
effects of colonial-capitalist exploitation and domination, it
                                                                        begin to direct our struggles
does little to address their generative structures — in this
case the racist capitalist economy and the colonial state. Seen
                                                                      toward our own on-the-ground
from this angle, the contemporary politics of recognition                  strategies of freedom.”
simply leaves one of the two operative levels of colonial power
identified by Fanon untouched.
    The second key problem with the politics of recognition’s
proposed remedy for colonial injustice has to do with the           nial power as such – which, for Fanon, will always involve
subjective realm of colonial power. Here it is important to         struggle and conflict – then the best the colonized can hope
note that most recognition-based proposals – whether we’re          for is “white liberty and white justice; that is, values secreted
talking about the recommendations of Charles Taylor or the          by [their] masters.”
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples – rests on the assump-          This brings us to the second major problem identified by
tion that the flourishing of indigenous peoples as distinct and     Fanon: without conflict and struggle constituting a central
self-determining agents is dependent on their being granted         feature of the decolonization movement (a) the terms of
recognition and institutional accommodation by and within           recognition tend to remain the property of those in power to
the settler-state apparatus. As sociologist Richard Day has put     grant to their inferiors in ways that they deem appropriate,
it, under these models, recognition is conceived of as a “gift”     and (b) under these conditions, the indigenous population
bestowed from a superior identity to an inferior one.               often comes to see the limited and constrained terms of
    For Fanon, there are at least two problems underlying the       recognition conferred to them by their colonial masters as
idea that freedom and independence can be achieved via a            their own. In effect, the colonized come to identify with
gift of recognition. The first involves the relationship that he    “white liberty and white justice.” Either way, for Fanon, the
draws between struggle and the disalienation of the colonized       colonized will have failed to re-establish themselves as truly

                                                                                                            SOCIALIST              11
self-determining, that is, as creators of the terms of their own   recognition have saddled indigenous people with low self-
recognition and in accordance with their own values.               esteem, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and violent
                                                                   behaviours directed both inward against the self and outwards
                                                                   toward others.
   Anyone familiar with the power dynamics that structure
                                                                      Similarly convincing arguments have also been made
the Aboriginal rights movement in Canada should immedi-
                                                                   about the types of recognition offered to indigenous commu-
ately see the applicability of Fanon’s insights here. We needn’t
                                                                   nities through the law, self-government packages, land claims
expend much effort to elicit the countless ways in which the
                                                                   and economic development programs. The recent work of
liberal discourse of recognition has been limited and
                                                                   Taiaiake Alfred, for example, has shown how the power rela-
constrained by the state, politicians, corporations and the
                                                                   tions within and against which indigenous demands for
courts in ways that pose no fundamental challenge to the
                                                                   recognition are made can subtly shape the subjectivities and
colonial relationship.
                                                                   worldviews of the indigenous claimants involved.
   Indeed, over the last 30 years the Supreme Court of
                                                                      The core problem, of course, is that the structural and
Canada has consistently refused to recognize indigenous
                                                                   discursive settings within which recognition claims are artic-
peoples’ equal and self-determining status. This is based on
                                                                   ulated and assessed are by no means neutral: they are
the court’s adherence to legal precedent founded on the white
                                                                   profoundly power-laden, and almost always to the detriment
supremacist myth that indigenous societies were too primi-
                                                                   of indigenous claimants. As such they have the ability to
tive to bear fundamental political rights when they first
                                                                   mould how indigenous people think and act, not only in rela-
encountered European powers. Even though the Court has
                                                                   tion to the topic at hand (the recognition claim) but also in
secured an unprecedented degree of recognition for certain
                                                                   relation to themselves and others.
“cultural” practices within the state, it has nonetheless failed
                                                                      This is what Alfred means when he suggests that, over
to challenge the racist origin of Canada’s assumed authority
                                                                   time, legal approaches tend to produce Aboriginal “citizens”
over indigenous peoples and their territories.
                                                                   whose rights and identities become defined by the colonial
   The political and economic ramifications of this legal
                                                                   state. Similarly, economic development approaches produce
move are clear-cut. In Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, for
                                                                   Aboriginal capitalists whose thirst for profit come to
example, it was declared that any residual Aboriginal rights
                                                                   outweigh their ancestral obligations to the land and to others.
that may have survived the unilateral assertion of Crown
                                                                   And land claims processes produce Aboriginal property
sovereignty could be infringed upon by the federal and
                                                                   owners whose territories, and thus whose very identities,
provincial governments so long as this action could be shown
                                                                   become subject to expropriation and alienation. These
to further a “compelling and substantial legislative objective”
                                                                   processes signify the erosion of the most traditionally egali-
consistent with the “fiduciary relationship” between the state
                                                                   tarian aspects of indigenous ethical systems, ways of life and
and Aboriginal peoples.
                                                                   forms of social organization.
   What “substantial objectives” might justify infringement?
According to the Court, virtually any profitable economic          TOWARD A POLITICS OF DOING
venture, including the “development of agriculture, forestry,          I have argued here that Fanon’s insights into the subjecti-
mining, and hydroelectric power, the general economic              fying nature of colonial recognition are as applicable today to
development of the interior of British Columbia, protection        the liberal “politics of recognition” as they were fifty years
of the environment or endangered species and the building of       ago, when he first formulated his ideas on the matter. Fanon’s
infrastructure and the settlement of foreign populations to        dual-structured conception of colonial power still captures
support those aims.” So today it appears, as much as it did in     the subtle (and not so subtle) ways in which a system of impe-
Fanon’s day, that colonial powers will only recognize the          rial domination that does not sustain itself exclusively by
collective rights and identities of indigenous peoples insofar     force is reproduced over time.
as this recognition does not obstruct the imperatives of state         But if colonial power is dispersed much more diffusly
and capital.                                                       today, how do we go about resisting it? Fanon suggests that
   But the above examples confirm only one aspect of               those of us struggling against colonialism must “turn away”
Fanon’s insight into the problem of recognition when applied       from the assimilative lure of the politics of recognition and
to the colonial setting: namely, the limitations that it runs up   begin to direct our struggles toward our own on-the-ground
against when pitted against these overtly structural expres-       strategies of freedom. Today this process will (and must)
sions of colonial power. Can the same be said for the subjec-      continue to involve some form of critical individual and
tive dimension of colonial power relations?                        collective self-recognition on the part of indigenous peoples.
   With respect to the forms of racist recognition pounded         In my mind, this self-affirmative process must be carried out
into the psyches of indigenous peoples through the institu-        for everyone’s sake, because indigenous societies have truths
tions of the state, church, schools, media, and by racists         to teach the Western world about the establishment and
within the dominant society, the answer is surely yes.             preservation of relationships between peoples and the natural
Countless studies, novels and autobiographical narratives          world that are profoundly non-imperialist.5
have outlined, in painful detail, how these expressions of

Socialism from below and
indigenous resurgence
BY DEBORAH SIMMONS                             can only be achieved by the self-organized      agenda seems to be undefeatable, indige-
                                               mass struggles of workers and oppressed         nous actions such as the reclamation of
                                               peoples. In our work with indigenous            Six Nations territory at Caledonia are

          uring the peak of the Red Power
          movement in the late 1960s and       peoples, we bear responsibility for demol-      crucial evidence for socialists that move-
          early 1970s, many newly radi-        ishing in theory and practice the corrup-       ments from below are the central force
calizing indigenous people became inter-       tion of socialist ideas that followed the       for social change. Capitalism cannot be
ested in exploring various theories of         defeat of the Russian revolution by             defeated by any minority claiming to act
revolution and socialist organisation. By      Stalinism.                                      on behalf of the exploited and oppressed.
the mid 1970s, many of these same                 This is no easy task. We must take on
                                                                                                        RADICALISATION AND
activists had become hostile to socialism,     nearly a century of cumulative theoreti-                  DISILLUSIONMENT
advocating a separate path to liberation       cal justifications of Stalinist, social demo-
rooted in indigenous traditions. This          cratic and Third World nationalist strate-         The bitter disillusionment of indige-
mirrored trends in other movements             gies. We must engage in a rigorous              nous activists in socialist politics by the
against oppression – the Left quite simply     critique of so-called “models” of “social-      mid-1970s is documented in several
lost credibility.                                                                              books published about the period by
   Much has been written in the pages of                                                       writers including Lee Maracle (Sto:loh),
this magazine and elsewhere to expose the          Building solidarity with                    Jeannette Armstrong (Okanagan), and
critical weaknesses of the Left during that                                                    Vern Harper (Cree). In each text, the
                                                    indigenous movements                       same cycle of radicalization and disillu-
period in addressing the experiences and
aspirations of people who are oppressed           requires that we critically                  sionment is repeated. Indigenous hostil-
because of their gender, sexuality, or race.                                                   ity to socialism in general and Marxism
                                                      reconstruct our own                      in particular is distilled in the collection
But we have not adequately accounted the
specific intersection of indigenous strug-                traditions of                        edited by Ward Churchill, Marxism and
gles with socialist theories of revolution-                                                    Native Americans (1983).
                                                     socialism from below.                        The experience of betrayal cannot be
ary change. The new Wasáse movement
has begun to address the contradictions of                                                     dismissed as irrelevant or misguided by
a traditionalism that is linked to official    ism” from the past and present – from           socialists who want to learn from the past
aboriginal organisations sanctioned and        the former USSR, to the tradition of the        in order to build solidarity with indige-
funded by the Canadian state. Wasáse           NDP, to the "Communist" dictatorship            nous peoples in the present. The socialist
activists are critically reconstructing the    of Fidel Castro and the reformist govern-       left that Red Power activists encountered
radical anti-capitalist ethics underlying      ments of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales.           was overwhelmingly dominated by
many indigenous traditions. The chal-             Equally as important, we must                socialism from above politics, in the form
lenge now for socialists is to build strong    confront the legacies of Stalinist and          of English-Canadian left-nationalism,
bonds of solidarity with this movement         social democratic strategies in Canada          and pro-Russia and pro-China versions of
which is now at the cutting edge of radical    that have destroyed the credibility of          Stalinist “Communism.” An honest
organising in Canada. This requires that       socialism among radical indigenous              reading of indigenous texts from that
we critically reconstruct our own tradi-       activists. In reclaiming our own tradi-         period can provide socialists with both an
tions of socialism from below, whose heart     tions, we must recognize that we have a         understanding of the enormous possibili-
and soul is the belief that a revolutionary    lot to learn from those indigenous              ties presented by moments of indigenous
and democratic transformation of society       activists who have been forging alterna-        radicalisation, and the pitfalls of a politics
                                               tives to the anti-democratic travesties         that fails to account for the specific
                                               that have for so long been the publicly         conditions of indigenous resurgence.
Deborah Simmons has recently returned to
live and work in the Northwest Territories.    recognized face of socialism.                      In his book Prison of Grass and the
She is a member of the New Socialist              In fact, during this grim quiescent          posthumous publication Otapawy!, the
Group.                                         period in which the neo-conservative            late Métis leader Howard Adams

                                                                                                                SOCIALIST                13
recounts the story of his own radicaliza-        as a tool for social change remain remark-     crystallization of class structures in
tion through the campus Free Speech              ably resilient, despite numerous betrayals     indigenous communities, effectively
movement in Berkeley, California, and            when social democratic governments             buying the unquestioning acquiescence of
listening to a speech by Black Power             have come to power – both internation-         indigenous leaders in federal and territo-
leader Malcolm X. He concludes in                ally and within Canada.                        rial development policies.
Prison of Grass (1975) that although                Currently, it is an NDP government             More recently, Frances Widdowson and
objectively from a socialist perspective         that is promoting the massive expansion        Albert Howard have used their brief experi-
indigenous peoples may have a common             of hydroelectric development on Cree           ence working as bureaucrats for the govern-
interest with the white working class in         territory in Manitoba, despite the disas-      ment of the Northwest Territories to take
defeating capitalism, the rampant racism         trous social impacts of hydro dams histor-     aim at what they refer to as the aboriginal
in Canadian society makes joint organis-         ically in that province. And the newly         “problem.” Those of us who have been
ing impossible for the foreseeable future.       elected NDP Member of Parliament for           writing on indigenous oppression and self-
This reflects the indigenous experience of       the Northwest Territories, Dennis              determination cringe to see our works cited
working class movements and the Left             Bevington, has gone on record as support-      in the series of at least eleven articles and
during the 1960s and 1970s.                      ing the Mackenzie Gas Project, despite         conference papers that Widdowson and
   Lee Maracle describes her own nega-           huge cumulative consequences for the           Howard have produced since 1996, since
tive experience with socialism during that       indigenous inhabitants that have not been      invariably our ideas have been distorted,
period in her testimonial Bobbi Lee,             addressed by governments or industry.          taken out of context, and at times used to
Indian Rebel (1975). She had arrived in             Notwithstanding the long history of         support conclusions that are diametrically
Vancouver, where indigenous activists            colonization and systematic oppression         opposed to our own perspectives.
were organising campaigns against                of indigenous peoples by every ruling             It is quite horrifying for self-respecting
poverty and police brutality, inspired by        party of the Canadian state, a small           socialists to find themselves quoted in the
the Black Power movement in the United           number of “socialists” persist in advocat-     company of right wing ideologues such as
States. But she recalls political discussions    ing the dogma that indigenous peoples          Mel Smith and Tom Flanagan, the latter
among her comrades of the time as being          can only be liberated through the inter-       being the policy advisor for the former
highly abstract and formulaic, quite             vention of that same state. This perspec-      Reform Party and the current
detached from the everyday struggles of          tive was distilled during the first round of   Conservative government. And Karl
the majority of indigenous people. She           conflict over the Mackenzie Valley             Marx would once again be turning in his
clearly came to resent the arrogance of          Pipeline in the 1970s. Left-nationalist        grave with Widdowson and Howard
those who were drawing on Maoist or              academic Mel Watkins was the leading           twisting his critique of political economy
Communist principles to bring revolu-            voice of a group of consultants for the        to suit their purposes.
tion to the people.                              Dene Nation that argued for a land claim          Despite the numerous glaring prob-
              WHO’S LEFT?
                                                 agreement and government intervention          lems in the so-called “scholarship” of this
                                                 to subsidize traditional harvesting. Land      pair, it is instructive for socialists to take
   Unfortunately, the theories that              rights, funding and political recognition      note of their work as a negative example
informed the mistakes of socialist organi-       were seen as solutions for the marginal-       of the logical consequences of socialism
sations in the past did not go the way of        ization of Dene people in the North.           from above. Intent upon defending the
the dodo bird with the collapse of the              We are now seeing the consequences in       orthodoxies of secular rationalism and
Soviet Union. While it is no longer legit-       the North of reductive notions of what is      science-based policy as the basis for state
imate to openly celebrate Stalinism, the         required for indigenous self-determina-        reform, Widdowson and Howard have
crude variants of orthodox Marxism that          tion. The establishment of “certainty”         launched a vicious attack on “tribalism”
were promoted by Stalinist regimes and           through land claims has facilitated an         and “religion-based” policy that they
organisations remain perniciously present        unprecedented rush for industrial devel-       claim dominates territorial and aboriginal
on the socialist Left. And social demo-          opment in the north. Government                governments alike.
cratic strategies for using electoral politics   funding programs have supported the               Their first target was the use of tradi-

