By: Johnny Hawk (I write this just as a humble strugglin’ Anishinabek within the Struggle tryin to make some sense in our Resurgence Movement, writing this for our own youth coming up and ready to fight)
The subject of the tokenism of our people by our so-called Crown Allies and its subjects through various realms in our interactions is a reality which comes up periodically through discussion amongst some relatives where we feel a need to take positive steps to create such awareness which will help us find where we need to be in our Nation to Nation Relationship.
The Tokenism of our People happens in obvious places such as when we deal with so-called Crown allies represented by the oppressive Federal and Provincial Governments who give us a bone now and again where most of our people take it. It also exists in places we least expect it, like in our spirituality, communities, schools and events and even amongst our activist comrades where it can happen intentionally or unintentionally, where again our people allow this to happen. When we see a bone being thrown some of our people will play the Uncle Tomahawk, Victim, Noble Savage or Righteous Warrior.
OUR FIRST ALLIES
As Anishinabek our spirituality is key to who we are, where we are not religious, politicians, academics or activists, we have a way of life. This way of life is our relationships and experiences we have with the Spirit, Star and Earth Worlds. Our first allies are those ones who manifest themselves in many ways in all these realms in which we have agreements with.
We are only pitiful Anishininabek, in which the Earth and all she encompasses would still survive without us but we can’t survive without mother earth, water and all its beings. The animals, earth, plant life and water give themselves up so that we can live and it is our duty to not over consume and only take what we need and to give back and give thanks.
We are made of components of the Spirit, Star and Earth World, Fire, Spirit, Air, Water and Earth, when we were sent here by Creation as Spirit we made a promise not to take our own life but to fulfill the responsibilities we have to our spirit name and clan and to the many things that give life to us. This is our sacred agreement to our first allies as allies.
When I see our people and spiritual people who don’t interact with the other beings and our own ways how it was intended fulfilling our obligations, we tokenize who we are. When I see our people and spiritual people condemning actions to those who will fight and die for those things that die for us so that we may live, our people tokenize who we are. I see how the many beings still fulfill their obligations but we have broken our first treaty.
IN HISTORY AND POLITICAL ALLIANCES
Before Colonists showed up lost on our shores, we developed many inter-tribal alliances that ended warfare, created trade economies, developed mutual understanding of resource sharing, where our Nations would travel all over Turtle Island and south to the Nations of the Condor. These inter-tribal alliances involved various diverse Confederacies connected and strengthened by family, ceremonies, wampum belt agreements, trade and festivals.
As our Nations began creating new alliances with the new comers, old inter-tribal alliances and agreements were disrespectfully disregarded and broken. These new comers used certain Nations as token allies for their own purposes which eventually led to inter-tribal warfare, which only benefited the New Comers greed for our resources and encroachment into our lands. Divide and Conquer.
During the many early Wars between the Colonists, the French and Indian Wars, the War of 1812 to World War 1 and 2 to Korea our people acted as Allies and were sought out for their successful unique abilities in warfare. Again our Warriors were being used as tokens in those early colonial wars. We were never told how to fight because our guerilla style helped win many battles. In the World Wars our shooting talent from hunting made our people excellent snipers, trackers and scouts and even our languages used in codes helped win many of our so-called allies’ wars. Ever much the token we were, our Sovereignty, Laws and Jurisdiction and Treaties were never honored.
Indian Act Leaderships and Indian Business Elite wear the Cultural Garb which they probably haven’t earned feathers to wear to accept inquiry’s, commissions, land claims, modern treaties, initiate new working groups to serve the interest of these so called allies.
Most communities carry around Eagle Staff’s, have Powwows, teach our Language in the schools and open events and meetings with Elder’s prayers and smudge, then when it’s time to move along with the meeting the culture is escorted out the door and back to business parallel to mainstream business and politics .
We prostitute our cultural articles but continue to live a life that is that of our allies, a way of life that goes against everything we are. Most of our people only are comfortable being Anishinabek at the discretion of our allies. We have our own political, judicial, economic, military, educational and many other institutions of our own but only want to use the beads and braids that make us who we are.
However there is still a chance for our people who want to survive and reclaim who we are and it is within our people who our reclaiming and re-establishing our own institutions separating from these token communities called reservations and rebuilding alliances and solidarity with meaningful settler organizations. It is what the intention of ACTION is about where we need you our people to become involved and help be leaders.
IN OUR SOLIDARITY ACTIVIST CIRCLES
“Whites who are sincere don’t accomplish anything by joining Negro organisations and making them integrated. Whites who are sincere should organize among themselves and figure out some strategy to break down the prejudice that exists in white communities. This is where they can function more intelligently and more effectively, in the white community itself, and this has never been done.” – El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz
I am not trying to be divisive between our activist comrades nor am I in some form promoting segregation within our collective movement but in our Indigenous understandings of well-being, starts with the self and working outward. We work on our spirit, us as an individual, the family, community, nation, inter-tribal alliances, confederacies and newcomer nation to nation alliances which then effects global change.
Our strongest non-Indigenous allies of Turtle Island are our activist comrades in various leftists and anti-capitalist organizing, from building alliances with Unions, Anti-Colonial Migrant Justice Movement and other racialized and oppressed peoples who face injustice at the hands of the patriarchal imperialist global elite. At the same time our strongest allies within these circles have also been conditioned and brainwashed and like us harbour colonial behaviour that have been part of our programming and although they seem righteous they too have issues that we need to be aware of when we build our alliances.
