Listening to Indigenous Voices

Beyond the Barricades stands in solidarity with indigenous communities fighting the theft and destruction of their lands and culture. The following account, originally posted by the ACAC19 Support Committee, describes a recent event organized by the committee. The event highlighted the stories, experiences, and songs of local and regional indigenous organizers engaged in struggle against land development and displacement as well as surveillance and policing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Tuesday February 19, the support committee of the Anti-Capitalist Anti Colonial 19 hosted “Decolonizing the New World Means Listening to Indigenous Voices” at the Holdout Social Center in Oakland. Local and regional indigenous leaders shared stories and information about their struggles to maintain control over their historical lands, which continue to be threatened by capitalist and colonial endeavors.

After an opening prayer by Corrina Gould, Desirae Harp from SNAG Magazine made it clear that in the struggle to protect sacred sites we must remember that everything is sacred, and that all land is indigenous land.  This paradigm recurred throughout the evening, as all speakers emphasized the colonial project is antithetical to an ecologically sustainable society.

Michelle Steinberg’s recent film titled “Buried Voices” highlighted how the East Bay Regional Park District is ignoring the efforts of Ohlone, Miwok and Yokut peoples to protect Brushy Peak, a sacred place that is a part of their origin stories. Despite ongoing demands by native people and allies, the park district continues to allow people to hike, bike and walk dogs throughout this sacred space. By labeling the native community a “special interest group,” the district has imposed a racist construct of native communities, which has led to the destruction of mortars and has relegated their story to phony interpretative signage. Such a designation and unwillingness to place native needs at the forefront of land-use decisions reinforces the white supremacist narrative and shows the level of obfuscation and lies used to maintain state hegemony.

Wounded Knee DeOcampo and Corrina Gould also shared information about the struggle to protect other sacred spaces such as, Sogorea Te and Rattlesnake Island in the Greater Bay Area.  They urged people to get involved and to support those struggles over native access to sacred ceremonial spaces.

The event then shifted to make space for voices from Diné and O’odham lands in Arizona. Norman Benally shared the stories of his elders on Black Mesa who have been fighting coal mining and its subsequent ecocide on the Diné community. Lastly, O’odham youth from their reservation along the Mexico-US border and the Phoenix area shared their ongoing organizing against the border patrol and Loop 202 freeway development. They highlighted the traitors within their nation who have created capitalist enterprises, which support the freeway development through the O’odham community. The use of bribes and other capitalist gimmicks to eliminate community autonomy over the land illustrates the immense challenges that come with struggles over land and resources.

But these tactics aren’t new: For centuries, settler-colonists have used divide and conquer to assimilate native peoples into the mainstream capitalist consumption culture. Nonetheless, there are still those who resist and see through the hollow masquerade of capitalist glitz. At the end of the night, this was made clear as the native hip hop group Shining Soul demonstrated that the culture we create at the grassroots and nurture in resistance is much more compelling than the culture of capital.

The voices from the event show that solidarity with indigenous resistance is tantamount to anti-capitalist organizing in the Bay Area and beyond. Native lands are continually being swallowed by the state to make profit for the ruling class. The indigenous relationship to the land is in direct opposition to private property, and as such should be an example for those struggling to pre-figure a society without borders and profits.

The ACAC 19 support committee hopes that this event leads to a more organized solidarity network for indigenous resistance. Please come out for a follow-up discussion and meeting on Thursday, February 28 7:30pm, at the Holdout.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s