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Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex



An Indigenous perspective & provocation.

pdf-128Printable version available here. (PDF | 3.3MB)
Print friendly cover w/corrections here. (PDF | 3.2MB)

This provocation is intended to intervene in some of the current tensions around solidarity/support work as the current trajectories are counter-liberatory from my perspective. Special thanks to DS in Phoenix for convos that lead to this ‘zine and all those who provided comments/questions/disagreements. Don’t construe this as being for “white young middle class allies”, just for paid activists, non-profits, or as a friend said, “downwardly-mobile anarchists or students.” There are many so-called “allies” in the migrant rights struggle who support “comprehensive immigration reform” which furthers militarization of Indigenous lands.

abolish-ally-industrial-complexThe ally industrial complex has been established by activists whose careers depend on the “issues” they work to address. These nonprofit capitalists advance their careers off  the struggles they ostensibly support. They often work in the guise of “grassroots” or “community-based” and are not necessarily tied to any organization.
They build organizational or individual capacity and power, establishing themselves comfortably among the top ranks in their hierarchy of oppression as they strive to become the ally “champions” of the most oppressed. While the exploitation of solidarity and support is nothing new, the commodification and exploitation of allyship is a growing trend in the activism industry.

Anyone who concerns themselves with anti-oppression struggles and collective liberation has at some point either participated in workshops, read ‘zines, or been parts of deep discussions on how to be a “good” ally. You can now pay hundreds of dollars to go to esoteric institutes for an allyship certificate in anti-oppression. You can go through workshops and receive an allyship badge. In order to commodify struggle it must first be objectified. This is exhibited in how “issues” are “framed” & “branded.” Where struggle is commodity, allyship is currency.
Ally has also become an identity, disembodied from any real mutual understanding of support.
The term ally has been rendered ineffective and meaningless.

Accomplices not allies.

noun: accomplice; plural noun: accomplices
a person who helps another commit a crime.

There exists a fiercely unrelenting desire to achieve total liberation, with the land and, together.
At some point there is a “we”, and we most likely will have to work together. This means, at the least, formulating mutual understandings that are not entirely antagonistic, otherwise we may find ourselves, our desires, and our struggles, to be incompatible.
There are certain understandings that may not be negotiable. There are contradictions that we must come to terms with and certainly we will do this on our own terms.
But we need to know who has our backs, or more appropriately: who is with us, at our sides?

The risks of an ally who provides support or solidarity (usually on a temporary basis) in a fight are much different than that of an accomplice. When we fight back or forward, together, becoming complicit in a struggle towards liberation, we are accomplices. Abolishing allyship can occur through the criminalization of support and solidarity.

While the strategies and tactics of asserting (or abolishing depending on your view) social power and political power may be diverse, there are some hard lessons that could bear not replicating.
Consider the following to be a guide for identifying points of intervention against the ally industrial complex.

“Salvation aka Missionary Work & Self Therapy”
Allies all too often carry romantic notions of oppressed folks they wish to “help.” These are the ally “saviors” who see victims and tokens instead of people.
This victimization becomes a fetish for the worst of the allies in forms of exotification, manarchism, ‘splaining, POC sexploitation, etc. This kind of relationship generally fosters exploitation between both the oppressed and oppressor. The ally and the allied-with become entangled in an abusive relationship. Generally neither can see it until it’s too late. This relationship can also digress into co-dependency which means they have robbed each other of their own power. Ally “saviors” have a tendency to create dependency on them and their function as support. No one is here to be saved, we don’t need “missionary allies” or pity.
Guilt is also a primary ally motivating factor. Even if never admitted, guilt & shame generally function as motivators in the consciousness of an oppressor who realizes that they are operating on the wrong side. While guilt and shame are very powerful emotions, think about what you’re doing before you make another community’s struggle into your therapy session. Of course, acts of resistance and liberation can be healing, but tackling guilt, shame, and other trauma require a much different focus, or at least an explicit and consensual focus. What kind of relationships are built on guilt and shame?

“Exploitation & Co-optation”
Those who co-opt are only there to advance self interests (usually it’s either notoriety or financial). As these “allies” seek to impose their agenda, they out themselves. The ‘radical’ more militant-than-thou “grassroots” organizers are keen on seeking out “sexy” issues to co-opt (for notoriety/ego/super ally/most radical ally) and they set the terms of engagement or dictate what struggles get amplified or marginalized irregardless of whose homelands they’re operating on. The nonprofit establishment or non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) also seeks out “sexy” or “fundable” issues to co-opt and exploit as these are ripe for the grant funding that they covet. Too often, Indigenous liberation struggles for life and land, by nature, directly confront the entire framework to which this colonial & capitalist society is based on. This is threatening to potential capitalist funders so some groups are forced to compromise radical or liberatory work for funding, others become alienated and further invisibilized or subordinated to tokenism. Co-opters most often show up to the fight when the battle has already escalated and it’s a little too late.
These entities almost always propose trainings, workshops, action camps, and offer other specialized expertise in acts of patronization. These folks are generally paid huge salaries for their “professional” activism, get over-inflated grants for logistics and “organizational capacity building”, and struggles may become further exploited as “poster struggles” for their funders. Additionally, these skills most likely already exist within the communities or they are tendencies that need only be provoked into action.
These aren’t just dynamics practiced by large so-called non-governmental organizations (NGOs), individuals are adept at this self-serving tactic as well.
Co-optation also functions as a form of liberalism. Allyship can perpetuate a neutralizing dynamic by co-opting original liberatory intent into a reformist agenda.
Certain folks in the struggles (usually movement “personalities”) who don’t upset the ally establishment status quo can be rewarded with inclusion in the ally industry.

“Self proclaiming/confessional Allies”ally-badge
All too often folks show up with an, “I am here to support you!” attitude that they wear like a badge. Ultimately making struggles out to feel like an extracurricular activity that they are getting “ally points” for. Self-asserted allies may even have anti-oppression principles and values as window dressing. Perhaps you’ve seen this quote by Lilla Watson on their materials: “If you come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. If you come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” They are keen to posture, but their actions are inconsistent with their assertions.
Meaningful alliances aren’t imposed, they are consented upon. The self-proclaimed allies have no intention to abolish the entitlement that compelled them to impose their relationship upon those they claim to ally with.

Parachuters rush to the front lines seemingly from out-of-nowhere. They literally move from one hot or sexy spot to the next. They also fall under the “savior” & “self-proclaimed” categories as they mostly come from specialized institutes, organizations, & think-tanks. They’ve been through the trainings, workshops, lectures, etc., they are the “experts” so they know “what is best.” This paternalistic attitude is implicit in the structures (non-profits, institutes, etc) these “allies” derive their awareness of the “issues” from. Even if they reject their own non-profit programming, they are ultimately reactionary, entitled, and patronizing, or positioning with power-over, those they proclaim allyship with. It’s structural patronization that is rooted in the same dominion of hetero-patriarchal white supremacy.
Parachuters are usually missionaries with more funding.

“Academics, & Intellectuals”
Although sometimes directly from communities in struggle, intellectuals and academics also fit neatly in all of these categories. Their role in struggle can be extremely patronizing. In many cases the academic maintains institutional power above the knowledge and skill base of the community/ies in struggle. Intellectuals are most often fixated on un-learning oppression. These lot generally don’t have their feet on the ground, but are quick to be critical of those who do.
Should we desire to merely “unlearn” oppression, or to smash it to fucking pieces, and have it’s very existence gone?
An accomplice as academic would seek ways to leverage resources and material support and/or betray their institution to further liberation struggles. An intellectual accomplice would strategize with, not for and not be afraid to pick up a hammer.

Gatekeepers seek power over, not with, others. They are known for the tactics of controlling and/or withholding information, resources, connections, support, etc. Gatekeepers come from the outside and from within. When exposed they are usually rendered ineffective (so long as there are effective accountability/responsibility mechanisms).
Gatekeeping individuals and organizations, like “savior allies,” also have tendency to create dependency on them and their function as support. They have a tendency to dominate or control.

“Navigators & Floaters”
The “navigating” ally is someone who is familiar or skilled in jargon and maneuvers through spaces or struggles yet doesn’t have meaningful dialogue (by avoiding debates or remaining silent) or take meaningful action beyond their personal comfort zones (this exists with entire organizations too). They uphold their power and, by extension, the dominant power structures by not directly attacking them.
“Ally” here is more clearly defined as the act of making personal projects out of other folk’s oppression. These are lifestyle allies who act like passively participating or simply using the right terminology is support. When shit goes down they are the first to bail. They don’t stick around to take responsibility for their behavior. When confronted they often blame others and attempt to dismiss or delegitimize concerns.
Accomplices aren’t afraid to engage in uncomfortable/unsettling/challenging debates or discussions.

Floaters are “allies” that hop from group to group and issue to issue, never being committed enough but always wanting their presence felt and their voices heard. They tend to disappear when it comes down to being held accountable or taking responsibility for fucked up behavior.
Floaters are folks you can trust to tell the cops to “fuck off” but never engage in mutual risk, constantly put others at risk, are quick to be authoritarian about other peoples over stepping privileges, but never check their own. They basically are action junkie tourists who never want to be part of paying the price, the planning, or the responsibility but always want to be held up as worthy of being respected for “having been there” when a rock needed throwing, bloc needs forming, etc.
This dynamic is also important to be aware of for threats of infiltration. Provocateurs are notorious floaters going from place to place never being accountable to their words or actions. Infiltration doesn’t necessarily have to come from the state, the same impacts can occur by “well meaning” allies. It’s important to note that calling out infiltrators bears serious implications and shouldn’t be attempted without concrete evidence.
“Acts of Resignation”
Resignation of agency is a by-product of the allyship establishment. At first the dynamic may not seem problematic, after all, why would it be an issue with those who benefit from systems of oppression to reject or distance themselves from those benefits and behaviors (like entitlement, etc) that accompany them? In the worst cases, “allies” themselves act paralyzed believing it’s their duty as a “good ally.” There is a difference between acting for others, with others, and for one’s own interests, be explicit.
You wouldn’t find an accomplice resigning their agency, or capabilities as an act of “support.” They would find creative ways to weaponize their privilege (or more clearly, their rewards of being part of an oppressor class) as an expression of social war. Otherwise we end up with a bunch of anti-civ/primitivist appropriators or anarcho-hipsters, when saboteurs would be preferred.

