“It Ain’t a New Deal, It’s the Same Old Deal”: Red Deal Events Draws Community Support

Community members discuss the action to implement the Red Deal.

by Jennifer Marley

The next Red Deal coalition meeting is Thursday, July 11, 2019 6pm  at the Larry Casuse Freedom Center 1421 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87106.

Day 1

On Wednesday, June 19th over 75 people attended the first Red Deal workshop and listening session at the Larry Casuse Freedom Center in Albuquerque. The goal of the event was to not only introduce the Red Deal but to actively build on it and develop unique solutions to the problems that “green” capitalist transition schemes refuse to acknowledge. This was the first of many listening sessions and workshops that The Red Nation invited allied movements, comrades, and relatives to join us for, to draft and implement the Red Deal, a movement-oriented document for climate justice and grassroots reform and revolution. 

The Red deal was created, keeping in mind that the proposed Green New Deal (GND) legislation is a step in the right direction to combat climate change and to hold corporate polluters responsible. We acknowledge that a mass mobilization, never before seen in history like this is required to save this planet. However, what is often forgotten is that congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the main proponent of the GND, is herself a Water Protector who began her successful congressional run while she was at Standing Rock protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Indigenous movements have always been at the forefront of environmental justice struggles. The Red Deal does not seek to challenge or replace the green new deal, rather it seeks to build people power and policy from the ground up, allowing Indigenous people to claim their rightful place as leaders of the environmental justice struggle. 

The Red Deal workshop started with a prayer by  Comrade Cleo, who also prepared the meal we shared. Onyesonwu of the All African Peoples Revolutionary party spoke on the importance of Juneteenth, reminding us that colonized people have always freed themselves by engaging in active struggle, not by crying on the shoulder of the colonizer. Next, Comrade Nick opened the conversation by introducing the premise of the Red Deal. Following this, the themes of the Red Deal were presented: what creates crisis cannot solve it, change from below and to the left, politicians can’t do what only mass movements do, and from theory to action. (See a description of the themes here.)

Melanie Yazzie serves food to Red Deal participants.

Once the listening session ended and the audience was now acquainted with the Red Deal and its purpose, we broke into small groups to discuss ways the Red Deal could be utilized, and it’s generative possibilities. Half of the groups functioned as an education and action group for those new to the struggle, the other half were planning and action groups for experienced organizers to begin brainstorming. Some proposed food sovereignty and imagined programs that would allow us to re-establish our relationships to the land outside the non-profit industrial complex. Others addressed the need for freedom schools in the spirit of Survival Schools, organizing teachers, divesting from the tourism industry, and solutions to rampant bordertown racism and violence. 

Time seemed to fly in the break out sessions, and we were left eager to continue conversations we started that day. Seeing so many comrades in one place all working diligently to imagine a better future was proof that revolutionary action to protect our earth, human, and non-human relatives is not only possible but inevitable. 

We ended with each group presenting what they had discussed and closed with a final prayer and the next steps. We reminded everyone that in our spaces, everyone has relatives, no one goes hungry, and we always equal to one another.  

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Water Protectors protest the auctioning of 38,000 acres of Indigenous lands at the BLM-Rio Puerco Offices.

Day 2

The following day 25 people gathered at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rio Puerco office to protest the online auctioning of 38,000 acres of land in the Greater Chaco Landscape for gas and oil exploration. The bidding started at just $2 an acre, and netted $2.8 million in online sales. 

The protesters were met with a heavy private security and police presence, and the building had been barricaded. Participants were told that they were not allowed on “private property.”

Melanie Yazzie sang a woman’s warrior song created by incarcerated First Nations women to combat suicide and carceral violence. Organizer Cheyenne Antonio spoke about the connection between fracking in Diné territory and the epidemic of violence against Native women. New Mexico has the highest rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The oil and gas industry plays a part in this crisis, with the presence of man camps and the poverty that extractive projects leave in areas once they leave. 

Chants now familiar to Water Protectors—“Water is life!” and “You can’t drink oil! Keep it in the soil!”—were heard at this action along with other chants that called for the end of the occupation of Native lands—“When people are occupied, resistance is justified!”.  

Midway through the action, even more, police arrived, threatening protesters with arrest for walking on public sidewalks and through the grass near the BLM building. The group eventually marched up to the freeway where the action was more visible. We continued to rally reminding people that such actions are critical when nobody else protests the blatant theft of Native land for fracking. 

Jennifer Marley reports back community reflections and proposals for implementing the Red Deal.

The protest ended as it began—in prayer—and left the crowd uplifted. The Red Deal event and following protest are fundamentally about protecting water, land, and air for future generations. Our hope is that the Red Deal and the ways it will be implemented will allow Native people to reclaim their relationship to the earth and all non-human relatives. 

We must reclaim our collective power. When the state invests its greatest resources to contain the threat of mass mobilization, we must already be organized in those spaces and those communities. We must be one step ahead, ready to capture the momentum of the next rebellion and catapult it into a full-blown mass movement.

Above all, we seek peace and right relations between all life. Join us in this struggle!