The residential school is still alive today.

Thoughts on today’s hearing on the nutritional experiments conducted on Indigenous children in Residential School, Port Alberni institute.

Firstly I want to thank Tseshaht First Nation and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council for hosting this important event and to Dr. Ian Mosby for presenting the findings he researched on the “nutritional experiments.” I also want to thank the support workers for being there and their attentiveness to the needs of those who were present and also to each and every Residential School survivor in that room and elsewhere who were unable to attend.

The first poignant thing which needs to be underscored is that although these experiments occurred it must, MUST, be stated that the conditions of starvation were widespread and already a systemic issue long before the experiments started. The experiments capitalized on conditions which were present in each and every Residential School Institution and only slightly modified, for the worse, the nutrition of the children who those particular experiments were carried out on. Starvation diets were everywhere and the experiments merely enhanced the starvation to target specific vitamins and foods for reduction from already substandard nutrition allotments documented far below the government guidelines for proper nutrition for children.

The Canadian Red Cross had no part in those experiments. What the Canadian Red Cross’s involvement with the Residential School Institutions was was to assess what nutrition and conditions were present in the institutes themselves and to make recommendations to the government and the institutes based on those observations. Across the board the Canadian Red Cross made observations about the substandard food provided for the children and their recommendations reflected those observations. It must be noted however that accounts of those visits by the Canadian Red Cross by Residential School Institute Survivors describe an increase in various foods and upgrades in the quality of foods served to the children during the times that the Red Cross visited these institutions. We can conclude that the employees of these institutions knew that the regular nutrition provided to these children would invite criticism and so they put a show on for when outside agencies that were not under the control of the government came to see what was happening at least nutritionally speaking. This has been corroborated through a few surprise visits during the period when observers reported that the food quality was completely inadequate and often harmful due to being spoiled or of a quality so low that it would only be fit for farm animal consumption.

Long term or intergenerational effects of the starvation diets may not ever be completely known. Long term or intergenerational effects of the experimental diets may not ever be completely known as well. Many things may not be ever completely known about the effects of the Residential School System.

You, me, everyone in that room, everyone in this city, everyone in this region and everyone in this world, do not understand what the impacts of the Residential School System are and will continue to be for Indigenous peoples. We may apply words and phrases such as “cultural loss”, “acculturation”, “language loss”, and “cultural genocide” but all of those words and phrases and the very concepts themselves are rooted in a philosophical system which is foundationally unlike an Indigenous way of knowing things. In short, today we do not see things and understand things in the same way that our ancestors did prior to the Residential School System era. In that space between then and now all of this trauma, all of this genocide including Residential School, has come forth and we will not understand what the effects have been. Not in our lifetimes. Perhaps never. But perhaps we will be able to once we regain that fluency of language, that fluency of culture, that we understand that our ancestors used to possess and did their very best to bequeath to us despite the concerted application of genocide across a social, physical, mental, and spiritual spectrum and in continuous existence for at least the last 200 or so years.

We are not going to find those fluencies by using colonial (mumulthni) methodologies in colonial (mumulthni) contexts in colonial (mumulthni) settings, in disconnected groups categorized by age and disassociated from familial settings which are the essential and basic foundations of our peoples. Until we learn together then, and maybe only then… and only maybe, will we be able to fully comprehend what the Residential School System has done to our peoples. That will take generations to find out. Perhaps then there will be reconciliation. But until we have a full comprehension of what has taken place from an Indigenous way of knowing which closely resembles our ancestors, there can be no reconciliation. Not in an Indigenous context from an Indigenous point of view as the very word “reconciliation” is a colonial construct as well.

What are the Indigenous words for reconciliation? What is the Nuu-chah-nulth word for “reconciliation”? What is the Tsimshian word? Or the Nehiyaw?

Perhaps we are very far from what our ancestors knew of reconciliation. So far that we have to do a lot more before we can speak of it and perhaps when we travel that distance, we won’t want to.

