‘Don’t Let the Corporation Steal Our Land!’ Tlingit Elder Opposes Alaska Native Landless Bill

Frank Hopper’s article on opposition to the Alaska Native Lands Bill is a must read. Cited is public testimony given by Keiheenouk’, John Martin, Sr. of Hoonah, AK. The article is an excellent entry into the story of Alaska Natives’ long struggle with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) and its far reaching consequences. Below is an excerpt.


ICTMN
by Frank Hopper

For much of the year the jet stream brings one rain system after another to Southeast Alaska, feeding the largest temperate rainforest in the world, the Tongass, ancestral home of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Nations. Sitka Spruce trees shoot up 300 feet like skyscrapers above a diverse ecosystem of plant and animal life. For thousands of years the Native people lived in harmony with the forest, honoring and respecting it.

Then one day the Natives began mowing it down. During the 1980s the Natives clear-cut thousands of acres of old-growth rainforest in the Tongass, leaving behind only a hideous desert of stumps.

This was the result of an experiment in social engineering called the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act or ANCSA. Now Alaska Natives in five communities who were left out of the original 1971 settlement are petitioning Congress to include them. And at least one Tlingit elder is speaking out against it.

“I oppose S.872 as it is written. Our true Łingit people want culture and language. We oppose corporations. They are profit-making corporations and have nothing to do with traditional cultural values.”

Read the rest at ICTMN.

Posted in ANCSA, Decolonization, Environment, Frank Hopper, Village Resilience | 1 Comment

LaVoy Finicum’s message to Native Americans

In a video released the evening of his death, LaVoy Finicum, the man who was shot and killed on Tuesday in Harney County, addresses some concerns voiced by Natives regarding the occupation. In the video he voices his support for the establishment of independent, sovereign tribal nations. Finicum was a part of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“It is time to throw off the BIA, and become a completely sovereign independent nation without the overseer-ship of the BIA,” Finicum says. “It is time for them to stand up and throw off the federal government out of their nations.”

The occupation has been met with little local support, though a number of Harney County residents have voiced their own frustration with the federal government’s handling of land use in area. The Paiute Tribe has deeply criticized the occupation for claiming federal land that once belonged to the tribe. Quotes from Ammon Bundy are particularly ignorant. With regards to a Bundy family 2014 protest in Utah on federal land which included Native American sites he said “Native Americans had the claim to the land, but they lost that claim. There are things to learn from cultures of the past, but the current culture is the most important.” Additionally there’s this choice quote regarding the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge occupation:

“We won’t leave until these lands have been turned over to the their rightful owners, more than 100 ranchers and farmers used to work this land, which was taken illegally by the federal government.”

How do we reconcile Finicum’s message with the actions and words of the Bundy’s? Finicum’s outreach to the Paiute people is clumsy at best. Haven’t we all met non-Natives claiming Native ancestry? And Bundy’s dismissal of Native claims to the land cut deep. However, I’m hesitant to take the side of Federal government. I might even consider them potential allies. After all, calling for the establishment of “independent, sovereign nations” is my personal goal. How do we achieve that goal without breaking the federal government’s hold on this land?

Chase Iron Eyes said as much in a piece he wrote early into the standoff, Should Indians Support Armed Anti-Government Standoff in Oregon?

On the other hand, it is refreshing to see people committed to protecting the Constitution of the United States and expressing willingness to protect the rights of citizens of this country against the repressive state that imposes its will on Tribal Nations and citizens with its control of the departments used to expropriate & imprison the aforementioned. These people are willing to take up arms as many in the Tribal Nation community say they are willing to do.

If Native Americans and Tribal Nations look past the blatant racist double standard being applied to the armed militia and the racism of at least the Bundys of the Military (Cliven is a known racist) these are potential allies against the oppressive neo-liberal colonization machine. These armed militia-men are those who are protecting your rights as Americans, not necessarily those over-seas in U.S. Military uniform at the behest of the financial-military-industrial-complex and big oil.

