Representing the Native Presence in the "Occupy Wall Street" Narrative

October 12, 2011 — 140 Comments

I have yet to feel connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement, or even the Occupy Boston movement happening here in my backyard. I consider myself an activist, an at-times radical, and I clearly feel passionately about advocating for voices unheard and on the margins. But, Occupy Wall Street hasn’t appealed to me. There has been a lot of coverage as to why people of color, and Natives in particular, are having mixed emotions about this whole movement–and I agree with a lot of those sentiments. But I even have issues with the language and images being used to represent the Native presence in the movement. I’m not easily pleased, apparently.

Jess Yee (who I’m obsessed with) wrote a fabulous piece for Racialicious pointing out the inherent issues with calling the movements “Occupy….”, namely, that, oh, these lands are ALREADY OCCUPIED and sites of ongoing colonialism. She quotes John Paul Montano, an Anishinabe writer and his open letter to the “occupiers”:

I hope you would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you – that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. I had hoped mention would be made of the indigenous nation whose land that is. I had hoped that you would address the centuries-long history that we indigenous peoples of this continent have endured being subject to the countless ‘-isms’ of do-gooders claiming to be building a “more just society,” a “better world,” a “land of freedom” on top of our indigenous societies, on our indigenous lands, while destroying and/or ignoring our ways of life. I had hoped that you would acknowledge that, since you are settlers on indigenous land, you need and want our indigenous consent to your building anything on our land – never mind an entire society.

I agree completely. But, being the person that I am, I also feel the need to deconstruct images and language–I’ve got a critical filter that can’t be turned off. So let’s look at the image above, the one that’s being widely used to “complicate” the Occupy Wall Street narrative.

This image (which I can’t find the original source for, so please send it over if anyone knows), was shared far and wide on Facebook, and even made it to the Indian Country Today article that quotes Jess’s piece. From my ventures around the internets, this seems to be “the” image used to push back on the narratives of colonialism in the OWS movement.

But, in my opinion, this image only serves to further stereotype Native people and present mis-information about the land which is currently being double-occupied. We’ve got the red and black motif, the Edward Curtis stoic Indian warrior with the eagle feather and buckskin–who’s clearly from a Plains community, with a buffalo, an arrowhead, and a red power fist. Reads like a list of “10 things to include to make it recognizably Indian.”

Yes it acknowledges Wall St. is on “occupied Algonquin land”–but one problem: Manhattan is Lenape land. So we’ve got the stereotypical Plains imagery to represent a movement that is taking place on the East Coast. Everyone already forgets that there are Nations and Indigenous Peoples in the East, and this just continues to marginalize and erase their ongoing presence in their homelands.

Luckily, I’ve come across some posters that do a better job at representing the issue:

This at least has a Lenape woman (Jennie Bob, picture from 1915), and I like that the message is clear at the bottom: “Occupied since 1625″–because, let’s be honest, I really don’t think a lot of non-Native people even know what “decolonize” means, which makes it easier for them to dismiss the underlying issues. But, it’s still a historic photo, which could be argued puts the issue in the past. I still like it way more than the original (again, if you know the source, let me know).

 

This poster comes from Oakland, and I like the juxtaposition of the current Oakland skyline with the Ohlone tribal member. No Plains warrior here.

I want to end with pointing out that not all of the “Occupy” movements have marginalized Native peoples and ignored legacies of colonialism. Occupy Denver has taken a bold stance, incorporating a 10 point platform from the Denver American Indian Movement into the overall message of the movement. The points can be read in full here, but here is an expert from the intro:

 If this movement is serious about confronting the foundational assumptions of the current U.S. system, then it must begin by addressing the original crimes of the U.S. colonizing system against indigenous nations. Without addressing justice for indigenous peoples, there can never be a genuine movement for justice and equality in the United States. Toward that end, we challenge Occupy Denver to take the lead, and to be the first “Occupy” city to integrate into its philosophy, a set of values that respects the rights of indigenous peoples, and that recognizes the importance of employing indigenous visions and models in restoring environmental, social, cultural, economic and political health to our homeland.

Lulululu’s to that.  If every “Occupy” City began with that foundation, I sure as heck would be out there with my signs and warrior-activist attitude. But you know I’d be breaking up some faux-”Indian” drum groups along the way. Appreciation without appropriation, folks! geez.

So what do you think? Is it more important to disrupt the narrative with images that non-Native folks already recognize and resonate with? or are the images like the “Decolonize” poster doing more harm than good? And what do you think about Occupy Denver?

Awesome articles you should read:

Racialicous: Decolonization and Occupy Wall Street
Racialicous: Occupy Wall Street: The Game of Colonialism (Jessica Yee’s article)
John Paul Montano: An Open Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Protesters
Unsettling America: Decolonize Wall Street
Tequila Sovereign: Manna-hata (Info about the Lenape history of Manhattan)
Indian Country Today: Indians Counter Occupy Wall Street Movement with Decolonize Wall Street
Indian Country Today: Why I’m Occupying Wall Street
Press TV: Indigenizing Occupy Wall Street (about Occupy Denver)
Occupy Denver: An Indigenous Platform for Occupy Denver (AIM’s 10 Points)

(Thanks to Kannon, who was the first one to point out to me that the Decolonize Wall Street poster was problematic.)

Adrienne K.

Posts

  • Jillian

    Thank you for this critique – it is much needed.
    The “Decolonize the 99%” poster is by Ernesto Yerena. http://ernestoyerena.tumblr.com/post/10922151725/decolonize-wallstreet-now-before-the-dutch

  • Jillian

    Thank you for this critique – it is much needed.
    The “Decolonize the 99%” poster is by Ernesto Yerena. http://ernestoyerena.tumblr.com/post/10922151725/decolonize-wallstreet-now-before-the-dutch

  • tim argetsinger

    i think the sitting bull poster comes from here: http://www.dignidadrebelde.com/

    • crawl

      It’s from Ernesto Yerena. His email (please email him to correct the harmful misinformation) is orders@hechoconganas.com

  • tim argetsinger

    i think the sitting bull poster comes from here: http://www.dignidadrebelde.com/

  • http://twitter.com/jpmontano JohnPaul Montano

    Outstanding article, Adrienne! Your insightful critique educates me further.

    Thank you so much for mentioning my Open Letter. :)

    You mention: “I have yet to feel connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement, or even the Occupy Boston movement happening here in my backyard.” I’d be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on that topic; on October 8, 2011, in response to my Open Letter, Occupy Boston issued this statement:

    Occupy Boston Ratifies Memorandum of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples (October 8, 2011): http://occupyboston.com/2011/10/09/occupy-boston-ratifies-memorandum-of-solidarity-with-indigenous-peoples/

    Personally, I find the Memorandum to be quite a hopeful move on the part of Occupy Boston: http://mzzainal-straten.blogspot.com/2011/09/open-letter-to-occupy-wall-street.html?showComment=1318268578765#c5385359400370840078

    Thank you for the ‘Take Back Wall Street: Occupied Since 1625′ poster and its wonderfully clear message.

    Miigwechwendmowin! (“Gratitude!”)

    JohnPaul Montano
    http://twitter.com/jpmontano

    • Adrienne_K

      Thanks JohnPaul, I hadn’t seen the Occupy Boston memorandum, and that actually makes me very hopeful! Also thank you for being a voice on these issues, your open letter has been re-posted all over the place, which is fantastic.

  • http://twitter.com/jpmontano JohnPaul Montano

    Outstanding article, Adrienne! Your insightful critique educates me further.

    Thank you so much for mentioning my Open Letter. :)

    You mention: “I have yet to feel connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement, or even the Occupy Boston movement happening here in my backyard.” I’d be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on that topic; on October 8, 2011, in response to my Open Letter, Occupy Boston issued this statement:

    Occupy Boston Ratifies Memorandum of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples (October 8, 2011): http://occupyboston.com/2011/10/09/occupy-boston-ratifies-memorandum-of-solidarity-with-indigenous-peoples/

    Personally, I find the Memorandum to be quite a hopeful move on the part of Occupy Boston: http://mzzainal-straten.blogspot.com/2011/09/open-letter-to-occupy-wall-street.html?showComment=1318268578765#c5385359400370840078

    Thank you for the ‘Take Back Wall Street: Occupied Since 1625′ poster and its wonderfully clear message.

    Miigwechwendmowin! (“Gratitude!”)

    JohnPaul Montano
    http://twitter.com/jpmontano

  • Adrienne_K

    Thanks JohnPaul, I hadn’t seen the Occupy Boston memorandum, and that actually makes me very hopeful! Also thank you for being a voice on these issues, your open letter has been re-posted all over the place, which is fantastic.

  • JupiterPluvius

    Adrienne, thank you for this (here via Shakesville).

  • JupiterPluvius

    Adrienne, thank you for this (here via Shakesville).

  • Indigenoussovereigntyrocks

    No mention of the piece that is presented along with Jessica Yee’s article – by Erin Konsmo. How do you feel about that piece? I feel that it presented earlier on than before the other posters came out a critical look at the occupy movement. Further she draws parallels between the ‘doctrine of discovery’, ‘manifest destiny’ and occupy wall street. I am surprised more people aren’t talking more about that image.

  • Indigenoussovereigntyrocks

    No mention of the piece that is presented along with Jessica Yee’s article – by Erin Konsmo. How do you feel about that piece? I feel that it presented earlier on than before the other posters came out a critical look at the occupy movement. Further she draws parallels between the ‘doctrine of discovery’, ‘manifest destiny’ and occupy wall street. I am surprised more people aren’t talking more about that image.

  • lindzanne

    Really great article, takes the critique I’ve heard a critical step further. I think these discussions are absolutely important. If they don’t happen, well, on a very personal level I feel like once again something big is happening in this country that once again makes me invisible. And secondly, there are plenty of us who have always been the “99%”. Plenty of us who have spent our entire lives within the percentage of people who are demanded every day to dismantle the oppressive systems that ultimately created a 99%, just to survive. I have felt alienated by the fact that the dialogue from the movements (mostly) does nothing to acknowledge this. It makes me feel like it’s a movement largely fueled by the relatively recent loss of purchasing power by a large upper middle class. I realize I’m WAY over-simplifying that, but it really pisses me off to be made invisible, and it REALLY pisses me off to see surface reactions that ultimately will do nothing to address the oppressive systems that will continue after those with not a whole lot at stake get surface solutions.
    Occupy Denver is a good first step. This language “If this movement is serious about confronting the foundational assumptions of the current U.S. system, then it must begin by addressing the original crimes of the U.S. colonizing system against indigenous nations….” is spot on and a good representation of a true dedication to dismantling oppression that I wish I could be confident about in the other Occupy cities.

    • Sayrah Namaste

      Would Denver be interested in using (Un)Occupy in front of its name? That is what we did in Albuquerque, New Mexico when the issue was discussed and debated among indigenous and non-indigenous people. I’m hoping for more solidarity on this around the movement.

  • lindzanne

    Really great article, takes the critique I’ve heard a critical step further. I think these discussions are absolutely important. If they don’t happen, well, on a very personal level I feel like once again something big is happening in this country that once again makes me invisible. And secondly, there are plenty of us who have always been the “99%”. Plenty of us who have spent our entire lives within the percentage of people who are demanded every day to dismantle the oppressive systems that ultimately created a 99%, just to survive. I have felt alienated by the fact that the dialogue from the movements (mostly) does nothing to acknowledge this. It makes me feel like it’s a movement largely fueled by the relatively recent loss of purchasing power by a large upper middle class. I realize I’m WAY over-simplifying that, but it really pisses me off to be made invisible, and it REALLY pisses me off to see surface reactions that ultimately will do nothing to address the oppressive systems that will continue after those with not a whole lot at stake get surface solutions.
    Occupy Denver is a good first step. This language “If this movement is serious about confronting the foundational assumptions of the current U.S. system, then it must begin by addressing the original crimes of the U.S. colonizing system against indigenous nations….” is spot on and a good representation of a true dedication to dismantling oppression that I wish I could be confident about in the other Occupy cities.

  • http://coastliveoak.wordpress.com/ Quercki

    Occupy Oakland began the main gathering with a Chochenyo Ohlone woman and a Native song and drum group. They are integral to the process here on the San Francisco Bay. They told us about the progress protecting the sacred site at Glen Cove, Vallejo, CA.
    http://protectglencove.org/2011/easement-press-release/

  • http://coastliveoak.wordpress.com/ Quercki

    Occupy Oakland began the main gathering with a Chochenyo Ohlone woman and a Native song and drum group. They are integral to the process here on the San Francisco Bay. They told us about the progress protecting the sacred site at Glen Cove, Vallejo, CA.
    http://protectglencove.org/2011/easement-press-release/

  • crawling

    Thank you so much for critiquing the Algonquin poster! I contacted the artist, but he refused to change the image claiming he thought the Lenape were the “elders” of the Algonquin First Nation.

    What crap!
    Please join me and write to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ernesto-Yerena/163940828915

  • crawling

    Thank you so much for critiquing the Algonquin poster! I contacted the artist, but he refused to change the image claiming he thought the Lenape were the “elders” of the Algonquin First Nation.

    What crap!
    Please join me and write to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ernesto-Yerena/163940828915

  • crawl

    It’s from Ernesto Yerena. His email (please email him to correct the harmful misinformation) is orders@hechoconganas.com

  • lindzanne

    An issue definitely connected to this…..the continued use of many images of people of color as posters and advertisements for the Occupy movements…….two examples I’ve seen that had me particularly steamed: the image of African American men marching with signs reading “I Am A Man”, and an image of Angela Davis raising her fist. The first completely floored me. It was being presented by an all white group, a few of which actually compared themselves to the men in the photo. And maybe Angela Davis is totally behind the occupy movement, but both of these appropriations speak to an utter lack of interest in understanding the true nature of what both of those images represent. It was clearly not solidarity, but appropriation. Anyway, I just needed a place to vent about that and I do think it is a piece of the puzzle we have been discussing here.

  • lindzanne

    An issue definitely connected to this…..the continued use of many images of people of color as posters and advertisements for the Occupy movements…….two examples I’ve seen that had me particularly steamed: the image of African American men marching with signs reading “I Am A Man”, and an image of Angela Davis raising her fist. The first completely floored me. It was being presented by an all white group, a few of which actually compared themselves to the men in the photo. And maybe Angela Davis is totally behind the occupy movement, but both of these appropriations speak to an utter lack of interest in understanding the true nature of what both of those images represent. It was clearly not solidarity, but appropriation. Anyway, I just needed a place to vent about that and I do think it is a piece of the puzzle we have been discussing here.

  • Cynthia_i_smith

    Yes why no mention of the art piece Jessica presented and deconstructed already in her piece from Erin Konsmo on “The Game of Colonialism”? She used that image – perhaps post it here? They are all staff at the Native Youth Sexual Health Network

    • Indigenoussovereigntyrocks

      In my experience the artwork Erin Konsmo does generally moves away from appropriation and has it’s own style. She tries to center Indigenous feminism in her work too. She also put her piece out earlier than the other images started appearing – yet it hasn’t been taken up as widely as the ones your critiquing. That would be something to talk about. Why was it not as ‘poster worthy’? And what were the other themes in that image that people aren’t critically discussing.

      • Adrienne_K

        Thanks for your comments, and sorry for the late reply, I really love Erin’s Piece as well, originally for this post I decided to focus on the three posters that all went for the same “theme”–a Native face/photo with a pointed message. I agree that her image should be more widely used, and I think it’s worthy of a follow up post. I have a few more images that I would like to post as well, so look for that in the next few days!

  • Cynthia_i_smith

    Yes why no mention of the art piece Jessica presented and deconstructed already in her piece from Erin Konsmo on “The Game of Colonialism”? She used that image – perhaps post it here? They are all staff at the Native Youth Sexual Health Network

  • Cynthia_i_smith

    Also interesting to reflect that Jessica published her article and points days before a lot of the other critiques came out and has been receiving quite the negative response from it as far as I can tell on the internets and Twitter.