Chuu.

Canada is Conducting Genocide and You Might be Helping

So many genocide deniers out there. Here is a point-by-point examination along with examples of genocide committed by canada and canadians against Indigenous peoples. The definition of genocide used in this example is the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which has been employed since 1948. In 1952, canada adopted this into their laws under the criminal code but they dropped articles B and E. In 1985, they dropped the third article of 5 to leave only 2 articles of genocide in their criminal code when they removed article D. For further reading on this click this link: http://www.guelphmercury.com/opinion-story/2783465-strategy-of-genocide-vital-to-making-of-canada/

It should be noted that the UN maintains ALL articles of the definition of the crime of genocide while canada has cut 60% of the punishable crime from its laws. Also worthy of noting is that contravention of any ONE definition of genocide is punishable.

It should be further noted that Article 3 of the UN definition stipulates that “Persons committing genocide … shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals”. This is especially important if you are working in the child apprehension industry, the police, or any other occupation which places you in the position to be assisting the state in genocide against Indigenous peoples.

Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

A) Killing members of the group
— Bounties were offered for the scalps of Indigenous men, women, and children across the territory of canada until the 1900’s. Today, Indigenous peoples (who are not canadian citizens) are killed routinely by the RCMP and canadian authorities, sometimes while handcuffed and imprisoned. The willful extermination of Indigenous peoples historically by the use of smallpox, measles, tuberculosis, and other diseases have been employed in every province to clear areas out for settlement by europeans.

Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
— Medical experiments were conducted by canada and canadians on Indigenous peoples in every territory and province of canada throughout its history. Starvation experiments were common not only in residential schools but on reserves which were de facto prisons where Indigenous peoples needed to apply for a pass to leave their reserve for any reason including hunting, fishing, or gathering foods. Electrocution, hypothermic experiments, pharmaceutical experiments, and others have been documented.

C) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
— The OFFICIAL policy of canada was to completely annihilate Indigenous peoples from the territory known as canada up until 2008. There was then an apology from the canadian government and political parties for their culpability and guilt of committing egregious harm to Indigenous peoples although they would not and will not admit that it is genocide. Forced relocations into inhospitable environments, sometimes thousands of kilometres away, affected every tribe of Indigenous peoples. Missionaries were employed to attack the spirituality of Indigenous peoples. Wage labour and market economies were used in conjunction with forcible denial of access to lands and resources to survive so that indigenous peoples’ means of sustaining themselves were attacked deliberately to undo their self-sufficiency.

D) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
— Forced and unconsented sterilizations were widely used and documented until at least the mid-1980’s. Also, forced and unconsented abortions were used to cover up rapes and molestations of children as well as the killing and disposal of newborns by canadians.

E) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
— Well known and documented extensively is the residential school system employed for over 150 years as a means to destroy the basic building blocks of nations and peoples: families. More documented and lesser known however, is the continuing dispossession of Indigenous children from their families by the child apprehension systems. There are currently more Indigenous children being held by the state and its citizens than there was at the height of the residential school era.

All I know is if you read this and you deny that genocide was and still is being conducted against Indigenous peoples in what is known as canada, you have made a conscious choice to deny genocide in the face of proof.

But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what well-known Indigenous lawyer Pamela Palmater has to say about it.

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/pamela-palmater/2011/11/unbelievable-undeniable-genocide-canada

Being a ‘radical’

“Radical” is a relative term. In terms of ambient genocide and oppression, as can be found in canadian society and attitudes toward Indigenous peoples, “radical” is simply stating that oppression and genocide is wrong and needs to stop.

In a culture of resistance, speaking against genocide and oppression when it is present is a given and can lead to a cessation of the oppression and genocide as fluency in social justice increases proficiency of application.

