portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary oregon & cascadia

green scare


Looking for convincive argument on why I should support Josh Harper.
I am an Indian woman. I am native to the americas.

In May of 1999, Josh Harper was part of the eco-colonial brigade that came to Neah Bay to sabotage the the Makah rite/right to return to traditional whale hunting. As so many times before in our history, we were forced to watch as the ghosts of the Seventh Calvary rode the waves of our waters just as Custer onc galloped the hills and valleys of Indian land to take us to slaughter.

When I look back on the ugly resistance and harrassment that white folks brought to Peninsula Bay that year and read about how tomorrow's June 4 benefit will touch on topics of "recent repression and making it through seemingly dark times," my heart hurts with so much anger that I actually have to laugh.

RECENT repression? Sit with me a minute and let me tell you something about repression. A kind of repression dating back oh, must be over 500 years now. And "dark times?" Hey, how much time do you have? I got a few stories about very dark times indeed.

Here's the thing; I would very much like to understand why I should respect or support Josh Harper or respect or support any coalition of support for Josh Harper. I would really like to understand why I should support a young man who helped bring the nightmare of repression and dark times back all over again for the Makah.

And at your gathering tomorrow, I would like to ask that you all take a look around and see how many people of color are among you. And if you count only a very few, I would like to ask that you ask yourselves why this is. And this time, I would like to ask that you not only ask the question, but actually find an ANSWER among your selves to this question.

Mitikuye Oyasin

Thank you for speaking 04.Jun.2006 02:38


Though I have no idea of what your anger must feel like, I recognize that you feel anger. I recognize also that i don't know how it is for you to live with, when the force of personal and cultural survival in you continues past pressures I can only imagine.

My experience of myself is of a person, full-grown, who is an infant in the ways of contributing and honoring, who woke in fear to the knowledge that I was, by culture and by passive practice, a species and culture murderer. I woke in fear and swung my fists around and because I was full grown i hurt many people.

At least now I am awake, though then the consciousness of hurting people has at times been so new and hard that i've tried to shut it out. But then I go back to sleep, and hurt more people, and am only very slowly and painfully learning to wake up and act out of a well beyond fear. To recognize that people can be awake yet not so loud or forceful about it. And even today, the thought of all I've broken at times overwhelms me & the drowsiness kicks in.

If I were the person on the other side of my actions, i would probably act more furiously and bitterly than you are acting now.

How can I awake, how can people like Josh awake, and act in a different way?

That's right, you did tell us 04.Jun.2006 02:41


On rereading, that became clear.

So - to others reading this - careful reading and rereading of this post before repsonding might be a good place to start!

I support Josh Harper because... 04.Jun.2006 02:52


...he's not the kind of politically correct moron who would refuse to protest the violent killings of animals just because those killing are being carried out by non-whites. It's absolutely bullshit to suggest that non-whites should be allowed to do whatever they want to animals, and that anyone who opposes animal exploitation done by a non-white is automatically some kind of colonialist oppressor. I'm a honky, and my interpretation of fighting racism and oppression in my own life does not include fetishizing native people as perfect, which all too many silly liberals like to do as a part of their own white guilt trips.

a few thoughts / clarification 04.Jun.2006 04:14


Mitikuye -

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I'm not trying to speak for event organizers here; the perspectives here are solely my own.

The June 4 benefit is not a Josh Harper support benefit, although a video featuring footage of Josh will be shown. There is a clear difference between discussing the Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty prosecution (for more info, see www.shac7.com) and agreeing with every action Josh has ever taken. To the best of my knowledge, the June 4 event takes no stance on the protests against Makah whaling, although personally I've expressed disagreement with Josh on this matter. I support Josh wholeheartedly against the state, however, and consider the campaign against SHAC activists to be total crap.

Yes, the government repression against modern eco-radicals is recent compared to a much longer and bloodier campaign against indigenous peoples. For me, the best idea would seem to be to connect struggles and to foster ongoing dialogue. There is a history of slaughter as long as civilization itself, and we all desperately need to build some sort of sane, sustainable alternative to the world as it is now. Indigenous communities have a lot to teach in this regard. Indigenous struggles certainly deserve practical, material support. I would hope for a strong anti-colonial presence at the June 4 event. I believe that healthy criticism and solidarity are not always mutually exclusive; they can even compliment each other. Perhaps at the benefit event, some of us can begin a real discussion.


look behind the "indigenous whale hunt" 04.Jun.2006 08:30


and you see a corporation bent on making money. look past your racism all of you, and give up your reactionary saw.

