Against the “Colonizer’s Burden”: Climate Justice Means Anti-Colonial and Anti-Capitalist Struggle
Indigenous Action, Fall 2021
Global warming is a direct consequence of war against Mother Earth.
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.
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O’odham Executed by Border Patrol: Statement by Raymond Mattia Family
Raymond Mattia of the Tohono O’odham Nation was executed by US border patrol agents on May 18th at his home. He was reportedly shot 38 times.
A peaceful gathering to support all victims of the
unmonitored violent actions of the Border Patrol and other agencies will be held at The Border
Patrol Station in Why, Az, and Tucson on Golf Links Road this Saturday, May 27th, from
For more information please visit: https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2023/05/us-border-patrol-shoots-tohono-oodham.html
Statement by Mattia Raymond’s family:
We have been trying to find the strength to write this statement. This tragedy is so
grievous because it is apparent what had happened. Raymond called for help and, in turn, was
shot down at his doorstep. Raymond’s rights were violated by the authorities whom we trust to
protect our Nation. Improper and unprofessional actions of the agencies involved were witnessed
by family members present near the crime scene. Loved ones sat in agony, not knowing of
Raymond’s condition until they were told that he had passed hours later. Raymond lay in front of
his home for seven hours before a coroner from Tucson arrived.
In our eyes and hearts, we believe that Raymond was approached with excessive and
deadly force that took his life. He was a father, brother, uncle, friend, and an involved
community member. Raymond always fought for what was right, and he will continue to fight
even after his death. This is not an isolated incident, but it should bring awareness of the
oppression our people live through.
We want to thank so many of you for your condolences and support. A GoFundMe for
defense funds will be available soon. A peaceful gathering to support all victims of the
unmonitored violent actions of the Border Patrol and other agencies will be held at The Border Patrol Station in Why, Az, and Tucson on Golf Links Road this Saturday, May 27th, from 10:00am-Noon.
Contact for support: email@example.com
No Pardon for Genocide: Rejecting the Catholic Church’s “Repudiation” of the Doctrine of Discovery
On March 30th, 2023 a joint statement was released by administrative departments of the Vatican City-State condemning “acts of violence, oppression, social injustice and slavery, including those committed against indigenous peoples.” The Catholic Church stated that it “…repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of indigenous peoples, including what has become known as the legal and political ‘doctrine of discovery’.”
We are used to the deceptions of the church, this “repudiation” is no exception.
The words of the Catholic Church are nothing more than an attempt to damage control and downplay their genocidal legacy while obscuring their ongoing benefit from and perpetuation of colonial violence.
In 1493 the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera,” was issued by Pope Alexander VI. The document established the “Doctrine of Discovery” and was central to Spain’s Christianizing strategy to ensure “exclusive right” to enslaved Indigenous Peoples and lands invaded by Columbus the year prior. This decree also made clear the Pope’s threat to forcibly assimilate Indigenous Peoples to Catholicism in order to strengthen the “Christian Empire.” This doctrine of “civilization” led to successive generational patterns of genocidal and ecocidal wars waged by European settler colonizers against Indigenous lives, lands, spirit, and the living world of all of our relations. “Manifest destiny,” the intensified invasion of Indigenous lands in the so-called U.S., was inspired and sanctioned by this religious “Doctrine.”
In 1823 the “Doctrine of Discovery” was written into U.S. law as a way to deny land rights to Indigenous Peoples in the Supreme Court case, Johnson v. McIntosh. In a unanimous decision, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote that Christian European nations had assumed complete control over the lands of “America” during the “Age of Discovery.” And in declaring “independence” from the Crown of England in 1776, he noted that the U.S. had in effect and thus by law inherited authority over these lands from Great Britain, “notwithstanding the occupancy of the natives, who were heathens…” According to the ruling, Indigenous Peoples did not have any rights as independent nations, but only as tenants or residents of the U.S. on our own lands. The papal bull inter caetera was enshrined in U.S. law and continues to be the basis of colonial legal domination of Indigenous existence.
The Doctrine of Discovery has long been contested by Indigenous Peoples. Multiple delegations since the 1970s have visited Vatican City and demanded repudiation. In occupied Hawaii, an annual ceremonial burning of the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” has been held since 1997.