If we can create a society where the act of speaking and acting out against genocide and oppression of Indigenous peoples is not seen as “radical” but as a normalized response to those conditions, then we may gain the fluency in social justice necessary to create a society with justice for all. Seeing that the foundational injustice of this society is the continuing oppression and genocide of the original peoples of these lands, it would set the foundations of justice for these lands on solid moral ground which is what social justice organizations are seeking, and not finding with the rare exception. Solid moral ground that has eluded the people living in these lands called “canada” or “vancouver” or “british columbia” or other names colonial settlers insert rudely with the intent of erasing Indigenous peoples from the lands they have inhabited for thousands of generations.

But first we must bear the label “radical” without being shamed by it. We must bear it without fear, trepidation, or guilt or any of the other manipulations from those that would use them to see the status quo of genocide and oppression continue. We must speak against the genocide and oppression of Indigenous peoples in the face of ignorance, true or willful. We must bear the term “radical” and claim that word if it is to be thrust onto us who seek social justice and a just society. We shall be proudly “radical” until such a time that speaking out and acting out against genocide and oppression is no longer “radical”. We must accept that we are “radical” until such a time that the word loses its relative meaning because we have normalized justice. Until we have given moral foundations to the societies on these lands and we can ensure that the term “radical” is placed on the shoulders of peoples and groups who do not want justice.

In a time where the term “radical” is placed on environmental groups committed to protecting clean water and responsible development projects free from obliterating contaminates, and when Indigenous peoples standing up against genocide and the same things that environmentalists are standing against, are labelled “radicals” we must accept that we are radical in the face of a social order that accepts genocide, ecocide, and perhaps worse as normal in a democratic society.

In a society that accepts genocide, ecocide, and oppression of dissent as societal values and actions and voices of dissent to those social norms are called “radical”, I gladly and gratefully accept the label “radical”.

I will wear it with pride as I continue to speak out against genocide and oppression. I will accept it as part of the package of social justice activism because being radical is simply being committed to a better world for all based on a foundation of justice for all.

Tempered Warriors

It’s not drinking or doing drugs made me a bad person, it’s just that it sabotaged all the good things I could do and consumed much of the time I could put toward solutions. Without those things I am sure I wouldn’t have made it to today and I learned much about fighting, struggle, compassion, gratitude, determination, loss, family, and so much more through those times.

I didn’t AA or NA very much for my own reasons but the way I found through all of the chaos and setbacks was to steadfastly learn along the way and what I learned was that although there were problems with my life there were reasons for that. Those reasons were the intergenerational effects of continuing genocide by the colonization of our peoples and lands. Our people are suffering because our lands are suffering and for every Warrior who overcomes the suffering (including deception) means one more Warrior to fight for the lands. These Warriors have been through emotional, physical, and spiritual landscapes that would have destroyed most people and have indeed taken many lives. But they are here today and we are all better off for them.

I am no addict. I am no alcoholic. I never was. I was medicating the trauma from the genocide that is inflicted on Indigenous peoples every moment of every day. I need no further medication because I see the sickness of the society that lays those judgements and labels down and I see the strength of our cultures, lands and families.

I encourage all those who are medicating to reject the notion that there is something wrong with you because there isn’t. It is the society which we are living (and dying) which is sick and when you are ready to see or you have seen enough to know, the fight for the lands and for the future of this beautiful world is waiting for more Warriors such as you. Warriors who know what loss feels like and who know what struggle is like on a spiritual level. Warriors who know compassion, gratitude, and determination. You are the hope of the ancestors and the ones yet to be born and there is strength in your hearts.

“Let’s vote our way out of this mess!”

“Why don’t we just vote our way out of this mess?”

Perhaps the stupidest “solution” offered for Indigenous peoples. Every single political party is born and bred from the canadian system of governance which is a constitutional monarchy maintained through a colonial relationship with britain and is only possible through the continued exploitation of our lands for thier purposes. Without their domination of our lands for their benefit they could not continue to operate their bureaucracy and infrastructure (police, military, etc) to maintain their domination over these lands.

