January 22, 2019
Greetings from The Red Nation.
We live in troubling times. But there are cracks widening in the edifices of power, and the light of a new world is shining through.
I am writing this on the heels of the historic third annual Women’s March in the U.S. Millions took to the streets to protest increasing attacks against working women, women of color, women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of Indigenous women. From Alcatraz in 1969 to Wounded Knee in 1973, from Idle No More in 2012 to Standing Rock in 2016, each of these movements have been led by Indigenous women. Our current moment is no exception.
Two weeks ago, the Secwepemc elder, Dr. Billy Janice, had a short message for Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau and his liberal government: “Get the fuck off our land!” Trudeau had come to Kamloops, British Columbia peddling the bankrupt program of “truth and reconciliation” with Indigenous nations while promoting the Trans Mountain Pipeline, a project his government purchased from Kinder Morgan last summer saving it from collapse. The oil pipeline cuts through the heart of Secwepemc territory and transports highly toxic tar sands oil extracted from Indigenous lands in Alberta, making good on the Prime Minister’s promise to reap huge profits for big oil at the expense of Indigenous peoples, lands, and waters. For that reason, Trudeau found no reconciliation but a region aflame with protest and shaking with anger.
But settler states do more than bail out failing oil companies. Their police are the caretakers of violence, while Indigenous peoples remain caretakers of the land.
As we reported in our last newsletter, Canada is ready to use brute force to clear the way for its illegal oil pipelines. Two weeks ago, riot police raided the Gidumt’en checkpoint blocking access to Wet’suwet’en territory. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) came ready for a fight, with snipers and assault rifles. The Wet’suwet’en have valiantly defended their land, so far halting TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline from trespassing into their territory. Unist’ot’en Camp was the last final camp raided by police. Fourteen Land Defenders were arrested. But it is more than a protest camp. Freda Huson helped found the Healing Centre for Wet’suwet’en people recovering from abuse and addiction. This is all threatened by the pipeline and the police.
Unist’ot’en Camp had this to say about the violent eviction from their lands by a colonial government they don’t recognize:
We don’t need their guns or their money. We have the land and the water and the animals and all our relations. We don’t need their court orders and police enforcement. We have our Indigenous neighbours and relatives standing beside us. We don’t need their threats and intimidation. We have the strength of our ancestors within us. We don’t need their force and their violence. We have governed ourselves sustainably since time immemorial. We are still here. We are still fighting. This is not over.
Follow and support Unist’ot’en Camp here.
In the United States, thousands of Indigenous women joined the national Women’s March which held events around the country. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place known to the Pueblo Nation as Ogapay Owingeh, the White Shell Water Place, Pueblo women of The Red Nation led the Northern New Mexico Women’s March. Last year, Indigenous women stormed the stage protesting the lack of Indigenous representation. This year they were front and center promoting a decolonization agenda, justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the end to resource extraction destroying their lands.
But Pueblo Women’s resistance is not a new thing. Since 1680, Pueblo women have been resisting Spanish and American colonialism. More recently, Pueblo women and femmes of The Red Nation organized protests against the racist celebration of Spanish conquest of New Mexico, known as the Entrada, which was subsequently abolished. They have also spearheaded efforts to halt the oil and gas development in the Greater Chaco Landscape, a sacred and special place to many Indigenous nations, and have challenged heteropatriarchy in their own communities. Their leadership is truly inspiring.
In our first Red Revolution Radio podcast episode, The Red Nation Chair Melanie Yazzie interviews members of the Santa Fe Red Nation Freedom Council and Pueblo feminists Elena Ortiz (Ohkay Owingeh), Savannah Ortiz (Ohkay Owingeh and Diné), Justine Teba (Tesuque), and Jennifer Marley (San Ildefonso). You can listen to that interview here.
The Red Nation also participated in Albuquerque’s Women’s March, taking the stage to protest the selling off of public lands to oil and gas corporations. Justine Teba and Ahjani Yepa (Jemez) are writing a report back on what transpired. Stay tuned!
Thanks to our comrades Majerle Lister and Andrew Curley, in the next months we will be releasing a series of podcast interviews from the 2018 Native Liberation Conference held last August in Albuquerque. Listen to their interview with Addameer, an NGO that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons. You can find that interview here.
Follow Red Revolution Radio on Soundcloud here for more interviews and episodes.
Last year, we heard horror stories of children dying in detention camps along the U.S.-Mexico border. Over Christmas, we sent a delegation to Tornillo, Texas where a protest camp was set up. Red Nation members Hope Alvarado, N. Lira-Pérez, and Nicolás Cruz visited the encampment offering solidarity and support. For the children, who only separated by a fence, they chanted “¡No Están Solos! You Are Not Alone!” You can read their beautiful report on their experiences here. We are planning a follow-up delegation and more analysis on the situation. Stay tuned.
Now more than ever that message resonates. Only walls, borders, and the whims vicious tyrants separate the poor and humble people of the earth. But a wall will not fall unless we hit it.
Yesterday, the tyrant Trump invoked the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. The two men are complete opposites. One is a racist bigot. The other is a revolutionary whose message was to end militarism, capitalism, and racism—things Trump proudly stands for. We must remember King for who he was, not who corporate politicians make him out to be. He walked with humble people who crossed borders, whose stomachs ached at night, and those fighting racist landlords and petty tyrants. King was one of us, not one of them.
This is a dark chapter for our planet. We must take seriously the words of Dr. Janice Billy and Warrior Women like her. We cannot afford mealy-mouthed rhetoric when we face such terrible danger and the lives of so many are stake.
If we are to have a future, we must tell the guns and money people to “Get the fuck off our land!”