  • Cynthia_i_smith

    Also interesting to reflect that Jessica published her article and points days before a lot of the other critiques came out and has been receiving quite the negative response from it as far as I can tell on the internets and Twitter.

  • http://twitter.com/sariel13 Sariel

    I’m glad to see a post on this. Especially after the comment I left yesterday on Facebook regarding Occupy Denver. I’m happy to see Occupy Boston taking a similar stance and that there is now more a feeling of connecting this movement to minorities and indigenous peoples in particular. I’m also proud of my local chapter of the American Indian Movement (despite your opinions on them in the past they are still relevant for gathering together communities outside of reservations and trying to get something political done) for thinking to bring up this issue with protesters.

    I think what remains to be determined is what this protest will actually seek to accomplish. It’s not framed as a political movement or new party, but as a people’s movement. I wonder how having such broad goals will affect their ability to accomplish any of them, much less whether they will continue to support these things as time passes.

  • http://twitter.com/sariel13 Sariel

    I’m glad to see a post on this. Especially after the comment I left yesterday on Facebook regarding Occupy Denver. I’m happy to see Occupy Boston taking a similar stance and that there is now more a feeling of connecting this movement to minorities and indigenous peoples in particular. I’m also proud of my local chapter of the American Indian Movement (despite your opinions on them in the past they are still relevant for gathering together communities outside of reservations and trying to get something political done) for thinking to bring up this issue with protesters.

    I think what remains to be determined is what this protest will actually seek to accomplish. It’s not framed as a political movement or new party, but as a people’s movement. I wonder how having such broad goals will affect their ability to accomplish any of them, much less whether they will continue to support these things as time passes.

  • C.K.J.

    Amazing critique, totally needed. I absolutely agree that if one is going to incorporate imagery of Native people in the name of recognizing their marginalization they should get the facts beforehand and not use stereotypical imagery that doesn’t accurately portray the tribe they are speaking about. There needs to be more awareness about the history of colonialism that led this country (and this movement) to where they are now.

    I will say though, while the Occupy movements may need to be schooled in the ways of colonialism, it is going to take work to get there. While these problematic ideas are perpetuated, ideas can change in struggle. I am in Boston, and I know there is rich debate going on at the General Assemblies about the demands and focuses of the Occupy Boston Movement. The Occupy movement is only 3 weeks old and is just finding it’s way. These movements aren’t controlled by one set of politics: there are anarchists, socialists, libertarians, liberals, and many other groups involved in these coalitions. These sects are coming together to figure out how to best challenge this unjust system that profits off of the backs of marginalized and working people for the benefit of working people. Some of these people identify with no set of politics and are just now radicalizing around these issues. My point being, the people involved undoubtedly need to think about indigenous people’s rights while they are “occupying” their various cities. But these points need to be made within the struggle. I’m not saying that it’s your “job” to go down to Occupy Boston and express these opinions. (As a marginalized POC, I resent the idea that it’s the “duty” of any minority to educate people with racist/racially insensitive politics why their ideas are problematic…) Still, the Occupy movements that did address the demands of indigenous people had indigenous people involved: Denver American Indian Movement in Denver, the Chochenyo Ohlone woman and a Native song and drum group in Oakland. While every movement may not start with these amazing inclusions of indigenous rights, it in no way means that they cannot get there with rich debate and solidarity. I think now is the time to not just look at where movements start, but how they change as they grow. The Civil Rights Movement called for integrated lunch counters long before the Black Power Movement demanded fair housing and equal education for Blacks. That shift took years of successes and defeats but it represents the massive shift in consciousness that only comes with the progression of a struggle. I hope to see the struggle here in Boston evolve to one that includes indigenous rights, and I hope anyone else who feels strongly about that throws their voice into the debate. This occupation has been going on for a few weeks. This struggle has just begun.

  • C.K.J.

    Amazing critique, totally needed. I absolutely agree that if one is going to incorporate imagery of Native people in the name of recognizing their marginalization they should get the facts beforehand and not use stereotypical imagery that doesn’t accurately portray the tribe they are speaking about. There needs to be more awareness about the history of colonialism that led this country (and this movement) to where they are now.

    I will say though, while the Occupy movements may need to be schooled in the ways of colonialism, it is going to take work to get there. While these problematic ideas are perpetuated, ideas can change in struggle. I am in Boston, and I know there is rich debate going on at the General Assemblies about the demands and focuses of the Occupy Boston Movement. The Occupy movement is only 3 weeks old and is just finding it’s way. These movements aren’t controlled by one set of politics: there are anarchists, socialists, libertarians, liberals, and many other groups involved in these coalitions. These sects are coming together to figure out how to best challenge this unjust system that profits off of the backs of marginalized and working people for the benefit of working people. Some of these people identify with no set of politics and are just now radicalizing around these issues. My point being, the people involved undoubtedly need to think about indigenous people’s rights while they are “occupying” their various cities. But these points need to be made within the struggle. I’m not saying that it’s your “job” to go down to Occupy Boston and express these opinions. (As a marginalized POC, I resent the idea that it’s the “duty” of any minority to educate people with racist/racially insensitive politics why their ideas are problematic…) Still, the Occupy movements that did address the demands of indigenous people had indigenous people involved: Denver American Indian Movement in Denver, the Chochenyo Ohlone woman and a Native song and drum group in Oakland. While every movement may not start with these amazing inclusions of indigenous rights, it in no way means that they cannot get there with rich debate and solidarity. I think now is the time to not just look at where movements start, but how they change as they grow. The Civil Rights Movement called for integrated lunch counters long before the Black Power Movement demanded fair housing and equal education for Blacks. That shift took years of successes and defeats but it represents the massive shift in consciousness that only comes with the progression of a struggle. I hope to see the struggle here in Boston evolve to one that includes indigenous rights, and I hope anyone else who feels strongly about that throws their voice into the debate. This occupation has been going on for a few weeks. This struggle has just begun.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuvatukya.ovi Nuvatuqui Ovi

    I like the posters and they have been extremely effective in getting the Indigenous voice across here in Flagstaff when an attempt was made to marginalize Native voices of dissent. They were perfect for the Facebook mentality and the first to the scene was grabbed and run with because it was colorful and graphic and caused folks to do more than “like” and move on. It created the discussion space necessary for someone knowledgeable about the actual clip art used in the graphic to add to that.

    I think other than the first one with the iconic “indian” on it (now that I know it’s full meaning) they are all great images that are working in helping shape the broader movement that is happening. This is not just for the folks on Wall Street anymore and we have yet to see this baby start to crawl.

    Thanks for the great addition to the dialogue on this issue, I am posting it as fast and as much as I did the first poster you put to question :) It is definitely helping!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuvatukya.ovi Nuvatuqui Ovi

    I like the posters and they have been extremely effective in getting the Indigenous voice across here in Flagstaff when an attempt was made to marginalize Native voices of dissent. They were perfect for the Facebook mentality and the first to the scene was grabbed and run with because it was colorful and graphic and caused folks to do more than “like” and move on. It created the discussion space necessary for someone knowledgeable about the actual clip art used in the graphic to add to that.

    I think other than the first one with the iconic “indian” on it (now that I know it’s full meaning) they are all great images that are working in helping shape the broader movement that is happening. This is not just for the folks on Wall Street anymore and we have yet to see this baby start to crawl.

    Thanks for the great addition to the dialogue on this issue, I am posting it as fast and as much as I did the first poster you put to question :) It is definitely helping!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuvatukya.ovi Nuvatuqui Ovi

    BTW, the posters resonated well with a lot of the Diné and Hopi in my area who were not the “natives” depicted in the images so they might be just as unaware of the original meanings of the imagery as anyone else, which also may be why it was effective.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuvatukya.ovi Nuvatuqui Ovi

    BTW, the posters resonated well with a lot of the Diné and Hopi in my area who were not the “natives” depicted in the images so they might be just as unaware of the original meanings of the imagery as anyone else, which also may be why it was effective.