Add to this the fact (not opinion, F-A-C-T!) that every political party maintains their moral authority to rule and all parties which have found themselves in majority situations have used their power to undermine, strip away, confine, and otherwise continue the path of genocide that this canada was born from. The Conservatives have a long track record overtly founded on the philosophy of cultural supremacy that the other parties seem to have the decency to conceal a bit more than the Cons. The Liberals will sell out to the highest bidders and their “moral authority” is directly tied to who is filling their bank accounts. They were there for Oka. They were there for Ipperwash. Lets not that.

“But what about the NDP?” some would ask.

The NDP were at the wheel when the military were ordered in to Gustafsen Lake just northwest of kamloops with armoured vehicles, helicopters, machine guns, and other weapons of death as they bombed a civillian vehicle and shot millions of rounds at Indigenous peoples conducting ceremonies on their own unceeded lands. Only through extreme courage and a bit of luck was nobody killed but Indigenous peoples still did jail time in colonial jails for simply being Indigenous on their lands.

“And the Green party?”

Despite the new-agey feel and the environmentalist greenwashing of their party platform, the domination theodicy is still present. Unless their preamble to their charter begins with “We recognize and affirm that these lands referred to as ‘canada’ are the property of Indigenous peoples and all moneys and power derived from their lands are to be returned to them” then their strip is the same colour as the rest of the political parties and they stand on the shoulders of their genocidal ancestors in order to continue the disposession and domination of lands that do not belong to them.

“We should form our own First Nations/Indigenous/Aboriginal/Cree/Salish/Mohawk/etc. Party so we can have a voice/change things/have power ourselves/etc.”

Good idea except for the fact that the foundations of the system you are seeking to empower yourself by is the very cause of the disempowerment you suffer. The system itself hinges on widespread resource theft (referred to as a “staples economy”) which is only possible through the destruction of the lands we live on, the foods we survive on, and the waters we will die wirthout. This system reduces people to simple commodities and guess what? We are people! We also do not govern ourselves by a system which degrades people to having a voice once every 4 years and even then you only get to say WHO you are voting for and not WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Our Indigenous governance is far more accountable to the people than that. If we decided to invest all of our energies into an “Indigenous” political party (an oxymoron if I have ever heard one) we would simply be completing the assimilation process begun through enforced band elections under the Indian Act which are meant only to teach us obedience, disempowerment, and acceptance of what we should not accept.

“What do we do then?”

Rise up!

Stop the paltitudes and show some moral courage to see what is happening and has happened right in front of us. Stop believing the same tired old rhetoric of “reconciliation” while our incarceration numbers are doubling every few years and our children are being swallowed by the settler society through children and family services, drugs, alcohol, colonialist schools, prisons, and the thousands of other ways we refuse to acknowledge. Stop being blind to the non-stop logging trucks taking trees from your lands while you sit back and give them a wide berth. Stop saying to yourself “We have to heal”, and “It’s not my place, that’s for the leaders.” Start saying “My children need these things to live!” And, “My grandchildren deserve better than inheriting a dying planet!” And perhaps most importantly “Let’s stop the domination of our peoples! Today! Right now!”

Do something just please, PLEASE don’t tell me to vote because if that is our big idea for liberation, we’re fucking doomed.

Imagine if…

Imagine if…

Your caucasian family lived in an area for thousands of generations and paid particular attention to nurturing the environment and living in tandem with it so that there would be continual health and well-being for all who lived there and all visitors who came.

That Indigenous peoples came to caucasians under a lie of friendship and peace in order to gain enough settlement to dominate caucasians all the while deliberately inflicting caucasians with smallpox and measles because Indigenous peoples knew it would kill them and make it easier to dominate and/or exterminate them.

There was a caucasian relocation program specifically targetting caucasians to remove them from the areas where Indigenous peoples wanted to live and also from where they desired to make a profit from destroying the trees, minerals, fish, lands, and waters so that they could use the money to dominate their own population.

