My Views On National Security As A Seventh Grader, and How it Took A Social Movement to Make Me Proud to Be An American

America.

Baby, it’s complicated.

But like all complicated relationships, underneath it all, I love you.

It wasn’t always like this. We’ve been on quite a journey.

It started when I was eleven—my first week of Middle School. I heard my mother on the phone with my father in the other room.

“Oh my god. That’s terrible. Ok, ok, ok”

She came to get me to tell me that someone had crashed two planes into the World Trade Center. You might recall the event that I am talking about.

We didn’t know who had done it, or why or where. We were just watching it replay on the TV, again and again in complete shock and horror. I had no idea what the World Trade Center, or even New York City really was in the first place. I was eleven.

I just knew that it was horrible.

Everyone was talking about it. Everyone knew someone who knew someone who had a narrow escape. I can’t imagine what it was like to be in New York and to know someone who had not had a narrow escape.

One month later, I was watching the news with my family (I was a weird eleven year old), and the news broke that the United States had begun to bomb Afghanistan.

In my Middle School classroom, we shared news stories every morning—as eleven year olds, we were pretty tapped into things. A boy raised his hand and I assumed he would bring up that we were bombing Afghanistan, so I put my hand down.

“Barry Bonds got his 500th home run this weekend!”

I raised my hand tentatively. The teacher called on me.

“I think we started bombing Afghanistan this weekend.”

~*~*~

It’s one year later, and now we’re in a different social studies classroom. We were still bombing Afghanistan—but this time we were bombing Iraq, too. We were having a debate in my social studies classroom about whether or not this was right (remember, I grew up in the Bay Area).

Those who were for invading Iraq sat on one side of the room, those who were against it sat on the other. Gradually, more and more went and sat on the pro side of the room, seventh graders spewing out the ideology of Fox News that in order to have peace, we needed to have war.

I tried to see things from their perspective, trying desperately to turn needing war for peace into logic. Remember, I was a weird, emerging hyper-politicized twelve- year old who needed friends in Middle School.

Soon, I was the only one on the anti-war side of the room.

Was I crazy?

~*~*~

I was politically dissident. I was the only dark haired ethnic girl in a room full of blondes. I had yet to discover eyebrow tweezing, so even my forehead seemed like it was paying homage to Saddam Hussein.

I was un-American.

Luckily in high school I found some fellow social outcasts to befriend. I also found a socialist self-proclaimed comparative politics teacher to inappropriately fall in love with from a distance, a wonderful English teacher who introduced me to George Orwell and a drama teacher who remains a dear friend to this day who was not afraid to vent his political opinions—despite the school guidelines expressly prohibiting that.

~*~*~

I moved to New York City for college—and got out of my tiny town in California. The wars that started when I was mid puberty, had only escalated and I was very much a woman. They grew a lot more than my boobs ever did.

But Barack Obama won the election!

Everything was supposed to change. The troops would come home. We would have healthcare. The world wouldn’t hate us anymore.

I was proud to be an American for the first time—ever.

~*~*~

It has been eleven years since I raised my hand and told my class that we were bombing Afghanistan. We still are. Supposedly, we have withdrawn from Iraq—but we have decimated the country, and the destruction from the chronic diseases—both physical and psychological—has yet to take its toll. I’m not proud to be part of a country that has this global legacy.
However, last year something happened—Americans rose up.

Now, I have many mixed feelings and emotions about the Occupy movement—something I will probably have to save for another blog post where I do not divulge my entire perspective on national security circa 7th grade—but it did something magical. It criticized America—but with love and desire to reclaim America from a corrupt government and a corrupt culture. It criticizes corporate personhood, and the culture that endorses it, demands accountability for the banks that catapulted us into a financial crisis, and brought together dangerous people with revolutionary ideas.

It brought together the types of people who sat alone on the anti-war side of the room in their Middle School classrooms.

I realized that I wasn’t crazy that whole time.

So, today we celebrate a revolution. We celebrate proclaiming our independence from a country whose values we felt were aristocratic, exclusionary and claustrophobic. We celebrate the bravery and imagination to chart our own course as a people and create, rather than adhere to our future. I hope that we the people can reclaim our independence—and what it means to be American, away from how our politicians have defined it through destructive foreign policy and exclusionary immigration decisions that happen behind closed doors in Washington, DC.

I hope that we, the American people who will reclaim our independence are on the frontier of creating a new country, shaped by our unique identities and voices that is more economically and socially just, and a much better neighbor to our fellow citizens of the world.

When I look around at the dedicated, hard-working, creative and loving Americans who are coming together and doing everything in their power to make that happen, the weight I felt that I didn’t belong for so many years is lifted and I feel proud to be an American.

I’m gonna go drink beer now.

135 comments for “My Views On National Security As A Seventh Grader, and How it Took A Social Movement to Make Me Proud to Be An American

  1. July 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Awesome, just awesome, Ms Anna Lekas Miller.
    A perfect splendid example of why I’m glad I now regularly visit feministe.us

    keep up the good work, the great fight. You do it, write it, so well.

    _ rmullins, washington dc

  2. EG
    July 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I can’t sign on. I just can’t.

    For one thing, patriotism is a game of chance. I could have been born here; I could have been born in Poland; I could have been born in France, and whatever warm feelings I might have had would just be for Poland or France. I can fathom being proud of things I have no control over–I’m proud of my curly hair, for instance, because it says something about my ethnic heritage and because loving it and taking care of it is a small protest against racist, anti-semitic beauty standards. But being an American? It’s just a happenstance, and it’s not a protest against anything.

    I was brought up by New Leftists with a strong awareness of US leftist movements and their history and to be proud of how people in the US had come together around issues of justice and human rights. But I was also brought up to understand that this country was founded on racist genocide and slavery, genocide of the people whose homes had been here since time immemorial, and who had been murdered and cleared away to take their land, and slavery that had produced immense wealth as well as infrastructure. Those crimes against humanity are embedded in this country’s very existence; without them, it wouldn’t exist. Most countries are founded on bloodshed, but this was done during the Enlightenment, the so-called “Age of Reason.” It wasn’t that long ago. The revolution was one of colonists and slave-owners. It’s not like a revolution of the colonized or a revolution that toppled a ruling class (she said, her origins showing).

    I can’t get behind the rhetoric of pride in or love for the US. I just don’t feel it. I love NYC, but every time I turn around, I hear some asshole saying that the things I love about it are at odds with the “real” America, so I don’t feel any warmth that way, either. I’m not saying anybody else has to feel this way–love and pride are emotions, and you either feel them or you don’t, and if you do, only a joyless creep would try to explain that you “shouldn’t.” But I don’t.

  3. pheenobarbidoll
    July 4, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    So, today we celebrate a revolution. We celebrate proclaiming our independence from a country whose values we felt were aristocratic, exclusionary and claustrophobic. We celebrate the bravery and imagination to chart our own course as a people and create, rather than adhere to our future.

    No. Just…..no.

  4. July 5, 2012 at 12:44 am

    I grew up (and still live) in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I went to schools my whole life in which ethnic minorities were majorities. I had a few troubling experiences (being Muslim and all), but I remember most of my classmates being against the war. Sometimes I love my state more than I love my country.

    But I can sign onto this. (Though I can understand those who don’t.) I think this because of my concept of America, which isn’t manifested in reality but in values;–it’s illogical, I’ve always told myself, to celebrate a reality when there have been few points in the nation’s history in which its values of hard work and liberation have been fully manifested into its reality. But as long as they are upheld as an objective, the values of America as the foundation will live regardless of how unfulfilling the reality is, and continue to live past the life of the nation itself. Land, and people, are impermanent, but principle–even abstract–is the life-force itself.

    This is simply how I am; overly idealistic to the point where it will inevitably destroy me. I have noticed that my approach to various concepts is similar to a religious one. I would continue to celebrate America regardless of how unsatisfied I am with its state of reality the same reason I continue to practice Islam regardless of how unsatisfied I am with its state of reality–my commit and loyalty are to the values. The 4th of July is the birth of the nation–the abstract dream–after all, not the tangible reality. Often, I wish I weren’t bound to things this way. At times it seems like such a cruel thing to do to oneself. A religious thing. It is much easier to love what you can measure for certainty. To love what is reachable. There is some compassion in that practicality, a forgiving relief.

  5. July 5, 2012 at 12:51 am

    But I was also brought up to understand that this country was founded on racist genocide and slavery, genocide of the people whose homes had been here since time immemorial, and who had been murdered and cleared away to take their land, and slavery that had produced immense wealth as well as infrastructure. Those crimes against humanity are embedded in this country’s very existence; without them, it wouldn’t exist.

    Nothing to say. Just wanted this to be repeated.

  6. July 5, 2012 at 12:58 am

    You can see it all the time. Last week I was having a conversation with someone about physical beauty and colonialism, and a woman from behind me (whom I hadn’t seen) disagreed with me sharply on a point about beauty standards being different between minorities and how brutally women attack each other, so as I turned around I began, “A white woman is not goi–”

    And then I realized she was of color. And she became very offended and shot back, “You see? This is what I meant. Racism between minorities; did you think I must have been white because you don’t think a black woman can sound–”

    “No, it was because you sounded like an asshole.”

    There was a stunned silence and then we both laughed. But I thought, just in that conversation, so much had surfaced.

  7. July 5, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Of course then there was a debate about what “racism between minorities” even means (you need power to be systematically racist!) and it’s all just really a result of white supremacy being reinforced between us by each other. And that’s what this country was built on. I will however continue to celebrate the (unachievable) dream.

    Okay no more serial comments…

  8. Marksman2010
    July 5, 2012 at 1:39 am

    I predicted these attacks on 9/10, the night before they took place.

    Nothing people do surprises me–although I wish it would.

  9. unacomplished
    July 5, 2012 at 4:15 am

    I’m not saying anybody else has to feel this way–love and pride are emotions, and you either feel them or you don’t, and if you do, only a joyless creep would try to explain that you “shouldn’t.” But I don’t.

    So why do you stay?

  10. Stella
    July 5, 2012 at 4:23 am

    There are people and social movements in the United States that I am proud of and would be proud to be associated with, but they have very little to do with being an American. I prefer to look at what we as a country do, not what we say. Our history of three hundred years of genocide, slavery, racism and imperialism is still ongoing, and the idea that the US, as a country, is committed to ideals of freedom, justice and democracy doesn’t mean much without a serious effort to come to terms with that history and end the considerable ongoing oppression. I agree with you that there are admirable Americans who are doing just that, but I can’t get on board with the idea that this should inspire national pride. First, because it’s not a part of the greater national character, if there is such a thing, and second, because it doesn’t recognize that the commitment to justice and democracy is not uniquely American. American exceptionalism is one of the most dangerous and destructive ideas we have, and the notion that the United States has a uniquely democratic view that can be exported to the rest of the world is usually a cover for imperialism. So I am very wary of such language, even when well-intentioned.

