More than 476 million people worldwide (6.2 per cent of humanity) belong to Indigenous peoples, most of whom live alongside the societies that colonised their ancient lands hundreds of years ago. In the 21st century, after a long journey during which they were not always able to survive colonial oppression without losing their identity, language or part of their culture, Indigenous peoples have won significant gains in various regions of the world but they continue to face challenges such as discrimination and limited opportunities, making it very difficult for them to enjoy fair labour market integration.
Indigenous Peoples Day
When reading your Proclamation regarding Indigenous Peoples, for a second there was a spark of hope that this time we might be free. Then we read on and cold water was poured on that spark of hope when you continued with words that refer only to the "Tribes" your government created in the Wheeler-Howard Act of 1934. It was also called the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) and means the "tribal governments" that Act created without our consent. This is a major Human Rights violation. However, as an elder in the family of nations trying to teach your young nation, the United States (US), the essence of Human Rights, we are sending you this letter. Remember, your colonizing government is only a little over 200 years old. We have a civilization that is more than ten-thousand years old and know a few things about Human Rights.
We, the undersigned, are former staff members and leaders of Forterra who are writing to express our solidarity and support for the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, which has made public very serious allegations of misconduct by Forterra. It is clear from publicly available information that Forterra has, at minimum, behaved in an inappropriate, disrespectful, and misleading manner inconsistent with the organization’s stated value: We show respect for people, place, culture and each other. It appears that Forterra has mistreated a sovereign Tribal Nation on its own ancestral lands while claiming to act in its best interest. Beyond that, instead of approaching this embarrassing mistake with “accountability, humility and care”, it appears Forterra’s executive team has engaged in victim blaming, pointing to the Tribe’s “bad faith”.
Today is Indigenous People's Day, still celebrated by some as the violent colonizer Christopher Columbus Day. Clearing the FOG speaks with Jean-Luc Pierite of the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) and United American Indians of New England (UAINE) about the growing recognition of the trauma and murder of American Indian children who were sent to assimilation centers called residential schools across the US and Canada and how that theft of children's cultural heritage and identity continues today through the foster care system. A major Supreme Court case that could destroy the Indian Child Welfare Act is set to be heard in November. Pierite also discusses the campaign in Massachusetts to recognize Indigenous People's Day statewide, the Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda and the work being done in solidarity with indigenous peoples around the world and the Black Lives Matter movement to create a path to a better future.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a call to higher consciousness, and it is one that is not solely defined by human beings but emerges from the original instructions of what the Lakota people also call wotakuye (relations with all life). Lakota children are taught that the earth is their grandmother, and that they are participants in her story. She gives us life, shelter, food, warmth, joy, and many other gifts. In contrast, the settler-colonial was taught that Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth) was property and meant for exploitation and one’s capitalist ambitions. However, it is time for the settler colonial to divest from this concept, to listen to Indigenous voices, and invest in Unci Maka as a relative that deserves inherent respect, honor, and reverence.
Indigenous people and their allies rallied and marched in Boston on Saturday, October 8, 2022 to observe Indigenous Peoples Day in Boston and demand that the MA state legislature vote to establish the day statewide which will replace Columbus Day. They called on the presumed next Governor, Maura Healey, to make it a priority to support this and other Indigenous-centered legislation (MAIndigenousAgenda.org). Furthermore, because Indigenous liberation is intertwined with Black liberation, they also call edfor Faneuil Hall, named after a slaver, to be renamed. Marchers celebrated the declaration of Indigenous Peoples Day in Boston and urged city, state and federal governments to take further steps to address Indigenous community concerns.
On Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, United States President Joe Biden issued a first-ever Proclamation for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The first two sentences state: “Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures – safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.” Right off the bat, that second sentence is an insult to our Nations. We never did call ourselves “tribes”. That is a moniker put on us by the United States in the first place. It was an easy way to NOT recognize us as the NATIONS we are. It was also easier to force us to live under THEIR form of government, a Tribal Council form of government.
When Christopher Columbus landed on Turtle Island, which we now call North America, he brought with him a goal of making profit — of taking from the land and people to create commerce. Today, approximately 526 years later, that same pillaging continues to drive our planet further into the climate crisis and lead us into ecological collapse. Instead of honoring the violent colonization Columbus represents, we should use this day to call for truth and reconciliation — and honor the Indigenous communities at the forefront of efforts to heal the long-lasting environmental harm Columbus and his ilk have wrought. Settler colonialism has exacerbated climate change and made Indigenous communities sacrifice zones to this crisis. As we honor the truth of how this country was founded and continues to exploit Indigenous lands and territories, we must also recognize that climate change disproportionately impacts the Indigenous and Native peoples who are least responsible for this crisis.
In 2015, The Red Nation and a coalition of Native and non-Native organizations led a successful campaign to rename the second Monday of October Indigenous Peoples’ Day (IPD) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Albuquerque City Council issued a proclamation abolishing Columbus Day that was signed by Rey Garduño, Ken Sanchez, Klarissa Peña, Isaac Benton, Brad Winter, and Diane Gibson, with three council members abstaining. The proclamation declared that the day “shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous peoples on this land.” For the first time this year, the city and their nefarious initiative “One Albuquerque,” are hosting an alternative to our annual IPD march and rally, with Albuquerque’s Mayor Tim Keller as the keynote speaker.
The work of our time is both slow and fast, rapidly transforming human society in the short and long term simultaneously. That can’t happen without re-examining our relationships with each other and with every other living thing on the planet. An honest one-sentence summary of the past 500 years is brutal reading: Tens of millions of Indigenous people around the world have been killed and forcibly removed from their lands in order to make rich and powerful white men even more rich and powerful. It’s still happening today.
New Mexico - Visitors to the historic plaza in Santa Fe, a bastion of liberalism in northern New Mexico, will find a charming square in the Spanish colonial style, surrounded by shops selling native wares — typically sold by non-native peoples — and a monument at the center of it all celebrating the slaughter of the area's original, commercially monetized inhabitants. At least until Monday, when protesters marked Indigenous Peoples' Day by tying a chain around the monument, managing to topple it amid clashes with police.