All of California’s agricultural land is fundamentally unsustainable and structurally self-destructive.

All of California’s agricultural land is fundamentally unsustainable and structurally self-destructive. The entire San Joaquin valley was a lake until very recently; Lake Corcoran was one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. (Wong) It was fed with rainfall from the sea, and its evaporation created a cycle of precipitation which fed both sides of the Sierras and into the great basin. (Wong) This cycle contributed to other formerly vast lake such as Pyramid Lake, Mono Lake, etc. The last remaining section of Lake Corcoran was drained by a slaver named J.G Boswell. (Margolin) He left Georgia after the civil war to try to restart his cotton empire using migrant laborers now that slavery had been banned. (Margolin)

In Southern California, a similar story played out. Lake Cahuilla occupied all of what is now called the Salton Basin. The lake that’s now called the Salton Sea was formerly a fresh water lake, six times as large, and fed by a constant supply of fresh water from the Colorado River. (Hitch) Now it’s a stagnant, polluted, inhospitable relic of its former self, surrounded by dead desert land. The water from the Colorado River has been diverted in its entirety to agricultural irrigation in the formerly shallow areas of the lake which are now above the water line of the Salton Sea, and so this river no longer reaches the ocean or the lake. (Heggie)

The thing about lake doing agriculture in dry lake beds is that the water table drops when you drain the lakes because the inputs to that water table disappear without the lake; the lakes are the source of the groundwater. Without the lakes, every well was draining a non-renewable source of water, and that water is now gone. The San Joaquin valley accounts for 20% of the nation’s agricultural groundwater demand, and produces just 8% of the nation’s agricultural output. (USGS) This is primarily because corrupt congressmen like Doug LaMalfa passed subsidies to pay themselves to grow unsustainable crops like rice. (Wilner) Rice isn’t even profitable or in-demand without those corrupt subsidies and it requires an incredible amount of water to grow. (Fox)

On top of the fact that draining the lakes and diverting the rivers reduced the precipitation cycle and eliminated much of the water which had previously been available to the region, the San Joaquin valley and the Salton basin have some of the worst air pollution in the nation. (Vera) Air pollution prevents precipitation, further decreasing the amount of water that’s available for the region. (Jirak)(Cone)

We see every sign that all of these vicious and interrelated cycles of unsustainable destruction will continue to escalate and worsen, and bring with them a continued exponential increase in drought frequency and severity as well as wildfire frequency and severity. California did this to itself, and it’s hard to see these problems being fixed, now that those drained lake beds contain countless towns and cities, and upstream versions of the same problems in places like Lake Mead mean it wouldn’t be possible to undo the damage at this point even if we decided we want to try.

The Brundtland commission at the UN defined sustainability as being able to meet your short-term needs in a way that doesn’t sacrifice your long-term needs. (International Institute for Sustainable Development) California’s agriculture is a perfect example of doing exactly the opposite. Corrupt and greedy actors like Boswell and LaMalfa prioritized their own short-term income above all else, violating public trust and the survivability of future generations in exchange for untold wealth during their short, miserable lives. We are left in the ashes of the evil of those who came before, standing in a desert that was once a lake, begging for a glass of water that will not come.

Works Cited

Cone, M. (2000, March 10). Air pollution is stifling precipitation, study finds. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-mar-10-mn-7291-story.html

Heggie, J. (2021, May 4). Can the Colorado River Keep on running? Science. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/partner-content-colorado-river-preserving-stressed-water-resources

Hitch, N. (2014, August 23). Ancient lake cahuilla sustained life in the Valley. Imperial Valley Press Online. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.ivpressonline.com/life/desertmuseum/ancient-lake-cahuilla-sustained-life-in-the-valley/article_8776df84-233c-53ec-ab3b-0e37e6e6d539.html

International Institute for Sustainable Development. Sustainable development. (2013, January 6). Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.iisd.org/about-iisd/sustainable-development