  11. EG
    July 5, 2012 at 8:05 am

    So why do you stay?

    What kind of dumb question is that? My family and friends are here; my job is here; NYC is here; I can legally work here.

  12. Chataya
    July 5, 2012 at 11:21 am

    So, today we celebrate a revolution. We celebrate proclaiming our independence from a country whose values we felt were aristocratic, exclusionary and claustrophobic. We celebrate the bravery and imagination to chart our own course as a people and create, rather than adhere to our future. I hope that we the people can reclaim our independence—and what it means to be American, away from how our politicians have defined it through destructive foreign policy and exclusionary immigration decisions that happen behind closed doors in Washington, DC.

    _
    …no. The majority of the population did not want to go to war against the British. They were either loyalists or apathetic towards the patriots’ cause. The vast majority of the population had absolutely no say in the writing of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles, Constitution, or Bill of Rights. The Founders had the kind of power and privilege that some of today’s 1% would envy. They were the gentry, and after the war they enacted many of the same policies and laws that they found oppressive under British rule. The Constitution was written in closed meetings with no input from the general population.

    This country was founded by privileged douchebags who had the arrogance to begin a document that enfranchised 10% of the population with “we the people.”

  13. Anna Lekas Miller
    July 5, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Loving the comments. I completely agree–could go on about genocide, racism and slavery for hours about fourth of july, but didn’t want to be the fourth of july debbie downer, so chose to take the “social activism paving the future” makes me feel patriotic and part of things more than america fuck yeah tattoos and barbecues route.

    Apparently that wouldn’t have been a problem though! Love this community.

  14. unacomplished
    July 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    My family and friends are here; my job is here; NYC is here; I can legally work here.

    so convenience then?

  15. July 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    So why do you stay?

    Oh please, even as an obvious baiting strategy, this is stupid – moving is no more or less ethical than staying. Of course we live in places with fucked up histories and persistently-flawed social structures – there’s nowhere to move that doesn’t have this because by and large human beings have a habit of doing really shitty things.

    But this is a social justice website. Criticizing things from a social justice perspective is kind of a thing here. I refuse to celebrate my country’s colonial past (and I don’t live in the US, btw), but what would moving solve? I will stay here, criticize the problems, celebrate the advancements, and work with other people to actually try solving the fucking problems.

    “Patriotism” is not a prerequisite for residing anywhere.

  16. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    but what would moving solve?

    Colonization.

  17. July 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    but what would moving solve?

    Colonization.

    Where exactly should we all be moving to?

  18. EG
    July 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    so convenience then?

    If you consider the prospect of being a stateless person with no legal protection from state actions and no right to live anywhere, separated by thousands of miles from those one loves best, unable to pursue one’s career or indeed take any job legally, merely inconvenient, I suppose so. I wonder what your definition of “immensely and insuperably bad” would be.

  19. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Where exactly should we all be moving to?

    Not really the colonized’s problem to solve.

  20. Drahill
    July 5, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Pheeno –

    I get the sentiment, but the argument is simplistic. You are probably aware (or at least I hope you are) that one of the methods of colonization that has been used is the mixing (both consensual and non-consensual) of the colonized and the colonizer. Such is the case for me – I’m 50% Native American, 50% Caucasian. Do I get to stay or do I get to go? I’m equal parts colonized and colonizer. I don’t particuarly look like either (I’m more of a mix). I have a sister who looks 100% Native – I have a sister who looks as white as any traditional white woman….but she’s still Native American, tribe-registered. Your analysis only works well if the lines between the two groups are truly definite – which certainly doesn’t exist now, given that Native Americans has so intertwined with European, African and Hispanic immigrants. So I guess my place is up in the air here.

  21. July 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Pheeno, if I understood you correctly, I think you’re saying that the colonizers should go back to where they came from. I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think it’s a good solution at all.

    What they should do instead is eschew their colonialism and work to make a world a better place for all of us, including the colonized. That works in everyone’s favor.

  22. Ladeeda
    July 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    It’s absolutely true that wherever Native people lived when white Europeans landed in the Americas, they’d been there forever and at no time displaced other Native people from those same lands in the past. It is absolutely true that this is a simple problem to solve.

  23. July 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Colonization.

    I am pro-indigenous sovereignty and decolonization. I have seriously considered moving out of my country of birth. I could not find a place on the planet to move to, however, where I would not be perpetuating colonization. I am a colonizer, but not an immigrant – I have nowhere to “move back to”. I would only be moving the colonization around.

    Because I could not find a reasonable solution abroad, I chose to remain in my country of birth and support local policies and actions toward my national government properly recognizing (by word AND deed) indigenous sovereignty as it always should have done and for indigenous nations and communities to exercise their sovereignty on their own terms. I also have chosen not to give birth, in part because I do not want to bring more colonists into a colonized country.

    I don’t pretend that this is a perfect solution – it certainly doesn’t make me *not* a colonizer or mitigate that part of my social existence. But neither does leaving, as far as I have been able to figure. I would love to hear alternatives if anyone wanted to suggest them.

  24. July 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    It’s absolutely true that wherever Native people lived when white Europeans landed in the Americas, they’d been there forever and at no time displaced other Native people from those same lands in the past.

    And it’s absolutely true that they caused the genocide of millions in those rival nations…

    Oh, wait. That didn’t happen?

  25. DoublyLinkedLists
    July 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    @Nahida

    I loved your story

    @Pheeno

    I love your uncompromising attitude

    @Anna Lekas Miller
    I like your writing style and I love the conversation you’ve inspired so far.

  26. July 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Oh, and regarding my previous comment: I apologize if I came off as pro-colonialist in some way. I’m not saying that the colonizers should come to “educate” the native people or something like that. Just FYI

  27. Ladeeda
    July 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    And it’s absolutely true that they caused the genocide of millions in those rival nations…

    Oh, wait. That didn’t happen?

    The scale was much smaller, but pre-colonization Native societies wiped out plenty of other Native societies. You don’t need white people for genocide. Humans have always been good fucking each other over.

  28. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    70% of Tribes were pacifists, warfare wasn’t what you read about or see on TV. Let’s not try to pull the ” but the Natives killed each other too!” as if it’s anywhere near genocide. Which is still ongoing. I don’t really feel like educating anyone on over 500 different cultures right now. Sorry. Go read a book or something.

    Every single solution to colonization gets shot down as too hard or too inconvenient or too unrealistic so really, why I should bother coming up with more solutions that won’t be accepted is beyond me. Anyone have an answer to THAT?

    Frankly, I’m sick of having to explain this crap.

    I’m 50% Native American, 50% Caucasian. Do I get to stay or do I get to go?

    yeah me too. But my “papers” say I’m NA. I have Tribal membership and do what I can to keep that part of my culture alive. If other people don’t, then there’s not a whole lot of difference staying would make.

    But colonizers don’t want to leave, don’t want to give anything back and sure don’t want to stop benefiting from resources taken daily. Solutions that don’t benefit them too are dismissed. So what’s being asked is ” come up with a solution that benefits colonizers too!”.

    And that? I don’t care to do.

  29. unacomplished
    July 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Oh please, even as an obvious baiting strategy, this is stupid – moving is no more or less ethical than staying.

    “Patriotism” is not a prerequisite for residing anywhere.

    I didn’t say either of those things.

  30. DoublyLinkedLists
    July 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I would just like to bear witness to the fact that Pheeno’s words here:

    But colonizers don’t want to leave, don’t want to give anything back and sure don’t want to stop benefiting from resources taken daily. Solutions that don’t benefit them too are dismissed. So what’s being asked is ” come up with a solution that benefits colonizers too!”.

    are heavily substantiated by Mxe354’s words here, and might even be a response to them:

    Pheeno, if I understood you correctly, I think you’re saying that the colonizers should go back to where they came from. I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think it’s a good solution at all.

    What they should do instead is eschew their colonialism and work to make a world a better place for all of us, including the colonized. That works in everyone’s favor.

    And I see far more legitimacy in Pheeno’s resistance to being obligated to come up with a solution to the ongoing genocide of Native Americans that is palatable and beneficial to those committing and benefiting from that genocide than I do in Mxe354’s insistence that there is nothing to be done about colonialism until colonizers don’t have to do anything about colonialism.

  31. Tomek Kulesza
    July 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I don’t think groups of people should have absolute rights to the land they inhabit. I certainly do not think we, white European “natives” have right to close the EU borders to all those African, Muslim or Indian immigrants.

    Neither i think Germans should give up the land between Elbe and Oder to the Sorbs, despite pretty much wiping them out in the distant past. Or that Estonians are okay when they basically discriminate Russians – even though Russians in Estonia are much closer to being colonizers than ‘old worlders’ in USA are.

  32. Mxe354
    July 5, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    But colonizers don’t want to leave, don’t want to give anything back and sure don’t want to stop benefiting from resources taken daily. Solutions that don’t benefit them too are dismissed. So what’s being asked is ” come up with a solution that benefits colonizers too!


    When I said that it’s in everyone’s favor, I didn’t mean to suggest that we need to make the colonizers happy. Obviously some compromise is necessary. All I’m saying is that we can get rid of colonialism without the native people pushing nonnative people back to their respective countries.

  33. Elle_Phante
    July 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    70% of Tribes were pacifists

    And 85% of statistics are made up on the spot (though, to be fair, I’m guessing this is a McNickle reference). Anyway, the reality is, we don’t have anything close to the anthropological data necessary to reach that conclusion. Not to mention – 70% of tribes in what geographical region and in what time period? All tribes everywhere in all eras? To be honest, it sounds a lot like standard “noble savage” stereotyping to me.

  34. miga
    July 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Growing up I never considered myself to be an American either. I figured it was an accident of birth that I wasn’t incarnated Canadian, French, Liberian, or thousands of years ago before this land was colonized (who knows, maybe I was).

    Besides, history class taught me that I had nothing to be proud of. My peoples dealt with the hand they’d been given (genocide, land theft, slavery, internment, discrimination) and were systematically fucked over until some nice white people decided our struggles were legitimate. No matter how hard we fought we had to be let in by the gatekeepers of the country.

    But when I went to Japan I was suddenly labeled an American, and it was weird. Japanese friends would comment on my behavior and say how American it was that I was so loud, how I sat on the floor, how much I tried to make friends (whereas I was always considered shy at home). Once I was talking with an Egyptian girl who asked rather bluntly what I was. Being mixed I was offended, and proceeded to peevishly list my ancestors’ origins when she said–“Oh, so you’re American.” “…Um, I’m-” “You’re American.”

