Legacy of Standing Rock

What Standing Rock Gave the World

Americans saw the Indigenous struggle—the violence, stolen resources, colluding corporations and governments—that goes hand in hand with protecting the Earth.
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At the height of the movement at Standing Rock, Indigenous teens half a world away in Norway were tattooing their young bodies with an image of a black snake. Derived from Lakota prophecy, the creature had come to represent the controversial Dakota Access pipeline for the thousands of water protectors determined to try to stop it.

It was a show of international solidarity between the Indigenous Sami and the Lakota. “They got tattoos because of the Norwegian money invested in the pipeline,” said Jan Rune Måsø, editor of the Sami news division of Norway’s largest media company, NRK.

Rune Måsø said the story about the tattoos was just one of about a hundred that his team of journalists covered over the course of the months-long pipeline battle in North Dakota. One of them, “The War on the Black Snake,” was awarded top honors at a journalism conference held in Trømsø in November. That story revealed large investments Norwegian banks had made to advance the $3.8 billion energy project, spurring a divestment campaign by the Sami Parliament.

The backstory can be told simply. As early as April 2016, Indigenous activists protested the pipeline’s threat to the Standing Rock Sioux’s primary water supply, the Missouri River. While battles were fought in federal courts, representatives of hundreds of Indigenous groups from around the world—the Maori, the Sami, and the Sarayaku, to name a few—arrived. Temporary communities of thousands were created on the reservation borderlands in nonviolent resistance against the crude oil project. Police arrested more than 800 people, and many water protectors faced attack dogs, concussion grenades, rubber bullets, and, once, a water cannon on a freezing night in November. Last February, armored vehicles and police in riot gear cleared the last of the encampments. Recently, investigative journalism by The Intercept has documented that the paramilitary security firm TigerSwan was hired by DAPL parent Energy Transfer Partners to guide North Dakota law enforcement in treating the movement as a “national security threat.”

Oil now flows through the pipeline under the Missouri.

But this Indigenous-led disruption, the awakening resolve that was cultivated at Standing Rock, did not dissolve after February. Rather, it spread in so many different directions that we may never fully realize its reach. The spirit of resistance can easily be found in the half-dozen or so other pipeline battles across the United States. Beyond that, the movement amplified the greater struggle worldwide: treaty rights, sacred sites, and the overall stand to protect Indigenous land and life.

To be sure, post-colonization has always demanded acknowledgment of Indigenous autonomy. It’s what spurred months of international advocacy when Haudenosaunee Chief Deskaheh attempted to speak before the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1923. He wanted to remind the world that European colonizers had honored Iroquois Confederacy nationhood upon entering treaty agreements under the two row wampum.

The stand at Standing Rock, then, was not anything new—just more modern.

Google the words “the next Standing Rock” and you get a smattering of circumstances, mostly posed in the form of a question: Bears Ears, Line 3, Yucca Mountain. “The Next Standing Rock?” the headlines ask.

The story of White Clay, Nebraska, is indicative. When the last tipis came down at Standing Rock, Clarence Matthew III, a middle-aged Sicangu Lakota man better known by his camp nickname, Curly, spared little time migrating to the South Dakota–Nebraska border. There, another fight for justice was mounting, for families living on the neighboring Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This one focused on a decades-long dispute over beer sales targeted at Native American customers mostly prone to alcohol addiction.

Demands turned to broader issues: investigation of dozens of unsolved crimes in White Clay against Native Americans. “Once we got down there, they started telling us about the problems they’ve had, more than just alcohol, the murders, the rapes, and everything that was on the bad side of that alcohol problem,” Matthew said. “It just broke my heart to hear all that.”

Matthew had been caretaker of one of the main communities at Standing Rock, and he settled right in at Camp Justice at the edge of Pine Ridge. He was there with his “water protector family,” others who have adopted camping as an active form of protest.

We’re starting to see other Indigenous communities rise up and say, Let us all speak now.

For all the momentum that the resistance at Standing Rock brought, the Indigenous rights movement in the 21st century faces increasing challenges. Tribal nations tread cautiously under the administration of Donald Trump. Internationally, the militarized protection of extractive energy projects and theft of land persist, despite glaring media attention paid to the rising number of Indigenous peoples killed or jailed for their activism in the face of it.

In a final push for re-election last fall, Standing Rock’s Dave Archambault II gave what would be his last interview as chairman to tribal radio station KLND. Archambault used the airtime to speak matter-of-factly about how the movement had shifted the tribe’s potent public image away from the reservation. “It used to be cool to be Indian; now it’s cool to be from Standing Rock.

“This movement was significant, not just for Standing Rock, but for all of Indian Country and around the world. We made some noise and now we’re starting to see other Indigenous communities rise up and say, Let us all speak now, and it’s pretty powerful and moving,” he said.

Less than a week later and on the same day that the state of North Dakota accepted a $15 million gift from Energy Transfer Partners, Archambault was unseated by former council member Mike Faith, who has said publicly that he believes the overall movement hurt Standing Rock’s economy and neglected daily life for tribal members.

The difference of opinion between the two leaders is a conflict that often lies at the heart of tribal community: protecting the Earth or protecting the Indigenous peoples.

On the eve of Thanksgiving 2017, when the Keystone pipeline ruptured and spilled 210,000 gallons of oil in neighboring South Dakota, the newly elected Faith remained notably silent while water protectors responded with outrage, most loudly, closest to home.

Sustaining this awakening is the next great task.

“Ironically, this week most Americans will be sitting down and giving thanks when last year at this time my people were being shot, gassed, and beaten for trying to keep this very thing from happening,” Chairman Harold Frazier from the neighboring Cheyenne River Sioux tribe said in a statement. Like Archambault and other tribal leaders, Frazier was arrested for participating in the Standing Rock occupation.

Leadership in the Indigenous world is not only a difficult balance, but also dangerous.

In Honduras, activist Bertha Zuniga Cáceres is fighting for Indigenous rights in one of the most militarized regions in the world. She is the daughter of Berta Cáceres, the Indigenous Lenca woman who was assassinated after leading a successful campaign to halt construction of the Agua Zarca Dam. Now she is seeking justice for her mother’s death.

The 26-year-old Cáceres is also campaigning to suspend all U.S. military aid to Honduras. In July, she survived an attack by a group of assailants wielding machetes. Just weeks earlier she had been named the new leader of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, the nonprofit organization formerly led by her mother.

“Many organizations, many NGOs, many Indigenous groups are struggling in how to sustain the work that they are doing in the face of these attacks,” said Katharina Rall, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Last year, after the military-style assaults on the camps at Standing Rock, Human Rights Watch expanded its agenda to include a program focused on the environment as a human right. “The fact that we now have an environment and human rights program at our organization is a reflection of this reality that a lot of people face,” Rall said.

Meantime, the organization Global Witness reports that it has never been deadlier to take a stand against companies that steal land and destroy the Earth. In 2016, the watchdog group found that nearly four activists a week are murdered fighting against mining, logging, and other extractive resource development.

Traditional knowledge has kept us in harmony with Mother Earth.

As disturbing as this reality is, it is unsurprising then to recall the military-style violence at Standing Rock: the rows of riot police pointing their guns at unarmed activists standing in the river; tanks shooting water in freezing temperatures at a crowd of people gathered on a bridge. In this one regard, Standing Rock was not unique in the world. It had become crucially important. Americans saw the global struggle faced by the estimated 370 million Indigenous people—the violence, stolen resources, colluding corporations and governments that go hand in hand with protecting the Earth.

Sustaining this awakening is the next great task.

Climate change poses one of the most serious reminders of why the sacred fires ignited at Standing Rock must continue to burn: Indigenous peoples and their knowledge and value systems matter.

At November’s COP23 climate conference in Bonn, Germany, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim was dressed in traditional Mbororo regalia when she stood in a conference hall demanding that Indigenous knowledge systems be properly acknowledged in Paris Agreement negotiations. The girl who once tended cattle in the region of Chad bordering northeastern Nigeria has now become a bridge for her people and government officials making decisions impacting the fragile ecosystem of Lake Chad, the lifeline for the Mbororo.

“Traditional knowledge has kept us from century to century to be in harmony with Mother Earth,” Ibrahim said. “These knowledges will make for all the difference, but we cannot wait years and years, because climate is changing, and it’s impacting the Earth.”

Other members of the Indigenous Caucus at Bonn say inserting traditional knowledge into the climate talks doesn’t go far enough. Jannie Staffansson, a representative of the Saami Council, wants what Chief Deskaheh had petitioned to the League of Nations nearly a century earlier: sovereign recognition for Indigenous Peoples on an international scale. It would allow equity at the negotiating table—a level playing field to fairly deal with the consequences of a warming planet in the face of land grabs and natural resource extraction.

“Why is it always that Indigenous peoples need to pay for other people’s wealth?” said Staffansson. She paused to check the Snapchat account she had been using to engage with a young Sami audience while at COP, a demographic similar to the teens who got tattoos of the black snake.

“I had friends that went to Standing Rock,” said the 27-year-old. “I was envious of their trip to support self-determination. Self-determination and a just transition is what we have to take into account.”

“We need climate justice in everything we do.”

Jenni Monet wrote this article for The Decolonize Issue, the Spring 2018 issue of YES! Magazine. Jenni is an award-winning journalist and tribal member of the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico. She’s also executive producer and host of the podcast Still Here.

from:    http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/decolonize/what-standing-rock-gave-the-world-20180316

White House to Discuss with American Indians

The White House Wants Government Consultations with 567 Native American Tribes

The Dakota pipeline protests have brought treaty rights into the national spotlight. Now the federal government may finally start to honor them.
In what is being hailed as a “historic” move, the Obama administration invited hundreds of Native American tribes on Friday to particpate in consultations in order to find solutions to protect and honor treaty rights and ensure meaningful consultations for any infrastructure project that may affect tribes.

The U.S. Departments of the Army, Interior and Justice sent the invitation for government-to-government consultations following a Sept. 9 decision to halt any construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on federal lands. The 1,168 mile pipeline extending across four states from North Dakota to Illinois has drawn the ire of Native American tribes who say their treaty, land and cultural rights are being violated by the project – which they say they were also not properly consulted on. As a result, thousands of tribal members from across the country, along with supporters, have been camping out in North Dakota, as well as protesting in other states, in what has been described as the largest Native American mobilization in decades.

“The Obama Administration’s call for national reform on this issue is a historic moment,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement, adding, “This invitation is a good start but the government has a lot more to do to permanently protect the millions of people who rely on the Missouri River for water and who are put at serious risk because of this pipeline.”

Federal agencies are looking for “meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions, to protect tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights.”

“Recent events have highlighted the need for a broader review and consultation as to how prospectively, Federal decision making on infrastructure projects can better allow for timely and meaningful input,” read the letter inviting tribes to a number of consultation sessions around the country.

Many of these issues have been deep and ongoing concerns of groups in opposition to the controversial US$3.7 billion pipeline, which is set to cross federal and private lands in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

Thousands have stood in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who say that the pipeline will damage the local environment and contaminate local water supplies, specifically the Missouri River, and run through Native American sacred sites, including burial grounds.

“We have already seen the damage caused by a lack of consultation. The ancient burial sites where our Lakota and Dakota ancestors were laid to rest have been destroyed,” said Archambault. “The desecration of family graves is something that most people could never imagine.”

The invitation was extended to all 567 federally recognized tribes on behalf of a number of federal agencies, including the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice.

“We understand that Tribal Nations’ voices must be heard, in a timely and meaningful way, with regard to Federal decisions that could affect their treaties, homelands, environment, cultural properties, and sacred sites,” the joint agency letter said.

The first of seven consultation sessions are planned to start on Oct. 11 across Arizona, Washington, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Native American tribes and environmentalists have vowed to continue the fight against the pipeline until the project is permanently suspended.

from:    http://www.whitewolfpack.com/2016/09/the-white-house-wants-government.html?m=1

Native Americans in Politics

A Political Turning Point for Native Americans

Who will be Indian Country’s Obama? Look to the states. Her name will be Paulette, Peggy, or Denise.
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This is the first of a two-part series on this political turning point for Native Americans. Read Part 2 here.

Joe Garry was president of the National Congress of American Indians in an era when tribal rights were under assault from Congress. House Concurrent Resolution 108, passed in August 1953, declared that the federal government should “terminate” its responsibilities toward Native Americans, essentially breaking promises made through solemn treaties.

The threat was real. In a period of 30 years, more than a hundred tribes were disbanded and the tribal governments dissolved. The result was huge losses of land and natural resources in Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas.

The strongest weapon in this battle is the power to vote.

Garry’s plan to counter that threat included the addition of more Native American voices to the country’s conversations. The strongest weapon in this battle is the power to vote, Garry said. So I’ll begin the story of Native America’s growing political voice in Idaho, where Garry was the chairman of the Coeur d’Alene tribe. He ran for the Idaho House of Representatives and was elected in 1957. Later, he won a seat in the the Idaho Senate, and in 1960 sought the Democratic Party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Idaho is a surprising birthplace for Joe Garry’s legacy. Not many Native Americans live in Idaho, where they comprise roughly 1 percent of the population. Garry’s successes showed that someone from a tribal community could be a leader for all of the citizens in a state.

Joe Garry

In 1975, Garry’s niece Jeanne Givens became the first Native woman elected to the Idaho House of Representatives. Like her uncle, she challenged the status quo with a bid for Congress in 1988. Givens lost, but four years ago another Coeur d’Alene tribal member, Paulette Jordan, ran for the Idaho House seat. She lost that attempt but won in 2014, illustrating what may be the most important lesson in politics: You have to run to win—sometimes more than once. Jordan describes Givens as a mentor who has taught her much about politics. Both have earned the legacy of Joe Garry.

Larry Echo Hawk won a seat in the Idaho Legislature in 1992. After serving two terms he ran for and won election as the Bannock County prosecuting attorney—another first. Then, in 1990 he was elected attorney general of Idaho and became one of the few Native Americans to ever win a statewide office. Four years later he ran for governor, but he lost.

When a state like Idaho has a history of electing Native Americans to public office, you have to wonder, “Where else?” It has almost been a story of success-by-stealth.

There is a win in Arizona, another in Kansas. And when you add them up, there are at least 73 American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians serving in 19 state legislatures.

When a state like Idaho has a history of electing Native Americans to public office, you have to wonder, “Where else?”

Why hasn’t the scope of this story been told before? Because each race is local; no one has ever collected all of the data that make a complete picture. So at the start of the election season I set out to build a complete list of Native Americans running for state and federal office. My list is always changing, but there are seven candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, one for the U.S. Senate, and some 80 state legislative candidates. (What I really like is that it’s crowdsourced: Every time I publish the latest candidate charts at TrahantReports.com, readers let me know who I have missed.)

I’d love to proclaim this to be a record year, but there’s nothing to measure against. We don’t know how many Native Americans have taken the plunge in previous election cycles. We do know, however, who has won.

One source for that information is membership in the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators. This is an association of people already elected, so it tells us more about what happened in 2014 than in 2016. Still, it’s important for three reasons: First, if you look at the body of work of these state senators and representatives, you’ll find that they advocate for better services, more funding, and improving relationships between tribal nations and state governments. Second, there is a mechanism to share information with each other about what works (and what does not). And third, this association is the talent pool for federal posts, from Congress to the White House.

Remember, it was just 1996 when Barack Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate.

To see the growing influence of Native Americans elected to office we need only to look at Montana.

Right now, the big story there is Denise Juneau, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives. She’s a member of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes and grew up in the Blackfeet Nation in Browning, Montana. She has already won two statewide contests, so she knows what it takes to win Montana’s only U.S. House seat. If successful, she (along with Arizona congressional candidate Victoria Steele) would be the first American Indian woman in Congress.

To see the growing influence of Native Americans elected to office we need only to look at Montana.

Yet the Montana story is richer than just Juneau. Some 20 years ago, Montana was much like any other state with a significant Native American population with only one or two Native Americans serving in the state Legislature. But in 1997, a third Native American candidate won. And again in 2003. By 2007, Native Americans in Montana occupied 10 seats in the state Legislature—6.6 percent of that body. Montana’s population is 7.4 percent Native American.

Today there are three Native Americans in the Montana Senate and five in the Montana House of Representatives, some 5.3 percent of the state Legislature. This is the highest percentage of Native American representation in the country.

Let’s put the Montana percentages in national terms: If Congress were 5.3 percent Native American, that would be five U.S. Senators and 21 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Even if you adjust for population, the number of Native American members of Congress would have to more than double to equal the representation found in Montana.

Native American Candidates Seeking Office

YES! Infographic by Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn.

After the 2016 election, Montana’s state-level Native representation is likely to grow. There are 11 Native American candidates on Montana’s ballot this year, including Juneau.

Montana’s Native American legislators are in office to raise overlooked issues that are important to their constituents. According to the Montana Budget and Policy Center, this past session produced a number of innovative laws, including Medicaid expansion (a financial boost to the Indian health system) and laws that will improve funding for tribal colleges, support for tribal languages, and streamline Indian business ventures. The success rate of Native American legislators to push through policy changes was less than perfect, but their voices were heard. It’s likely that during the next session many of the ideas that failed to pass will be back on the agenda.

Native voters and elected officials are only at the beginning of a demographic trend.

At nearly 1 percent nationwide, the Native American rate of representation in state legislatures still trails that of the nation’s overall population of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. But that’s more than half of the 1.7 percent that make up the Native American population in the United States. Compare that to Congress, where only two elected Native Americans equal only 0.33 percent. Compare that to the federal judiciary, where only one Native American judge equals a representation of about 0.1 percent.

Then consider the young and growing Native American population. Native voters and elected officials are only at the beginning of a demographic trend. The American Indian and Alaska Native population is younger and growing faster than the general population. About one-third of all Native Americans are under the age of 18 (compared to 24 percent for the total population), and the median age for Native Americans is 26 (compared to 37 for the nation).

While it’s overdue for America’s first citizens to have a voice in how governments are run and how the country’s future is shaped, it is happening now. Just imagine what it could mean for climate change policy decisions, for example, to hear from people who think about the future in terms of a 10,000-year history. Imagine also the healing message for a new generation of Native Americans—and for the country as a whole—to finally see in positions of power the people who suffered loss of both lands and culture and genocide.

Native Americans in State Government

YES! Infographic by Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn.

This is a story that has been unfolding slowly, chapter by chapter. It started even before Joe Garry, when 19th century tribal treaty negotiators demanded a seat in Congress (a promise never kept). It’s a legacy that is infused with presidential politics, especially when candidates like Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton campaign in tribal communities. The election of Obama elevated the possible. He kept his promises to include tribal nations in his government and in his actions. His rise from community organizer representing poor Black communities illuminated a path to meaningful politics.

This is a story that’s been unfolding slowly, chapter by chapter.

It’s also a progressive legacy, of which Minnesota Rep. Peggy Flanagan of the White Earth Ojibwe tribe is an excellent example. Flanagan told The Circle when she was elected, “I have been clear that for myself personally as an Ojibwe woman and mother—but also what I’ve heard from my constituents—is that Minnesotans believe in protecting our land and water. That’s why people live here in the first place. Indian or non-Indian, we live in a really beautiful state, and to throw it all away for short-term financial gain is really troubling to me.”

It’s hard to look across the country and not be optimistic about the quality, and the growing quantity, of Native American political voices. We know the story won’t end here because history tells us that state legislatures are the route that leads the next generation of leaders into Congress—and one day the White House.

So if you want to know who will be Indian Country’s Barack Obama, look to the states. Her name will be Paulette Jordan, Peggy Flanagan, or Denise Juneau.

And whoever she is, she will represent Joe Garry’s legacy.

from:     http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/a-political-turning-point-for-native-americans-20160726

On WETIKO

The Greatest Epidemic Sickness Known to Humanity


 

The following is Part One in a series. Read Part Two here.

In the book Columbus and other Cannibals, indigenous author Jack D. Forbes lucidly explores a psychological disease that has been informing human self-destructive behavior that Native American people have known about for years. After reading his book, it was clear to me that he was describing the same psycho-spiritual disease of the soul that I wrote about in my book, The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis. I introduce the idea that from the dawn of human history our species has fallen prey to a collective psychosis which I call malignant egophrenia. Speaking about this very same psychic epidemic, Forbes writes, “For several thousands of years human beings have suffered from a plague, a disease worse than leprosy, a sickness worse than malaria, a malady much more terrible than smallpox.”[i] Indigenous people have been tracking the same “psychic”[ii] virus that I call malignant egophrenia for many centuries and calling it “wetiko,” a Cree term which refers to a diabolically wicked person or spirit who terrorizes others. Professor Forbes, who was one of the founders of the Native American movement during the early sixties, says, “Tragically, the history of the world for the past 2,000 years is, in great part, the story of the epidemiology of the wetiko disease.”[iii] Wetiko/malignant egophrenia is a “psychosis” in the true sense of the word as being a “sickness of the soul or spirit.” Though calling it by different names, Forbes and I are both pointing at the same illness of the psyche, soul and spirit that has been at the root of humanity’s inhumanity to itself.

As if performing a magic ritual, in exploring the entity of wetiko, we first have to invoke its spirit and enter into relationship with it. We must contemplate and engage wetiko as objectively as we are able, as if it exists outside of ourselves, lest we get too “mixed up” with the object of our contemplation. Due to its unique psychic origin, the epidemiology of wetiko is different than any other disease. An intrinsic challenge to our investigation of the wetiko virus is that it is incarnating in the very psyche which itself is the means of our investigation. Aware of this conundrum, Forbes explains that he is attempting to examine the disease, “from a perspective as free as possible from assumptions created by the very disease being studied.”[iv] If we are not aware of the frame of reference through which we are examining the wetiko virus, our investigation will be tainted by the disease, obscuring the clear vision needed to start the healing process. Studying how wetiko disease manifests in others, as well as in the “other” part of ourselves, will help us to see “it” more objectively. Seeing this psychological disease manifesting in the world is the looking glass through which we can potentially recognize this same illness as it arises subjectively within our own minds.

