Indigenous Action, Fall 2021
Unless the root ideologies and structures that precipitate this crisis are confronted and done away with, we condemn ourselves and future generations to non-existence. ”Big Green” non-profit corporations and so-called non-governmental organizations (even the Indigenous ones) have set the terms for dissent and triage of this crisis in such a way, that through the claims of foresightedness where we can supposedly see a better future ahead of us, manifest as a shallow and short lived mirage blowing back at us the inevitable ends of our own extinction, or an existence in a desolate and decimated hellscape, what else can be expected from a series of cookie cutter tactics that keep us marching in circles?
In contrast to the genuinely lethal, even existential crisis that the whole of the earth and the species who depend and reside upon it face, the current tactics of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience fail precisely because those who employ it consistently misunderstand the urgency of catastrophe on the horizon and embrace the safety of a positional, tactical, analytical, strategic and structural half measure as “protest”, that materially manifests itself as a decorated acquiescence in the form of continually more symbolic protests and adventures in the comfort zone politics of a march toward catharsis, as if that will stop glaciers from melting and entire species from going extinct. This failed posturing of so-called “protection”, “preservation” and accumulation of “political power” (lobbying) instead serves to reinforce the State and its monopoly violences more than challenge them. One can only assume a psychology behind this is one of creative exhaustion and conceptual blindness or more simply a reticence that is the fear of being labelled “alarmist” or “too radical.” While nearly the whole of the Neo-Liberal Environmental Movement for Climate Justice (and have no doubt it is “NeoLiberal” or does Green Capitalism and Green economics mean something else?), has been sounding the alarms for the absolute necessity of radical change. In our case, as Indigenous People, we’ve been sounding it out since before Columbus, to one another, and to the settler invaders when we reminded them that you can’t eat money.
The Climate Justice Movement’s tactics are limited in that they all are expressed fundamentally as some form of aggressive lobbying (on National and International levels). But we can’t expect much more when they wield strategies that rest on damage control through political and economic reforms to the very people, forces, powers, interests and institutions that created this crisis in the first place. Although the appearances of systemic issues like capitalism and colonialism may be addressed in press releases and written across banners on the streets, the underlying strategic aims rest on the reconfiguration of the dominant social order towards a more ecologically oriented environmentally conscious nation state, against the totalizing all encompassing force that is Capitalist Colonialism and Imperialism. “Just transition” is a strategy of economic redemption to further preserve ways of being that are unsustainable by design, you can’t Lobby away Colonialism and Capitalism, no matter how hard you try.
The “Green New Deal”, like its parent “Green Economics” are meant to sustain the U.S. settler colonial project and the capitalist relations whose interest lay within the specificity of continuing the ongoing “exploitation” (destruction) of the whole of the Earth, while cashing in of course. In the case of The Green New Deal, which in many ways begat its own child, that of the Red New Deal, who aside from outright plagiarizing, fronting, and co-opting longterm Indigenous Climate Justice work, the Red Nation’s “Red New Deal,” proposes an anti-capitalist and woefully limited anti-colonial response that not only reinforces industrialization but ultimately leads to the ongoing participation in Capitalism proper, just “renamed” and “reformed” under a “transitional” Socialist Rubric, that leads to their Marxist organization’s propositions for a “decolonized” authoritarian worker-run state as the best solution. So while we’re collectively dying from the air we can’t breathe, the water we can’t drink, or both priced out of accessibility in the here and now we are meant to await the building of yet another Socialist Utopia. A utopia built upon the current dystopia of growing wastelands and climate disasters on every continent. From deadly nuclear power to lithium and rare earth mineral mining, and the privatization of water, the greening of any economy is still a war against Mother Earth and all existence. But yeah, sure “we can transition program” our way out of it, you can’t. This isn’t a solution, this isn’t even intervention, let alone interdiction in or upon Global Disaster Capitalism, this is group fantasythink. It is accelerated death by suicide.
We don’t want an ecologically friendly settler colonial State, we seek to abolish its very existence.
The forefront of Indigenous Climate justice groups proselytize a narrative of their own victimhood, in terms that increase funding streams to their non-profit corporations to pay their bloated salaries and climate action protest-cations aka PR stunts with a legal team on retainer. All while they compete for the spotlight and rally with celebrities to build organizational recognition, and a homogeneity of popular purpose, not to mention a standardization of rote tactical and strategic stagnation.