(In our Anishinabek Ways Nanaboozho iour great teacher is personified at times a s a bunny, We got lots to learn from this Trickster Rabbit, Watch how the Trickster deals with certain kind of allies, Anishinaebek Decoloniation is being the Rabbit)
As an Anishinabek I always hear allies, asking how they can help us, which is only up to them to figure out. I don’t go asking around what I can do for them, in their homes, family, community, society and governance, which is their own responsibility. I’m too busy trying to work on myself, family, community, nation and the colonial behaviours that we’ve assimilated into which slows us down from progressing as a collective strong united front.
At the same time, I see many solidarity activists coming into our communities with a Eurocentric messiah complex and yes even the racialized ones I’ve seen behave like that where they suggest or tell us how, when, where n why to do things within our own struggles and communities. Or we are invited within their communities and space to be their righteous warrior and have to fit within their program which is being the same old Eurocentric behaviour that got us all in this global mess in the first place. It is like some of them haven’t noticed we’ve been fighting oppression for 500 years, it is in our DNA memory to be a warrior and fighting people and our problems are for us to figure out ourselves. Self Determination is not only a right but a responsibility.
One Time me and my girlfriend wanted to attend an “Activist Convention” to promote each of our communities issues and hand out literature. There was already a group of “Neechies” from other frontline communities who were already asked from solidarity activists to be part of an Indigenous Delegation where this group worked very hard to fundraise to involve such a group at this event. The majority of “Neechies” that were there were all from communities with recent high profile campaigns going on. This gave the impression that our solidarity friends were seeking activist “cred” by choosing certain communities who were getting all the recent media headlines. I know this wasn’t likely not their intention but sometimes to our people it looks this way.
We still managed to go last minute, where room was found for us to bunk in a motel with our organizer friend vs a church floor where other were sleeping. I noticed that certain “neechies” got to get rooms at this hotel, while others slept on the church floor and wasn’t too sure at first if one of our pregnant sisters was there with here crew but later found out she was in a comfortable place. Again I not attempting to discredit the awesome hardwork just sharing some of my crazy observations. Certain actions intentionally or unintentionally can however be observed as Tokenism by our allies who are selective in who they give their solidarity and preference too. We have to much recent memory of divide and conquer strategies that caused divisions within our inter-tribal relations where similar actions in our past have happened.
This one solidarity activist one time told me, that he’d rather help this particular community because they had much more of a land base that wasn’t colonized. As if our struggles we we’re facing wasn’t linked or mattered. In our Anishinabek understanding our Nation is a collective of communities that stretches from so called Quebec, Ontario, Minnesota,Wisconsin to the Rocky Mountains. We do not think of ourselves separated divided by the imaginary reservation concentration camp as our community.
Another division some of these solidarity activists create is that with no disrespect to our Lakota and Haudenasaune Relatives but I see favouritism by these solidarity activists with the Six Nations struggle and the romanticism of the Great Law and Warrior Society and their internal politics. I’ve heard on many occasions from solidarity activists in this kind of manner “the Six Nations people of the Grand River Territory comprise the single largest indigenous community in Canada and, in certain regards, they have managed to withstand the pressures of Canadian colonialism better than many other indigenous nations in the south of Canada.” In our history it is the Anishinabek who pushed the Haudenasaunee back south when they were encroaching in our lands as allies of the Dutch. It was Anishinabek who pushed the Lakota Sioux back into their territories. These Nations always seem to get thought of as the most fiercest and Nations of Resistance. The American Indian Movement in the 70’s was mostly founded my Anishinabek. These type of comments can cause divisions.
I’ve also witnessed a solidarity group coming to a reclamation camp and in a discussion about our politics and who would lead the revolution the activist said, “I only call myself an anarchist to get other anarchists to do shit, I think’s needs to be done.” Now it is not the intent here to bash our solidarity circles but only to create awareness for some of our youth who may be reading this and to be aware of the type of behaviours out there. This activist is in and out of our communities usually giving some sort of direction to our people which makes some of our people and communities look like their being used as a token for this activist’s purpose. I am not bashing but at times this is how these behaviours come off as.
This one Activist told me during the same visit to tell an uncle we share who believes in dream messages that I dreamed of his community coming to our camp, just so we can get help of that community at our camp. I felt this was disrespectful of our spirituality and to the community that activist is now in helping. I also felt it was disrespectful to me because I’m sure this activist wouldn’t say that to the elders and aunties and sisters he is now surrounded by. I am sure that was not his intention to be disrespectful but it sure can be seen as that.
Also another issue with solidarity activists who are from other ethnic backgrounds who show some solid organizing we must remind them of our rights and how they can best show solidarity and work with us too. We need to educate each other on each of our struggles and must make it aware that whatever goals they are fighting to achieve doesn’t legitimize the colonial state.
Like I was saying before there are still slaves here as well as being brought over here who are the “economic slaves” all settlers are subjects of our so-called ally the Crown. These “economic slaves” work to be forever in debt and are losing more and more of their freedoms each day. These are our allies’ loyal subjects who enjoy more of our resources than we do, while we continue to be enslaved in our own homeland, denied access of enjoying our own resources and rights. Soon the slave master will deny their subjects their rights and property and everyone will all eventually become “Indians.”
Todays “economic slaves” are brought to help feed this capitalist industrial “monster” under the guise of freedom, opportunity for prosperity and success. These slaves inherit the crime of breaching treaty of their slave owner or colonial master, our so-called ally. As they enjoy our resources without actively dismantling their current criminal governments or forcibly holding them accountable until things immediately change then they too are in breach of our Nation to Nation understanding and they too become Slave Owners and Colonial Masters for it is we the Indigenous who still are facing economic, environmental and cultural genocide as they enjoy their privilege of benefiting from our resources and the unbalanced treaty.
We also have the same responsibility as Anishinabek to build ourselves up and disengage in the current colonial lifestyle, protecting all that we have left, which is immense.