After evoking an entity like wetiko, in order to study it as objectively as possible, we have to hermetically seal it within an alchemical container. This ensures that its mercurial spirit doesn’t vaporize back into the invisibility of the unconscious, where it would act itself out through us. Jung continually emphasized the importance of developing a container or vessel in which to catch troublesome spirits like wetiko. He writes, “Therefore, if anything is wrong, take it out of its place and put it in the vessel that is between your neighbor and yourself…For love of mankind, create a vessel into which you can catch all that damned poison. For it must be somewhere — it is always somewhere — and not to catch it, to say it doesn’t exist, gives the best chance to any germ.”[v] Wetiko is an elusive spirit that is challenging to pin down and say it is “this” or “that.” At the same time, it is critical that we attempt to delineate its properties. Unlike a physical virus, the wetiko bug can not be isolated materially, but its characteristic signature can be detected and seen in the peculiar operations of a psyche that is under its spell. To not recognize the existence of the wetiko germ — “to say it doesn’t exist” — allows the psychic infection to act itself out unrestrained. Being “always somewhere” is to be nonlocal, which means that it is always around, even potentially, or especially, within ourselves. In calling forth the wetiko spirit, we are simultaneously creating, through our inquiry itself, the container in which we can study this bug so as to understand what in fact we are dealing with, see how it operates out in the world, in others, and subjectively, within ourselves. In order to come full circle in our contemplative exercise/exorcise, we have to homeopathically take our contemplation back within ourselves. As if in a dream where the inner is the outer, we can recognize that the wetiko virus that we have been tracking “out there,” outside of ourselves, is a reflection of and co-related to the same process within ourselves. Encoded in wetiko’s symptomology is a revelation, something that is most important for us to know.

A Disease of Civilization

Wetiko/malignant egophrenia is a disease of civilization, or lack thereof. To quote Forbes, “To a considerable degree, the development of the wetiko disease corresponds to the rise of what Europeans choose to call civilization. This is no mere coincidence.”[vi] The unsustainable nature of industrial civilization is based on, and increasingly requires violence to maintain itself. Genuine “civilization,” in essence, means not killing people. Referring to the lack of “civility” in modern society, Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western civilization and responded by saying, “I think it would be a good idea.” It makes sense that native people would know about malignant egophrenia, as they were both oppressed by, but weren’t, at least initially, under the “curse” of modern civilization. Being under the sway of modern civilization can feel like something foreign to our nature is being imposed upon us, as if we are living in an occupied land. Modern civilization suffers from the overly one-sided dominance of the rational, intellectual mind, a one-sidedness that seemingly dis-connects us from nature, from empathy, and from ourselves. Due to its disassociation from the whole, wetiko is a disturber of the peace of humanity and the natural world, a sickness which spawns aggression and is capable of inciting violence amongst living beings. The wetiko virus is the root cause of the inhumanity in human nature, or shall we say, our seemingly inhuman nature. This “psychic virus,” a “bug” in “the system,” in-forms and animates the madness of so-called civilization, which, in a self-perpetuating feedback loop feeds the madness within ourselves.

Forbes continues, “this disease, this wetiko (cannibal) psychosis, is the greatest epidemic sickness known to man.”[vii] We, as a species, are in the midst of a massive psychic epidemic, a virulent collective psychosis that has been brewing in the cauldron of humanity’s psyche from the beginning of time. Like a fractal, wetiko operates on multiple dimensions simultaneously — intra-personally (within individuals), inter-personally (between ourselves), as well as collectively (as a species). “Cannibalism,” in Forbes’s words, “is the consuming of another’s life for one’s own private purpose or profit.”[viii] Those afflicted with wetiko, like a cannibal, consume the life-force of others — human and nonhuman — for private purpose or profit, and do so without giving back something from their own lives. One example that symbolizes our self-destructive, collective madness is the oil companies’ destruction of the Amazonian rainforest, the lungs of our planet. This is literally a full-bodied revelation showing us what we are doing to ourselves. Another literal example that is symbolically illustrating the wetiko complex in action is Monsanto genetically engineering terminator seeds that do not reproduce a second generation, thus forcing farmers to buy new seeds from Monsanto for each year’s new crop. This makes survival for many poor farmers impossible, which has triggered a wave of suicides among farmers, as Monsanto grows richer from the process.

Forbes writes, “The overriding characteristic of the wetiko is that he consumes other human beings, that is, he is a predator and a cannibal. This is the central essence of the disease.”[ix] Predators, “full-blown” wetikos are not in touch with their own humanity, and therefore can’t see the humanity in others. Instead, they relate to others either as potential prey or as a threat to their dominance. As if a different breed who is more animal-like predator than ordinary human being, someone fully taken over by the wetiko psychosis consumes others’ lives, physically, emotionally, psychically and meta-physically, beyond just the material body and physical possessions to the level of meaning itself. Wetikos are the “anti-artists” of our culture, embodying the opposite of what creative artists do. Unlike an artist (please see my article “The Artist as Healer of the World”), who creates life-enhancing meaning and enriches the world without robbing others, a wetiko takes and consumes without giving anything back, continually draining and impoverishing the planet of resources.

We are currently in the midst of “the greatest epidemic sickness known to man” (please see my article “Diagnosis: Psychic Epidemic”). Many of us don’t even realize this, as our collective insanity is so pervasive that it has become normalized. Our collective madness has become transparent to us, as we see and interpret the world through it, rendering our madness invisible, thereby unwittingly colluding with the collective psychosis that is wreaking incredible death and destruction on our planet. Being “trans-parent,” our madness is beyond its mere appearance, which is to say, “beyond being apparent,” i.e., not visible. Our collective psychosis is invisible to us, as it expresses itself both in the very way we are looking, as well as all of the unspoken ways we have been conditioned not to perceive. Due to its cloak of invisibility, we don’t see our madness, a psychic blindness which makes us complicit in the creation of our madness.

Many of us can’t fathom the level of evil to which full-blown wetikos have fallen prey, and of which they are capable. Our lack of imagination of the evil existing in potential in humanity is a direct reflection of a lack of intimacy with our own potential evil, which enables the malevolence of wetiko to have nearly free rein in our world (please see my article “Shedding Light on Evil”). In our psychic blindness we are complicit in the spreading of the evil of the wetiko psychosis, a systematic evil whose depth is beyond the capacity of words to fully describe. Evil paralyzes the ability to language our experience, creating a seemingly unbridgeable gap between language and the event it is supposed to describe. Finding that place of no words, we simultaneously discover and create a new language, a language which is universal and transcends language itself, a language known as art.

 

A Parasite of a Different Order 

When people are infected by the wetiko virus, Forbes writes, they are “the host for the wetiko parasites.”[x] The wetiko germ is a psychic tapeworm, a parasite of the mind. Just like certain computer viruses or malware infect and program a computer to self-destruct, mind-viruses like wetiko can program the human bio-computer to think, believe and behave in ways that result in our self-destruction. Wetiko is a virulent, psychic pathogen that insinuates thought-forms into our mind which, when unconsciously en-acted, feed it, and ultimately kills its host (us). It doesn’t want to kill us too quickly however, for to successfully implement its agenda of reproducing and propagating itself throughout the field, it must let the host live long enough to spread the virus. If the host dies too soon, the bug would be prematurely evicted and would suffer the inconvenience of having to find a new residence.

Like a cancer of the mind that metastasizes, in wetiko disease, a pathological part of the psyche co-opts and subsumes all of the healthy parts of the psyche into itself so as to serve its pathology. The personality then self-organizes an outer display of coherence around this pathogenic core, which “masks” the inner dysfunction, making it hard to recognize. In a psychic coup d’etat, the wetiko bug can usurp and displace the person, who becomes its puppet and marionette. Like a parasite, the wetiko virus can take over the will of an animal more evolved than itself, enlisting that creature into serving its nefarious agenda. Once the parasite becomes sufficiently entrenched within the psyche, the prime directive coordinating a person’s behavior comes from the disease, as it is now the one calling the shots. Just as someone infected with the rabies virus will resist drinking water, which would flush out the infection, someone taken over by the wetiko parasite will have nothing to do with anything that will help them get rid of the disease. Wetikos are phobic towards the light of truth, which they avoid like the plague. In advanced stages, this process takes over the person so completely that we could rightfully say the person is no longer there; they are just an empty shell carrying the disease. In a sense there is just the disease, operating through what appears to be a human being. The person becomes fully identified with their mask, their persona, but it is as if there is no one behind the mask.