Suggestions for some ways forward for anti-colonial accomplices:

Allyship is the corruption of radical spirit and imagination, it’s the dead end of decolonization.
The ally establishment co-opts decolonization as a banner to fly at its unending anti-oppression gala. What is not understood is that decolonization is a threat to the very existence of settler “allies.” No matter how liberated you are, if you are still occupying Indigenous lands you are still a colonizer.

Decolonization (the process of restoring Indigenous identity) can be very personal and should be differentiated, though not disconnected, from anti-colonial struggle.
The work of an accomplice in anti-colonial struggle is to attack colonial structures & ideas.

The starting point is to articulate your relationship to Indigenous Peoples whose lands you are occupying. This is beyond acknowledgment or recognition. This can be particularly challenging for “non-federally recognized” Indigenous Peoples as they are invisiblized by the state and by the invaders occupying their homelands.
It may take time to establish lines of communication especially as some folks may have already been burnt by outsiders. If you do not know where or how to contact folks, do some ground work, research (but don’t rely on anthropological sources, they are euro-centric), and pay attention. Try to more listening than speaking and planning.
In long-term struggles communication may be ruptured between various factions, there are no easy ways to address this. Don’t try to work the situation out, but communicate openly with consideration of the points below.
Sometimes other Indigenous Peoples are “guests” on other’s homelands yet are tokenized as the Indigenous representatives for the “local struggles”. This dynamic also perpetuates settler colonialism. A lot of people also assume Indigenous folks are all on the same page “politically,” we’re definitely not.

While there may be times folks have the capacity and patience to do so, be aware of the dynamics perpetuated by hand-holding.
Understand that it is not our responsibility to hold your hand through a process to be an accomplice.
Accomplices listen with respect for the range of cultural practices and dynamics that exists within various Indigenous communities.
Accomplices aren’t motivated by personal guilt or shame, they may have their own agenda but they are explicit.
Accomplices are realized through mutual consent and build trust. They don’t just have our backs, they are at our side, or in their own spaces confronting and unsettling colonialism. As accomplices we are compelled to become accountable and responsible to each other, that is the nature of trust.

Don’t wait around for anyone to proclaim you to be an accomplice, you certainly cannot proclaim it yourself. You just are or you are not. The lines of oppression are already drawn. Direct action is really the best and may be the only way to learn what it is to be an accomplice. We’re in a fight, so be ready for confrontation and consequence.

If you are wondering whether to get involved with or to support an organization:

Be suspect of anyone and any organization who professes allyship, decolonization work, and/or wears their relationships with Indigenous Peoples as at badge.

Use some of the points above to determine primary motives.
Look at the organizations funding. Who is getting paid? How are they transparent? Who’s defining the terms? Who sets the agenda? Do campaigns align with what the needs are on the ground?

Are there local grassroots Indigenous People directly involved with the decision making?

Continue Reading


  1. AllenaTapia (@AllenaT)

    May 5, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    Can you clarify here– Is it supposed to be whose LAND/whose ISSUE/whose SPACE- All of the above? “The starting point is to articulate your relationship to Indigenous Peoples whose you are occupying.”

    • admin

      May 5, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Thanks! The correction was caught earlier and changes made. Making changes to the PDF as well. We also received a note to use a more printer friendly image for the PDF, that change is coming too.

  2. Eric

    May 5, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    As a White, Straight, Cis-gendered, Male, American, Middle Class, University Educated, Jewish, Atheist, Able-bodied, able-minded (etc., etc. privileges in no particular order) I realize I pretty much am the problem. I know this because of friends and specifically friends from my housing cooperative. Maybe this isn’t the place for this (my apologies if so) but this is a public forum on the intartoobs talking at least generally about such issues, so what the hell.

    I’m not involved in social justice things because I can tell I am not wanted (rightly so in many forums). I am trying to not be part of the problem, I guess I am asking what do you want, and what do you want from me and people like me? If it is recognition, sure I count for jack squat but whatever you want and think is needed. Poorly phrased, but another example is I default to calling someone whatever gender and pronouns they want. Agency, it is a thing.

    I am an Engineer, meaning that I need not have anything to do with this and other issues, which is a choice vast majority of Engineers make consciously. I am not saying it is your job to make me comfortable.

    If I should just off and go away, I can and will, nary to reappear save to vote in an election (e.g. I voted for marriage equality in my state’s election, but did not campaign, updated no profile pictures, nor attended any pride parades; I simply saw an injustice in society and did my small part to help where I knew I comfortably could.

    However, I see that there *are* in fact problems in society and I think that there *are* things to do without really being involved.

    Here is an analogy: The first person is cutting a very long board on a table saw. The second person is there holding the end after it is cut. If the second person pulls, it messes up the person who is actually doing the cutting. That is what I see many of these problems as, the second person asserting themselves. However if the second person is simply supportive and keeps the piece of wood from falling, the first person can get a much better cut.

    I want to be the second person, supportive, not assertive. My question is how?

    • Mac

      May 5, 2014 at 7:02 PM

      Eric – here are some rad recommendations made in an article I just read called “Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex”

      “Suggestions for some ways forward for anti-colonial accomplices:

      Allyship is the corruption of radical spirit and imagination, it’s the dead end of decolonization.
      The ally establishment co-opts decolonization as a banner to fly at it’s unending anti-oppression gala. What is not understood is that decolonization is a threat to the very existence of settler “allies.” No matter how liberated you are, if you are still occupying Indigenous lands you are still a colonizer.

      Decolonization (the process of restoring Indigenous identity) can be very personal and should be differentiated, though not disconnected, from anti-colonial struggle.
      The work of an accomplice in anti-colonial struggle is to attack colonial structures & ideas.

      The starting point is to articulate your relationship to Indigenous Peoples whose lands you are occupying. This is beyond acknowledgment or recognition. This can be particularly challenging for “non-federally recognized” Indigenous Peoples as they are invisiblized by the state and by the invaders occupying their homelands.
      It may take time to establish lines of communication especially as some folks may have already been burnt by outsiders. If you do not know where or how to contact folks, do some ground work, research (but don’t rely on anthropological sources, they are euro-centric), and pay attention. Try to more listening than speaking and planning.
      In long-term struggles communication may be ruptured between various factions, there are no easy ways to address this. Don’t try to work the situation out, but communicate openly with consideration of the points below.
      Sometimes other Indigenous Peoples are “guests” on other’s homelands yet are tokenized as the Indigenous representatives for the “local struggles”. This dynamic also perpetuates settler colonialism. A lot of people also assume Indigenous folks are all on the same page “politically,” we’re definitely not.

      While there may be times folks have the capacity and patience to do so, be aware of the dynamics perpetuated by hand-holding.
      Understand that it is not our responsibility to hold your hand through a process to be an accomplice.
      Accomplices listen with respect for the range of cultural practices and dynamics that exists within various Indigenous communities.
      Accomplices aren’t motivated by personal guilt or shame, they may have their own agenda but they are explicit.
      Accomplices are realized through mutual consent and build trust. They don’t just have our backs, they are at our side, or in their own spaces confronting and unsettling colonialism. As accomplices we are compelled to become accountable and responsible to each other, that is the nature of trust.

      Don’t wait around for anyone to proclaim you to be an accomplice, you certainly cannot proclaim it yourself. You just are or you are not. The lines of oppression are already drawn. Direct action is really the best and may be the only way to learn what it is to be an accomplice. We’re in a fight, so be ready for confrontation and consequence.”

      Here’s another great article:

    • i n d e e

      May 5, 2014 at 7:12 PM

      this is not the space to have this conversation. have a brainstorming session with other folks whose privilege mirror your own. aka you figure out how to not be shitty white dude, while we figure out how to survive.

      also it wouldnt hurt to re-read the “Suggestions for some ways forward for anti-colonial accomplices” section, especially the part that says “Understand that it is not our responsibility to hold your hand through a process to be an accomplice.”

      • Jane

        May 6, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        Indee, thanks for demonstrating what I think I hate more than condescending liberal types and spotlight hogs– the people who make it impossible, even for someone who is humble and well-meaning– to make any kind of positive step forward without being attacked. “I am not this white dude’s teacher and i will not coddle his feelings in telling him so by swallowing my own. ” — so basically you’re unwilling to even talk to people who are putting themselves out there. If you don’t want to hold his hand then don’t do it, you don’t have to respond to men like that. People who want to take on the task of educating can do so, because.. guess what! it’s our collective responsibility as progressives to educate people, whether you like it or not.