  • Melaniecervantes

    Hey there. I am the artist of the Oakland image. A big inspiration for my piece was to honor the work of Chochenyo Ohlone and other Native folks who had recently organized to protect a sacred site-Sogorea Te in the city of Vallejo. I worked with them to create a graphic for that too. What isn’t mentioned is that Occupy Oakland started with those organizers opening it. I think what you address about centering demands about current issues is super relevant. I also like what you say about stoic images. I debated with using an image of a youth laughing to demonstrate the on going presence of Ohlone people on their traditional lands…but went with this woman because I felt like overall women are often relegated to the margins and absent from the picture all together.My piece was a call to potential organizers of the Occupy movement in Oakland to remember that they are “occupying” already Occupied land.

    I liked the idea of calling folks to action around a decolonization process. Here in Oakland they are hosting political education classes and folks have been very receptive. People are now advancing the discussions in the camps and advancing the message to decolonize, occupy and liberate.

    Sincerely,
    Melanie Cervantes
    Dignidad Rebelde

    • Sayrah Namaste

      Thanks for the post. We’ve renamed ourselves (Un)Occupy Albuquerque after a long painful process of consensus. Many native people in our movement had to educate others. Some who disagreed just stood aside in the General Assembly. Some want to fight it out again and not keep the name. I want more movements in other cities to consider joining us in the name (Un)Occupy. The term connects us to Occupy Wall Street and other cities yet is using anti-oppression principles. What do you think?

  • Melaniecervantes

    Hey there. I am the artist of the Oakland image. A big inspiration for my piece was to honor the work of Chochenyo Ohlone and other Native folks who had recently organized to protect a sacred site-Sogorea Te in the city of Vallejo. I worked with them to create a graphic for that too. What isn’t mentioned is that Occupy Oakland started with those organizers opening it. I think what you address about centering demands about current issues is super relevant. I also like what you say about stoic images. I debated with using an image of a youth laughing to demonstrate the on going presence of Ohlone people on their traditional lands…but went with this woman because I felt like overall women are often relegated to the margins and absent from the picture all together.My piece was a call to potential organizers of the Occupy movement in Oakland to remember that they are “occupying” already Occupied land.

    I liked the idea of calling folks to action around a decolonization process. Here in Oakland they are hosting political education classes and folks have been very receptive. People are now advancing the discussions in the camps and advancing the message to decolonize, occupy and liberate.

    Sincerely,
    Melanie Cervantes
    Dignidad Rebelde

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MCJEEXSEG4WTLJGS54ONCHGO2U River

    Have you seen their poster with the sexy barefoot chic? No end of appropriation going on when men are being anarchists. Anyone’s culture for their benefit seems to be their forte. Irony not so much.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MCJEEXSEG4WTLJGS54ONCHGO2U River

    Have you seen their poster with the sexy barefoot chic? No end of appropriation going on when men are being anarchists. Anyone’s culture for their benefit seems to be their forte. Irony not so much.

  • acklebee

    I like it. i will write more tomorrow. I got into many arguments about my displeasure at Columbus day and why. We are such a mass of people now but there are simple things we have forgotten that we could have learned from the wise people of this earth. It is still happening to others in the Amazon. Our connection with our planet is lost, our great respect and reverence. I only wish and hope this movement brings that consciousness to light and to the masses. I fear for what I love and that is the living things of this earth, the living things that know nothing of money, and nothing of separation. I respect what you are doing and will spread it. I am not a native to this land and I have no idea actually where i am native to on this earth but I know I am of this earth and I am deeply in love with it. The great tragedy of humans is to see progress and opportunity above integrity and harmony.

  • acklebee

    I like it. i will write more tomorrow. I got into many arguments about my displeasure at Columbus day and why. We are such a mass of people now but there are simple things we have forgotten that we could have learned from the wise people of this earth. It is still happening to others in the Amazon. Our connection with our planet is lost, our great respect and reverence. I only wish and hope this movement brings that consciousness to light and to the masses. I fear for what I love and that is the living things of this earth, the living things that know nothing of money, and nothing of separation. I respect what you are doing and will spread it. I am not a native to this land and I have no idea actually where i am native to on this earth but I know I am of this earth and I am deeply in love with it. The great tragedy of humans is that we could not learn and respect and see progress as opportunity above integrity and harmony.

  • http://profiles.google.com/erica.r.rodriguez Erica Rodriguez
  • http://profiles.google.com/erica.r.rodriguez Erica Rodriguez
  • katansi

    This is a serious question, really REALLY not facetious or smarmy, what do we do? My family’s mostly UK/Irish descent getting here as early as the 1850s and as late as the 1940s. I have actually tried to move back to the UK but am basically unable to unless I magically become independently wealthy because of immigration laws. If the laws change I’ll try again. I’ll agree my ancestors are occupiers. I can mostly get behind the idea that the children of occupiers are also occupiers but we’re kind of in a different situation. Is it a case of “don’t know don’t care where you go” or is there some sort of solution in mind as a general cohesive idea in the indigenous communities? This is also not smarmy, if it is “don’t know, don’t care” doesn’t that kind of push people to fight against any sort of compromise or even giving it all back? Humans being generally shitty creatures and all. It’s kind of like current crappy US immigration where the children of immigrants can stay but the immigrants can’t because the children are in this weird limbo. What gets done about the people who are born here because of their parents’ or even ancestors’ choices hundreds of years ago?

    • Jillian

      Decolonization is not really about sending people “back to Europe”. If you want to know more about it – there are plenty of resources online.

      • katansi

        In many other instances of decolonization it is about getting out the occupiers back to where they came from or at least not where they’re occupying. Like France in Indochine/Lebanon/Syria or Britain in India and China, Russia and the former Soviet Union countries and Afghanistan and the US/Russia/UK. Palestine/Israel, kinda the same situation. Africa’s a hot mess followed by full pull out in many countries. Northern Ireland was the leftovers of British occupation in Ireland, there was supposed to be a full pull out there. So maybe it’s not back to Europe but “get out” is certainly a normal part of many decolonization processes which is why I’m curious what’s the idea for one applying to the US since it’s about 300 million people at this point.

        • Tony

          In the instance of the US, it’s about recognition of the past – and ongoing – exploitation and depression in Indian communities. Other solutions are maintaining or improving social services that are badly needed as a result of the poverty and health problems that have plagued the communities for hundreds of years. There are many, many solutions – from mild things like acknowledgment to increasing government services and educational opportunities to reparations. Civil rights is a vast field. There are certainly more nuances solutions that “get out.” I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that that’s the message here just because you’ve seen it elsewhere.

          • katansi

            Thank you for that explanation. It wasn’t meant to be an assumption that that was the goal but I’m definitely comparing the use of that specific word to my (limited) history knowledge which has mostly seemed to end in removal of the occupiers. I haven’t seen that message here or anywhere else applied to this situation which was why I asked.

            • 10100111001

              Short, quick answer would be recognize and uphold the American end of treaties.

              • katansi

                Good point.

        • jeffa

          another possible frame is something like, my european ancestors drew on stories and songs to stay strong during generations of tumultous wars and trauma… fled to this continent and learned whiteness and embraced growth monster until just recently… but as i relearn the power of our traditions in an honoring way i might ask to join the fire of reconciliation and re-creation here… i do love this place

          • katansi

            Eh… Not me. I’m not that attached to this country, my current town/county/state/region etc., I just try not to screw it up more than it is. I know genetically what I am but I wasn’t raised with coherent traditions or a culture since “white” isn’t one. I don’t have a heritage beyond knitting. I don’t even speak the language my grandmother spoke. There’s some vague Catholicism in there but I’m not Christian. I don’t know much of my familial history except snippets here and there because I’m mostly Irish and the English did to my ancestors what mine (sorta?) did here. From the mid 1800s on anyway. I love the geography of America but people (in the whole world) at this point I’m just overall disappointed in. I try not to be a dick and I’d like to know more about that. It involves giving a shit about your neighbors, which I do, but not to the extent where I feel like there’s any real community to belong to for me so there’s no joining of something I know I’m separate from. I’d never presume to ask for that because I don’t deserve it. More like, make sure people are taken care of, but I don’t expect to join anyone in anything. I would like people to be ok and I think retribution and reparations are valid. Frankly, if anyone resultant from the last few hundreds years of immigration was legally pushed back to the country of their largest genetic slice, I wouldn’t care and I couldn’t think of a strong argument against that approach. I’d do just as well/poorly there as I do here. I’d feel just as ill-fitted and separate in those communities as I do in the ones I’m supposed to be a part of now. I would kind of like to be separate from everyone. That’s why I asked about the mechanics of it, not argued against it off the bat.

