Sorry for my absence. I was going to start vlogging a while back. Still want to. One day it will happen. Too much going on right now. As of this moment, its been one year since my last post. Wow. I’ve been deep in the throes of DEcolonization, with soooo much more to go. The process of DEcolonization is not easy or fun or fast. But it builds Strength and Sense. And when we have Sense and Strength (especially spiritual strength), we can actually do and BE some GOOD in this world.
Do you ever feel like you’re weak, or not as strong as you thought you were? If so, that just means you’re gaining strength, starting to understand what it is TO be a strong person (a wise and incredibly strong Indigenous land and water protector told me this recently). Many people with privilege/luck have no clue what it is to struggle, what REAL adversity looks or feels like. Indigenous people do. They fight for their lives every day, for the right to exist THEIR way. They’ve been resisting and fighting the monster of colonist genocide spiritually, physically, culturally, emotionally, mentally, and ecologically for the last 500 years here in the Americas.
As I think and cry and rage about this and other Indigenous fights against genocidal colonialism, I draw on the brilliant and fierce Oglala Lakota activist Russell Means’ 1980 speech because he sums it all up so clearly, coherently and powerfully.
There is kind of a lot to it, but at the same time, not really. The thing is, colonized minds often get sidetracked trying to discuss or “debate” this kind of stuff because there are so many linear lines of divide made to complicate some pretty simple ideas.
So I share below snippets of Russell’s speech that so perfectly sums up this current Indigenous resistance and self-determination going on at Standing Rock as we speak, against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota. Back then he was talking of uranium mining, which is still a very serious and ongoing issue. This oil pipeline is not much different.
If you are white or a person of color and colonized in the mind/heart/soul, I ask you to read the below words carefully. If any of it pisses you off or confuses you, ask yourself WHY. The words below are more powerful DEcolonizing words than I could ever string together on my own from my still-colonized brain, which is why I’m sharing them with you. They’re important. They are literally life-giving or death-making, depending how you (mis)understand them. These are not some abstract words used to entertain me or you and be passively, half-heartedly consumed, discarded and forgotten until next time “boredom” strikes (I don’t believe in the word “bored”, I think it comes from the colonist concept of mindless, endless consumption and the constant demand to be “entertained.” There is a shit ton to do in this world, in our own backyards. Boredom is spiritual dis-ease…but I digress). Thank you for your time, attention and care. I appreciate you and welcome your comments/thoughts/questions.
The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. And who seems most expert at de humanizing other people? And why? Soldiers who have seen a lot of combat learn to do this to the enemy before going back into combat. Murderers do it before going out to commit murder. Nazi SS guards did it to concentration camp inmates. Cops do it. Corporation leaders do it to the workers they send into uranium mines and steel mills. Politicians do it to everyone in sight. And what the process has in common for each group doing the dehumanizing is that it makes it all right to kill and other wise destroy other people [and their “right’ to exist on THEIR terms, specifically indigenous beings]. One of the Christian commandments says, “Thou shalt not kill,” at least not humans, so the trick is to mentally convert the victims into nonhumans. Then you can proclaim violation of your own commandment as a virtue.
In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. Terms like progress and development are used as cover words here, the way victory and freedom are used to justify butchery in the dehumanization process. For example, a real estate speculator may refer to “developing” a parcel of ground by opening a gravel quarry; development here means total, permanent destruction, with the earth itself removed. But European logic has gained a few tons of gravel with which more land can be “developed” through the construction of road beds. Ultimately, the whole universe is open—in the European view—to this sort of insanity.
Most important here, perhaps, is the fact that Europeans [and other colonized folks] feel no sense of loss in all this. After all, their philosophers have despiritualized reality, so there is no satisfaction (for them) to be gained in simply observing the wonder of a mountain or a lake or a people in being. No, satisfaction is measured in terms of gaining material. So the mountain becomes gravel, and the lake becomes coolant for a factory, and the people are rounded up for processing through the indoctrination mills Europeans like to call schools.
But each new piece of that “progress” ups the ante out in the real world. Take fuel for the industrial machine as an example. Little more than two centuries ago, nearly everyone used wood—a replenishable natural item—as fuel for the very human needs of cooking and staying warm. Along came the Industrial Revolution and coal became the dominant fuel, as production became the social imperative for Europe. Pollution began to become a problem in the cities, and the earth was ripped open to provide coal whereas wood had always simply been gathered or harvested at no great expense to the environment. Later, oil became the major fuel, as the technology of production was perfected through a series of scientific “revolutions.” Pollution increased dramatically, and nobody yet knows what the environmental costs of pumping all that oil out of the ground will really be in the long run. Now there’s an “energy crisis,” and uranium is becoming the dominant fuel.
There’s a rule of thumb which can be applied here. You cannot judge the real nature of a European revolutionary doctrine on the basis of the changes it proposes to make within the European power structure and society. You can only judge it by the effects it will have on non-European peoples. This is because every revolution in European history has served to reinforce Europe’s tendencies and abilities to export destruction to other peoples, other cultures and the environment itself. I defy anyone to point out an example where this is not true.