To read the rest of Part 1 and link to Part 2, go to:

Native American Indian Leaders Call For Honoring Treaties

National American Indian Leader Delivers Message to Federal Government

native-american-leaderBy Derrick Broze

On Thursday January 14, Brian Cladoosby, President of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, delivered the 2016 State of the Indian Nations address. Cladoosby spoke at the Newseum in Washington D.C. and was welcomed by members of Congress and the Obama administration.

The central message of the State of the Indian Nations was that the United States federal government ought to honor its treaties and promises to American Indian tribes and nations across the country. This is not a new call from the native community but rather a continuation of a cry for justice that modern America first became aware of with the rise of the radical Red Power movement during the 1960s and ’70s.

“At every level of government, more and more leaders are seeing that the path to a brighter future for America runs through Indian Country,” said Brian Cladoosby said. “Imagine how much further we will go, as the next class of American legislators and policymakers further strengthen tribal self-determination.”

Cladoosby commended the Obama administration for the passage of the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act of 2010, and the Tribal Law & Order Act of 2010, as well as the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. He also called on the removal of outdated laws and regulations.

“We need to replace antiquated laws and regulations with policies that trust and empower tribes to govern,” he said. “We need a relationship based not on paternalism and control, but on deference and support; a partnership where tribes continue to meet their own challenges and chart their own path forward.”

During the speech Cladoosby  invited presidential candidates to visit native communities on reservations. “While Indian Country is still recovering from generations of damaging policies, more than four decades of tribal self-determination have launched our resurgence. Today, tribal nations are innovating and leading the way.”

Cladoosby also quoted a letter from Thomas Jefferson to President George Washington: “Indians [have] full, undivided and independent sovereignty as long as they choose to keep it, and this might be forever.”

He called for a partnership between native communities and the federal government, specifically in the areas of community security; economic equality; education, health and wellness; and climate change.

While Cladoosby calls for a partnership between tribal nations and the U.S. government we should not assume that any future agreements between the two parties would be honored any more than treaties of the past have been. We should also not assume that Cladoosby and the National Congress of American Indians speak for all natives and nations, especially considering that their membership only applies to individuals or tribes who are “recognized as a tribe or other identifiable group of American Indians by the Department of the Interior, Court of Claims, the Indian Claims Commission or a State.” So for the many nations not recognized by the colonizers known as the U.S. government — their voices are excluded.

The central message of sovereignty for native communities across the United States is of utmost importance. However, we should not stop at American Indians. All human beings presently living on the landmass known as the United States should recognize their inherent right to live as free, beautiful, empowered beings. The federal government most definitely does not grant us our freedom but it is absolutely working to limit the freedom of all people on this land.

This article (National American Indian Leader Delivers Message to Federal Government) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Derrick Broze and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

from:    http://www.activistpost.com/2016/01/national-american-indian-leader-delivers-message-to-federal-government.html

Native American Wisdom

10 Pieces Of Wisdom From Native American Elders

| January 13, 2015 

10 Pieces Of Wisdom From Native American Elders

by Alanna Ketler

Before the Europeans came to America, it is estimated that anywhere from 1.2 million to 12 million Native Americans inhabited the land. The population of the Native Americans was reduced to 250,000, due to mass murder, genocide, imported diseases, slavery and suicide. There is no question about it, these people suffered a great tragedy. One could argue that it is the most devastating thing to ever happen to any population of people in the history of the world. Yet, little to no attention is given to this tragedy. One has to wonder, why?

Not only were the Native American people killed, but much of their customs, traditions and spirituality were lost along with them. Perhaps this was another reason for the genocide? These people were truly connected and in tune with Mother Earth, often referred to as the Keepers of the Earth. They taught to “walk lightly upon the Earth and live in balance and harmony.” Maybe, if more of the Native Americans were alive today the Earth wouldn’t be in as much turmoil as it is. We can all benefit from adopting some of the ancient spiritual teachings from the Native American elders into our daily lives.

10 Pieces Of Wisdom & Quotes From Native American Elders

“The Great Spirit is in all things: he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us.” –Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki Algonquin

“The first piece, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the Universe and all its powers and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” –Black Elk – Oglala Sioux

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” –Cree Indian Proverb

Go Forward With Courage

When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;

When doubt no longer exists for you then go forward with courage.

So long as mists envelop you, be still;

Be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists

-As it surely will.

Then act with courage.

-Ponca Chief White Eagle

Treat the Earth well.

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,

we borrow it from our children.

-Ancient Indian Proverb

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” –Chief Seattle

May the stars carry your sadness away,

May the flowers fill your heart with beauty,

May hope forever wipe away your tears.

And above all, may silence make you strong.

-Chief Dan George

“Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men, we didn’t have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents. Without a prison, there can be no delinquents. We had no locks nor keys and therefore, among us there were no thieves. When someone was so poor that he couldn’t afford a horse, a tent, or a blanket, he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift. We were too uncivilized to give great importance to civilized property. We didn’t know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth. We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians, therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another. We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don’t know how to explain how we were able to manage these fundamental things that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.” –John (Fire) Lame Deer Sioux Lakota

“Oh Great Spirit, help me always to speak the truth quietly, to listen with an open mind when others speak, and to remember the peace that may be found in silence.” –Cherokee Prayer

“Peace and happiness are available in every moment. Peace is every step. We shall walk hand in hand. There are no political solutions to spiritual problems. Remember: if the Creator put it there, it is in the right place. The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears. Tell your people that, since we were promised we should never be moved, we have been moved five times.” –An Indian Chief

from:  http://www.bodymindsoulspirit.com/10-pieces-of-wisdom-from-native-american-elders/

Fr/Native American Elders

10 Pieces Of Wisdom & Quotes From Native American Elders

shaman-elder

Before the Europeans came to America, it is estimated that anywhere from 1.2 million to 12 million Native Americans inhabited the land. The population of the Native Americans was reduced to 250,000, due to mass murder, genocide, imported diseases, slavery and suicide. There is no question about it, these people suffered a great tragedy. One could argue that it is the most devastating thing to ever happen to any population of people in the history of the world. Yet, little to no attention is given to this tragedy. One has to wonder, why?

Not only were the Native American people killed, but much of their customs, traditions and spirituality were lost along with them. Perhaps this was another reason for the genocide? These people were truly connected and in tune with Mother Earth, often referred to as the Keepers of the Earth. They taught to “walk lightly upon the Earth and live in balance and harmony.” Maybe, if more of the Native Americans were alive today the Earth wouldn’t be in as much turmoil as it is. We can all benefit from adopting some of the ancient spiritual teachings from the Native American elders into our daily lives.

10 Pieces Of Wisdom & Quotes From Native American Elders

“The Great Spirit is in all things: he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us.” –Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki Algonquin

“The first piece, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the Universe and all its powers and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” –Black Elk – Oglala Sioux

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” –Cree Indian Proverb

Go Forward With Courage

When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;

When doubt no longer exists for you then go forward with courage.

So long as mists envelop you, be still;

Be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists

-As it surely will.

Then act with courage.

-Ponca Chief White Eagle

Treat the Earth well.

