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Colonial Education is Still War. Indigenous knowledge & rage is power.



Download the high resolution PDF of the poster here (6.1MB) Black & White version here (jpeg 500k)

The strategy of boarding or residential schools, as they are called in so-called Canada, was part of a political and ideological war waged against Indigenous children.

With the 215 remains of Indigenous children recently uncovered in a mass grave at a residential school in “Canada,” collective Indigenous rage has been sparked to address the brutal legacy of colonial schools.

In the late 1800’s, U.S. policy against Indigenous Peoples shifted from outright annihilation to forced assimilation. In 1885, Commissioner of Indian Affairs Hiram Price stated “…it is cheaper to give them education than to fight them.” Another colonial politician named Carl Schurz clarified the economics behind the strategy stating that, “…it would cost a million dollars to kill an Indian in warfare, whereas it cost only $1,200 to school an Indian child for eight years.”

As part of the shift in strategy, army General Richard Pratt created the first government-funded off-reservation boarding school with the mission to, “Kill the Indian, save the man.” Pratt and other colonizers at the time were clear that this was a project of civilization, “Transfer the savage-born infant to the surroundings of civilization, and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit.” The white supremacist colonial school system was explicitly designed to violently impose Christian and capitalist values to produce “productive” members of the colonial social order.

These violent military and Christian institutions of separation, forced assimilation, and extreme physical and sexual abuse were so effective, the strategy was replicated by other colonial forces, including so-called Canada.

Addressing the ongoing reality of forced assimilation through education in Indigenous communities is not new. Our communities have long been exploring ways to heal while calling for justice for all those who survived, and those who did not.

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.

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…”

We cannot address the brutal horrors of assimilation through forced education without facing how its colonial legacy continues to fulfill its vicious objectives.

The severe effects of boarding and residential schools on our communities continue to be felt today. With survivors from our parent’s generation still facing traumas that are largely unspoken. We are still in the process of realizing the severe harm that this strategy has caused our communities, particularly the ways the sacred roles of two-spirit and matriarchs were systematically attacked.

Although in 1978 Indigenous parents in the U.S. gained the legal right to prevent family separation, the colonial education system continues its strategy of cultural genocide.

The system that settler invaders designed to annihilate Indigenous knowledge and replace it with their own is still in operation. We used to be forced to go to the colonizers’ schools to learn their ways and participate in their project of “civilization.” Today we go willingly into its halls, sit in its classrooms and further our social status in the capitalist colonial order.

We have Indigenous academics who have fulfilled the dreams of colonizers such as Pratt. They continue to develop an elite managerial class within Indigenous communities that shapes and subdues our traditional knowledge systems, all while servicing colonial economic and political expansion. This is the curse of “Go My Son,” the infamous song written by Mormons to encourage auto-assimilation through neo-colonial education systems.

We also have Indigenous soldiers who represent the highest enlistment rate per ethnic group in the very military that sought our total destruction just one century ago. With economic and education incentives being a primary incentive for their voluntary service. They represent the fulfillment of the policy to “kill the Indian.” Though, the “Indians” they are really killing are our ancestors who gave their lives to prevent this future from unfolding.

In order to fulfill and maintain colonial domination and exploitation, colonizers shape and control the political identity of Indigenous Peoples. This occurs through all forms of social, economic and political engagement; from schools and casinos to health service facilities, from Tribal councils.

The powerful Black militant Assata Shakur wrote in her autobiography, “The schools we go to are reflections of the society that created them. Nobody is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.”

Yet while facing this genocidal colonial legacy, we hear renewed calls for acknowledgments and apologies, for “honoring treaties” and “better” history lessons, or for reconciliation.

These measures do not directly challenge the underlying power relations that uphold settler colonialism. As an example, if we examine many of the treaties that some are calling to be “honored,” we quickly realize that many contain education provisions for “civilizing” Indigenous Peoples.

Not only does the Diné (Navajo) treaty of 1868 codify cis-heteropatriarchy, compulsory education by white colonizers was a specific condition. Article 6 states, “In order to ensure the civilization of the Indians entering into this treaty, the necessity of education is admitted…they therefore pledge themselves to compel their children, male and female, between the ages of six  and sixteen years, to attend school;…” Diné agreed to send their children to attend colonial schools for a period of ten years, while the government agreed to provide one teacher per thirty students.
The treaty “right” of education was designed to attack Indigenous knowledge systems.