Generally speaking, if we oppose rightwing protests to the oppressive system we live under, then we are allying ourselves with the left wing of the financial-military-industrial-complex known as the US government. Bundy’s occupation was a threat to the legitimacy of this system’s hold over American lands and people. His occupation came from a white, rightwing perspective, but are such people prohibited from criticizing and protesting the government in the same way that we Natives sometimes do?

While Finicum’s attempts to reach out to Native Americans were clunky and awkward, I can’t help but agree with him:

“It is time to throw off the BIA, and become a completely sovereign independent nation without the overseer-ship of the BIA. It is time for them to stand up and throw off the federal government out of their nations.”

Do we need a white guy to tell us that? No. But we do need allies where we can find them. There is a severe disconnect between the interests of the American people and the interests of the corporations, dynastic billionaires, and bureaucracies that control and use the US government to maintain their power. Should the federal government, the same that took our lands by force, count on Native support when it’s legitimacy is threatened? I hope not.

Posted in Decolonization, Resistance, Sovereignty | 1 Comment

The TPPA is a death sentence for Indigenous Rights

Originally posted on Te Wharepora Hou:Tangata whenua are strongly opposed to the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement which will be held in Auckland in February. The TPPA represents a significant and disruptive challenge to Maori. The New Zealand government has by-passed indigenous involvement at every level. This complete lack of consultation also…

http://shadesofsilence.org/2016/01/08/the-tppa-is-a-death-sentence-for-indigenous-rights/

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Burns Paiute Tribe Says Militia Must Leave Native Land

RED POWER MEDIA

 Burns Paiute Tribal Chairperson Charlotte Rodrique talks to reporters about the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., on Wednesday. Manuel Valdes/AP Burns Paiute Tribal Chairperson Charlotte Rodrique talks to reporters about the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., on Wednesday.
Manuel Valdes/AP

By Red Power Media, Staff

Tribal council’s Sergeant-at-Arms says Bundy’s Militia not wanted 

The leader of an Native American tribe whose ancestral land is being occupied by a small, group of self-styled militiamen, opposed to federal land policy said the occupiers aren’t welcome and must leave.

The Burns Paiute tribe was the latest group to speak outagainst the armed men, who have taken several buildings at a wildlife refuge in Oregon, to protest policies governing the use of federal land in the West.

“The protesters have no right to this land. It belongs to the native people who live here,” tribal leader Charlotte Rodrique said.

Video: The leader of an Oregon Paiute Indian tribe joined the chorus of local residents calling for the armed militia camped out at a…

View original post 652 more words

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Chase Iron Eyes: Should Indians Support Armed Anti-Government Standoff in Oregon?

Chase Iron Eyes has offered up some points and perspective on the armed take over of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Oregon. Many of his points are similar to ones I made during the Nevada stand off in 2014.

Iron Eyes:

On the other hand, it is refreshing to see people committed to protecting the Constitution of the United States and expressing willingness to protect the rights of citizens of this country against the repressive state that imposes its will on Tribal Nations and citizens with its control of the departments used to expropriate & imprison the aforementioned. These people are willing to take up arms as many in the Tribal Nation community say they are willing to do.

If Native Americans and Tribal Nations look past the blatant racist double standard being applied to the armed militia and the racism of at least the Bundys of the Military (Cliven is a known racist) these are potential allies against the oppressive neo-liberal colonization machine. These armed militia-men are those who are protecting your rights as Americans, not necessarily those over-seas in U.S. Military uniform at the behest of the financial-military-industrial-complex and big oil.

Yes! We can play the “who’s more oppressed” game all day long, and completely forget the fact that there is a severe disconnect between the interests of the people of America (be they white, brown or black) and the interests of the “financial-military-industrial-complex and big oil.” This system used white settlers and ranchers as a useful tool to subjugate Indian Country, but the system has since moved on to become a global capitalist machine which has adapted Indian Policy to the Middle East, Central America, South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and any part of the globe that doesn’t bend to it’s will. As it expands it’s power globally it must crush any internal dissent against it’s legitimacy at home. These white settlers have essentially withdrawn their support from the system and refuse to recognize it’s legitimacy. This is a good thing for Native peoples.