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,

we borrow it from our children.

-Ancient Indian Proverb

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” –Chief Seattle

May the stars carry your sadness away,

May the flowers fill your heart with beauty,

May hope forever wipe away your tears.

And above all, may silence make you strong.

-Chief Dan George

“Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men, we didn’t have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents. Without a prison, there can be no delinquents. We had no locks nor keys and therefore, among us there were no thieves. When someone was so poor that he couldn’t afford a horse, a tent, or a blanket, he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift. We were too uncivilized to give great importance to civilized property. We didn’t know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth. We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians, therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another. We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don’t know how to explain how we were able to manage these fundamental things that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.” –John (Fire) Lame Deer Sioux Lakota

“Oh Great Spirit, help me always to speak the truth quietly, to listen with an open mind when others speak, and to remember the peace that may be found in silence.” –Cherokee Prayer

“Peace and happiness are available in every moment. Peace is every step. We shall walk hand in hand. There are no political solutions to spiritual problems. Remember: if the Creator put it there, it is in the right place. The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears. Tell your people that, since we were promised we should never be moved, we have been moved five times.” –An Indian Chief

Source: “10 Pieces Of Wisdom & Quotes From Native American Elders,” from collective-evolution.com, by Alanna Ketler

– See more at: http://theunboundedspirit.com/10-pieces-of-wisdom-quotes-from-native-american-elders/#sthash.X8qX5fat.dpuf

The Genealogy of Native Americans

DNA Analysis Shows That Native American Genealogy Is One of the Most Unique in the World

http://themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/nativeee.jpg

The suppression of the Native Americans and the decimation of their culture is a black page in the history of the United States. The discrimination and injustices towards this ancient race, which had lived on the American continent long before the European conquerors came to this land, are still present to this day despite the efforts of different groups and organizations trying to restore the justice.

The destruction of their culture is one of the most shameful aspects of our history, the extent of the damage that was done is still being down-played and denied entry into textbooks and history-lessons to this day.

The origin and history of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas have been studied for years by researchers from different countries, and a recent DNA study showed that the genealogy of the western aboriginals is one of the most unique in the world.

The question of whether Native Americans derived from a single Asian population or from a number of different populations has been a subject of research for decades. Now, having compared the DNA samples from people of modern Native American and Eurasian groups, an international team of researchers concluded on the validity of the single ancestral population theory.

The study follows up on earlier research that found a unique variant of a genetic marker in the DNA of modern descendants of Native Americans. “While earlier studies have already supported this conclusion, what’s different about our work is that it provides the first solid data that simply cannot be reconciled with multiple ancestral populations,” said Kari Britt Schroeder of the University of California, one of the authors of the study.

As a result of the previous research, the so-called “9-repeat allele” (or variant) was found in all of the 41 Native American and Asian (from the western side of the Bering Strait) populations that were sampled. At the same time, the allele was absent in all 54 of the Eurasian, African and Oceanian groups that were also sampled in the study.

The researchers supposed that the distribution of the allele was due to the fact that all these ethnic groups (modern Native Americans, Greenlanders and western Beringians) derived from a common founder population, which had been isolated from the rest of the Asian continent thousands of years prior to their migration to the Americas.

This explanation was persuasive enough; however, there was no strong evidence to support it. There were two other plausible versions to explain the distribution of the 9-repeat allele among the modern descendants of Native Americans.

If the 9-repeat allele had originated as a multiple mutation, its presence in the Americas would not suggest common ancestry. Thus, if there had been more than one ancestral founder population and the 9-repeat allele had been present only in one of them, it could possibly have passed to the other ethnic groups and spread among them. If there also had been a second, beneficial allele located very close to the 9-repeat allele, it would certainly have been carried into new populations. At the same time, long stretches of DNA surrounding the 9-repeat allele would be carried along with the beneficial allele due to the mechanisms of natural selection.

In order to check the validity of this hypothesis, researchers led by Noah Rosenberg of the University of Michigan analyzed DNA samples from people from Asian, Native American, Greenlandic and two western Beringian populations, and found that all the samples with the 9-repeat allele had a distinct pattern of base pairs in short stretches of DNA.

As Schroeder noted, “If natural selection had promoted the spread of a neighboring advantageous allele, we would expect to see longer stretches of DNA than this with a similarly distinct pattern. And we would also have expected to see the pattern in a high frequency even among people who do not carry the 9-repeat allele. So we can now consider the positive selection possibility unlikely.”

These findings also excluded the multiple mutations theory, because in this case there would have been myriad DNA patterns surrounding the 9-repeat allele.

“Our work provides strong evidence that, in general, Native Americans are more closely related to each other than to any other existing Asian populations, except those that live at the very edge of the Bering Strait,” concluded Schroeder.

The results of the study were published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna LeMind is the owner and lead editor of the website Learning-mind.com, and a staff writer for The Mind Unleashed.

Featured image credits: BBCNews

from:     http://themindunleashed.org/2014/08/dna-analysis-shows-native-american-genealogy-one-unique-world.html

Native Americans’ Request

Native Americans are making a request at the time of the Super Bowl:

The National Congress of American Indians did not have the funds to run this ad during the Super Bowl. You should watch it and share it anyway.

Want to get involved? Here’s how to contact the DC team, the NFL, and the DC team’s hometown paper: DC Team @redskins Facebook.com/redskins http://www.redskins.com/footer/contact-us.html Roger Goodell & NFL @NFL @NFLcommish https://www.facebook.com/NFL Washington Post DC’s hometown paper is still using the R-word in its coverage of the team.

http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/heres-an-ad-about-rskins-that-its-makers-dont-have-the-money-to-show-during-sundays-superbowl/#.Uu5JGtyphmc.facebook

Idle No More’s “Extractivism”

Dancing the World into Being: A Conversation with Idle No More’s Leanne Simpson

Naomi Klein speaks with writer, spoken-word artist, and indigenous academic Leanne Betasamosake Simpson about “extractivism,” why it’s important to talk about memories of the land, and what’s next for Idle No More.

Leanne Simpson collecting wild rice.

In December 2012, the Indigenous protests known as Idle No More exploded onto the Canadian political scene, with huge round dances taking place in shopping malls, busy intersections, and public spaces across North America, as well as solidarity actions as far away as New Zealand and Gaza. Though sparked by a series of legislative attacks on indigenous sovereignty and environmental protections by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, the movement quickly became about much more: Canada’s ongoing colonial policies, a transformative vision of decolonization, and the possibilities for a genuine alliance between natives and non-natives, one capable of re-imagining nationhood.

Boy with Crayon photo by ND Strupler
Indigenous Women Take the Lead in Idle No More

Motivated by ancient traditions of female leadership as well as their need for improved legal rights, First Nations women are stepping to the forefront of the Idle No More movement.

Throughout all this, Idle No More had no official leaders or spokespeople. But it did lift up the voices of a few artists and academics whose words and images spoke to the movement’s deep aspirations. One of those voices belonged to Leanne Simpson, a multi-talented Mississauga Nishnaabeg writer of poetry, essays, spoken-word pieces, short stories, academic papers, and anthologies. Simpson’s books, including Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Protection and Resurgence of Indigenous Nations and Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence, have influenced a new generation of native activists.

At the height of the protests, her essay, Aambe! Maajaadaa! (What #IdleNoMore Means to Me) spread like wildfire on social media and became one of the movement’s central texts. In it she writes: “I support #idlenomore because I believe that we have to stand up anytime our nation’s land base is threatened—whether it is legislation, deforestation, mining prospecting, condo development, pipelines, tar sands or golf courses. I stand up anytime our nation’s land base in threatened because everything we have of meaning comes from the land—our political systems, our intellectual systems, our health care, food security, language and our spiritual sustenance and our moral fortitude.”