Revolutionary Marxism is committed to even further perpetuation and perfection of the very industrial process which is destroying us all. It offers only to “redistribute” the results—the money, maybe—of this industrialization to a wider section of the population. It offers to take wealth from the capitalists and pass it around: But in order to do so, Marxism must maintain the industrial system. Once again, the power relations within European society will have to be altered, but once again the effects upon American Indian peoples here and non-Europeans elsewhere will remain the same. This is much the same as when power was redistributed from the church to private business during the so-called bourgeois revolution. European society changed a bit, at least superficially, but its conduct toward non-Europeans continued as before. You can see what the American Revolution of 1776 did for American Indians. It’s the same old song.
I think there’s a problem with language here. Christians, capitalists, Marxists. All of them have been revolutionary in their own minds, but none of them really mean revolution. What they really mean is a continuation. They do what they do in order that European culture can continue to exist and develop according to its needs.
European [colonist] culture itself is responsible. Marxism is just the latest continuation of this tradition, not a solution to it. To ally with Marxism is to ally with the very same forces that declare us an acceptable cost.
There is another way. There is the traditional Lakota way and the ways of the other American Indian peoples. It is the way that knows that humans do not have the right to degrade Mother Earth, that there are forces beyond anything the European mind has conceived, that humans must be in harmony with all relations or the relations will eventually eliminate the disharmony. A lopsided emphasis on humans by humans—the Europeans’ arrogance of acting as though they were beyond the nature of all related things—can only result in a total disharmony and a readjustment which cuts arrogant humans down to size, gives them a taste of that reality beyond their grasp or control and restores the harmony. There is no need for a revolutionary theory to bring this about; it’s beyond human control. The nature peoples of this planet know this and so they do not theorize about it. Theory is an abstract; our knowledge is real.
All European tradition. Marxism included, has conspired to defy the natural order of all things. Mother Earth has been abused, the powers have been abused, and this cannot go on forever. No theory can alter that simple fact. Mother Earth will retaliate, the whole environment will retaliate, and the abusers will be eliminated. Things come full circle, back to where they started. That’s revolution. And that’s a prophecy of my people, of the Hopi people and of other correct peoples.
American Indians have been trying to explain this to Europeans for centuries. But, as I said earlier, Europeans have proven themselves unable to hear. The natural order will win out, and the offenders will die out, the way deer die when they offend the harmony by overpopulating a given region. It’s only a matter of time until what Europeans call “a major catastrophe of global proportions” will occur. It is the role of all natural beings, to survive. A part of our survival is to resist. We resist not to overthrow a government or to take political power, but because it is natural to resist extermination, to survive. We don’t want power over white institutions; we want white institutions to disappear. That’s revolution.
When I use the term European, I’m not referring to a skin color or a particular genetic structure. What I’m referring to is a mind-set, a world view that is a product of the development of European culture. People are not genetically encoded to hold this outlook: they are acculturated to hold it. The same is true for American Indians or for the members of any other culture.
What I’m putting out here is not a racial proposition but a cultural proposition. Those who ultimately advocate and defend the realities of European [colonist] culture and its industrialism are my enemies. Those who resist it, who struggle against it, are my allies, the allies of American Indian people. And I don’t give a damn what their skin color happens to be. Caucasian is the white term for the white race: European is an outlook I oppose.
But there is a peculiar behavior among most Caucasians. As soon as I become critical of Europe and its impact on other cultures, they become defensive. They begin to defend themselves. But I’m not attacking them personally; I’m attacking Europe. In personalizing my observations on Europe they are personalizing European culture, identifying themselves with it. By defending themselves in this context, they are ultimately defending the death culture. This is a confusion which must he overcome, and it must be overcome in a hurry. None of us have energy to waste in such false struggles. Caucasians have a more positive vision to offer humanity than European culture. I believe this. But in order to attain this vision it is necessary for Caucasians to step outside European culture—alongside the rest of humanity—to see Europe for what it is and what it does.
This leads me back to address those American Indians who are drifting through the universities, the city slums, and other European institutions. If you are there to learn to resist the oppressor in accordance with your traditional ways, so be it. I don’t know how you manage to combine the two, but perhaps you will succeed. But retain your sense of reality. Beware of coming to believe the white world now offers solutions to the problems it confronts us with. Beware, too, of allowing the words of native people to be twisted to the advantage of our enemies. Europe invented the practice of turning words around on themselves. You need only look to the treaties between American Indian peoples and various European governments to know that this is true. Draw your strength from who you are.
END OF RUSSELL’S WORDS (these are all snippets of the speech; if you’ve come this far, do check out the full speech here, it’s well worth it, though about 80% of it I’ve shared here!)
Until next time my DEcolonizing Darlings! (And I promise it won’t be another year til my next post!)
When Indigenous Lives Matter, ALL Lives will Matter
And last but certainly not least, this is one of my fave songs and vids by Klee Benally: