Kinłani/Flagstaff Mutual Aid UPDATE: Taking a Break & Focusing on Infrastructure
Spring 2023, Occupied Kinłani – In March of 2020 a small autonomous crew of organizers sprung into action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we named this effort Kinłani Mutual Aid. For three years we have focused on intensified Indigenous-led mutual aid support for those most vulnerable in our community and throughout the region. During the pandemic we sourced and distributed truckloads of food, PPE, cleaning supplies, and medicine. We made deliveries of firewood & water to elders living in remote areas. We organized street patrols during harsh winter storms to support unsheltered relatives. When basic supplies for babies and children were hard to find, we found ways to acquire them and get them to those in dire need. We had a well operating process of acquiring supplies (particularly with all the generous donations that came in), sanitizing, and distribution. Volunteers were dropping off medicines and wellness/Covid quarantine supply boxes. We produced nearly 20,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and coordinated distributions for essential items throughout the region. Beyond Kinłani, we sent food & supplies to Hopi, White Mountain Apache, Hualapai, Havasupai, sites throughout New Mexico, even as far as unceded Tohono O’odham territory in Mexico.
After unloading countless pallets from shipping trucks we stopped counting. We started seeing others taking inventory and assigning value to their efforts based on numbers and clamoring for media attention. To us, mutual aid has never been about quantity or recognition, but about the relationships and solidarity we build through direct action, not the amount of charity or how much our organizational capacity has grown.
We moved through the pandemic and failures of capitalism with the political assertions of mutuality, direct action, and most critically: our cultural frameworks. We networked with dozens of other mutual aid crews spread throughout the so-called U.S. We coordinated with other Indigenous organizers and groups to form a network called Indigenous Mutual Aid. We also worked locally with the start of Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund, Diné Healers Relief Initiative, Masks for the People, Kaibeto Mutual Aid, Defend our Communities, and many others. We further distributed material resources and particularly organized mass distribution of supplies for unsheltered support efforts.
We also faced attacks during the MAGA/fascist/alt-right frenzy that was whipped up during Trump’s reign. We had constant monitoring by cops who parked across the street and other unmarked vehicles. We faced fascists attempting to intimidate us with drive-bys, online threats (that included photos of Táala Hooghan), & spray painted messages on our sidewalks.
In the midst of the George Floyd uprising we also mobilized support and organized actions. When Flagstaff police attacked unsheltered relatives or when they were shut out from a local shelter in snowstorms, we fought back.
As the nature of the pandemic became more understood, testing and vaccines became available, and supply chains stabilized, we also saw the intensity of support (materially and with volunteers) shift as well: from a time when we had more than 100 active volunteers signed up to a time when it was challenging to get 5. We worked to re-configure and sustain autonomy and what some would call a sense of alternate power. We clashed with groups that started profiteering off of mutual aid efforts when they coopted work and pocketed funds. We called on them to support longer term visions of mutuality and autonomy as mutual aid is not something we “move on from” – as non-profit activists move from campaign to campaign as resources shift – mutual aid is something we seek to embody in everything that we do.
We constantly evaluated what we were doing in the immediate and in the long-term to ensure that we were not just responding to the crisis of pandemic, but radically redistributing resources and challenging the ongoing crises of capitalism and colonialism through all of our work.
From planting, harvesting and distributing, there were moments when meals we would share with unsheltered relatives were completely grown from ancestral seeds planted here. These are and still are the moments when our work feels most whole.
We have been frustrated though not deterred by the recuperations of capitalism. During the height of the pandemic, so many experienced how possible it is to live outside of (or really in spite of) capitalism and colonialism and most importantly witnessed its failings and vulnerabilities.
More people have been forced onto the streets.
More people are crowdfunding basic healthcare.
The pressures of surviving in the brutal matrix of economic exploitation have also made it more difficult for volunteers to commit as much as they were able to previously. These are also not unique dynamics facing us, through sharings with other mutual aid projects it’s clear they are facing similar matters.