  • kate si

    This is a serious question, really REALLY not facetious or smarmy, what do we do? My family’s mostly UK/Irish descent getting here as early as the 1850s and as late as the 1940s. I have actually tried to move back to the UK but am basically unable to unless I magically become independently wealthy because of immigration laws. If the laws change I’ll try again. I’ll agree my ancestors are occupiers. I can mostly get behind the idea that the children of occupiers are also occupiers but we’re kind of in a different situation. Is it a case of “don’t know don’t care where you go” or is there some sort of solution in mind as a general cohesive idea in the indigenous communities? This is also not smarmy, if it is “don’t know, don’t care” doesn’t that kind of push people to fight against any sort of compromise or even giving it all back? Humans being generally shitty creatures and all. It’s kind of like current crappy US immigration where the children of immigrants can stay but the immigrants can’t because the children are in this weird limbo. What gets done about the people who are born here because of their parents’ or even ancestors’ choices hundreds of years ago?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=519845513 Jason Bryan

    So sick of all this race pimping.

    • Thunderbird Rose

      so sick of all this denial.

      • Horace

        No, you cannot have a diffuse message. You have to stick to the issue of the financial industry. If the Native movement tries to take advantage of this, why not gays, feminists, fat acceptance, african americans, deep ecologists …… You will end up with a movement that is to diffuse to acheive anything

        • Tony

          Yeah, it’s not the like the Civil Rights Act ever achieved anything… right?

        • lindzanne

          your view of occupy wall street is why it is in serious danger of accomplishing nothing but replacing old privilege with new……..

        • 8mph Ansible

          And the issue of financial industry does affect Native Americans, often a lot more harshly than someone like you. As well as other minority groups. If the movement fails to understand and address that then the movement really isn’t achieving much to begin with.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V56R6DHMLYIU5ABXBBHKHN7FAM Scott

          Of course there is an issue of coopting the message. For example, the message was originally about Wall Street. Now it is suddenly about Occupation. Each offshoot retains the word “Occupy” and none retain the word “Wall Street”. No longer is it about excesses and abuses of financiers, the movement has been coopted by those who wish to Occupy, no longer those who object to Wall Street.

          Changing the message from one of objection to Wall Street to one of advocacy of Occupation is a major, fundamental change. Yes, the message has been coopted, and this is something indigenous observers are correctly pointing out.

        • lydia

          If you won’t acknowledge the social inequalities that have been inherent within the financial institutions over the past few hundred years, then you’re ignoring the “how”: you’re allowing that systematic abuse to take place. You want answers, this is part of it. Look to your social outliers, they are a symptom of why this present social state is failing.

    • lindzanne

      Awww…..you poor white dude…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=519845513 Jason Bryan

    So sick of all this race pimping.

  • http://noplain.wordpress.com/ Jane

    Slightly off topic but from a non-USian I’m interested: are the original owners of the land typically acknowledged at events?

    I’m from Australia where many events start with (if not a Welcome To Country from an Elder) something along the lines of “I’d like to acknowledge that the land we meet on today is the traditional land of the ______ people and pay my respects to the elders both past and present.” – which doesn’t mean there aren’t still huge issues with land rights, but as a white Australian I’m glad it’s there.

    • The Blue Dream

      US and Australian citizen here. As a general rule the US doesn’t have ANYTHING like that. It might be the case in places where Indigenous Americans are more visible and numerous, but I’ve never seen that anywhere I’ve lived in the US.

      • Erin Dochartaigh

        I agree that as a general rule, unfortunately no. But it *does* happen, and I’ve been a part of many a gathering (workshop, conference, etc.) that acknowledges the specificity of the land we are on in that moment, and the indigenous peoples who were there and still are there, in several different regions across the midwest, western and Pacific northwestern regions.

        So it does happen, but it should happen more often. Like, all the time more often.

        • The Blue Dream

          That’s interesting. I suspected that might be the case more in the Pacific Northwest–where I haven’t lived–but it definitely hasn’t been something I’ve experienced this side of the Pacific.

          • Steve Peters

            The short answer to the original question is “no.” As for it being different in the NW… I live in Seattle, and have never seen anything like that happen here in a non-Native context. Native art motifs are ubiquitous, but indigenous people are not so visible in public life beyond the stereotypes. Maybe it’s different up in BC? The SW is slightly better. I lived in New Mexico for 15 years, and there is much more of a visible Native presence and awareness there, and more “inclusiveness” at public events, but still no such public acknowledgment of colonialism or original citizenship outside of activist or indigenous circles. And in the SW there is the added complexity of tourism appropriating not only Native images but the people themselves.

            • Jeffa

              the Bioneers conference in Marin’s county (named after a Miwok leader) has been deepening into this honoring and acknowledging, starting with welcome from the traditional keepers of the land where it takes place.

    • Adrienne_K

      We had a speaker yesterday at my school talking about the Stolen Generation, and the (Australian) professor doing the intro said that exact phrase to acknowledge the local Wampanoag. It made me instantly think of your comment, and wish that this was common practice in the US. Native events and speakers sometimes will do something along these lines, but not always, and definitely not at a “mainstream” event.

    • 10100111001

      Unless there is a Native speaker at the event, I have never heard it.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V56R6DHMLYIU5ABXBBHKHN7FAM Scott

      Thanks for mentioning that, it brings me some happiness to hear that is done in Australia.

      I’ve never heard of that being done here. Instead there’s a huge amount of hostility anytime (western hemisphere) aboriginal issues are brought up. For example, as a response to pointing out that abusing, stealing and manipulating are part of a system of belief that comes from colonialism, a typical response is to claim that without Columbus, indians would have no shoes or antibiotics, followed by a claim that whites were here 10,000 years ago according to some find and that aboriginals are no more than short term squatters that recently arrived after a 2000 mile hike across a glacier and have no legitimate claims. Possibly followed by a lecture about the greatness of the American Constitution and questions whether we would prefer to live in North Korea if we hate it so much here.

      I am very aware of the Australian Sorry Day, which I see as a very good thing. Based on the vibe I have gotten from the occupiers throughout my life, it will probably be centuries before they will be aware enough of themselves, others and justice to be able to even countenance tolerating such a day here.

  • http://noplain.wordpress.com/ Jane

    Slightly off topic but from a non-USian I’m interested: are the original owners of the land typically acknowledged at events?

    I’m from Australia where many events start with (if not a Welcome To Country from an Elder) something along the lines of “I’d like to acknowledge that the land we meet on today is the traditional land of the ______ people and pay my respects to the elders both past and present.” – which doesn’t mean there aren’t still huge issues with land rights, but as a white Australian I’m glad it’s there.

