Resurgence & Liberation:
A Program for Building Brown and Red Native Unity, Decolonizing Our Minds and Liberating Our Lands
Taken from Speed of Dreams by Enaemaehkiw Túpac Keshena
The Speed of Dreams is an avowedly revolutionary website currently based out of northern Turtle Island, aka Canada. Its author’s politics are hard to force into this or that category, but if you want to learn about the author visit the site andclick on the above link
Brothers and Sisters, Comrades
Over the course of our movement’s history, one of our principle failures has been our all too often inability to recognize each other as brothers and sisters. One of the greatest victories of the colonial system over us has been its success in indoctrinating Red Natives or Indians – that is, people who the colonial governments in Ottawa and Washington D.C. say are officially indigenous – into not seeing fellow indigenous people in Brown Natives – Chicanos-Mexicanos, Puerto Ricans and other from so-called “Latin America” (Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America). Likewise, Chicanos-Mexicanos, Puerto Ricans and others are often unaware of their own largely indigenous ancestry.
Primarily through its control of the schools, media and popular culture, the colonial system has divided and conquered us. It has called our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters things like Hispanic and Latino, linking their identity to Europe, and it has taught Indians to view them as illegal immigrants. If we are to rise up and shake off this system of oppression we must begin by recognizing ourselves and each other for what we are, regardless of whether we are called Indian, Métis, Mexican, Puerto Rican or anything else.
Now it is time to build for the future!
The Eagle & Condor Have Met!
The 6th Sun Now Arises!
The 8th Fire Has Arrived!
This is About Our Land! This is About Our People! This is About Our Culture!
This is About Us Getting Free!
Who We Are
I. From Alaska to Chile – We Are One People Without Borders.
Historically, within the borders of the settler states of North America, we have suffered under colonial oppression, isolation, and dehumanizing conditions. One consequence of the invasion has been the emergence of different terms used to identify ourselves, some imposed by the colonizer, others put forward by us in resistance to colonial imputations. English and French speaking brothers and sisters have been called many things throughout history: Indians, Aboriginal, etc. Those of us who were colonized by Europeans from the Iberian Peninsula have been called by many names as well. In the zone of U.S. occupation the terms placed upon our brothers and sisters initially colonized by Spain have often been designed to strip them of their Native heritage, and include such ones as Hispanic.
This project, related the idea of the Métis in Canada, and which is spread through out the Americas, is the extension of the 500 years of North American (white) attempts to break us down racially, and classify us based on our real or perceived influence from European and African populations. The more Native (and/or more African) an indigenous American is, the lessor they are on these imposed scales. The whiter they are, the better they are. As a result of the internalization of these colonial practices, many of our Spanish speaking cousins actively take up the terminology of colonization, in a desperate attempt to assimilate into whitestream society.
Other terms though, such as La Raza and Chicana/Chicano have progressive connotations and were widely used during the Chicano Power movement, which often sought to reconnect those people to their true heritage. Even today, these terms are used by many in a positive and political fashion, with La Raza often used as described
above. Today many indigenous people have also opted for the use of identifying terms from our ancient tongues, such as Onkwehonwe, Nican Tlaca, and Anishinaabe, which are respectively Mohawk, Nahuatl and Ojibwa words meaning indigenous people.
Likewise, the name of this continent also varies. Widely used words from various indigenous tongues include Turtle Island, Anówarakowa Kawennote, Anahuak, and Abya Yala. From Spanish we also get the term Nuestra América, which in a geographical sense does what La Raza does linguistically and unites the people of Spanish-speaking Latin America with their Indian brothers and sisters in North America.
While a point should be made to recapture our cultures and our languages, we must also recognize the fact that not only have our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters within the borders of the United States and elsewhere been stripped of their original tongues by Spanish colonization (though there is a growing awareness of Nahuatl, Maya and others), but they have then subsequently had the use of that language suppressed in the United States and other English-speaking areas of the continent. As such, we should recognize the historical and political significance of all of these names, and respect any and all of the terms that our people choose to use.
For simplicities sake, and out of respect for all our struggles, we have opted to use the the phrase “Native” as the identifier for our people. We will also use the indigenous derived “Turtle Island” for the name of our continent. This may seem inadequate right now, but my goal in doing this is to avoid the privileging of one indigenous tongue over another (Nican Tlaca vs Onkwehonwe vs Anishinaabe for example), until such a time that we can self-determine our identity, and what we want to be called.
II. This is Turtle Island – We Are Indigenous Nations.
We must recognize and uphold the right to self-determination of all indigenous nations of this beautiful and vast continent. Turtle Island has been made subject to the genocidal violence, theft, and slavery imposed on us by European colonialism, United States and Canadian imperialism, and global neoliberalism for 500 years. As indigenous people of these lands we are bound by our common history, struggles, and destiny.