Jirak, I. L., & Cotton, W. R. (2006, January 1). Effect of air pollution on precipitation along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. AMETSOC. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://journals.ametsoc.org/configurable/content/journals$002fapme$002f45$002f1$002fjam2328.1.xml?t%3Aac=journals%24002fapme%24002f45%24002f1%24002fjam2328.1.xml

Margolin, M. (2003, October 12). A land rich in lore, rich in cotton, poor in spirit. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2003-oct-12-bk-margolin12-story.html

USGS, California Water Science Center (n.d.). California’s Central Valley. California’s Central Valley | USGS California Water Science Center. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://ca.water.usgs.gov/projects/central-valley/about-central-valley.html

Vera, N. (2021, August 20). San Joaquin Valley has one of the worst air qualities in the world right now. YourCentralValley.com. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/local-news/san-joaquin-valley-has-one-of-the-worst-air-qualities-in-the-world-right-now/

Wilner, J., Johnson, R., & Group, B. A. N. (2018, April 20). Rep. Lamalfa highest earner of farm subsidies in Congress, report shows. Chico Enterprise-Record. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.chicoer.com/2017/12/08/rep-lamalfa-highest-earner-of-farm-subsidies-in-congress-report-shows/

Wong, K. (2006, September 30). Carquinez breakthrough. Bay Nature. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://baynature.org/article/carquinez-breakthrough/

 

Mutual Aid, Abolition, and Transformative Justice

CJ Trowbridge

2021-12-07

ETHS 100

Week 13 Notes

Introductions

Dean Spade

Dean Spade’s book is about the importance of mutual aid for building social movements, and the specific models and approaches for avoiding the common pitfalls that mutual aid organizations run into. Dean has been involved in mutual aid for decades, but felt a strong desire to make the idea of mutual aid popular in new ways after the 2016 election. Dean highlights that donating to the ACLU or voting next time are not realistic strategies for defeating Trump and Trumpism.

Common neoliberal mythologies on social change hide the way social change actually happens by centering law and charismatic leaders and hiding the mutual aid and especially the daily work done mostly by women, BIPOC, and incarcerated people. These things are actually more central to building powerful movements. These neoliberal mythologies disempower social action. Political people are not about powerful lawyers creating change, they are about movements of people engaging directly to demand change. The neoliberal colonial legal system will not deliver change; only with pressure from social movements can change happen, and even then the change will be as small and superficial as possible and it will be undone as soon as possible.

Mutual Aid means working together to meet each other’s survival needs based on a shared understanding that the systems we live under will not meet them and actually are creating the situation where the needs are not met. Mutual aid meets people’s immediate survival needs. Mutual aid is an onramp for building movements and getting people engaged, it builds solidarity among people engaged in mutual aid. Mutual aid is the way we practice living in the world we want to live in by giving people access to their basic needs and creating a world where people’s needs are met without any strings attached.

The book also focuses on ethical best practices for how to work together to do mutual aid work that is effective.

Abolition and transformative justice are fundamental to the practices and goals of mutual aid. Transformative justice is about creating the safe future that people need and want, which the current carceral and juridical system promises but does not deliver.

Ejeris Dixon

Progressive movement cultures are sometimes not as open, even within a concsensus decision making system where everyone may not have the same understanding of the concepts and terms being discussed. Something as simple as defining harm can lead to conflict and confusion in discussion and consensus which interrupts the potential for radically liberated movements.

Mariame Kaba

Mutual aid has been described as “survival pending revolution” as part of the politicized survival work of the Black Panthers. Mutual aid has been described as “cooperation for the sake of the common good.” Mutual aid has been described as “collectivity towards survival” within community organizing. Ruthie Gilmore describes mutual aid as rehearsal for a post-abolition society, or as one of the mechanisms with which we can prefiguring the world in which we want to live.

Transformative Justice is about focusing on healing rather than punishment. Participatory defense campaigns are very good examples of abolitionist mutual aid in support of transformative justice, fund raising for the legal and life needs of criminalized people and their families.

Everything doesn’t have to be everything; it’s too much for anyone, especially right now. Many topics are not any one person’s to answer.