The whale hunt defining a people is just as destructive as loggers intent on cutting down every last tree because that's "what they do."

NIce try 04.Jun.2006 09:33

I support the whale tribe

Please recall that the Makah were going out in speed boats, with harpoon guns to kill the whales. Nothing traditional or sacred about it.

Frankly, I think the original post is a deliberate attempt to divide and destroy the movement.

Not that simple. 04.Jun.2006 10:56

Food Fight! Vegan Grocery info@foodfightgrocery.com

Sorry to restate this, but just because something cruel is part of an oppressed people's culture, doesn't make it off-limits to protest. Parts of "culture", whether that culture has been/is oppressed or not, should always be open to criticism. Josh's actions during the whale hunt were not motivated by who was doing the hunting, they were motivated by the hunt itself.

Not that I'm saying I don't see why somebody would get offended in this case, especially if they see no real problem with whale hunting, but I just think you need to look at the motivation of the protest before branding somebody a rascist or eco-colonialist or whatever the term of the day is.

So... there goes my two-cents worth of input.

The whale hunt: 04.Jun.2006 11:09


It was cooked up by Tokyo businessmen, and the World Council of Whalers, run by Japan and Norway, who provided money to the tribe. It was a fucking BUSINESS venture. A Makah woman who opposed the hunt was harassed and fired from her job by Japan's supporters in the tribe, whom, she believes, also harassed her grandson and killed her dog. She describes men dancing on the whale after the hunt while the whale is still alive, carving the whale up with chainsaws, and leaving half the carcass to rot. The woman reported that there was nothing sacred or traditional about the kill, and that her ancestors would have been horrified by it.

So, why should anyone in the US support Josh Harper? Because the old saw is, even if you don't agree with the content of someone's speech (i.e., in this case, the original poster could probably give a shit about the animals in labs who Josh fought for), you defend the right to have that speech protected. This is a pure speech case. Or your speech could become illegal next. You may lose the right to post whiny diatribes about the pathetic and cruel actions of the greedy Makah tribe on the internet.

Ghosts of Custer? 04.Jun.2006 23:34


Maybe the ghosts you saw were the Coast Gaurd, sheriffs, FBI, and JTTF agents who arrested Josh on the water. Repression? Your side had all the guns AND the support of the government. Racism? The treaty right you cite was negotiated because the Makah tribe were the last slave holders in america. History? The Makah never traditionally hunted greys. My money is going to Josh.

Whale hunt is bogus. 05.Jun.2006 19:48


The killing of whales is unneccesary to human life, be it white or native american. Thus it is killing for pleasure--you may call it tradition, but it still boils down to killing for pleasure. And that is worth protesting against. Josh and the others were protesting the actions of the Makah not their race. Please don't confuse things by playing the race card.
Besides, as others have pointed out the Makah never hunted grey whales and the actual reasons for the hunt are bogus. If anything the Makah are being used and exploited by the whaling industry.
Time to wake up. I'm a person of color and I support Josh. He's a righteous dude.

Many Makah Opposed the Hunt 05.Jun.2006 22:56


And the debate goes on in Neah Bay. Many spoke out and said it was time for Makah people to protect the whales, because the whales have given them so much. I'm glad no more whales have been killed.
I didn't go to stop the hunt with Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd. That's because I felt that by interfering we would be stirring up the anger of people who've been bullied by whites for generations. It would just muddy the waters - this is a discussion the Makah need to have for themselves, and white people should stay out of it.
Besides which, the Makah kicked Paul Watson's ass. That was some anger, all right.

I don't agree that white people should 06.Jun.2006 01:20


stay out of it, if it means protecting an innocent life. If an animal is getting brutalized by a race other than your own, that doesn't make it any more o.k. to stand back and do nothing. My protection goes to the being who is suffering most, and is most helpless to speak up for itself, and in this case it is the whale. You're using the "cultural relativism" argument. But for issues that are deemed important (read: not animal welfare), that always falls through. For Apartheid, few people said, Aw, let the South African people handle it themselves - even though there were black people who were against the sanctions argued for in the West. People saw an injustice, and they tried to stop it. Did you also miss that this was an economic opportunity created by the Japanese, and that the Makah had several governments on their side? There was only ONE being who had no choice in this whole mess: the animal who was stomped on while taking her last sorry breaths on this earth.

my "heart hurts"... 06.Jun.2006 09:35


...every time i hear an oppressed group rationalize their own oppression of others. how is it possible that people can be so blind and selfish?