        • sexandonions

          May 18, 2014 at 1:34 AM

          wrong. this dude can put himself out there all he wants, but nobody deserves even a pat on the back for that. in the end it is on HIM to do the research, to take the time, do the hard thinking and talking and crying and deciding to do better. he needs to figure that shit out. there are mountains of literature addressing these and other issues already out there, written by indigenous folks and oppressed peoples. theres also tons of stuff written by white people about whiteness and facing white supremacy. the words have already been written, the stories told – he needs to find them for himself if any personal transformation is to be really really fucking real. it cant be a quick-and-dirty, silver bullet experience. what he calls for here, and what entitled liberals and others call for all the time, is for someone surviving on the front lines to take the their time to make it easy for him. “heres a concrete, short list of 5 perfect, easily digestible and explicable steps for you to take that i as a scholar of my experiences plus everyone in my minority demographic has learned for sure.” as a white dude my continuing education of race and privilege has been long and will not end. ever. start today for the long haul or dont bother. and dont dare take shit personally when folks call you out. and cheers for indee! right on

        • ffff

          May 20, 2014 at 10:38 PM

          lol jane if you’re so committed to educating the white man why don’t you go ahead and do it then? oh i guess its even more important to be a self-righteous prick. who told you “we” are progressives?

        • Aug

          November 26, 2014 at 6:58 PM

          I agree with Jane. One is often attacked for acting, or as some of these comments show, condescended for asking and listening. Very counterproductive and confusing for people trying to better understand.

    • Merdeka

      May 6, 2014 at 3:53 AM

      There’s nothing wrong with your comment & you seem sincere don’t let Internet radicals intimidate you. Political groups who fail to recruit members of the public outside their clique & insult or snark at you on the internet to make themselves look radical on blogs are a big part of the problem.

      My recommendation is find an actual political movement that exists in your area, join up with them & see what they’re doing. Something like pcr-rcp, brown berets – i’m not American so I have no idea what exists where you live. If they’re working with indigenous groups get involved through them. Alliances can be made between groups with known political goals not random individuals

      • i n d e e

        May 6, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        To be clear, i dont think that there was anything wrong with Eric’s comment or questions above. In contrary I think its really important for white folks to be asking these questions, thinking about these things. Its to whom the questions are directed to and also where the questions are being asked that make me feel icky and frustrated. I am not this white dude’s teacher and i will not coddle his feelings in telling him so by swallowing my own. And Merdeka, you can try and minimize that to some unimportant ass internet/radical credibility, still i come from a long line of black women who were forced to take care of white babies with a smile on their faces and that cycle ends with me.

        • Sey

          December 8, 2014 at 4:56 PM

          Indee, your shitty attitude and assumption that it’s all about you would make sense in this case if Eric had called you on your home phone to speak his original comment.

          If you feel “icky and frustrated” because he opened a perfectly reasonable discussion on a public forum DEDICATED TO THIS TOPIC, the problem lies with you, and you should probably dip. He’s not talking to you.

    • mikesteraz

      May 20, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      “I count for jack squat” … I find it tragic and counter-liberatory that some have been made to feel like this based on their social class and skin color , and it is celebrated by privilegemongers as some kind of victory. Eric: You are every bit as equal as the rest of us and your voice has value!! Don’t ever feel like you are not wanted or needed, or let another person diminish you as an individual.

      Aside from that, I would add a cautionary note to this entire conversation: Many, actually most, of we so-called “colonialists” were actually born here … thus, we, too, are indigenous to this land, and we face a common enemy in the political ruling class. Our struggle IS a struggle that is bound up as one; but casting it as a struggle for territorial dominance that places some ethnicities above others is … problematic.

      Thank you your acts of complicity in the fight for liberation. This is an amazing article.

      • the rizqian

        May 28, 2014 at 6:00 PM

        u trivialize the term indigenous with ur statement.
        if u are white(of european decent) , u are not indigenous. stop playing games up in here. none of those tired plots will stick sir. the privilege on blast in this thread shows exactly why nothing will change as a result of himming and hawing on a website with a kinder gentler version of monstrosity. trust and believe that. there can be no allies where there is no shared triumph and shared pain. ur pamperd,enclosed,assured position must be defended even when u pretend to be above such considerations. hence no real communication is taking place.

  3. Beorn

    May 5, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    “Accomplices aren’t motivated by personal guilt or shame, they may have their own agenda but they are explicit.”

    I think it is important for accomplices to recognize they are motivated out of some personal factor. Recognize it and name it. Abstract terms likes “liberation” or “ending oppression” need not apply.

    And only because you seem concerned with grammar/typos already I’ll mention one I noticed…yes this is a silly language but what the hell:

    “The ally establishment co-opts decolonization as a banner to fly at it’s unending anti-oppression gala.” it’s/its

    • jeff sorenson

      June 27, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      “Recognize it and name it. Abstract terms likes “liberation” or “ending oppression” need not apply.”
      The personal factor that motivates me is common survival. If that’s not good enough, then never mind.

  4. Merdeka

    May 6, 2014 at 3:57 AM

    I don’t really appreciate this article advising white people as individuals to look around for indigenous people or movements to attach themselves to. That’s the most annoying thing they do. There should be alliances between movements, Indigenous movements of Indigenous people already exist & mainstream movements if they want to be “accomplices” to our movements could use some advice how to behave. I have no idea of this blogger even belongs to a movement themselves or they’re just issuing instructions on their own initiative.

    • admin

      May 6, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      Merdeka, why do you assume the article is just advising white folks to look for Indigenous movements? The assertion here is that this dynamic is already occurring, not just with WFs but POC as well. “if they want to be “accomplices” to our movements could use some advice how to behave.” Agreed. Sometimes this happens with protocols that are established and sometimes it doesn’t, hence some of the suggestions at the end of the piece. As one of the primary authors of this piece, I have been involved in a range of movements for years. Being born into the land conflict on Big Mountain area opened my eyes at a very young age. The primary movement I’ve been involved with for the past 20 years is protection of sacred places. I helped to build a coalition that brought together 14 Indigenous nations and non-Native enviro groups (some Big Eco ones). I learned some very hard lessons regarding allyship then. For the past 10 years I’ve worked with Indigenous youth to create a media justice movement, we started a radical resource center 7 years ago called Táala Hooghan Infoshop. The infoshop was one of the main points where these conversations, observations, and frustrations were born from. Ahe’ hee’, Klee

  5. Marissa

    May 6, 2014 at 6:05 AM

    What an amazing article! !! As a descendant of enslaved Africans I find myself meeting these ‘allies’ time and again and REALLY appreciate the thought that went into this project. My question is I would love to know what the relationship between indigenous people and the children of those kidnapped from Africa ie African-Americans, could & should be?

    • admin

      May 6, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      Marissa, thank you for the comment. I would highly recommend connecting with Indigenous folks whose lands you’re on and starting the conversation there. These discussions certainly have occurred in a range of circles/movements before, particularly focusing on Black & Brown unity, to my knowledge not much has been written regarding Red & Black (lot’s of historical documentation exists though). Check out Andrea Smith’s “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy: Rethinking Women of Color Organizing” if you haven’t already. If you’re in AZ I would be happy to connect that conversation here. Otherwise if you email me (through the site contact page) I can forward you some info from research/convos that I’ve been part of. – Klee

      • Shanya Cordis

        May 6, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        I think engaging in the relationship between Red & Black unity is a critical point that continues to be marginalized. As a Black-Indian (Warao/Lokono) woman, I think we should recognize that blackness and redness are critical to the construction of the settler landscape, and that indigenous and black communities continue to undermine one another’s political projects by constantly framing the political projects as mutually exclusive. In fact, they are inherently linked, and not in a hierarchical my-struggle-is-greater-than-yours or my-struggle-comes-first. However, on the ground there continues to be anti-blackness within native and indigenous communities and anti-indigeneity in black anti-racist struggles. I would love to see more on this particular point as notions of settler colonialism often continue around a native-settler binary that fails to consider how blackness is the third aspect of this triangulation.

        I appreciate this article for its really insightful critiques of the ally industrial complex, but one point I would like to engage further is how alliances or as to quote the articles “accomplices” are formed within native/indigenous communities as this remains a contentious issue that receives little attention.

        • andrea

          May 6, 2014 at 4:57 PM

          Although both my parents are “white”, based on the current definition of the term in american culture, my extended family — cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, etc– people who occupy my heart space and share life closely with me, are people of color, including descedents of people indigenous to literally every inhabited continent of the planet except Australia. Being an ally or accomplice or whatever word is trending right now for an anti-racist, anti-fascist person is an act of love and self-defense for me and my entire family. The real battles are fought daily on a personal level, and we will never be paid in anything but love and survival.

  6. Christine Prat

    May 6, 2014 at 2:14 PM

  7. Andrew Curley

    May 6, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    In a recently published pamphlet, “Accomplices Not Allies: An Indigenous Perspective & Provocation,” the un-credited author(s) highlight some real problems facing indigenous social movements. The work is commendable in many ways. It surveys the range of potential compromises different actors within indigenous social movements might face. Although the categories are debatable, it’s a good start to the conversation.

    For example, the author(s) account for the complicated and sometimes self-serving role of nongovernmental organizations and what they describe as patronizing attitudes of academics, intellectuals (and I would add lawyers.)

    But the pamphlet lacks ideals. It doesn’t assert an ideology or something to build upon. It does suggest “direct action,” but this is a tactic, not a strategy—and to what question?

    Instead the pamphlet provides a vague critique of different types of actors who move in and out of indigenous social movements. Each one of these critiques deserves their own examination, but at this point I feel that the categories are too hard to understand to make this pamphlet workable, now. To be clear, I’m not dismissing the pamphlet. I’m just pointing out areas where we can build a debate.

    Primarily, the author(s) define all “allies” or “accomplices” against the assumed backdrop of “we.” Who are we? What constitutes “we” in a social movement? Is the author(s) perspective(s) the most militant faction of a struggle? If so, we would better understand what the writers are asking for. They want “allies” to become “accomplices,” to move from the safety of a privileged position to the center of the struggle and bear some of its burden, to “not be afraid to pick up a hammer.”