How to define the world we’re trying to create?

Dean Spade

Zillions of small projects and solutions working in different, local ways, instead of trying to create monolithic colonial systems that erase local knowledges and differences between people. Instead, we want proliferations of different kinds of wisdom that work in different ways for different people. Collective self-determination is not about individual self-determination, it’s about being determined to decide together what conditions we want to live under.

A world without prisons or borders does not have nation states. Nation states fundamentally exist to create and reinforce social hierarchies and reify white supremacy, misogyny, etc. There are many important and fundamental concepts in mutual aid that we can agree on even if we disagree about many fundamentals and political ideologies.

Ejeris Dixon

We don’t live in a democracy. We live in a system that was designed to exploit and oppress communities. Is actual democracy possible in the US? Communities should be able to determine their own needs and how to fulfill them in non-oppressive ways. Process is more important than scale.

Mariame Kaba

We want to change things that make everyone’s life more livable. We want to end premature death and make life livable for people. Fascists and antifascists both tend to fetishize the state. The state doesn’t do anything; the people enliven the institutions to do things. Every system of power has within it the key to its own undoing.

The Black Box That Reflects Its Maker

CJ Trowbridge

PHIL 335 – Law and Society

2021-11-17

The Black Box That Reflects Its Maker

“As we look behind the closed door of law’s room and into its fi ling cabinets, we fi nd secrets that unmask the public persona of the room’s occupant. It’s not simple or straightforward though. Along the way, we fi nd conflicting records, indecipherable notes, bits and pieces of nuance, and other enigmatic evidence of our subject’s true character—who appears to be alternately compulsive, tyrannical, helpful, dismissive, or indifferent, depending on the circumstances.”

Law is a black box. It is a machine whose internal workings are intractable and indecipherable. It has no intention; it has no agency of its own. As the author put it, “law and society are mutually embedded.” Together they form a mobius strip, where countless agents are acting in mutual discord, fighting countless battles across time. The law and society that we see in the world are like the boiling over of these countless discords, behaving in aggregate as the author put it, “alternately compulsive, tyrannical, helpful, dismissive, or indifferent, depending on the circumstances.”

If form follows function, and if it’s true that social systems come to model the groups they are composed of, then it’s easy to see law and society as an abstraction of the minds of the countless individuals they are made of. From that perspective, it’s easy to see why law and society are so full of conflicting priorities like malice alongside compassion. Our laws and societies are models of our selves, and we are every bit as discordant as individuals and as an agglomeration of social groups constructed in conflict.

 

Works Cited

Calavita, K. (2016). Invitation to law & society: An introduction to the study of Real Law. The University of Chicago Press.

On Indigenous Epistemology and Ethics

CJ Trowbridge

2021-10-18

AIS 440

Week 8 Literature Review: On Indigenous Epistemology and Ethics

Choose 2 of the lectures from the first 7 weeks of class and write a minimum 2 page response by answering the following questions:

1. What was the main topic of the lectures?

2. What did you learn from the lectures?

3. What questions did the lectures bring up for you?

I chose the first two weeks of class. These were necessarily broad and therefore among the most salient and wide-reaching topics. I was particularly interested in these because of the focus on epistemology and ethics. I think these are two of the topics from which the world can learn the most from the indigenous peoples of occupied Turtle Island.

Epistemology is the study of truth, and how to decide what is true or false in the world. Ethics is the study of morals, and how to decide what is morally right and wrong in the world. A somewhat more challenging but also valuable topic is ontology or the study of what is real and how to decide what is real in the world. We didn’t have a unit on the topic of ontology, but together these three fields essentially encompass the worldview of a particular individual, culture, or ethnic group.

I have personally spent a great deal of time working with and supporting spiritual elders and two-spirit educators from indigenous tribes, particularly from the Paiutes. I have always been surprised that there is so little focus on epistemic, ontologic, and ethical differences between the many views held by indigenous people and comparisons between those views and the views of colonizers.