Jimmy "Red" Erikson 06.Jun.2006 16:10

Ancestral Rite My Ass

Mitikuye I feel you sister. My heart aches like yours. My ancestors were Vikings. It was the tradition of my people to rape and pillage. Yet I am no longer allowed to partake in my ancestral right/rite. Oh, I feel so oppressed. I feel like crying.

Hold on a second here, 06.Jun.2006 20:16


I feel that the original post by Mitikuye has some very important points in it. I feel that she expresses a genuine desire to know why she "should respect or support Josh Harper or respect or support any coalition of support for Josh Harper." Instead of providing many answers, look at what this post has become! A lot of people tearing apart the Makah whale hunt, and little else. Whether or not you agree with the situation of the whale hunt, there are some serious things to think about that Mitikuye is trying to get across.
To reprint:

"And at your gathering tomorrow, I would like to ask that you all take a look around and see how many people of color are among you. And if you count only a very few, I would like to ask that you ask yourselves why this is. And this time, I would like to ask that you not only ask the question, but actually find an ANSWER among your selves to this question."

As much as I support the animal rights, ecological justice, anti-civilization movements, etc., it is an undeniable fact that in North America, most of the people involved in these activities are white people. That is not a criticism, but just a fact. Mitikuye asks something that I have been thinking of for a long time - why is it that for the most part, people and organizations in these movements have not yet found common ground with which to form more alliances with marginalized people? Certainly there are exceptions, there are many groups of non-Native people who are involved in indigenous solidarity work, in linking ecological justice with struggles against racism, classism, and sexism, and certainly bringing down civilization would be doing all oppressed people a favour.
But if this message board is the best we can do as a community to honour someone's very important request to engage in a critical questioning, then we should expect to see a continued seperation, if not antagonism, between different parts of the resistance.
We need to ask ourselves some very hard questions. The greatest growth does not come easy, and anyone who has been called on their privilege knows that while it's a hard thing to do, it's extremely worthwhile to face those tough questions.
All I know is that in my community, I don't know any people of colour who are into supporting movements for veganism, animal rights, and very few for environmental issues. The issues that people of colour do organize around are racism, indigenous land rights, food security, abuse from landlords and the welfare system, police brutality, poverty, etc. There are so many ways we can link our struggles, and this requires relationships of trust... and relationships of trust take time to develop.
These are just a few thoughts.

on 'recent repression' 06.Jun.2006 20:26

working on decolonization

I myself as a white male must admit that when I learn about the Green Scare, the SHAC7 guilty verdict, and other repression directed towards white activists, I get pretty freaked out and get to thinking that huge changes are in the air. And huge changes are in the air, no doubt, but I find it very humbling to be reminded of the fact that the repression I see eventually being directed towards me is no new repression, but up to now I have not had to worry about it.
A while ago I was explaining to a friend about my fears of concentration camps being used in the future to eliminate dissent. And she reminded me, 'but concentration camps are already being used - look at the racial dynamics of the prison industry, and reservations in North America.'
And when I think about white activists being framed for stuff and jailed for such long times, I think of all the Middle Eastern people who are jailed on no charges and deported to countries where they disappear. This, if anything, should let us know that we absolutely need to find ways to work respectfully and non-hierarchically with those who have been facing oppression for so much longer. We have lots to learn!

I think people who are 06.Jun.2006 21:10


historically oppressed sometimes have trouble seeing themselves as not just victims, but perpetrators. I think that is the biggest reason why the animal rights message does not get through to people who are entrenched in fighting their own oppression. No one needs whitey to tell them to stop hurting animals, to bring them into the fold. One need only look at one's own actions that express power and dominance over those who are helpless relative to themselves. It is very difficult for anyone to come to terms with the idea that, as far as farm and lab and fur (etc.) animals are concerned - we humans are all the slaveholders and SS men. Even those humans who have a history of oppression. It is very difficult for people to value the lives of animals - so much so that even by my making a human comparison with the depths of what animals face, many people will turn from it, and be defensive about it, without looking at the facts. Well, look at the facts:

To value and stop the oppression of animals requires changing your own life and habits, something that most people don't really want to do. Is the original poster a vegan? Does she eat factory farmed meat? Is she willing to look at herself, as she asks others to look at themselves? Where is she - why didn't she come back here to have a dialogue with some who might be willing?