The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protest has turn into a matter of debate in Indian country. Some have selected to be included under the slogan “We Are The 99%” others, like me, have not. Many of these who assistance OWS have come up with their personal slogan: “Decolonize Wall Street.” But I just don’t believe that the indigenous nations on Turtle Island are a part of that 99% equation, let alone that the OWS movement is about decolonization.
One particular protester, Brendan Burke, stated: “Everybody has this issue. White, black.Wealthy or poor. Exactly where you reside. Everybody has a financial inequity oppressing them.”
I assume from his statement that Burke only sees items in white and black. Apparently he is colour blind when it comes to red and brown.
As far as economic inequity is concerned, we, the red and the brown peoples of the Americas, have suffered economic inequity ever since the oppressors first invaded our shores. Socio-economic inequity began with the subjugation of our lands by way of treaties. Annuity payments were late and never ever the amount negotiated under the treaty. Supplies and meals rations that had been component of annuity payments had been typically appropriated by Indian agents and resold for larger costs.
The tragedy at Gaa-mitaawangaagamaag (Sandy Lake) exemplifies the socio-economic inequity of annuity payments. In the fall of 1850, nineteen Anishinaabeg bands from Wisconsin journeyed to Gaa-mitaawangaagamaag for annual annuity payments and supplies. The annuity payments and supplies were late and the folks had to wait till early December prior to they received restricted sums of cash and available supplies. Attempting to survive on spoiled and inadequate government rations whilst waiting for the annuities, 150 Anishinaabeg individuals died from dysentery and measles at Gaa-mitaawangaagamaag. Two-hundred and fifty more, largely girls, children and elders, died on their way back property to Wisconsin. This is but one instance of the financial inequity that has been portion of the indigenous knowledge in the United States.
OWS organizers have repeatedly stated the inspiration for their protest is the Arab Spring movement. If this is the case, one could ask how did the indigenous peoples of the Middle East fare from the Arab Spring?
In September 2011, Daniel Gabriel, the SUA Human Rights and UN NGO Director, stated: “While the media focuses all its energy on the Palestinian search for Statehood and the ‘Arab Spring’, it is the decreased indigenous populations of the Middle East who continue to drop out. Time and time once again, the planet demands justice, democracy and freedom in the Middle East, but it fails in its obligation to demand the very same for the minority groups like the Arameans. Nowadays we barely survive in our homeland. But tomorrow we may possibly silently vanish from existence.”
If Arab Spring didn’t flourish for indigenous peoples in the Middle East, how can we expect it to flourish right here? If the indigenous peoples in the Middle East are barely surviving in their homelands, can we count on the Arab Spring inspired movement on Wall Street to lessen the oppression in our homelands? Will the actions on Wall Street abate our youth crisis, our teen suicide rate, our domestic and sexual abuse, or our alcohol and substance abuse in Indian Country? Will it heal our broken families and communities? Will Wall Street quit the rape and plunder of Mother Earth by the mining, oil and power interests? Will it halt the ecocide, ethnocide, linguicide, and genocide of the indigenous peoples in North America? If Gabriel’s words offer any insight, then our historical trauma will not lessen but increase. It will boost in the present generation to the Seventh Generation–and beyond.
Then there is the matter of decolonization. The question is: the decolonization of what, of whom? How can decolonization be a part of the procedure if the occupiers are occupying occupied land?
The dominance of a white majority involved with the OWS movement explains why decolonization isn’t integrated in the proposed list of demands issued on September three. The list of demands consists of
* Separate Investment Banking from Commercial Banks
* Use Congressional authority to prosecute the Wall Street criminals accountable for 2008 crisis
* Cap the capacity of corporations to contribute to political campaigns
* Congress pass the Buffett Rule, i.e., fair taxation of the wealthy and corporations
* Revamping Securities and Exchange Commission
* Pass effective law to limit the influence of lobbyists
* Pass law prohibiting former regulators to join corporations later.