Though many act like it, the pandemic is not over and we will not ignore the wellbeing of those who are immunocompromised or have other health issues that put them at great risk. As attention from the impacts COVID-19 had on Diné Bikéyah (Navajo Nation) have shifted, we still are assisting families without electricity and running water with support requests. We are still receiving reports of whole families severely stricken by the virus. The pandemic is not over until disabled, immunocompromised, and our medicine practitioners say it is.
This brings us to our break.
One thing that our collective comes back to is how necessary Táala Hooghan Infoshop was/is as infrastructure to directly mobilize a well scaled response to the pandemic. This organizing would not have been possible without this autonomous space.
There are many repairs that Táala Hooghan Infoshop is in dire need of and other improvements that we initiated both before and during the pandemic that must be tended to.
We started work on a community kitchen and have only about 20% of that project done.
We have some basic construction repairs that are badly needed (both inside and out) and ideas for a new larger bathroom where the old kitchen currently is.
We have to tend to old broken windows, exterior painting, and the garden area as well as replace all the fencing and gates. We would like to install solar panels and move farther off grid.
And so our break (which is not really a break) will be a shift of focus from general distribution to infrastructure projects.
We still intend on distributing necessary supplies for those making direct requests and unsheltered relatives during this pause, but our primary focus will be on the space.
We intend to open parts of the space to community again soon, but for now it is only open to volunteers who are oriented with our health protocols. Our protocols still stand as infection rates are still high and people are still dying from this virus.
We will be taking down our request form from the website and FB group though we will still respond to direct requests for support.
Through this process we intend to strengthen what we do as a mutual aid project but as we’ve stated in other communications, we do not wish to be the “mutual aid org” specialists as we believe that mutual aid is what we should all be doing everyday in our lives.
Táala Hooghan Infoshop started in 2007 (16 years!) as a radical resource center and has continued to shift, grow, and be a site to wage conflict against systems of oppression. The space also maintains its roots and works with Indigenous Action as a foundation for its direction.
We invite you to connect, volunteer, and support our efforts as we shift, focus, fix some things and break others. So pardon our dust, broken concrete, and dirt beneath our fingernails.
We will have a KMA & Táala Hooghan Infoshop meeting with orientation, discussion, and a small work party for new and old volunteers on April 22, 2023 (Earth Day) at 12:00pm outside in our garden. Masks required.
Ahe’ hee’ nitsaago,
– KMA crew
Email us any questions or to volunteer here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate to our Venmo or Indigenous Action’s PayPal:
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/flgmutualaid/
Winter Street Patrol Basic Guide Zine
Autonomous Winter Support Mobilization
A.S.W.M Street Patrol Basic Guide v. 1.0, Winter 2022
@nticopyrite | Send any notes/edits to: IAinfo@protonmail.com
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
14th Annual No Thanks, No Giving! Benefit Event
Livestream Event: 14th Annual No Thanks, No Giving! Benefit
When: Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021
4pm – 6pm PST.
Livestream will be on youtube at https://youtu.be/v3i9U1bbt8c or connect at www.indigenousaction.org/live
For 14 years we have hosted No Thanks, No giving! as an anti-colonial event to bring together radical Indigenous voices, share traditional foods, and benefit unsheltered relatives at Táala Hooghan Infoshop in Kinlani (Flagstaff, AZ).
Due to Covid-19 we will host an online benefit to support unsheltered relatives and to uplift voices of Indigenous folx from throughout turtle island who have been doing front-line mutual aid & community defense organizing.
When: Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021 4pm – 6pm PST.
Where: Live streaming info will be posted at www.indigenousaction.org/live
Who: Indigenous front-line organizers from throughout Turtle Island (see below).
Hosted by Indigenous Action & Táala Hooghan Infoshop
Why: ’cause Thanksgiving is over. No more celebrations of genocide! As of 2019, Indigenous Peoples account for approximately 1.5% of North America’s population, yet we make up more than 10% of the homeless population nationally.
#nothanksnogiving #nothanksgiving #mutualdefense #MutualAid #indigenousmutualaid #solidaritynotcharity
Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia
Tiny is a formerly unhoused, incarcerated poverty scholar, revolutionary journalist, lecturer, poet, visionary, teacher and single mama of Tiburcio, daughter of a houseless, disabled, indigenous mama Dee, and the co–founder of POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE/PoorNewsNetwork.
