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anti-racism | indigenous issues

Every radical should probably read this

It would be a step in the right direction if everyone interested in radical politics were to read the essay "I Am Indigenist" by Ward Churchill. At this time the vast majority of non-indigenous activists, social critics, and revolutionary organizations (with a few notable exceptions) still act with little regard to the worlds indigenous populations. This situation MUST change if we hope to build true and lasting justice, anywhere. Even if you are unable to attend an upcoming study group discussion on this important essay, we urge you to find the time to read and consider it.
You can find the complete text of Ward Churchill's essay "I Am Indigenist" here:

"Very often in my writings and lectures, I have identified myself as being "indigenist" in outlook. By this, I mean that I am one who not only takes the rights of indigenous peoples as the highest priority of my political life, but who draws upon the traditions—the bodies of knowledge and corresponding codes of value—evolved over many thousands of years by native peoples the world over. This is the basis upon which I not only advance critiques of, but conceptualize alternatives to the present social, political, economic, and philosophical status quo. In turn, this gives shape not only to the sorts of goals and objectives I pursue, but the kinds of strategy and tactics I advocate, the variety of struggles I tend to support, the nature of the alliances I am inclined to enter into, and so on.

... In my view, those, Indian and non-Indian alike, who do not recognize [the names of even a small sample of the many great Indian leaders, like King Philip and Pontiac, Tecumseh and Creek Mary and Osceola, Black Hawk, Nancy Ward and Satanta, Lone Wolf and Red Cloud, Satank and Quannah Parker, etc.,] and what they represent have no sense of the true history—the reality—of North America. They have no sense of where they've come from or where they are and thus can have no genuine sense of who or what they are. By not looking at where they've come from, they cannot know where they are going or where it is they should go. It follows that they cannot understand what it is they are to do, how to do it, or why. In their confusion, they identify with the wrong people, the wrong things, the wrong tradition. They therefore inevitably pursue the wrong goals and objectives, putting last things first and often forgetting the first things altogether, perpetuating the very structures of oppression and degradation they think they oppose. Obviously, if things are to be changed for the better in this world, then this particular problem must itself be changed as a matter of first priority.

... when indigenist movements like the American Indian Movement advance slogans like "U.S. Out of North America," non-Indian radicals should not react defensively. They should cheer. They should see what they might do to help. When they respond defensively to sentiments like those expressed by AIM, what they are ultimately defending is the very government, the very order they claim to oppose so resolutely. And if they manifest this contradiction often enough, consistently enough, pathologically enough, then we have no alternative but to take them at their word: that they really are at some deep level or another aligned, all protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, with the mentality that endorses our permanent dispossession and disenfranchisement, our continuing oppression, our ultimate genocidal obliteration as self-defining and self-determining peoples. In other words, they make themselves part of the problem rather than becoming part of the solution."

These are just a few sections taken from the seminal essay by Ward Churchill.

You are cordially invited to attend a group discussion of this piece. All you have to do is read it, and then come ready to speak your mind. We do ask that you come up with at least 2 questions regarding the piece in order to move the discussion along.

Who is the group hosting this discussion? We are a small group of indigenous and non-indigenous individuals interested in promoting indigenism as a body of ideas and sentiments that can alleviate many of the ongoing injustices here and around the world, injustices that many contemporary radical groups still tend to overlook or are unable to offer coherent responses to.

Who should be interested in indigenism? EVERYONE who is interested in building justice. Everyone who benefits from the occupation of indigenous territory has a responsibility to help deconstruct the systems of privilege that currently dominate, and to replace them with truly just relationships. In order for communities and individuals to see the full history of systems of privilege clearly, and to deal with them correctly, an indigenist understanding must be grasped. This is just as true for people living in Europe, "as is evidenced by the ongoing struggles of the Irish, Welsh, Basques and others to free themselves from the yoke of settler-state oppression imposed upon them as long as 800 years ago," or other parts of the world, as it is for people living here in the Americas.

Discussion details:
November 22nd, 2009 @ 3PM
Piedmont Deli
441 N Killingsworth

Once again, even if you are unable to attend the discussion, we urge you to read this piece. View it with a critical lens, disagree with parts or the whole thing if need be, you don't even have to like Ward Churchill as an individual, but consider the ideas presented. Pass it on once you're done.

You can find the complete text of Ward Churchill's essay "I Am Indigenist" here:

address: address: 441 North Killingsworth Street

Discussion group change of info 15.Nov.2009 18:47


The discussion group will in fact be meeting at 4:00 pm, NOT at 3 as was earlier written. Sorry for the inconvenience!