My introduction to LANDBACK

One of the main areas of work of my native friends is LANDBACK.

Many white people have been learning about the concept of land acknowledgement. Native people say, now that you (white people) have acknowledged whose land you are on, what next?

But the idea of “landback” — returning land to the stewardship of Indigenous peoples — has existed in different forms since colonial governments seized it in the first place. “Any time an Indigenous person or nation has pushed back against the oppressive state, they are exercising some form of landback,” says Nickita Longman, a community organizer from George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The movement goes beyond the transfer of deeds to include respecting Indigenous rights, preserving languages and traditions, and ensuring food sovereignty, housing, and clean air and water. Above all, it is a rallying cry for dismantling white supremacy and the harms of capitalism. Although these goals are herculean, the landback movement has seen recent successes, including the removal of dams along the Klamath River in Oregon following a long campaign by the Yurok Tribe and other activists, and the return of 1,200 acres in Big Sur, California, to the formerly landless Esselen Tribe.

Returning the Land. Four Indigenous leaders share insights about the growing landback movement and what it means for the planet, by Claire Elise Thompson, Grist, February 25, 2020

I had been work working for years to try to stop the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines in the land called the United States. It felt like we had made little progress. President Obama did finally deny the permit for the Keystone pipeline. But his executive order was overturned by an executive order by the last occupant of the White House. Then President Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office to rescind the permit for Keystone.

So I was stunned when in January, 2020, I came across this video taken when the Coastal GasLink pipeline company was peacefully evicted from the lands of the Wet’suwet’en peoples in the Unist’ot’en territory in British Columbia. As Denzel Sutherland-Wilson says below, “I don’t think anyone’s ever really evicted like a 6 billion dollar pipeline before.

Bear Creek Friends (Quaker) meetinghouse is located in the Iowa countryside on the lands of the Ioway and Meskwaki peoples. Many members have been involved in agriculture and care about protecting Mother Earth. A number of Friends have various relationships with Indigenous peoples.

As we learned more about the struggle of the Wet’suwet’en people, Bear Creek Friends sent a letter to the British Columbia premier and donated money.

John Horgan.

John Horgan,

We’re concerned that you are not honoring the tribal rights and unceded Wet’suwet’en territories and are threatening a raid instead.

We ask you to de-escalate the militarized police presence, meet with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, and hear their demands:

That the province cease construction of the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline project and suspend permits.

That the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and tribal rights to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are respected by the state and RCMP.

That the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and associated security and policing services be withdrawn from Wet’suwet’en lands, in agreement with the most recent letter provided by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimiation’s (CERD) request.

That the provincial and federal government, RCMP and private industry employed by Coastal GasLink (CGL) respect Wet’suwet’en laws and governance system, and refrain from using any force to access tribal lands or remove people.

Bear Creek Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
19186 Bear Creek Road, Earlham, Iowa, 50072

The first time I heard about LANDBACK was when I saw the video below.

Our culture and our tradition is the land. We are directly connected to the land. It’s our spirituality. We cannot be forced to be away from our land.

Nine days since we took the land back.

It feels like something you don’t normally do. (laughter) Its revolutionary, right?

I don’t think anyone’s ever really evicted like a 6 billion dollar pipeline before.
People get confused about what we want as Native people. Like “what do you want?”

Just like, “land back!”. Don’t need any reconciliation, don’t want money, like I don’t want programs or funding or whatever.

(whispers “land back”)

Funny though, when I said that to my Dad, Wet’suwet’en people, if you tell them about LANDBACK, they’re like “we never lost the land, anyway.” Which is true.

Wet’suwet’en have never given up title to their 22,000 square kilometer territory.

You could take the title as “how I was introduced to LANDBACK”, or “my introduction to those who aren’t too familiar with LANDBACK”


This entry was posted in civil disobedience, decolonize, Indigenous, LANDBACK, Uncategorized, Unist'ot'en, Wet’suwet’en. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to My introduction to LANDBACK

  1. Lara/Trace says:

    I am following you on Twitter too. I want to thank you for all you do.

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