Julie “Mama Julz” Richards
Mama Julz is the founder of Mothers Against Meth Alliance and a frontline protector.
Lady Shug (Diné) has been fighting for equal rights as an activist for her LGBTQIA2S+ indigenous relatives, to create equal rights in rural areas and reservations that do not normally protect those on Indigenous lands.
Han is with Red Sleeves ACA, an autonomous affinity group serving unsheltered refugees during the pandemic of settler colonialism in so-called Northern New Mexico.
Bearcat is Newe-Numa (Tosa Wihi) from Doka Badee, so-called Northern Nevada currently residing in Albuquerque, NM. She’s a 3rd generation land defender with a healthy respect for a diversity of tactics and a healthy distrust of the state.
Demian is a transdisciplinary artist who uses social interventions to interrupt colonial power structures.
Zine: How to start an Indigenous Mutual Aid COVID-19 Relief Project.
Zine: How to start an Indigenous Mutual Aid COVID-19 Relief Project.
PDF Print/Imposed Zine Format (444KB)
Compiled by www.IndigenousMutualAid.org & www.IndigenousAction.org
Written Spring 2020, updated Spring 2021
We decided to create this guide as we found that most resources currently available for COVID-19 Mutual Aid organizing were insufficient compared to discussions with other Mutual Aid projects and our own experiences working with two Indigenous Mutual Aid groups (Kinłani Mutual Aid & Navajo and Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief). Aside from this guide, we highly recommend that you talk directly with other Mutual Aid organizers to get a sense of what organizing frameworks may work best in your area. There is a directory here: www.mutualaiddisasterrelief.org/collective-care/
This is a living document. Please email edits or additions to email@example.com.
As our communities have a deep history with organizing to support each other in times of crisis, we already have many existing models of mutual aid organizing to draw from.
This has looked like a small crew coordinating their relatives or friends to chop wood and distribute to elders. It has looked like traditional medicine herbal clinics and sexual health supply distribution. It has looked like community water hauling efforts or large scale supply runs to ensure elders have enough to make it through harsh winters. It has looked like unsheltered relative support through distribution of clothing, food, and more.
Any time individuals and groups in our communities have taken direct action (not by relying on politicians, non-profit organizations, or other indirect means) and supported others–not for their own self-interests but out of love for their people, the land, and other beings–this is what we call “mutual aid.”
Though the term is credited to anarchist Peter Kropotkin — who established the analysis for his book “Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution” in part by observing Indigenous communities — Indigenous Peoples have long established practices of caring for each other for our survival, particularly in times of crisis. Mutual Aid is nothing new to Indigenous communities.
Indigenous Mutual Aid organizing challenges “charity” models of organizing and relief support that historically have treated our communities as “victims” and only furthered dependency and stripped our autonomy from us. We organize counter to non-profit capitalists who maintain neo-colonial institutions and we reject the NGO-ization and non-profit commodification of mutual aid.
We do not ask tribal governments or any other forms of settler governments for permission to advocate for and support our own communities — we do the work because it must be done. This is the very definition of Direct Action. We urge towards an organizing that is based on our cultural knowledge systems, that is anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, anti-heteropatriarchal, that abolishes white supremacy and that extends our ways of mutuality towards a future that honors our ancestors and coming generations. This is what “solidarity and ceremony not charity” means.
We highly recommend that before you start a Mutual Aid effort, research what work has already been done and if there are existing groups, see if there are ways you can join or enhance their efforts (check our directory here).
While this framework is focused on essential supply distribution such as PPE, food, water, etc, it can be easily adapted. Before we start organizing we should ask, “What are the most immediate needs of those most vulnerable in our community during this pandemic?”
Perhaps this is water infrastructure, home repair, feed for livestock, healthy traditional foods, etc. Our efforts should be configured to answer that question. We should review that question as conditions change and extend it beyond the immediate crisis as well.
READ THE WHOLE ZINE HERE: www.indigenousmutualaid.org/mutual-aid-101-organizing-guide/
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