    Arguing for increased militancy is a fair point and shouldn’t simply be dismissed from the equally vague notion I hear a lot of “non-violent resistance.” But the pamphlet assumes too much that “we” is a consistent thing that should be supported. Maybe I would support it, but I don’t know what it is and what it stands for. No movement should be blindly followed and framing things in “us versus them” leads to this dangerous tendency.

    Using the language of the well-known critique of the “not-for-profit industrial complex,” the author(s) assert something of an “ally-industrial complex.” There might be some truth to this and it’s an insightful claim. I really think it should be looked at further. Again, I’m not dismissing it. But here are some problems:

    Unfortunately the category of “allies” is still too vague and probably isn’t anywhere close to “industrial” in the sense that Eisenhower coined the term in 1960 to talk about “the military industrial complex.”

    There is an inherent interest in nongovernment organizations to work on a problem in a certain way that feels disengaged. It’s also true that their perspectives and actions are complicated by their funding sources. This is something called the not-for-profit industrial complex. The notion of the ally-industrial complex builds on this. But academics, intellectuals, gatekeepers and floaters have varied interests and don’t maintain an institutionalized form of funding that the term “industrial complex” evokes. This might sound like its splitting hairs but it’s important.

    It’s important because we want to know what really drives these actors and their involvement in indigenous social movement. Calling it an ally-industrial complex might obscure more than it illuminates. Are university interests the same as nongovernment organizations? How about lawyers who double as intellectuals for Native communities? In some circumstances, we have lawyers and members of not-for-profits maintaining very different institutional motivations. Some work for their tribal government and defend existing tribal policies while others are extensions of large foundations and critique these same polices. Maybe I am confusing things because the latter is not an “ally.” But without clear definitions in the pamphlet, it’s hard to know what the author(s) are talking about in each of these categories. It’s really hard to understand how these constitute an “industrial-complex.”

    Getting to the point, I feel that it would have been a useful exercise to talk more about the ideals for an indigenous social movement that could inform the role of “allies” rather than to simply denounce the activities of these vague categories and then to simply ask for people who fit in them to stand as accomplices. Simply put, if there are floaters or parachuters, don’t let them get in the way.

    Andrew Curley

    • admin

      May 6, 2014 at 6:51 PM

      Andrew, Thanks for your prodding at this provocation. The intention of the piece isn’t to promote an ideology but to confront a problematic tendency prevalent in pretty much every current struggle. After all, it’s not a manifesto, it’s a provocation and as such has very different utility. The closest moments this piece comes to identifying an ideology is in naming the desire for total liberation of land and people and the mentions of anti-colonial struggle. Ultimately prescriptive treatises become dogmatic, a tendency we intentionally tried to avoid here (with the caveat of some advice being necessary based upon direct experience, not just theory). The “we” section is left somewhat abstract so affinity can be drawn based upon positionality. Certainly it’s a great question to interrogate, just as much as what we mean when we say “community.”
      If the critique is too vague, maybe it’s the difference in the lens you’re looking through? All of these categories (and more that we did not include) are based upon experience in a range of movements, both Indigenous and non-indigenous. Certainly we could have built them out more, but that would require more attention and time than we cared to spend exploring our frustrations. Maybe someone will write a book about it and pontificate more, we could have provided examples and named names, but we decided to play nice, for now.

      “But academics, intellectuals, gatekeepers and floaters have varied interests and don’t maintain an institutionalized form of funding that the term “industrial complex” evokes.” Just because interests are varied – just as non-profits have varied interests from all points in the political spectrum – doesn’t change the current trends in commodification and exploitation of struggles through allyship. While the Ally Industrial Complex may be smaller scale (at this moment) than the examples you compare it to, it isn’t so much a matter of scale but effect.
      – Klee

      • Andrew Curley

        May 7, 2014 at 1:27 PM

        Good points. I’m glad you opened the conversation! Thanks again for the work you all put into this.


  8. wolfonakayak

    May 6, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    Thank you for these thoughts. I really enjoyed them. I’m wondering if I may write something based on this but more digestible for my own audience, citing what you wrote? My audience being a whole bunch of white lesbians who don’t seem to be very open to understanding the difference between, “I’m here to help!” versus “Would you like any help from me, and if so, of my skills xy and z, which would you like and how can I apply them in a way that would be beneficial?”

    My big thing to try to teach people is that the best thing we can all do to fight racism or any -ism is to send our ego elsewhere and to start from the premise that we are -ist. I am not racist in the sense that I *mean* to be racist: I’m racist in the sense that I was born a white person in a white-oppressor society, fed messages of superiority about my “race” and inferiority about others from my first breath. I did not CHOOSE to be fed those messages, so why should I be guilty or ashamed that I was? No–I should be vigilant and aware, knowing that it is my job to root those messages out and destroy them. The only shame, the only guilt, is when I adopt those racist messages as my own. The only shame is if I do not make it my responsibilty to notice, to care, and to do what I can to change the status quo.

    I tend to find myself dashing my head against a wall at times, but my head is sometimes harder than their wall, and it’s fun to smash that sort of wall. Look! Bricks-of-Idiocy are flying, whee!

    • admin

      May 6, 2014 at 6:57 PM

      Thanks for asking, this is @nti-copyright so have at it. It would be great to see this re-worked from various perspectives.

      • Eyad Alkurabi

        May 28, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        I’m working on same topic.. and they way you broke it down is so good ! Recently i tried to do the same thing and i get compared to George Wallace…..
        I’m Palestinian-Syrian and queer.

  9. The Great Bandito

    May 6, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    this is stupid. you anarchists dont actually want to change anything. you just want to find more things to complain about so you can maintain your “edge.” what a stupid article.

  10. Markus

    May 9, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    Thank you for writing this – it is a powerful piece and so important.

  11. Hailey

    May 9, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    As said by others who commented, this pamphlet offers critical and needed insight for those in circles you’re referring to – it poses many, perhaps unfamiliar, questions for self reflection, for myself and to others this relates to. Hopefully this piece will be used as a means to abolish these dynamics and not solely as a field guide to pigeon-hole people into “ally” stereotypes because they exhibit certain characteristics, like being generally quiet, curious of anarchism, or whatever else, especially if the consented goals of the dialogue/space are allusive.

    I look forward to which conversations this will lead to.

  12. Isabelle

    May 10, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Please excuse my english, it’s not my mother tongue.

    There was (and there still is) a culture linked to Mother Earth in Europe (where I live). Those who practiced formerly were probably… white. This didn’t prevent them from being burned alive in the Middle Ages as “witches and wizards” (they were shamans, plant healers, druids, european pagans…). But their spirit survived (this kind doesn’t fear death) and finally : it is more and more recognized today, everywhere in the world, that the care of Mother Earth – as she takes care of us – is the most “valid spirituality”. In connection with how things work in reality, with the Spirit, from we all come and return (whose only “book” is Nature, sorry).

    I probably will never go to the U.S. But when I have the opportunity to read texts written by Native American spiritual leaders, they are often very enlightening because they come from nations that have managed (against a terrible violence) to maintain their communities and knowledges through the centuries, while ours were atomized. In the revolution of souls smoldering and secretely strengthening – for now – before spreading widely sooner or later, inevitably (or we will disappear), they have a major role to play. You can take it as a prophecy ; on this side of the world as in the other, those who walk in truth quite easily read the future. And who predicted centuries ago the colonizer civilisation was “no sustainable” ? Right. You see.

    That is why I understand this text – without understanding it *really*. The Spirit also speaks to white people if they want to listen. He makes no such discrimination. But if those people do not make the effort themselves to connect, by returning to their own “pre-christian” sources (yes, appropriating a practice that is not from your culture is quite inefficient, because it is through your own ancestors that you will connect more easily to what flows within you – and that’s a little ridiculous, besides being disrespectful), how do they see natives ? Only as “opressed people” they have to “help” with their “activist science” ?

    It seems a bit unreal, the totally lost guy who wants to teach life to the one who never lost sight of the path.

    But perhaps it’s too early, it’s true. The human mind is not so alert. So, to the allies-comlices or whatever they are I will say : be careful and respectful, learn to shut up, you’ve done enough stupid things at this time. And to Turtle Island people : remember who you are, please. We don’t have so much time, our mother is already seriously injured. And as we all are her children, we are brother and sisters, nothing more, nothing less.


  13. paragardener

    May 21, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Okay, I’m going to stay away from this group, which would obviously see any contribution I might have to offer as some sort of slippery oppression fueled by my shadow of white guilt. Good luck finding accomplices who make the cut.

  14. fanto

    May 26, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Thanks. I find the idea of building relationships of sincerity and radical friendships across those oppression lines really important. It sounds to me in some lines that it’s something maybe similar that is advocated for here. And yes, building those relationships through direct action sounds like a good way to start.
    But I wonder if the making of a new category of « the good ally » (with a new name) helps to build a space where we are actually able to let go of some of our pretence and anxious search for purity or perfection and can work from the place of being our whole evolving, learning selves, imperfect yet perhaps more in touch with who we are at the moment. Seeing and accepting ourselves and each other for who we are, even with those tendencies we perceive as our « annoying » or counter-productive ways (of course unless it’s voluntary and for personal gain like exposed in the first part of the article), seems to me like it could also be a foundation to building a real partnership culture that counteracts the dominator culture on that level.

  15. Josiah Walrus (@Josiah_Walrus)

    May 30, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    Can you explain this contradiction in the article?