Although the program of brutal forced assimilation was ended, Bureau of Indian Education still “educates” more than 40,000 students in 183 schools on 64 reservations in 23 states with the same core objectives. According to the Boarding School Healing Coalition, out of the 367 boarding schools in the so-called US, 73 remain open today with 15 of them still functioning as boarding schools. In December 2004, an Indigenous student was found deceased in a holding cell at one of these contemporary boarding schools: the Chemawa Boarding School in so-called Oregon. The student was placed in the cell due to intoxication and was supposed to be checked on every fifteen minutes, but she was found unresponsive three hours later.  The U.S. Attorney declined to charge the staff with involuntary manslaughter.

A war against Indigenous children is an ongoing war against an Indigenous future.

When we understand the context of colonial violence and how it is transmitted through generations in cascading violence, we begin to understand that this ongoing historic attack against Indigenous children may also be part of why Indigenous youth have such high suicide rates. Indigenous youth are the collateral damage of colonial history. But they have also have a powerful history of refusal and resistance.

Many Indigenous children resisted and rejected settler colonial “civilization” imposed at boarding and residential schools. They ran away and resisted the authoritarianism, economic and social stability that we so willingly participate in today. Our communities have incredible stories of fierce children who conspired and successfully liberated themselves and others, with some traveling hundreds of miles back to their homes. There were also those who stayed, mostly older ones, who protected and comforted those who were younger.

While the U.S. government used food as a weapon by withholding rations for families who refused to send their children willingly, parents were also threatened with imprisonment.

As an act of defiance to sending their children to boarding schools and in resistance to farming as white invaders told them to, 19 Hopi men deemed “Hostiles,” surrendered to the U.S. military to be imprisoned at the infamous Alcatraz prison. They were to be “held in confinement, at hard labor, until … they shall show … they fully realize the error of their evil ways … [and] until they shall evince, in an unmistakable manner, a desire to cease interference with the plans of the government for the civilization and education of its Indian wards.”

Boarding schools forced us to abandon our cultures, our language, our names, our ceremonies, our hair. The strategy of compulsory colonial education was to destroy that which makes us who we are. To break the connection we have to the land, spirit, and our ancestors. So it is our responsibility to radically reconnect. By design we cannot reconnect through the colonizer’s ballot box, political offices, corporate jobs, academic degrees, or non-profit activism.

Colonization is war, this means that there is nothing to negotiate in the fight for an Indigenous future. Anti-colonial struggle means that in our fighting back, we are also healing. This is a celebration and honoring of Indigenous knowledge and rage.

When we reject the ideas and values that were beaten into us and restore what was beaten out. When we reject and destroy the ideas and institutions that maintain settler domination and control and rebuild mutuality based on cultural knowledge and ways of living. We reconnect.

We do this through ceremony, through renaming, through language immersion, through our hair, through our foods and medicines, through our songs and games, through shutting down pipelines and corporate offices, through protecting sacred places, through disrupting, intervening, and attacking that which destroys us.

We hear our militant anti-colonial relations in so-called Canada when they express their powerful rage, “Reconciliation is dead. Awareness of the issue isn’t the problem. We want vengeance.”

Avenge the 215. Avenge those buried at Haskell and Phoenix Indian School and all boarding and residential schools. We dream of Indigenous futures rising from the ashes of all colonial institutions. We dream of our ancestors, avenged.

+ + + +


“Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928” Adams, David Wallace.

“Kill the Indian, Save the Child: Cultural Genocide and the Boarding School,” Barker, Debra.
Cheaper Than Bullets: American Indian Boarding Schools and Assimilation Policy, 1890-1930

From Arizona to Alcatraz: Hopi prisoners on Alcatraz

Indigenous Peoples and Boarding Schools: A Comparative Study

Documentary: A Century of Genocide in the Americas: A Residential School Experience

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1 Comment

  1. Christine Prat

    June 7, 2021 at 1:09 PM

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Press Release: Announcing Burn the Fort, a Diné Designed Board Game of Indigenous Resistance




For Immediate Release

July 26, 2023

Klee Benally

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:

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:

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.


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UPDATED: How to Burn American & Canadian Flags




How to Burn an American Flag COLOR PDF

How to Burn a Canadian Flag COLOR PDF

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.

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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 

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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