If there was a caucasian reservation system where caucasians were forced to live where couldn’t own their own home or the land beneath their feet, their community couldn’t drink the water from their taps because it’s toxic and can kill them, there was 85% unemployment rate because it was illegal for them to access their own resources, and if they left those lands to work they would be forced to pay Indigenous peoples 35% of their income only since Indigenous people decided that caucasians didn’t have to go to jail if they left the reservation without a permit from Indigenous peoples.

That tax and a portion of all the profit from caucasian peoples’ lands was partially used so Indigenous peoples can make laws that force caucasian children to learn Indigenous peoples’ ways in Indigenous language, all the while being told that everything they were is backward or slow or irrelevant.

That tax and a portion of all the profit from caucasian peoples’ lands was also partially used so that caucasian children could be apprehended by Indigenous peoples because they weren’t raising them in the way that Indigenous peoples thought they should be.

That tax and a portion of all the profit from caucasian peoples’ lands was also partially used to fund an Indigenous police and military force that regularly murders caucasian people with little to no consequences or even investigation while threatening them into complying with anything the Indigenous people told them to do.

That tax and a portion of all the profit from caucasian peoples’ lands was also partially used to fund jails where caucasian people made up to 100% of the inmate population while Indigenous people made up to 100% of the guard population.

That caucasian women, girls, and elders were being murdered or disappearing with little attention and nothing done to address it by Indigenous people, who are the vast majority of the population and control all of the police, laws, and media.

That caucasian women were sterilized without their knowledge and against their will.

That Indigenous peoples decided that caucasian peoples were not capable of deciding how to govern themselves and Indigenous people imposed and enforced a system of governance designed to teach obedience and servitude to Indigenous peoples.

That Indigenous peoples decided that there were no ethnic, cultural, spiritual, political, physical, mental, or social diversity among caucasian peoples, so they wouldn’t have to treat them as human beings.

That every time Indigenous peoples mentioned caucasians in their pervasive media, they were presented as problematic, hostile, lazy, inferior, sad, self-destructive, violent, ungrateful, parasitic, nameless, jobless, homeless, addicted, immature, greedy, wasteful, or racist.

That caucasian people were expected to explain why they were in this situation to Indigenous peoples, who only wanted to hear that the caucasian people would get over it and just be like Indigenous people because they brought all their problems onto themselves.

That the entire system was designed to take and/or degrade everything that caucasian people had, were, and are, including their children, to benefit an Indigenous elite, determined to destroy caucasian people because their ways are a credible threat to Indigenous domination of their own people.

So if it were you, how would you feel if I told you that canada is a just society? How would you feel if I told you that you should get over it? How would you react if I told you your tone or your anger or your words prevent others from understanding? Tell me you don’t get it… if it were YOU and YOUR family and not the millions of Indigenous peoples who are being subjected to this.

Epidemic of Passivity

Are we passively accepting the genocide of our people, content to participate in the culture of consumption and greed as slaves to faceless sociopaths who pay us to not see our own chains?

Every day living in a colonial system, we must answer yes.

Are we passively accepting the widescale destruction of the vitality of the elements needed for our survival and the ambient slaughter of our friends in the animal and plant worlds?

Are we passively accepting the destruction of a healthy future for our children?

Every day we are living in a colonial system, we must answer yes to these questions.

“But I go to protests!”, we say. “But I vote my conscience!”, we say. “But I am educating others!”, we say. “But I am living my culture!”, we say. “But we need those things to live!”, we say.

The platitudes we tell ourselves do not stop the incessant progression to a horrific place in our narritive as a peoples. A horrific future where we abandon our children to survive the effects of our avarice and our arrogance. A horrific future that is quickly becoming our present.

The truth is that we have passively accepted these things and this future. We have not stood up against this genocidal/ecocidal slavery except to be included in it further and deeper. At best, our resistance has been passive-aggressive sarcasm against the very lifestyle we live, punctuated by some real real resistance visible to ourselves and others as we engage in brief blockades under the theme of “sovereingty” or “nationhood”.

