New Zine: A Basic Guide to Starting an Indigenous Men’s, Transmasc, & Two-Spirit Talking & Action Circle
Smashing Cis-heteropatriarchy is ceremony.
Printable PDF (22.7MB – Imposed)
The fight to end sexual assault and interpersonal/gender-based violence in our communities is our shared struggle. It will not end by creating more colonial laws & their enforcement or “awareness days” proclaimed by colonial rulers.
More police, more people in prison, and more laws addressing gender violence won’t meaningfully address these matters because cis-heteropatriarchy is a pillar of the colonial capitalist state.
Cis-heteropatriarchy is a system of power based on the supremacy & dominance of cis-heterosexual men (Including Indigenous men) through the exploitation & oppression of women, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer, Intersex, A-sexual, & Two Spirit folx.
This is particularly upheld through homophobia, transphobia & colonial gender norms historically imposed by the nation state, its laws & order.
#MMIWGT2S is a systemic issue, meaning that Indigenous women, girls, trans, & two spirit people are not at increased risk of violence because of individual behaviors, but due to institutionalized systems of oppression.
Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of colonizers to wage genocide.
Christian missionaries violently imposed colonial gender roles on our communities. Tribal governments were established by the US with a strategy that suppressed the role of Indigenous women, trans, & two-spirit relatives.
The strategy of resource colonialism has been a strategy that has simultaneously attacked Indigenous womn’s and queer bodies.
We cannot ignore the ways that colonizers have weaponized cis- and hetero-normativity & that this violence continues to this day.
Basic guidelines for starting an Indigenous men’s talking circle.
This is a living document prepared by Indigenous people who have experience with organizing talking and action groups, transformative/restorative justice processes, and community organizing. We view this as a living document that should be edited and amended as necessary. For any feedback, additional resources, etc. please email us at IAinfo@protonmail.com.
Why start a group?
Indigenous cis-men (hetero & queer), transmasc, and two-spirits have a distinct responsibility to support our relations & hold our relatives, brothers, fathers, uncles, sons, & ourselves accountable.
If our movements are to be truly liberatory we must not hesitate to engage in this critical struggle. This is all of our responsibility.
Basic steps on starting a group:
- Establish intentions/purpose, expected outcomes, agreements, limitations, and accountability.
Be sure that the group is clear about, and has agreed on, expectations before the talking circle starts (though as noted in the examples section below this can and should be part of a group process). For example, is your group public or private? Are you going to have a cap on the number of participants? Determine how your Culture and Traditions are incorporated into your overall process and methodology. This should be contextual and perhaps unique to each group, it does not need to be set in stone. For example a Diné led circle will be different than a Lakota one, consider rotating the cultural protocols (as with facilitation) if necessary.
For new groups we recommend starting with an experienced facilitator or at least someone who is comfortable and confident in that role without being overbearing/dominating/judgmental etc. Co-facilitators are also a good practice, especially with larger groups. As your group gets going we recommend rotating the facilitation role each meeting. Though they do not necessarily have to be experienced, a facilitator should be aware of group dynamics, keep the conversation focused and moving forward, identify proposals/tasks/needs etc. We recommend the whole group participating in crafting an agenda and prompts. You can use the first meeting(s) to establish things or clarify them such as purpose, a list of prompts or topics for the group to address, specific issue, etc.
- Note taking.
It’s helpful to keep track of discussions particularly for tasks/actions. We do not recommend transcribing meetings but keeping notes of important topics/themes/issues/points/suggestions, etc. Be mindful if your group has agreements on confidentiality or there is a request for part of a discussion to be confidential or “off the record.”
- Schedule. Does your group need to meet once a week? Once a month? Twice a month? Determine what’s best for the purposes of your group. Having an ongoing group with a set schedule and time can be hard to manage but consistency with such efforts is important. We highly recommend being prepared to change the schedule to more frequent meetings especially if there’s a serious issue that your group is addressing. Having agreements to prioritize and commit to fulfilling the group’s purpose is important.
Schedule adequate time for meaningful discussion. This should be scaled based on the frequency of your meeting schedule. For example, groups that meet only once a month may require more time than ones that meet every week. This might also change depending on the topic or issue that your group is addressing. We’ve had sessions where we’ve had to schedule whole afternoons for meetings. If you’re meeting in a community space, the time of their availability is also a factor. We recommend as an agreement to establish that everyone’s time should be respected and honored. Starting meetings on time and ending them when intended could be necessary for those who are working multiple jobs, taking care of families, etc.
Is your group meeting in-persn or virtually (or a mix of both?). In-persn circles are much more impactful but if your group has special accessibility considerations and/or is spread out, plan accordingly and be mindful of the limitations and opportunities of meeting in-persn vs online. For example, in-persn meetings are more intimate and in our experience offer a material space where accountability/responsibility seems more rooted, while meeting virtually offers the opportunity to have a wider range of folx participate. Meeting virtually presents security considerations regarding surveillance depending on what platform you use as well. We recommend www.jitsi.org or Signal video rooms for the security minded and other platforms such as zoom (though free accounts are time limited) for ease of use/access. If you meet in-persn, we recommend meeting in distraction free environments (so unless a cafe or busy community space has a quite space, you might want to hold meetings elsewhere).
- Outreach, public or private, and group size.