tional indigenous knowledge in scientific      organisations and continue what they           gulf between institutionalized religion
inquiry and government policy. This            describe in positive terms as the “ware-       and beliefs that allow for precisely the
engendered a national debate that reached      housing” of indigenous peoples on the          unalienated way of being in the world
the pages of the Globe and Mail in 1997.       margins of Canadian society.                   that Marx dreamed of when he looked to
Widdowson and Howard subsequently                                                             “primitive communism” as a prefigura-
                                                      SOCIALISM FROM ABOVE
took aim at “tribalism” in the Nunavut                                                        tion of a post-revolutionary socialist
and Territorial governments (1999);               Though this perspective seems too           society. In insisting that indigenous
social “dysfunction” and “dependency” in       similar to racist and genocidal colonial       peoples must assimilate into the capitalist
indigenous communities (2003); indige-         policies to be even remotely identified        labour market, they fail to account for
nous nationalism as an “opportunistic”         with socialist politics, in fact the methods   the competitive structures, including
obstruction of legitimate Quebec claims        harnessed by Widdowson and Howard              systematic discrimination on the basis of
to nationhood (2004); the inclusion of         are quite consistent with the orthodoxies      race, gender and sexuality, that have for
aboriginal perspectives in Canadian histo-     of socialism from above – the same brand       so long divided and conquered the labour
riography (2005); and just this summer, a      of socialism that was the basis for Stalin’s   movement.
full circle return to the traditional knowl-   pact with Hitler in 1939. The theory is           Karl Marx was his own best critic. In
edge debate.                                   that history goes through a fixed series of    the final decade of his life he studied pre-
   The platforms for their perspective         Darwinian evolutionary stages; that capi-      capitalist peasant communes in Russia to
have been principally the pages of Policy      talism is a progressive force leading          understand what role they could play in a
Options, the supposedly “non-partisan”         inevitably to socialist revolution; and that   future revolution that might take place
publication of the Institute for Research      scientific state planning is the principle     before capitalism had fully developed in
on Public Policy, and the conferences of       tool for achieving human liberation. The       that country – a possibility denied by
the      Canadian       Political    Science   method is to develop an abstract theoret-      many of his followers. Today, socialists
Association. The increasing proliferation      ical formula to be imposed on all social       should take this as inspiration to confront
of footnotes in their writing has had no       realities regardless of people’s specific      forms of politics that have pushed indige-
noticeable affect on the logic of their        historical experiences or subjective           nous peoples to the side as agents of their
argumentation over the past decade,            understandings of their conditions.            own liberation.
which is indicative of the self-serving           The flaws in this brand of socialism are       The consequence of this critical
nature of their “research.”                    fatal. In their unwavering defence of          perspective is not a rejection of socialism.
   In short, Widdowson and Howard have         scientific rationalism, Widdowson and          On the contrary, it can lead to a renewal of
the temerity to argue that indigenous          Howard fail to account for the systematic      socialist ideas and practice. Socialism from
societies are a throwback to an anachro-       complicities between global capitalism         below politics can provide tools for learn-
nistic Neolithic stage of social history. In   and the state, and between capitalist          ing from the specific experiences of indige-
the face of rational modernisation, indige-    interests and scientific knowledge. They       nous movements, and for demonstrating
nous people are inherently inferior and        seem to be completely unaware of the           the intersecting interests of indigenous
constituted by lack: they are illiterate,      countless social and environmental disas-      peoples and non-indigenous workers.
dysfunctional, dependent and corrupt.          ters that have been engendered with the           In learning about indigenous move-
The population explosion in their              aid of “scientific” planning.                  ments and recognizing their autonomy,
communities is causing serious problems.          In negating traditional indigenous ways     socialists can help build the strong and
   Notwithstanding their expanding             of life and nationhood, Widdowson and          lasting bonds of solidarity necessary to
population, according to Widdowson and         Howard fail to recognize the ways in           fight the capitalist system and win 5
Howard they do not qualify for nation-         which radical indigenous
hood, dispersed as they are in small           resurgence can pose signifi-
communities across the continent. Thus         cant obstacles to capitalist
self-determination is not an option. The       expansion in renewing tradi-
solution for all their “problems” is for       tional modes of taking care of
indigenous people to submit to the evolu-      the land. In quoting trans-
tionary nature of history; to recognize the    lated fragments of indigenous
inherent superiority of scientific methods;    elders drawn from the tran-
to relocate from their traditional territo-    scripts of bureaucratic meet-
ries to urban centres; and to become           ings as proof of the “vague-
“socialized” (ie. assimilated) into            ness” and “contradictory”
Canadian capitalism. Widdowson and             nature of their knowledge,
Howard don’t hold out much hope for            they fail to comprehend the
this solution to be workable in the near       specific context of indigenous
term, given “tribal” superstitions and         land-based knowledge.
resistance to progressive innovations.            In deriding indigenous
Clearly the only logical solution for the      spirituality as a “religion,”
present is to cut funding for indigenous       they ignore the qualitative

                                                                                                               SOCIALIST              15
Indigenous feminism
without apology

            e often hear the mantra in

W           indigenous communities that
            Native women aren’t femi-
nists. Supposedly, feminism is not
needed because Native women were
treated with respect prior to coloniza-
tion. Thus, any Native woman who calls
herself a feminist is often condemned as
being “white.”
   However, when I started interviewing
Native women organizers as part of a            DECENTERING WHITE FEMINISM                    others. This would not negate the contri-
research project, I was surprised by how
                                                   The feminist movement is generally         butions made by white feminists, but
many community-based activists were
                                                periodized into the so-called first, second   would de-center them from our histori-
describing themselves as “feminists
                                                and third waves of feminism. In the           cizing and analysis.
without apology.” They were arguing
                                                United States, the first wave is character-      Indigenous feminism thus centers
that feminism is actually an indigenous
                                                ized by the suffragette movement; the         anti-colonial practice within its organiz-
concept that has been co-opted by white
                                                second wave is characterized by the           ing. This is critical today when you have
                                                formation of the National Organization        mainstream feminist groups supporting,
   The fact that Native societies were
                                                for Women, abortion rights politics, and      for example, the US bombing of
egalitarian 500 years ago is not stopping
                                                the fight for the Equal Rights                Afghanistan with the claim that this
women from being hit or abused now.
                                                Amendments. Suddenly, during the third        bombing will free women from the
For instance, in my years of anti-violence
                                                wave of feminism, women of colour             Taliban (apparently bombing women
organizing, I would hear, “We can’t
                                                make an appearance to transform femi-         somehow liberates them).
worry about domestic violence; we must
worry about survival issues first.” But         nism into a multicultural movement.
                                                                                              CHALLENGING THE STATE
since Native women are the women most              This periodization situates white
                                                middle-class women as the central histor-        Indigenous feminists are also challeng-
likely to be killed by domestic violence,                                                     ing how we conceptualize indigenous
they are clearly not surviving. So when         ical agents to which women of colour
                                                attach themselves. However, if we were to     sovereignty — it is not an add-on to the
we talk about survival of our nations,                                                        heteronormative and patriarchal nation-
who are we including?                           recognize the agency of indigenous
                                                women in an account of feminist history,      state. Rather it challenges the nation-
   These Native feminists are challenging                                                     state system itself.
not only patriarchy within Native               we might begin with 1492 when Native
                                                women collectively resisted colonization.        Charles Colson, prominent Christian
communities, but also white supremacy                                                         Right activist and founder of Prison
and colonialism within mainstream               This would allow us to see that there are
                                                multiple feminist histories emerging          Fellowship, explains quite clearly the
white feminism. That is, they’re challeng-                                                    relationship between heteronormativity
ing why it is that white women get to           from multiple communities of colour
                                                which intersect at points and diverge in      and the nation-state. In his view, same-
define what feminism is.                                                                      sex marriage leads directly to terrorism;
                                                                                              the attack on the “natural moral order” of
Andrea Smith is Cherokee and a professor of Native American Studies at the University of      the heterosexual family “is like handing
Michigan, Ann Arbor, and co-founder of Incite! Women of Color Against Violence and the        moral weapons of mass destruction to
Boarding School Healing Project.                                                              those who use America’s decadence to

recruit more snipers and hijackers and         rather than challenge colonialism and           responsibility.
suicide bombers.”                              white supremacy because they are                   As Sharon Venne explains, “Our spiri-
   Similarly, the Christian Right World        premised on a politics of secondary             tuality and our responsibilities define our
magazine opined that feminism                  marginalization. The most elite class will      duties. We understand the concept of
contributed to the Abu Ghraib scandal by       further their aspirations on the backs of       sovereignty as woven through a fabric that
promoting women in the military. When          those most marginalized within the              encompasses our spirituality and responsi-
women do not know their assigned role          community.                                      bility. This is a cyclical view of sover-
in the gender hierarchy, they become              Through this process of secondary            eignty, incorporating it into our tradi-
disoriented and abuse prisoners.               marginalization, the national or racial         tional philosophy and view of our respon-
   Implicit in this is analysis the under-     justice struggle either implicitly or explic-   sibilities. It differs greatly from the
standing that heteropatriarchy is essential    itly takes on a nation-state model as the       concept of Western sovereignty which is
for the building of US empire. Patriarchy      end point of its struggle – a model in          based upon absolute power. For us
is the logic that naturalizes social hierar-   which the elites govern the rest through        absolute power is in the Creator and the
chy. Just as men are supposed to naturally     violence and domination, and exclude            natural order of all living things; not only
dominate women on the basis of biology,        those who are not members of “the               in human beings... Our sovereignty is
so too should the social elites of a society   nation.”                                        related to our connections to the earth
naturally rule everyone else through a                                                         and is inherent.”
                                               NATIONAL LIBERATION
nation-state form of governance that is                                                        REVOLUTION
constructed        through     domination,        Grassroots Native women, along with
                                               Native scholars such as Taiaiake Alfred            A Native feminist politics seeks to do
violence, and control.
                                               and Craig Womack, are developing other          more than simply elevate Native women’s
   As Ann Burlein argues in Lift High the
                                               models of nationhood. These articula-           status — it seeks to transform the world
Cross, it may be a mistake to argue that
                                               tions counter the frequent accusations          through indigenous forms of governance
the goal of Christian Right politics is to
                                               that nation-building projects necessarily       that can be beneficial to everyone.
create a theocracy in the US. Rather,
                                               lead to a narrow identity politics based           At the 2005 World Liberation
Christian Right politics work through the
                                               on ethnic cleansing and intolerance. This       Theology Forum held in Porto Alegre,
private family (which is coded as white,
                                               requires that a clear distinction be drawn      Brazil, indigenous peoples from Bolivia
patriarchal, and middle-class) to create a
                                               between the project of national libera-         stated that they know another world is
“Christian America.” She notes that the
                                               tion, and that of nation-state building.        possible because they see that world
investment in the private family makes it
                                                  Progressive activists and scholars, while    whenever they do their ceremonies.
difficult for people to invest in more
                                               prepared to make critiques of the US and        Native ceremonies can be a place where
public forms of social connection.
                                               Canadian governments, are often not             the present, past and future become co-
   For example, more investment in the
                                               prepared to question their legitimacy. A        present. This is what Native Hawaiian
suburban private family means less
                                               case in point is the strategy of many           scholar Manu Meyer calls a racial remem-
funding for urban areas and Native reser-
                                               racial justice organizations in the US or       bering of the future.
vations. The resulting social decay is then
                                               Canada, who have rallied against the               Prior to colonization, Native communi-
construed to be caused by deviance from
                                               increase in hate crimes since 9/11 under        ties were not structured on the basis of
the Christian family ideal rather than
                                               the banner, “We’re American [or                 hierarchy, oppression or patriarchy. We
political and economic forces. As former
                                               Canadian] too.”                                 will not recreate these communities as
head of the Christian Coalition Ralph
                                                  This allegiance to “America” or              they existed prior to colonization. Our
Reed states: “The only true solution to
                                               “Canada” legitimizes the genocide and           understanding that a society without
crime is to restore the family,” and
                                               colonization of Native peoples upon             structures of oppression was possible in
“Family break-up causes poverty.”
                                               which these nation-states are founded.          the past tells us that our current political
   Unfortunately, as Navajo feminist
                                               By making anti-colonial struggle central        and economic system is anything but
scholar Jennifer Denetdale points out, the
                                               to feminist politics, Native women place        natural and inevitable. If we lived differ-
Native response to a heteronormative
                                               in question the appropriate form of             ently before, we can live differently in the
white, Christian America has often been
                                               governance for the world in general.            future.
an equally heteronormative Native nation-
                                                  In questioning the nation-state, we can         Native feminism is not simply an
alism. In her critique of the Navajo tribal
                                               begin to imagine a world that we would          insular or exclusivist “identity politics” as
council’s passage of a ban on same-sex
                                               actually want to live in. Such a political      it is often accused of being. Rather, it is
marriage, Denetdale argues that Native
                                               project is particularly important for colo-     framework that understands indigenous
nations are furthering a Christian Right
                                               nized peoples seeking national liberation       women’s struggle as part of a global move-
agenda in the name of “Indian tradition.”
                                               outside the nation-state.                       ment for liberation. As one activist stated:
   This trend is equally apparent within
                                                  Whereas nation-states are governed           “You can’t win a revolution on your own.
racial justice struggles in other communi-
                                               through domination and coercion,                And we are about nothing short of a revo-
ties of colour. As Cathy Cohen contends,
                                               indigenous sovereignty and nationhood           lution. Anything else is simply not worth
heteronormative sovereignty or racial
                                               is predicated on interrelatedness and           our time.” 5
justice struggles will effectively maintain

                                                                                                                  SOCIALIST             17
Canadian capitalism
and the dispossession
of indigenous peoples
BY TODD GORDON                                              To the chagrin of the state and business,
                                                            many indigenous people and communities
        eoliberal globalization has brought

N       with it the intensification of what
        Marxist geographer David Harvey
refers to as accumulation by dispossession.
                                                              continue to resist full absorption into
                                                                      capitalist relations.
Harvey is referring to the often violent and
predatory process by which multinational         in order to engage in the more “civilized”       Resources.
corporations, backed by capitalist states,       labour market.                                     Sociologists Vic Satzewich and Ron
expand their role and influence by dispos-                                                        Laliberte note that reservations were
sessing people of their land and liveli-         NEOLIBERALISM
                                                                                                  originally organized as a pool of cheap
hoods.                                              This agenda has intensified in the            labour to be drawn upon when needed,
   Dispossessed indigenous peoples, small        neoliberal period. Neoliberalism is the          and are still viewed by government as
farmers and peasants are forced to turn to       ruling class’s response to the economic          such. As one recent Indian Affairs and
the labour market in order to survive,           profitability crisis of the 1970s; it involves   Northern Development study stresses,
creating a cheap pool of labour for corpo-       restructuring labour relations in favour of      “The Aboriginal workforce will grow at
rate enterprises to exploit. At the same         business, gutting the welfare state and          twice the rate of the total Canadian
time, corporations can gain unhindered           privatizing public services.                     labour force in the next ten years.”
access to the resources on the now unoc-            The success of neoliberalism is in large        But to the chagrin of the state and
cupied land – agricultural land, minerals,       measure contingent on the increased              business, many indigenous people and
lumber, real estate, oil, even commodified       commodification of indigenous land and           communities continue to resist full
nature (parks, tourism). This is a central       labour, turning it into something to be          absorption into capitalist relations.
process by which capitalist imperialism          bought and sold on the market.                   Government documents salaciously note
operates.                                           Nevertheless, large segments of the           the potential indigenous labour supply
   The Canadian state’s predatory histori-       indigenous population have successfully          and the wealth of resources on indige-
cal relationship with indigenous peoples         resisted full integration into market rela-      nous land, but they also often reflect on
provides a sharp example of the dynamics         tions in their territories. The frontier of      the difficulties of getting indigenous
of accumulation by dispossession. This           capitalist expansion, in the eyes of the         people to sell their labour for a wage or
involved a variety of brutal processes,          state and business leaders, still has signif-    willingly permit the penetration of their
including the military defeat of the             icantly further to go in Canada.                 communities by resource companies.
Métis-led national liberation struggle in           In a context in which, on the one hand,
the then-Northwest Territories, the              corporations are aggressively pursuing a         MINING AND “DEVELOPMENT”
apartheid Indian Act and its Pass Laws,          cheaper and more flexible labour force as           The mining industry provides a stark
the attempted cultural genocide of the           part of its agenda of neoliberal restructur-     example of the intensifying pressures on
residential schools and the ongoing abro-        ing, and, on the other, the non-                 indigenous lands and communities. Over
gation of First Nation treaty rights.            Indigenous Canadian-born population’s            the last decade, mining companies have
   Land was taken for the development of         fertility rates remain low, indigenous           been expanding their activities into
capitalist industries, while indigenous          labour has become highly valued. This is         regions of the country where capitalist
people were “encouraged” by the Indian           clearly expressed in policy documents            development has hitherto been limited.
Act and residential schools to stop tradi-       produced by the Ministries of Indian and         Exploration has been increasing in
tional subsistence and cultural practices        Northern Affairs, Industry and Natural           northern and interior British Columbia,
                                                                                                  the northern prairies, Ontario and
Todd Gordon is an editor of New Socialist magazine and the author of Cops, Crime and              Quebec, the Yukon, Nunavut, and espe-
Capitalism: The Law-and-Order Agenda in Canada. A longer version of this article appeared in      cially the Northwest Territories since
Socialist Studies.                                                                                diamond deposits were discovered there

in the early 1990s.                             territories. It’s extremely slow
   The Mining Association of Canada             and bureaucratic, taking up to
notes that, “[m]ost mining activity occurs      fifteen years after a claim is
in northern and remote areas of the             initially made before the
country, the principal areas of Aboriginal      process is commenced.
populations.” Natural Resources Canada             That’s at least fifteen years