By chasing “equality” or “equity” in a society terminally ill with avarice, we have sought out the pox-infected blankets unwittingly. Once again thinking the comfort of the blanket would help us to survive while unknowingly, or perhaps unbelievingly, the infection spreads throughout or societies while those who know and see shout out warnings about taking the blankets.

The ones who remain committed to resistance are ostracized by their own communties they love enough to speak the truth to despite the consequences of doing so. Their actions and words misinterpreted or dismissed as violent, dangerous, or hostile to our people when in fact they are desperate pleas to avert disaster.

How can we know those blankets are infected? One has only to look at the society from which they come. With the enslavement of their own people and the widespread destruction of their own lands at the time of invasion here, europe was a cesspool of disease, war, and famine ruled by parasitic dynastic lordship determined to dominate and control every aspect of the thoughts and actions of others while giving them just enough so they did not rebel against their slavery. The model has not changed and the parasites have only become more entrenched.

Our passivity has ensured they are not only present but has ensured they dictate even what resistance is acceptable. Condemnations of actions of people who truly want to protect ourselves and the lands physically by those who seek to passively maintain an intellectual or emotional connection to being Indigenous while not even realizing how compromised our emotional and intellectual states are (eg. speaking and thinking in english, adopting eurowestern or eurasian religions, adopting colonial identities of being “canadian” or “aboriginal” or “british columbian” etc.) and are simply degrading to our Indigenous ways and our history of resistance. In short, they demean the struggle of our ancestors, who did only what they needed to do, more than our passive acceptance of our genocide.

Our survival instinct is opening our eyes more to the racism and degradation we are facing. Our voices are becoming more widely spoken in defiance to these insults but to the open physical atacks to our sovereignty and our lands, our seeing is not enough. Our voices spoken, even shouted, are not enough. Our physical selves must be part of this battle. In no uncertain terms our collective actions must be unwavering and must be deadly serious. Without conviction and without physical resistance to the physical attacks, even the ones which have already successfully penetrated our sovereignty and lands, we will not be gifting our children with a life they will enjoy and cherish. We will be passing along the infectious blankets that have been passed to us.

Our nations are only as strong as our willingness to defend them with our bodies from those who would seize and destroy them. We have all been born into this battle. We didn’t choose it. We either fight in it by doing what we have to do or we passively accept our demise by doing what they needs us to do, passivelty kneeling at the trench alongside our children waiting for the shots to be fired. If our peoples, and indeed our leaders, are unwilling to do that, we must show them how to do what we have to. If they ask why, we must tell them why but not waver and continue to do what needs to be done. If they tell us that we shouldn’t, we must not waver and continue to do what needs to be done. If they join us, we must not waver and continue to do what needs to be done.

But first, we need to begin to do what needs to be done. See you in the streets.

http://www.submedia.tv/endciv-2011/

Colonial Problems

Part of the problem is that the colonizers make disempowered people, suffering the spiritually debilitating effects of genocide, feel important by including them in the colonizers plans. These people who have been groomed in the colonizers ways since birth accept the subservience of themselves and their peoples to an idea of civilization that includes their genocide and they defend their position with the colonial ethos. Challenges to this indoctrination must come from our cultural worldview because that is the empowerment they lack, the strength of our Nationhood, and the truth of our existences that survives to this day.

Another part of the problem is that we have all suffered spiritually debilitaing effects of genocide and that has disintegrated vast aspects of our societies, most importantly our families and sense of family. This disempowers us to stand up to those in our nations and families who are acting against our Nationhood as we struggle to reintegrate and empower our families and we deafault to live the path of least resistance. This leads to our continued disempowerment collectively and forms the wheels on which our genocide rolls onward. If we are to arrest this progression to annihiliation and our subjugation, we must critically assess the foundations of our nationhood; our families, and make it a priority to relearn/reteach our cultural ways (language, traditions, foods, leadership, songs, ceremonies, dances, mobility, mentorship, etc.) for those who want to learn.