    It was frustrating to be conflated with this place that seemed sometimes to me like a neglectful abusive parent. A place where people from “my homeland” would constantly make me feel unwelcome. Afterall, I’m part Japanese, but in Japan many people didn’t consider me one of them at all. It’s the same with whatever heritage runs in my veins.

    But my mannerisms, my heritage? I realized that these would probably not have happened had I been born somewhere else. All of these make me, confusingly, a child of this country. Maybe one day I’ll move. But for now…I guess my parent is my parent. And I’ll call them out on their bull and abuse and thank them for the good things they’ve done.

  35. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    When I said that it’s in everyone’s favor

    And why am I supposed to care about what’s in everyone else’s favor when there’s not ONE thing in ours?Everything is already in non natives favor. Now we have to worry about keeping some fair balance while trying to avoid extermination?

    I seriously have to come up with a way to survive that works out for someone else too??

  36. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Anyway, the reality is, we don’t have anything close to the anthropological data necessary to reach that conclusion.

    Well, so long as colonizers don’t know our cultures that means no one possibly could!!

    However do the indigenous know their cultural past if not for anthropological data?!?

    To be honest, it sounds a lot like standard “noble savage” stereotyping to me.

    Yes. Simply not being violent savages suddenly=s NOBLE.

    Not killing if you don’t have to is noble now, instead of pragmatic. Constant warfare isn’t beneficial to anyone, but recognizing it isn’t just, yanno, displaying intelligenceor anything. Nope. Has to be raised to noble.

  37. July 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I want to state more explicitly in case it was not clear in my last comment that I do not believe that pheeno or any colonized person is obligated to educate me or anyone else on how not to colonize, and that I will absolutely listen to what colonized people have to tell me when they choose to.

    My objection to moving out of Canada as a way to de-colonize is that I feel that this only results in colonization of somewhere else and is not actually de-colonizing therefore. It is not that I do not think that colonizers should not have to give things up or that indigenous colonized people should be expected to compromise even more than they already have. I understand that other people on this thread have said or implied such things, so I want to be clear that I do not agree with this position.

  38. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Pheeno, I am so fucking tired of your bullshit. Not every non-NA person in the U.S. came here as a colonizer. Some of our ancestors were brought here in chains. Your myopic erasure of that fact is getting incredibly frustrating, and your stated goals basically amount to forcibly sending black people back Africa. Gee, let’s add another overwhelming genocidal crime on top of everything else, maybe that’ll balance the scales.

    People of mixed ancestry are only one of a dozen reasons you need to cut it out. You are advocating genocide in the guise of restorative justice, and it’s sickening.

  39. matlun
    July 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    @pheeno: Are you actually being serious?

    You think anyone in the US who does not have Native American roots should leave?

    Beyond being absurdly unrealistic, this also seems utterly unjust to me, so I hope I have misunderstood you.

    If this is your position, a couple of additional questions:
    Should this principle be applied everywhere? Anywhere where the land has historically been conquered, the descendants of the conquerors should be forced to leave? How many centuries back should this logic be taken?

    • July 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm

      Where exactly should we all be moving to?

      Not really the colonized’s problem to solve.

      Sure, fair enough, and “it’s not your job to educate me or come up with solutions” is a good rule in feminist discourse, but not actually practical in the real world. Don’t get me wrong, I wish it was — I wish that oppressive groups would take it upon themselves to solve these issues. But as we’ve seen in the feminist movement and elsewhere, it’s the oppressed group that ends up doing most of the problem-solving and the work, because the oppressor has no incentive to do that work. If women sat around waiting for men to end sexism, we’d be waiting a looooooong time. Simply arguing that colonizers need to move somewhere, who knows where, ostensibly somewhere where they won’t be taking someone else’s land is… I dunno, I don’t see the point. I’m not sure where that would be. Some uninhabited swath of Antarctica?

      I don’t think that millions of Americans are going to collectively decide that colonization was wrong and so we’re going to just head back to wherever we came from. For many of us, there is no singular “wherever we came from” — if we’re going by bloodlines, then I’m divided between at least 5 countries and probably more that I don’t know about, some of which no longer exist, and some of which my family was forced out of. So yes, it sucks from an idealistic standpoint to say, “There have to be practical solutions,” but in reality there have to be practical solutions. And no it’s not the job of the oppressed group to come up with those solutions, but at the same time, “Everyone just leave” isn’t going to happen. Arguing it on a blog is fine and dandy, but if you actually want to get shit done — and I understand that sometimes people don’t actually have the ability or energy to get shit done, and making a totally impractical argument on a blog is what’s available — you have to make it somewhere in the zone of possibility.

  40. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    . Not every non-NA person in the U.S. came here as a colonizer.

    Before you get tired of my bullshit why don’t you fucking read the definition of colonizer.

    I’ll wait.

  41. matlun
    July 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    And do you have any source for 70% if pre-colonial tribes being pacificts? I find that wildly improbable, since warfare and violence has been a central part of human history in all other parts of the world.

    Not being aggressively expansionist is not the same as being pacifistic.

  42. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Instead of me posting thirty different definitions from thirty sources (most of which don’t seem to include the descendants of the original colonists anyways) how about we stick to your repeated claim on multiple threads that non-NA people living in the USE are by default colonizers?

    If there’s a different definition you’d like to advance of who you’re going to kick out and who can stay, I’m all ears.

  43. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Pheeno- if what you’re saying is that white people should leave, just say so. Though I look forward to hearing what percentage of white that entails. Since you are genetically significantly more white than I am, do I get first dibs when we divvy up the new real estate?

  44. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    how about we stick to your repeated claim on multiple threads that non-NA people living in the USE are by default colonizers?

    Non natives ARE colonizers. Colonization doesn’t simply mean past things that happened a long long time ago. It means non native inhabitants who benefit from the resources at the expense of the Indigenous Natives. That includes modern times. Recent. NOW. It’s the same as people who benefit today from slavery of the past. Only, it’s ONGOING. What you’ve said is tantamount to the white person saying ” but MY ancestors didn’t kill any Indians!!!” or ” But MY ancestors didn’t own any slaves!!.

    And me personally? I’d kick out every single colonizer who isn’t willing to pay for, return or compensate for those stolen resources. As for where would they go? I don’t care where thieves go, so long as they go. And the day after the genocidal celebration isn’t a time when I’m feeling too generous. If that pisses you or anyone else off, so be it.

  45. Doublylinkedlists
    July 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    The sad part of all of these responses to Pheeno that say “your way isn’t practical, sorry. Where are we supposed to go?!” is that these responders don’t take a second to think about how that’s probably what many Native Americans said, yet the colonizers did not care, and they displaced them further and further until they did indeed have no place to go, and now I live as a colonizer on that same land and benefit from all that violence.

    So I understand why Pheeno would give no shits when faced with that very same protestation.

    I see far more outrage over Pheeno’s suggestion that we vacate this iece of violently colonized land than I do about the violence that colonized it and continues to colonize it.

  46. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    It’s the same as people who benefit today from slavery of the past.

    So you do want to kick out the descendants of people who were brought here as slaves. Too bad, you managed to build something of a life for yourself after generations of torture and abuse but the same people who destroyed your culture destroyed someone else’s too, and you have to pay for their sins. In summation: you want to send black people back to Africa.

    You know what? The benefit I get from the destruction of NA people’s is comparable to the benefit you get from the enslavement of my ancestors. So I’d like you to move, thank you very much.

  47. BHuesca
    July 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    If we as residents of this planet are supposed to cease colonizing, what time period do commenters suggest we revert to? Before or after the Native Americans crossed the Bering Strait, wandered along, fought within their tribes and amongst tribes, and colonized and irrevocably changed the land they now live in?

  48. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I don’t care where thieves go, so long as they go.

    I’d move back to whichever country my ancestors came from, but somehow in the process of stealing your land they managed to forget where that was, as well as how to read and write! Now, why was that again? Let me think…

  49. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Maybe I should just forget about the black part of my family and stick to being Latino. Of course, on that side I’m partly indigenous south american and partly Spanish, but who knows what the mix is, or where that side is originally from?

    Surely you must have answers, Pheeno.

  50. Tomek Kulesza
    July 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    The sad part of all of these responses to Pheeno that say “your way isn’t practical, sorry. Where are we supposed to go?!” is that these responders don’t take a second to think about how that’s probably what many Native Americans said

    I bet most NA didn’t get the option of saying anything. But anyway, yeah, throwing people out and killing much of them in the process was bad thing to do.

    Which, incidentally is what Pheeno is advocating. Which is basically genociding the ‘old worlders’. Is it surprising that people are having a problem with it?

  51. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Also- in case people just missed it while they were too busy being pissed off by the NA suggesting they fuck off for a change, I wasn’t the one who brought up leaving. Someone asked what leaving would accomplish and I stated one thing it would. Decolonization.

    Then it became my goddamn job to figure out something that works better, and I’m just not in the mood to do that. I am not here to accommodate colonizers when it wouldn’t matter what other solution or 100 solutions were presented. They all get dismissed. Always have. So if you don’t like the easiest (for me) solution that would end our problems in one fail swoop without regard for anyone else (because Im sick of being at the end of THAT line thanks) well welcome to the club. All yours suck for me too.

    So YOU figure something out while I complain it doesn’t put me first or consider actions 500 years ago or is unfair or too hard or unrealistic or I don’t waaaannnaaa or would be too complicated or would leave some people confused or would leave some people shit out of luck. And we’ll just see how long it takes before that gets old and you say to hell with you all.

  52. Drahill
    July 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Uh, pheeno, I think you grossly misunderstood me. Going by the National 2010 census, roughly HALF of all Native American people are interracial (.09% to .08%). Basically, from what I get you arguing, you have an expected standard for interracial Native Americans – that since everybody else is a colonizer, we should be ready to to desert that side of our family to join with the Native side. And frankly, I call bullshit on that. You clearly don’t have any impediments to valuing your Nativeness over the rest of your heritage, which is your prerogative. But that attitude you’re arguing for is part of the reason why interracial Native Americans are far less likely to feel attached to our Native culture – because we’re told from day One that we should be Natives, that the “colonizer” side of us is evil, is bad, we have our parents’ relationships attributed to “Red Fever,” “fire water,” all that jazz. I grew up in an environment that told me that since my father was a white colonizer, I should not want to identify with him, I should disavow my heritage, all that. And I grew up in a community that was filled with interracial Native Americans. The worst treatment got reserved for the kids who were mixed Native and African American – talk about being pulled both ways.

    So, like I said (and like you failed to address) – how do interracial Natives, who are not so strident like yourself, fall into this? Do you expect us to pledge allegience to our Native nations and forsake the rest? Cause that seems to be what you’re getting at.