                                                                                                                                                  DRAWING BY TANIA WILLARD, SECWEPEMC NATION.
reports, meanwhile, that approximately          more time for indigenous lands
1200 indigenous communities are                 to be whittled away and/or
located within 200 kilometers of an             poisoned. Or fifteen years for
active mine, and this will only increase as     poverty and frustration in
exploration intensifies.                        communities to grow, leading
   The location of the majority of mining       to out-migration and making
operations is significant, because it brings    the communities more vulnera-
the industry squarely into conflict with        ble to one-sided deals with
indigenous land rights. First Nations may       corporations.
claim title to much of the land mining             Furthermore, the federal
companies seek to exploit, or oppose            government has made the extin-
mining developments that will cause             guishment of Aboriginal title a
ecological damage to traditional territo-       prerequisite of any land claims
ries and subsistence patterns.                  settlement they’ll agree to. This
   But the location of mines is also very       involves relinquishing collective
significant in a context in which, as           ownership over land and
industry and government studies indi-           subsurface resources of large parts of          ally defends the government’s right to
cate, mining is facing a labour shortage.       traditional territories – as is the case with   appropriate indigenous land for
Indigenous labour, in turn, is explicitly       the James Bay and Nisga’a comprehensive         economic reasons.
identified as central to the expansion of       agreements.                                        Of course, never too far removed from
the industry. “Workforce diversity,” as            Extinguishment – a legal form of             these strategies of dispossession is military
one industry-wide study expresses it, with      dispossession supported by Supreme              force, which we have seen mobilized in
a healthy dose of liberal veneer, is a neces-   Court decision and pursued zealously by         recent years at Oka, Gustafsen Lake,
sity for the future success of mining.          the government – is a major barrier to the      Burnt Church and Ipperwash. It also
   This is driving the growing conflicts        fair settlement of land disputes and rein-      remains a threat at the Six Nations stand-
between mining companies and First              forces the colonial status quo between the      off in Caledonia. While the state may
Nations like the Kitchenuhmaykoosib             Canadian state and indigenous nations.          wish to pursue its colonial strategy in the
Inninuwug         (Northern       Ontario),        Even where treaties exist, they are          tidier bourgeois legal realm, it will make
Kwadacha (B.C.), Tlatzen (B.C) and              repeatedly ignored and their terms are          recourse to military violence to enforce its
Kanien’kehaka (Quebec) among many               systematically broken by governments            agenda where necessary.
others. Indeed these are the tip of the         in the interest of economic develop-               The lesson for the Suretée du Quebec
iceberg, and battles like these will            ment or national security. This is the          after Oka and the RCMP after Gustafsen
continue as mining companies intensify          reality underlying the events at Oka            Lake was to invest more resources in mili-
the expansion of their ecologically violent     (where the local municipal government           tary weaponry in preparation for future
practices into indigenous territories,          tried to appropriate land for a golf            confrontations.
threatening ecosystems and the commu-           course), Ipperwash (where the military             Canadian colonialism – like colonial-
nities living in them.                          stole land and physically removed               ism around the world – has always had its
                                                members of the Stony Point commu-               bloody side. If indigenous nations won’t
STRATEGIES OF DISPOSSESSION                                                                     be compliant, capitalist expansion will be
                                                nity in order to build an army base
   In response to indigenous peoples’           during the second World War), and               defended by violence.
general unwillingness to prostrate them-        today in Caledonia (where housing                  The agenda of dispossession is not
selves to capitalism, the Canadian state is     developers are trying to build on Six           simply the misguided policy of short-
engaged in a sustained effort to dispossess     Nations’ treaty land).                          sighted or self-interested business or polit-
them of their land. This ranges from legal         These are but three of the countless         ical leaders. It is central to state and corpo-
manipulations to outright violence, as the      examples of state-sanctioned theft of           rate relations with indigenous communi-
pressures of capitalist expansion over the      treaty lands that have gained national          ties, driven by the demands of the capital-
last two decades have intensified, indeed       attention because of indigenous resistance      ist economy and shaped by a deep-seated
militarized, the colonial conflict between      in the face of serious political and military   racist view of First Nations as uncivilized
Canada and indigenous nations.                  pressure. In fact, in the Delgamuukw            and unwilling or unable to economically
   The formal land claims process, for          decision (derided by the Right and the          develop their territories. This considera-
example, facilitates the expansion of           business community as unambiguously             tion must not be forgotten in the struggle
capitalist development onto indigenous          pro-Indigenous) the Supreme Court actu-         against Canadian colonialism.5

                                                                                                                       SOCIALIST                  19

Statement of principles
ABOUT THE MOVEMENT                      traditions, ceremonies and               movement includes women and
                                        knowledges; reconnecting to and          men regardless of gender, age,
Wasáse is an intellectual and           loving the land; and, revitalizing       color, or nationality.
political movement whose ideology       indigenous languages.
is rooted in sacred wisdom. It is                                                SUPPORT
motivated and guided by                 Wasáse challenges indigenous
indigenous spiritual and ethical                                                 Wasáse does not accept funding
                                        people to reject the authority and
teachings, and dedicated to the                                                  from colonial governments or
                                        legitimacy of the colonial system
transformation of indigenous                                                     corporations. The movement is
                                        and to rebel against its institutions.
people in the midst of the severe                                                funded by contributions from its
                                        Wasáse is not a political party or
decline of our nations and the                                                   members, and it seeks material
                                        governmental organization, and its
crises threatening our existence. It                                             support and alliances with
                                        members do not seek or hold
exists to enable indigenous people                                               individuals and organizations who
                                        political office. The movement does
to live authentic, free and healthy                                              share its principles and
                                        not use violence to advance its
lives in our homelands.                                                          commitments.
                                        aims. Its political struggle is
                                        conducted through intellectual
Wasáse promotes the learning and
respecting of every aspect of our
indigenous heritage, working
together to govern ourselves using
indigenous knowledge, and
unifying to fight for our freedom
and the return of our lands. It seeks
to liberate indigenous people from                                               CONTACT
euroamerican thoughts, laws and         confrontation and mass
systems.                                communication; revealing the             Wasáse does not have an office,
                                        corruptions, frauds and abuses of        central location or staff. It is a
APPROACH                                colonizers and collaborators; and,       network of mutual support and
                                        supporting direct action in defense      coordinated action that extends in
Wasáse is a resurgence of diverse       of indigenous communities, their         all four directions across Turtle
actions. It works by awakening and      rights, and the land.                    Island. We welcome and encourage
reculturing individuals so that                                                  contact for the purposes of
indigenous thoughts are restored to     AFFILIATION                              information, affiliation or support.
their proper place in the people’s
minds and their attachment to false     Wasáse is a movement of Real
                                                                                 The Wasáse Movement
identities is broken. Members of        People who have adopted its
                                                                                   P.O. Box 1431, Kahnawake
the movement are committed to           principles and are committed to
                                                                                   Mohawk Territory J0L 1B0
the restoration of indigenous           applying indigenous teachings and
                                        values as our way of life. The

Voices from the
Indigenous Leadership
leaership forum brought together
young indigenous and settler
community leaders and activists
from across occupied Canada and
beyond at the University of Victoria
from June 5 to 16. The aim was to
begin developing an authentic
vision and workable alternatives for
political organizing. Current state-
sponsored institutions and
approaches were rejected in favour
of embracing true indigenous
principles. The ILF is a small group of people who are committed to their                                Participants at the Indigenous
homelands and local struggles, while at the same time working regionally                                            Leadership Forum.
and nationally in a coordinated effort to end colonialism in all its forms.
On these pages, we include images from the 2006 event, and highlights
from the discussions that took place.

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT?                                                  CONTINUITY, UNITY
   The Assembly of First Nations is just a lobby group for the            There is continuity to this movement. We are part of a
band council chiefs, who are basically federal employees. These         history of resistance and defence of our people. The struggle is
days, it’s a rubber stamp for the feds. In fact, people don’t realize   even more difficult and thus more honourable in urban spaces
it, but there is no democratic and legitimate Native government         where there’s no clearly defined boundary. Rural or urban, we
in all of this land.                                                    have the potential to build a unified movement by coordinat-
                                                                        ing spiritually and strategically.
   We wanted to develop ways of educating about healthy                 CONFRONTING THE SYSTEM
indigenous practices without shaming people. We decided to                 It seems like a good idea to try to go “off the grid” of the
engage with the “West Coast Night” at the Vancouver                     capitalist economy. But the Haida Gwaii live on bountiful
Friendship Centre. We worked with people to learn about the             islands that supported them for many generations, but now the
traditions of feasting, and gathered all the traditional foods we       small population of only 3000 can’t harvest enough food for
could. We were able to come up with enough traditional food             subsistence because of sport fishing. At Akwesasne, people can’t
to feed 500 people.                                                     eat their traditional foods because of PCB contamination.

                                                                                                                   SOCIALIST               21
                                              People are forced to buy their food. So we can’t just withdraw from the system,
                                              we need to build a movement that confronts it.
                                                We have the elders, the olders and the youth in our communities. It is the
                                              olders that are the problem. The elders and the youth are the real force for
                                              building the indigenous resurgence.
                                                In our language, the word wit-waak, warrior, means ‘no fear.’ This means
                                              that we are responsible for creating a safe space for our people.
                                                We’re all at different places in our development, and we need to accept that.
                                              Each community has different protocols and traditions. It’s like bringing up
Taiaiake Alfred                                 We need to learn to respect each other, and build on those things that we
                                              have in common.
                                              NO ALTERNATIVE
                                                We’re organising because we believe there’s absolutely no alternative. We
                                              have to raise up our people and build unity.
                                              RED POWER
                                                I remember after the Trudeau government introduced the White Paper on
                                              Indian Policy, about sixteen angry university students gathered in a room.
                                              That gathering gave rise to the Red Paper, and the Red Power movement in
                                              Canada. This Indigenous Leadership Forum reminds me of that moment.
                                              CREATING SPACE
                                                 Most people think of warriors as armed men wearing camouflage. But the
                                              indigenous warrior is not the same as a soldier. Soldiers serve the state; warriors
                                              serve their people. We have a social responsibility. Like the Zapatistas in
                                              Mexico, our job is to create the geographical and political space for our people
                                              to practice their way of life.
Participants at Indigenous Leadership Forum      The government is quite happy to support indigenous cultural activities
                                              such as the powwow industry. But when we exercise our traditional harvesting
                                              rights, or defend our traditional territory from commercial development, we
                                              end up in conflict situations.
                                              ORGANISING LOCALLY
                                                 We can’t go running off to other communities until we’ve addressed issues
                                              in our own community. This can be difficult. I’ve been confronted with phys-
                                              ical violence just for speaking out in disagreement with the treaty process.
                                              Sexual assault is a reality for women. We need to be prepared for this.
                                                Our warriors protect the land and the people, especially the dancers. The
                                              warriors have been stifled, and they have to regain strength. We have to heal
                                              each other, and we have to protect our lands because they’re part of that
                                              healing process.
                                              CONFRONTING MACHISMO
                                                There’s been a lot of machismo and drinking in the warrior movement. We
Participants in Indigenous Leadership Forum   need to confront and deal with these kinds of issues in order to be able to work


