To pre-emptively clear up a few issues:
- Decolonization is the process of decentering Eurocentric, Settler and White supremacist notions of sovereignty, statehood, and human rights within colonized states, the restoration of sovereignty, addressing and making reparations for past and ongoing abuses (including landbacks), challenging settler privilege and the privileged position of Western epistemologies, and pursuing social justice and equity for marginalized groups. It takes many different forms, but does not, except in the extreme fringe, include the following:
- 'Blood and soil' ideology
- Ethnic cleansing of non-Indigenous peoples
- The mass deportation of Settler peoples
- Uncritical romantic primitivism
- An attempt to restore things to the exact state they were pre-colonization
- The unthinking rejection of any and all Western ideas, values, or innovations
- Decolonization does not propose that Indigenous peoples were in some way flawless, perfect, or ideal in all respects. It does not propose that Indigenous peoples are beyond criticism or that every feature of pre-contact cultures should be re-adopted without careful consideration, or that these cultures are static and unchanging. Rather, it proposes that there may nonetheless be value in those cultures, epistemologies, and ways of being in the same way that there is value in Western cultures, epistemologies, and ways of being despite the West's long history of violence, bigotry, and abuses, and that these cultures possess the same capacity for change as others.
- Decolonization does not propose that Indigenous peoples are monolithic or all the same, and recognizes the diversity of opinions within Indigenous communities and nations. This entails recognizing both the vast differences between nations and the differences within those nations.
- 'Settler' is not a slur or a pejorative. It is an academic term of reference for colonizers and their descendants who derive a privileged position within the settler-colonial state by virtue of non-Indigeneity, which can only arise through the extinction of Indigenous claims to territory and survival. The status of African-Americans, descendants of blackbirded South Sea Islanders, etc, as settlers is disputable and depends on the extent to which the colonial state has granted them settler privileges, and may occupy a third position depending on the country in question. Settler and White are not synonyms, though most White peoples in settler-colonial states possess Settler privilege and settler privilege and white privilege are closely interrelated. Similarly, the terms 'settlement' and 'colonization' are not a euphemism for invasion, as the underlying epistemologies of colonization differed from those of invasion in a way with real, practical impacts in the treatment of Indigenous peoples and the expropriation of settled land.
- Decolonization is not just for Indigenous peoples, but also for non-Indigenous peoples living in settler-colonial states. It is the next step in confronting the legacy of oppression and violence that are foundational to those states.
- Opposing settler-colonialism is not 'hating the West'. It is in fact the next stage in the Western juristic tradition of truth, justice, and equity, which requires that wrongs be put right and not ignored and those in need helped.
- Decolonization is distinct from assimilationalist approaches to Indigenous resurgence. It is also distinct from ecological jurisprudence and bioregionalism, though the former is heavily invested in forming mutually respectful relationships with Indigenous communities and attempting to understand Indigenous epistemologies of the natural-human relationship and the latter often resembles the borders of pre-colonization political arrangements due to the bioregional nature of territorial responsibility held by many pre-contact Indigenous nations and peoples.
Also, just as a warning, anyone who tries to misrepresent legal judgments that uphold Western legal concepts to the detriment of Settler peoples as some kind of example of Indigenous law or tries to repeat the idea that without Western influence Indigenous nations will be inherently poor and violent will make me very cross. Don't waste everyone's time.
With that out of the way, our first article.
SourceGwich’in Tribal Council calls on Canadian banks to join No Arctic Drilling pledge
A drawn border may separate the Vuntut Gwitchin Government (VGG) and the Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC), but that means nothing to the caribou herds they are fighting tooth and nail to preserve.
To that end, both are calling on Canadian banks to join with their American counterparts and pledge to not fund any drilling in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Arctic Refuge) in Alaska, where the Porcupine Caribou herd traditionally calve and raise their young.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been trying to open the sacred lands up to oil and gas drilling since he was elected. However, a sustained campaign by the VGG and GTC has convinced all but one major U.S. bank, as well as numerous international banks, to pledge they will not to invest in any projects.
VGG caribou coordinator Liz Staples said a lease sale of the Arctic Refuge could still happen within months once an environmental impact statement, which was due last fall, is completed.
Staples said the record-low oil prices has not deterred the Trump administration and said Canadian Banks had a role to play in protecting the North’s traditional ways of life.
“Drilling in the Arctic Refuge has been driven by politics, not economics,” she said. “Action by Canadian banks will further limit external funding opportunities available to companies interested in pursuing exploration and development of the Arctic Refuge and provide momentum for our advocacy work.
“As financing options disappear, some companies interested in pursuing exploration and development of the Arctic Refuge may be precluded from being able to do so due to the lack of external funding. In addition, Canadian banks joining their U.S. and global peers will further underscore our message that drilling in the Arctic Refuge is bad business and in doing so help build pressure for other companies and individuals to acknowledge this.”
A delegation representing both groups was in Toronto last December to speak with the major Canadian banks. So far the banks have expressed “clear understanding of the immense human and environmental impacts and financial risks” of the Trump administration’s plan but so far has not made an official pledge.
GTC Grand Chief Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan said she was optimistic banks would fall in step with their international counterparts, noting just because the banks haven’t said anything yet didn’t mean that wasn’t the direction they were going.
“It tells me hopefully they’re making good decisions and hopefully will soon inform us they’ll follow suit,” she said. “Our people are still heavily reliant on what the land provides for us, so we’re asking the banks to make this commitment for everyone. If they can commit to not financing any new exploration and drilling in the Arctic refuge, that’s a step in the right direction.”
Greenland-Morgan added the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of food security and environmental stewardship, especially as the economic fallout of the crisis begins to affect food production in agricultural centres around the world. The North was particularly well adapted to weather such crises precisely because of the connection people still have with the land and wildlife.
“People are realizing we don’t have so much control over things. With all the concerns about shelves going bare in major cities and how things unfolded, it reminded us just how fortunate we are to have the caribou,” she said. “If the roads shut down and the shelves were to go bare up here, our freezers are still full of caribou and fish.
“When we’re forced into situations such as global pandemics, it just shows us we need to keep our backyard as clean as possible from pollution.”
She pointed out the GTC had a lot of experience standing up for environmental issues and they weren’t going to stop anytime soon.
“Our mandate to keep oil and gas drilling out of the refuge is a directive from our Elders back in 1988,” she said. “That gets re-affirmed every year at our annual general assembly. Caribou is our primary food source, that’s why what we’ve been trying to do for decades is so important to us.
“If everything were to shut down, we would be okay because we have our land and our animals, which is our biggest resource. There is no amount of money that could replace that. We have a duty to leave things behind for each generation to survive on.”