  53. July 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I’d kick out every single colonizer who isn’t willing to pay for, return or compensate for those stolen resources.

    This I can get behind. (Although I am still concerned about where the kicked-out would end up because from a practical standpoint, I still see that as leading to more colonization of somewhere else, but I think that’s a problem to be solved, not a reason not to try. I dunno, maybe if there were countries willing to accept former-colonist immigrants, providing these countries, if they have a colonialist history as so frickin’ many do, were also de-colonizing?). In Canada, there have been payments and reparations made, but most colonist Canadians think of these as one-time “gifts” based on past harms best forgotten and swept aside (and that’s even the ones who support reparations in the first place – many think there shouldn’t even be that much). There is no sense of on-going obligation to or awareness of our dependency on indigenous people for our nationhood. And our history of handling land claims is fairly terrible as well, though some headway has been made. I would vote to pay a tax/rent in fair compensation for my land use, though I doubt enough of my fellow citizens would support it at the moment.

    I think amblingalong’s point about non-voluntary settlers (or settlers fleeing from inhumane conditions or settlers who endured injustices and deprivations on arrival, as so many of our non-white immigrants have in Canada, recently and historically) can be incorporated into this approach as well. I agree that non-indigenous people are part of the colonization machine (because that’s how it works – in seemingly innocuous ways), but I think there’s a lot less culpability between a refugee who came here to avoid a monstrous violation of their human rights and must still contend with the bigotry of this country, and a middle-class white person who benefits from being the type of person that all of the colonization efforts have been designed to support the most.

    It would take a radical shift in government direction and social opinion to achieve of course, but it’s decolonization – it’s the radical reversal of hundreds of years of nation-building, a deconstruction of the basic (unjust) mechanic by which our countries (Canada, US, Aus, NZ, and so on) function – it’s obviously going to be complicated, difficult, and sound far-fetched. But isn’t this what we’re here to figure out?

  54. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Someone asked what leaving would accomplish and I stated one thing it would. Decolonization.

    Bull. On thread after thread you have stated the same thing, and it just happens to be on this one that I finally got fed up with your blatant racism. And yeah, that’s what it’s called when you decide forcibly shipping black people back to Africa is a legitimate policy solution to your problems.

    For those of you who don’t like inter-POC racism being called racism, I’m happy to modify the abode sentence to ‘finally fed up with your love of perpetuating racial oppression.”

  55. matlun
    July 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Which, incidentally is what Pheeno is advocating. Which is basically genociding the ‘old worlders’. Is it surprising that people are having a problem with it?

    Exactly. But some of their ancestors were responsible for taking part in grave injustices a couple of centuries ago, so it is clearly justified in pheeno’s mind.

    The current population of the US are not colonizers in any meaningful sense of the word. Their ancestors may have been, but that is of limited relevancy. Americans today have no other home country and talk of “sending them back” is racist nonsense.

  56. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Bull. On thread after thread you have stated the same thing, and it just happens to be on this one that I finally got fed up with your blatant racism.

    It couldn’t possibly be the result of dealing with this shit for years and years to the point I will no longer make one more teeny effort to re-explain decolonization efforts that have worked for millions of Indigenous people’s,( results by the way, that can be fucking found by GOOGLE) so when the subject does come up, I do say the hell with it and go with the one everyone instantly believes I mean. That’s the first assumption people go with when the word decolonization gets mentioned, so why bother arguing?

    What you’re witnessing on these threads that piss YOU off so very much is called giving up. The second colonization is mentioned, someone brings up ” but we can’t all leeaaaaavveee”.

    So fine. I’ll play my role and be the militant bad Indian. It’s what you expected in the first place.

    If people are so stupid as to think decolonization means all non Indian people everywhere must leave now!! then fuck it. I grew tired of trying to disabuse them of that years before feministe was a glimmer in the eyes.

    Only one person even bothered to ask if I were serious. The rest just hop on board with it because that’s the secret fear isn’t it? That we really want you gone.

    Instead of asking if I’m seriously advocating Non Indian Removal Acts, why don’t you yourselves why that’s the first thing ever brought up when the topic is discussed? And no, I’m NOT the one who brings it up. I say colonization or decolonization and then the typical responses show up.

  57. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    So fine. I’ll play my role and be the militant bad Indian. It’s what you expected in the first place.

    Referring to people who were brought here on slave ship as colonizers doesn’t make you a militant bad Indian, it just makes you an asshole.

  58. BHuesca
    July 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask someone to back up their statements; “just google it, it’s out there somewhere” seems kinda lazy.

  59. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Do you expect us to pledge allegience to our Native nations and forsake the rest? Cause that seems to be what you’re getting at.

    How does advocating keeping that part of your culture alive mean forsake the rest? And if by the rest you mean “American” Nation, well the American Nation is a Patriarchy so forsaking it doesn’t sound too bad to me.

    But if ending ongoing genocide meant me forsaking others for my Indian Nation, then I’d do it. If it meant me picking up and leaving so the genocide would stop, how could I not? It won’t ever happen, and I know this. It’s as likely as having my cat turn into a diamond pegasus. But when non Natives take it seriously, and conflate decolonization with packing up and shipping all non Natives off, I just give the hell up. If they insist of pretending a diamond pegasus is real, I’ll dutifully play along. It’s far easier than trying to explain that no, it’s actually a cat.

    I’m tired of doing it. I’m tired of defining colonization for people who think they’re exempt because they don’t like that it means they’re oppressing people. And they have 500 different reasons why they aren’t oppressing people. All those reasons sound the same to me, but I have to act like they’re all special and unique caveats that magically make them not colonizers.

    I’ll engage with them like I do MRA’s. Sarcasm, and disgust.

    They can like it or not. I don’t really care.

  60. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Referring to people who were brought here on slave ship as colonizers

    Slaves were not colonizers. They didn’t benefit from jack shit.

    Colonizers= non Indigenous people who benefit from Indigenous resources at the expense of the Indigenous.

    Do you see anywhere that applies to people who did not benefit from one single itty bitty thing? No? Then I’m not referring to slaves.

  61. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask someone to back up their statements; “just google it, it’s out there somewhere” seems kinda lazy.

    So does not doing one’s own footwork and expecting to be educated by someone else.

    I posted this upthread a bit. I guess no one bothered.

    http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/05/28/aboriginal-leader-ovide-mercredis-stirring-anticolonialism-speech-115251

    He speaks about First Nations and Canada specifically, but it can be applied to all Indian Nations.

    And if you people really want to know how decolonization can occur, watch this video.

  62. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I see far more outrage over Pheeno’s suggestion that we vacate this iece of violently colonized land than I do about the violence that colonized it and continues to colonize it.

    Me too. And it starts the second an Indian uses the words colonized/colonizer/colonization/decolonization. The knee jerk reaction is ” you’re saying GTFO!!”.

    Fine. You’re right. I am absolutely saying GTFO all you evil non Indian white devils. I dance the Ghost Dance every night, and follow the prophet Wovoka. I’m a skin, it’s what we do.

  63. July 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    If people are so stupid as to think decolonization means all non Indian people everywhere must leave now!! then fuck it. I grew tired of trying to disabuse them of that years before feministe was a glimmer in the eyes.

    Only one person even bothered to ask if I were serious. The rest just hop on board with it because that’s the secret fear isn’t it? That we really want you gone.

    Instead of asking if I’m seriously advocating Non Indian Removal Acts, why don’t you yourselves why that’s the first thing ever brought up when the topic is discussed? And no, I’m NOT the one who brings it up. I say colonization or decolonization and then the typical responses show up.

    Okay, I think I misunderstood your original comment. Because “leaving the country” was already part of the discussion from the previous asshat commenter who was baiting EG and because, as I said, I have seriously contemplated leaving the country for this reason, I did think this was what you meant to talk about. But I thought it was a serious comment which merited serious discussion, and not the vitriol and dismissal it elicited from a number of commenters (though not all – as I said [oops, in my modded comment], I really appreciated amblingalong’s comments). I apologize for my confusion and for exacerbating the ensuing conversation.

    I can also see that I have a comment still in moderation (@ 55) which is my attempt to seriously engage in the conversation about how we can go about decolonization. Maybe that will clarify my position once it’s released from mod, I don’t know.

    I haven’t watched the video yet because I have been at work, but it’s bookmarked to watch when I get home.

  64. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    . Because “leaving the country” was already part of the discussion from the previous asshat commenter who was baiting EG and because, as I said, I have seriously contemplated leaving the country for this reason, I did think this was what you meant to talk about.

    It always part of the discussion. Mention genocide or colonization, some jerk shows up to say “well why don’t you just leave then” or “you want us to leave and that won’t solve anything!!”

    And that point is when I am done with the conversation. It never ever never gets past that point. There is literally no reason for me to seriously engage. Because it will never stop reverting back to leaving or how all other solutions can’t be done.

    It’s just like being on a male rights board and having every single feminist solution to something be shot down, dismissed or turned into man hating. At some point it simply becomes easier to agree that yep, I’m a man hater who wants all males to die in a fire or be enslaved and emasculated. I’m never going to change their minds anyway, no matter how reasonable I am, or how logical I am or nice I am so I might as well scare the shit out of them by becoming their nightmare stereotypical feminist. At least then they leave me the hell alone and stop demanding I fix their problems.

    And here is no different when it comes to Native issues. For every 1 person who gets it, there are 10 who are certain I mean get out when I say decolonized. Never fails.

    And when it’s followed by demands that I provide better solutions ( and they mean better for THEM, always) I really don’t care what they think anymore.

    Which is unbearable of me to do. Just wait and watch. How dare I not engage them seriously! How dare I advocate Non Indian Removal and not consider X people or Y situation or Z scenario!! You’re just saying that but you really DO want us gone!!

    So if I’m going to have demands of solutions made of me, I’m going give them a permanent one. And if someone doesn’t like my answer, then don’t fucking ask the question.

  65. July 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    pheeno, I should have read more of this thread before arguing with you.

    Having watched it, I understand your position much better. The speaker in fact articulated my position, though in a much clearer way. I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of treaties and fixing our relationships with native people. I apologize for coming off as a pro-colonialist asshole.

  66. tmc
    July 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Thank you pheeno for everything that you contribute. A thousand times, thank you.

  67. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Slaves were not colonizers. They didn’t benefit from jack shit.

    Colonizers= non Indigenous people who benefit from Indigenous resources at the expense of the Indigenous.

    Do you see anywhere that applies to people who did not benefit from one single itty bitty thing? No? Then I’m not referring to slaves.

    You said everyone who wasn’t NA is a colonizer, regardless of skin color. I’m glad you’re retracting that assertion in favor of excluding black descendants of slaves from that label, but that’s not hat you originally said.