A young warrior’s perspective
on the conflict at Six Nations
In this interview, TAIAIAKE ALFRED speaks with a young man who                               me. I was walking around, looking at
                                                                                             them, going “I’m gonna’ get you back.” I
participated in the Six Nations protest and occupation of the                                pointed right at this one guy who
development on their lands at Douglas Creek. He was also at the                              happened to be one of the guys I hit with
centre of the physical confrontation between Six Nations people and                          the log later on!
                                                                                                When they let me go, the men had
the Ontario Provincial Police on April 20th, 2006. The young warrior                         already pushed the cops back and we were
reflects on his experiences confronting police violence, the meaning                         following them along the road walking
of indigenous leadership today, and on the long-term implication of                          towards the highway. But then we looked
                                                                                             across a field and we could see a whole
the conflict for the Haudenosaunee peoples.                                                  bunch of cops in the distance, probably
                                                                                             about a hundred of them. There weren’t
                                                                                             too many of our people over, so I started
TA: What was your involvement in the          them. And then they brought in another         leading everybody towards that area. I got
April 20th confrontation with the             old guy too, they had him all handcuffed       about forty men to follow me and we
police at Six Nations?                        up. And then they took the handcuffs off       started running across the field over to
                                              and put slip ties on, they tightened them      where the cops were. We got over there
BY THE TIME I SHOWED UP, AROUND 7 IN          real tight. I couldn’t even feel my hands.     and we pushed all those cops back again
the morning, the police had pushed               So I was sitting there, and I kept trying   towards Highway 6.
everybody off the land completely and         to hint to this guy, “Hey, that whole side’s
were formed in a line on the road. Some       open…” I was gonna book it, book               CONFRONTING POLICE VIOLENCE
of us started walking up and down that        through the field with my hands tied. I        TA: When you say you “pushed them
line, just staring them down, getting mad.    was just about to get up, I just started to    back” do you mean you had to physi-
I just got sick of it, and I went and         get up on one knee, I was about to take        cally fight them?
grabbed this log, and when I picked it up,    off, when the women came over. There
these two cops jumped on me right away.       were about three or four women, and            YEAH, WE HAD TO PUSH THEM AND SHOVE
So I started slamming and wrestling           they said to the cops, “Let him go, right      them. It was then that we saw Hazel Hill
around with them.                             now!” And when the cops said they              over in the distance get slammed by the
   Then a cop – some big black guy –          couldn’t do that, the women said,              cops, so we all went running to help her.
came and took me right down, just like        “Fucking let them go, right now!” and          We didn’t notice right away, but there
that! (laughs) He grabbed my head and         those cops just got scared, and they said      were about fifty or sixty more cops over
just threw me right down. Nobody really       “alright, alright..” They cut those ties off   there. There was like six cops on her, but
helped me; I got mad ‘cause nobody
helped me at all. When somebody did try
to jump in after a while, he got taken
down too, and then that’s when every-                I’ve had it in my mind since I was
body started jumping in. That’s when all
the men finally stepped up.                   six years old … that we were going to show the
   They got me handcuffed and carried
me away. The whole time I was just                        white people who we are
yelling and getting everybody all riled up.
They took me over the hill, behind where
                                                           [and] what we can be,
everybody was and they started slamming                no matter how many times they
me around and stomping me on my back,
kicking me. There was about eight of                   push us or try to put us down.
                                                                                                             SOCIALIST              23
we got her away. They backed off after           I saw clan mothers [at the                   TA: Why do you think the chiefs would
that. And then I kept walking at one of                                                       take that position?
the cops, the loud one, and he kept                barricade] every night. I                  YOU HEAR A LOT OF PEOPLE TALKING
telling me to “step back.” I didn’t hear                                                      about deals they may have made over
nothing, I was right in the zone, zeroed in                   never saw                       other conflicts in the past as a reason for
on that cop. I didn’t really notice the gun                                                   the mistrust. Some people had heard that
pointed at me.                                           one Chief there,                     the MPs in the Hamilton area had
   He kept yelling at me. Finally, he hit                                                     drafted up an order in support of what
me. I looked at him, and then I looked                       not once in
                                                                                              was going on, but that Dave General told
back ‘cause I could hear something click                                                      them, “Don’t listen to the Confederacy
and then all of a sudden I saw him shoot
                                                      the entire blockade,
                                                                                              council.” They were going to get a bunch
it. It was like in slow-motion; I could               I never saw a Chief.                    of people together to go right down to
actually see it, it looked like a red ball                                                    bust up Dave General and take over the
coming at me right up that line. There’s a                                                    band council – they were so pumped up,
little line up right into the taser. I could                                                  it was funny!
see that it looked red, full of energy or        and it was awesome. After we pushed             I was confused myself when it came to
something. And then I had a reaction; I          them all out I was just dazed, and I         the Confederacy chiefs though. The
just saw my arm go up and knock it right         looked out in the field, there was just      Confederacy had a meeting, and they said
off of me… it was cool. It just pissed me        people, swarms, everywhere. It just          that the secretary and the lawyer that the
right off though! Talk about “in the             straightened my back right up. I held my     Confederacy always calls upon were the
zone”! I’d never experienced that before.        head up.                                     two telling the chiefs to put a stop to
   I flipped right out and started scream-                                                    everything. The secretary, Tom, came
ing at those cops. “Is that all you fucking      CONFUSION
                                                                                              down there and was telling everybody
got!?” stuff like that, being real loud. I hit   TA: That’s awesome. But thinking             that the chiefs aren’t supporting what’s
a couple of them. Somebody had to pull           back, was there anybody who would            going on here now because, “we thought
me back because they probably would              talk differently from you about it? Is       it would be peaceful but it’s kind of gone
have shot me again! (laughs) I scared            there anybody in the community who           beyond what we agreed to support in the
them after that, though. When they saw           opposed what you were doing?                 beginning, so we’re not supporting it.”
I didn’t go down after being hit, it really      I REMEMBER, IN THE FIRST WEEK OF THE            It was confusing to me. The whole
scared them. About three or four of them         protest, the Confederacy chiefs actually     point of doing all of this is to reclaim
ran and jumped in their trucks – they            came there and said, “Take the blockades     what is rightfully ours. So why would
really ran, too! They were scared. So that       down. We don’t want them there at all.”      anybody not support it, especially our
was pretty much it; we had pushed them           The chiefs came there and the people         traditional council? People involved were
back into Caledonia.                             said, “No, we’re not taking them down.”      all pretty much thinking, “Screw the
                                                 Even [Chief ] Dave General and the band      Confederacy council if they don’t want to
TA: How did you feel after all that was          council chiefs came there too. He actually   support us.” The clan mothers there were
over and the barricade went back to              got smacked right in the face by one of      still supporting us though. For a couple
normal?                                          the guys! (laughs) and he had to leave       of days, I was really confused. We don’t
EVERYBODY WAS JUST IN SHOCK. I                   because everybody just got mad after a       want to follow the elected system, but
remember going home later that day and           while. He came there calm, and he came       then our Confederacy system is telling us
just sitting there with everything starting      there in a respectful manner, but the        to walk away.
to set in, everything slowly started to          things he was saying were… ah, his plan
                                                 was that he wanted to hand out               TA: What about the clan mothers? It
come back to me. I was thinking, “Holy
                                                 pamphlets. I mean, by the time he did        seems like they are more involved and
shit, what the hell just happened?” Over
                                                 that, the land would’ve been developed.      supportive of the land reclamation
that whole time that I just talked about, I
didn’t even remember when it actually
happened. It took a couple of days for it        TA: I really don’t think people give a       I SAW CLAN MOTHERS THERE EVERY
to actually set in.                              damn about pamphlets anyway.                 night. I never saw one Chief there, not
   It was a weird feeling. I’ve never felt       WE SAID, “NO, WE NEED ACTION NOW.”           once in the entire blockade, I never saw a
that way before. It felt good, though. Me,       And he said “No, we can’t do that.           Chief. But there were clan mothers there
I’ve had it in my mind since I was six           They’re going to send in the army.” All      sitting with the people, talking with us and
years old, and I knew one day, and always        our guys at the blockades said “bring it     supporting us any way they could. Giving
waited for the time, that we were going to       on.” They’re ready to stand for this,        us coffee, staying up with us all night, not
show the white people who we are, who            they’re not going to take it anymore. It     until three or four in the morning would
we really are, what we can be, no matter         really hurt me, though, to see our own       they go home. It’s the old women, seventy-
how many times they push us or try to            band chiefs in there, actually coming        year-olds, doing that for us. Not one chief
put us down. It really showed that day,          there and saying that.                       there. And these chiefs are young.

        Indigenous women
  leading the struggle. Art
         by Tania Willard,
       Secwepemc Nation

LEADERSHIP                                    TA: What are your thoughts on leader-        ers. They were there, they supported us
TA: So what do you think has been the         ship in our communities now?                 strongly. My view on the band council
impact of all this?                                                                        has shifted lately… I’d get called down at
                                              THAT BAND COUNCIL BROUGHT WAY
I SAW SOMETHING FOR THE FIRST TIME            more support than our traditional            home by some of the old people if I said
that I thought I would never see. I saw       system! Yeah, there was that one guy, the    that. I’d probably get slapped in the head
our people rise. But then we saw our          main chief Dave General, and a group in      (laughs).
traditional government fall. That’s how I     there that totally denounced us, but there      We just need a strong leader, and that’s
see it. The power of the people is strong.    were some councilors, they were with us      all it’s going to take. That’s the role of a
But we just need strong leaders; that’s the   every day. I don’t know how many times       leader: to start a vision in the people and
thing.                                        the councilors were there, eating with us    give them hope. That’s all it is, just show
                                              and sharing food on an individual basis.     them a new way of hope, a new way of
                                              They just came as community support-         thinking. 5

                                                                                                            SOCIALIST              25
                                          solidarity at the Six
                                          Nations’ barricade                                                                                      BY RICHARD DAY
                                                                                                                                                  AND SEAN HABERLE

                                          I    ndigenous peoples and settler soci-
                                               eties have a long and complex history
                                               of interaction in the Americas. While
                                          unequal colonial relationships have
                                          always been — and continue to be — the
                                                                                          direct action and local, consensus-based
                                                                                          decision-making processes, and the use of
                                                                                          non-statist federations to link communi-
                                                                                          ties and nations.
                                                                                                                                        are interested in these bourgeoning
                                                                                                                                        efforts to create solid and lasting political
                                                                                                                                        alliances between anarchists and indige-
                                                                                                                                        nous peoples, and in the questions that
                                                                                             In recent years these commonalities        arise when these disparate identities find
                                          norm, there have also been situations in        have begun to be explored more deeply,        themselves working together in solidarity
                                          which settlers and indigenous people            self-consciously and critically from both     and support. We feel that there is some-
                                          have worked together to resist state domi-      directions. They are apparent in the          thing new going on, something perhaps
                                          nation, corporate exploitation, racism,         anarcho-indigenist politics of certain        historic, but of course also very tenuous
                                          patriarchy and wanton destruction of the        Haudenoshonee, Dene and Nuu-chah-             and fragile.
                                          land. Anarchists in particular, since at        nulth writers and activists, in the strug-       To keep the discussion grounded, we
                                          least the time of Kropotkin, have noted         gles of the Magonist Popular                  will base it on the ongoing efforts of anar-
                                          commonalities between their values and          Coordinating Committee (COMPA) in             chist activists to work in solidarity with
                                          practices and those of some indigenous          Oaxaca, and in formations such as No          the Six Nations people, who are fighting
                                          communities and nations. They have              One is Illegal and Indigenous Peoples         to defend their territory against capitalist
                                          found common ground in the rejection            Solidarity Movement. In this article, we      development. One of the authors spent a
                                          of arbitrary authority, a preference for                                                      few days behind the lines; the other
                                                                                                                                        worked on raising local awareness in
                                          Richard Day is an anarchist activist and scholar based in Kingston, Ontario. He teaches at    Kingston; and we include a third voice,
                                          Queen’s University and is associated with the Marble Rock Cooperative Centre for Rural        that of an anarchist activist named “Wil,”
                                          Living and Education. Sean Haberle is an anarchist activist and graduate student at Queen’s   a non-indigenous supporter who was on
                                          University in Kingston, Ontario.

                                          26 SOCIALIST
the reserve for about three weeks.               difficult, too risky, to put oneself on the    that are all too common: supporters
   We have very few answers to the ques-         line as a person, that is, as one individual   working only with other supporters,
tions we raise, since at this point – or         coming out to be met by another.               tending to “take over” decision-making
perhaps at any point – the process of                                                           processes and feeling “left out” when they
                                                 ON THE BARRICADES AT SIX NATIONS
questioning seems more important. We                                                            are unable to do so. As Wil points out:
are also aware that this is an evolving             Both of these dangers were lurking          “There was no venue for non-natives to
situation, which we discuss primarily in         behind the Six Nations barricade. This         participate or to add anything to what
terms of events that occurred up to              was evident to Wil, a self-identified anar-    was going on — there was no, ‘what do
around April of 2006.                            chist, when he answered a call-out for         our non-native supporters think about
                                                 support from one of the clan mothers           this?’ But that would be a very touchy
WHAT IS SOLIDARITY?                              and went to Caledonia in early March.          thing, because what you have to do is
   The pathways that exist between anar-         His reflections on his experience show         build relationships with people and
chist and indigenous nations and                 that while there was an earnest attempt at     maybe they’ll take your suggestions to the
communities are by no means easy to              support and a will to learn on both sides      table, or maybe they won’t.”
find or to follow. They are strewn with          at Caledonia, there were are also many            Building personal relationships is
obstacles, some which are remnants of            disconnects.                                   crucial to building trust; and trust is
colonial relations of power, and some               As the only non-indigenous person           crucial to solidarity. Apart from attempt-
that are being created even as we work           present for much of the time he was            ing to make a concrete difference in a
towards a truly postcolonial way of coex-        there, Wil encountered both curiosity          short-term situation, this is probably the
isting. For example, the wording we are          and mistrust about why he had come.            most important thing one can do in an
using here shows signs of tension: anar-         “Trust is something that really it takes a     action of this sort. For, after the barri-
chists tend not to identify with nations,        little while to gain with anyone... It must    cades come down, it is only the social
while many indigenous peoples do. Also,          have taken about a week before they            relationships that will remain, intangible
as a predominantly western tradition             really started opening up to me, and that      but effective, productive and lasting.
(though that is changing), anarchist             was after I was arrested with them. That
conceptions of relations between                 showed that I wasn’t going to just piss off    LIVING THE POSTCOLONIAL
communities/nations and individuals are          at the first sign of danger, because that is      None of us are located in exactly the
quite different from those that are preva-       always a question, it is fine to sit around    same way, no matter how much we might
lent among indigenous peoples.                   and eat the hamburgers and shoot the           have in common. Therefore, in order to
   It is easy to say that dealing with these     shit, but what happens when you really         have a productive dialogue around diffi-
obstacles, of which we have named only           put yourself in danger, because talk is        cult issues, we must have the courage to
two among many, presents a complex set           cheap.”                                        speak and listen respectfully and care-
of problems of solidarity. But what is soli-        Many of the other settlers who came to      fully. If we orient only, or primarily, to
darity, exactly? We find the definition          act as support were not able to build this     avoiding offense, we cannot really know
used by anti-racist feminist Chandra             kind of relationship. “Usually when the        ourselves or each other, and we cannot
Mohanty to be compelling: solidarity             other supporters were coming it was a          change. This, we would argue, is precisely
means that I stand with you, against             couple at a time and it is not the kind of     the promise of solidarity: one person or
another. On this definition, it is very          culture where people greet you with open       group or nation, working with other
important to note, relations of solidarity       arms... for a lot of non-natives they didn’t   people or groups or nations, to help each
can only exist between disparate identi-         know how to start these conversations,         other achieve common goals, and
ties — if I am you, I cannot be in soli-         they ended up just going into these jobs       perhaps to learn something along the
darity with you. This point is important         and working and building and cooking           way.
because it helps us to highlight one of the      and then they’d sleep and then they get           Unfortunately, the Canadian state and
dangers of this kind of work — that of           up and then they’d start building and          the capitalist corporations it nurtures are
excessively identifying with the other, of       cooking all day because I guess they           unlikely to change their ways in the near
thinking that one somehow is the other,          wanted to earn their keep and they felt        future. Thus there will be many oppor-
which, especially in colonial contexts, can      like they weren’t doing anything.”             tunities to further explore the possibili-
lead to the perpetuation of unequal rela-           There was also a difference between the     ties we have only begun to discuss here.
tions of power.                                  European and non-European supporters.          It is an excellent sign of things to come
   On the other hand, there are also             “It was actually white/European descent        that so many non-indigenous people
dangers associated with taking too much          people who were more like into the             have chosen to stand with the Six
distance. Again, especially in a context of      working all the time and got caught up in      Nations, in so many different ways. We
hundreds of years of colonialism and a           that and were more awkward. I think that       know that we are very far from realizing
racist, apartheid state, it is all too easy to   it was because there was a lot more            the promise of the Two-Row Wampum
let oneself off the hook by refusing to          tension between the indigenous people          agreement; yet we are compelled to strive
make any effort at all to know the               and those white people as well.”               for the nearest approximation to it that
“other,” on the pretense that this is not           These racialized tensions led to the        we can imagine, and that we can realize
what he or she desires. It just seems too        reproduction of certain ways of relating       here and now. 5

                                                                                                                SOCIALIST               27
Indigenous-labour solidarity
and the Six Nations land dispute
AN INTERVIEW WITH ROLF GERSTENBERGER                                                          Caledonia was be-cause you weren’t
                                                                                              really sure if you owned the land or not!
                                                                                              So it turns out everyone in Caledonia
Rolf Gerstenberger is President of the United Steelworkers Union Local                        knows that; they may not have liked it,
1005 in Hamilton, Ontario. Members of his union local were some of                            but they know that this is… you know,
                                                                                              the six miles on each side of the Grand
the first non-natives to answer the call for support from Six Nations                         River, is Native land. They knew that.
after the Ontario Provincial Police invaded the territory and attacked                        And then they would say, “Well why
the peaceful occupation at Douglas Creek. He was interviewed on                               didn’t the Native people raise this issue
                                                                                              before?” And then we would tell them
video at the barricade in May 2006.                                                           that the Natives did, but unfortunately
                                                                                              the courts won’t listen to them and it
                                                                                              isn’t until they take a stand that the