    First the author says: “The self-proclaimed allies have no intention to abolish the entitlement that compelled them to impose their relationship upon those they claim to ally with.”

    Beyond intentionality, this seems to imply that allies _should_ be willing to abolish their own entitlements, if they were actually in support rather than just acting out of guilt.

    Later in the article there is this: “You wouldn’t find an accomplice resigning their agency, or capabilities as an act of ‘support.’

    Now, the accomplice knows she _should not_ resign agency as an act of support.

    On the one hand, tell allies they _should_ give up entitlement. On the other, note that an accomplice would never do that, because any power can be used against the system.

    • admin

      May 31, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      You’re observing the distinction between “self-proclaimed allies” and accomplices. The two roles should be mutually opposed.

  16. Timothy Rgs Maton

    June 24, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    it is an enjoyable read but a concerning topic. to me it is concerning because its tone is essentialist (yes i am using academic jargon- i think lots of people are smart enough to be able to have complex thoughts and use complex words- i think you are talking down to people by trying to make complex ideas seem simple when they are not). Complex issues, complex societies, and complex institutions require complex approaches. If you are going to turn everything into an essentialistic conversation that turns every issue into a simple dichotomy then you are alienating a lot of people who are honestly trying to be helpful to your struggle. Yes, some of them are ‘professionals’, but everyone needs to live. And often it is poor people who end up in these situations with people acting like they are a walking talking political ideology instead of a human being with human needs. I think there is a big problem with interpreting everything as political when alot of what happens under the guise of politics is the result of human people, with human needs, having human responses to human problems and feelings. Trying to turn everything into a political dichotomy sounds to me like blame and hate instead of trying to work towards improvement and cultural coexistance. that said i have always hated the term ‘ally’. i am not a state, i am a human being, i am not your ‘ally’ i am your friend and someone who cares.

    I think the above comments clearly show how angry and vapid essentialistic conversations about politics become when they are formulated along essentialist ways of thinking. Your essentialism is also colonial, so you know, thats where that way of thinking originates.

  17. Timothy Rgs Maton

    June 25, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    (I would cut that last paragraph I wrote since it seems unnecessary)

  18. Nij Iskode

    June 27, 2014 at 5:18 AM

    I’m seeing a lot of frustration that I feel is not necessary. There are a lot of good points in this article, and a lot of truth. As I understand it, the spirit of this article is to point out the worst motivating factors (especially those corporate “not for profit” organizations), but leaves potential individual allies/accomplices little information on how to contribute in a good way…and that is not very conducive to acceptance and cooperation.

    In my experience, nobody does anything without motive…and no ally nor accomplice has the same spirit of the Indigenous decolonization “movement”, for they have not faced the obstacles. That does not mean they cannot participate, are unwelcome, nor that they are all corrupt…they must find something in the cause that motivates them, and we as Indigenous people need to understand this. We also must aid them to understand us…clearly they have an interest in helping our cause to some degree, and that is to our benefit as much as it is to theirs.

    Certainly we don’t need to educate them…but we cannot simply shut them out either. We must be open and accepting, in the same spirit our ancestors were when colonials first came to this land. With the wisdom and knowledge our people have now, in concert with the understanding of the atrocities and consequences of the past, by those colonials, this generation can accomplish much! We cannot alienate people for not understanding if we are unwilling to answer their questions, and they will never learn if we are unwilling to teach. It is a simple equation delivered in the seventh fire, and it is our responsibility to our ancestors, Mother Earth, and humanity to make it happen.

  19. tristan

    August 26, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    so… the”allies” are now just going to call themselves “accomplices”? the jargon just seems like a distraction from the real issues here.

  20. Christine Prat

    September 7, 2014 at 6:22 AM

  21. Dr. A. Breeze Harper

    November 26, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    Permission to repost on my blog?

    • admin

      November 30, 2014 at 8:46 PM

      Yes, repost away! Ahe’ hee’!

  22. venice

    November 28, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    While much of it is valid, some seems to a projection of separatism often done by radical extremists. As both a “federally unrecognized native” and an anthropologist, some of it is very generalized and demeaning. I agree with almost all of the material, but do not agree that criminalization and betrayal are the only way, and neither is attacking. There exists a middle ground, and for those of us who walk it, the road is lonely, because we are never included by mutual consent.

  23. J.

    December 8, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    The “anti oppression” model of the post modern left seems to be premised on the idea that groups are somehow united in their goals, methods and expectations by the common experience of disenfranchisment/oppression. They aren’t. “Allies” are told to shut up and listen, as if oppressed groups all spoke with one voice, or all wanted the same things from their allies. In this way, the actual contradictions, politics, and ultimately agency of oppressed groups is glossed over and eliminated, a subtle form of discrimination.
    It seems to me that a lot of groups engaging in liberation struggles would benefit more from strong allies who made their motivations and intentions clear, and who were willing to dissent or draw lines, rather than spineless, guilt motivated allies whose intentions are unclear and whose commitment is uncertain.

  24. Brendan

    December 13, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Just a few comments. When you refer to ”returning the land”what exactly can that possibly mean in 2014 ?
    Are you calling for some sort of mass deportation of the overwheming majority of the population of North America that aren’t descended from the original peoples ? And if so are you calling for just those who’s families came from Europe ? What about African-Americans ? Do they get some sort of ”Green Card” ?
    And about Asians. At least one Black Nationalist group , The African Peoples Socialist Party (Uhuru House) describes Koreans , for example, as ”Colonizers” ! And what about Latinos . Of course many are of mixed race but many aren’t . So are those Latinos who are mestizos acceptable but those who are of probably only Spanish descent not ?
    BTW I don’t know what you think of the legacy of Che Guervara but you do know his grandparents were of Spanish descent and one was a immigrant from Ireland ? So he was not a person of color .
    I think that in contrast to this Ultra Nationalistic vision of a movement we should build a Multi racial movement based on shared class interests and principles


      January 6, 2015 at 8:22 PM


    • Andy

      April 5, 2015 at 5:32 PM

      I think there are some great points in this piece which expand on the kind of work that groups like INCITE have done surrounding the non-profit industrial complex. The piece is very good at updating and naming the kind of hollow language radical nonprofits use on groups and individuals they want to profit from. Although I understand that the piece self-identifies (to use a perfect example of radical nonprofit and academic speak) as a “provocation” I don’t follow why the role of “ally” needs to be replaced with the equally dubious “accomplice”. I guess I’m too old to find crime terminology excitingly romantic. “Comrade” has perhaps too many marxist-leninist associations but I think it’s better than the bad-ass “accomplice”. But the goal I think is to find a place where everyone is working towards liberation, their own and that of their comrades.

    • Wester

      May 3, 2015 at 8:52 PM

      About 1/3 of the lower 48, all towards the east coast, has been fully and effectively genocided, so if you want to be sanctimonious about not having anywhere to go, maybe you can go here and continue your self-righteous indignation on fully cleansed and purified-for-your-use fallout of 500 years of colonial terror territory that’s “technicall” all yours….that is if you can live with the endless screams of agony from the ghosts who live there

  25. Paula

    December 14, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    So much to think about here. Unfortunately one sees oneself here and there…and recognizes unflattering motives. How very interesting. Thanks to James for starting this conversation.

  26. heavystone

    December 14, 2014 at 10:27 PM

    This is terrible advice. You demonize everyone, especially those who try to help you. The recommended alternative isn’t even real, it’s just abstract posturing. You are a disgrace.

    • tom

      December 22, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      Well said, heavy stone!

  27. Alison Pryle

    December 23, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    It is a lot to think about ..I believe it is a valuable conversation. To the person worried Europeans and other non Natives wii be thrown off their land: how about if we help keep corporations and mining off? This way we willl incur good willi with indigenous people. I did not read all of this. I will try to save it to my wall for catch up.

  28. tbaker926

    December 27, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    These are important issues to bring to the table — we should all assume that struggle for social justice is not just about an enemy outside — it is about a continual recreation of healthy relationships within the group — including calling each other out on unequal power dynamics and the like. I understand perhaps the impulse to use “accomplice” to distinguish it from ally but it is a difficult word for me because I am not participating in criminal activity. (The state may think I am but I refuse to take on the identity assigned me by the state) We make the road by walking it.

  29. Fani

    January 17, 2015 at 10:18 AM

    Hello, we are a group of women and QPOC living in France, and would like to translate your text in french. Its possible ?

  30. anabraxas

    January 25, 2015 at 2:51 PM

    Late but not too late… translated to French here:

    Awesome critique, and very useful for anyone in or willing to join this ongoing resistance.

    Set to appear as well in a project by Ill Will Editions soon.

  31. olleicua

    February 11, 2015 at 7:04 PM

    Thank you for writing this. I didn’t know very much about the indiginous rights movement before reading this but I feel like it applies really well to the social just movements I know more about and am a part of.

  32. Patrick Cate

    March 7, 2015 at 1:27 AM

    For those settlers (and I am a settler) who feel somewhat indicted by this typology, I think the point isn’t to see these differing destructive identities of allyship as platonic absolutes that you either fall into or don’t. I think its a point of entry for self-reflection, and that if I see a bit of myself in any of these types of allyship then I am already doing the work by learning to be self-reflective about how and why I do things, and working to rid myself of them in the future, That is the first step in decolonizing myself. I can’t take it personally; it’s part of a journey towards liberation for not only myself but for all people. I know that if I see myself as somehow magically immune to the systems of oppression I was born into, as a settler, than I am clearly missing something of vital importance, and I am eternally grateful for those who have taken the time to think critically about my role and what I can do to improve it.

    • GreenNinja

      June 4, 2015 at 10:31 PM

      nicely said.