On February 15, 2013, I sat down with Leanne Simpson in Toronto to talk about decolonization, ecocide, climate change, and how to turn an uprising into a “punctuated transformation.”

On extractivism

Naomi Klein: Let’s start with what has brought so much indigenous resistance to a head in recent months. With the tar sands expansion, and all the pipelines, and the Harper government’s race to dig up huge tracts of the north, does it feel like we’re in some kind of final colonial pillage? Or is this more of a continuation of what Canada has always been about?

Leanne Simpson: Over the past 400 years, there has never been a time when indigenous peoples were not resisting colonialism. Idle No More is the latest—visible to the mainstream—resistance and it is part of an ongoing historical and contemporary push to protect our lands, our cultures, our nationhoods, and our languages. To me, it feels like there has been an intensification of colonial pillage, or that’s what the Harper government is preparing for—the hyper-extraction of natural resources on indigenous lands. But really, every single Canadian government has placed that kind of thinking at its core when it comes to indigenous peoples.

Indigenous peoples have lived through environmental collapse on local and regional levels since the beginning of colonialism—the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the extermination of the buffalo in Cree and Blackfoot territories and the extinction of salmon in Lake Ontario—these were unnecessary and devastating. At the same time, I know there are a lot of people within the indigenous community that are giving the economy, this system, 10 more years, 20 more years, that are saying “Yeah, we’re going to see the collapse of this in our lifetimes.”

Extracting is stealing. It is taking without consent, without thought, care or even knowledge of the impacts on the other living things in that environment.

Our elders have been warning us about this for generations now—they saw the unsustainability of settler society immediately. Societies based on conquest cannot be sustained, so yes, I do think we’re getting closer to that breaking point for sure. We’re running out of time. We’re losing the opportunity to turn this thing around. We don’t have time for this massive slow transformation into something that’s sustainable and alternative. I do feel like I’m getting pushed up against the wall. Maybe my ancestors felt that 200 years ago or 400 years ago. But I don’t think it matters. I think that the impetus to act and to change and to transform, for me, exists whether or not this is the end of the world. If a river is threatened, it’s the end of the world for those fish. It’s been the end of the world for somebody all along. And I think the sadness and the trauma of that is reason enough for me to act.

Naomi: Let’s talk about extraction because it strikes me that if there is one word that encapsulates the dominant economic vision, that is it. The Harper government sees its role as facilitating the extraction of natural wealth from the ground and into the market. They are not interested in added value. They’ve decimated the manufacturing sector because of the high dollar. They don’t care, because they look north and they see lots more pristine territory that they can rip up.

And of course that’s why they’re so frantic about both the environmental movement and First Nations rights because those are the barriers to their economic vision. But extraction isn’t just about mining and drilling, it’s a mindset—it’s an approach to nature, to ideas, to people. What does it mean to you?

Leanne: Extraction and assimilation go together. Colonialism and capitalism are based on extracting and assimilating. My land is seen as a resource. My relatives in the plant and animal worlds are seen as resources. My culture and knowledge is a resource. My body is a resource and my children are a resource because they are the potential to grow, maintain, and uphold the extraction-assimilation system. The act of extraction removes all of the relationships that give whatever is being extracted meaning. Extracting is taking. Actually, extracting is stealing—it is taking without consent, without thought, care or even knowledge of the impacts that extraction has on the other living things in that environment. That’s always been a part of colonialism and conquest. Colonialism has always extracted the indigenous—extraction of indigenous knowledge, indigenous women, indigenous peoples.

Naomi: Children from parents.

Leanne: Children from parents. Children from families. Children from the land. Children from our political system and our system of governance. Children—our most precious gift. In this kind of thinking, every part of our culture that is seemingly useful to the extractivist mindset gets extracted. The canoe, the kayak, any technology that we had that was useful was extracted and assimilated into the culture of the settlers without regard for the people and the knowledge that created it.

The alternative to extractivism is deep reciprocity. It’s respect, it’s relationship, it’s responsibility, and it’s local.

When there was a push to bring traditional knowledge into environmental thinking after Our Common Future, [a report issued by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development] in the late 1980s, it was a very extractivist approach: “Let’s take whatever teachings you might have that would help us right out of your context, right away from your knowledge holders, right out of your language, and integrate them into this assimilatory mindset.” It’s the idea that traditional knowledge and indigenous peoples have some sort of secret of how to live on the land in an non-exploitive way that broader society needs to appropriate. But the extractivist mindset isn’t about having a conversation and having a dialogue and bringing in indigenous knowledge on the terms of indigenous peoples. It is very much about extracting whatever ideas scientists or environmentalists thought were good and assimilating it.

Naomi: Like I’ll just take the idea of “the seventh generation” and…

Leanne: …put it onto toilet paper and sell it to people. There’s an intellectual extraction, a cognitive extraction, as well as a physical one. The machine around promoting extractivism is huge in terms of TV, movies, and popular culture.

Naomi: If extractivism is a mindset, a way of looking at the world, what is the alternative?

Leanne: Responsibility. Because I think when people extract things, they’re taking and they’re running and they’re using it for just their own good. What’s missing is the responsibility. If you’re not developing relationships with the people, you’re not giving back, you’re not sticking around to see the impact of the extraction. You’re moving to someplace else.

The alternative is deep reciprocity. It’s respect, it’s relationship, it’s responsibility, and it’s local. If you’re forced to stay in your 50-mile radius, then you very much are going to experience the impacts of extractivist behavior. The only way you can shield yourself from that is when you get your food from around the world or from someplace else. So the more distance and the more globalization then the more shielded I am from the negative impacts of extractivist behavior.

On Idle No More

Naomi: With Idle No More, there was this moment in December and January where there was the beginning of an attempt to articulate an alternative agenda for the country that was  rooted in a different relationship with nature. And I think of lot of people were drawn to it because it did seem to provide that possibility of a vision for the land that is not just digging holes and polluting rivers and laying pipelines.

But I think that may have been lost a little when we starting hearing some chiefs casting it all as a fight over resources sharing: “OK, Harper wants to extract $650 billion worth of resources, and how are we going to have a fair share of that?” That’s a fair question given the enormous poverty and the fact that these resources are on indigenous lands. But it’s not questioning the underlying imperative of tearing up the land for wealth.

Leanne: No, it’s not, and that is exactly what our traditional leaders, elders, and many grassroots people are saying as well. Part of the issue is about leadership. Indian Act chiefs and councils—while there are some very good people involved doing some good work—they are ultimately accountable to the Canadian government and not to our people. The Indian Act system is an imposed system—it is not our political system based on our values or ways of governing.

Putting people in the position of having to chose between feeding their kids and destroying their land is simply wrong.

Indigenous communities, particularly in places where there is significant pressure to develop natural resources, face tremendous imposed economic poverty. Billions of dollars of natural resources have been extracted from their territories, without their permission and without compensation. That’s the reality. We have not had the right to say no to development, because ultimately those communities are not seen as people, they are seen as resources.

Rather than interacting with indigenous peoples through our treaties, successive federal governments chose to control us through the Indian Act, precisely so they can continue to build the Canadian economy on the exploitation of natural resources without regard for indigenous peoples or the environment. This is deliberate. This is also where the real fight will be, because these are the most pristine indigenous homelands. There are communities standing up and saying no to the idea of tearing up the land for wealth. What I think these communities want is our solidarity and a large network of mobilized people willing to stand with them when they say no.