O           ur local first came out here
            after a week of local media
            propaganda about how “some-
thing has to be done” about the stand
taken by the Native people here at
                                              to prevent that from happening again.
                                              They asked for people to come out to just
                                              be witnesses in case the police attack. So
                                              our members have been coming either as
                                              a group or just on their own just to be
                                                                                              government is forced to deal with it. And
                                                                                              then of course when they do take a
                                                                                              stand, like they did at Oka, and
                                                                                              Ipperwash, and Gustafsen Lake, they’re
                                                                                              attacked. So it’s not an easy thing for the
Douglas Creek. The local media were           around and support the Native people in         Native people to take this step, but at the
trying to whip up support for the police      their just demands.                             end of the day they have no choice.
or the army to move in and clean them                                                            It always comes down to whether you
out. So we came the first day with our        NO CHOICE                                       know the history or not. Hopefully this
flags and about twenty of our members            I got lots of calls from union members       will be settled through negotiations. The
to lend support.                              who live in this area. Basically, my argu-      problem is there are about 600 unre-
   For us, supporting Native peoples’         ment to them was, first of all, they all have   solved land claims in Canada right now,
hereditary rights and their land claims is    to agree that we don’t want to settle this      and that may open a can of worms. So
a motherhood issue. It’s been 500 years of    through law and order, by beating               this is what the government has to think
injustice done to the Native people; it’s     someone, by beating the Native people           about when they’re settling this
never been resolved. They had been            up, or by shooting them, or arresting           problem. But it’s about time that these
promised certain things and the Crown         them. There was a general view that that        things are settled. Five hundred years is
never upheld their promise. They had          shouldn’t happen.                               a long time to not settle a question as
almost a million acres of land, and no           It was interesting                           basic as this. 5
sooner did the Crown promise it in            because every one of
1784, they started taking it away. Today      the callers said,
they have less than five percent of the       “What the Native
land still available to them.                 people are doing is
   Our position was that you can’t solve      illegal, this is an                                                                           ART BY TANIA WILLARD, SECWEPEMC NATION.
this question with police attacks, or the     illegal occupation.”
army coming in, or shooting someone, or       The more I discussed
arresting someone, or making it a law-        with them, as far as
and-order issue. It’s a political question    the history of it, it
that has to be settled politically, through   turns out that all the
negotiations. So when the OPP riot            residents of Cale-
police moved in and arrested 16 of the        donia know that
Native people, attacked them, beat them       there’s a land dis-
up, tazered them, had assault rifles out,     pute. Twenty or 30
and thought they could just clean up this     years ago, the reason
small group of “trouble makers,” then, of     you could buy
course, the Native people took measures       houses cheaply in

Nuu-chah-nulth struggles
against sexual violence
On May 5th a small delegation                            INTERVIEW WITH CHIINUUKS (RUTH OGILVIE)
of young Nuu-chah-nulth
                                                                 AND NA’CHA’UAHT (CLIFF ATLEO JR)
activists visited the community
of Pacheedaht, marking the start                  Glen Coulthard (GC): Let’s start with a          nulth society. Traditionally women were
of a 10-day journey through all                   little background information about the          to be held up and respected, since they
                                                  Stop the Violence March that you both            have the ability to give life. He told us the
15 Nuu-chah-nulth communities
                                                  helped organize. What served as your moti-       ayts-tuu-thlaa served to publicly acknowl-
on Vancouver Island. The Stop                     vation?                                          edge our young women by lifting them
the Violence March was                                                                             up and placing a beautiful shawl on their
                                                  Chiinuuks: The march began with the              shoulders, displaying their family history
conceived to focus attention on                   women of Tla-o-qui-aht, many of whom             or teachings. She would also be instructed
the issue of domestic violence                    are my aunts and cousins. About a year           by aunts, grandmothers and other family
and to clearly state that it would                ago, Tla-o-qui-aht held an ayts-tuu-thlaa        members on what it meant to be a young
                                                  [a coming of age ceremony] for a young           woman, how we need to carry ourselves
no longer be tolerated. The                       woman and two weeks later she was                and live respectfully rooted in our Nuu-
intent of the march was to create                 brutally attacked by someone from our            chah-nulth ways.
                                                  community. The Tla-o-qui-aht women
space for Nuu-chah-nulth
                                                  were outraged and held a march to                Na’cha’uaht: To get things started, we set
women and men to speak the                        demand that the violence be stopped              a date two months out and challenged
truth about their experiences,                    within Tla-o-qui-aht. David Dennis               ourselves to get all the organizing done
                                                  attended the march and was asked to              quickly. We were all feeling a profound
space to begin a process of                       carry the message to all the Nuu-chah-           need to do something, anything, to start
restoring dignity and balance to                  nulth territories.                               somewhere. For me it was almost a phys-
their communities by taking                          A year later, Dave, Cliff and myself          ical ache, an ongoing sense of urgency
                                                  were having lunch together in Victoria           and feeling of illness that only some sort
responsibility and action. In                     and I expressed pain and anger over the          of action could alleviate. I couldn’t help
addition to creating space and                    fact that not one woman in my family has         but ask myself how, as an indigenous
                                                  been unaffected by the violence that             man, I could stand by and not do some-
awareness, the travelling
                                                  occurs regularly within our homes and            thing to stop this violence against our
delegation felt it was important                  communities. It disturbed all of us to           own people.
to leave something positive in                    realize the effect that internalized violence
                                                                                                   LOCAL COMMITMENT
                                                  had within indigenous communities
each community. Shawls were                       when compared to the rest of Canada.             GC: How do you see the work you accom-
presented to a select number of                      I was also motivated by the gestures of       plished with the march relating to the
                                                  our people once we started organizing the        previous tactics of decolonization taken on
female community members in
                                                  march itself. My older cousin stopped by         by the West Coast Warrior Society
the spirit of the ayts-tuu-thlaa, a               my house for a visit and expressed his           [WCWS]? Was the march meant to address
coming of age ceremony meant                      good feelings about us taking on this            issues that weren’t being addressed within
                                                  issue. He reminded us of our haa-huu-            the Warrior movement?
to honour and hold up young
                                                  pah [teachings and stories] about the
Nuu-chah-nulth women.                             traditional role of women in Nuu-chah-           Chiinuuks: I think that one of the funda-
                                                                                                   mental differences between the march
                                                                                                   and other WCWS tactics was that we
Na’cha’uaht is from Ahousaht of the Nuu-chah-nulth nation on his father’s side, and Kitselas
of the Tsimshian nation on his mother’s side. He is a former West Coast Warrior, aspiring Wii-
                                                                                                   realized, through the help of many good
uk, and political science student at the University of Victoria. Chiinuuks is from Tla-o-qui-aht   women and elders, that we couldn’t
and Checlesaht of the Nuu-chah-nulth nation. She is also a former member of the West               simply “drop-in” to communities, expect
Coast Warrior Society, an aspiring Wii-uk and currently in the Indigenous Governance               to adequately address a problem, and
Program at the University of Victoria.                                                             then immediately move on to the next

                                                                                                                         SOCIALIST                 29
                                                                                                                          nulth march

“issue” or community. Our intent was to       STEPPING BACK                                   n’t legitimately call ourselves warriors if
both politicize and provide support in        Na’cha’uaht: After the disbandment of           our homes are in such a deplorable state.
terms of broadening, and in some cases        the WCWS, I began to reflect a lot on               So essentially the men in the warrior
building from scratch, the ability for        the relative effectiveness of our actions. It   movement backed up and the women
communities to defend themselves              didn’t take a lot to realize that our           stepped forward, and we began to
against all forms of violence and oppres-     approaches were deeply flawed, albeit           dialogue. It’s important to note, however,
sion.                                         well intentioned for the most part.             that we didn’t “allow” the women to step
   We knew that in order to be effective      Although many of us understood that             forward, but for the most part just shut
we needed to ask ourselves what were the      disbanding was the right thing to do, we        up and vacated some space. It’s a constant
most pressing threats to our people. In       also knew that our communities still            struggle not to revert back to paternalis-
doing so we realized that the internaliza-    needed people committed to taking               tic or chauvinistic positions, but instead
tion of violence within our homes and         action. So we spent a lot of time sitting       be quiet and listen and engage equally.
communities had reached staggering            with family members and community               The previous incarnation of the warrior
proportions. Although fully aware and         elders in order to better understand the        movement mostly excluded or down-
equipped to defend ourselves against          roles and responsibilities of our Wit-waak      played the roles of women. In retrospect,
state violence, the WCWS had not              [warriors].                                     it’s not hard to see why previous initia-
addressed the issue of sexual violence           Among other teachings, we learned            tives ultimately failed to leave any kind of
occurring at this level.                      that the primary responsibility of a Wii-       lasting legacy.
   So basically, I took up my responsibil-    uk [warrior] was to ensure the safety of
                                                                                              OUTSIDE THE SYSTEM
ity as an indigenous woman to call a stop     the home and to protect the most vulner-
to the violence, and challenged the men       able in our communities from any threat,        GC: Could you speak to the importance of
to do something about it as well. We real-    wherever it may come from.                      organizing outside the colonial-state
ized that in many communities and fami-       Unfortunately, issues such as suicide and       system?
lies, the subject of violence is so normal-   domestic violence top the list of actual
ized that no one speaks about it. It then     threats in our communities. This tends to       Chiinuuks: I think it goes without
became clear that carrying the initial        contrast with the more “sexy” or “glori-        saying that if I want to remain an authen-
message of the Tla-o-qui-aht women            ous” issues of resource access or land          tic Kousa [human being, real person],
ought to be one of our biggest initiatives.   protection, but we realized that we could-      organizing must always fall outside of the

colonial system. Everyone knows that the      daunting task to sort through the debris      indigenous principles. I find it important
state has always sought to destroy indige-    of colonialism and separate it from the       to acknowledge that we are struggling at
nous ways of being in the world. The          spirit or ethics of our traditions. I guess   a time when many of our traditional
kind of organizing we began with in this      that’s what decolonizing from an indige-      practices and teachings have been
march is rooted in our responsibility as      nous perspective is all about.                corrupted by colonial schools, churches
indigenous peoples to our land, home             One particularly tragic example has        and the whole imperial experience.
and community. We organize on the basis       been the silencing of women in the name       Fortunately, however, in Nuu-chah-nulth
of the threat of the day. Today this means    of tradition. For example, there are          territory, I believe we still have access to
neo-colonialism and its effects, which        hereditary chiefs today who have violated     many of the important values and princi-
includes the systemic rage that has turned    and molested women and children.              ples that can guide us in developing
inward on ourselves. Since the colonial-      Often they don’t face any consequences        revised practices to meet our modern
state can’t address these issues, we must     for their behaviour within the communi-       challenges.
find solutions that derive from our own       ties. This, as I understand it, is not our
communities.                                                                                NEXT STEPS
                                              way. Any violation of women and chil-
                                              dren was met with severe consequences in      GC: What’s your next move? How do you
Na’cha’uaht: For me, the colonial-state       previous times, and at the very least these   hope to sustain the effect that you’ve had in
system was never meant to liberate us or      men would be removed from their seat as       your communities over the long haul?
allow us to be ourselves and craft our
futures as we see fit. Well intentioned                                                     Na’cha’uaht: In each of the communities
people and efforts get swallowed up by                                                      we visited we established solid connec-
                                               We organize on the basis                     tions with people who are equally
the band councils and government
programs to a point where they, at best,         of the threat of the day.                  committed to bringing about the changes
simply prop up a corrupt social-safety                                                      we all desire. The mostly urban organiz-
net, or worse, fundamentally change who               Today this means                      ers will be gathering again, this time with
we are as indigenous people.                                                                our community contacts. We’ll begin
   The benefit of organizing outside this        neo-colonialism and its                    developing plans that can support locally
system has been the opportunity to show                                                     driven initiatives. Additionally, many of
people that we can achieve tangible              effects, which includes                    us feel that we must address the same
results without relying on government                                                       issues in cities, where more than 65% of
funding or direction. It has been an              the systemic rage that                    Nuu-chah-nulth people actually live.
awesome experience to see people realize                                                    Some preliminary discussions have taken
                                                     has turned inward                      place on the organizing of a similar tour
that our ways, Nuu-chah-nulth ways and
teachings, are still valid and can guide us              on ourselves.                      through the urban areas.
in a way that could never be achieved
within the colonial-state system.                                                           Chiinuuks: We’ve also been asked to
   Of course, this is not to say that there   leaders. My grandfather Cha-chin-sun-         make the march an annual event, and we
aren’t challenges, which often relate to      up met with some elders in Campbell           intend to do that. We hope to gather the
our own impatience and desire for imme-       River who are beginning to sort out some      core people that we contacted in each
diate change. In rejecting government         of this business. These elders are gravely    community in order to help each other
funding we have needed to be more             concerned about what chiefs are getting       find solutions that suit the needs of each
creative in terms of organizing and fund-     away with and want to reinstate the           community. We don’t want to prescribe a
raising. In the long-run, however, this       ability to remove them from their posi-       “one-size-fits-all” solution. Each commu-
will help us develop greater independ-        tions if need be.                             nity experiences different forms of
ence, which adds to our desire to do             I’ve also experienced silencing in the     violence and has their own feelings about
things right.                                 name of tradition. Some so-called “tradi-     what their specific needs are.
                                              tionalists” continue to claim that women
ABUSING TRADITION                                                                           Na’cha’uaht: Hopefully, in addressing
                                              are not supposed to speak, because we’re
GC: What relationship do you see between      apparently too vulnerable to the power of     these immediate issues by employing
traditionalism and the struggle against       politics [laughter]. However, even if this    time-tested Nuu-chah-nulth principles
sexual violence in your communities? Do       “tradition” were so, today our sheer lack     and teachings, we will be able to craft a
you ever see tradition being misused to       of numbers requires that I take up my         future where our children will grow-up
justify gender violence?                      responsibility and pull my weight in          knowing their language and history and
                                              terms of this struggle for our people.        be able to lead us out of these dark neo-
Chiinuuks: The relationship between                                                         colonial times. I believe that we can all do
traditionalism and sexual violence is         Na’cha’auht: I agree; tradition gets          something of significance, even if our
particularly difficult to confront because    misused all the time. This is a constant      ultimate goals are to be realized genera-
of the effect that colonialism has had in     challenge for any young indigenous            tions from now. 5
the minds and hearts of our people. It’s a    person seeking change by using authentic

                                                                                                             SOCIALIST                31

Red baiting and red herrings

A          n indigenous woman and             Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board.         tions as a constitutionally protected
           former employee with the              The external opposition was led by the    Aboriginal right under Section 35. When
           Federation of Saskatchewan         FSIN. The FSIN is a provincial organiza-     this strategy was unsuccessful, the FSIN
Indian Nations (FSIN) recently confided       tion that represents the elected band        lawyers also argued that provincial laws
her frustration with the apathetic            council chiefs of member First Nations       should not apply to Indian institutions
approach to collective organizing             in Saskatchewan. The FSIN’s chiefs           because of the federal/provincial division
amongst her co-workers. When asking           passed a motion in legislative assembly      of responsibilities under Section 91 and
her colleagues why they did not want a        stating its concern that labour unions       Section 92 of the Canadian constitution.
union to represent them, a frequent reply     were foreign and would harm the              Ultimately, the court challenges failed
was that it was “not our way.” In other       “conciliatory manner of dealing with         and the union was successfully certified.
words, organizing to protect workers’         issues of concern.” FSIN Grand Chief            Yet the most harmful opposition was
rights is “un-indigenous.”                    Perry Bellegarde expressed their concerns    not external but internal. This opposition
   That these views have taken root           as being a matter of self-determination,     culminated in a bitter fight that led to the
among employees is indicative of the          arguing that band councils should have       union’s decertification in January 2003. A
seductive sway that fixed notions of tradi-   the right to manage their own labour         former casino employee and union
tion hold on indigenous people. Many of       relations without provincial interference.   supporter blamed the union’s decertifica-
us fear being accused of what the Plains         When the struggle to establish the        tion in part on vague notions that the
Cree refer to as moniyakaso; that is,         union moved into the courtroom, the          union would in some way negatively
“acting or behaving as a white person.”       FSIN strategy shifted from self-determi-     “affect First Nations culture.” This leads us
This article explores these themes in the     nation to the recognition of labour rela-    back to the FSIN employee’s assertion that
context of the highly publicized establish-                                                labour unions “are not our way.” What is
ment and eventual elimination of a                                                         the source of these notions that labour
labour union at the Northern Lights                                                        unions are harmful to indigenous ways?
Casino in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.                                                        The FSIN chiefs propagated these
                                                                                               notions and have used this false front
NOT OUR WAY?                                                                                        of nationalism as a red herring to
   Is participating in a union or develop-                                                                  maintain their power over
ing class awareness incompatible with                                                                               labour relations in
being an indigenous person? This ques-
tion underlies the rise and fall of the
Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Local
37, the only attempt to establish a labour
union at a First Nations casino in                                                                                                         DRAWING BY GORD HILL, KWA KWAKA WAKW.