Exactly where in this proposed list of demands is there something remotely connected to decolonization? At its core, OWS is about corporate greed, financial accountability, and financial inequity. It really is about a alter in the system, although, as Gabriel points out, an Arab Spring does not bring change to the voices of the indigenous. If change is the basic tenant of the OWS movement, then this change should not be the exclusion of indigenous populations in the United States, rather, alter ought to be inclusive.
The OWS movement is, at the present time, about cash. The core message appears to be that corporate America and the wealthy need to have to share the profits. But the query is: How are these profits created? The income of the wealthy are created via the industries they personal. These industries fuel and generate income. And they create jobs and programs.
The mining, oil, and power industries create massive income. Those income come at a price to Indian nation, to say nothing of the atmosphere in basic. The new Indian Wars are about the opposition to ecocidal legislative policies and industries that endanger our homelands and our Mother Earth. Component of the struggle is attempting to rise above the marginalization that started with colonization and continues by means of the corporate policies of the mining, oil, and power industries.
According to Belinda Morris, “Marginalization is as a lot a result of colonialism as it is corporatism. One is social, the other financial. From the indigenous standpoint … the struggle does not and cannot exist in a vacuum, it have to not permit itself to be subsumed by a movement that, to date, has shown small–if any–recognition of it, let alone respect for it.”
As evidenced by their proposed list of demands, the OWS movement has no intentions of recognizing indigenous concerns or demarginalizing indigenous peoples in the United States. And that is simply because the mindset of the majority of occupiers is an intergenerational extension of a colonized mindset. In her Foreword to The New Resource Wars, Winona LaDuke offers insight into the colonized mindset. Regarding “Industrial society, or as some get in touch with it, ‘settler society,'” LaDuke writes:
“In industrial society, ‘man’s dominion more than nature,’ has preempted the perception of Natural Law as central. Linear concepts of ‘progress’ dominate this worldview. From this perception of ‘progress’ as an important element of societal improvement comes the perception of the natural planet as a wilderness. This, of course, is the philosophical underpinning of colonialism and ‘conquest.'”
This way of pondering is also present in scientific systems of believed like ‘Darwinism,’ as well as in social interpretations of human behavior such as ‘Manifest Destiny,’ with its belief in some god-ordained correct of some humans to dominate the earth. These ideas are central to the … present state of relations among native and settler in North America and elsewhere.”
The “settler society” that LaDuke refers to is not from the historical previous. It is present in non-indigenous society today. It is the mentality of this “settler society” permeating the mindset of the OWS movement. Their demands aren’t about decolonization. Rather, their demands are about wanting a share of the earnings, earnings that come from the rape and plunder of the earth and our indigenous homelands.
This isn’t to say that the OWS movement lacks merit. Financial inequities, corporate greed, the mortgage crisis, the unequal distribution of wealth are reputable issues. But these concerns have absolutely nothing to do with decolonization no environmental justice. As such, the 99% slogan is not inclusive of the myriad of environmental troubles that plague both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in the United States.
Wendy Makoons Geniusz writes: “Simply because of the colonization process, many of us no longer see the strength of our indigenous knowledge. Our minds have been colonized along with our land, sources, men and women. For us Anishinaabeg, the decolonization of gikendaasowin (Anishinaabe knowledge) is also part of the decolonization of ourselves.”
Geniusz points out that biskaabiiyang implies to “to return to ourselves, to decolonize ourselves.”
For several of us, biskaabiiyang is a lifelong approach. It is a journey to heal our traumatized inner spirit of the historical previous and the historical present. For many of us, our involvement in the struggles that our communities and our homelands face is a element of that healing journey. From this prism, the Occupy movement can be viewed as recognizing the national trauma endured under Corporate America. But it is not about the biskaabiiyang of the American individuals. Rather, it’s about the collusion of corporations and the government to maintain us under the yoke of economic inequity and the public’s demand for reformation of a corrupt capitalist technique that has infested the planet under the umbrella of globalization. And it is the reformation of this system that has led to the present movement of folks on the streets of America.
Even so, ought to any sort of reformation happen, indigenous peoples will undoubtedly continue to be marginalized and their organic sources exploited. And, as ahead of, we will continue our struggles in the shadows of democracy.
We will want to do this lest we silently vanish from existence.