In response to the Catholic Church’s repudiation, some Indigenous organizations have criticized the statement and are issuing demands for the Catholic Church to take “accountability.” Deborah Parker, CEO of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition stated, “While the Vatican’s decision to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery is the right one, it downplays the Church’s role and accountability for the harm it has caused to Native peoples. It does not change the fact that the Church’s views gave permission to colonizers to take Native lands and assimilate Native peoples… We demand more transparency, including access to Indian boarding school documents, which they have refused to provide. We demand that the Church returns lands to the Tribal Nations in which it operated Indian boarding schools. We demand that the Church supports the Truth and Healing Bill, which would establish a federal commission and conduct a full inquiry into the assimilative policies of U.S. Indian boarding schools. And we demand that the Church respects Tribal sovereignty and Indigenous ways of being.”
With the 215 remains of Indigenous children uncovered in 2021 in a mass grave at a residential school in “Canada,” collective Indigenous rage was sparked to address the brutal legacy of forced colonial education. The strategy of boarding or residential schools, as they are called in so-called Canada, was part of a political, religious, and ideological war waged against Indigenous Peoples that targeted children.
In 2007, after decades of advocacy for reparations in so-called Canada, a settlement was agreed upon in the largest class action settlement ever faced by the colonial government. The settlement included a $10,000 “common experience” payment to the approximately 90,000 people who survived residential schools with an additional $3,000 for every year they were held at the schools. Approximately $200 million was allocated for funding for healing and educational programs. As part of this process, the Catholic Church has paid over $50 million and has offered to pay $30 million more.
A group called the Truth Commission into Genocide in “Canada,” which has charged that the residential schools were responsible for the deaths and disappearances of thousands of Indigenous children, rejected the deal stating, “This bribe and legal gagging is being presented as a final ‘resolution’ of the claims of residential school survivors, as if such unspeakable crimes as mass sterilizations, gang rape, ritualistic torture and murder are resolvable by or reducible to an issue of money…”
On April 1, 2022 the Pope apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in violent assimilation through “Canadian” residential schools. In a written statement, the Pope acknowledged colonial “lack of respect” and forced assimilation and said, “For the deplorable conduct of those members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.”
In the recent statement of repudiation, the Catholic Church has the audacity to say that while many Catholics “…gave their lives in defense of the dignity of [Indigenous] peoples… Many Christians have committed evil acts against indigenous peoples for which recent Popes have asked forgiveness on numerous occasions… As Pope Francis has emphasized, their sufferings constitute a powerful summons to abandon the colonizing mentality and to walk with them side by side, in mutual respect and dialogue, recognizing the rights and cultural values of all individuals and peoples. In this regard, the Church is committed to accompany indigenous peoples and to foster efforts aimed at promoting reconciliation and healing.”
They absurdly state, “…the Church is committed to accompany indigenous peoples and to foster efforts aimed at promoting reconciliation and healing.”
But we hear more theocratic lies as authoritarian religious dogmatists still spit their texts while murdering in the name of their god.
We do not desire to be “accompanied” by the church to heal. It is in its shadow that our trauma and abuse continue. We refuse to have our hand held by our abuser who is also attempting to set by which terms we may “heal.” Statements of historical remorse change nothing if systems of colonial domination and exploitation remain.
The Church directly asks for forgiveness, “It is only just to recognize these errors, acknowledge the terrible effects of the assimilation policies and the pain experienced by indigenous peoples, and ask for pardon.”
To this we state fuck their forgiveness. How dare they ask for “pardon” while they sit on a throne paid for by stolen wealth, lands, lives and resources throughout the world? We look forward to the day their walls crumble around them and the empires their ideals built are nothing but smoldering ash and ruin.
Christianity as a whole has long been a primary institution of cis-heteropatriarchal colonial violence which perpetuated mass femicide during the “inquisition.” The Malleus Maleficarum and preceding papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus were explicitly used to demonize and murder Indigenous “pagan witches” throughout Europe. The doctrine was the basis of the white supremacist initiated genocidal inquisition to remove Jews, Muslims, Roma, and land-based indigenous cultures from Europe while they set out to destroy and colonize indigenous lands in Africa and the so-called Americas.
The history of their faith is written in the blood. They cannot truly repudiate the discovery doctrine because it is the foundation of their “civilization.” Christian civilization has always been a spiritual war of domination of Mother Earth. At every massacre of Indigenous Peoples, a cross. In every Indigenous child’s boarding school desk, a bible. On nearly every slave ship from Africa, a devout Christian at the helm.
We do not speak of colonialism in the past-tense.
