Idle No More: an open source tribal insurgency

The Globe and Mail reports that the Idle No More protests are growing beyond the control of Indian Act Chiefs in Canada as the movement has gone viral across Indian Country; to the US and beyond.

The Idle No More movement is broadening into a call to shake off apathy, absorbing a range of issues from aboriginal rights and environmental safeguards to the democratic process. And as it swells, organizers are warning first nations leaders that the movement will not be corralled by aboriginal politicians even as the country’s chiefs look to use the protests’ momentum to press Ottawa on treaty rights and improved living standards.

If this is the case then as far as I’m concerned everything is going according to plan! Directing Indians is like herding cats. The very essence of tribalism is that we are decentralized, autonomous, networked units. The Indian Act Chiefs trying to negotiate with Harper are like the colorful headmen of the plains wars who would broker token peace deals with the whites while the real leaders of Native resistance carried on with their raids. That’s the beauty of traditional Native social and political organizational models. You can’t decapitate a clan by killing the clan leader. You can’t buy off the chief because he doesn’t own anything to sell. You can only try to usurp it by setting up a phony western style “tribal” government. As I wrote in my article, The Tribal Organizational Model and Open Source Insurgency:

In a tribal organization, there is no hierarchy. There are common bonds and known leaders, but leadership is based on an individuals ability to move the tribe toward its goals, it is not based on a bureaucratic title or privilege. An example of this is found in the history of the Comanche and the wars on the Great Plains. Among the Comanche bands, war chiefs were not appointed, they were discovered. War parties were not commanded and directed, they were led by example.

The Omnibus Bill in Canada is important for Indigenous people to know about, but it is only one spark in a long history of fires that have burning low in Indian Country for decades, if not centuries. This is about being Indigenous in the lands we are indigenous to; in lands where we are sometimes made to feel unwelcome. This is a tribal insurgency against colonization, and each clan, band, tribe, house, click, gang, & family will fight on their own terms, according to their own tactics, following the leaders they choose to follow. That is what makes tribal insurgencies unstoppable.

Lastly, here’s John Robb on Open Source Leadership and Protest:


Real Open Source Leadership

It's important to understand that open source movements do have leaders.  But these leaders operate differently than the leaders we are used to seeing.  To understand this better, here's something that I wrote up about the Egyptian open source protest back in January.  It applies to the Occupy movement as well:

Open source protests are composed of people with very different views of the world brought together by a single achievable idea. In Egypt's case, that's the removal of Mubarak. Unfortunately, as a result of this diversity of views, open source protests are messy. Nobody is formally in charge.

However, this DOESN'T mean they aren't any leaders in the protest. In fact, there are lots. The extent that anyone is a leader in a open protest like Egypt's is based on:

Does the leader provide ways to move the protest forward, towards completing its goal?

Do they provide good innovations and great examples of what to do?

How closely does the leader's stay to the protest's goal? If that is what they focus on, they gain stature. IF their goals begin to grow and become more detailed (ideological), they lose support.

Do leaders coach or command? If they coach, they gain support. If they command, they lose it. If they attempt to seize control, the protest will turn on them.

What this means is that leaders can emerge in Egypt's protest. They offer the chance to break the stalemate brought on by Mubarak's survival strategy.  

So. when does an open soruce protest reject a leader?

When a leader attempts to fork the protest, by trying to lead it towards an agenda or policy or politics only they care about, they should be ignored/rejected/blocked.


About Vince

I am a Tlingit, born and raised in Tlingit Country, and a proud member of the Tlingit Nation.
This entry was posted in activisim, Building a Tlingit Nation, Decolonization. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Idle No More: an open source tribal insurgency

  1. Vince says:

    Reblogged this on American Indian/Alaska Native – Attack The System and commented:

    I’m focusing on my other site, Lingit Latseen. This one will stay up, but my efforts need to be more focused. I’ll still be posting and writing the same sort of articles and reposting here at AI/AN Attack The System from time to time. Thanks.


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