The assertion that we protect 80% of the world’s biosphere has become a twist on the colonial idea of the “White man’s burden,” but here it is merely shifted to “the burden of the colonized.” This is the twisted colonial logic of climate activism: to reduce our ways of being and complex ongoing struggles to campaign talking points, only to prove we deserve “a seat at the table”, it’s “Change” through arithmetic by way of better self marketing, branding and advertising. Through ceremony, and a myriad of tactically dynamic direct actions we protect all of existence – not just percentages. Our power is not to be found at the colonizer’s table, it is to be found and rekindled in its well fed flames.
By calculating that Indigenous resistance to 20 fossil fuel projects has “stopped or delayed” carbon emissions equivalent to approximately 25% of U$ and KKKanada’s annual overall emissions, climate activists reveal the power of direct action, yet they also assign their campaigns more credit than is due. Particularly by citing significant losses such as DAPL and Line 3 projects in their reports, this statistic tends towards a deluded climate optimism that we view as a path fraught with peril and death. If we’re not being honest with and about the failings of our movements, what does shifting tactics, and more importantly adjusting our overall strategies, toward the end of yet more changing statistics matter? It rings as a dishonest sales pitch and sidesteps the important conversations of what is actually working to stop climate catastrophe. It also still provides a leeway, by which the prevention of climate change and the related catastrophic disasters it brings, as “optional”. Not existentially necessary, which it actually is. Every species residing on this planet is literally under threat of extinction and mass destruction. We’re not convinced about making this a numbers game to celebrate the disrupting of 25% of an industry, when we’ve lost over 98% of the battles in a war with such high stakes. Particularly when those activist campaigns have spent hundreds of millions of dollars with thousands of our relatives jailed and dragged through racist court systems.
We are not (entirely) pessimists, we want to have honest conversations about what is working and what is not. The crisis is urgent and the moment is desperate. It isn’t “pending,” the crises are here, now, everywhere and everywhen. If we ignore the failings and downplay or ignore the lessons we can learn from them, how can we shift and grow strategies and tactics that are more effective?
It is not our responsibility to sustain unsustainable ways of existence.
In point of fact it IS our responsibility to destroy them. Their maintenance as “sustainability” is the assumed burden of the current climate justice movement, the one in dire need of radical change in and of itself, which has become as project the “burden of the colonizer,” built upon the continued genocide of the colonized as resonating back to the beginning lo those 500 plus years ago. If we wish not to be enemies of Mother Earth, it is up to us to shift, and own our responsibilities and mutuality to the Earth and take action accordingly. This has always meant that we must seek to assert the ways of our ancestors through spiritual and practical interventions (from growing food to burning their forts and everything in between). It is the contention of harmony and disharmony that has always challenged us in this world.
To fully stop these mines, power plants, dams, and pipelines we have to stop the political machinery and systems that generate them at their root.
Our power is not in the spotlight with more talking heads negotiating for recognition and performing for the colonial gaze. It is not confined to social media word limits or shouting through a megaphone on a permitted march. Our power is in the shadows cast by the flames of this system burning to the ground, while we light another match.
Press Release: Announcing Burn the Fort, a Diné Designed Board Game of Indigenous Resistance
For Immediate Release
July 26, 2023
Announcing Burn the Fort, a Diné Designed Board Game of Indigenous Resistance
Crowdfunding campaign is live on Gamefound
Occupied Kinłani (Flagstaff, AZ) — A new independent board game featuring Indigenous resistance is now crowdfunding to cover manufacturing costs. Burn the Fort is a semi-cooperative game designed by Diné artist, musician, filmmaker, organizer, and author Klee Benally.
In Burn the Fort, colonizers have built a military fortress and are invading your lands. 2-4 players each take the role of a different historic warrior fighting to stop the invasion. Players must prevent wagons from bringing supplies to the fort and burn it to the ground before the train, which acts as a game timer, reaches the Golden Spike. Players can choose how much they wish to work together while taking turns playing cards, trading, battling wagons, and gathering necessary tokens to win the game. With each wagon that reaches the fort the train moves forward, and if it reaches the Golden Spike everyone loses.
Components and cards are steeped in history with facts, trivia, and bios of historic Indigenous warriors, the game also uses traditional Diné Stick dice.
“I wanted to design a game that felt familiar to those who grew up playing board games, but one that was also familiar to those who grew up playing traditional cultural games,” says Klee Benally, the artist and designer of the game, “Some of the game mechanics may feel contradictory and I wanted to embrace that dynamic. It’s my first game so I’m sure I’ve made mistakes, but from the artwork to the gameplay, every aspect of the design is very intentional.”