Creating a plan for outreach will depend on (1) whether your group is public or private and (2) how many participants are in the group. Private groups often outreach through word of mouth. These groups tend to be comprised of people familiar with each other and usually have some kind of basic process and vouching system to bring in new members. For example, “New group members are welcome but consensus should be made before they are brought in. It is up to the persn making the invitation/proposal to vouch and explain why they should be part of the group.” While seemingly exclusionary, maintaining confidentiality, security culture, and perhaps other concerns such as proximity to known abusers etc, could be reasons for a more closed group. A public group can be a good way to connect with others if your community or personal circle is small. You will want to clarify for whom your group is for (and not for). For example, on our outreach for one group we stated, “This group is open to Indigenous cis-men, Transmasc, and Two-Spirit relatives.” You may also want to consider the capacity or size of the group. We recommend talking and action circles being no more than 12 people. While it is entirely possible to have larger groups (some up to 50) it becomes much more difficult to focus on specific matters and the time of your meetings will grow accordingly. For example, if your basic agenda is introductions and to share thoughts and experiences on a specific topic, with 10 participants each sharing for only 5 minutes you are already close to one hour of meeting time. If there’s lots of interest and limited capacity, encourage the start of another group! We could imagine clusters of these kinds of groups in our communities sharing information, waging or supporting actions, and being available as a resource if needed. Overall, outreach for a public group can be done with digital and print flyers. Make sure you share the group’s contact info (set up a dedicated email account if necessary. If you use a personal email it might be hard for the rest of the group to take on a role with communications). It can be helpful to reach out to existing Indigenous support groups to let them know about your group so they can make announcements. Hit up pow-wows, table at events (just a table, banner, and some flyers and zines makes for one of the most effective ways to outreach). You can also start outreach with a sign-up sheet (virtual or physical) and when you have enough people committed to attending, plan your meeting from there.
- Schedule. Does your group need to meet once a week? Once a month? Twice a month? Determine what’s best for the purposes of your group. Having an ongoing group with a set schedule and time can be hard to manage but consistency with such efforts is important. We highly recommend being prepared to change the schedule to more frequent meetings especially if there’s a serious issue that your group is addressing. Having agreements to prioritize and commit to fulfilling the group’s purpose is important.
Internal communications are necessary for these kinds of efforts. Someone running late to a meeting? Something needs to be rescheduled at the last minute? What might work best for your group can easily be established at your first meeting(s) as an agenda item. Consider security and confidentiality. We recommend starting a Signal group (providing everyone has access to the app). We do not recommend facebook groups. We also recommend establishing an agreement around “checking-in with each other.” This is just basic direct communication either one on one or in a group setting. Creating a process for direct communication upfront can help foster good group dynamics. That way when an issue might arise between group participants the request to “check-in” with them is part of the group’s culture. For example, one participant was triggered by something another one said during a circle session and doesn’t feel that the entire group needs to be involved in the matter.
Actions speak louder than words. What material actions will be taken by your group? What commitments can be made? A helpful way to approach this in our experience is to constantly think about what is being said and how action can be taken. Is there a task? Is there something that can be turned into a proposal? It’s also important not to force actions as in some instances the talking-through is the healing needed. Our cultures are our first frameworks for organizing and action. Our cultural teachings can provide powerful guidance for creating a space that respects and honors vulnerability, trust, responsibility, and accountability. Recognize that each persn coming into the circle are at different points in their lives spiritually, mentally, politically etc. Make sure there is plenty of room to support that growth. Be open to learn as you go, especially for those in heavily displaced/colonized areas.
Militancy is a commitment to take action through the means of ideological affinity. It functions to resist co-optation of anarchism and social movements into a watered down, neoliberal agenda. Commitment requires a level of self-awareness as to only commit to that which can be followed through. Those engaging in the actions have more decision making power in an attempt to prioritize on the ground experience over bourgeois anarchism, without requiring us to commit beyond personal capacity, recognizing level of capacity can fluctuate.
Follow through and follow-up.
We are addressing and confronting serious matters in our communities. Think about your commitment to the effort and what your persnal capacity is. Being reliable means being consistent and showing up especially when the matters are most challenging.
It will be challenging.
Be prepared for laughs and tears. We carry many wounds with us and part of the intention of these circles is foremost about healing. Are you prepared to address these matters with your relative(s)? Your best friend? The weight of someone sharing their persnal experience with sexual abuse can be very challenging. Make sure you have necessary resources available and are able to respond. It will be very challenging but it can also be immensely rewarding.
Be open, not defensive.
Given the nature of the matters your group is meeting about, you should be prepared to engage in accountability/responsibility processes within and/or outside of the group.
You’re essentially creating an affinity group. Be mindful of who is “in” and who is “out.” This does not mean creating a crew to protect and defend your “bros.” It means being open, honest, and readily willing to engage (without becoming defensive) in the processes necessary to address gender-based violences of external and internal colonialism and cis-heteropatriarchy.
It can be challenging to balance transparency with confidentiality and security so consider these dynamics early on and be prepared for more critique than encouragement.
Be creative and open to experiment to figure things out. We are all constantly in a process of learning and growing. These matters are not to be taken lightly yet we can’t wait around until the conditions are perfect to organize. Initially (and perhaps throughout) the formation of your effort may be messy and you feel like you’re unsure of what you are doing. That’s okay and should be embraced so long as it doesn’t foster unhealthy behaviors and patterns.
Healing takes time but immediate action is also necessary. The deeper the wounds and the more people involved the more time it will take for healing to occur. Though immediate interventions will be necessary to act on, we also cannot rush any processes if they are to be meaningful. For example, if abuse has occurred in your community, you and/or your group may be called upon or be able to actively engage in providing support and asserting boundaries etc. Being prepared for this by having a basic plan or response is necessary.
Determine how (and when or if even) to incorporate new people into the group. If a group has been meeting for some time it might be difficult to bring them up to date on the discussions and so forth. Having good notes and materials/resources available can help them be brought into the group much more fluidly. You may also want to consider the inevitability that some people will stop showing up or communicating with your group. For example one of our groups had the agreement that if someone missed a meeting and didn’t communicate we’d “check-in” with them. If they missed more than two meetings without communicating we’d remove them from the internal communications group but would be open to them coming back with discussion.
Groups such as these can also be initiated to address a specific issue(s) in your community, in that instance it may be that commitments are made for a range of time with a clear goal that once accomplished or established, the group would dissolve.
Invite guest speakers/presenters.
Turning your talking/action circle into a workshop at times can be helpful for a lot of reasons especially if you’re new to organizing. There are a range of people who have experiences (don’t just go to the “professional” non-profits, as those with wisdom and experience in your community can be much more capable).