These same communities are also continually shamed in the mainstream media and by state governments and by Canadian society for being poor. Shaming the victim is part of that extractivist thinking. We need to understand why these communities are economically poor in the first place—and they are poor so that Canadians can enjoy the standard of living they do. I say “economically poor” because while these communities have less material wealth, they are rich in other ways—they have their homelands, their languages, their cultures, and relationships with each other that make their communities strong and resilient.

I always get asked, “Why do your communities partner with these multinationals to exploit their land?” It is because it is presented as the only way out of crushing economic poverty. Industry and government are very invested in the “jobs versus the environment” discussion. These communities are under tremendous pressure from provincial governments, federal governments, and industry to partner in the destruction of natural resources. Industry and government have no problem with presenting large-scale environmental destruction by corporations as the only way out of poverty because it is in their best interest to do so.

We have not had the right to say no to development, because  indigenous communities are not seen as people. They are seen as resources.

There is a huge need to clearly articulate alternative visions of how to build healthy, sustainable, local indigenous economies that benefit indigenous communities and respect our fundamental philosophies and values. The hyper-exploitation of natural resources is not the only approach. The first step to that is to stop seeing indigenous peoples and our homelands as free resources to be used at will however colonial society sees fit.

If Canada is not interested in dismantling the system that forces poverty onto indigenous peoples, then I’m not sure Canadians, who directly benefit from indigenous poverty, get to judge the decisions indigenous peoples make, particularly when very few alternatives are present. Indigenous peoples do not have control over our homelands. We do not have the ability to say no to development on our homelands. At the same time, I think that partnering with large resource extraction industries for the destruction of our homelands does not bring about the kinds of changes and solutions our people are looking for, and putting people in the position of having to chose between feeding their kids and destroying their land is simply wrong.

Ultimately we’re not talking about a getting a bigger piece of the pie—as Winona LaDuke says—we’re talking about a different pie. People within the Idle No More movement who are talking about indigenous nationhood are talking about a massive transformation, a massive decolonization. A resurgence of indigenous political thought that is very, very much land-based and very, very much tied to that intimate and close relationship to the land, which to me means a revitalization of sustainable local indigenous economies that benefit local people. So I think there’s a pretty broad agreement around that, but there are a lot of different views around strategy because we have tremendous poverty in our communities.

On promoting life

Naomi: One of the reasons I wanted to speak with you is that in your writing and speaking, I feel like you are articulating a clear alternative. In a speech you gave recently at the University of Victoria, you said: “Our systems are designed to promote more life” and you talked about achieving this through “resisting, renewing, and regeneration”—all themes in Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back.

I want to explore the idea of life-promoting systems with you because it seems to me that they are the antithesis of the extractivist mindset, which is ultimately about exhausting and extinguishing life without renewing or replenishing.

Leanne: I first started to think about that probably 20 years ago, and it was through some of Winona LaDuke’s work and through working with elders out on the land that I started to really think about this. Winona took a concept that’s very fundamental to Anishinaabeg society, called mino bimaadiziwin. It often gets translated as “the good life,” but the deeper kind of cultural, conceptual meaning is something that she really brought into my mind, and she translated it as “continuous rebirth.” So, the purpose of life then is this continuous rebirth, it’s to promote more life. In Anishinaabeg society, our economic systems, our education systems, our systems of governance, and our political systems were designed with that basic tenet at their core.

I think that sort of fundamental teaching gives direction to individuals on how to interact with each other and family, how to interact with your children, how to interact with the land. And then as communities of people form, it gives direction on how those communities and how those nations should also interact. In terms of the economy, it meant a very, very localized economy where there was a tremendous amount of accountability and reciprocity. And so those kinds of things start with individuals and families and communities and then they sort of spiral outwards into how communities and how nations interact with each other.

It was the quality of their relationships—not how much they had, not how much they consumed—that was the basis of my ancestors’ happiness.

I also think it’s about the fertility of ideas and it’s the fertility of alternatives. One of the things birds do in our creation stories is they plant seeds and they bring forth new ideas and they grow those ideas. Seeds are the encapsulation of wisdom and potential and the birds carry those seeds around the earth and grew this earth. And I think we all have that responsibility to find those seeds, to plant those seeds, to give birth to these new ideas. Because people think up an idea but then don’t articulate it, or don’t tell anybody about it, and don’t build a community around it, and don’t do it.

So in Anishinaabeg philosophy, if you have a dream, if you have a vision, you share that with your community, and then you have a responsibility for bringing that dream forth, or that vision forth into a reality. That’s the process of regeneration. That’s the process of bringing forth more life—getting the seed and planting and nurturing it. It can be a physical seed, it can be a child, or it can be an idea. But if you’re not continually engaged in that process then it doesn’t happen.

Naomi: What has the principle of regeneration meant in your own life?

Leanne: In my own life, I try to foster that with my own children and in my own family, because I have a lot of control over what happens in my own family and I don’t have a lot of control over what happens in the broader nation and broader society. But, enabling them, giving them opportunities to develop a meaningful relationship with our land, with the water, with the plants and animals. Giving them opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with elders and with people in our community so that they’re growing up in a very, very strong community with a number of different adults that they can go to when they have problems.

One of the stories I tell in my book is of working with an elder who’s passed on now, Robin Greene from Shoal Lake in Winnipeg, in an environmental education program with First Nations youth. And we were talking about sustainable development, and I was explaining that term from the Western perspective to the students. And I asked him if there was a similar concept in Anishinaabeg philosophy that would be the same as sustainable development. And he thought for a very long time. And he said no. And I was sort of shocked at the “no” because I was expecting there to be something similar. And he said the concept is backwards. You don’t develop as much as Mother Earth can handle. For us it’s the opposite. You think about how much you can give up to promote more life. Every decision that you make is based on: Do you really need to be doing that?

The purpose of life is this continuous rebirth, it’s to promote more life.

If I look at how my ancestors even 200 years ago, they didn’t spend a lot of time banking capital, they didn’t rely on material wealth for their well-being and economic stability. They put energy into meaningful and authentic relationships. So their food security and economic security was based on how good and how resilient their relationships were—their relationships with clans that lived nearby, with communities that lived nearby, so that in hard times they would rely on people, not the money they saved in the bank. I think that extended to how they found meaning in life. It was the quality of those relationships—not how much they had, not how much they consumed—that was the basis of their happiness. So I think that that’s very oppositional to colonial society and settler society and how we’re taught to live in that.

Naomi: One system takes things out of their relationships; the other continuously builds relationships.

Leanne: Right. Again, going back to my ancestors, they weren’t consumers. They were producers and they made everything. Everybody had to know how to make everything. Even if I look at my mom’s generation, which is not 200 years ago, she knew how to make and create the basic necessities that we needed. So even that generation, my grandmother’s generation, they knew how to make clothes, they knew how to make shelter, they knew how to make the same food that they would grow in their own gardens or harvest from the land in the summer through the winter to a much greater degree than my generation does. When you have really localized food systems and localized political systems, people have to be engaged in a higher level—not just consuming it, but producing it and making it. Then that self-sufficiency builds itself into the system.

My ancestors tended to look very far into the future in terms of planning, look at that seven generations forward. So I think they foresaw that there were going to be some big problems. I think through those original treaties and our diplomatic traditions, that’s really what they were trying to reconcile. They were trying to protect large tracts of land where indigenous peoples could continue their way of life and continue our own economies and continue our own political systems, I think with the hope that the settler society would sort of modify their way into something that was more parallel or more congruent to indigenous societies.

On loving the wounded

go to: http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/dancing-the-world-into-being-a-conversation-with-idle-no-more-leanne-simpson

to read the rest of the article.