Decolonizing the New World Means Listening to Native Voices | Unsettling America

As the one year anniversary of the encampment at Oscar Grant Plaza approaches, we as organizers within the Occupy, Decolonize and Anti-Capitalist movements find ourselves faced with new challenges and opportunities. Thousands have been inspired and served by the camp and important connections have been made that have served to strengthen us in the face of even the most brutal repression. We continue to defy the police state, we continue to open public space, to farm, to build the world we want to see. We now are faced with questions of how to push these critiques of capital and the State further and to continue to strengthen and develop ourselves across scenes and communities. To find these answers we need to first look at the ground we walk.

We walk every day on land that is not ours. We step on the bones of ancestors whose remains are not legitimized by the State. We live in a place where the graves of indigenous people are bulldozed and paved over because they do not belong to a federally recognized tribe, because they are invisibilized by colonialism. We ride bikes and walk with friends over ground that is sacred to indigenous people in this area because park districts allow paths to go through these places without regard for their meaning. The indigenous people of the land where you walk are still living and still fighting, and we have the opportunity to fight for these places with them.

The process of colonization is one of invisiblization. It is the process of erasing language, culture and history. It is the process by which an oppressive force seeks to tell the inhabitants of the colonized place that they no longer exist, they are no longer legitimate. The desecration of shellmounds (burial sites) and other sacred sites in this area is illustration of how this process works. It is a statement that these places do not matter, they do not exist, neither do the people who are tied to them. City government and area parks and recreation departments argue that access to parks and other pieces of undeveloped land trumps the desires of native people in the area. And even when these bodies do decide to listen to native voices, they look primarily to groups of federally recognized tribes. These tribes usually gain such recognition by succumbing to pressures by the government to relinquish their land and their ways. For those who refuse to be erased, for those who refuse to be invisible, the struggle is hard-fought, and ongoing.

ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Decolonizing the New World Means Listening to Native Voices | Unsettling America.

About Kurly Tlapoyawa (1010 Articles)

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