Direct Action is a form of political action based on horizontalism in which individuals, groups and social movements do not appeal to oppressive interests to get something done but do it themselves according to their own needs and decisions. It is the self-defense required for the people to free themselves.
Direct action, the spirit of revolt, is the struggle lived in the day-to-day; it is the permanent assault against the colonizers/oppressors.
Example of group “purpose” statement:
The purpose of this group is to directly address how cis-heteropatriarchy impacts our lives, organizing, & movement spaces for healing so we can hold ourselves and each other accountable and be more responsible to our communities. The proposal is for four initial meetings to deepen our understandings, establish responsibility and accountability processes as needed, and start work on a framework that we can be accountable to and that could be shared with other community spaces.
Talking/Action Circle agenda example:
Note: Facilitator(s) should be determined ahead of time. Note taker role can be established during meetings if needed.
1) Opening prayer/intention setting
3) Last Meeting Review/Recap/Updates
4) Topical Discussion. For example: “What are abuse/abuser enabling behaviors and how do we address them?”
5) Proposed Agenda & Roles (facilitator and note taker) for Next Meeting
6) Open Discussion (if time)
7) Check-out/closing prayer (if appropriate)
Topics/discussion prompt examples:
We recommend starting your first meeting off with introductions and this question:
What would you like to get out of this group?
How is masculinity defined by our cultures?
How do we end cis-heteropatriarchy in our personal lives, projects, and communities?
What is cis-male privilege and toxic masculinity?
What are community based responses (no cops or state) to abuse and abusive behavior?
How do we address abusive elders and spiritual and ceremonial knowledge keepers?
What does Indigenous accountability look like?
How did we learn about our understandings of gender through our cultural context?
How do we respond to conflicting reports on accountability and abusers?
How do we practice, uphold, and teach consent?
What is transformative and restorative justice?
How do you know when a process is done?
What kinds of community infrastructure can we create to support more safety, transparency, sustainability, care and connection (e.g. a network of community safe houses that those in danger can use, an abundance of community members who are skilled at leading interventions to violence)?
What are the skills we need to be able to prevent, respond to, heal from, and take accountability for harmful, violent and abusive behaviors?
What do survivors and people who have caused harm need?
Why do survivors and people who have caused harm have so few options in our community?
What are some of the harmful ways that we treat each other that help set the stage for violence and abuse, and how can we change this?
- Take risks. No judgment, what is said here stays here.
- Practice security culture and respect confidentiality.
- Consensus based. Decisions will be made based without top-down/majority rule upholding cultural frameworks.
- Respect each other’s time.
- Be accountable to each other.
- We are entering into this circle in good faith (no one will attack someone for messing up but we will hold you accountable).
- Provide constructive responses.
- Attach actions to discussions (praxis to theory etc).
- Break it down. Don’t overload people with jargon, make sure we present complex issues accessibly. Don’t be afraid to mess up with language.
- No experts required. You don’t have to be an expert, but try to know your shit.
- This is not an open meeting. Referrals only from someone already here. Group has to have consensus on their participant.
- If this is your first meeting, please observe rather than participate.
- Communicate if you can’t make a meeting.
- Step up/step back. Be aware of who is speaking and who is not. Make sure there’s room for everyone’s voices.
- Don’t use your participation in this group as a badge.
- Be careful not to “out” others and be particularly mindful about how you might out someone when you are outside this space.
- All emotions are welcome. Be aware that your emotions may impact others based on their experiences.
- Do not come to this space if you are intoxicated or using any substance that you know will impair your judgment in a way that could create a negative experience of this space for others.
- No cops.
Some action steps:
- Strengthen ability to identify emotions, name them and talk about them outloud.
- Honor consent. Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another.
- Honor & respect (and assist in reinforcing) personal boundaries.
- Learn, listen, and build understandings about and directly confront the root-causes of gender-based violence such as cis-heteropatriarchy, historical trauma, colonialism, white supremacy, capitalism, internalized oppression, and eco-cide.
- Challenge sexist, homophobic, and transphobic behavior in all its forms.
- Honor two-spirit and trans relatives.
- Practice survivor-centricism and provide fierce care, sensitivity, compassion, understanding & other means of support.
- Respect survivor autonomy.
- Don’t perpetuate victim-blaming
- Don’t perpetuate or enable apologist behaviors.
- Engage in transformative and restorative justice processes.
- Support survivor’s healing & ensure access to necessary services.
- Teach young boys & men about consent and honoring boundaries.
- Confront abusive humor and language.
- Check machismo, manarchism, mansplaining, and other shit actions/behaviors.
- Recognize that abuse can not only be physical but also spiritual, emotional psychological, verbal, economic, indirect & internalized.
- Recognize that gender-based violence can be a personal or individual issue and it is also a breakdown in our communities & cultures.
- Work towards total abolition of rape culture.
Patriarchy is a social system in which men are the primary authority figures central to social organization, political leadership, moral authority, and control of property, and where male figures hold authority over womn, queers and children.
Cis is short for cisgender, which refers to when a person’s gender identity corresponds to their sex as assigned at birth. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender.
Cis-heteropatriarchy is a system of power based on the supremacy & dominance of cis-heterosexual men (Including Indigenous men) through the exploitation & oppression of women, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer, Intersex, A-sexual, & Two Spirit folx. This is particularly upheld through homophobia, transphobia & colonial gender norms historically imposed by the nation state, its laws and order.
Two-Spirit is a term used within some Indigenous communities (Note: not all Indigenous Peoples use this term and there are issues of appropriation to address), encompassing cultural, spiritual, sexual and gender identity. The term reflects complex Indigenous understandings of gender roles, spirituality, and the long history of sexual and gender diversity in Indigenous cultures.
