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HomeActionOccupied Abenaki Lands Desecrated by 9/11 Memorial, Protesters Intervene to Adress U.S. Imperialism & Genocide

Occupied Abenaki Lands Desecrated by 9/11 Memorial, Protesters Intervene to Adress U.S. Imperialism & Genocide

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Occupied Abenaki Lands Desecrated by 9/11 Memorial, Protesters Intervene to Adress U.S. Imperialism & Genocide

Please read the full statements by two of the protesters at the bottom of this release.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, September 12, 2013

 

CONTACT:
Anna Shireman-Grabowski: ashiremangrabowski@gmail.com
Amanda Lickers: amandalickers@gmail.com, (705) 957-7468

 

Occupied Abenaki Lands Desecrated by 9/11 Memorial
Protesters Intervene to Adress U.S. Imperialism & Genocide

 

Middlebury College, VT — At 3:00PM on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, five protesters removed thousands of flags desecrating occupied Abenaki lands. The U.S. flags were part of a 9/11 memorial established by Middlebury College students.

Amanda Lickers, a member of the Onondowa’ga Nation, states, “In the quickest moment of decision making, in my heart, I understood that lands where our dead may lay must not be desecrated. In my community, we do not pierce the earth. It disturbs the spirits there, it is important for me to respect their presence.”

“For over 500 years our people have been under attack. The theft of our territories, the devastation of our waters; the poisoning of our people through the poisoning of our lands; the theft of our people from our families; the rape of our children; the murder of our women; the sterilization of our communities; the abuse of generations; the uprooting of our ancestors and the occupation of our sacred sites; the silencing of our songs; the erasure of our languages and memories of our traditions. I have had enough.” stated Lickers.

Lickers was at the college to facilitate a workshop on Settler Responsibility and Decolonization.

“Today I, along with a group of non-Middlebury students, helped remove around 3,000 American flags from the grass by Mead Chapel.” stated Anna Shireman-Grabowski, a Middlebury College student. “My intention was not to cause pain but to visibilize the necessity of honoring all human life… While the American flags on the Middlebury hillside symbolize to some the loss of innocent lives in New York, to others they represent centuries of bloody conquest and mass murder. As a settler on stolen land, I do not have the luxury of grieving without an eye to power. Three thousand flags is a lot, but the campus is not big enough to hold a marker for every life sacrificed in the history of American conquest and colonialism.” stated Shireman-Grabowski.

This action, as a direct response to a particular experience of the embodied pain of colonialism, was not taken on behalf of, or connection with, local Abenaki tribal citizens or Indigenous inhabitants of the area, but was a spontaneous move of respect by an Indigenous woman from a neighboring nation, appalled by this treatment of Abenaki sites. As Anna Shireman-Grabowski states “I wish to further clarify that members of the local Abenaki community should in no way be implicated in today’s events. Nor can I pretend to speak to their feelings about flags, burial sites, or 9/11.”

College President Ronald D. Liebowitz dismissed the protest stating that he was ”deeply disturbed by the insensitivity” of “this selfish act of protest” and threatened that the College “has begun a disciplinary investigation of this incident.”

“It is the duty of the college of middlebury to consult with abenaki peoples and repatriate their grounds.” stated Lickers. “Yesterday I said no to settler occupation. I took those flags. It is a small reclamation and modest act of resistance.”

Read the full statements by two of the protesters here: http://www.indigenousaction.org/occupied-abenaki-lands-desecrated-by-911-memorial-protesters-intervene-to-adress-u-s-imperialism-genocide/

 

###

Statement by Amanda Lickers:

i am a young onkwehon:we, a woman, a member of the turtle clan and the onondowa’ga nation of the haudenosaunee confederacy. i have been doing my best to be true to the responsibilities i have inherited through the gift of life, and the relationships i must honour to my ancestors and all our relatives.

for over 500 years our people have been under attack. the theft of our territories, the devastation of our waters; the poisoning of our people through the poisoning of our lands; the theft of our people from our families; the rape of our children; the murder of our women; the sterilization of our communities; the abuse of our generations; the
uprooting of our ancestors and the occupation of our sacred sites; the silencing of our songs; the erasure of our languages and memories of our traditions

i have had enough.

yesterday i went to occupied abenaki territory. i was invited to middlebury college to facilitate a workshop on settler responsibility and decolonization. i walked across this campus whose stone wall structures weigh heavy on the landscape. the history of eugenics, genocide and colonial violence permeate that space so fully like a ghost everywhere descending. it was my understanding that this site is occupying an abenaki burial ground; a sacred site.