The principled unification of our forces throughout this continent is not simply something to be desired – to produce joint statements or better coordinate protests – it is absolutely necessary to succeed in our struggles to overturn all manifestations of colonial, imperialist, and neoliberal oppression upon our people. In an international sense we must understand that the liberation of all indigenous people within the current borders of the United States and Canada will, and must, be tied to the liberation of all indigenous people and Latin American nations throughout Turtle Island.
The indigenous inhabitants of this continent constitute the colonies of a number of illegal settler states that are essentially an extension of old European settler-colonialism. The United States, Canada and other states have funded and directed those settlers who exploit our labour, keep a disproportionate number of our people in prisons, stereotype us through the media, falsify our history, deny us a relevant/productive education, and militarise the borders in order to keep out the very same people from which this land was stolen.
This, along with ever present state terrorism in our communities (migra, police, border patrol, RCMP/FBI etc.), and
the ever-increasing overt and violent expression of White Nationalism by reactionaries of the North American population, are all characteristics and manifestations of the ongoing colonial nature of North American society. We must be cognizant of this and other current neocolonialist tactics employed by the oppressor, which include the use of our own people against us. These people, from Democratic Party politicians to the Band Councils of recognized Native nations, are puppets and lackeys of the colonial state, appointed or self-appointed, and financially backed by colonialism. Their primary role within the colonial system is to confuse indigenous people into thinking that we are making progress, and that we can actually achieve self-determination within the existing system. This ploy is central to the classic colonizer tactic of divide and conquer. Instead of focusing our energy on overturning imperialism, this method pits us against opportunists of our own kind, and other oppressed nationalities, each struggling against the other for beggar’s crumbs, petty concessions, and neocolonial positions.
III. Ours is a National Liberation Movement Rooted in Class Struggle – This is Indigenous-Raza Internationalism.
This struggle is first and foremost one waged against 500 years of national oppression by the settler-colonial states that have imposed on top of us. Our goal is complete self-determination and freedom from oppressor nations. Over the course of this historic struggle, nationalism has consistently emerged as one of the leading forces in unifying oppressed people to combat the source and symptoms of colonial oppression. Indigenous nationalism has been the ideology of warriors and strugglers as diverse and geographically removed as Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzáles and Howard Adams.
Like all political movements, indigenous nationalism has gone through a process of evolution and change in response to the conditions of our oppression. Today, in those communities recognized as officially indigenous by the North American settler states, debate is taking place over what form nationalism should take. Well known and respected Mohawk scholar and activist Taiaiake Alfred (as well as many of his contemporaries) argues for a nationalism that emphasizes our actual historical nations, like Cree or Mohawk, whereas Howard Adams, George Manuel and others have long argued for an overarching indigenous nationalism. The former critiques the latter by claiming that any sort of overarching indigenous identity has been created by colonization, and to decolonize means to resist that kind of homogenization. The latter argues back, looking to the examples of the national liberation struggles in Africa and elsewhere, by pointing out the ways in which unity of the oppressed is essential and basing identity on smaller units plays into attempts by the colonizer to divide and rule.
The true solution though lies somewhere in between these two. Colonial oppression has forged us into one unified entity for the most part, whether it is called Indian, or “Aboriginal,” or Native, or whatever, and whether or not we choose to like it. This is the material truth. You have to have your head firmly planted in the sand to de
ny this. As such, any struggle for our liberation must be fought as a unified whole, of all Native nations, including of course also Chicano-Mexicanos, Puerto Ricans, Central Americans and South Americans. However, this is not to say that we should not also treasure our diversity – our different cultures, traditions, and languages. This diversity is one of the things that makes our people beautiful, and powerful. Struggling together against oppression as one, as Natives, does not have to mean that we stop being Cree, or Mohawk, or Lakota or Menominee, or Maya, or Mexica or end the project to revitalize and strengthen that which makes all our nations unique. To borrow a phrase from the revolutionary African hip-hop duo Dead Prez: we are one folk – many tribes.
Returning to the original point, throughout the history of North American imperialism and colonialism, it has been the politics of nationalism that have united indigenous people as one in our struggle against terror, poverty, and other forms of oppression. The basic elements and historical commonalities of a nation are what bind us together as a people – culture, economic realities, geography, oppression, and struggle. Of course we would be foolish should we not fully understand that nationalism can lead to reactionary positions and race politics, particularly nationalism within an oppressor nation, for example Nazism and fascism. However the nationalism that can rise within the oppressed nation is, generally speaking, a progressive development, and an effective weapon in the struggle for liberation. This is despite what many anarchists, left communists and other revolutionaries may argue. It is these progressive elements within nationalism that we should uphold.