The United States, as currently controlled by Too Big to Fail Banks & Finance Conglomerates, Too Big to Fail Oil, Gas, Carbon & ancillary business interests, and other Too Big to Fail Big Money Having Lobby Sects, is considered to already be a fascist state. An oligarchy moving in for the kill on the last freedoms of Constitution-defending Americans. This is tyranny. Those controlling the oligarchy have moved in on our privacy (Edward Snowden exposed that); they are moving in on Americans’ right to oppose the questionable policies of the American Government (the NDAA allows the President to arrest anyone suspected of “terrorism” without any due process protections or defining what terrorism is); they are moving in on Americans’ right to bear arms albeit justified by every school shooting; they have already moved in on Americans’ right to free speech, press and assembly by punishing anyone who calls for real action by inciting others to take action (inciting riots, etc.).

This is the state of affairs we find ourselves lumped into as Native Americans and Tribal Nations and we need as many allies as we can get. Even if the enemy of your enemy is your friend. At the very least prominent Native Americans and Tribal Nations should involve themselves in popular discourse. Can you imagine a completely legit, open-carry, armed, peaceful take-over of the Black Hills? That is in the imagination of many but while we ponder on our keyboards Steve and Dwight Hammond Jr. are set to go back to prison Jan. 4, 2016 for the same helpful controlled burn they already did prison time for.

Iron Eyes is demonstrating here that the United States is largely an enemy of the people, something that 1 out of 4 Americans recognize. Resistance to this neo-liberal system will look different coming from Native people than it does coming from conservative whites or liberal whites.

Just like the occupy movement you had Indians criticizing the name of the movement and refusing to support it online because these immigrant occupiers were not recognizing Indian title to the places they were occupying. At strategic times we have to think of the bigger picture. I cannot sit here and downplay the impact an armed take-over could have if for instance the Paiute people who have original claims to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and much more would join the armed struggle with the militias agreeing to advocate for their claims where there could be agreement.

Iron Eyes lays out a strategy here that is a true threat to the system’s hold on our lands. Too often we make racism our #1 enemy, and side with the greater threat of the United States’ global, corporate oligarchy by criticizing popular dissent that doesn’t come in our favorite flavor. The US is moving away from racism and Manifest Destiny as it’s legitimizing ideology and is attempting to forge a shallow, multicultural identity for all Americans that is conveniently all inclusive now that it has a firm and unchallenged grip on it’s portion of the North American continent.

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Reading Through An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States: Multiculturalism

AnIndigenousPeoplesHistory

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Photo: Vince Rinehart

I’ve finally picked up Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. The book is an attack on the legitimizing ideology and narrative of the United States’s subjugation of the indigenous people of North America. Though I have only just begun reading it, I am familiar with indigenous decolonization efforts and thought. Even in the little I’ve read so far, I am more than impressed with Dunbar-Ortiz’s critique of the founding myths of the US, which attempt to erase the deep and rich history of this continent and the Native peoples who have lived on it for millennia.

As I read through I will be recording some of my thoughts and highlights from the book, both as a way to remember and to analyze what I’ve read. Maybe you’ll find this useful, or maybe it will just be a series of articles that I may reflect on myself.

The Introduction

Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism became the cutting edge of post-civil-rights-movement US history revisionism. For this scheme to work-and affirm US historical progress-Indigenous nations and communities had to be left out of the picture. As territorially and treaty-based peoples in North America, they did not fit the grid of multiculturalism but were included by transforming them into an inchoate oppressed racial group, while colonized Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans were dissolved into another such group, variously called “Hispanic” or Latino.” The multicultural approach emphasized “contributions” of individuals from oppressed groups to the country’s assumed greatness. Indigenous peoples were thus credited with corn, beans, buckskin, log cabins, parkas, maple syrup, canoes, hundreds of place names, Thanksgiving, and even the concepts of democracy and federalism. But this idea of the gift-giving Indian helping to establish and enrich the development of the United States is an insidious smoke screen meant to obscure the fact that the very existence of the oucntry is a result of the looting of an entire continent and its resources. The fundamental unresolved issues of Indigenous lands, treaties, and sovereignty could not but scuttle the premises of multiculturalism.