Transmasculine, sometimes abbreviated to transmasc, is an umbrella term that describes a transgender person (generally one who was assigned female at birth), and whose gender is masculine and/or who express themselves in a masculine way. Transmasculine people feel a connection with masculinity, but do not always identify as male.
Nonbinary (also spelled non-binary) means any gender identity that is not strictly male or female all the time, and so does not fit within the gender binary. For some people, nonbinary is as specific as they want to get about labeling their gender. For others, they call themselves a more specific gender identity under the nonbinary umbrella. Many people who call themselves nonbinary also consider themselves genderqueer. However, the terms have different meanings and connotations: genderqueer means any gender identity or expression which is, itself, queer.
Heteronormativity is the assumption that everyone is straight. It’s the idea that romantic and sexual relationships are always between one man and one woman. Heteronormativity assumes heterosexuality is the default sexual orientation, and the only normal or natural way to express sexuality and attraction.
Toxic masculinity is a “cultural concept of manliness that glorifies stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance, and that is socially maladaptive or harmful to mental health: Men and women both suffer when toxic masculinity perpetuates expectations that are restrictive and traumatizing.”
Consent is an everyday practice that is required before engaging in different
types of interactions, including sexual relations. Consent must be voluntarily
given by all parties. Consent must be informed, on-going, enthusiastic,
withdrawn at any time, specific and is required before each interaction. It is
important to note that any type of sexual activity without consent is sexualized
“A perpetrator is a person, group, or institution that directly inflicts, supports
and condones violence or other abuse against a person or a group of persons.
Perpetrators are in a position of real or perceived power, decision-making and/
or authority and can thus exert control over their victims” (PSI, 2016, as cited
in Learning Network, n.d.)
Enabling is a process where a person (i.e., the enabler) supports/conceals the harmful or problematic behavior in another person (enabled).
Gaslighting is the act of psychologically manipulating someone into questioning their own sanity or powers of reasoning.
A term coined by Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality is the
acknowledgement that an individual can occupy a number of political and
social identities and that this has an impact on that individual. Those identities
and social categorizations can be understood under racial, gender, sexual,
religious, ability, class, and religious lines, to name a few. The overlap of
any of these identities creates a complex system of discrimination where
individuals face multiple oppressions.
“[W]hen the effects of trauma are not resolved in one generation. When
trauma is ignored and there is no support for dealing with it, the trauma will
be passed from one generation to the next” (Aboriginal Healing Foundation,
1999, as cited in Wesley-Esquimaux & Smolewski, 2004, p. 2).
Historical trauma is commonly referred to as the “cumulative emotional and
psychological wounding spanning generations, which emanates from massive
Rape culture is a culture in which sexual violence is treated as the norm and victims are blamed for their own assaults. It is “a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse.”
Gender-Based Violence (GBV)
An umbrella term that includes sexual violence and other forms of “use and
abuse and control over another person” that are “perpetrated against someone
based on their gender expression, gender identity, or perceived gender”
Courage to Act: Glossary of Key Terms 8
(BCFED, 2018, as cited in Khan & Rowe, 2019, p. 10). Forms of gender-based
violence include: physical violence; online violence/technology-facilitated
violence; sexual violence including sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual
assault and sexual exploitation; spiritual abuse; financial abuse; harassment
including stalking; and emotional and psychological violence including putdowns,
bullying, threats and intimidation.
Culturally Safe Approaches
Approaches that recognize and challenge unequal power relations between
service providers and survivors by building equitable, two-way relationships
characterized by respect, shared responsibility, and cultural exchange.
Survivors must have their culture, values, and preferences taken into account
in the provision of services (Government of KKKanada, 2021).
A culture where consent is practiced and normalized in everyday interactions
and activities. In a consent culture, survivors of gender-based violence are
believed and people’s right to choice and autonomy are respected and valued
in every aspect of their lives. Consent culture is often framed as an alternative
to rape culture- a culture that upholds oppressive systems such as patriarchy,
misogyny, white supremacy, colonialism, racism, etc.
“A culture in which the prevailing narrative of sex is centered on mutual
consent. It is a culture that does not force anyone into anything, respects bodily
autonomy and is based on the belief that a person is always the best judge of
their own wants and needs. Consent to any activity is ongoing, freely given,
informed and enthusiastic” (Centre for Research & Education on Violence
Against Women & Children, 2019).
Retraumatization occurs when someone re-experiences or re-lives a previous
“[N]atural and consequential behaviors and emotions resulting from knowing
about a traumatizing event experienced by a significant other (or client) and
the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering
person” (Figley, 1995 as cited in Rauvola et al., 2019).
We use the term survivor to refer to any individual who has experienced
sexual or gender-based violence, whether or not a disclosure,
informal complaint or formal complaint has been made. The term survivor
is often interchanged with victim, which is often used as a legal term in the
“criminal justice” system. Some individuals choose to identify with the term
victim. An individual may use the term survivor as a way to reclaim power and/
or to highlight the strength it took to survive such violence.
A survivor-centric approach prioritizes the rights, needs, and wishes of those
who have experienced campus gender-based violence first and foremost.
Above all, survivor-centric protocols should prioritize placing the control and
decision-making back into the hands of the harmed person so the response
does not contribute to taking away further control from that person.
“A stimulus that sets off a memory of a trauma or a specific portion of a
traumatic experience” (SAMHSA, 2014). Survivors of gender-based violence
may experience triggers at any time, for example, “a survivor attending a
seminar hears a joke about rape” may trigger a trauma response such as
flashbacks, anxiety, panic, flight, fight or freeze.
Victim blaming is when the default response to gender-based violence is
assuming the fault lies with the victim/survivor. Victim blaming places the
responsibility on the victim/survivor, rather than the person who caused the
violence in the first place. For example, victim-blaming responses may sound
like: “What were you wearing?” “How much did you have to drink?” “Are you
sure it really happened?” These responses – often socially accepted- may come
from post-secondary institutions, administrators, staff, peers, family, faculty,
legal systems, and so on. Victim blaming is deeply rooted in rape culture and
“Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other. Ableism is intertwined in our culture, due to many limiting beliefs about what disability does or does not mean, how able-bodied people learn to treat people with disabilities and how we are often not included at the table for key decisions.” – Center for Disability Rights
An apologist is someone who offers an argument in defense of something or someone controversial, in this context typically a perpetrator.
