Writing about the Wet’suwet’en peoples

The reason I am writing so much about the Wet’suwet’en peoples’ struggles is this is what I’m led to do by the Spirit. When I center myself in preparation to write first thing in the morning, I’m never quite sure what the subject will be. It might be a continuation of a longer story, as has been the case for the past week.

I don’t remember how I first became aware of the Wet’suwet’en people’s struggles. But I immediately saw that as a microcosm of the ongoing struggles between Indigenous culture and rights versus the corporate capitalism that is destroying us.

My entire adult life I’ve struggled to bring attention to all of the dangers of our profligate use of nonrenewable fossil fuels. I had owned a couple of cars, but when one was totaled in an accident, I decided to live without one from that point, over forty years ago. But I’ve been continuously frustrated that I didn’t seem to be able to convince anyone else to do so.

Looking for cultures that lived sustainably, I wanted to learn more about Indigenous peoples. I was finally able to do that when a small group of Native and non-native people walked together along the path of the Dakota Access pipeline. From Des Moines to Fort Dodge, Iowa, over eight days to cover the 94 miles. I am so blessed to have made friendships that now include Native people as a result of our struggles and time together during the March.

One of the main things I am more aware of now is the pervasiveness of White settler colonialism. That is one reason why I am now led to learn and write more about the Wet’suet’en’s struggles for their land and sovereignty.

I think what follows, “Why Standing Rock Matters” applies as well, now, to the struggles of the Wet’suwet’en people.

But it is indigenous sovereignty, and the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, that matters.

One of the most positive developments in activism over the past few years has been the growth, and widespread understanding of, intersectionality. An intersectional analysis allows us to identify and name manifestations of injustice as we experience them, even as we also acknowledge that our experiences are “similar but not the same” as those of other communities. Thus we stand with communities suffering from the same oppressive system, such as racism, for example, even if the manifestations of that oppressive system are experienced differently, based on one’s perceived race. Grounded in intersectional analysis, Palestinian activists, environmentalists, etc., “see” themselves in/at Standing Rock. But Standing Rock “isn’t” about Palestine. Standing Rock “isn’t” about Black Lives. Standing Rock “isn’t” about climate change. Standing Rock is about all of this, and all of us together. But ultimately, Standing Rock matters because it is about the Sioux Nation, and the indigenous people of this land.

Yes, intersectionality helps us understand, but, as indigenous writer Kelly Hayes points out, “intersectionality does not mean focusing exclusively on the intersections of our respective work. It sometimes means taking a journey well outside the bounds of those intersections.” And Hayes goes on to remind us: “It is crucial that people recognize that Standing Rock is part of an ongoing struggle against colonial violence. #NoDAPL is a front of struggle in a long-erased war against Native peoples — a war that has been active since first contact, and waged without interruption. Our efforts to survive the conditions of this anti-Native society have gone largely unnoticed because white supremacy is the law of the land, and because we, as Native people, have been pushed beyond the limits of public consciousness.”

Indeed, settler-colonialism never ended on Turtle Island, it is ongoing, with daily violations of indigenous rights, and treaties with the sovereign nations. When the water protectors say “water is life,” it is because their very survival is at stake. And as we respond, as we come together from all nations of the globe, we reinforce the bonds of indigenous and transnational grassroots resistance that makes up greater than the sum of our parts. But ultimately, and whatever connections we may make to better understand this standoff at Standing Rock, we must center indigenous concerns in this battle.

Why Standing Rock matters, by Nada Elia Mondoweiss, October 31, 2016

“They’re giving the corporations the full arm of the cops here to enforce their agenda. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs here in Canada. They’ve handed the colonialism over to the corporations and the corporations are doing the aggressive colonialism.” Chief Dtsa H’yl

Solidarity actions continue to occur across the lands many know as “Canada”.

These actions are just a few of what’s happening. From the east to the west, people are standing up and stating that the infringement, and direct violations of Wet’suwet’en rights, will not be tolerated.

People are recognizing that these are violations of indigenous rights, and further – human rights.

Protection of the land for future generations is our responsibility. Not just the Wet’suwet’en – but people living in these times as a whole.

We can NOT sit silently by, and allow for the profits of few, take precedence over people (including future generations).

#RiseUp #Solidarity #WetsuwetenStrong #DefendTheYintah #NoConsent #NoAccess #NoTrespass Unist’ot’en Camp #Wedzinkwa


Local, national & international actions in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidumt’en Territory

This entry was posted in climate change, decolonize, Indigenous, Uncategorized, Wet’suwet’en. Bookmark the permalink.

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