One indigenous elder who I spoke to about this topic described the fundamental difference as being a difference between seeing the world through the lens of your own rights and power versus your own responsibilities. As he put it, colonizer culture sees individuals in terms of their right to the land and their power over other people. Meanwhile, indigenous perspectives – as he put it — focus on the responsibility of individuals to the land and to the people.

These colonizer perspectives taken together create an environment of consumption and destruction and exploitation and place moral value on economic productivity and the marketability of an individual’s job skills. In contrast, the indigenous perspective he outlined creates an environment of resident stewardship and mutual aid where the people see themselves as one with the land and its plants and creatures and as responsible for the wellbeing of their fellow creatures and the land they live on.

I have been shocked as I progress through my degree in Queer Ethnic Studies to see so little focus on indigenous philosophy. When I did my degree in Women’s Studies, there were many classes focused on feminist epistemology and feminist ethics. In particular, these classes focused on the broader worldview of different generations of feminist thought in different parts of the world and how they evolved together and apart over time. The same was true in my LGBT Studies degree. This is why I found the first two weeks of this class so interesting, because as I take this last class for my Queer Ethnic Studies degree, these two units have been the first formal introduction to indigenous epistemology and ethics I have yet seen in my academic career.

Every time I read about issues of indigenous sovereignty, I see them through the lens of epistemology and ethics, and I see this as one of the main knowledge gaps in many academic discussions around these events and issues. For example, Tanya Tagaq has been banned from most social media platforms following her sealfie campaign. Many white feminists like Ellen Degeneres and vegan organizations like Peta began loudly protesting online against the right of Inuk people to sustainably hunt seals – as they have done for countless millennia – on the grounds that the unrelated industry of commercial seal hunting has led to the species becoming endangered. Tagaq urged Inuk people to post selfies with seals they had sustainably hunted in order to highlight the fact that Inuk people have been serving as stewards of the land for millennia, and sustainably harvesting enough seal to survive on the land. Tagaq wanted to underscore the fact that the issue of endangered seals was not caused by Inuk hunting traditions which focus on sustainable coexistence, but rather it was caused by colonizer industrial seal hunting which focuses on the right of corporations to exploit and destroy the natural world in order to make as much money as possible. Framed this way, it’s impossible to fall into what the reading from the first week calls “settler moves towards innocence.” It’s impossible from this lens to see any part of this example as illustrating settler innocence; rather it bolds and highlights settler guilt and responsibility.

The biggest question I have coming out of this essay is why the department does not place more emphasis on indigenous epistemology and ethics. I see these as among the most fundamental and critical parts of studying any ethnic group or community. I see so many indigenous academics, activists, and other leaders being ignored and marginalized by the fact that they are speaking to an audience which is fundamentally unprepared to understand many of the points they may be making. I think this is one of the main missing components of cultural competency for people on the outside who are trying to listen and learn from indigenous leaders, but lack the tools and perspective to internalize some of the ideas without a strong grasp on the fundamentals of indigenous epistemology and ethics.

Resisting Pressure to Conform To Capitalist Hegemony

CJ Trowbridge

AIS 440 Week 6: Two-Spirit People

2021-09-28

Prompt: Describe an action, idea, or ideology that continues to impose colonial heteropatriarchal principles onto Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and what steps you believe are necessary to rewrite this area of colonial and settler analysis.  This response needs to be a minimum of two paragraphs in length and requires two sources.  Sources can include anything from the QIS book or any of the videos or articles assigned in class.  You may also include sources not assigned in class. Be sure to include your citation at the end.

 

Tanya Tagak is an Inuk indigenous musician and activist. She often talks about the way indigenous people have been pressured to assimilate into capitalism, and the way white feminists have participated in that pressure.

The most famous example from her work is the #sealfie campaign. The Inuk people have been sustainably hunting seals for thousands of years as their main food source. (Canadian Sealers Association) And yet when news stories started coming out that white-colonist-commercial-hunters were unsustainably hunting seals, many white feminists (Particularly PETA fans and white vegans) began attacking indigenous people for sustainably hunting seals.

In response to these attacks, Tagak encouraged Inuk people to post what she called sealfies with seals they had sustainably hunted. This led to conversations about sustainable indigenous practices and eventually a documentary called Angry Inuk which exposed the hypocrisy of attacking sustainable indigenous hunting practices while ignoring the global corporations that are actually responsible for the negative impacts on the seal populations. (CBC) One of the key things to take away from that documentary is the fact that sustainable seal hunting is one of the few things indigenous people can do to survive outside of the capitalist settler colonial system. There is a great deal of pressure on them to get jobs and move to the cities and buy gasoline and snowmobiles instead of maintaining their sustainable hunting traditions.

Tagak, like many other Inuk activists is still banned from speaking this truth on social media platforms like Facebook which sided with white settler colonists in attacking indigenous people for their sustainable hunting practices.  (Patar)

This is a great example of white settler colonists attacking and silencing indigenous people and pressuring them to conform to capitalism and patriarchal hegemony. We need to develop a discourse around resisting pressure to conform to capitalism which lets us talk about the ways indigenous people should be able to live outside the norms of settler colonialism. We need to develop a discourse that helps white vegans understand how wrong they are to attack indigenous people for sustainable practices they have been doing for thousands of years in perfect harmony with the very environment which settler colonialism has single-handedly destroyed in just a few hundred years.

 

Works Cited

CBC. (n.d.). How one documentary is changing people’s minds about The INUIT seal hunt. CBC News. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.cbc.ca/cbcdocspov/features/how-one-documentary-is-changing-peoples-minds-about-the-inuit-seal-hunt.

Early inuit hunt. Canadian Sealers Association. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.sealharvest.ca/history/.

Dean, D. (n.d.). Tanya tagaq’s Cute SEALFIE pissed off a lot of idiots. VICE. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.vice.com/en/article/4w7awj/tanya-taqaqs-cute-sealfie-pissed-off-a-lot-of-idiots.

Patar, D. (2019, December 20). Inuit crafters continue to be blocked on Facebook for selling sealskin. Nunatsiaq News. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/inuit-crafters-continue-to-be-blocked-on-facebook-for-selling-sealskin/.

AIS 440 Week 6: Two-Spirit People

Watch

In the Life: The Murder of Fred Martinez Jr

Two-Spirits Documentary 

Read

A Boy Remembered

Man who murdered LGBTQ teen in Cortez is released from prison

Write

Describe an action, idea, or ideology that continues to impose colonial heteropatriarchal principles onto Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and what steps you believe are necessary to rewrite this area of colonial and settler analysis.  This response needs to be a minimum of two paragraphs in length and requires two sources.  Sources can include anything from the QIS book or any of the videos or articles assigned in class.  You may also include sources not assigned in class. Be sure to include your citation at the end.

 

Example: In Queer Indigenous Studies, Finley writes “Native women are necessary for the imaginary origin story of the U.S.” (p. 36).  The continued sexualization of Native women has led to a crisis of epidemic proportions wherein Native women in the US and Canada are going missing and murdered at extremely high rates.  I believe the necessary steps are for the US and Canadian governments to work directly with Tribal nations, Tribal NGOs, and women centric NGOs to implement policies that help Native women and tribal/urban Native communities eradicate this horrific phenomenon.

Source: https://www.uihi.org/missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women-and-girls-legislation/ ;

Driskill, Qwo-Li. Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature. University of Arizona Press, 2011.

 

You can view my essay response here.

 

Choosing to be Queer Native or Native Queer

CJ Trowbridge

AIS 440

Native Sexualities and Queer Discourse

Choosing to be Queer Native or Native Queer

I was struck by the following quote from the Barbara May Cameron article, “Cameron’s refusal to be queer in one corner of her life, and native in another, is as radical and transformative now, as it was then. In an interview with The Gully, Chrystos, a Native American poet and activist, and long-time friend of Cameron, credits her with “giving me a sense of dignity about my place in the world, and my right to be in that place.”

It reminded me of a speech I attended a few years ago where Clarmundo Sullivan talked about the difference between choosing to be a gay black man versus a black gay man, and the pressure to choose one or the other. Many of Sullivan’s comments sound a lot like Cmaeron’s. The article’s author said that, “Being both gay and Native American put Cameron in conflict almost everywhere she was.” And Cameron herself said, “We not only must struggle with the racism and homophobia of straight white America, but must often struggle with the homophobia that exists within our third-world communities.”

Sullivan said the exact same thing about the communities he is a part of, and like Cameron, it led Sullivan to specialized activism for people at the same intersection as himself.

The central thesis of third-wave intersectional feminism is that the experience of intersecting identities is different from the experience of those identities separately. The struggle of an indigenous gay woman is different from the experience of all women, of all indigenous people, of all gay people, or even some other combination of two of the three.

Cameron perfectly personifies the thesis of third-wave intersectional feminism by showing that being an indigenous gay woman still put Cameron at odds with indigenous misogyny and homophobia, with gay settler colonists, with homophobic colonizer women. Each of the marginalized identities Cameron occupies, taken on its own, faces microaggressions on the basis of her other intersections of identity.

Rejecting the pressure to “pick” one marginalized identity and instead acknowledging one’s many identities is a radical act, and feeling a sense of dignity about that intersectional place and one’s right to be in that place — as Cameron puts it — is a radical act of justice.

One of the classic failures of white feminism, of second and first-wave feminism, and of social justice in general is trying to reduce people to just one aspect of their identity while ignoring their other identities and the way their lived experience emerges from multiple intersections.

AIS 440 Week 4: Gay American Indians

Read

Listen

Write

Choose any of the readings, videos, or podcasts from the first four weeks.

Papers must include two parts:

  1. a review of the readings, videos, or podcasts. A review is not a close reading of a couple of key issues, nor is it a string of quotes. It is a summary of the main argument and the key topics the author addresses;
  2. a thoughtful, critical analysis or reflection on how/why the issues addressed in the readings, videos, or podcasts are important.

Tip: After you have completed the review/summary, think about what issues the readings, videos, or podcasts has addressed.

  • Are there particular issues that you find important?
  • Did the authors make an argument that you disagree with or were confused by?
  • Can you compare/contrast the issues of one readings, videos, or podcasts with another?
  • Can you relate readings, videos, or podcasts to other courses you have taken?

 

I was struck by the following quote from the Barbara May Cameron article, “Cameron’s refusal to be queer in one corner of her life, and native in another, is as radical and transformative now, as it was then. In an interview with The Gully, Chrystos, a Native American poet and activist, and long-time friend of Cameron, credits her with “giving me a sense of dignity about my place in the world, and my right to be in that place.”

It reminded me of a speech I attended a few years ago where Clarmundo Sullivan talked about the difference between choosing to be a gay black man versus a black gay man, and the pressure to choose one or the other. Many of Sullivan’s comments sound a lot like Cmaeron’s. The article’s author said that, “Being both gay and Native American put Cameron in conflict almost everywhere she was.” And Cameron herself said, “We not only must struggle with the racism and homophobia of straight white America, but must often struggle with the homophobia that exists within our third-world communities.”

Sullivan said the exact same thing about the communities he is a part of, and like Cameron, it led Sullivan to specialized activism for people at the same intersection as himself.

The central thesis of third-wave intersectional feminism is that the experience of intersecting identities is different from the experience of those identities separately. The struggle of an indigenous gay woman is different from the experience of all women, of all indigenous people, of all gay people, or even some other combination of two of the three.

Cameron perfectly personifies the thesis of third-wave intersectional feminism by showing that being an indigenous gay woman still put Cameron at odds with indigenous misogyny and homophobia, with gay settler colonists, with homophobic colonizer women. Each of the marginalized identities Cameron occupies, taken on its own, faces microaggressions on the basis of her other intersections of identity.