With multiculturalism, manifest destiny won the day.

pp. 5

I believe that Dunbar-Ortiz has identified a key shift in tactics in the United State’s claim to power and legitimacy. Originally manifest destiny was the belief system which legitimized expansion and colonization of indigenous lands. This fit well with the overarching narrative of the United States: pilgrims and outcasts from Europe escaped to the new world for religious freedom, carved out a living from the soil, threw off their old world tyrants and did God’s will by settling the rest of North America.

Over the past 200 years the US has had to integrate African slaves, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and other Latinos of various nationalities, Native Americans, Chinese, Irish, Italians, and the peoples of hundreds of countries, ethnic groups and religions. Largely in a bid to quell internal dissent and legitimize its rule over this continent and it’s people, the US has revised it’s belief system to include these various groups. This belief system is backwards. In order for it to work we must:

  1. accept out of hand that the US and it’s colonial system are the legitimate rulers of this land and then
  2. convince ourselves that our history and it’s history are not at odds with one another, rationalize the violent occupation of indigenous lands and tell ourselves that the values the US claims to hold justify the predatory means by which it accumulates land, resources and power.

Rejecting this multicultural belief system is an uncomfortable proposition, because it undermines everything that the US has taught us through it’s school and media. Many of us are inclined to vote Democrat, support President Obama, and tell ourselves that the US and it’s democracy are the defenders of human rights in the face of racism and sexism. Still others of us are inclined to vote Republican, serve in the military (because our warriors defend our land, which is within US borders,) and tell ourselves that the US and it’s democracy are the defenders of human rights and all that is good in the world. None of this is true if you reject the assumption that the US and it’s colonial system are legitimate rulers of indigenous lands. Multiculturalism, democracy, unity for the sake of unity and even human rights are among the modern day equivalents of manifest destiny. These are the values and beliefs that the US uses (or co-opts) to legitimize it’s hold on Native lands, hoping that you’ll ignore the past 500 years of injustice. So long as we support any part of the US as the purveyor of these values then we are accepting the legitimizing ideology of a predatory, expansionist empire that started with forts in Indian Country.

Posted in Decolonization, Sovereignty | 2 Comments

Language matters: The alleged disappearance of Áak’w Kwáan, T’aaku Kwáan

From KTOO

What happened to the Áak’w Kwáan and T’aaku Kwáan? Did they all die of disease? Become assimilated? Move away?

A state researcher challenges the modern day, persistent narrative implying that local Tlingits seemed to have just vanished as soon as non-Native settlers arrived in the area.

Anastasia Tarmann with the Alaska State Library and Historical Collections explained her ongoing research during a session at “Sharing our Knowledge” clan conference held recently in Juneau.

“The stories that we tell ourselves, these interpretations, they reinforce or they cultivate relationships,” Tarmann said. “They can make relationships. Or they can just reinforce old messages. … They are our identities. And they also are possibilities.”

Tarmann pointed to recent interpretive signs for the new Brotherhood Bridge and the Auke Village Recreation Area as examples. The wording and the past-tense language implies that the Áak’w Kwáan either moved on from the area or abandoned their winter village early last century.

Tarmann highlighted the Brotherhood Bridge sign: “It says, ‘Although changes in Áak’w Kwáan lifestyle occurred, they continued to live in their traditional homeland.’ That bothers me. I’m sure it bothers you.”
Then, for the Auke Village sign, Tarmann noted: “By 1900, most of the Natives had moved to Juneau to work in the mines, and by 1926 all structural remains of the village were gone.”

“It’s like Áak’w history is a preface to Western history,” Tarmann said.
In Berners Bay, the forest was clear cut by gold miners in the area.
In 1962, Douglas Village Natives were forced from their homes without compensation and the village was burned down while many villagers were at their fish camp on the Taku River. The City of Douglas seized the land for a harbor project.

There’s an old saying that history is written by the victors, or the occupiers. Based on Western ideology and values, Tarmann said it seems that local history really didn’t start until after the United States took possession of the territory and the Gold Rush started. Does morality and virtue really only begin with Western civilization?

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