Saskatchewan. Although the union at the
Northern Lights Casino was certified in
1999, it faced almost immediate external
and internal opposition despite securing
a 30% raise in wages through the

Brock Pitawanakwat is Anishinaabe
(Whitefish River First Nation) and a PhD
student in the Indigenous Governance
Programs at the University of Victoria and
a faculty member at the First Nations
University of Canada in Regina.

indigenous institutions. This form of         Such an incomplete understanding is self-     created colonizing agents among indige-
red-baiting is a classic divide-and-          serving for the settlers who seek to ignore   nous people. These colonizing agents
conquer technique to prevent marginal-        their own culpability in the ongoing theft    were entrenched and legitimated as the
ized people from organizing to confront       of indigenous territories, and their own      chief and council members of the Indian
their oppressors. Indian reserves in          continued benefits from the exploitation      Act.
Canada are rife with oppression that          of indigenous peoples.                           These social engineering attempts,
replicates the colonial order, and band          Indigenous peoples negotiated treaties     although unsuccessful, have completely
councils are a classic example of indirect    with colonial authorities to allow arriving   altered the indigenous world. Indigenous
colonial rule.                                settlers to share their lands. Although       communities are no longer voluntary
   Indian band councils are a foreign         indigenous peoples were cognizant that the    associations of free and independent
imposition that replaced our traditional      massive influx of foreigners was irre-        people who control their own means of
forms of governance. The FSIN chiefs’         versible, they were determined to maintain    production. The Indian Act regulates
public opposition to labour unions as         their autonomy and expressed this condi-      rules of membership with a reified
“foreign” is thus laughable when juxta-       tion repeatedly in Treaty negotiations.       concept of community determined by
posed with its use of non-native lawyers      However, colonial authorities repeatedly      one’s association with an Indian Band and
to argue in non-native courts based on        violated this promise of autonomy.            a reserve.
non-native law that the colonizer’s              In utter disregard for the spirit of the      There is obvious hypocrisy in harkening
constitution should reinforce the band        Treaties, an Anglo-European economic          back to tradition when adopting non-
councils’ ability to deny their own           and spiritual model was forcibly applied      indigenous institutions such as gaming
workers the right to organize.                through the destruction of the traditional    casinos and universities. However, these
   A second highly publicized labour          economy. In its place, colonial agents        accusations have ramifications for indige-
dispute has emerged between the FSIN          offered a semi-feudal vision of a             nous employees seeking better wages and
and another one of its institutions: First    Christian-Indian peasant class to be          working conditions, as well as those who
Nations University of Canada (FNUNIV          created with reserves and residential         believe in the potential of indigenous-
– commonly referred to in the media as        schools. The reserve policy disrupted the     labour alliances to challenge neo-liberalism.
FNUC). The faculty of FNUNIV                  traditional economy as indigenous
                                                                                            TOWARD A CRITICAL TRADITIONALISM
successfully fought FSIN opposition to        peoples lost access to most of their lands
joining the union representing faculty        and resources. The residential school            Indigenous labour relations are compli-
members at the University of Regina, the      policy was designed to take in indigenous     cated by clashing notions of citizenship
University of Regina Faculty Association      children and produce compliant labour-        and class. Indeed, many indigenous
(URFA).                                       ers for Canadian farms and factories.         people continue to maintain an ambiva-
   Widespread fears persist among             With the foundations of indigenous soci-      lent view of organized labour because
FNUNIV faculty and staff that the FSIN        eties shaken so deeply, all forms of social   unions have not always served the imme-
seeks to break this union. When the           organization were vulnerable to external      diate interests of their communities. This
FSIN management conducted a recent            influence.                                    has especially been the case in the
shake-up at the FNUNIV, the resultant            The emerging capitalist class in indige-   resource extraction industry, which often
series of firings and resignations led to     nous communities has exploited ongoing        pits the rights of non-native workers
the filing of 31 grievances with their        and deep-seated fears of assimilation         against indigenous nations whose lands
union. Although this dispute is ongoing,      amongst our peoples. Indigenous organi-       continue to be stolen for capitalist devel-
faculty have voiced their concerns and        zations have used a nationalist and xeno-     opment. Furthermore, class-based ideolo-
challenged management through URFA.           phobic propaganda campaign to oppose          gies generally view any ethnic or national
                                              labour unions. Such “sell-out” slander has    identity as a threat to class unity.
CULTURE OF RESISTANCE                         many forms that range from accusations           Although labour unions are no
   The unique aspects of indigenous           of being an “apple” (red on the outside       panacea for colonization, we need to ask
labour relations require some historical      and white on the inside) to being called a    ourselves whether their increased profile
explanation. Centuries of forced assimi-      “hang-around-the-fort Indian” (one who        in native communities would empower
lation policies by Canada, the United         prefers non-native society to indigenous      indigenous employees and curb the
States and Britain have fostered a retalia-   ways).                                        exploitative practices occurring in our
tory culture of resistance among indige-         Increasing capitalist economic integra-    workplaces. In certain contexts this
nous peoples. When the old ways were          tion of indigenous communities produces       would undoubtedly be the case.
under external attack, it became crucial      growing economic disparity. A similar         Informing our perspectives on these
to hold on to them to prevent cultural        political process created a power disparity   issues with a critical traditionalism,
markers from being swept away.                with the establishment of a comprador         rather than a naïve cultural nationalism,
   The long history of colonization has       native elite by the British and later the     would go a long way towards ensuring
solidified the myth that indigenous lands     Canadian governments. Traditional lead-       that our self-determination efforts do not
and resources were surrendered to the         ership was attacked and undermined to         end up replicating the structures of
Crown following an invented conquest.         put in place a system of indirect rule that   domination that we seek to transform. 5

                                                                                                             SOCIALIST               33
                                 The party’s over
                                 N U N AV U T                                                                                                   BY JACKIE PRICE

                                                                                                                              language legislation. Or in discussions
                                                                                                                              about preserving Inuit culture, a culture
                                                                                                                              that is based on respect for diversity in

                                                                                                                              practice and experience, the government
                                                                                                                              debates where Nunavut’s ten million
                                                                                                                              dollar cultural centre will be located.
                                                                                                                                 In our seven-year experience, we in
                                                                                                                              Nunavut have not recognized that power
                                                                                                                              and control function in a mindset that is
                                                                                                                              not rooted in Inuit principles. Power and
                                                                                                                              control involve management — manage-
                                                                                                                              ment of money, buildings and people.
                                                                                                                              Inuit culture, particularly Inuit gover-
                                                                                                          Iqaluit landscape   nance, was never a tool for managing
                                                                                                                              people; rather, it supports people who
                                 I AM GOING TO LET YOU IN            ON A        based in Nunavut and supported by Inuit      have the freedom and strength of mind to
                                 little secret: the party is over.               would ensure that Inuit were in control.     do what is best for them and their fami-
                                                                                    We in Nunavut believed this logic         lies.
                                     The party I am talking about is the
                                                                                 because right away, Nunavut and its             Inuit governance also ensured that
                                 celebration phase that came with the
                                                                                 government addressed the two big ques-       everyone’s physical needs, particularly
                                 signing of the Nunavut Land Claims
                                                                                 tions: who had the power? and where          food and shelter, were collectively met.
                                 Agreement. Inuit and Canadians alike
                                                                                 would the power rest? Although Inuit         We have forgotten both these responsibil-
                                 have kept this party going for as long as
                                                                                 understood that they had other needs         ities because we have been too busy cele-
                                 politically feasible, and after seven years
                                                                                 that would have to be supported in           brating the Nunavut Land Claims
                                 it’s time to call it quits.
                                                                                 different ways, these needs were put aside   Agreement. We have been too busy cele-
                                     The “creation” of Nunavut was an
                                                                                 in order to focus on the two questions of    brating power and control.
                                 internationally recognized event. Not
                                                                                 power.                                          Inuit in Nunavut must move beyond
                                 only were people celebrating the new
                                                                                                                              this mindset. This will not be an easy task
                                 boundary on the Canadian map; oddly             TWO QUESTIONS
                                                                                                                              because Nunavut’s political environment
                                 enough, people were celebrating the                Politically, our wildest dreams came      is racist and paternalistic, and the rela-
                                 establishment of more government.               true with the creation of Nunavut.           tionship Inuit have with the land and
                                 People figured that a newly established         Wouldn’t that mean Inuit could focus on      with each other has weakened. These
                                 government would increase Inuit access          addressing Inuit needs in the Inuit way?     realities are the result of colonialism. But
                                 to government, which would increase the         Unfortunately the manner and means of        they are also being exacerbated by the
                                 likelihood that government would learn          public debate in Nunavut have not            priorities set by the Government of
                                 from Inuit culture. People thought              changed. The two questions of power still    Nunavut, like the focus on government
                                 government would be different in                provide the framework for addressing our     housing over public housing; or the
                                 Nunavut, and this got people excited.           issues.                                      emphasis on a cultural centre and
                                     All the hoopla is really over power and        For example, language and culture are     language legislation over support systems
                                 control. The popular hypothesis is that         important foundations for Inuit. Inuit       for communities in securing healthy,
                                 the Government of Nunavut empowers              have ideas on how to support these foun-     quality food in an affordable manner.
                                 Inuit because it provides the necessary         dations, yet Nunavut politics determines        To move beyond this reality, Inuit will
                                 tools for Inuit to control their future.        the debate. For example, to support          have to think strategically. Strength
                                 Government is understood as the site of         Inuktitut, the language of Inuit, the        comes from strong minds, disciplined
                                 power and control, so having a power site       government focuses on the need for           emotions and an internal logic based on
                                                                                                                              intellect, personal experience and collec-
                                 Jackie Price is Inuk from Nunavut, and considers both Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit her home.     tive teachings. Inuit focus must be
                                 Jackie is finishing up her Master’s degree with the Indigenous Governance Programs at the    directed to supporting strong Inuit fami-
                                 University of Victoria. She currently lives in Ottawa where she works with young Inuit       lies and communities, not power and
                                 interested in learning about their political and cultural history.                           control.5
                                 34 SOCIALIST
To be ungovernable

    n 1998, Ecuador’s president, Abdalá           While CONAIE had withdrawn their            governmental institutions offers indige-

I   Bucaram, was overthrown by a move-
    ment led by the Confederación de
Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador
                                               support from the Gutiérrez government
                                               by July 2003, the damage to their politi-
                                               cal movement had already been done. By
                                                                                              nous peoples the illusion of inclusion.
                                                                                              What is needed today is a de-occupation
                                                                                              of settler institutions and values from
(CONAIE), which represents 80 percent          entrenching themselves in Ecuador’s            indigenous homelands. According to
of the indigenous peoples in Ecuador. To       political system, CONAIE’s power as a          Kanien’kehaka        (Mohawk)        scholar
his detriment, Ecuador’s subsequent pres-      movement had been substantially weak-          Taiaiake Alfred, “Delegitimizing the
ident, Jamil Mahuad, ignored CONAIE’s          ened. They were now governable. One            regime is the most fundamentally radical
demands for political reform and the           CONAIE leader responded to their co-           act one can perform.”
return of indigenous homelands. Within         optation with a question: “Why bite into          As Ani-yun-wiya, our values and
two years, CONAIE mobilized again to           a rotten apple?”                               responsibilities, not settler institutions,
topple Mahuad’s government, which was                                                         govern us. Gadugi is one of these core
widely viewed as corrupt.                      INCOMPATIBILITIES
                                                                                              principles, and serves as a process for
   After the second CONAIE presidential                                                       indigenous resurgence. At the heart of
ouster, policy experts and government            Invoking our indigenous languages            this principle is a built-in spirit of
officials proclaimed Ecuador to be             exposes some of the incompatibilities          community comradery. This means that
ungovernable. After all, Ecuador had had       between settler and indigenous cultures        whatever issues/concerns arising in collec-
seven presidents in ten years. This rapid      and values. Most indigenous peoples            tive living have to be addressed in a
leadership turnover signals instability to     around the world have words in their           unitary way and that no one is left alone
some. But in fact, this form of                languages that refer to themselves as the      to climb out of a life endeavour; it reflects
“ungovernability” is what indigenous                                                          a collective community base.
peoples should be striving to achieve.                                                           Adherence to the principles and actions
Instability and ungovernability on this                Co-optation via                        of Gadugi makes indigenous peoples
level is a result of indigenous responses to                                                  ungovernable in the eyes of Settlers. Ani-
the illegitimate occupation and encroach-              participation in                       yun-wiya are governed by a continuous
ment of the state on indigenous home-                                                         renewal of our shared responsibilities and
                                                    state governmental                        relationships.
   After demonstrating their incompati-              institutions offers                         Indigenous values clash with those of
bility with the state system in 1998 and                                                      settlers in terms of the way authority is
again in 2000, CONAIE changed tactics,           indigenous peoples the                       exercised. What are the specific values
but soon learned a harsh lesson. In 2002,                                                     that settlers hold? The answers are in our
they formed a political party named                illusion of inclusion.                     indigenous languages and the stories
Pachakutik, in alliance with the Sociedad                                                     indigenous peoples tell of first contact
Patriótica (SP) party, and helped elect                                                       with settlers. For example, the word
former army colonel Lucio Gutiérrez as         real, original or principal people of their    Canada is derived from a Mohawk term,
president. Once elected, President             homelands, such as Kanaka Maoli                Kanatiens, which means “they sit in our
Gutiérrez made it his mission to disman-       (Native Hawai’ian) or Onkwehonwe               village.” A contemporary translation of
tle and co-opt CONAIE.                         (Mohawk). Cherokees use the term Ani-          this term would be “squatter.” Other
                                               yun-wiya, which means real or principal        examples below provide further insights
                                               people. Ungovernability means embrac-          into settler values as seen through the eyes
Jeff Corntassel is a member of the
Cherokee Nation (Wolf Clan) and a
                                               ing the principles of Ani-yun-wiya and         of our ancestors:
professor in the Indigenous Governance         discarding state offerings of rotten apples.      Yonega is a Tsalagi (Cherokee) term for
Programs at the University of Victoria.          Co-optation via participation in state       white settlers, which connotes “foam of