  • Thunderbird Rose

    mussi cho for your insightful concise article…this misunderstanding and appropriation was a problem in vancouver bc as well but been addressed and discussed and debated endlessly until the significance of focusing the colonization of indian peoples concerns were understood in context, expanded into the current environment and validated….we peacefully pointed out if “occupy” did not give due respect and acknowledged this crisis was built upon our bones, “occupy” would be considered a sham by the indian people of turtle island and “occupy” would recieve no support from neither elders or warriors…it is now written into occupy vancouver mandate and upon their webpage and also used before addressing crowds publicly -completely acknowledging this movement is held “upon occupied indigenous lands and coast salish territories” and folks have been careful to not use the images they typicallly associate with indian people or not start appropriating culture in solidarity…
    my sign states “you are currently residing upon “OCCUPIED” territories – ABOLISH THE INDIAN ACT – release my people – release ALL people!!” – no pictures no “indian-ess”, no feathers, no drums, no nothing ‘cept me, a sign, a tent, blankets, my brown skin and my big mouth, my songs and my willingness to die for freedom…
    cya Saturday, downtown Vancouver BC…we’ll be camping, it promises to be cold wet raining for the next 7 months…stay warm…muchlove n respect…
    - peace – Shaht’raa, wolfwoman,clanmother – na-cho n’yuk d’un territory… (disposed and displaced in canada through the policy of govt abduction in 1965 as rose siccama)

  • Thunderbird Rose

    mussi cho for your insightful concise article…this misunderstanding and appropriation was a problem in vancouver bc as well but been addressed and discussed and debated endlessly until the significance of focusing the colonization of indian peoples concerns were understood in context, expanded into the current environment and validated….we peacefully pointed out if “occupy” did not give due respect and acknowledged this crisis was built upon our bones, “occupy” would be considered a sham by the indian people of turtle island and “occupy” would recieve no support from neither elders or warriors…it is now written into occupy vancouver mandate and upon their webpage and also used before addressing crowds publicly -completely acknowledging this movement is held “upon occupied indigenous lands and coast salish territories” and folks have been careful to not use the images they typicallly associate with indian people or not start appropriating culture in solidarity…
    my sign states “you are currently residing upon “OCCUPIED” territories – ABOLISH THE INDIAN ACT – release my people – release ALL people!!” – no pictures no “indian-ess”, no feathers, no drums, no nothing ‘cept me, a sign, a tent, blankets, my brown skin and my big mouth, my songs and my willingness to die for freedom…
    cya Saturday, downtown Vancouver BC…we’ll be camping, it promises to be cold wet raining for the next 7 months…stay warm…muchlove n respect…
    - peace – Shaht’raa, wolfwoman,clanmother – na-cho n’yuk d’un territory… (disposed and displaced in canada through the policy of govt abduction in 1965 as rose siccama)

  • Indigenoussovereigntyrocks

    In my experience the artwork Erin Konsmo does generally moves away from appropriation and has it’s own style. She tries to center Indigenous feminism in her work too. She also put her piece out earlier than the other images started appearing – yet it hasn’t been taken up as widely as the ones your critiquing. That would be something to talk about. Why was it not as ‘poster worthy’? And what were the other themes in that image that people aren’t critically discussing.

  • Thunderbird Rose

    so sick of all this denial.

  • Thunderbird Rose

    please for those that think its a “race” issue, it’s not, it’s about global social injustice and colonization of lands & nations to further corporate and government interests!!
    to answer your housekeeping question of why occupy?
    if you think im gonna let what happened continue or that a mere 1% is gonna dictate what happens to our lands, our people and any of this – man, you are crazier than me!
    peace-rose

  • Thunderbird Rose

    please for those that think its a “race” issue, it’s not, it’s about global social injustice and colonization of lands & nations to further corporate and government interests!!
    to answer your housekeeping question of why occupy?
    if you think im gonna let what happened continue or that a mere 1% is gonna dictate what happens to our lands, our people and any of this – man, you are crazier than me!
    peace-rose

  • mystorywillbetold

    Occupy Boston ratified a statement to stand in solidarity with and work in tangent with the original inhabitants of the land. It acknowledged the issues around the occupy language and we also condemned Columbus day. Its not much, but its a start.

    • Sayrah Namaste

      Would Boston be interested in using (Un)Occupy in front of its name? That is what we did in Albuquerque, New Mexico when the issue was discussed and debated among indigenous and non-indigenous people.

  • mystorywillbetold

    Occupy Boston ratified a statement to stand in solidarity with and work in tangent with the original inhabitants of the land. It acknowledged the issues around the occupy language and we also condemned Columbus day. Its not much, but its a start.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rochelle-Robinson/100002058320553 Rochelle Robinson

    this is important to address and to even contest. i so appreciate that you and others have pointed out how problematic this “occupation” is. i admit that i have gotten caught up without an analysis of just what is going on here and how it has been often more marginalizing and misinformed than addressing, as has been pointed out, “the original crimes of the u.s. colonizing system against indigenous nations.”
    today i am meeting with some folks in oakland to delve more into this discussion and will be sure to report back to this you and this audience.
    thank you.

    • Sayrah Namaste

      Would Oakland be interested in the using (Un)Occupy in front of its name? That is what we did in Albuquerque, New Mexico when the issue was hashed out among indigenous and non-indigenous people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rochelle-Robinson/100002058320553 Rochelle Robinson

    this is important to address and to even contest. i so appreciate that you and others have pointed out how problematic this “occupation” is. i admit that i have gotten caught up without an analysis of just what is going on here and how it has been often more marginalizing and misinformed than addressing, as has been pointed out, “the original crimes of the u.s. colonizing system against indigenous nations.”
    today i am meeting with some folks in oakland to delve more into this discussion and will be sure to report back to this you and this audience.
    thank you.

  • Horace

    No, you cannot have a diffuse message. You have to stick to the issue of the financial industry. If the Native movement tries to take advantage of this, why not gays, feminists, fat acceptance, african americans, deep ecologists …… You will end up with a movement that is to diffuse to acheive anything

  • kate si

    In many other instances of decolonization it is about getting out the occupiers back to where they came from or at least not where they’re occupying. Like France in Indochine/Lebanon/Syria or Britain in India and China, Russia and the former Soviet Union countries and Afghanistan and the US/Russia/UK. Palestine/Israel, kinda the same situation. Africa’s a hot mess followed by full pull out in many countries. Northern Ireland was the leftovers of British occupation in Ireland, there was supposed to be a full pull out there. So maybe it’s not back to Europe but “get out” is certainly a normal part of many decolonization processes which is why I’m curious what’s the idea for one applying to the US since it’s about 300 million people at this point.

  • The Blue Dream

    US and Australian citizen here. As a general rule the US doesn’t have ANYTHING like that. It might be the case in places where Indigenous Americans are more visible and numerous, but I’ve never seen that anywhere I’ve lived in the US.

  • Tony

    Yeah, it’s not the like the Civil Rights Act ever achieved anything… right?

  • Tony

    In the instance of the US, it’s about recognition of the past – and ongoing – exploitation and depression in Indian communities. Other solutions are maintaining or improving social services that are badly needed as a result of the poverty and health problems that have plagued the communities for hundreds of years. There are many, many solutions – from mild things like acknowledgment to increasing government services and educational opportunities to reparations. Civil rights is a vast field. There are certainly more nuances solutions that “get out.” I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that that’s the message here just because you’ve seen it elsewhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=632507547 Karen Rudolph

    great opinion, I’d like to print out those posters in a large size

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=632507547 Karen Rudolph

    great opinion, I’d like to print out those posters in a large size

  • kate si

    Thank you for that explanation. It wasn’t meant to be an assumption that that was the goal but I’m definitely comparing the use of that specific word to my (limited) history knowledge which has mostly seemed to end in removal of the occupiers. I haven’t seen that message here or anywhere else applied to this situation which was why I asked.

  • Adrienne_K

    We had a speaker yesterday at my school talking about the Stolen Generation, and the (Australian) professor doing the intro said that exact phrase to acknowledge the local Wampanoag. It made me instantly think of your comment, and wish that this was common practice in the US. Native events and speakers sometimes will do something along these lines, but not always, and definitely not at a “mainstream” event.

  • Erin Dochartaigh

    I agree that as a general rule, unfortunately no. But it *does* happen, and I’ve been a part of many a gathering (workshop, conference, etc.) that acknowledges the specificity of the land we are on in that moment, and the indigenous peoples who were there and still are there, in several different regions across the midwest, western and Pacific northwestern regions.

    So it does happen, but it should happen more often. Like, all the time more often.

  • The Blue Dream

    That’s interesting. I suspected that might be the case more in the Pacific Northwest–where I haven’t lived–but it definitely hasn’t been something I’ve experienced this side of the Pacific.

  • Steve Peters

    The short answer to the original question is “no.” As for it being different in the NW… I live in Seattle, and have never seen anything like that happen here in a non-Native context. Native art motifs are ubiquitous, but indigenous people are not so visible in public life beyond the stereotypes. Maybe it’s different up in BC? The SW is slightly better. I lived in New Mexico for 15 years, and there is much more of a visible Native presence and awareness there, and more “inclusiveness” at public events, but still no such public acknowledgment of colonialism or original citizenship outside of activist or indigenous circles. And in the SW there is the added complexity of tourism appropriating not only Native images but the people themselves.