walking through the campus i saw thousands of small american flags. tho my natural disdain for the occupying colonial state came to surface, in the quickest moment of decision making, in my heart, i understood that lands where our dead lay must not be desecrated. in my community, we do not pierce the earth. it disturbs the spirits there, it is important for me to respect their presence, their want for rest.

my heart swelled and i knew in my core that thousands of american flags should not penetrate the earth where my abenaki brothers and sisters sleep. we have all survived so much – and as a visitor on their territories i took action to respect them and began pulling up all of the flags.

i was with 4 non-natives who supported me in this action. there were so many flags staking the earth and their hands helped make this work faster. this act of support by my friends, as settlers, tho small was healing and inspiring. we put them away in black garbage bags and i was confronted by a nationalistic-settler, a young white boy who attends the college demanding i relinquish the flags to him. i held my ground and
confiscated them. i did not want to cave to his support of the occupying, settler-colonial, imperalist state, and the endorsing of the genocide of indigenous peoples across the world.

it is the duty of the college of middlebury to consult with abenaki peoples and repatriate their grounds.

yesterday i said no to settler occupation. i took those flags. it is a small reclamation and modest act of resistance.

in the spirit of resilience, in the spirit of survival

amanda lickers

###

 

Statement by Anna Shireman-Grabowski:

To the Middlebury community –

Today I, along with a group of non-Middlebury students, helped remove around 3,000 American flags from the grass by Mead Chapel. While I was not the only one engaged in this action and the decision was not solely mine, I am the one who will see you in the dining halls and in the classroom, and I want to take accountability for the hurt you may be feeling while clarifying the motivations for this action.

My intention was not to cause pain but to visibilize the necessity of honoring all human life and to help a friend heal from the violence of genocide that she carries with her on a daily basis as an indigenous person. While the American flags on the Middlebury hillside symbolize to some the loss of innocent lives in New York, to others they represent centuries of bloody conquest and mass murder. As a settler on stolen land, I do not have the luxury of grieving without an eye to power. Three thousand flags is a lot, but the campus is not big enough to hold a marker for every life sacrificed in the history of American conquest and colonialism.

The emails filling my inbox indicate that this was not a productive way to start a dialogue about American imperialism. Nor did I imagine that it would be. Please understand that I am grappling with my complicity in the overwhelming legacy of settler colonialism. Part of this process for me is honoring the feelings and wishes of people who find themselves on the other side of this history.

I wish to further clarify that members of the local Abenaki community should in no way be implicated in today’s events. Nor can I pretend to speak to their feelings about flags, burial sites, or 9/11.

Today I chose to act in solidarity with my friend. I understand that this action is confusing and hurtful for many in my community. I don’t pretend to know if every action I take is right or justified—this process is painful and complicated. I do know that colonialism has been—and continues to be—a real and destructive force in the world that we live in. And for me, to honor life is to support those whose existence is a struggle against colonialism.

Please do not hesitate to email me or approach me if you wish to discuss this in person.

 Anna Shireman-Grabowski

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  • “Colonialism. The enforced spread of the rule of reason. But who is going to spread it among the colonizers?”
    ― Anthony Burgess

    September 12, 2013
    • The settlers are now being colonized. The Mi’kmaq first nation of Kent County, New Brunswick, Canada are educating and being joined by Acadian and Anglophone settlers in their resistance to neo-colonization by SWN –a shale-gas fraking company that threatens to undermine the integrity and health of the land that the local population depends on. It’s a case of the colonized bringing reason to their previous colonizers (the white settlers) because of the threat represented by the current colonizers –the gas and petroleum industry aided and abetted by the state.

      September 13, 2013
  • Two wrongs don’t make a right. You disrespected the lives of all those people that died that day. Why don’t you pull the lampposts and the buildings while you were at it? I used to support the Abenaki cause. I tutored Abenaki students and worked closely with Louise Lampman, a true to life Abenaki. This action has caused me to step back and question my support for the Abenaki. However, I know for a fact that not all Abenaki are inconsiderate, insensitive and outright idiotic. This will bring nothing but headaches for the Abenaki… the person that started this should be prosecuted for her crime… For shame!

    September 13, 2013
    • So you think she should be prosecuted for her actions, yet you pull yourself back from ALL Abenaki? What is your point? And you disrespect all lives that lay there to this day for calling her actions as inconsiderate? This was not a native virtue but an European one. Im proud of you Doris! A true American’t. But as a native Oglala Lakota, I was always taught to love our enemy. I love you! If that word means anything in english to the ones who forced us to speak it.