A feminist is anyone who advocates to end sexism and sexist oppression. There are distinct waves of feminism and many Indigenous organizers consider feminism to be a colonial construct.
Indigenous feminism is an intersectional theory and practice of feminism that focuses on decolonization, Indigenous sovereignty, and human rights for Indigenous womxn, queers, and their families. The focus is to empower Indigenous womxn and queers in the context of Indigenous cultural values and priorities, rather than mainstream, white, patriarchal ones.
Transformative & Restorative Justice
Restorative Justice is a community-based process without the state (cops, courts, prisons, government agencies etc) that focuses on the needs, safety, healing, and agency of the survivor(s) and what the perpetrator(s)/offender(s) can do to repair the harm they have caused. This may include some form of restitution, apologies/responsibility and other amends, and other actions to compensate those affected and to prevent the offender from causing future harm. All of these aspects are determined by the survivor and community of support they are working with through this process. See Survivor-Centric.
Transformative justice is a process (usually in tandem with Restorative Justice) where a perpetrator has the opportunity to transform their behaviors for healing, be held accountable (by a community) and take responsibility for the harm they have caused. It is a process that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with the survivor(s) and the community at large. It also focuses on transformation of the social conditions that perpetuate violence—systems of oppression and exploitation, domination, and state violence.
Many Indigenous communities such as Diné have practiced transformative and restorative justice since time-immemorial.
The practice of invading other lands & territories, for the purpose of settlement and/or resource exploitation.
Neocolonialism means a ‘new colonialism’. It involves the use of state-funded Native government, business, & organizations to indirectly control Indigenous people.
Decolonization is the ending of colonialism and the liberation of the colonized.
*Some terms from various sources online including Warrior Publications, nonbinary.wiki, & Courage to Act: Addressing and Preventing Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions in Canada.
Taking The First Step: Suggestions To People Called Out For Abusive Behavior
Accounting For Ourselves (this link has good resources at the end of the document as well).
Navajo Nation Peacemaking Traditional Justice
We are all survivors zine: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aS6pFytaFL29xeNlbnPed7C5BToU6ws3/view?usp=sharing
Decolonizing restorative justice zine:
Support (A good list of recommendations for group practices)
What About the Rapists? Anarchist approaches to crime and justice:
Supporting A Survivor Of Sexual Assault
Colonization and Decolonization Manual
The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, Bell Hooks
Diné Masculinities: Conceptualizations and Reflections, Lloyd L. Lee
Indigenous Men and Masculinities: Legacies, Identities, Regeneration, Robert Alexander Innes
As We Have Always Done Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
Winter Street Patrol Basic Guide Zine
Printable PDF (imposed – 12.1 MB) DOWNLOAD HERE
Notes: This mini-zine was created with our experience in a mid-sized town being at close to 7,000 feet in elevation with intense winter storms and a relatively smaller unsheltered community than other larger occupied areas. It’s notoriously hard to squat and camp in (though we’ve done it). We use the term “patrol” cause it’s what we started with and it stuck, use whatever terms your crew is cool with like “outreach” or whatever. Please amend and edit for your area.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately seven hundred people experiencing or at risk of homelessness are killed from hypothermia annually in the so-called United States.
Absolutely no one should be left to sleep outside during cold weather yet a range of factors may force people to sleep in the cold; from discriminatory shelters kicking people out, being kicked out of a house during a storm, being forced to flee an abuser, simply being unprepared, etc. Raids sweeps and anti-homeless laws, such as anti-camping ordinances push people to camp in hidden and dispersed areas which puts them more at risk.
What is street patrol?
Street Patrol (SP) consists of an autonomous (decentralized) volunteer crew or multiple crews of people who mobilize to support unsheltered relatives when weather is extremely cold. SP’s primary objective is to ensure people don’t freeze. This is done by providing cold weather gear, warm supplies, food, transportation, and possibly shelter if needed.
In some situations SP’s also act as copwatch and may intervene or de-escalate situations of police aggression and violence. SPs can also mobilize to defend encampments against “sweeps” and help to open up squats (get people sheltered in empty buildings!). Variations of crews supporting unsheltered relatives have also struck out against anti-homeless businesses with creative re-decoration or smashed windows, organized mass mobilizations and attacked cops for attacking relatives on the streets, and torn up anti-homeless barriers/benches etc. Some established street patrols have incorporated defense and attack into their practices and mobilize to address fascist threats at events.
Through building solid relationships of support we can go beyond paternalistic charity and provide meaningful solidarity that goes beyond one season. Mutual aid isn’t about being a “savior” it’s about solidarity. Make it a point with your crew that your effort organizes with unsheltered relatives. Street Patrol should be part of a larger effort to attack the root causes of homelessness such as capitalism and colonialism such as; Land Back, abolishing private property, fighting against the commodification of housing by supporting free camps and squats, food not bombs/meal distros, supporting rent strikes and attacking “slumlords” etc.
To the streets.
Street patrol can take anywhere from 1-4 hours (depending on when the crew starts). We recommend at least two people (3 being optimal) per crew/vehicle for street patrol. Always practice the buddy system! It’s up to you & your crew to organize internal communication (we recommend a Signal group), transportation, and supply pick up. It is important that anyone mobilizing for SP upholds any agreements and COVID safety protocols. Be aware that due to the unpredictable nature of some situations, SP crews place themselves at greater risk of COVID exposure as they may be in closer contact with unsheltered relatives who may be COVID positive.
* Flashlights/headlamp (each persn on the SP crew).
* Fully charged cell phone.
* Warm packs (about a dozen per crew).
* Emergency & wool blankets (about 4-6).