“Games can be powerful storytelling and teaching tools” says Benally. “Indigenous Peoples have played games rooted in ceremony since time immemorial. I’ve always loved table top games, but I never found one that I personally connected to. Indigenous Peoples and resistance are more often portrayed as threats to the heroic settler colonizers or when we’re the occasional protagonist, we are either victims or grossly romanticized” Benally explains.
Benally continues, “Nearly every game available on the shelf today is rooted in colonialism and resource exploitation, I wanted to offer an alternative and challenge those narratives. This game focuses on the time period of the so-called ‘Indian wars’ to explore the history and offer an engaging and fun way of deepening our understandings of those times. History is an ongoing conflict of narratives, the history written by colonizers is obviously going to be very different than the narratives and accounts of those who have resisted colonization. For some people this will be just another table top game, for others, and this is my intention, it can be one small way to engage and build cultures of resistance and liberation”.
The game has been in development for six years but Benally took a break during the pandemic to focus on organizing with Kinłani Mutual Aid. Benally says, “After the beginning of pandemic, as people were forced to stay at home due to the severity of the virus, there was also a renewed interest in board games. As I was making deliveries and coordinating supplies, I really was motivated to focus on the game as an alternative for people instead of just watching TV. Additionally, I have to express gratitude for this project to Ariel Celeste and Jacob, without their critical input this game would not be what it is. I am also forever grateful to my supporters on Patreon and all the play testers who made this game possible.”
Burn the Fort is now on Gamefound, a premiere crowdfunding site for board games, where 70% of its goal was raised in just three days. If the campaign reaches its “stretch goal,” Benally will use additional funds to distribute free copies to Indigenous community groups and schools. Eventually Benally intends to create a complementary lesson plan exploring the theme of the game that can be taught in schools.
Burn the Fort is now available as a crowdfunding reward for a pledge of $40. The crowdfunding campaign ends on August 22nd, 2023. After the crowdfunding campaign is complete it will be available sometime in the fall online and in select stores at a retail price of $45. You can view and support the campaign here: https://gamefound.com/projects/indigenousaction/burn-the-fort
Burn the Fort is for 2 – 4 players, ages 14 and older and takes approximately 60-90 minutes to play. It includes 5 game board pieces, 6 player cards, 1 Fort point tracker, 69 Draw cards, 40 Colonizer cards, 6 Victory cards, 5 US General tokens, 4 Reference cards, 48 Fire tokens, 40 Wagon tokens, 12 Arrowhead tokens, 4 Alliance tokens, 1 Colonizer token, 1 Wooden train token, 1 Arrowhead token bag, 3 Wooden Stick dice, 2 Colonizer dice, and 1 twenty-two page game guide.
For more information visit: www.burnthefort.com.
About the publisher
Indigenous Action (IA/originally Indigenous Action Media) was founded on August 25th, 2001 to provide strategic communications and direct action support for Indigenous sacred lands defense. We are a radical autonomous crew of anti-colonial & anti-capitalist Indigenous media makers, designers, artists, writers & agitators that work together on a project by project basis for liberation for Mother Earth and all her beings. www.indigenousaction.org
UPDATED: How to Burn American & Canadian Flags
We’ve updated this poster and included a version for our relatives in so-called Canada!
The so-called “United States” and KKKanadian flags represent Indigenous genocide, African slavery, ecocide, & ongoing imperialist aggression throughout the world. When symbols are burned & monuments destroyed, the ideas & institutions that they represent become diminished. Agitative propaganda (agitprop) can inspire & build morale, it can also provoke strong emotional responses from those who maintain allegiance to such symbols.
As fascists use their colonial law of “free speech” to rally & dehumanize, we burn
their symbols & reveal their hypocrisies. By attacking symbols of colonialism, white supremacy, cis-heteropatriarchy, fascism, & capitalism, we break down the legitimacy of their power & loosen their death grip on our humanity.
Liberate a flag from a local fascist or corporate store. 100% cotton flags are easiest to light & don’t emit toxic fumes like nylon ones. Burning nylon flags also can stick to clothes, skin, and any surface so they are best left to burn on the ground or affixed to a pole.
Lighters and matches are easy to carry. Any source of ignition will do. Road flares or a spray paint with a lighter held up to the nozzle are excellent ways to ensure good & quick ignition.