Rejecting the pressure to “pick” one marginalized identity and instead acknowledging one’s many identities is a radical act, and feeling a sense of dignity about that intersectional place and one’s right to be in that place — as Cameron puts it — is a radical act of justice.

One of the classic failures of white feminism, of second and first-wave feminism, and of social justice in general is trying to reduce people to just one aspect of their identity while ignoring their other identities and the way their lived experience emerges from multiple intersections.

 

ETHS 100 Week 3: Settler Colonialism and Indian Removal

Read/Write

Dunbar-Ortiz Intro: This Land (Audiobook (8:32-), I can also share this)

Please read Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz’ “Introduction” from her book, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States (attached below). Then, upload a pdf or word document with your responses to the following questions.

In 2-3 sentences each, please respond to the following:

1. Define Settler Colonialism (p.2)

Settler colonialism is the systemic displacement and extermination of any indigenous people who refuse to assimilate into the hegemonic structures of the white imperial ethnostate and its economic system of unjust class subjugation. Dunbar-Ortiz specifies land theft, white supremacy, and genocide as the primary means of action for the system of settler colonialism.

2. Why does Dunbar-Ortiz disagree with historians’ use of the term “encounter?” (p. 5)

It misrepresents the deliberate system of displacement and extermination as something that happened to the white ethnostate as it merely encountered the vast civilizations which in fact it carefully worked to exterminate and displace. It centers the excuses and discourses the white empire makes, rather than taking any objective perspective, or — god forbid — centering the perspectives of the hundred million people who were exterminated by the white ethnostate during these periods of “encounter,” and the many millions who have continued to be exterminated and displaced by the white ethnostate in the centuries since.

Read/Write

  1. Choose a topic from the following list of Indigenous activist issues that interests you the most. If you are not familiar with any of the topics, do a few quick google searches to help you decide
  • Sogorea te land trust (Oakland, California)
  • Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea (Hawaii)
  • Wet’suwet’en Territory (Canada)
  • Arizona Sacred Sites and Border Wall (Arizona)
  • Dakota Access Pipeline (North Dakota)
  1. Find and watch or listen to a short video or podcast about the issue
  2. Create and submit a document or creative art work that includes the following information:
  • A short summary of the Indigenous land activist issue of your choice: who/what native people were involved? When did the activism begin? What land or natural resources are they trying to protect? 
    • DAPL
    • The Oceti Sakowin people, the people of the Council of the Seven Fires were involved. As were countless allies and neighbors who stood in solidarity with the Oceti Sakowin to prevent the destruction of hundreds of sacred sites in clear violation of the Treaty of Fort Laramie, and the construction of a pipeline to carry toxic chemicals across the rubble of illegally destroyed sacred sights and through the main water source for the tribe.
    • Activism began in earnest on August 4, 2016 when the tribe sued the white empire’s USACE which had falsely claimed that “no historic properties will be affected by the pipeline crossing” despite their own internal research showing that this claim was an outright lie. Protesting began ramping up immediately, with activists disrupting construction activities and protecting the tribe’s sites and natural resources.
    • The main things they were trying to protect were the hundreds of cultural sites that the white empire had planned to destroy, as well as the river which provides water and life to the tribe.
  • A personal reflection– what do you think should be done about the issue you chose?
    • The tribe clearly has all the legal rights it is arguing for, and a moral right beyond those legal rights. I think the best solution is not just one that stops the harms being done by the white empire and ameliorates the impacts that have already happened, but also puts in place structures to prevent these kinds of things from happening in the future. In the same way that the white empire’s failure to crucify bad cops has led to a loss of public trust in policing and a visible loss of any moral legitimacy of policing (not that there ever were any good cops), the fact that the USACE knowingly lied and conspired to destroy hundreds of cultural sites in exchange for money should mean extremely harsh punishments for all those who are responsible, in addition to those new measures which prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
  • an image that depicts a certain aspect of the activism (people, protests, the land or water being protected, etc).
    • DAPL
  • the link to the short film or video that you watched to familiarize yourself with the issue