  68. EG
    July 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Seconding tmc’s thanks. And just saying that although I have interacted with Pheeno on lots and lots of other threads, I have not seen her advocating the removal or “genocide” of non-NA people, so I do not know what amblingalong could be referring to.

  69. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Incidentally, in my first post that was the point I made, and you made it clear you disagreed. So I’m not sure if you just weren’t reading my posts or if you’re genuinely changing your ideas.

  70. amblingalong
    July 5, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I have not seen her advocating the removal or “genocide” of non-NA people, so I do not know what amblingalong could be referring to.

    I mean, I realize that now she’s saying she does t really believe that position but was only defending it out of exasperation or something, but she did a convincing job of faking it.

  71. July 5, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I have now watched the video you linked, pheeno. It was everything I have come to expect from Mr. Mercredi and more – thank you for calling all of our attention to it. I see that I did completely misunderstand the purpose of your comments and that there is no disagreement between us on what decolonization will demand.

    So again I apologize for exacerbating the argument on this thread.

  72. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    This explains more on colonization-

    h ttp://tidesturner.blogspot.com/2012/05/understanding-colonizer-status.html

    “Colonial relations do not stem from individual good will or actions; they exist before his arrival or his birth, and whether he accepts or rejects them matters little.” -Albert Memmi

    Colonization v. Oppression
    Many oppressed people around the world identify with the oppression experienced by colonized people. Often, if they live in a colonized society, the poor, oppressed, disenfranchised, and marginalized individuals or classes have difficulty identifying with the colonizers and thus seek to identify with the colonized. Because they live in a society in which colonization is ongoing, they begin to see themselves as colonized.
    This discussion is designed to help differentiate between oppression and colonization, and to clearly demarcate colonization as a distinct historical, political, social, and economic relationship between the colonizer and the colonized. In our volume For Indigenous Eyes Only: A Decolonization Handbook (Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press, 2005), Michael Yellow Bird and I offered this definition:

    Colonization refers to both the formal and informal methods (behaviors, ideologies, institutions, policies, and economies) that maintain the subjugation or exploitation of Indigenous Peoples, lands and resources.

    In the context of the United States, everyone is part of this colonial society. By definition, however, Indigenous Peoples are the only people identifiable as colonized. Because every bit of land and every natural resource claimed by the United States was taken at Indigenous expense, anyone who occupies that land and benefits from our resources is experiencing colonial privilege. Every non-Indigenous person in the country continues to benefit from Indigenous loss. In Minnesota, for example, all Minnesotans continue to benefit from the genocide perpetrated against Dakota people and the ethnic cleansing of our people. Occupation of Dakota homeland, especially while the vast majority of Dakota people still live in exile, places all occupants in the colonizer class. No matter the extent of oppression faced by various settler groups, being a settler means belonging to the class of colonizers.
    It may be helpful to develop your own definition of oppression and clearly distinguish how that definition differs from your understanding of colonization.

    (this is a rather long, but very good PDF file on colonization and allies)
    htdtp://unsettlingminnesota.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/um_sourcebook_jan10_revision.pdf

  73. July 5, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    (this is a rather long, but very good PDF file on colonization and allies)
    htdtp://unsettlingminnesota.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/um_sourcebook_jan10_revision.pdf

    Those links are fantastic. Will read deeply and share widely.

  74. pheenobarbidoll
    July 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    in favor of excluding black descendants of slaves from that label

    *sighs*

    Descendants of slaves receive colonizer privilege.

    Slaves did not, by virtue of being SLAVES. They had no privilege, colonizer privilege or any other privilege.

    YOU DO.

  75. Milquetoast
    July 5, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    So at what point in the chain of history did African slaves become recipients of colonizer privilege? Surely, the African slaves brought to the Americas were victims of the colonial process. At what point did victims of the process of colonization share privilege with those that victimized them? Was it after the Civil War? After Reconstruction? After the Civil Rights Movement? After Obama?

  76. Elle_Phante
    July 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Because every bit of land and every natural resource claimed by the United States was taken at Indigenous expense, anyone who occupies that land and benefits from our resources is experiencing colonial privilege.

    Descendants of slaves receive colonizer privilege. Slaves did not, by virtue of being SLAVES. They had no privilege…. YOU DO.

    By that logic, though, aren’t modern descendents of NAs also currently benefiting from colonial privilege? I mean, unless you think NAs would today have all the same economic and technological advantages of modern Americans even if the US had never come into existence, there’s no getting around the fact that everyone living in the US today, including modern NAs, benefits from the exploitation of prior generations of NAs.

  77. Li
    July 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    So at what point in the chain of history did African slaves become recipients of colonizer privilege? Surely, the African slaves brought to the Americas were victims of the colonial process. At what point did victims of the process of colonization share privilege with those that victimized them? Was it after the Civil War? After Reconstruction? After the Civil Rights Movement? After Obama?

    Because privilege is either/or? You either receive privilege or you don’t, and the moment that privilege appears is discrete and identifiable?

  78. July 5, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Pheeno, thank you for the contributions you make. I’m sorry for all of the crap in this thread.

    Can we not treat pheeno like she has to answer all of our questions and solve all of our problems and meet all of our demands before we’ll consider what she has to say? Making members of an oppressed class explain their oppression and make us comfortable as oppressors before we’ll deign to agree with their points is kind of a lousy thing to do, as most of us know from our own experiences on the other side of it.

  79. Li
    July 5, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Can we not treat pheeno like she has to answer all of our questions and solve all of our problems and meet all of our demands before we’ll consider what she has to say? Making members of an oppressed class explain their oppression and make us comfortable as oppressors before we’ll deign to agree with their points is kind of a lousy thing to do, as most of us know from our own experiences on the other side of it.

    Pretty much this.

  80. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 12:07 am

    A little slice of what colonization looks like

    h ttp://www.winnememwintu.us/journey-to-justice/puberty-ceremony/

    h ttp://www.winnememwintu.us/who-we-are/

  81. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 12:20 am

    More-
    ht tp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuC0ddn9-nk

    Crow Creek South Dakota Indians land is under threat of seizure by the IRS to help pay off more than $3 million in back taxes, penalties and interest — a sale the tribe says is illegal under federal laws protecting Indian land. Their power and utilities are shut off and they must go through unbearably cold winter temperatures with no heat.

    And this little gem? Was done by President Lincoln–

    These abuses today mirror those that occurred on December 26, 1862 when 38 Dakota men were marched in single file to a scaffold guarded by 1,400 troops. The pull of a single lever ended the lives of 38 Dakota men, while a crowd of citizens witnessed the largest mass execution in the history of United States. In addition to the mass execution, 265 Dakota men were sent to Prison near Davenport Iowa while 1,300 Dakota men, women, and children were exiled to a concentration camp known today as The Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota.

    This is the largest mass hanging in United States history. Lincoln promised to kill or remove every Indian from the state and provide Minnesota with 2 million dollars in federal funds.

    A mass executioner of Indians, yet hailed as a hero and gets his face carved onto a Sacred site.

    This is colonization.

  82. amblingalong
    July 6, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Descendants of slaves receive colonizer privilege.

    Slaves did not, by virtue of being SLAVES. They had no privilege, colonizer privilege or any other privilege.

    I guess you can send me a check for slavery reparations and I can send you a check for colonizer- reperations, and we’ll come out even.

    Of course, the idea that NA people should be paying for US crimes is almost as silly as the idea that black people who had no choice to come here should be held responsible for that voyage.

    And this is where the entire conversation breaks down, because enough genetic mixing has happened in the last 400 years that I’m really not sure who has claims against who. After all, I have some indigenous blood in me; maybe my moms side of the family should make a claim against my dads.

  83. Li
    July 6, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Seriously people. Responsibility for colonialism isn’t inherited. It stems from being implicated in the ongoing damage colonialism is currently dealing. Just as “I personally was not a settler, I shouldn’t be held responsible for what my ancestors did” isn’t an adequate response to colonial systems, neither is “My ancestors didn’t have a choice in settling”. What your ancestors did or did not do isn’t the point.

    If you’re a non-Indigenous member of a settler society/nationstate, your nationality is fundamentally premised on the subjugation/elimination of Indigenous national sovereignty and peoples. That remains true regardless of whether you experience the additional privileges of being white or descended from early settlers. While you’re invested in the USA, even if the USA is totally fucking racist (which it is), you’re invested in colonialism, because the US is premised on and actively engaged in a colonial project.

  84. R.
    July 6, 2012 at 1:55 am

    I was totally one of those kids sitting alone on the anti-war side of the classroom; my parents were anti-war from the beginning and in our conservative Detroit suburb, we were constantly being accused of being un-American. Nowadays, most of those kids who passionately defended that war realize it was always bullshit, and voted for Obama. I feel vindicated, but I always suspected I was right all along.

    What’s annoying now are when people insist that people like me or my parents can’t possibly be telling the truth that we opposed the war from the beginning and never liked Bush, because they’re embarrassed that they supported the war and at one point liked Bush. I remember in ’08 my mom was in a discussion where she said she hated the war and voted for Kerry and the woman kept saying, “Well, we all say that NOW….” But my mom really did vote for Kerry! And she couldn’t convince this woman that was true. That really boggled my mind; I mean, it’s not like this was the ’84 election or something where only one state went for Kerry. We lived in Michigan, which gave Kerry its electoral votes in ’04, so clearly my mom wasn’t in the minority there…

  85. librarygoose
    July 6, 2012 at 2:44 am

    I was about the same age when 9/11 happened. I also remember being told that I was “WRONG” for saying that maybe we should have seen that shit coming and my refusal to call anyone evil. But I have never been very patriotic. My father was born on July 4th and I’ve always associated fireworks and the flag more with him than anything else, and he’s always had some seriously opposing opinions on the country and never felt any need to sugar coat shit while I was little. My favorite was always how he grew up thinking he was gonna go off to die in a war he barely understood. This did not instill a lot of love for country in me.

  86. cherrybomb
    July 6, 2012 at 3:15 am

    de-lurking to say

    Making members of an oppressed class explain their oppression and make us comfortable as oppressors before we’ll deign to agree with their points is kind of a lousy thing to do, as most of us know from our own experiences on the other side of it.

    This. X100

    If we were talking about sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or racism, someone would have said this sooner. But instead pheeno imposed upon to explain colonization and how it still affects real live NA people today (cuz yeah, natives still exist somewhere other than your gradeschool history book).
    It reminds me of the men who holler to high heaven that there is no sexism left, no male privilege, because they’re terrified if they admit it they’ll be called upon to change it.

  87. cherrybomb
    July 6, 2012 at 3:23 am

    Regarding 9/11, I was in high school, and I remember a girl in my class (in civics, I think) asking “why would anyone do this to us? everything we’ve ever done in other countries has been for their own good!” My eyeballs nearly fell out of my head at that.