  33. Fani

    March 11, 2015 at 5:53 AM

    My name is Fania, I am a black queer franco-haitian ciswoman and my friends and I have just launched an intersectional French-language magazine: AssiégéEs (Beleaguered), the first issue of which will be coming out next June. The magazine will be available by donation online and paper issues can be ordered on demand (provided we reach our crowdfunding goals).

     The AssiégéEs team is composed of radical women and (a few) men of colour who stand firmly as: anti-racist AND anti-sexist AND anti-homophobic AND anti-transphobic AND anti-capitalist AND anti-Islamophobic AND anti-respectability politics. AssiégÉs is a magazine accessible to all, and is not an academic journal we set at a
    maximum of 40% the number of contributions produced by academics and offer writing support for people uncomfortable with this form of expression, while accepting others types of submissions (drawings, graffiti, poems, etc..). All magazine contributors are people of colour. The first issue will be on traps. Traps set by identities, but also by struggles and demands. How to find support points, live at intersections? This often
    leaves one feeling at an impasse. I am contacting you today because we would like to translate your text to include in this first issue. Because your work is of particular relevance, for us, and since our magazine strives to be non-classist, we would like that English-languages texts be made accessible to people who do not master the language. 

    With this in mind we would like to know your financial requirements for reprinting and distribution.

  34. lincolnjfinch

    April 2, 2015 at 12:29 PM

    Are non-natives who occupy non-native lands necessarily colonizers? What can they do, in positive terms, to legitimately occupy the land they were born on that their ancestors stole, for example? I can’t fight this fight if I emigrate.

  35. Susan James

    May 12, 2015 at 10:55 PM

    Excellent article and an eye opener actually. Man there is a lot of self serving do good ears out there. I actually get each category personality types you have addressed . Money shit man people get paid to do this , workshops on it?? He’ll we just say na governments wrong lets protest or occupy and send the appropriate heads to parliament to battle ! Interesting article very interesting we thoroughly absorbed much of it and ill have to read it a few more times to totally absorb all .

  36. marcos

    June 2, 2015 at 8:43 PM

    The most productive era of activism that I’d ever worked in was during the mid 1980s in Austin where there were several intersecting radical formations that offered up mutual aid, another term for accomplice. Earth First!, pro-choice, ACT/UP, anti-apartheid, anti-US intervention in Central America and refugee support organizing all synergized to create an action and goals oriented volunteer radical army.

    The moment that activism gets professionalized it morphs into advocacy which carries a different dynamic. The antidote to this neoliberal resistance poison is ongoing mass democratic participatory organizing and mobilization.

    And today’s youth to my mind are overly fixated on language and group identity in ways that simply are not reflected in self perception of those in these groups who are outside of the academic and activist bubble. What counts more than language is measurable progress towards emancipation and justice. These ideals of groups and language must yield to the material reality we confront. You cannot speak your reality into existence, that is magical thinking, there is no substitute to risk taking and participatory organizing. I could imagine how today’s sensitive flowers would have fared at Stonewall or Compton’s or the Edmund Pettis Bridge which were not safe spaces by any means.

    Nor can we expect to organize free of some degree of racism, sexism and homophobia given that we live in a racist, sexist and homophobic culture and most folks who come to participate will come with that baggage. We need to identify means of addressing these issues effectively in real time without stopping the show.

    Both for-profit and non-profit capitalists (brilliant!) share one thing in common: a mutual contempt for the people because they do not trust us. Emancipatory political activity cannot succeed when it is mediated by a wage. Thank you for this wonderful piece.

  37. Will Shetterly

    August 9, 2015 at 9:23 AM

    Excellent post. It reminds me of two things:

    1. I’ve long wondered how much money Tim Wise makes.

    2. In the ’60s, allies weren’t expected to share the same ideologies. They were only expected to share the same goals.

  38. Danielle Hilton

    April 6, 2016 at 7:26 AM

    Strong work☆

  39. Andrew

    November 6, 2016 at 11:54 PM

    The pamphlet was good. Then the author used irregardless, that was distracting. Irregardless is not a word.
    Regardless is correct.

    • Damned

      February 17, 2017 at 4:56 AM

      irregardless IS a word and isn’t exactly the same as regardless albeit closely related.

      ie. regardless of the outcome, the directions are the same for both methods.
      ie. irregardless of what he does, she will still have to make a decision that affects both of them.
      Not sure those were the best examples, I’m not an English teacher but irregardless is a real word as well as regardless.

  40. Monique

    November 25, 2016 at 3:02 AM

    Was considering how I might make my contribution to this piece funny, yet that may be more difficult, given the serious nature of matters, than I’d like.

    Briefly, by way of introduction, over the decades, I’ve had varying experiences with different factions of community. Including, of course, various local native factions. I’ve naturally fallen into activities or projects, generally speaking, geared towards improving the challenging scenario so many of us face. I’m not here to go into the details of a lifetime of this or offer some sort of resume on action taken. (Though I’ve personally not had any funding, done any workshops or had membership in any NGO’s – some of which have dubious connections btw.)
    I’m here to offer some constructive criticism, in regards to when things go wrong. This requires a better understanding of what can happen, than what I’m seeing here. Proper communication & follow up is important for refining action in the future.

    Firstly, in regards to the criticism of anarchism.
    Anarchisms history has a lot offer with it’s countering of colonial structures. There is of course, a great deal of disinformation on this by vested interests.
    So here’s some links that may assist.

    These first two docos give an account of the Spanish anarchist experience:

    This short clip regards indigenous cultures as being anarchist, make of that what you will:

    Here’s a starter on common myths:

    I’m pretty disappointed with your casual slander of this cultural movement. (There as some subgroups of it I don’t agree with of course – I’m wondering here if you’re implying that you’re ok with upwardly mobile anarcho capitalist types – who don’t seem at all anarchistic to me, given their affiliation with the values of colonialism – groups can have all sorts of factions.)
    You would leap on me in a hot minute if I referred to your cultural or ethnic group as “downwardly mobile natives” or “hipster indigenous peoples”… You demand respect be given, yet seem to offer none in return here.
    Cultural exchanges are important & need to be a two way street. Misunderstandings can easily occur. There will be differences. I find, in my experience, the claim there isn’t any “listening” to be laughable. I’ve listened to some for years, yet did not receive the same regard in return. Hierarchical, authoritarian, patriarchal, paternalistic, patronising attitudes are hallmarks of the system of empire. Embodying them, does not encourage me to respect or work with someone, regardless of their background.
    Know also that people cooperating, to work towards common goals, can be “burnt” just as much by some indigenous factions, not to mention other factions.

    I’ve grown up multiculturally & find some sort of assumption of there being an apartheid style history to be inaccurate. A divisive false assumption of separation, discounts a lifetime of family & personal history with all sorts of peoples & cultural groups. This seems a flawed framework, a false narrative & a disrespectful disregard of longstanding lived experience & relationships.

    I have no interest in labels or acting roles. “Activist” “Ally” “Accomplice”
    We have more in common than not & the challenges we face are old & powerful.
    We are all indigenous to somewhere, many of us to many places. Before this version of empire, we all lived in ways somewhat similar. This brings me to what seems too often ignored, that prior to the invasions over the last 5 centuries – such had been going on elsewhere, for thousands of years. This is where approaches were honed, tactics developed & there are so many peoples touched by this. So many have histories of being invaded, enslaved & having land stolen.

    One of my experiences involved some serious cointelpro style activity. There were many groups, over time, making their influence felt. From government institutions, secret services, secret societies, military, religious, corporate institutions & others.
    Serious targeting, propaganda, smear campaigns & the like, ensued.
    Set ups, staged events, threats, coercion, stalking, manipulation of community factions occurred. We need to do better in regards to the complex realities of these matters. Serious abuses can take place – racism, sexism, sexual harassment, rape, assault, gas lighting, attempted religious conversion & brainwashing, theft, destruction of property, incarceration, health problems, exploitation, loss of work opportunities & ultimately, destruction of lives. Some people will throw others under the bus to promote themselves.
    Transformative justice techniques can be employed to sort these matters out – yet you really need to get a proper understanding of what has really happened, to make sure the process isn’t hijacked & used to commit further abuse.

    I don’t have any experience of having my hand held.
    I have found myself holding the hands of those who have attacked me with their ignorance, cruelty & arrogance. Frustrated by their lack of understanding.

    I also have gratitude to family, friends & community factions, who take the the time to get a more accurate perspective & treat me with respect.

    A renewed focus on tactics to deal with malicious vested interests that seek to divide & conquer, to hinder cooperation & collective power, seem from here, a good way to move forward on all this.

    If you’d like me to go into further details, let me know.

    All the best.