This progressive nationalism that arises within the oppressed nations is called Revolutionary Nationalism. It is an ideology that calls for the establishment of a socialist society, built on the collective social, economic, and political development of the people, based on our historical, cultural, and present conditions and realities. A socialist society is in fundamental contradiction to capitalism, a system where a small, rich ruling class controls the wealth and power of a nation. Revolutionary Nationalism demands a complete transformation of the social, economic, and political institutions that presently form the basis of our oppression. It is Revolutionary Nationalism that must define the struggle for the total transformation of our lives – from a colonized and dependent people, to a life and future of a truly liberated and sovereign nation in the world community.
Further, as was noted before, we must recognize that our struggle is intrinsically linked, through history and practice, to the movements of all of the oppressed and colonized people throughout this continent. Therefore the term Indigenous-Raza Internationalism best describes what should be our political relationship to the rest of this continent, and by extension the world. Our obligation as we strive to build towards revolution is to recognize the right of all oppressed people to self-determination – to uphold the principle of continental emancipation of our people. In our work we will struggle to carry forth the fight on all fronts to bring about a democratic and socialist unified Turtle Island.
Finally, our continent’s history parallels and intersects with the experiences of Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Our histories are burdened by our common experience of suffering under conquest, slavery, exploitation, and military intervention, as well as a shared challenge to win freedom. It is our duty to recognize these ties and our common enemies, and support all peoples struggling for self-determination and against imperialism.
IV. Dialectical and Historical Materialism Should Form the Basis of Our Strategies and Tactics.
As indigenous people we are overwhelmingly a working class people, and from our labour, along with that of all other oppressed workers – Africans, in Africa as well as elsewhere, the people of the Middle East, South Asia etc. – all wealth is generated. While some regressive and reactionary forces within our movement, such as Cultural Nationalists, who are essentially Native capitalists, may try to convince us otherwise, the truth is we share far more in common with other members of the working class than we do with rich Natives. As such, the essence of our movement is one of class war. Our enemy, and the enemy of all working class people is the ruling class.
Because of this, we must base our ideology, and the process of its evolution, on the material historical basis of all things and situations, as well as the material conditions within which our people find ourselves. The philosophy of Dialectical Materialism is a theoretical tool to help us look at the world without metaphysical or subjective limitations. The concept refers to “dialectics”, which is the study, understanding, and response to the many elements and conditions in the universe that constantly effect and impact each other. Sometimes these contradictory elements combine to form new a element. This new element at times has characteristics of the old elements, but in itself is different and new. With dialectics we can better understand social, economic, and political questions as part of a dynamic, flexible, ever changing universe. Looking at our struggle for liberation in this way, we can better understand how all things constantly contradict, and evolve into new forms. Dialectical materialism combines dialectics with philosophical materialism, providing an overall perspective that combines, defines, and provides an order to other sciences – biology, chemistry, social sciences, etc.
Historical Materialism is the theoretical tool of dialectical materialism as it is applied to the history of humanity, evolution, and the development of colonialism, capitalism, imperialism, and neoliberalism. Together dialectical and historical materialism are essential to understanding our current reality, as well as forming strategies and tactics for our liberation.
A people’s capacity to create and reproduce our means of existence through the development of knowledge, technology, culture, economic activity, and governments to serve our collective interests is the driving force of human dignity. All social progress and meaningful development are a direct result of working class struggle. As such, in a world where opposites and contradictions are constantly affecting and influencing each other, it is the leading role of working class people to transform the very conditions of life, and not just for us, but all people. We should be dialectical in our approach to political work, and strive to constantly evolve and balance our theory and practice, and meet the challenges posed to us by colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism.
What We Need
I. Self-Determination, Liberation, and a Unified Continent.
Our primary goal is the decolonization of our people. The means to this end is the advancement of self-determination, which can best be defined as collectively determining our history; economically controlling our destiny; controlling our social development by self-determining our culture, education and language; independently developing the content and direction of our political orientation; and controlling the political institutions that make the laws that govern us.
We must recognize the indigenous peoples of this continent as social actors and subjects of history. We must demand the self-determination of indigenous identities, cultures, spiritualities, customs, and languages on par with all national entities and interests. More precisely, these rights include the following: Self-affirmation as the right to proclaim existence, and be recognized as such; Self-definition as the right to determine who is a part of the group and define territorial limits; Self-organization as the right to develop and enforce laws parallel to the broader laws of other nations; and Self-government as the right to define and administer political affairs parallel to the broader procedures of other nations.
Any talk of decolonization that does not include these demands, which mean the fundamental deconstruction of the colonial system, can only lead in one direction, and that is greater assimilation of our people. While some, like our band councils and “chiefs” push so-called “self-government” as a realization of decolonization, the truth is that the demand for greater political and economic power by these groups and individuals only serves to enrich them and assimilate the rest of us even further.
Finally, if we are truly to defeat colonialism throughout all of Turtle Island, we mus