  88. Really?
    July 6, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Because every bit of land and every natural resource claimed by the United States was taken at Indigenous expense, anyone who occupies that land and benefits from our resources is experiencing colonial privilege

    This implies that the Indigenous people had, and have, a right to North America.

    I refuse to accept that premise.

    And though NAs don’t have to provide for a global plan regarding colonization, it’s incumbent on anyone making that type of ownership argument to address some of the more basic logical followup questions, like “does everyone else own their continents, too?” and “what’s the cutoff for ownership?” and “how far back in history do you go when you draw the lines; and how do you justify that date?” and “why do you get to claim ownership at all, just because some of your ancestors lived there?” and so on.

    The U.S. government treated NAs horribly, and does so to this day. That cannot be in dispute. But the question of the government treating people horribly (and how to stop it NOW, and how to fix past acts) is separate from the issue of ownership of a continent.

  89. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Of course, the idea that NA people should be paying for US crimes is almost as silly as the idea that black people who had no choice to come here should be held responsible for that voyage.

    Are you claiming you were forced to come here via slavery? Because I’ve made the difference between you and slaves clear. When I say colonizers, I mean you. Today. Sitting on stolen land. Drinking stolen water. Using gas for transportation that was pumped from stolen land (and poisons NA’s in the process) Eating food grown on stolen land. Wearing clothes made from cotton grown on stolen land. Voting for an occupying government. All that comes at our expense, right now present tense.

    Li says it best

    While you’re invested in the USA, even if the USA is totally fucking racist (which it is), you’re invested in colonialism, because the US is premised on and actively engaged in a colonial project.

    You are a member of an oppressed class. But you are not and will never be a member of the colonized class.

    breaks down, because enough genetic mixing has happened in the last 400 years that I’m really not sure who has claims against who. After all, I have some indigenous blood in me; maybe my moms side of the family should make a claim against my dads.

    And this? Colonization mentality right here. Guess who gets to determine Tribal membership or ” Indian blood?”

    Tribes.

    Saying ” I can be considered Indigenous because I have some Indian blood in me” is like saying ” I should be granted a French passport because I have some French blood in me”.

    We’re Sovereign Nations, not a club. We are 500+ distinctly different cultures.

  90. July 6, 2012 at 9:38 am

    My mind is pretty much blown at how much pushback pheenobarbidoll is getting here. My family is in the US because we were ousted from our home, on pain of death and had pretty much no where else to go. That doesn’t mean that I don’t benefit from colonization. I grew up on stolen Potawatomi land and currently live on stolen Duwamish land. I could not have lived in those places if not for colonization and occupation that continues to this day. I could argue until I’m blue in the face that my family did what they had to do and this is my home. But those are the facts. It’s my *privilege* as a colonizer that stating those facts isn’t likely to force me out of my home or get my parents’ house taken away. Y’all need to seriously chill the fuck out and listen to what pheenobarbidoll has to say. This is activism 101 here.

  91. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 9:44 am

    And now, perhaps some of you see why I just stopped arguing and explaining and simply go for the easy ” Yes, you’re right. I want you all to leave”.

    People refuse to understand what colonization is, much less bother to learn what decolonization is. If I can’t get them to understand colonization, why should I even bother with decolonization?

  92. Drahill
    July 6, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I have no problem with your argument about colonization, pheeno. My problem is that making such a stark argument really does not account for the almost half of Native Americans who are the products of Native and colonizer relationships. If you’re mixed, your body basically is a battleground for these arguments, especially if you feel allegiance or a connection to both (or more) of your heritages. Your stark arguments suggested to me that you see no middle ground for the interracial in this discussion. If you’re half, like I am, you inevitably must conceed that you have benefitted from colonization by virtue of the fact that half of your family tree benefitted from it. That is why I frankly think your argument has some merit, but that you should have taken a more nuanced appraoch, since so many interacial Native Americans are descendents of the colonizers. Setting up such a dichotomy jusy reinforces a great deal of the same prejudice that a lot of interracial Native Americans deal with on a daily basis (I know I did).

    (And yes, I know about the blood quantum laws, and I also know that those laws are wholly arbitrary in nature).

  93. cherrybomb
    July 6, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Pheeno, you’ve already done more than your fair share of educating others. If you’re tired of it, and too pissed off to continue to do it, I don’t know how anyone can be shocked.
    There are enough times that, as women and feminists, we get tired of explaining male privilege and give up with a “yes, it’s true. We feminists hate men and don’t want to bang you,” or something to that effect.

    It’s not pheeno’s job to anyone’s homework for them. Here’s the internet, here’s google. If you don’t know wtf she is talking about, google. I doubt many people here are feminists because one individual on a blog post took the time to spoon-feed them feminism 101.

    It pisses me off how many people in this country are woefully ignorant about how this country came to be. it pisses me off that people think NAs are nothing more than a history lesson. It pisses me off that my NA child is taught history in a one-sided, pro US gov. way that teaches him to identify with the colonizers, and that his teachers don’t even get why that’s fucked up.

    If the idea that you benefit from colonization makes you uncomfortable, then good. It’s not any NA person’s job to play the “friendly/helpful ‘indian'” and try to frame colonization in a way that makes you comfortable.

    Being mostly of euro descent, I benefit from colonization. I benefit from genocide. I’m not comfortable with it, but aside from being uncomfortable, it’s really no skin off my nose to admit it. Because I’ve got privilege.

  94. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 11:11 am

    If you’re half, like I am, you inevitably must conceed that you have benefitted from colonization by virtue of the fact that half of your family tree benefitted from it.

    And I do. I’m also fully aware that some of my ancestors were rapists, who took Indian wives to get their property. (my white side has spatterings of “Indian blood” that in all reality probably came from rape)

    So I benefited from rape, too. I’m here.

    That in no way changes my argument about colonization and how to decolonize- given my actual stance is enforcing Treaties and recognizing Sovereign Nations by treating them as such is the way to achieve decolonization.

  95. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 11:19 am

    That is why I frankly think your argument has some merit, but that you should have taken a more nuanced appraoch,

    I get can’t to more nuanced concepts until people grasp the basics. And I’m stuck at colonization at a 3rd grade level.

    I can discuss the more nuanced complications with you, and a few others here, but they’re not the ones saying I CANT BE A COLONIZER BECAUSE OF X!!!!YOU MEAN RACIST INDIAN!!!

    It would be as fruitful as having an advanced psychology discussion with someone who had to look up the word psychology.

  96. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 11:27 am

    It pisses me off that my NA child is taught history in a one-sided, pro US gov. way that teaches him to identify with the colonizers, and that his teachers don’t even get why that’s fucked up.

    Yes. My daughters teacher could not understand why she didn’t want to sing 1 little 2 little 3 little Indians in kindergarten. She came home hysterical, just hysterical, and I had to call the school to find out why, because she was sobbing so hard she couldn’t speak.

    When I heard the teacher say she made her stand in the corner for refusing to sing that song, I just about lost it.

    It’s a song about killing Indians.

    So my 5 year old learned that if she didn’t happily sing a song about killing Indians, she’d be humiliated and punished.

    This kind of crap happened every Thanksgiving too.

    She received 3 days in school suspension for telling the real Thanksgiving story and including Lincolns part in it.

    And *I* got to hear ” well you look white, what’s the problem”.

  97. Drahill
    July 6, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I think what my question is, inherently, is how decolonization can happen without the removal of people. If decolonization is the dismantling of governmental and social barriers to Native Americans, that is one thing. If decolonization is the removal of actual people from previously Native American lands, that to me is far more problematic, because so many Native Americans are descended from the colonizers. The inherent problem to me is that, at some point, people are going to have to define “Native American.” Is it people who meet the arbitrary blood quantum laws? People who grew up on reservations, regardless of race? I have no clue – and frankly, I think whatever definition I have will be lacking to somebody.

    I think we need to be really, really clear about what colonization actually means. As an interracial person, colonization was always the excuse that was used against my family and a lot of others to keep us from Native American history and heritage because our parents had “lain with the oppressor.” So I think if there’s going to be a discussion about decolonization, the parameters need to conscious of the unique racial situation Native Americans find themselves in.

  98. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I think what my question is, inherently, is how decolonization can happen without the removal of people.

    Some places, hands down have to be returned. There’s just no ifs ands or buts about it. The Black Hills for example. Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 says no white settlements, ever. It was broken because of gold. That Treaty was a legitimate Treaty that needs to be enforced.

    Any mining and timber from it should be treated like any other export from any other Nation. The US Government should purchase it, not take it. The National Parks, IMO, should be returned to the care of Indian Nations.

    These two acts would alleviate so much poverty it’s unreal.

    Any money owed by Indian Nations to the IRS? Gone. It’s illegal to begin with. All IRS debts should be forgiven. Period. Never should people living on a reservation face what Crow Creek faced with having land taken and electricity shut off.

    That’s a start, and doesn’t require everyone leaving the country.

    I think we need to be really, really clear about what colonization actually means. As an interracial person, colonization was always the excuse that was used against my family and a lot of others to keep us from Native American history and heritage because our parents had “lain with the oppressor.

    I think once the decolonization starts, you’d see less of that. That’s a direct response to colonization and fear of extermination. If Tribes are allowed to determine citizenship without interference or threats from the US Government, eventually it will right itself. Most nations weren’t always so nit picky about membership.

  99. cherrybomb
    July 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Pheeno, that’s awful. I’m so sorry your daughter and you had to go through that.
    I’m afraid that’s what every November is going to be like while I raise my son.

    This last year my son came home with a “history book” they’d all made in class that actually fucking said “the pilgrims had to look for food, fix their boat, and even fight some indians!” (Oh, what fun!)
    I went to the school and told his teacher that my son’s father and I found the book to be extremely offensive in making light of the conflict between the Wampanoag and the colonists.
    The teacher was shocked I was upset, and confused as to why. She’d assumed my son, who is very brown, was Mexican American, and because I hadn’t had the chance to meet her before I think she’d assumed he was ESL, because he was so quiet (shy because he was in a new school).
    She didn’t offer apologies until she realized my son was native, because if he wasn’t there would be no reason for me to care about what version of history is taught. Why should anyone but the oppressed care about oppression?

  100. July 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    pheeno, the things you’ve said about the reality of native people in this thread have really opened my eyes. Of course, I should have read about it myself, but I still appreciate how you made me much more aware of their situation.

    If decolonization is the dismantling of governmental and social barriers to Native Americans, that is one thing.

    That’s basically what pheeno is advocating here. No one here has actually advocated getting rid of non-native people.

