Disrupting settler society, and avoiding fatalism, requires a two-fold recognition: of settler colonialism and Indigenous resurgence.
Destroying settler society, and allowing the rise of ethical relations, requires a two-fold active response: destroy the material and discursive foundations of settler colonialism and actively engage with Indigenous resurgence.
At other times and in other spaces, they are distinct. Read more…
“I started writing because there was an absence I was familiar with. One of my senses of anger is related to this vacancy – a yearning I had as a teenager… and when I get ready to write, I think I’m trying to fill that.” –Ntozake Shange
#DecolonizeHistory is about storytelling that disrupts space to present narratives that have been actively silenced or neglected. #DecolonizeHistory is a Toronto-based sticker-art project aimed at interrupting space, addressing colonial roots and undoing processes of white supremacy. Historical narratives within mainstream discourse are presented without the context of colonization, slavery and imperialism, despite the fundamental role they play on all aspects of life. Within these erasures, there are narratives we are told at the expense of silencing other narratives that are actively unrepresented. We are taught to honour the anti-apartheid work done by Nelson Mandela, while we are simultaneously taught to disregard Mandela’s continued activism to end the illegal military occupation of Palestine. We are taught to fight for the eradication of gender-based violence yet the stories of countless Indigenous women, women of colour, trans women, queer folks and disabled folks rarely make headlines. This absence of certain narratives has its roots in colonial violence and it has been normalized to the point that stories that diverge from the mainstream discourse are “delegitimized” or presented without “validation.” Nevertheless racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia and other forms of violent discrimination are lived experiences that require no mainstream validation to prove they exist. Existence is resistance and storytelling through art is a part of this resistance. Read more…
“New World” settler colonialism can be described as a process of “killing Indians, making niggers.” By this I mean that, within the visionary project of building and maintaining a settler state, there are the immediate projects of clearing “virgin” land for industry and settlement (“killing Indians”), as well as constructing a racial category of enslavable and otherwise indentured labor to help cultivate it (“making niggers”). The colonial end game becomes a world where Indigenous peoples are thought of as always dead, dying or inexplicably disappeared. A world where black life is defined by slavability and being made the necessary causalities of capitalist development. In many cases the “killing” or “making” plays out as the literal removal of black and Indigenous bodies: Indigenous genocide and land theft, black enslavement, police violence and incarceration, murdered and missing women, 60’s scoop, forced relocation, temporary foreign worker schemes, deportation etc. In other cases, the “killing” or “making” is more symbolic: discourses of black criminality, rage and sexual danger; or Indigenous drunkenness, barbarism and extinction. These are just few of the ways black and Indigenous bodies become differently marked for symbolic, but also literal, extermination. Marked for extermination by the law, on the land, and within settler consciousness. It’s further important to point out that the ongoing theft and occupation of Indigenous lands is foundational to all of these things.
On the day before Bernice A. King, daughter of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., delivers the keynote speech to thousands of residential school survivors and their supporters at the Walk for Reconciliation event in Vancouver, British Columbia, a smaller but no less enthusiastic audience gathers at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria for the opening of the Urban Thunderbirds: Ravens in a Material World exhibition in Victoria, British Columbia.
Both events are landmarks unto themselves, lending strength to the glacially slow shift in western consciousness and validation of indigenous realities. Co-curated by two of the featured artists, Coast Salish lessLIE Sam and Kwakwakwak Rande Cook, the exhibition is a visual truth-telling of the dual cultural existence of a “modern-day, self-proclaimed” native artist and the clumsy but more often time clever ways in which their art helps them navigate both traditional responsibility and contemporary tradition. The results are beautiful, thoughtful, touching and funny.
One of the goals of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society is to bring together scholars, activists, artists and community members who are thinking through and acting out decolonization from their local spaces around the globe. Around the world, Indigenous communities and others are resisting colonialism and resurging Indigenous cultures as necessary alternatives; though, sometimes these local initiatives operate with little discussion, solidarity, and learning with/from other locations of struggle. As a journal and as a larger project, we hope to provide a space where these discussions can happen to encourage and foster connections.
In that vein, we hope you’ll check out a great new blog started by Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua and her students at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa that brings out some great discussions on Hawai’ian decolonization, settler colonialism, and Indigenous theories. The students bring in a wide array of art, videos and readings to make some great connections between settler colonialism, sovereignty, Indigenous language, anarchism, etc…
Check it out here!
Change demands moments of crisis and conflict. In these moments of crisis, there are two options: to embrace the change and recognize the necessity of it, or to fight against it, to try and frantically batten down the hatches of the status quo. In light of the recent conflict in Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, Rex Murphy in his recent article, pulls out the dullest, bluntest hammer to flail wildly away in protection of the settler colonial status quo.
In Murphy’s article he lays out the foundations of violence inherent in the settler colonial state (while simultaneously and willfully ignoring that same violence), where he highlights the only two choices afforded Indigenous people in settler society. Each choice is as violent and potentially deadly as the other. On one side, by evoking the ‘Canadian citizenry’, Murphy is highlighting the delineation between citizens and Indigenous peoples who are outside of this realm. For those who remain outside the realm of ‘citizen’ there is an inherent danger because the rights and protections of the citizen no longer apply. If you are not seen as a citizen, it becomes okay to arrive on your doorstep with guns and dogs, scattering men, women and children into the pre-dawn morning in terror. If you are not seen as a citizen, you are seen as enemies to the citizenry, encroaching on Canadian land, and you become terrorist threats to the state to be dealt with as such. This is what we are seeing play out in Elsipogtog. This is what is played out on a more personal level with the thousands of murdered Indigenous women who have been made missing in Canada. Indigenous people are seen as threats to the citizenry, as outside the state and it’s laws, as violable and murderable at state and personal levels.
This article is about dogma. Not Christian dogma or Western political dogma, but North American Indigenous dogma. And, particularly (because that is the tradition I am from), Ojibwe and Cree dogma.
You know what I mean. It starts off as rules. Medicine people aren’t supposed to kill things. You shouldn’t pay for medicine. Women need to wear skirts to ALL ceremony. Women don’t sit at a drum. And, ceremony should definitely, DEFINITELY, not be documented.
I want to start with some stories about my great-grandmother, Kaapiidashiik. My kookoo was a medicine woman. And she was a good medicine woman. One of those women people travelled miles to see. One of my favourite stories is about how, when my mother told her there was a strange man in the yard, Kaapiidashiik locked up the doors and windows and huddled in the corner of the house behind a rocking chair with her granddaughter (my mother) and a loaded shotgun aimed at the door. My kookoo used to sell red willow baskets to make extra money for the family. That same red willow was used for kinnickinick. She harvested her own medicine and used to make a medicine of a hundred roots that would cure TB. Although she was a traditional person, I can’t imagine that she checked her snares in a skirt or that she waited for my grandfather to come home before taking care of her own fire. In fact, the most beautiful thing my mother remembers about Kaapiidashiik and Michael (my great-grandfather) was that they shared their home responsibilities across gender roles. She remembers their partnership as respectful, loving, and kind.
And, so, when I hear people today criticizing something like the filming of segments of a ceremony like the Sundance, part of me hurts because I come from a tradition where surviving (and, indeed, thriving) involved bending rules. The other part of me is conflicted and understands peoples’ concerns.