      November 22, 2013
  • Never mind… I just read your articles… I think you need to take some classes on writing. Whoa! I forgot the most important thing, considering my source!!! Wow! I’m sending my ELL students to this website to correct ALL of your grammatical, sentence structure and every other mistake you have here!!!

    September 13, 2013
    • And really? Telling us 2 take clazzez to currelt ur gramma?? lol! This is English! the most construed and hypocritical and deceiving language out there! Nevermind! just read the treaties. . .u send ur ELL students.big oasjjsfgjaskvjlkasnvlkanslndvlknasl’kvn’lSKN’

      November 22, 2013
  • and I thought I suffered from foot in mouth disease… *lol*

    September 13, 2013
  • As the granddaughter of Chief Leonard Blackie Lampman let me tell you how I view your desecration of a memorial that holds meaning to me– you have disgraced MY family, MY people, MY heritage, and MY history. Do NOT call yourself sister to me. There are ways to accomplish getting ones point across without being disrespectful and hurtful. Case in point a DOCUMENTED Abenaki burial ground which now hosts a beautiful memorial on the banks of the Missisquoi River on Monument Rd in Swanton/Highgate. You have slapped in the face everything my family has worked for in gaining honor to be able to call oneself Abenaki. You have dishonored the memory of my grandfather a Chief and US Soldier. My Grandfather surely is shaking his head in shame at you supposed educated future leaders of our nation.

    September 13, 2013
  • I was one of the very few Native Americans who attended Middlebury College and the only one I knew of in the class of 2007. I was shocked to come across this story on Indian Country Today. I have a deep seated feeling of humiliation that I’m having trouble letting go of after reading the story, Anna’s statement, and all of your comments. As the only student who actively identified as a Native person in my class, I struggled to overcome cultural barriers and confront racist stereotypes and now I feel pain for present Native students who will no doubt suffer from the embarrassment and shame of having people use their culture to make such a disrespectful and irresponsible statement.

    In 2004 I founded and became President of Voices of Indigenous People (VIP) at Middlebury College. VIP served to represent the small indigenous population on campus, recruit more Native students and faculty, and educate the Middlebury community about indigenous peoples around the world. In fact, I founded VIP after a campus organization hosted a “Cowboys and Injuns” where something along the lines of the following message was sent out: “if dressed as a Cowboy you can roam around and drink whatever you want; but come in Injun garb and you’ll be forced to your reservation in the corner and have fire water poured down your throat.”

    With the support of friends I formed and lead a group of over fifty students distressed by this and other injustices to protest the event. We related it to past offences such as the vandalism of the coming-out closet and the “Blackface Party.” Our protest ultimately created a healthy dialogue on diversity issues throughout the campus and an agreement was made between the college and student groups to host sensitive themes for social gatherings. That, Anna, is how you hold a proper protest for indigenous issues.

    I tried calling the Middlebury Student Activities Office to see if VIP is still around after this incident. I never thought I’d see the day where I would be relieved to hear that the office is not aware of whether VIP is still active.

    Protesting for recognition of Native American burial rights and sacred site issues is an important, spiritual, and sensitive endeavor. I’ve helped to organize my tribe’s own ancestral burial ground protection protests. However, never would it have occurred to me to do so in front of the Middlebury Chapel unless some Abenaki people approached me for VIP’s assistance. Even then, I would not have handled it in the way Anna and the other protestors had by defacing the September 11 memorial. Especially not as a Native American person from a New York tribe!

    I am now mortally disgusted by all of this and the consequence that the comments for this story are starting to show. Comments such as “the Abenaki people died out long ago even before colonialism.” NOT TRUE! An Abenaki student went to Middlebury while I was there and she was a few years my underclassman. She joined VIP and we learned from her about the Abenaki culture, history, and atrocities such as the government systematically forcing the sterilization of her people.

    I pray that the Middlebury community can find a way to resolve this matter appropriately for all impacted and not overlook or further debase Native American people. I honestly feel like this group of protestors tried to take cultural appropriation to a whole new level and it makes me sick.

    September 13, 2013
  • Well, if you don’t like it, you got Canada to the North, Mexico to the south and other nations to the east an west. I am sure they will accept you and your stupidity with open arms.

    September 13, 2013
  • Everyones native when theres a spotlight. Anyone who agrees with this, is an idiot. Good job setting back relations a hundred years. Hell its America, you could have complained, and the bleeding hearts would have poured out of the woodwork. Taking it into your own hands crossed the line. I would say you should be ashamed of yourself, but its clear that you lack the nessesary equipment. Oh and your white girlfriend, is a dipshit. If this was a pro native event, how did she get an honorable membership. Isnt she a part of the genocide machine, judging soley on the color of her skin? Oh thats right you guys and gals pick and choose whos right and whos wrong. Have a great day tomorrow, im sure your ancestors are so proud of your “stickin it to the man” with childish pranks.