  101. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Oh and this will probably make some people mad, but I do think a requirement for future Tribal Membership should include a certain amount of commitment to one’s specific culture. A concentrated effort to keep and preserve these cultures is needed.

    That doesn’t mean forsaking your non Indian side. But it would mean spending some extra time and effort learning about your history and cultural practices along with willingness to pass on traditional practices and beliefs to younger generations.

    I think this needs to be a condition by which membership is granted. Required education.

    This will help decolonization in 2 ways.

    1) It will help those of mixed descent identify with their history in a way that’s been denied them

    2)It will alleviate fears of losing “Indianness” for those who resist welcoming mixed descendants into the Tribe. They won’t be losing members or Indians, they’ll be gaining them.

  102. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Like scifi/fantasy and want to support Native Authors?

    h ttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008B1HD2I/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_alp_svX9pb1P2C12D

    I haven’t started it yet so I can’t vouch for feminist content, but the author is the Aunt of a NA activist as well as a feminist ally so..

  103. Drahill
    July 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    I agree with you totally on the first part. My particular tribe (the Ft. Peck Sioux) have been fighting for a long time to get particular lands returned or at the least, treated as shrines or graves (Wounded Knee chief among them).

    Now, we may simply disagree on this next point, because I think we identify differently (at least, I think so). I identify as interracial Native-Caucasian; I think you have said several times here that you identify as Native American. While I can undertand WHY Native Americans may react so strongly to interracial Native Americans out of fear of losing the culture, I cannot bring myself to accept it. Racism should be called out wherever it is found, regardless of who is doing it. Personally, I like to think that if Native Americans (regardless of their racial status) felt safer in practicing their customs, their faiths and their languages and had support for that stuff, there would be less resistance to interracial Native Americans. In my experience, many assume that once a Native person becomes involved with a non-Native person, they will lose the connection to the tribe. For many of us, that’s just not true (my mother went through great pains to keep us connected to her culture). But it was hard to do that, because there were little to no resources for Sioux kids to practice their culture. It’s almost all gone.

    I do wonder about your last point – whether the tribes would become more inclusive if the government stopped getting involved. It’s my understanding that the blood quantum laws are now tribe-regulated. Now, those laws are such a tricky business – because they are, at their base, a way to discourage Native Americans from going “too far” outside the tribe if they don’t want their kids to be excluded. Very few tribes use the (more equitable, to me) direct descent test. Personally, if this stuff meant that the direct descendent test becomes used more, I’d be for it. However, I think it would take a very, very long time before most tribes could be trusting enough to use it.

    I have to question whether real decolonization is even really possible here, given that Native culture(s) have become so withered and now, so intertwined with the dominant culture that we could ever successfully return to what existed before it. Frankly, I doubt we can – and that is a sad thing. But then the question becomes, i guess, how can it be stopped today and minimized.

  104. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    While I can undertand WHY Native Americans may react so strongly to interracial Native Americans out of fear of losing the culture, I cannot bring myself to accept it. Racism should be called out wherever it is found, regardless of who is doing it.

    That’s not racism. Prejudice, yes. But not racism.

    Personally, I like to think that if Native Americans (regardless of their racial status) felt safer in practicing their customs, their faiths and their languages and had support for that stuff, there would be less resistance to interracial Native Americans. In my experience, many assume that once a Native person becomes involved with a non-Native person, they will lose the connection to the tribe. For many of us, that’s just not true (my mother went through great pains to keep us connected to her culture). But it was hard to do that, because there were little to no resources for Sioux kids to practice their culture. It’s almost all gone.

    I have a post in moderation that basically agrees with this and how I think it could be achieved.

  105. chava
    July 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Any mining and timber from it should be treated like any other export from any other Nation. The US Government should purchase it, not take it. The National Parks, IMO, should be returned to the care of Indian Nations.

    How about an actual, meaningful share of the profits from the Black Mesa strip mines (and other coercive mining/logging industries on native land)?

    RE: parks. There is a lot to unpack on our conception of the NP system as “untouched wilderness” and how that ties into imagining a land w/o Natives that never actually existed.

  106. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Very few tribes use the (more equitable, to me) direct descent test.

    One of the issues with the direct descent test though is that it was implemented by the US Government, and people listed on the Dawes Roll were listed as Indian based on extremely bunk science and arbitrary things like having one’s nose measured.

    A combination of DNA, direct descent and commitment to preserving traditional practices would weed out fraudulent claims and attempts at joining because it’s cool to be Indian.

    Those weird new age wanna be Indians wouldn’t pass, because while they may try and practice cultural customs, they wouldn’t have the DNA or descent to back it up.

    People who have blood ancestors who for some reason didn’t make it onto the list would be welcome, providing they agreed to making a commitment in regards to cultural practices and teachings.

    so intertwined with the dominant culture that we could ever successfully return to what existed before it. Frankly, I doubt we can – and that is a sad thing.

    Well no, no one can go back and be what was. That assumes that even without colonization, Tribes wouldn’t have also changed as the world changed. I don’t think we’d still be nomads on horseback while the rest of the world had cars and computers. But we could have adapted and grown with modern times at our own pace, and in our own way. We were denied that. Instead of assimilating things into our culture, we were assimilated.

  107. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    How about an actual, meaningful share of the profits from the Black Mesa strip mines (and other coercive mining/logging industries on native land)?

    That’s like stealing my car, using it to win races and money and they saying ” why don’t we just split the profits from now on”.

    No. Give me my car back and you can buy it to win races. Or rent it and win races. Or deal with me deciding it’s no longer for sale because it was driven into the ground. Yanno, because it’s my car.

  108. chava
    July 6, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Yes, absolutely…but the promised money from the last 50 years would be a good place to start.

  109. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Before that can even happen the Hopi and Navajo have some issues to work out.

    Personally, I wouldn’t touch that situation with a 10 foot pole. There’s some baaaaad feelings going on with that land.

    2 people making Sacred claims to the same land haven’t, historically, worked out too well.

  110. July 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    RE: parks. There is a lot to unpack on our conception of the NP system as “untouched wilderness” and how that ties into imagining a land w/o Natives that never actually existed.

    Oh yes, this is a colonialist value/mechanic that comes up a lot in uncritical sci-fi and fantasy, as well as historic myths we use to prop up our national identities – the trope of the “empty” planet/land, just waiting for the “hero” (usually white) race to come and claim it as a promised land, with no inconvenient prior inhabitants.

    In reality, there has not been truly empty land on our planet in many thousands of thousands of years, but indigenous people are erased or relegated to the status of fauna in order to legitimize our sense of a just nation-founding.

    How about an actual, meaningful share of the profits from the Black Mesa strip mines (and other coercive mining/logging industries on native land)?

    Profit-sharing is not the same as having governance over how (and if) the mining occurs.

    There is a strategy of decolonizing research called OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession [PDF]), which is a response to the decades of exploitation of indigenous people and communities by researchers in the name of research and science. These principles affirm indigenous self-determination over research on them and about them and are comprehensive:

    Ownership: Ownership refers to the relationship of a First Nations community to its cultural knowledge/data/information. The principle states that a community or group owns information collectively in the same way that an individual owns their personal information. It is distinct from stewardship. The stewardship or care taking of data or information by an institution that is accountable to the group is a mechanism through which ownership may be asserted.

    Control: The aspirations and rights of First Nations Peoples to maintain and regain control of all aspects of their lives and institutions extend to research, information and data. The principle of control asserts that First Nations Peoples, their communities and representative bodies are within their rights in seeking to control all aspects of research and information management processes which impact them. First Nations control of research can include all stages of a particular research project – from conception to completion. The principle extends to the control of resources and review processes, the formulation of conceptual frameworks, data management and so on.

    Access: First Nations Peoples must have access to information and data about themselves and their communities, regardless of where it is currently held. The principle also refers to the right of First Nations communities and organizations to manage and make decisions regarding access to their collective information. This may be achieved, in practice, through standardized,
    formal protocols.

    Possession: While ownership identifies the relationship between a people and their data in principle, possession or stewardship is more literal. Although not a condition of ownership per se, possession (of data) is a mechanism by which ownership can be asserted and protected. When data owned by one party is in the possession of another, there is a risk of breech or misuse. This is particularly important when trust is lacking between the owner and possessor.

    Most importantly, OCAP is forward-looking and pro-active. It opens up new avenues for the expression of self-determination and self-governance in the areas of research and information and provides a measure of hope for positive change.

    The purpose of OCAP is to emphasize the authority and self-determination of indigenous people (the language of this article refers to First Nations people in Canada, but the principles have been adopted by many indigenous organizations and communities) over the research process and results. Past attempts by non-indigenous researchers instead focused on being more “inclusive” and encouraging “equal participation”, which ignored the realities of the existing power differential and the slant of research activities toward rewarding researchers and ignoring subjects. Decolonization is not about “sharing” with indigenous groups, it is about stepping the fuck back and getting out of indigenous groups’ way, and supporting them as required according to their own needs and goals.

  111. July 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Aaaand I’m back in mod.

  112. Drahill
    July 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Pheeno, I’d call that racism. I know there is a debate over whether racism can only be practiced by those with power and privilege, but to me, singular race people enjoy general status over the mixed race, so I define it as racism.

    Basically, what you’re getting at is something tricky – whether interracial people are a race unto themselves, whether they have more than one race, no race, or something in between. And there is no easy answer. I know MY answer, personally: I do not say I am native american, I do not say I am white. I am interracial. That’s my race. And I define racism as any maltreatment one gives to another that stems from race-based dislike. If a 100% Native person treats me poorly because they dislike that I am interracial, I call them a racist. No amount of historical mistreatment can justify it or make it less bad (because that just tells interracial people that we should understand it). I can acknowledge that I can see WHY they would feel that way, but it cannot excuse such behavior (and it is racist behavior). And it’s not confined to Native Americans (interracial people of all kinds can back this up). I think it is especially pronounced among Native communities because we have a much larger interracial population than most others (nearly 50% of all Native Americans are interracial).

    Frankly, I think arguing over the definition of racism is a derail here, but I do want to say that, having been exposed to POC-on-POC racism, I can say that it is certainly a real thing. And that’ll sum that up for me.

  113. chava
    July 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Before that can even happen the Hopi and Navajo have some issues to work out.

    Personally, I wouldn’t touch that situation with a 10 foot pole. There’s some baaaaad feelings going on with that land.

    Yeah…..”issues,” for sure. I only lived up there for a few months and still heard about it six ways to Sunday. Mining situation is, nonetheless, fucked up.

  114. konkonsn
    July 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Like scifi/fantasy and want to support Native Authors?

    Do you (or anyone else) have recs for short story collections of sci-fi or fantasy books by Native authors? I tend to favor short stories.