* Basic first aid kit.
* Trauma kit (if trained in its use).
For squats and camps:
* Crow bar & large bolt cutters.
* Tents, sleeping bags, tarps.
* Cars can be squats too, check for abandoned cars and bring
Check out the zine It’s Vacant, Take It! available here: www.sproutdistro.com/catalog/zines/direct-action/its-vacant-take-it
Basic warm pack contents:
Notes: our crew plans months ahead for warm
pack making: organizing donation drives, doing off-season bulk
purchases, and stock-piling etc. Some crews also are adept at
liberating items. 😉 We hold warm pack making parties as winter comes
close so we’re prepared. We also distro warm packs to other crews in
* Hand warmers
* Cough lozenges
* “Know Your Rights: info
Additional items for outreach:
* Sleeping bags (keep in mind wool blankets are better as they
insulate even if they are wet).
* Snacks (granola bars etc)
Some patrol/outreach recommendations:
* Ask unsheltered relatives where to check for other folks who may be
in need of support.
* Respect people’s privacy. Some don’t want to be bothered at their camps or in their cars.
* Bring extra warm packs and offer them to unsheltered relatives to
give to others.
* SP can be conducted well before sundown when people are still moving around (before people hunker down and camp). In severe weather and surprise storms SP can be done anytime (early morning or late at night). In our experience the shelters are known to kick people out early in the morning while it’s still freezing. A few years ago a relative passed from freezing at local park after he was kicked from a nearby shelter in the early morning.
In most instances SP will mainly be locating unsheltered relatives who are caught out in the cold unprepared. Just a check-in and distribution of any cold weather gear, warm packs, etc usually is sufficient. But in other situations, the needs could be more serious.
What to do if a persn is unresponsive or in need of emergency medical attention (hypothermic):
* Ensure that the relative is warm and covered.
• Do not attempt to move them.
• Contact local street medics or emergency services (state that no cops should be involved) immediately if you suspect someone is hypothermic, explain the situation, & wait for EMTs or street medics to arrive. Assess their condition and treat them only if you have the skills. Carry a med kit if you have basic first aid knowledge, carry a trauma kit if you are able. Life-threatening hypothermia can set in between 32 degrees F – 50 degrees F. It may be difficult to distinguish whether a person is profoundly hypothermic or deceased. The profoundly hypothermic person may have a pulse and respirations that are barely detectable.
Warning signs of hypothermia:
* Uncontrollable shivering.
* Drop in body temperature below 95F.
* Slurred speech.
Until medical help is available, follow these first-aid guidelines for hypothermia:
* Be gentle. When you’re helping a persn with hypothermia, handle them gently. Limit movements to only those that are necessary. Don’t massage or rub the persn. Excessive, vigorous or jarring movements may trigger cardiac arrest.
* Move the person out of the cold. Move the person to a warm, dry location if possible. If you’re unable to move the persn out of the cold, shield them from the cold and wind as much as possible. Keep them in a horizontal position if possible.
* Remove wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove it. Cut away clothing if necessary to avoid excessive movement.
* Cover the person with blankets. Use layers of dry blankets or coats to warm the persn. Cover their head, leaving only the face exposed.
* Insulate the persn’s body from the cold ground. If you’re outside, lay the person on their back on a blanket or other warm surface.
* Monitor breathing. A persn with severe hypothermia may appear unconscious, with no apparent signs of a pulse or breathing. If the persn’s breathing has stopped or appears dangerously low or shallow, begin CPR immediately if you’re trained.
* Provide warm beverages. If the affected persn is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, sweet, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage to help warm the body.
* Use warm, dry compresses. Use a first-aid warm compress (a plastic fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed), hand warmers, or a makeshift compress of warm water in a plastic bottle or a dryer-warmed towel. Apply a compress only to the neck, chest wall or groin. Don’t apply a warm compress to the arms or legs. Heat applied to the arms and legs forces cold blood back toward the heart, lungs and brain, causing the core body temperature to drop. This can be fatal.
* Don’t apply direct heat. Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp to warm the person. The extreme heat can damage the skin or, even worse, cause irregular heartbeats so severe that they can cause the heart to stop.
Tips for surviving hypothermia:
– Prevent any further heat loss by getting out of the wind, water, and removing wet clothing.
– Be delicate. Organs are in a more fragile state.
– Focus on warming the core (chest, neck, head, and groin) with fire, warm water, warm stones, blankets, layers, other people’s body heat—anything to turn the tide.
– Be still. This may seem counterintuitive, but at this point pumping more blood will just lose heat through the limbs, and cold blood from the limbs can shock the core (aka “after drop”).
Beyond the basics, it’s important be exercise extreme caution if you are forced to deal with frostbite. You can cause even worse damage if you warm a frozen area and then let it freeze again. A range of sources recommend these steps to thaw frostbitten tissue:
– Remove wet clothing.
– Elevate slightly the injured area.
– Start warming by soaking the area in warm water, and stop when the skin becomes soft.
– Cover area with sterile medical cloth if possible. If frostbite has affected fingers and or toes, wrap each digit individually. Keep them separated.
– Try not to move or use the damaged area at all.
– Do not rub frostbitten areas because rubbing could cause tissue damage.
Basic tips for sleeping in extreme cold:
If shelter cannot be accessed the following tips may help anyone survive in the cold. Create or locate any kind of shelter that protects you from moisture and wind.
Sleeping bags may give a false sense of protection from exposure. Most sleeping bags lose all insulating properties once they are wet.
We recommend using a combination of wool (or wool blend, some synthetics work like polyester fleece) blankets & a mylar (space) blanket or sleeping bag. If you combine a Mylar blanket with an insulating blanket, you will prevent all forms of heat loss. To do this, wrap yourself in a wool or fleece blanket. Put the Mylar blanket outside of these blankets. You can use duct tape to sandwich a Mylar blanket between two wool blankets for even more protection.