    September 14, 2013
  • It is obvious what priorities dominant society has when moral outrage is caused by removal of a memorial, yet where is the outcry at the constant injustices we face on a day to day basis?

    I appreciate your action as an Indigenous person thousands of miles away… because your action was not only anti-imperialist but anti-colonial and that war exists on many fronts.

    September 14, 2013
  • I know one of the folks involved, and have worked with many close to her. What I have found in my interactions with her and her ilk is that they are wounded people who are much more concerned with spewing bile from their wounds than on doing any real healing and reconciliation. When someone is abused one can understand how that abused person can then in turn become an abuser, this does not however erase their duty to stop the cycle of abuse with them. I hear the same refrain over and over when working with these folks “It’s not my duty to educate you on white supremacy!” and they would be correct, but this would be a much easier pill to swallow if right after saying that they did not go into bigoted tirades. You are telling me you dont have the time and energy to sit down with someone who was attempting to confront their own complicity in colonialism, but you have the time and energy to yell, harass, assume, point fingers, and generally bitch and participate in unproductive actions like this one? They have set it up so that any criticism can be met with the cry “racist!” and “Its not my job to inform you!” and in doing so have created a bubble around themselves and removed themselves from having to engage in the critical thinking process. This creates a wind tunnel of rhetoric which allows only sanctioned ideas and thoughts in. This is a very dangerous game. In this way their minds are more hopelessly colonized than many of those they like to call “settlers” or “whitey” not taking into account some ones personal agency, they are doing the work of the colonizer and of the oppressor and have served to do little but get one portion of the population fighting another.

    Takeynea, put it well “I honestly feel like this group of protestors tried to take cultural appropriation to a whole new level and it makes me sick.” This is not the first time either. For a person so sensitive to Abenaki culture how does Amanda account for her telling of the Abenaki creation myth last summer with a woman who is ethnically Taiwanese/Italian? The issue is not the other woman’s ethnicity but the fact that people so “sensitive” to oppressed cultures could forget the one most important thing while telling the Abenaki creation myth; You dont tell it during the summer! Since the creation myth deals a lot with the symbolism of man overcoming the state of nature, the Abenaki to my understanding find it uncouth to speak the myth while nature is in full swing. They equate it to talking shit about those you have bested in front of them. Not classy, so they refrain. But this cadre seem to pick and choose.

    My advice to them, which I am sure they wont take (my interactions with Amanda Lickers usually consisted of her using vulgarities to shock and shut people up, then retreating behind rhetoric): When fighting monsters watch that you dont become one.

    September 15, 2013
  • Wow, I really don’t know where to start. I heard about this over the weekend and I was totally astounded at the presupmtions of these “protestors”. We honor all fallen heroes who are brave in battle, even the enemy. If these misguided folks had bothered to ask, they would have found that natives serve this country at proportionally higher levels than any other group and are as patriotic as any Americans. For the record, no Abenakis condone thier actions, their is no known burial ground where they claimed, We pray for the spirits of the 9/11 dead but more so for the families and loved ones they left in life long grief. The actions of these few have hurt both the 9/11 survivors as well as the honor of the Abenaki people. I realize they are immature kids who have no experience in life or the real world but they should hang their heads in shame for the abomination they committed.

    September 16, 2013
  • Anna Shireman-Grabowski and Amanda Lickers vandalized a 9/11 memorial. They ought to be put into cells with some of the terrorists with whom they sympathize. They could get their leftist “multicultural” commie brainwashing raped and beaten out of them, and cooperative terrorists who rat out the others could be rewarded with a special conjugal visit. Win Win.

    September 16, 2013
  • Traduction française:
    http://www.chrisp.lautre.net/wpblog/?p=1959

    September 20, 2013
  • The Haudenausaunee activist actions and comments made me truly cry. As your Native indigenous brother I feel the same. You so eloquently phrased my deepest feelings and sorrow of being isolated and indirectly stepped on by the sea of bilaganas. Thank you for your brave actions, for your courageous acts of dignity and pride you tried to bestow upon our deceased and fallen Abenaki family members.

    October 4, 2013
    • Do any of you have any idea how many native Americans were killed in 911. 36. So while you were protecting a burial ground, that doesn’t exist anyway as it is not registered, by pulling out American flags you were pulling out flags that were memorializing native Americans that died in 911. Also, hundreds of native Americans worked on building the twin towers. Nice job Middlebury.

      July 8, 2014

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