  115. konkonsn
    July 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    *books should be works

    @_@

  116. July 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Blue Corn Comics:

    http://www.bluecorncomics.com/

  117. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Pheeno, I’d call that racism. I know there is a debate over whether racism can only be practiced by those with power and privilege, but to me, singular race people enjoy general status over the mixed race, so I define it as racism.

    Singular race Indians enjoy no status or power over anyone, mixed or not. You and I have more status granted to us because of our white relations by society that values white over Indian, but views having Indian blood as romantic. If being part Indian held no status or symbolism, you wouldn’t hear white people claiming it every 15 seconds.

    White looking Indians wouldn’t be in high positions of power.

    White looking Indians are taken more seriously by white people, who are the dominant group in the country.

    They’re more comfortable with those who can pass for white.

    That we become the targets of fear and prejudice by some non interracial Indians doesn’t impact that. We get some of the benefits of colonization and white privilege. And it comes at their expense, and they know it. So no, I can’t call that racism.

  118. July 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Okay, fuck the comment in mod – what I wanted to call attention to is another strategy for decolonization, in this case when it comes to science and research, which are the OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession) principles [PDF].

    Just one more thing worth reading.

  119. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I should add though-

    I do understand your perspective on it. I know how it feels to be looked at as a traitor or mistake etc etc. I had to work really hard to be accepted by some people (and some of my own family members haven’t accepted me) and it took me a while to realize they don’t define my identity. I do. So they can like it or not, accept me or not.

    So I do know where you’re coming from and get what you’re saying.

  120. July 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Like scifi/fantasy and want to support Native Authors?

    Do you (or anyone else) have recs for short story collections of sci-fi or fantasy books by Native authors? I tend to favor short stories.

    One of the fruits from yon race/cultural appropriation fails of past: Recs for Indigenous/Anti-Colonialist AUs, Indigenous History, POC SFF Traditions, and More

  121. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    @ Jadey-

    Yes!!

  122. Drahill
    July 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I personally would argue that it is not being of mixed race that affords us more privilege, but if you pass as white (I generally do not – most people apparantly perceive me as Hispanic – I don’t know why). Mixed Black-Natives suffer greatly under their race, because they are almost universally regarded as less.

    My argument is not that we get benefits from colonialism because we pass as white (I have made clear that I don’t pass the majority of the time). We benefit from it because colonization provided a place for our ancestors to immigrate and live, which in turn provided us with the ability to be born in America. Even if you did not pass, you’d be a beneficiary of colonization solely as a result of your ability to be born here.

    I am interested in why you immediately went to passing as the standard for colonization. Basically, you assumed that if I am half white, I pass. But I don’t. My family is odd – I have two siblings who are like me – not Caucasian, but most Native Americans can tell we’re not 100%. I have one sister who looks 100% Native and one who is 100% pure Caucasian. Generally, what gives me away is not my appearance, but my NAME (and this is true for a lot of interracial Native people).

    Interracial people who can pass as a single race many have some privilege from it (IF they pass as white; if they’re black, forget about that one). However, such passing does not negate that they are, in fact, interracial people.

    I would quibble with you that the singular race Native Americans cannot exert some power over anyone. One of the largest problems with Native-focused racism now is that some singular Natives do not permit interracial ones to access their own culture. Very often, interracial children who grow up off of reservations and don’t have routine access to the language and culture they have a right to know. But sometimes, those living on the rezs, who tend to be of one race, put up resistance to letting these people come on and learn and take part in the culture, since they either “look white” or because they think by marrying outside the tribe, their parent relinquished any ties to the tribe. They are so disenfranchised in all other realms of power, they hold onto the tiny bit they have left. You seem to be arguing that this can be somewhat permissable, given the context, but I see no reason to excuse it.

    And to me, if anybody is taking the opportunity to deny another access to their heritage, culture or equal treatment because of their race (partial or otherwise), yes, that is racism. Which can be understood, but not excused. I don’t know how much experience you have with the whole interracial discussions within the culture, but many Native Americans struggle with this issue – because it is becoming so prevalent. There are a ton of excellent resources about racial minorities and the potential for racism (especially as it implicates interracial people). They are worth a read.

  123. amblingalong
    July 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Some places, hands down have to be returned. There’s just no ifs ands or buts about it. The Black Hills for example. Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 says no white settlements, ever. It was broken because of gold. That Treaty was a legitimate Treaty that needs to be enforced.

    Any mining and timber from it should be treated like any other export from any other Nation. The US Government should purchase it, not take it. The National Parks, IMO, should be returned to the care of Indian Nations.

    These two acts would alleviate so much poverty it’s unreal.

    Any money owed by Indian Nations to the IRS? Gone. It’s illegal to begin with. All IRS debts should be forgiven. Period. Never should people living on a reservation face what Crow Creek faced with having land taken and electricity shut off.

    Just wanted to say I am 100% behind this. I have a lot of problems with your theoretical framework but pretty much none with the policies you want to enact. Not sure if that matters in the face of our other disagreements but thought it was worth saying.

  124. Drahill
    July 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    I hear you, pheeno. This is such a complex subject that I think a blog can’t really do it justice. It’s something that has become a lot bigger deal to me since having my son – because I worry that he’s another generation removed from his people (though he has other people too). There are so few resources out there for Native parents who want to prioritize learning about their heritage. I didn’t know the vast majority of my history until I actually went looking for it – so I doubt I can trust his education to the schools. It just sucks in general. There are all the political issues around Native Americans, but the degradation of the culture is, at least to me, even sadder.

  125. EG
    July 6, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Pheeno and cherrybomb, I’m so disgusted at and sorry about what your kids are “learning” and how their and your attempts to bring some truth to the classroom are being met. It does remind me, though, that when I have a kid, I should and will scrutinize how ze is taught American history, because despite what teachers may think, the history of Native Americans and what this country did to them does matter, whether or not any children in the classroom are of NA descent–and thinking about what it says that in the US, a classroom could exist without children of NA descent matters too.

  126. July 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Just dropping in to thank pheenobarbidoll for all her generous comments in this thread and the information she’s graciously provided, particularly considering the bombardment of questions.

  127. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I hear you, pheeno. This is such a complex subject that I think a blog can’t really do it justice. It’s something that has become a lot bigger deal to me since having my son – because I worry that he’s another generation removed from his people (though he has other people too). There are so few resources out there for Native parents who want to prioritize learning about their heritage. I didn’t know the vast majority of my history until I actually went looking for it – so I doubt I can trust his education to the schools. It just sucks in general. There are all the political issues around Native Americans, but the degradation of the culture is, at least to me, even sadder.

    520 years of colonization is abit complicated for just a comment section lol. We could spend years on it and still not cover everything as extensively as it required.

    I was fortunate that I had teachers for grandparents. I was going to know who I was, come hell or high water. This knowledge allowed me to pave my way through, and also gave me a support system when I faced “you’re not Indian enough” from some folks.

    If you ever want help searching for stuff or researching, let me know. I’ll do my best to find you sources you may not have come across. My google fu isn’t too shabby :D

  128. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    (I generally do not – most people apparantly perceive me as Hispanic – I don’t know why)

    I got that in my younger years when I didn’t avoid the sun. My ability to tan annoyed the crap out of my BFF, who was red haired and white as a fish belly.

    I am interested in why you immediately went to passing as the standard for colonization.

    Not the standard, but when I read your earlier post I confused you with your sister who looks Caucasian. Sorry about that, there’s been a lot of posts to read.

    One of the largest problems with Native-focused racism now is that some singular Natives do not permit interracial ones to access their own culture.

    Most Tribes (and I can’t speak for all, there are too many to do that) require proof of one sort or another. Interracial is fine, but you are required to have proof. Lack of proof is generally what negates permission. Otherwise, anyone could claim it.

    It’s not perfect, but it’s not racism on the side of Indians that caused this. It was abuse and racism from white colonizers who would promote marrying into Tribes in order to gain possession of land and resources. Then there’s the whole Dawes Roll mess thrown into the mix. The result is that some people with Native ancestry are going to be denied. This is the mess we’ve been left with, I can’t fault Tribes for trying to make the best of it.

    (IF they pass as white; if they’re black, forget about that one)

    Not entirely true. My tribe for example, went to bat for Black Freedmen. Vigorously. Of course, we historically have supported Black people, even to the point we were hunted down for opposing slavery and aiding slaves. Then we got lumped in with Cherokee who fought for the Confederacy and were punished along side them. Hell of a thanks from the Union we fought for.

    I know of other Tribes that do not view a mix of Black and Indian to be lesser.

    And any power singular Indians have to deny interracial people is always at the mercy of the US government, who do not hesitate to wield their power if Tribes don’t make decisions the US government approves of. So that membership power is an illusion. It’s not real power when it’s not truly in our hands. This, to me, is what distinguishes it from racism. It’s discrimination. But not all discrimination, even based on race, is racism.

    Racism extends considerably beyond prejudiced beliefs. The essential feature of racism is not hostility or misperception, but rather the defense of a system from which advantage is derived on the basis of race. The manner in which the defense is articulated – either with hostility or subtlety – is not nearly as important as the fact that it insures the continuation of a privileged relationship. Thus it is necessary to broaden the definition of racism beyond prejudice to include sentiments that in their consequence, if not in their intent, support the racial status quo.

    If the majority (or status quo) was full 100% Native, then this explanation of racism would apply. But the status quo is, at this point, interracial.

    Discrimination against interracial Natives doesn’t support or contribute to the advantage of the status quo. Especially when lack of proof is the main determination of Tribal membership being denied.

  129. pheenobarbidoll
    July 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    The moderation bot is really getting on my nerves today.

  130. konkonsn
    July 6, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Thanks Angel H. and Jadey.

    (I don’t mean to derail, but I feel like I don’t have anything more to add to the other conversation going on in this thread.)

  131. July 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Thank you so much, pheeno and Jadey.

    To the people out there who are pitching giant snits and chucking the idea about that the only possible solution is “asking white people to leave”: I find it incredibly interesting that you find the relocation of 300 million people an easier solution to leap to than dismantling colonialist structures within existing governments. As someone from a former colonial country (with its own massively problematic colonising past), the idea that even BEGINNING to work on decolonisation (rather than poverty alleviation) is so impossible makes me simultaneously laugh and facepalm, because humans.

  132. Ophiucus
    July 8, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Pheeno, the stuff you are saying here and the unremitting patience with which you are saying it are both epic.

    Thanks for the links, and esp. the reminder that it’s not your fucking job to teach people who cannot be bothered to use the magic of google to do a little self-education.

    This part made me bark with delight: “I dance the Ghost Dance every night, and follow the prophet Wovoka. I’m a skin, it’s what we do.”

    Way to bring it home.

  133. July 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Most of these comments seem to be of another post.

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