  • Esfera Azul

    A great piece, thank you!! Another thing to take into account when using the term “decolonization” is the fact that the U.S. has a series of “unincorporated territories” or colonies outside of the main land (Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, etc.) I do not know about the other countries but I can tell you Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have it harder than in the US: everything is more expensive, people make a lot less money and the unemployment % is really high. The average US American (all of us form the of the Americas are Americans) doesn’t even know these countries are under US rule, or much less where they are. I”m not asking U.S. Americans to champion for our independence, but at least, know your colonies!!!

  • Esfera Azul

    A great piece, thank you!! Another thing to take into account when using the term “decolonization” is the fact that the U.S. has a series of “unincorporated territories” or colonies outside of the main land (Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, etc.) I do not know about the other countries but I can tell you Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have it harder than in the US: everything is more expensive, people make a lot less money and the unemployment % is really high. The average US American (all of us form the of the Americas are Americans) doesn’t even know these countries are under US rule, or much less where they are. I”m not asking U.S. Americans to champion for our independence, but at least, know your colonies!!!

  • Tim Orwal

    Another person here wondering why no mention of what Jessica Yee originally posted and shared of the image of the Game of Colonialism by Indigenous artist Erin Konsmo. Can we get an answer?

  • Tim Orwal

    Another person here wondering why no mention of what Jessica Yee originally posted and shared of the image of the Game of Colonialism by Indigenous artist Erin Konsmo. Can we get an answer?

  • Sayrah Namaste

    I’d like to add information about New Mexico, which is a minority majority state, with 22 tribes whose history of resisting occupation is legendary.

    We have renamed ourselves (Un)Occupy Albuquerque after a long painful process which included native people in the movement trying to educate others in the movement about the term occupy and the history of New Mexico.

    Please join us!

  • Sayrah Namaste

    I’d like to add information about New Mexico, which is a minority majority state, with 22 tribes whose history of resisting occupation is legendary.

    We have renamed ourselves (Un)Occupy Albuquerque after a long painful process which included native people in the movement trying to educate others in the movement about the term occupy and the history of New Mexico.

    Please join us!

  • Sayrah Namaste

    Thanks for the post. We’ve renamed ourselves (Un)Occupy Albuquerque after a long painful process of consensus. Many native people in our movement had to educate others. Some who disagreed just stood aside in the General Assembly. Some want to fight it out again and not keep the name. I want more movements in other cities to consider joining us in the name (Un)Occupy. The term connects us to Occupy Wall Street and other cities yet is using anti-oppression principles. What do you think?

  • Sayrah Namaste

    Would Oakland be interested in the using (Un)Occupy in front of its name? That is what we did in Albuquerque, New Mexico when the issue was hashed out among indigenous and non-indigenous people.

  • Sayrah Namaste

    Would Boston be interested in using (Un)Occupy in front of its name? That is what we did in Albuquerque, New Mexico when the issue was discussed and debated among indigenous and non-indigenous people.

  • Sayrah Namaste

    Would Denver be interested in using (Un)Occupy in front of its name? That is what we did in Albuquerque, New Mexico when the issue was discussed and debated among indigenous and non-indigenous people. I’m hoping for more solidarity on this around the movement.

  • Guest from the UK

    I like most of what the author’s said, but rather than saying she’d be there if they began by talking about how these areas are already occupied, why doesn’t she go along, hand out information etc. and inform people, rather than just criticising them for not starting with that. I think that would be a better way to spread awareness/reach a wider audience than to post things on her blog which probably has an established audience. As someone from the UK, I can’t comment for US audience’s at this kind of thing, but in my experience of the UK, the protesters/activists there would probably be very receptive.

    Essentially, what indigenous people worldwide have for decades had to resist, and what she is continuing is much the same as what the ‘occupiers’ are resisting – i.e. greed, and profiting from the suffering and enslavement of others. Surely it’s a great opportunity to build solidarity and understanding? I can see that the word ‘occupy’ is problematic, but I do wonder if, the name having been widely reported in the media, it might be too late to remedy.

    Lastly, just wanted to say, as someone from the UK, I’m not always aware of the issues raised in this blog, so please forgive me for sounding at all insensitive, dismissive or ignorant, but I always find it well written, interesting and eye opening. Keep it up. :)

  • Guest from the UK

    I like most of what the author’s said, but rather than saying she’d be there if they began by talking about how these areas are already occupied, why doesn’t she go along, hand out information etc. and inform people, rather than just criticising them for not starting with that. I think that would be a better way to spread awareness/reach a wider audience than to post things on her blog which probably has an established audience. As someone from the UK, I can’t comment for US audience’s at this kind of thing, but in my experience of the UK, the protesters/activists there would probably be very receptive.

    Essentially, what indigenous people worldwide have for decades had to resist, and what she is continuing is much the same as what the ‘occupiers’ are resisting – i.e. greed, and profiting from the suffering and enslavement of others. Surely it’s a great opportunity to build solidarity and understanding? I can see that the word ‘occupy’ is problematic, but I do wonder if, the name having been widely reported in the media, it might be too late to remedy.

    Lastly, just wanted to say, as someone from the UK, I’m not always aware of the issues raised in this blog, so please forgive me for sounding at all insensitive, dismissive or ignorant, but I always find it well written, interesting and eye opening. Keep it up. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Lamb/100002175622711 Mike Lamb

    ” ‘(Un)occupy Albuquerque’ to host teach-ins” (A/P 10/18/2011) http://www.alamogordonews.com/ci_19137050
    “”Occupy Albuquerque” movement changed its name recently to “(Un)occupy Albuquerque” after concerns were raised about the negative connotations of the word ‘occupy’ in a city with a large Native American population.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Lamb/100002175622711 Mike Lamb

    ” ‘(Un)occupy Albuquerque’ to host teach-ins” (A/P 10/18/2011) http://www.alamogordonews.com/ci_19137050
    “”Occupy Albuquerque” movement changed its name recently to “(Un)occupy Albuquerque” after concerns were raised about the negative connotations of the word ‘occupy’ in a city with a large Native American population.”

  • Adrienne_K

    Thanks for your comments, and sorry for the late reply, I really love Erin’s Piece as well, originally for this post I decided to focus on the three posters that all went for the same “theme”–a Native face/photo with a pointed message. I agree that her image should be more widely used, and I think it’s worthy of a follow up post. I have a few more images that I would like to post as well, so look for that in the next few days!

  • SD Youngwolf

    Actually, that poster wasn’t wrong in calling Manhattan Algonquin land, because Lenape is an Algonquian language.

    • lydia

      Because, the people who study us, make it easy for themselves, and rather than acknowledging our differences, they lump us all together. Please do not subject your classification schemes, you’re only devastating our worth.

  • SD Youngwolf

    Actually, that poster wasn’t wrong in calling Manhattan Algonquin land, because Lenape is an Algonquian language.

  • lindzanne

    Awww…..you poor white dude…..

  • lindzanne

    your view of occupy wall street is why it is in serious danger of accomplishing nothing but replacing old privilege with new……..

  • 8mph Ansible

    And the issue of financial industry does affect Native Americans, often a lot more harshly than someone like you. As well as other minority groups. If the movement fails to understand and address that then the movement really isn’t achieving much to begin with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tupak-Huehuecoyotl/100000041175116 Tupak Huehuecoyotl
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tupak-Huehuecoyotl/100000041175116 Tupak Huehuecoyotl
  • 10100111001

    Unless there is a Native speaker at the event, I have never heard it.

  • 10100111001

    Short, quick answer would be recognize and uphold the American end of treaties.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V56R6DHMLYIU5ABXBBHKHN7FAM Scott

    I’ve never heard of that. Instead there’s a huge amount of hostility anytime (western hemisphere) aboriginal issues are brought up.