If people are not doing this, the last position they should be in is in decion making roles within our Nations because their indoctrination, which is all of ours in most ways, has filled them with the colonial ethos that is founded on our dissolvement as a people. For those who don’t wish to take part in “being Indigenous”, let their hearts take them where they wish and allow them to leave who we are.

But always leave the door open.

Another part of the problem is that there are many people claiming to be “decolonized” or who are “traditional” or who are “not as colonized” as others and they can often act as gatekeepers against legitimate Indigenous interest in returing to thier cultural traditions. Or worse, as “culture cops” who take the beauty of our cultures and deface it to claim power over others and to defend their own colonization by placing their actions as justifiable and right during times of widespread wrongs.

Decolonized people do not exist here. If you are decolonized, you are living an Indigenous life and living an Indigenous life would at least include access to your own lands free from colonial interference and restriction. Not one of us can claim that and people who do are living a lie or fail to understand the depth of colonization.

The difficulty here is that they may have some good knowledge of their traditions (they also may have a “cultural pastiche” which is a form of aboriginalism) and claim jurisdiction over what is and is not “traditional” or “colonial” or “Indigenous”. The counter to this is the knowledge that even our ancestors did not know what was “traditional”, at least not a singular one. It was and still remains a collective knowledge with no one person being “the authority” over what is and is not cultural knowledge.

Of course we are all colonized peoples and there is no need to establish that fact, whether or not we are aware of it is irrelevant of its effects on us. Being “not as colonized” is individualistic in orientation and reveals the colonization that is hidden as well as denying the collective pathos of our societies and families.

We are as colonized as our peoples are, simply put. We are as colonized as our families are. We are as colonized as our lands are. Our forests are fully infected, our waters are fully infected, our plains are fully infected (GMO’s, pipelines, oil and gas wells, etc.), and if we are to seek a decolonizing existence, we must challenge all of these things as they are today and bring an end to the future plans of “civilization” “growth” and “progress” that include the current models and understandings of the same.

We need our leaders to be all of us in this struggle, and every single one of us should be leading the way to our traditions for those who come after us. On that path to our cultures, we will encounter many enemies and obstacles as we have been forcefully taken a long way from who we are. There will be people and institutions blocking us as they have steadily constructed a “civilization” beind us as they force-marched us toward annihiliation. There will be the police, both tribal and state. There will be military. There will be social service agencies and lawyers. There will be teachers and there will be politicians, tribal and state. There will be churches and there will be food stores and there will be news outlets, chipping away where they can. There will be concepts of “god”, “justice”, and “democracy” to overcome. There will be family members who tell us we are going the wrong way.

We will have to return past the Residential School Holocaust and have a good look at it. We will return past the policies of assimilation and etermination. We will return past the racism, internal and external. Past blood quantum, past rape, past torture, past murder. We will return past corrupted collaborators, family and friend. We will return past our own complicity and all of the shame, anger, fear, and selfishness that we have lived and abetted through our ignorance.There will be guides on that path. Some will be masking as family or friend but they will be the colonizer. Some will be saying that the way back is by adapting the colonial tools for Indigenous uses. Some will be saying that a spiritual return is needed. Some will say that being on the land and protecting it is the way forward. Some will say being militant opposers to colonial rule is the way. Some will say being passive resistors will teach our way from genocide.

Who you follow is your choice but I reiterate; we need to learn to be leaders again. We need to lead ourselves and direct our leadership where we want our destinies to be. Not only must we lead ourselves again, we must fight against those who would stop us. Perhaps first with words and with knowledge, but it is absolutely necessary that we physically rise up against the very physical forces that are killing our lands and waters and enslaving our peoples in our own lands.

Rise up.DSCF0058