A flammable accelerant such as lighter fluid is highly recommended. We do not recommend using gasoline as it is extremely volatile. Do not douse the entire flag, just a small section & light away from your body. Most flags will not ignite immediately & can take time to start burning well. If no accelerants are available fold a couple of ends of the flag onto itself & hold your matches or lighter to the material until a good flame starts.
As flag burning is highly symbolic, keep in mind the visual narrative that your location may provide i.e. a monument, a political office, etc. The idea is to maximize the effect of your action, so even significant dates can enhance the overall impact. Be aware of your surroundings to make sure unintended fires are not started ;).
While burning the so-called US flag is considered “protected speech” you may want to consider researching local settler colonial laws.
There are no laws against burning the KKKanadian flag. It is NOT a criminal action, under the Canadian Criminal Code. It is considered a protected form of expression under the “Charter of Rights And Freedoms.”
In some instances folx in the “US” have faced charges of “reckless burning.” If the burning is held in a “private” area certain security concerns may not be warranted. Perhaps the biggest threats are from fascists & reactionary liberals aka movement police (usually the same thing). Be situationally aware of these possible threats on the ground & online. Serious doxxing of flag burners has occurred in some areas with some of those identified facing death threats & even losing their jobs. Mask up & cover anything that can identify you (tattoos, piercings, hair, etc). Make sure any documentation especially social media can’t be used to identify you (don’t tag yourself in the pics).
American and KKKanadian flags can be ripped into pieces to make Molotov cocktails. Mix one part gasoline to one part motor oil in a glass bottle. Plug with cloth or cap & secure cloth to top by tying, duct tape, etc. Extremely dangerous *for educational purposes only*.
“Decolonize” your flag burning by using a traditional hand drill. Spin a wooden drill against a wood board with your bare hands. Use the ember to start a fire & then hold flag over flames until you achieve ignition.
ICWA & Continued Legislation of Indigenous Existence
As many celebrate the defense of ICWA, we also must recognize the colonial violence that has demanded & produced it.
ICWA was passed in 1978 due to the rampant genocidal white christian driven legal practice of taking Indigenous children from their homes and placing them with white christian families. The law was created to resolve a problem colonialism created. The settler colonial state didn’t become interested in “keeping Indigenous children with their Tribes” until it was assured that those children would be passively assimilated into its “civilized” order.
Through laws like ICWA, the State continues to legislate and enforce Indigenous existence.
White families stealing Indigenous children should be a non-issue. That any argument for justification for keeping Indigenous children with their peoples is occurring is part of the larger issue of white supremacy, cis-heteronormativity, and Indigenous genocide.
Before ICWA was enacted in 1978:
– 25%–35% of all Native children were being removed from their homes;
– of these, 85% were placed outside of their families and communities—even when fit and willing relatives were available.
– Today, Native families are 4x more likely to have their children removed and placed in foster care than their White counterparts.
(facts from https://www.nicwa.org/about-icwa)
Before 1492 Indigenous children weren’t stolen by colonizing predators.
While ICWA is celebrated as an affirmation of Indigenous sovereignty, in actuality it affirms congressional power to regulate commerce (The Commerce Clause) with Indigenous Peoples and plenary power over “Indian affairs.” A plenary power or plenary authority is a complete and absolute power to take action on a particular issue, with no limitations.
The legal battle over ICWA erases Indigenous children who are not from federally recognized tribes, border communities, & migrants doesn’t address issues of dis-enrollment. Particularly as ICWA specifically “sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.” ICWA reinforces “Indian” citizenship policies that some Tribal governments have used to exclude mixed race descendants. Regardless of ICWA, child theft still occurs within the foster care system, where Indigenous youth still are most likely to end up.
The discourse around ICWA is also inherently cis-heteronormative as it doesn’t support queer & two-spirit family formations. ICWA defines Indian child as “any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either (a) a member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe…”
What justice can we expect from a colonial system that also maintains anti-Indigenous laws sanctioning desecration of sacred lands and attacks bodily autonomy?
Are our cultures and communities so desperate and broken that we celebrate that colonizers can determine if our children belong with us? The apparent “necessity” of ICWA demonstrates the fallacy of colonial laws and the predatory white supremacist violence that constantly looms outside our homes.
That colonial laws are required to stop white people from outright stealing Indigenous babies is the result of a much deeper systemic problem than laws like ICWA can address.
Many of our families & homes are broken due to colonization, more colonial laws won’t fix that.
What are culturally-rooted non-state based solutions to keeping Indigenous children with our families?
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