                                                                                                               SOCIALIST               35
the water; moved by wind and without its
own direction; clings to everything that’s                   Women of
                                                              the EZLN.
   Moniyawak is a Cree term for settlers,
which literally means “worship of
money,” soniyas or soniyaw.
   Wasicu is a Dakota term for settlers,
which means “taker of fat.” The first          from Free Tibet Syn-
Wasicus encountered were French trap-          drome is simple and
pers who came into a Dakota camp               predictable: not in my
during winter and helped themselves to         backyard.
the fatty parts of a soup boiling on the
fire — hence, “fat takers.”                    CONFRONTING
                                               COLONIAL SHAPE-
   Ve’ho’e is a Cheyenne term for settlers,    SHIFTERS
and it means “spider,” which is a trickster
figure. Settlers are viewed this way              Through indigenous
because they have hair like a spider,          eyes, globalization re-
divide the land like the web of a spider,      flects a deepening,
communicate through power lines like           hastening and stretching
strands of a spider, and wrap their prey to    of an already-existing
devour it, such as the indigenous peoples      empire; it is merely the
who were wrapped in blankets during the        latest permutation of
small pox and cholera epidemics.               imperialism. Shape-shift-
   Based on over 500 years of experience       ing colonial powers
with settlers, our ancestors provide us        continue to invent new
with valuable insights into a different        methods of domination
value system: directionless, money-            in order to erase indige-
worshipping, fat-taking squatters that         nous histories and senses
divide the land, devour their prey and         of place.
cling to everything that’s solid. Perhaps as      Amidst an era of inter-
                                               connected imperialisms, indigenous          Q: Don’t Indians have to work hard
much as skin pigment, terms like white
                                               peoples exhibit their ungovernability by    during the fishing season to get food for
or settler describe a mindset or belief
                                               withdrawing their support and involve-      winter?
system. Clearly these are not principles
for Ani-yun-wiya to emulate or mimic.          ment from the global political economy.     S: This work lasts only for a few weeks.
How would our ancestors recognize us           A conversation held in 1887 between         Besides it is natural work and does them
today? As Ani-yun-wiya or Yonega?              U.S. Cavalry Captain E. L. Huggins, and     no harm. But the work of the white man
   Indigenous governance is an ongoing         Smohalla or Yu’yunipi’t-qana, The           hardens soul and body. Nor is it right to
process of honouring and renewing our          Shouting Mountain (Wanapum Nation)          tear up and mutilate the earth as white
individual and collective relationships        demonstrates that we are not the first      men do.
and responsibilities. And settlers are not     generation of indigenous peoples to
                                               confront the dilemmas of participating in   Q: But Indians also dig into the earth for
off the hook either – they will have to                                                    kamas roots – isn’t that harmful to the
decide how they can relate to indigenous       the political economy:
struggles. Will they make the necessary        Q: Why don’t you follow the example of
                                               other Indians who have practiced the        S: We simply take the gifts that are freely
sacrifices to decolonize and make amends
                                               white man’s ways?                           offered. We no more harm the earth than
                                                                                           would an infant’s fingers harm its
   Additionally, some of our would-be          S: No one has any respect for these book    mother’s breast. But the white man tears
settler allies suffer from a debilitating      Indians. Even the white men like me         up large tracts of land, runs deep ditches,
“Free Tibet Syndrome,” which causes            better and treat me better than they do     cuts down forests, and changes the whole
them to cast their decolonizing gaze to        the book Indians. My young men shall        face of the earth. You know very well this
faraway places while ignoring local            never work. Men who work cannot             is not right. Every honest man knows in
indigenous struggles. The further away         dream, and wisdom comes to us in            his heart that this is all wrong. But the
the exotic overseas “Other” is from their      dreams.                                     white men are so greedy they do not
present geographic location, the greater
                                               Q: But white people work and know           consider these things.
the intensity of their fundraising and self-
determination proselytizing activities. Yet    more than Indians…                             Fortunately, the spirit of Smohalla is
when it comes to promoting freedom and         S: Each one must learn for himself the      alive in other indigenous movements
justice for indigenous peoples closer to       highest wisdom. It cannot be taught. You    today. A brief survey of active indigenous
“home,” the response of those suffering        have the wisdom of your race. Be content.   movements around the world illustrates

that indigenous communities remain             people and will live to see our homelands      illustrates the wide spectrum of indige-
ungovernable:                                  de-occupied by settler values. Until that      nous powers of Gadugi.
   Between 1997-2002, U’wa peoples             time comes, settlers are illegally occupying      Future indigenous mobilization efforts
blockaded highways in Colombia to              indigenous homelands.                          should be directed towards engagement
protest the building of an oil pipeline on        Our pipe carriers and clan mothers          and activism in indigenous forums – not
their homelands. They ultimately forced        represent us.                                  UN or regional settler institutional struc-
Occidental Petroleum to vacate their              Ani-yun-wiya are spiritual beings, as       tures. The World Council of Indigenous
territory but their struggle for homeland      embodied by our clan systems, languages,       Peoples (WCIP) formed in 1975 in Port
security is ongoing as the Colombian           ceremonies, sacred histories and relation-     Alberni, British Columbia (Canada),
corporation, ECOPETROL, seeks to               ships to the land. Our powers reside in our    provides a possible model for the creation
continue development of the oil pipeline       languages, cultures and communities –          of a new indigenous organization that
project.                                       not in political/legal authority structures.   functions according to indigenous values.
   Newly elected President Evo Morales         An indigenous spiritual regeneration is        The WCIP requires states and NGOs to
(Aymara-Quechua) of Bolivia launched           necessary to facilitate the de-occupation of   apply for observer status. Under the lead-
an “Agrarian Revolution” in 2006 by            settler values from our homelands. In          ership of Shushwap Chief George
outlining a process to return approxi-         these times of spiritual and physical          Manuel, a declaration of WCIP princi-
mately 9,600 square miles of state-owned       warfare, our pipe carriers and clan            ples was adopted at the first meeting – the
territory to indigenous peoples.               mothers (not band councillors or lawyers)      selected passages outline some of the orig-
   The indigenous-run Forum for                are the true voices of our struggles.          inal goals of the WCIP for unity and
Cultural and Biological Diversity contin-         Traveling to other indigenous and           mobilization and express the need to
ues to host annual seed exchanges in           settler communities to seek out allies can     represent ourselves on our own terms:
Honduras where indigenous and non-             be a useful antidote to colonialism. Along        …Rising up after centuries of oppres-
indigenous farmers trade for non-geneti-       these lines, global forums can be useful       sion, evoking the greatness of our ances-
cally modified corn and other seeds.           for exposing the contradictions of neo-        tors, in the memory of our indigenous
   Since rising up against NAFTA and           liberalism and artificiality of state sover-   martyrs, and in homage to the counsel of
Mexico’s ejido reforms in 1994, the            eignty. However, there are serious limits      our wise elders: We vow to control again
indigenous people who comprise Ejercito        to what state-centric forums, such as the      our own destiny and recover our
Zapatista de Liberación Nacional               United Nations Permanent Forum on              complete humanity and pride in being
(EZLN)         have     established     five   Indigenous Issues, can do to promote           Indigenous People.
autonomous zones in Chiapas and                indigenous resurgences. With a cadre of           When recovering “our complete
recently initiated “La otra campaña,” a        professionalized indigenous delegates in       humanity,” Ani-yun-wiya warriors must
large-scale movement challenging neolib-       place who demonstrate more allegiance to       ready themselves for physical and spiri-
eral policies.                                 the UN system than to their own                tual warfare. Let us remember that a
   In 2006, Six Nations clan mothers and       communities, the Permanent Forum               process of regeneration takes time. The
warriors reclaimed 40 hectares of their        today more closely resembles an interna-       Zapatistas trained for over ten years in the
traditional territory in Ontario, Canada.      tionalized band council system.                Lacandon Jungle prior to their 1994
Indigenous peoples took back their terri-         It is time to again represent ourselves     uprising in Chiapas. Also, we should not
tory along the Grand River in order to         on our own terms. One way to promote           forget that indigenous women won the
prevent housing developer, Henco               indigenous unity and strength is to            first Zapatista uprising in 1993 with the
Industries Ltd, from constructing a new        encourage renewed treaty making                EZLN’s adoption of the Revolutionary
sub-division on their homelands.               between indigenous communities. Such a         Law for Women.
   Kanaka Maoli (native Hawai’ian)             revitalized treaty process would follow the       Fortunately, there are cures for Free
activists continue to challenge the patent-    protocols of pipe ceremonies, not the          Tibet Syndrome – settler populations can
ing of three varieties of taro, Palehua,       paper diplomacy of settlers. Since host        begin by decolonizing their thinking,
Paakala and Pauakea, by the University of      states have not honoured indigenous            engaging in insurgent education, making
Hawai’i. Kalo (taro) is a sacred plant for     treaties for the most part, it is time for     amends to local indigenous peoples and
Kanaka Maoli people and is integral to         indigenous peoples to lead by example          seeking out indigenous-led alliances. In
their oral histories and ceremonial cycles.    and demonstrate once again their               the words of George Manuel, “We will
   The above-mentioned examples illus-         communities’ approaches to principles of       steer our own canoe, but we will invite
trate indigenous alternatives to neoliberal-   respect and diplomacy.                         others to help with the paddling.”
ism. The approximately 5,000 indigenous           Treaties of peace and friendship entail        As ancient nations, we have proven to
nations trapped in 70 settler states around    making sacred compacts that should be          be persistent and “ungovernable” – we are
the world offer us 5,000 different versions    renewed ceremonially on an annual basis        nations that predate the state and will
of ungovernability. In the words of Ani-       with all participating indigenous peoples.     outlast it. Ani-yun-wiya power arises
yun-wiya War Chief Tsi’yu-gunsini or           New inter-indigenous treaties might            from Gadugi, and responsibilities to our
Dragging Canoe, “You have bought a fair        include those that affirm alliances, and       territories and families. Ultimately, only
land, but you will find its settlement dark    promote trade arrangements and protec-         indigenous laws can flourish on indige-
and bloody.” Ani-yun-wiya are patient          tion for crossing borders. This further        nous homelands. 5

                                                                                                               SOCIALIST               37
Why are indigenous
soldiers serving in Iraq?
                                                                                            BY MICHAEL YELLOW BIRD

                                                                              The United States has abused our
                                                                           trust and has coerced us to fight its
                                                                            illegal, immoral wars long enough.

                                                                                            and we are doing to the Iraqi people what
                                                                                            the US did to our ancestors.
                                                                                            5 All of the killing, maiming, poisoning,
                                                                                            and torturing will have drastic effects
                                                                                            upon our people, especially on the
                                                                                            psychic and cosmological levels.
                                                                                               The US has mistreated us in the past
                                                                                            and the present, and it has conscripted
                                               sions, whether we must commit our

          ur history tells us that because                                                  our minds and hearts so that we are
          war was so destructive on many       people and resources to the wars of the      participating in their oppressive behav-
          different levels, our nations —      United States.                               iour towards another race of humans.
before committing to war — consulted              As with the US invasion of the lands of      It is time for us to demand that our
our elders, peacemakers, women, youth,         our own nations, the last two major          indigenous governments engage in criti-
philosophers, intellectuals, spiritual         conflicts of the United States, Vietnam      cal and independent discussions about
leaders, children, warriors and veterans to    and now Iraq, were based on lies created     these issues. We need to tell the United
weigh the costs of war. This is something      by the US government. This track record      States to immediately call for withdrawal
that many of our nations have not done         makes it even more imperative that we        of its military forces from Iraq. Most
for some time. Many of us have                 rely upon our own thinking, experiences      importantly – and independently of their
“outsourced” our thinking to the United        and morality when we enter into discus-      decision or indecision – we must imme-
States with respect to when and why we         sions about why our tribal nations should    diately pull our people out of this quag-
should or should not go to war.                compel our people to go to war.              mire. Countries such as Japan,
   We are sovereign nations of intelligent     Discussions about this war must certainly    Honduras, Tonga, Nicaragua, Spain,
and moral people who do not need to            address the following:                       Dominican Republic, Philippines,
rely on the US to interpret for us the         5 All people and beings are related to us,   Thailand, New Zealand, Portugal and
meaning and the costs that war will bring      so we are being asked to make war on our     Moldova already have pulled out their
to our communities. Most of us already         relatives.                                   troops, and many other nations are plan-
know the answer to this. And we know                                                        ning to reduce their troop commitment
                                               5 We value all life, so war truly must be
that we should decide for ourselves, after                                                  in the near future. So why are we still in
                                               a last resort.
careful, deliberate and intelligent discus-                                                 Iraq fighting the US’s illegal war?
                                               5 We value Mother Earth as a living             It is also time for our leaders and
                                               being, and the United States military is     communities to impose a moratorium
Michael Yellow Bird is a citizen of the        contaminating the lands, waters, trees,
Sahnish (Arikara) and Hidatsa First Nations.
                                                                                            upon any further enlistments of our
                                               plants and people in Iraq through the use    young men and women into the US mili-
He is Director of the Center for Indigenous
                                               of biowarfare, landmines and depleted        tary. The United States has abused our
Nations Studies and Associate Professor of
                                               uranium.                                     trust and has coerced us to fight its illegal,
American Studies at the University of
Kansas.                                        5 We believe in the great circle of life,    immoral wars long enough.5


Barred from socialist paradise
BY TEIOWÍ:SONTE                                economic structure.                          ports and were permitted to leave Canada
                                                 After Marx, Engels wrote Origin of the     without hindrance. We arrived at the
THOMAS DEER                                    Family, Private Property, and the State      airport in Holguin later on the same
                                               (1884), which directly examined the          morning and were immediately met by

       or many years, I had desired to visit   political    organization      of     the    Cuban immigration, who asked to see our
       what many people refer to as            Haudenosaunee. In this sense, it can be      passports.
       Castro’s Socialist Paradise, Cuba.      suggested that the Haudenosaunee                As suggested by the Embassy of Cuba
Long had I poured over books on Che            pioneered modern socialism, and that our     in Ottawa, we showed the immigration
Guevara and the Cuban Revolutionary            society was in fact the original Socialist   officers the e-mail confirming Cuba’s
War, fascinated with the romantic strug-       Paradise.                                    recognition of our passports, as well as a
gle between the poor band of freedom                                                        photocopy of a friend’s Haudenosaunee
fighters and Batista’s imperialist regime,     THE HAUDENOSAUNEE PASSPORT
                                                                                            passport endorsed for entry to Cuba by
hoping that someday I could visit the             The Haudenosaunee have never aban-        immigration officials two years earlier.
Sierra Maestra and follow the footsteps of     doned their identity or citizenship as          Finally, after hours of waiting and
Cuba’s revolutionary heroes.                   sovereign peoples. As a means to exercise    insulting treatment, we were simply
   After years of intrigue, my girlfriend      and express our sovereignty we               ordered to board a plane and leave Cuba.
and I found some common vacation time          Haudenosaunee developed our passports        We were expelled. We were denied admis-
and scraped up some funds to finally do        in 1977 when sending a delegation on a       sion and considered illegal in the Socialist
it. But on the morning of March 7, 2005,       diplomatic mission to the United Nations     Paradise. We were left disillusioned and
my girlfriend and I tried to enter Cuba        in     Geneva,      Switzerland.    The      robbed of our hard earned money.
using Haudenosaunee Passports and after        Haudenosaunee passport came to be
hours of confusion and rude treatment,         accepted by over 120 countries, despite      DENIED
we were denied entry and deported back                                                         Understandably, we were still quite
to Canada.                                                                                  angry and refused to relent on the issue. I
                                                It seems now that Cuba has                  wrote letters to the Cuban Ministry of
                                                  given up its position as a                Foreign Affairs, Tourism, and the Cuban
   In our language, we call ourselves
                                                strong defender of the rights               Communist Party outlining the chronol-
Haudenosaunee, which means People of
                                                                                            ogy of our experience, a history of
the Long House; symbolizing the politi-             of indigenous peoples.                  Cuba/Haudenosaunee relations, and a
cal union of five (later six) primordial
                                                                                            demand for justice.
nations. The Haudenosaunee are a partic-
                                                                                               I was contacted by the Cuban Consulate
ipatory constitutional democracy based         efforts by the governments of Canada and     in Montreal and later had a very positive
upon socialist principles.                     the United States to discourage its usage    meeting with the Consular General – we
   Both Karl Marx and Frederic Engels          internationally. However, since 9/11 only    seemingly made progress towards resolu-
were fascinated by the political and           a handful of countries continue to allow     tion of the problem. Unfortunately, in
economic       organization     of    the      its usage, Cuba being one of them – until    October 2005 I was informed by letter
Haudenosaunee. In fact, Marx wrote             last year.                                   that the Government of Cuba could not
extensive notes on his study of Lewis H.          As citizens of the Haudenosaunee, my      admit anyone using the Haudenosaunee
Morgan’s        treatment      of     the      girlfriend and I chose to use our own        Passport, since the United Nations offi-
Haudenosaunee in Ancient Society (1877)        passports to travel to Cuba. I had
                                                                                            cially recognizes only one passport for all
and League of the Iroquois (1852), inter-      contacted the Embassy of Cuba in             the territory known as Canada.
ested particularly in the Haudenosaunee’s      Ottawa to confirm Cuba’s recognition of         This final communiqué from the
democratic organization in relation to its     the Haudenosaunee Passport. On               government of Cuba was a terrible disap-
                                               December 7th an official at the embassy      pointment to me as a Haudenosaunee
                                               emailed me stating that Haudenosaunee        and a socialist. It seems now that Cuba
Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer is the artistic       passports are “respected and accepted by
talent behind Revolutionary Creations                                                       has given up its position as a strong
                                               Cuban authorities so you can go to           defender of the rights of indigenous
www.revolutionarycreations.com, based in
                                               Cuba.”                                       peoples in the international arena, and in
Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. He aims to
break into the realm of comic books, the       DISILLUSIONED                                a sense, it has followed the imperialists in
graphic art that has always tantalized and       We departed by air from Montreal           initiating its own embargo, against the
inspired him.                                  brandishing our Haudenosaunee pass-          Haudenosaunee. 5