    I am very aware of the Australian Sorry Day, which I see as a very good thing. Based on the vibe I have gotten from the occupiers throughout my life, it will probably probably centuries before they will be aware enough of themselves, others and justice to be able to even countenance tolerating such a day here.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V56R6DHMLYIU5ABXBBHKHN7FAM Scott

    Of course there is an issue of coopting the message. For example, the message was originally about Wall Street. Now it is suddenly about Occupation. Each offshoot retains the word “Occupy” and none retain the word “Wall Street”. No longer is it about excesses and abuses of financiers, the movement has been coopted by those who wish to Occupy, no longer those who object to Wall Street.

  • 10100111001

    I went down to Occupy Boston. My intention was to see what was going on, and hold my sign.

    So, my sign “Occupied since 1492″ was a mixed reaction, one reporter asked me about it and 2 other First Nations people (both Vetrans), and a Unitarian Minister. Everyone else looked and took pictures of the signs on either side of me, but quickly read and then averted thier eyes when they saw/read my sign. Over 200 people in the second group, 4 in the first group. I think I pissed off the occupiers.

    Then again they pissed me off too with drum circles and sage burning.

  • 10100111001

    So, my sign “Occupied since 1492″ was a mixed reaction, one reporter asked me about it and 2 other First Nations people (both Vetrans), and a Unitarian Minister. Everyone else looked and took pictures of the signs on either side of me, but quickly read and then averted thier eyes when they saw/read my sign. Over 200 people in the second group, 4 in the first group. I think I pissed off the occupiers. Whatever, Turtle island has been occupied for 500 years.

  • Jeffa

    the Bioneers conference in Marin’s county (named after a Miwok leader) has been deepening into this honoring and acknowledging, starting with welcome from the traditional keepers of the land where it takes place.

  • jeffa

    another possible frame is something like, my european ancestors drew on stories and songs to stay strong during generations of tumultous wars and trauma… fled to this continent and learned whiteness and embraced growth monster until just recently… but as i relearn the power of our traditions in an honoring way i might ask to join the fire of reconciliation and re-creation here… i do love this place

  • kate si

    Eh… Not me. I’m not that attached to this country, my current town/county/state/region etc., I just try not to screw it up more than it is. I know genetically what I am but I wasn’t raised with coherent traditions or a culture since “white” isn’t one. I don’t have a heritage beyond knitting. I don’t even speak the language my grandmother spoke. There’s some vague Catholicism in there but I’m not Christian. I don’t know much of my familial history except snippets here and there because I’m mostly Irish and the English did to my ancestors what mine (sorta?) did here. From the mid 1800s on anyway. I love the geography of America but people (in the whole world) at this point I’m just overall disappointed in. I try not to be a dick and I’d like to know more about that. It involves giving a shit about your neighbors, which I do, but not to the extent where I feel like there’s any real community to belong to for me so there’s no joining of something I know I’m separate from. I’d never presume to ask for that because I don’t deserve it. More like, make sure people are taken care of, but I don’t expect to join anyone in anything. I would like people to be ok and I think retribution and reparations are valid. Frankly, if anyone resultant from the last few hundreds years of immigration was legally pushed back to the country of their largest genetic slice, I wouldn’t care and I couldn’t think of a strong argument against that approach. I’d do just as well/poorly there as I do here. I’d feel just as ill-fitted and separate in those communities as I do in the ones I’m supposed to be a part of now. I would kind of like to be separate from everyone. That’s why I asked about the mechanics of it, not argued against it off the bat.

  • kate si

    Good point.

  • Jane Hawthorne

    I questioned the intent of the original poster as I did not know if there was a native movement behind it, or it belonged to the newer Occupy group. The 1% is not new. Sure their numbers have changed, but the driving principles behind their actions have not. I am speaking mainly of those who have inherited wealth from the generations before them who exploited other peoples. It does not matter to them what color the people they exploit are, or where they came from. It does not even matter to them that we are human. They have a lack of respect for all life. How can they recognize the land as being free if they cannot recognize the inherent worth of another life? Out of their arrogance they think they were created stronger or smarter because they use their strength and intellect to steal from others, and then justify their behavior. We must see through the thin veils they cast over us to divide us, and realize that we are all children of the earth. All we who respect the sacredness of the earth and of each other must unify to ensure the exploitation of our brothers and sisters around the world does not continue in our name, in the name of these lands, even such as they are now. And when we are not led by destruction and deception, perhaps we can heal our internal brokenness, and reunite our people with their freedom and choice of way of life.

    -A great-granddaughter of three tribes

  • Jane Hawthorne

    I questioned the intent of the original poster as I did not know if there was a native movement behind it, or it belonged to the newer Occupy group. The 1% is not new. Sure their numbers have changed, but the driving principles behind their actions have not. I am speaking mainly of those who have inherited wealth from the generations before them who exploited other peoples. It does not matter to them what color the people they exploit are, or where they came from. It does not even matter to them that we are human. They have a lack of respect for all life. How can they recognize the land as being free if they cannot recognize the inherent worth of another life? Out of their arrogance they think they were created stronger or smarter because they use their strength and intellect to steal from others, and then justify their behavior. We must see through the thin veils they cast over us to divide us, and realize that we are all children of the earth. All we who respect the sacredness of the earth and of each other must unify to ensure the exploitation of our brothers and sisters around the world does not continue in our name, in the name of these lands, even such as they are now. And when we are not led by destruction and deception, perhaps we can heal our internal brokenness, and reunite our people with their freedom and choice of way of life.

    -A great-granddaughter of three tribes

  • Debra White Plume

    I will believe the occupiers everywhere in their statements that they want their American Constitution upheld when they begin to speak the message that their Constitution, Article 6, includes Treaties are the Supreme Law and start to press their American Government and American People to honor the Ft Laramie Treaty with our Lakota Nation, Cheyenne Nation and other Nations that signed it. The occupiers everywhere when they start to do this, then they are walking their talk. Until then, it is empty words as far as I am concerned and by their silence on this situation they are participating in the oppression of our people and their silence contributes to the genocide of my nation. We are the poorest of the poor, our death rate is the highest, our suicide rate is the highest, our unemployment has been at 85% for the past five decades, we die young from curable illnesses, our water is contaminated, and American people send their $$ to other countries. We are the Third World right here in the USA, created by the American Government and the continued Silence of the American People. We do not want your old used clothes. We want your ACTIVE, LOUD support for the enforcement of our Ft Laramie Treaty. -Debra White Plume

  • Debra White Plume

    I will believe the occupiers everywhere in their statements that they want their American Constitution upheld when they begin to speak the message that their Constitution, Article 6, includes Treaties are the Supreme Law and start to press their American Government and American People to honor the Ft Laramie Treaty with our Lakota Nation, Cheyenne Nation and other Nations that signed it. The occupiers everywhere when they start to do this, then they are walking their talk. Until then, it is empty words as far as I am concerned and by their silence on this situation they are participating in the oppression of our people and their silence contributes to the genocide of my nation. We are the poorest of the poor, our death rate is the highest, our suicide rate is the highest, our unemployment has been at 85% for the past five decades, we die young from curable illnesses, our water is contaminated, and American people send their $$ to other countries. We are the Third World right here in the USA, created by the American Government and the continued Silence of the American People. We do not want your old used clothes. We want your ACTIVE, LOUD support for the enforcement of our Ft Laramie Treaty. -Debra White Plume

  • Anonymous Enough For You?

    The “error” you’re talking about on that first poster is much more specific than you’re suggesting: the Lenape are Algonquian … they’re just not Algonquin. Remarkably few people know what the difference in spelling entails. However, anyone who clicks on the link you’ve provided will be surprised and/or confused to see that the first sentence is, “The Lenape (play /ˈlɛnəpiː/ or /ləˈnɑːpi/) are an Algonquian group of Native Americans…”.

    The Lenape really are part of the Algonquian language family and, sadly, the very last living speakers of the languages that were indigenous to Wall Street are now in Ontario (“Munsee is now spoken only on the Moraviantown Reserve in Ontario, Canada, by no more than four or five elderly individuals”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munsee_language).

  • Hawk In Woods

    I am a descendant of Hawk In Woods, my gt gt grandfather, and I stand with Occupy Wall Street. So I am sure where I stand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Greyeyes/730283309 Thomas Greyeyes