The systematic domination and annihilation of Indigenous Peoples and lifeways, women, and queer people in the “name of God” continues throughout the world. The Doctrine of Discovery fuels current missionary work by Catholics and other Christian sects who are violently trying to convert Indigenous Peoples throughout the world. They draw their missionizing tactics from the practices that the Catholic Church developed during the inquisition and colonial conquests. There’s no difference between current evangelical, Mormon, jehovah witness, or any other missionary projects invading Africa, South “America,” and reservations. All Christian denominations doing missionary work are part of the doctrine’s legacy which continues to sanction the forcible assimilation of Indigenous Peoples to this day.
This is also the legacy that White Supremacist Christian nationalists are still rallying to uphold throughout the so-called U.S. They attempt to bury historical violence in attacks on the specter of “Critical Race Theory” while further dehumanizing queer folks and attacking women’s bodily autonomy. The facade of mass scale victim blaming and scapegoating is not enough to escape the consequences of a history of genocide, enslavement, and ecocide.
The Catholic Church attempts to rewrite history and distance themselves from their role and responsibly in mass-scale violence systematically waged throughout the world against the Earth and existence.
The recent statement says, “The ‘doctrine of discovery’ is not part of the teaching of the Catholic Church. Historical research clearly demonstrates that the papal documents in question, written in a specific historical period and linked to political questions, have never been considered expressions of the Catholic faith… these documents were manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers in order to justify immoral acts against indigenous peoples that were carried out, at times, without opposition from ecclesiastical authorities.”
In spite of Indigenous protests, Pope Francis canonized Junipero Serra as a saint in 2015. In 1769 Serra founded the first of 21 missions in so-called “California.” Under Serra’s leadership, tens of thousands of Indigenous people were forcibly enslaved and brutalized. As racist statues were torn down during the George Floyd uprisings of 2020, statues of Junipero Serra (at least 7 were toppled or beheaded), Christopher Columbus, and other colonial monuments were also destroyed. In so-called California 5 people were charged with felonies for their alleged role in toppling a Serra monument (Support here: https://linktr.ee/Decolonizers_Defense).
From Po’pay to Toypurina, Indigenous ancestors burned their missions to the ground and killed their missionaries to defend Mother Earth and all existence. As more bodies of Indigenous children have been found in mass graves at residential schools in so-called Canada, a reported 68 Christian churches have been vandalized with many being consumed by fires set by Indigenous rage and vengeance.
No apology will ever be enough. Excuses are not enough, an obligatory debt is owed in so many forms yet how could we ever claim it? While many demand reparations, we must counter: We do not seek any form of payment or recompense but the ruin of those institutions and ideals of domination, control, and exploitation. We make no demands of that which we seek to abolish. As sacred sites remain under attack and as intergenerational wounds remain open, we continue to resist the extremely brutal and ongoing legacies of colonial religious violence. Their repudiation is over 500 years too late. We seek abolition and revenge.
Read our previous post: Colonial Education is Still War. Indigenous knowledge & rage is power.
Columbus and Other Cannibals The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism, Jack Forbes
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
15th Annual No Thanks, No Giving!
Indigenous Action hosts Bonn & Klee will join featured guest speaker Tawinikay in a panel style discussion on Indigenous Autonomy and Anarchism: Against Settler Politics.
When: Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022
4:30pm – 6:00pm MST.
Where: Livestream via youtube will be available here: www.indigenousaction.org/live/
STREAM LINK: https://youtu.be/wGvjKoc-V94
Who: Indigenous Action hosts Bonn & Klee will join featured guest speaker Tawinikay.
Tawinikay is a Michif halfbreed living in Dish with One Spoon territory (Canada). She’s spent a good deal of time defending the land as an Indigenous anarchist and loving the land through ceremony. https://theanarchistlibrary.
Donate: PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kinlani Mutual Aid will serve traditional foods at noon at Táala Hooghan Infoshop before the event, we call everyone to action to do the same in your communities instead of celebrating genocide.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic we will host the event online again this year.
Who: Guests TBA. Hosted by Indigenous Action.
Donate: PayPal: email@example.com
Kinlani Mutual Aid will serve traditional foods at noon at Táala Hooghan Infoshop before the event, we call everyone to action to do the same in your communities instead of celebrating genocide.
More info: firstname.lastname@example.org
#nothanksnogiving #MutualAid #
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Indigenous Action Podcast
- Indigenous Action Podcast Episode 16: Fuck a Valentine, Indigenous Abolition Feminism
- Indigenous Action Podcast Episode 15: 15th Annual No Thanks, No Giving: Indigenous Anarchism
- Indigenous Action Podcast Episode 14: Queering #MMIWG2ST
- Indigenous Action Podcast Episode 13: Unsettling Climate Colonialism
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