                                                                                                             SOCIALIST              39
                             BOOK                              REVIEW
                                                                           OTAPAWY! THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A MÉTIS LEADER IN HIS OWN
                                                                           WORDS AND IN THOSE OF HIS CONTEMPORARIES
                                                                           BY HOWARD ADAMS
                                                                           HARTMUT LUTZ, MURRAY HAMILTON AND DONNA HEIMBECKER,
                                                                           EDITORS; SASKATOON: GABRIEL DUMONT INSTITUTE, 2005
                                                                           REVIEWED BY DEBORAH SIMMONS

                                                                              Otapawy! (acronym for the phrase
                                                                           from a Saskatchewan Métis story, “Our             “Revolutionary nationalism
                                                                           Thoughts and Prayers Are With You”) is a          plays a very important role in
                                                                           gathering of these writings, what editor          our liberation….Once we are
                                                                           Hartmut Lutz describes as a “Métis sash”          free, free from the imperialism
                                                                           interweaving the story of Howard Adams            of Canada and America, then
                                                                           with tales of the fictional characters            our Indian-Métis nationalism
                                                                           “Tony” and “Almighty.” This sash maps a           may disappear. This, we don’t
                                                                           journey from home in a Halfbreed                  know. It sets our culture in
                             Howard Adams. 1991.                           community in Saskatchewan, to escape in           motion once again because it
                                                                           a shortlived career as an RCMP officer;
                                                                                                                             has been static or fossilized for
                             S    eptember 8 of this year will mark half
                             a decade since Dr. Howard Adams passed
                                                                           struggle toward a career in education in
                                                                           Vancouver; radicalisation in the Berkeley
                                                                           student movement; and return to
                                                                                                                             so many centuries thanks to
                                                                                                                             Whitey’s imperialism. It will
                             away. Adams was a truly radical Métis         Saskatchewan to lead the Red Power                help to decolonize our minds,
                             leader who understood that liberation         movement.                                         our mentality, and our whole
                             would require a battle against capitalism        The archetypal character that takes            psychological make-up. It
                             and its agents, including both settler and    shape through this composite text reveals         fosters a new humanism and
                             indigenous capitalists and politicians.       the inevitable pain and ambivalence in a          opens the doors to a new
                                Adams’s books Prison of Grass (1975),      life that oscillates between indigenous           creation.”
                             and A Tortured People constituted a major     and settler worlds. And it reveals how the                  Excerpt from Otapawy!
                             breakthrough in analysing the specific        complex and uneven process of political
                             social and psychological impacts of           awakening is imbedded in a combination
                             colonisation on indigenous individuals        of lived experience and dialogue with               This book is an important contribu-
                             and communities. His was not a simplis-       others in order to gain a larger under-          tion. However, much more discussion
                             tic perspective. He showed that the very      standing of the colonial system.                 will be required to account for the politi-
                             forces of colonization give rise to nation-      The book also includes a substantial          cal lessons of Adams’s life and writings.
                             alist movements, which themselves are         collection of writings in memory of              Hartmut Lutz is an academic based in
                             contradictory in nature.                      Howard Adams. This adds more details to          Germany and specialising in indigenous
                                Perhaps because of his eventual isola-     the story of the man, his strengths as well as   literature. His editorial framing of
                             tion from radical indigenous movements,       his personal struggles and contradictions.       Adams’s writings thus focuses on their
                             Adams became increasingly preoccupied         Adams emerges as very much a product of          biographical and narrative aspects. In his
                             with the devastating impacts of colonial      his time. The Red Power movement                 afterward, Lutz suggests that Adams’s
                             consciousness, and the challenge of           allowed him to flower as an orator, an           revolutionary optimism forged in the
                             breaking through to political awakening       incorruptible political leader, and a teacher.   1960s and 1970s “now looks almost
                             and radical action. He renewed his explo-     The decline of the movement was devastat-        naïve, since many of those grassroots
                             ration of these questions in a mixture of     ing for his morale, and he may well have         movements soon lost their power for
                             fictional and autobiographical writings.      exiled himself to California because of a        action.”
                             By the time of his death in 2001, this had    combination of depression and victimiza-            Lutz fails to account for Adams’s
                             grown to about six hundred disarranged        tion by official indigenous leaders. Decades     renewed political engagement in the last
                             pages.                                        of political isolation meant that he lost        years of his life – Adams developed a rela-
                                                                           touch with developments such as the              tionship with the New Socialist Group,
                             Deborah Simmons has recently returned to      lessons of the feminist movement, as his         and was involved in local political activi-
                             live and work in the Northwest Territories.   friends Maria Campbell and Donna                 ties in Vancouver. It is our responsibility
                             She is a member of the New Socialist          Heimbecker point out in describing his           to take up the challenge of his unwaver-
                             Group.                                        behaviour toward women.                          ing commitment to revolution. 5

                             40 SOCIALIST
BOOK                              REVIEW
                                              FIRST NATIONS AND THE CANADIAN STATE: IN SEARCH OF
                                              BY ALAN CAIRNS
                                              PUBLISHED BY QUEENS UNIVERSITY, INSTITUTE FOR
                                              INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS, 2005.
                                              REVIEWED BY TAIAIAKE ALFRED AND ADAM BARKER

                                              tence” – a compromise between two               lands and resources negates the assump-
                                              “extremes.”                                     tion that nationhood leads to the exclu-
                                                 But it soon becomes clear that his           sion and displacement of others. Perhaps
                                              proposed option is little more than trans-      Cairns fears that indigenous nations will
                                              parent trickery. Who would disagree with        start treating Canadians the way that
                                              the concept of “coexistence” after all? His     Canadians have always treated them.
                                              so-called alternative belies a series of           Cairns boldly states that it is “beyond
                                              logical fallacies and intentional obfusca-
conservative Canadian academic Alan
                                              tions that are effectively assimilationist –
                                              aiming to eliminate indigenous peoples
                                                                                              the capacity of First Nations” to maintain
                                                                                              their own societies, cultures and treaties
                                                                                              in close proximity to the cultural and
Cairns: he is bound and determined to         as political entities and ultimately as         social behemoth of Canada without the
cram his “citizens plus” concept down         cultures.                                       protection of the federal state.
our throats, even though Canadians and           Cairns sets himself up as a brave               In Cairns’ words, “Aboriginal nations
indigenous people have repeatedly             crusader, the lone voice of reason who          are part of the Canadian nation.” Cairns
rejected his agenda.                          will discuss three “taboo” subjects under-      suggests that any movement to recognise
   He was undeterred when his book            pinning what he views to be the implaca-        the distinction between indigenous
Citizens Plus, arguing for the integration    ble dissolution of indigenous nations: the      peoples and Canadians will only lead to
of indigenous people into Canada as           growing urban indigenous population             further neglect of their situation. The
“enhanced” citizens, was widely panned        and shrinking reserve populations; inter-       logical extension of this argument is that
(especially by fellow academics who saw       marriage between indigenous and                 assimilation is the only solution for the
through his friendly-sounding jargon).        Canadian peoples; and the large                 “Indian problem.” Sound familiar?
Cairns now returns with First Nations         Canadian population that self-identifies           At the same time, Cairns views indige-
and the Canadian State.                       as having “aboriginal ancestry” but not         nous inclusion under the umbrella of the
   In this sparse 59-page policy puff         “aboriginal identity”.                          Canadian state to be essential to
piece, Cairns argues passionately for the        All of this is meant to attack the legiti-   “common civic community” and thus the
status quo. The Cairnsian view is that the    macy of indigenous nationhood. Cairns           very survival of the state. But if the
“integrity” of the Canadian state is para-    equates all forms of indigenous national-       common bond that unites our state is the
mount. Innovative solutions to the            ism with separatism, noting disingenu-          oppression of other nations within,
oppression of indigenous peoples must be      ously that “sadly” decolonization cannot        shouldn’t we be seeking to hasten its
rejected because they are simply too diffi-   occur in Canada as it occurred in Africa.       demise?
cult.                                         This does not address the broad spectrum           Cairns concludes that indigenous
   Cairns argues that until the present,      of possibilities encompassed by indige-         nationalism is to be “accommodated”
only two polarized options have been          nous struggles for self-determination.          only because it cannot be eliminated.
available regarding the future of relations      Traditional indigenous conceptions of        Conversely, the Canadian state requires
between indigenous peoples and the state      nationhood are quite distinct from              obedience; the state is not going
in Canada: Native nationalism and             Euroamerican nationalisms. Recognizing          anywhere, so indigenous people need to
assimilation. Cairns seeks to convince us     these differences would go a long way in        shut up and live with it.
of his moderation in putting forth a third    addressing the “problems” perceived by             Cairns’ essay is in essence a parting
option based on the concept of “coexis-       Cairns. For example, traditional forms of       shot from another era. The decline of the
                                              governance are far from the dysfunctional       cadre of political theorists that he repre-
Taiaiake Alfred is a professor and Adam
                                              state-imposed “band councils” that Cairns       sents is much anticipated by those
Barker is a graduate student in the           situates at the centre of his arguments         working to create truly respectful coexis-
Indigenous Governance Programs at the         against indigenous nationhood. The              tence and a just relationship out of the
University of Victoria.                       history of indigenous nations in sharing        legacy of their empire. 5

                                                                                                              SOCIALIST               41
The basics of Wasáse
         The basics of Wasáse
                       The basics of Wasáse
Our Editors pick the essentials for       Wretched of the Earth, Frantz          Kanehsatake: 270 Years of
indigenizing and radicalizing your        Fanon. Colonialism diagnosed; a        Resistance, by Alanis Obomsawin.
mind and body.                            founding document in                   We can’t watch this doc on the
                                          revolutionary struggles worldwide.     Oka Crisis without wanting
BOOKS                                                                            revenge.
Akwesasne Notes. For over 30              FILMS                                  Once Were Warriors, by Lee
years, the voice of Natural and           Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, by        Tamahori. A Maori family trapped,
Native peoples.                           Zacharias Kunuk. An arctic warrior     like the rest of us, in cycles of
                                          battling mean spirits and bad men      colonial confusion.
Almanac of the Dead, Leslie Silko.
                                          in this new classic.
Poetic imaginings of the coming of                                               Whale Rider, Niki Caro. In the past
the Native Reconquest.                    Battle of Algiers, by Gillo            and now, Paikea is a great leader
                                          Pontecorvo. The bloodiest              born to save the people.
From a Native Daughter, Haunani-
                                          revolution in the history of the
Kay Trask. A classic of indigenism                                               V for Vendetta, James McTeigue. A
and Polynesian national struggles.                                               warrior for freedom takes on the
                                          Dead Man, by Jim Jarmusch.             police and blows up Parliament. It’s
God is Red, Vine Deloria, Jr.. The
                                          Nobody prepares Johnny Depp for        anarchy. Seriously.
Native view of religion as an
                                          his journey into the spirit world.
antidote to Christianity.

I am Woman, Lee Maracle. Deep
explorations into contemporary
colonialism, sexism and racism.

Journey of Crazy Horse, Joseph
Marshall, III. Wise and respectful
telling of the oral tradition of a true
warrior.                                  Gandhi, by Richard Attenborough.       MUSIC
Our Word is Our Weapon,                   How India’s political saint made the   Aztlan Undergroud, El Vuh, Dead
Subcommandante Marcos.                    Brits “Quit India” through non-        Prez, Manik, War Party, Resistant
Zapatismo! Political analysis,            violent struggle.                      Culture.
propaganda and poetry from the            Geronimo, Walter Hill. The Original
Lacondan Jungle.                          Athapaskan ass-kicker definitely       FOOD
                                          did not hang around the fort, or       Anything wild and natural…
Prison of Grass, Howard Adams.
                                          the rez.                               especially the good stuff like
The first true history published in
                                                                                 muktuk, deer tongue, oolichan
Canada.                                   Ghost Dog: The Way of the
                                                                                 grease, fiddleheads, fish head soup,
Wasáse, Taiaiake Alfred. Anarcho-         Samurai, by Jim Jarmusch.
                                                                                 moose nose, berry soups, pickerel
indigenism: something real for the        Detached, somber, stoic… is he a
                                                                                 cheeks, corn soup, beaver and
people to believe in.                     warrior? Soundtrack by Wu Tang.
                                                                                 muskrat tails, bear grease, and of
                                                                                 course, caribou babies.
Branches and members of the
New Socialist Group are active in
a number of cities. Call for                                                         Teiowí:sonte Thomas
                                                                                     Deer displays his
information about our activities.                                                    passport.
                                                                                     See his article on
                                                                                     Cuba’s refusal to
                                                                                     recognize the
 Vancouver        Box 4955, Vancouver, V6B 4A6
                                                                                     passport at page 39.

 Hamilton         hamilton@newsocialist.org

 Edmonton         (780) 451-3103, or

 Kingston         (613) 542-8462 (Contact Toby),

 Toronto          (416) 955-1581

 Winnipeg         (204) 775-0265

 FOR All
 other areas      nsg@newsocialist.org
                  (416) 955-1581
                  Box 167 253 College St
                  Toronto Ontario M5T 1R5
                                                   THE NEW SOCIALIST GROUP is an organization of
                                                   activists working to renew socialism from below as
The NSG works with the Québec                      part of today’s struggles. Our socialism is revolutionary
organization GAUCHE SOCIALISTE                     and democratic, committed to working-class self-
                                                   emancipation, internationalism and opposition to all
MONTRÉAL               montreal@lagauche.com       forms of oppression. We reject bureaucratic and
QUÉBEC CITY            quebec@lagauche.com
                                                   authoritarian notions of socialism and look instead to
and the OUTAOUAIS      hull@lagauche.com
                                                   the radical tradition of socialism from below, which
                                                   believes that liberation can only be achieved through
                                                   the activity and mobilization of the oppressed
CP 52131, Succ, St-Fidele, Québec, G1L 5A4
                                                   themselves. Ideas need to be put into action. So if you
                                                   like what you read, get in touch with us.

                                                                                     SOCIALIST              43

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