I wanted to share these 3 articles. I heard similar concerns raised at the GA on 10/1 and I think we should have more discussion about how promote more voice and leadership within this movement for indigenous people. So I'm posting links to the articles and a short excerpt from each one here to inform more of us about the concerns that have been raised. Thanks for your consideration.
As would be repeated across the region, the Lenape did not realize that the Dutch meant to claim the lands for their exclusive use. An exclusivity that it would violently work to protect against the Lenape and then the English. In 1653, in fact, the Dutch built a wall attempting to block Lenape and English attacks. By 1700, when the English assumed Dutch land holdings in the region, they tore down the wall and paved a street over its location that they called "Wall Street."
The English would be defeated by the Americans. The Americans would preserve "Wall Street" -- and all of Manhattan -- as its own.
The Americans would never redress the history of Native land fraud that had made the U.S. possible. They would continue this fraud, in fact, by the violation of their first ratified treaty with a Native nation -- the Lenape in 1778. This treaty provided -- among other things -- safe passage for Americans through Lenape territory during its war with the English. As all of the treaties that followed, it was a treaty that would be violated by the Americans in the name of U.S. sovereignty and territorial rights.
"Wall Street" is only possible because of this history of land fraud and treaty violation.
Not that I’m surprised that this was a misstep in organizing against Wall Street or really any organizing that happens when the “left” decides that it’s going to “take back America for the people” (which people?!). This is part of a much larger issue, and in fact there is so much nationalistic, patriotic language of imperialism wrapped up in these types of campaigns that it’s no wonder people can’t see the erasure of existence of the First Peoples of THIS territory that happens when we get all high and mighty with the pro-America agendas, and forget our OWN complicity and accountability to the way things are today – not just the corporations and the state.
Let me be clear. I’m not against ending capitalism and I’m not against people organizing to hold big corporations accountable for the extreme damage they are causing. Yes, we need to end globalization. What I am saying is that I have all kinds of problems when to get to “ending capitalism” we step on other people’s rights – and in this case erode Indigenous rights – to make the point. I’m not saying people did it intentionally but that doesn’t even matter – good intentions are not enough and good intentions obviously can have adverse affects. This is such a played out old record too, walking on other people’s backs to get to a mystical land of equity. Is it really just and equitable when specific people continue to be oppressed to get there?
But, fear not my friends. We indigenous people have a sense of humor. So, I thought I might make a few friendly suggestions which may help to "fix" the pro-colonialism position in which you now (hopefully, unintentionally) find yourselves. (Please note my use of the word "fix" in the previous sentence. That's an attempt at a joke. You can refer to the third paragraph if you'd like an explanation.)
By the way, I'm just one indigenous person. I represent no one except myself. I'm acting alone in writing this letter. Perhaps none of my own Nishnaabe people will support me in having written this. Perhaps some will. I respect their opinions either way. I love my Nishnaabe people always. I am simply trying to do something good - same as all of you at the Occupy Wall Street protest in what is now called New York.
So, here goes. (You're still smiling, right?)
1) Acknowledge that the United States of America is a colonial country, a country of settlers, built upon the land of indigenous nations; and/or...
2) Demand immediate freedom for indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier; and/or...
3) Demand that the colonial government of the United States of America honor all treaties signed with all indigenous nations whose lands are now collectively referred to as the "United States of America"; and/or...
4) Make some kind of mention that you are indeed aware that you are settlers and that you are not intending to repeat the mistakes of all of the settler do-gooders that have come before you. In other words, that you are willing to obtain the consent of indigenous people before you do anything on indigenous land.
I hope you find this list useful. I eagerly await your response, my friends.
Miigwech! ( ~"Thank you!" )