Although wool can be heavy and bulky, it loses little insulating properties when wet and is fairly water resistant. Mylar emergency sleeping bags retain body heat and are water & windproof. Combined with a wool emergency blanket (on the inside of the mylar bag), cold weather clothing, and other forms of insulation, this emergency sleep system can be the difference between life or death when faced with extreme cold conditions.
Keep in mind that mylar does not provide any insulation. It will reflect some of your body heat, but not if you are hypothermic.
Tips for using a Mylar blanket
* NEVER put a Mylar blanket right next to your skin. You need an insulating layer between you and the Mylar.
* Dry the Mylar blanket if it gets wet. Since it stops evaporation, sweat easily builds up on Mylar. This will make you wet and colder. Make sure you thoroughly dry the Mylar blanket.
* Beware of rips. Mylar is very durable. However, once it punctures, it will rip easily along the puncture line. Use duct tape to repair tears.
* Add a source of heat. If you are hypothermic, your body won’t have heat for the Mylar blanket to reflect back to you. You’ll need another source of heat.
* Note: Hand warmers are not effective in warming someone’s core body temperature if they are suffering from hypothermia.
Other important tips:
The cold ground can suck a huge amount of heat away from your body.
Use anything to create a barrier or padding between you and the ground (dry debris, dry leaves, cardboard, etc). Stay off the ground.
All your clothing should be dry. Change your clothes or dry them before attempting to sleep, if your clothes are wet, your risk of hypothermia is greatly increased.
Cover your head and neck, and block drafts, but don’t cover your head in your sleeping bag. If you breathe into your sleeping bag you may wake up warm and wet. Over time, all the added moisture will make your bag cold and clammy.
If possible, go to bed with a full stomach and stay hydrated. It’ll help you stay warm through the night. Pour heated water into a bottle and tuck it against you while you sleep. Try to wrap it in a sock or something similar.
Precautions to Reduce the Risks of Hypothermia:
– Wear hats, mittens, gloves and clothing that create a static layer of warm air, provides a barrier against the wind, and keeps the body dry.
– Wear loose fitting layers and outerwear that will keep you dry.
– Avoid cotton: It dries slowly, and saps body heat when wet. Instead, pick synthetics or wool.
– Avoid alcohol and other mood- and cognition-altering drugs.
– Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia (e.g., shivering, slurred speech, and drowsiness) that indicate the need to seek shelter and call for help.
– Keep and carry emergency supplies containing blankets, non-caffeinated fluids, high-energy food, and an extra supply of medications for chronic conditions readily available.
Some SP specific questions/scenarios and responses/actions based upon our local experiences are (discuss or review these scenarios with your crew esp. if there are any new folks to SP):
What to do if an unsheltered person requests transportation to a local
shelter or another place?
* Discuss with your crew before going on patrol whether or not you
will be able to provide transportation or shelter. In some cases a
crew doing SP communicated needs back to the larger group and other
transportation was arranged (buddies who were ok with sharing space in
their ride with possible COVID positive individuals etc).
* Our group keeps emergency funds for hotel rooms. While there are
many challenges and gets expensive quickly. We do not recommend
checking anyone into a hotel with your credit card or information.
Note that some unsheltered relatives will not have ID on them so that
might be a barrier for room check-ins.
What to do with a safety/security threat?
* Always use the buddy system. Read the section below “Mutual Defense & Addressing Threats.” Adapt these practices and make a plan with what works for your crew.
Mutual Defense & Addressing Threats:
SP volunteers may face cops/fascists, aggressively intoxicated and potentially threatening individuals. As outlined in our response recommendations below, we find it helpful to de-escalate, practice harm reduction, and communicate clearly that your crew is providing support and assistance. If people are hostile to you then your’e not part of their community, so don’t push it. We have realized over the years that our best defense and de-escalation tactic is building meaningful relationships and treating those with substance use or mental health issues with dignity and respect.
* No cops or any law enforcement agents. Do not call the cops on unsheltered relatives. We highly recommend that all volunteers patrolling familiarize themselves with their “rights.” If law enforcement agents ask what you’re doing you do not have to answer unless you are being detained. Simply ask, “Am I free to go?” If they answer “No” you have the right to know why you are being detained. Do not consent to any searches. You have the right to document law enforcement activities at a distance that is not interfering with their “work.” More info: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights. Local laws vary on providing identification, so do your research.
* If there is a threat to your’s or other’s personal safety we recommend the following responses: Deescalate. Evade. Backup. Defend.
* Deescalate: We prefer any situation to be deescalated as a first response, check this resource for tips: www.neighborhoodanarchists.org/deescalation/. In our experience documenting a threatening situation with a phone camera can also help de-escalate a situation (though it could also aggravate a situation so be aware).
* Evade: If a heightened threat exists it may be more effective to evade or leave the area. Some tactics have been to return to your vehicle, lock the doors, leave if possible and call or text your crew for support.
* Backup: We do not recommend doing any street outreach/patrols without the buddy system. Our crew has a community defense Signal thread to mobilize if people face physical threats.
* Defend: We encourage volunteers to defend themselves against threats. Consider personal defense weapons such as pepper spray, knives and firearms. We recommend volunteers do training and orientation on personal and collective defense.
* Practice security culture. Recommended reading: What is Security Culture? A Guide to Staying Safe available at: www.sproutdistro.com/catalog/zines/security/what-is-security-culture-a-guide-to-staying-safe. We recommend that everyone be familiar with security culture and not to discuss other volunteer’s whereabouts or schedules with anyone. In the past we have had police and abusers attempt to contact volunteers and we want to ensure that we keep each other safe.
* Transformative and restorative justice processes are used to address
* We ask that everyone be actively aware of and accountable to gender, race, and class dynamics. Specifically the ways in which these matters pervade our everyday lives and inform and impact all of our relationships. Please read this on anti-colonialism and orient yourself: www.unsettlingminnesota.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/um_sourcebook_jan10_revision.pdf and Accomplices Not Allies (by us).