    • M Cryer

      July 3, 2017 at 6:40 PM

      Pingback and Monique: Do you think we need ‘cultural competency’ training? The ‘cultural competency’ training is a small step, albeit a step towards, an open mind, receptive to comprehension, therefore, awareness, therefore the initiation of change, and for addressing a deeper programming. We have to have some place to start. I am asking you, because what you have written above, resonates with me (Monique). I too, prefer to maintain, a day to day focus on commonalities as opposed to societal ‘corrective’ action; since there has to be a starting place for awareness to begin…. if not in harmony with others; then it seems the alternative, is we travel this journey in pain with more trauma…. certainly NOT a promise of change rather continuation of what has gone before. Are the AVAILABLE CULTURAL COMPETENCY training options, enough? Do we turn it down, as suggested if there is government funding attached or a ‘hidden agenda’ by some (other) Indigenous community/individuals (NOT) original land dwellers where we attend? It is all very complex, we must have a starting point. We wouldn’t be involving ourselves if we didn’t have a yearning to understand and develop greater awareness, being grateful people to start with. Seeking feedback by all / any who are able to communicate with a layperson lacking degree in poly sci. thanks, (and apologies Pingback for heavy referencing of academic resourcing’ without it I never would have been referred to your page…. despite my level of concern (FOR US ALL, and wish for solidarity…. ) M. Cryer (I got this link via speaker Craig Chalquist explaining and recommending, ‘ activist archetype’ and referencing Mary Watkins abstract; ‘psychosocial accompaniment’ – ) – Craig Chalquist webinar

  41. Rodrigo Rodriguez

    February 9, 2018 at 2:56 PM

    Need to include the Jetsetters in this one too, some of these so called allies spend all their time traveling to exotic locations to build “Solidarity” but really just on vacation lol

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Do “We keep us safe”? Notes on Action Security & Some Resources




“We keep us safe!” is an abolitionist assertion that the state or some paternalistic organization will not protect us from colonial, fascist, white supremacist, queerphobic attacks, so we must organize and defend ourselves and those we are in community with. 

We cannot leave this slogan to be an empty gesture or posture. It must be conveyed with the necessary training and organizing to address the hyperpoliticized and conflictual environments that we organize in. 

While we cannot anticipate and prevent all fascist assaults, if we pronounce that “we keep us safe,” we can and must do what we can to organize and be prepared. Liberal and “radical” non-profit managers constantly decrying the “inactions of cops” does not keep us safe, it only invokes further police violence. Additionally, calling on colonial politicians to respond to fascist violence as a “hate crime,” is really a call to further the carceral state and its institutional violences (courts, prisons, more policing, etc).

On September 28th, 2023 Jacob Johns, an Indigenous persn was shot by Ryan Martinez, a colonial invader and MAGA fascist at an action called to confront the re-establishment of a monument to the genocidal colonizer Juan de Oñate in so-called Española, New Mexico. This shooting occurred under the same watch of an organization that hosted a previous anti-Oñate monument action in 2020 where Scott Williams was shot and severely injured.

From Heather Heyer, Joseph Rosenbaum, and Anthony Huber to many more who have been injured or killed while resisting authoritarian nationalism (aka fascism), these deadly attacks are occurring within a context of historic, ongoing, and escalating colonial violence. 

Since 2020, groups based in occupied New Mexico organizing anti-monument actions have been directly challenged for putting people at serious risk. Calls that have been made for more organized security have been denounced by inexperienced organizers in these groups.

These issues and considerations are not new, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and AIM initiated armed patrols and armed resistance in the face of state, white supremacist, and colonial terror. Amorphous entities such as Antifa and Bash Back have continually mobilized street warfare in defensive and proactive ways. These groups have long recognized that we cannot merely rely on “safety in numbers,” (though numbers do help) our enemies are more organized than that, so why aren’t we?

We cannot pronounce liberation without simultaneously preparing and mobilizing defense. 

As everyone should be doing mutual aid, everyone should be prepared for mutual defense. We cannot depend on any organizers or organizations to simply do this for us. If “We keep us safe,” we better fucking mean it.

As Goldfinch Gun Club stated, “Community defense has to be about solidarity and uplift mutual aid, not just arming vulnerable peoples. By the time someone starts shooting, everyone has already lost. The best defense is a better world. It’s possible. We have to believe that.”

Support Jacob Johns, his family and community by contributing to the gofundme:

Some recommendations: 

1. Organize and attend street medic trainings. Check these resources: 

A Demonstrator’s Guide to Responding to Gunshot Wounds

An Activist’s Guide to Basic First Aid 

2. Organize armed self defense. Check these resources:

Three Way Fight: Revolutionary Anti-Fascism and Armed-Self-Defense

Organizing Armed Defense in “America”

Gun Clubs: (Note: their founder and a lead organizer of Red Neck Revolt/JBGC is a known abuser).

3. Develop and maintain clear security protocols and presence (if not visible at least organized). 

A note: By security we don’t mean leftist police, we mean skilled warriors who are identified to respond and protect, not police actions. Beware of cis-heteropatriarcal and other oppressive behaviors, substance use, & abusers, etc.
Being prepared can be an escalation in and of itself, it also can be a powerful deterrent. Do what makes sense for your operating environment.

Defend Pride

Forming an Antifa group

Check out all these great resources on Security Culture:

These ‘zines particularly address cop tactics but have great info for overall security:

Defend the Territory

Warrior Crowd Control & Riot Manual

Other resources:

Dangerous Spaces: Violent Resistance, Self-Defense, and Insurrectional Struggle Against Gender

Repress This

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A quick & dirty review of the movie Oppenheimer




We watched this movie after arguing with social media pro-nuke apologists who accused us of being ill-informed as not having viewed Christopher Nolan’s biopic, so excuse the mess… (and if you haven’t already, read our initial post here for the context).

Oppenheimer is a glorification of the “complicated genius” and ambitions of white men making terrible decisions that imperil the world. 

Many have remarked that the film is not a glorification, yet Christopher Nolan himself says, “Like it or not, J Robert Oppenheimer is the most important person who ever lived.”
Some of you may have even had a burst of laughter during the scene where Truman asked Oppenheimer what he thought the fate of Los Alamos should be and “Oppie” retorted, “Give the land back to the Indians.” But alas, the poisoned scarred landscape today is host to a 10-day “Oppenheimer Festival.” To underscore the disconnect of legacies, a small commemoration near the Churchrock spill site was also held on the anniversary of the Trinity detonation, a few hundred miles away. Yes, what glorification?

The movie is basically a Western à la John Wayne. It very well could have been called, “The Trial of the Sheriff of Los Alamos.”
Oppenheimer rides his horse with a black hat on and pulls a poster down from a fence post. He then strides into a debate on the “Impact of the gadget on civilization.” To respond to the question of how scientists can justify using the Atom Bomb on human beings, Oppenheimer speaks, “We’re theorists yes, we imagine a future and our imaginings horrify us. They won’t fear it until they understand it and they won’t understand it until they’ve used it. When the world learns the terrible secret of Los Alamos our work here will ensure a peace mankind has never seen. A peace based on international cooperation.”

Nolan establishes the only narrative that matters is his attempt at historical redemption, he paints Oppenheimer as a victim. While perhaps not as depoliticized as Nolan alluded to in interviews (as the politics of American loyalty and the Red Scare drive the drama), the consequences of nuclear weapons and energy is barely considered (arguably barely at all considering the issue). This is a political omission of the most insidious sort and the film is even worse for it.

The movie cares more about constructing and clearing Oppenheimer as a victim of McCarthyism than the impacts of the atomic bomb and its deadly legacy of nuclear colonialism. As it’s stated, there’s a “Price to be paid for genius.” Everything else is dramatic notation. Nolan gives Oppenheimer the public hearing he feels like he was denied to ultimately prove he was an American patriot. In the end, the question “Would the world forgive you if you let them crucify you?” matters above all other concerns. The movie poses the argument as “science versus militarism” while the world and Indigenous Peoples continue to suffer the permanent consequences of nuclear weapons and energy in silence. A deadly silence more deafening than Nolan’s cinematic portrayal of the Trinity test. But hey, there’s even a minute of cheering after the test.

Nolan has us listening to the radio while two cities are destroyed and hundreds of thousands of lives are taken. Nolan keeps the camera on his lead actor’s face while the horrors of his bomb are shown on slides. Oppenheimer simply looks away. What more about this film do we need to know? 

15,000 abandoned uranium mines poisoning our bodies, lands, and water. 1,000 bombs detonated on Western Shoshone lands… the list goes on (we only stop here because we’ve stated much more in our original post). All omitted and sentenced to suffer in catastrophic silence. Films like Oppenheimer are only possible because people keep looking away from the deadly reality of nuclear weapons and energy.

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Architect of Annihilation: Oppenheimer’s Deadly Legacy of Nuclear Terror




Read our quick and dirty review of the movie here.

Klee Benally, Indigenous Action/Haul No!
Contributions by Leona Morgan, Diné No Nukes/Haul No!

Printable posters (PDFs): 11″x17″ color, 11″x17″ black & white

The genocidal colonial terror of nuclear energy and weapons is not entertainment. 

To glorify such deadly science and technology as a dramatic character study, is to spit in the face of hundreds of thousands of corpses and survivors scattered throughout the history of the so-called Atomic age.

Think of it this way, for every minute that passes during the film’s 3-hour run time, more than 1,100 citizens in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki died due to Oppenheimer’s weapon of mass destruction. This doesn’t account for those downwind of nuclear tests who were exposed to radioactive fallout (some are protesting screenings), it doesn’t account for those poisoned by uranium mines, it doesn’t account for those killed during nuclear power plant melt-downs, it doesn’t account for those in the Marshall Islands who are forever poisoned.

For every second you sit in the air conditioned theater with a warm buttery popcorn bucket in your lap, 18 people dead in the blink of an eye. Thanks to Oppenheimer.

Though you’ll certainly learn enough about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb,” thanks to director Christopher Nolan’s 70mm IMAX odyssey, let’s be clear about his deadly legacy and the overall military and scientific industrial complex behind it.

After the successful detonation of the very first atomic bomb, Oppenheimer infamously quoted the Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Barely a month later, the “U.S” dropped two atomic bombs devastating the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and more than 200,000 people were killed. Some of the shadows of those perished were burned into the streets. One survivor, Sachiko Matsuo, relayed their thoughts as they tried to make sense of what was happening when Nagasaki was struck, “I could see nothing below. My grandmother started to cry, ‘Everybody is dead. This is the end of the world.” A devastation that Nolan intentionally leaves out because, according to the director, the film is not told from the perspectives of those who were bombed, but by those who were responsible for it. Nolan casually explains, “[Oppenheimer] learned about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the radio, the same as the rest of the world.”

Months after the atomic detonation at the “Trinity” site in occupied Tewa lands of New Mexico, Oppenheimer resigned. He walked away expressing the conflict of having, “blood on his hands,” (though reportedly he later said the bombings were not “on his conscience”) while leaving a legacy of nuclear devastation and radioactive pollution permanently poisoning lands, waters, and bodies to this day. 

U.S. military and political machinery cannibalized the scientist and turned him into a villain of their imperialist cold-war anxiety. They reminded him and the other scientists behind the Manhattan Project, that they and their interests were always in control.

Oppenheimer never was a hero, he was an architect of annihilation. 

The race to develop the first atomic bomb (after Nazis had split the atom) never could be a strategy of peaceful deterrence, it was a strategy of domination and annihilation. 

Nazi Germany was committing genocide against Jewish people while the U.S. sat on the political sidelines. It wasn’t until they were directly threatened that the U.S. intervened. Though Nazi Germany was defeated on May 8th, 1945, the U.S. dropped two separate atomic bombs on the non-military targets of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945.

To underscore Oppenheimer’s complicity, he suppressed a petition by 70 Manhattan Project scientists urging President Truman not to drop the bombs on moral grounds. The scientists also argued that since the war was nearing its end, Japan should be given the opportunity to surrender. 

Today there are approximately 12,500 nuclear warheads in nine countries with almost 90 percent of them held by the U.S. and Russia. It is estimated that 100 nuclear weapons is an “adequate… deterrence” threshold for the “mutually assured destruction” of the world.

Oppenheimer built the gun that is still held to the head of everyone who lives on this Earth today. Throughout the decades after the development of “The Bomb,” millions throughout the world have rallied for nuclear disarmament, yet politicians have never taken their fingers off the trigger. 

The Deadly Legacy of Nuclear Colonialism

Nuclear weapons production and energy would not be possible without uranium.

Global uranium mining boomed during and after World War II and continues to threaten communities throughout the world.

Today, more than 15,000 abandoned uranium mines are located within the so-called U.S., mostly in and around Indigenous communities, permanently poisoning sacred lands and waters with little to no political action being taken to clean up their deadly toxic legacy.

Indigenous communities have long been at the front lines of the struggle to stop the deadly legacy of the nuclear industry. Nuclear colonialism has resulted in radioactive pollution that has poisoned drinking water systems of entire communities like Red Shirt Village in South Dakota and Sanders in Arizona. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has closed more than 22 wells on the Navajo Nation where there are more than 523 abandoned uranium mines. In Ludlow, South Dakota an abandoned uranium mine sits within feet of an elementary school, poisoning the ground where children continue to play to this day.

Nuclear colonialism has ravaged our communities and left a deadly legacy of cancers, birth defects, and other serious health consequences, it is the slow genocide of Indigenous Peoples.

From 1944 to 1986 some 30 million tons of uranium ore were extracted from mines on Diné lands. Diné workers were told little of the potential health risks with many not given any protective gear. As demand for uranium decreased the mines closed, leaving over a thousand contaminated sites. To this day none have been completely cleaned up.

On July 16, 1979, just 34 years after Oppenheimer oversaw the July 16, 1945 Trinity test, the single largest accidental release of radioactivity occurred on Diné Bikéyah (The Navajo Nation) at the Church Rock uranium mill. More than 1,100 tons of solid radioactive mill waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive tailings poured into the Puerco River when an earthen dam broke. Today, water in the downstream community of Sanders, Arizona is poisoned with radioactive contamination from the spill.

Although uranium mining is now banned on the reservation due to advocacy from Diné anti-nuclear organizers, Navajo politicians have sought to allow new mining in areas already contaminated by the industry’s toxic legacy.  It is estimated that 25% of all the recoverable uranium remaining in the country is located on Diné Bikéyah.
Though there has never been a comprehensive human health study on the impacts of uranium mining in the area, a focused study has detected uranium in the urine of babies born to Diné women exposed to uranium.

Western Shoshone lands in so-called Nevada, which have never been ceded to the “U.S.” government, have long been under attack by the military and nuclear industries.

Between 1951 and 1992 more than 1,000 nuclear bombs have been detonated above and below the surface at an area called the Nevada Test Site on Western Shoshone lands which make it one of the most bombed nations on earth. Communities in areas around the test site faced severe exposure to radioactive fallout, which caused cancers, leukemia & other illnesses. Those who have suffered this radioactive pollution are collectively known as “Downwinders.”

Western Shoshone spiritual practitioner Corbin Harney, who passed on in 2007, helped initiate a grassroots effort to shutdown the test site and abolish nuclear weapons. He once said, “We’re not helping Mother Earth at all. The roots, the berries, the animals, are not here anymore, nothing’s here. It’s sad. We’re selling the air, the water, we’re already selling each other. Somewhere it’s going to come to an end.”

Between 1945 and 1958, sixty-seven atomic bombs were detonated in tests conducted in Ṃajeḷ (the Marshall Islands). Some Indigenous people of the islands have all together stopped reproducing due to the severity of cancer and birth defects they have faced due to radioactive pollution.

In 1987 the “U.S.” congress initiated a controversial project to transport and store almost all of the U.S.’s toxic waste at Yucca Mountain located about 100 miles northwest of so-called Las Vegas, Nevada. Yucca Mountain has been held holy to the Paiute and Western Shoshone Nations since time immemorial. In January 2010 the Obama administration approved a $54 billion dollar taxpayer loan in a guarantee program for new nuclear reactor construction, three times what Bush previously promised in 2005.

There are currently 93 operating nuclear reactors in the so-called U.S. that supply 20% of the country’s electricity. There are nearly 90,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear waste stored in concrete dams at nuclear power plants throughout the country with the waste increasing at a rate of 2,000 tons per year.

From the 1979 disasters of Three Mile Island and Churchrock to the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant melted down, the nuclear industry has been wrought with mass catastrophes with permanent global consequences.

In 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant catastrophically failed and began melting down after it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. It’s been reported that the Fukushima plant has been leaking approximately 300 tons of radioactive water into the ocean every day. Today, the Japanese government is open about its plans to release remaining radioactive waters into the Pacific.

“Depleted Uranium” weapons deployed by the U.S. in imperialist wars (particularly Iraq and Afghanistan) have also poisoned eco-systems, including at proving grounds and firing ranges in Arizona, Maryland, Indiana and Vieques, Puerto Rico. Depleted uranium is a by-product of uranium enrichment process when it’s used for nuclear reactor fuel and in the making of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear energy production is now claimed as a “green solution” to the climate crisis, but nothing could be further from the truth of this deadly lie.

In April 2022, the Biden administration announced a $6 billion government bailout to “rescue” nuclear power plants at risk of closing. A colonial government representative stated, “U.S. nuclear power plants contribute more than half of our carbon-free electricity, and President Biden is committed to keeping these plants active to reach our clean energy goals.” They, along with Climate Justice activists cite nuclear energy as necessary to combat global warming, all while ignoring the devastating permanent impacts Indigenous Peoples have faced.

Due to this “greenwashing” of nuclear energy, we face a push for nuclear hydrogen, small modular nuclear reactors, and High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) driving a renewed threat of new uranium mining, transportation, & processing.

Though the Obama administration placed a moratorium on thousands of uranium mine leases around the Grand Canyon in 2012, pre-existing uranium claims were allowed. Environmental groups and Indigenous Nations are currently attempting to make the moratorium permanent and push for a new national monument, yet these will do little to nothing for the handful of pre-existing uranium mines that have been allowed to move forward.

Despite  these actions, underground blasting & above ground work has begun at Pinyon Plain/Canyon Mine, just miles from the Grand Canyon. Once Energy Fuels, the company operating the mine, starts hauling out radioactive ore, they plan to transport 30 tons per day through Northern Arizona to the company’s processing mill in White Mesa, 300 miles away. 

The White Mesa Mill is the only conventional uranium mill licensed to operate in the U.S. The mill was built on sacred ancestral lands of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe near Blanding, Utah. Energy Fuels disposes radioactive and toxic waste tailings in “impoundments” that take up about 275 acres next to the mill. Since there are limited radioactive waste facilities, White Mesa Mill has become an ad hoc dump for the world’s nuclear wastes that have no final repository.

In so-called New Mexico, a state addicted to nuclear monies for both nuclear weapons and energy facilities, there are two national nuclear labs and two national waste facilities. Along with legacy uranium mines and mills, there was Project Gasbuggy (an underground detonation), a “Broken Arrow” accident near Albuquerque, and countless tons of radioactive waste buried in unlined pits, Pueblo kivas, and watersheds. Currently, there are planned expansions and modifications at Los Alamos National Labs, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and Urenco uranium enrichment facility. Most recently, the state has been threatened by two newly licensed consolidated interim storage facilities for “spent fuel” from nuclear power plants in New Mexico and Texas. The federal government continues to push nuclear projects with financial incentives.

Nuclear proliferation continues as the U.S. allows uranium miners and others who are eligible for the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to die. Many continue to suffer and wait for compensation funds to be allocated or are not eligible due to the limitations of the act. 

The devastation of nuclear colonialism, which permanently destroys Indigenous communities throughout the world, is not entertainment. This is the terrifying legacy of nuclear energy and weapons that movies like Oppenheimer and duplicitous climate justice activists advocate. 

Indigenous Peoples live, suffer, and continue to resist its consequences every day.



Recommended links:

Red Water Pond Road
ABQ Museum

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