Check out these other zines:
*DIY Emergency Tyvek Shelter
*DIY Emergency Handwashing Station
*How to start an Indigenous Mutual Aid COVID Relief Project
Compiled by Indigenous Action and Kinlani Mutual Aid
Winter 2022 – v. 1.0
Smash the Non-Profit Indigenous Complex! Smash Capitalism!
Indigenous non-profits are the problem.
The Non-profit Industrial Complex (NPIC) is a system of relationships designed by colonial and capitalist forces to manage and neutralize effective radical organizing.
- The NPIC is inherently extractive and colonial.
The NPIC was established to manage social and environmental groups with the same structure as corporations. Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) co-opt movement momentum into campaigns they manage to control and capitalize off of. Based on the charity model, NPOs focus their resources on building organizational power and not community power thereby stripping essential resources from front-line radical liberatory organizing, while reproducing or prolonging inequality and social hierarchies.
- The NPIC upholds capitalism.
Wealthy families, individuals, foundations, owning classes, and corporations use the NPIC to shelter their wealth from having to pay taxes. These capitalists grant millions but save many millions more by profiting off of the tax breaks from the NPIC. They have no sincere motivation to end the injustices that they often perpetuate and benefit from.
- NPOs are more accountable to funders than their communities.
Most NPOs are not transparent with their grant funding reports. They operate with a low level of secrecy to ensure that desperate communities they impose their representation on do not see how much they extract and profit from their misery. They often design bloated budgets for personal gain and are not resourceful. They ultimately create incentives to exploit struggles.
- NPOs Foster Abusive Power Relationships.
Due to their artificial structure and nature of hiring positions as movement “jobs” or professional titles, security culture and intersectional practices are almost always compromised within these groups. Most often, qualifications are limited to those with academic or activist portfolios and not based on dedication and commitment to the issues and necessary hard work to address oppressive actions and behaviors. Hierarchical Indigenous NPO’s become easily corrupt with cronyism, nepotism, and cis-heteropatriarchy. “Leaders” in the NPIC typically exploit issues to build their social capital and clout. Once these organizations are established, abusive individuals who maintain them often go unchecked due to lacking community-based accountability and job titled positions that absolves them from committing harms. NPO’s are also notorious gatekeepers that have reshaped and distorted what grassroots political movements like abolition and mutual aid have hxstorically stood for. They also undermine and delegitimize radicals whose work they co-opt while channeling and hoarding resources away from those autonomous people, groups or efforts. Overall, they implicitly alienate radical tendencies by their very existence thereby compromising not only potential resources and support, but their very safety. The professionalization of activism and movement work has entrapped many within the rugged lie of independence and commodified relations that are in ongoing tension with actual practiced Mutual Aid.
NPO’s have also overtly collaborated with state agencies and law enforcement to denounce, distance, and criminalize radicals. This has hxstorically regulated our resistance to these oppressive structures.
- NPO strategies are explicitly reformist.
Regardless of the radical revolutionary decolonization jargon they use, NPOs don’t want to end colonialism and capitalism because they wouldn’t have a job without these systems of oppression. NPOs look at movements and break them down into manageable campaigns that meet the grant conditions of large capitalist foundations. They strip away radical tendencies in organizing with management tactics such as “Non-Violent Civil Disobedience” and direct popular energy towards begging colonial politicians for concessions. Their language may be radical but their actions are informed by the respectability and legitimacy they seek to maintain with their capitalist funders and their political targets. Colonizers aren’t going to relinquish their power through bad publicity, voting, or aggressive lobbying. Those tactics serve to reinforce colonial power and de-radicalize overall liberatory efforts.
- NPOs Can Perpetuate False Representation.
Some NPOs appear to be radically driven by Indigenous Peoples yet their founders are not Indigenous and they have no meaningful connection to the communities and struggles they claim to represent. Seeding Sovereignty, as an effort driven by non-Indigenous People, is a primary example of this insidious misrepresentation and profiteering. Other NPOs can be driven by Indigenous Peoples who are movement based yet use these movements as stepping stones for personal gain (financially or through clout chasing) or towards political careers. Due to their resources (and access to resources), they often dominate the narratives of struggles. Acting as the sole voices for Indigenous issues, many NPOs in the Climate Justice Movement have agendas driven by settler social and environmental NPOs such as 350.org or the Sierra Club.
The overall strategy of the NPIC is colonial, upholds unjust power relationships, and capitalism.
Groups like NDN Collective are prime examples of the problems with the NPIC. They have co-opted the term “collective,” which is a radical non-hierarchical practice, but are structured with a president and CEO. They purchase and maintain private property as a “land back” campaign that is not a radically anti-colonial action to build Indigenous autonomy, but a capitalist strategy.Their CEO is paid more than $200,000 a year and their annual operating budget is more than $10 million dollars. They recently received more than $10 million dollars from extreme capitalist and working class exploiter Jeff Bezos. The NDN Collective organizes with the idea of “Decolonizing Wealth,” which is really just a marketing strategy to commodify and cash-in on Indigenous struggles.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Indigenous non-profits rushed to secure funding and brand their efforts as “mutual aid” when they were providing financial and resource handouts. This is not mutual aid but acts of relief and charity that serve to keep communities dependent on the very hierarchical and exploitative systems we want to abolish.
The NPIC is a barrier to building collective power towards liberation.
Indigenous capitalism doesn’t equal liberation. Smash the NPIC!
Directly fund and support front-line community based and autonomous Indigenous groups and organizers.
The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex
Decolonization is not a metaphor
Anti-History : An Indigenous Anti-Capitalist Analysis
Nonprofit Industrial Complex 101: a primer on how it upholds inequity and flattens resistance
What’s the Nonprofit Industrial Complex and why should I care?
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- Indigenous Action Podcast Episode 15: 15th Annual No Thanks, No Giving: Indigenous Anarchism
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- Ep. 12: Abolishing the Non-Profit Industrial Complex
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