Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

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Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-09 02:04am

So, since it's been suggested a few times, I thought I'd go ahead and launch a megathread for Indigenous political news and decolonization news so that people can follow through the thread of different developments and we can avoid having the same debates over definitions and scope in thread after thread. Given my areas of interest I'll probably be focused on Australia and Canada but stuff from other areas is more than welcome, though I'd request that decolonization stuff from outside the 'core' settler-states (CANZUS and Hawaii, Chinese-occupied Tibet, Sapmi, South America, Mexico, and Israel) not be posted unless it's directly relevant due to the different political dimensions of decolonization in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, where the epistemologies and practices of settlement and colonial dominion were not based on the logic of elimination. Political news and opinion pieces dealing with the Indigenous peoples of Africa, Asia, the Middle East (e.g. the Kurds, the Assyrians, Yazidis) and Europe (e.g. the Sami, the Samoyeds, the Basques) is welcome, of course, as the reason for siloing the decolonization debate is not that colonization has occurred only in CANZUS and co but that settler-colonialism is distinct from other forms.

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:
    • Ethnonationalism
    • '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.
Gwich’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.”
Source
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by Ziggy Stardust » 2020-05-09 06:22pm

Thanks for doing this.

I know the answer to this will vary from country to country, but in general how much formal coordination is there between different indigenous nations? To put it another way, to what degree is there serious political infighting/tension/or otherwise between different indigenous nations, especially when it comes to matters like this?

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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-09 11:13pm

Ziggy Stardust wrote:
2020-05-09 06:22pm
Thanks for doing this.

I know the answer to this will vary from country to country, but in general how much formal coordination is there between different indigenous nations? To put it another way, to what degree is there serious political infighting/tension/or otherwise between different indigenous nations, especially when it comes to matters like this?
It depends on what you mean by formal coordination. In day to day matters, that really depends on proximity (either physical or demographic) and status within the settler-state - closely linked Indigenous states with formally recognized nationhood tend to do a fair bit of back and forth, for good or ill (the Navajo-Hopi land dispute is infamous for a reason) while distant states and those without recognized nationhood tend towards informal coordination. On the bigger end of the scale, there's often quite a bit through various bodies, including the UN, that actively seek to foster coordination and communication with both formally recognized, unrecognized, and formally dissolved Indigenous nations.

As to tension between and within Indigenous nations, that really depends on the issue at stake. There's always some tension between neighbours and within communities, and especially between sovereigntists and assimilationists, but on issues like the Arctic drilling pledge my understanding is that while there's internal tension between people who want to profit from the developments and those opposed to it, the international dynamic with neighbouring Indigenous peoples is fairly solidly supportive of the Gwich'in peoples. The First Nations and Indigenous nations of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (a little less - there's some real hot button issues of Maori politics) as a whole tend to have a little less turmoil than the US in terms of Indigenous nation-to-nation relations, but it's really hard to speak in anything but oversimplifications without examining the individual international relations of given nations. I'm not really qualified to speak meaningfully on it.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by LadyTevar » 2020-05-10 12:47am

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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by Ziggy Stardust » 2020-05-10 10:44am

loomer wrote:
2020-05-09 11:13pm
It depends on what you mean by formal coordination. In day to day matters, that really depends on proximity (either physical or demographic) and status within the settler-state - closely linked Indigenous states with formally recognized nationhood tend to do a fair bit of back and forth, for good or ill (the Navajo-Hopi land dispute is infamous for a reason) while distant states and those without recognized nationhood tend towards informal coordination. On the bigger end of the scale, there's often quite a bit through various bodies, including the UN, that actively seek to foster coordination and communication with both formally recognized, unrecognized, and formally dissolved Indigenous nations.

As to tension between and within Indigenous nations, that really depends on the issue at stake. There's always some tension between neighbours and within communities, and especially between sovereigntists and assimilationists, but on issues like the Arctic drilling pledge my understanding is that while there's internal tension between people who want to profit from the developments and those opposed to it, the international dynamic with neighbouring Indigenous peoples is fairly solidly supportive of the Gwich'in peoples. The First Nations and Indigenous nations of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (a little less - there's some real hot button issues of Maori politics) as a whole tend to have a little less turmoil than the US in terms of Indigenous nation-to-nation relations, but it's really hard to speak in anything but oversimplifications without examining the individual international relations of given nations. I'm not really qualified to speak meaningfully on it.
That's fair, and about what I expected.

The main reason I asked the question was because I am interested in the degree to which there may be institutionalized barriers that exacerbate inter-nation tension to make it more difficult for them to present as a unified political voice. IIRC, this was a pretty widely used tool by colonial powers to "keep the local systems in line", if you will. The aftershocks of this are a significant factor in many post-colonial nations, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. I was curious whether there were similar contemporary parallels with indigenous nations.

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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-11 01:25am

Ziggy Stardust wrote:
2020-05-10 10:44am
That's fair, and about what I expected.

The main reason I asked the question was because I am interested in the degree to which there may be institutionalized barriers that exacerbate inter-nation tension to make it more difficult for them to present as a unified political voice. IIRC, this was a pretty widely used tool by colonial powers to "keep the local systems in line", if you will. The aftershocks of this are a significant factor in many post-colonial nations, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. I was curious whether there were similar contemporary parallels with indigenous nations.
It can definitely be a factor, but it really does depend on scale. Most of where it really crops up is in state-level relationships between the First Nations and Indigenous States of various colonial polities where it comes to resource allocation, land rights, etc - the $8 billion COVID-19 relief package for First Nations in the US has an ongoing court case over whether Alaskan Native Corporations counted, brought by tribal governments, for instance. There are other clashes here and there over social issues, mining that impacts overlapping lands but can have permission granted on just one, etc, but those are more of the usual neighbour vs neighbour style dispute rather than disputes that exist because of maneuvering within colonial hegemonies.

On the bigger issues like trying to negotiate for rights, there's generally fairly good cooperation internationally and globally, and a lot of exchange of knowledge and experience by scholars and elders from different Indigenous peoples. The UN generally and the ILO in particular did some fantastic work bringing nations together back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s by facilitating travel and communication, even if the UNDRIP was ultimately a wet fart. It's part of why the term 'Indigenous' can be used relatively unproblematically in this broad sense - most peoples who fit the bill have found enough commonalities of experience when they've had leaders and elders meet to go 'yeah, that's us' in this context, though there are always exceptions. For a personal example, I had the privilege of having several conversations with Uncle Jim Everett at a conference recently. He steadfastly refuses the label because as far as he's concerned he's plangermairreenner and nothing else - though he still recognizes the political utility of the term and the commonalities of experience with other First Nations peoples.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-11 01:39am

Double posting to split news from discussion.
High court case could have broad implications in Oklahoma
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments via livestream Monday in a winding case that examines reservation boundaries in the eastern half of the state
Kolby KickingWoman

Indian Country Today

In what has turned out to be a long and winding road, even by Supreme Court standards, the United States’ highest court is set to hear arguments Monday in a case that could have far-reaching implications for tribal jurisdiction in Oklahoma.

The crux of McGirt v. Oklahoma is whether a crime committed by an enrolled Seminole Nation of Oklahoma member occurred within the 1866 boundaries of the Creek reservation, which would fall under federal jurisdiction and not the state’s.

Under the Major Crimes Act, only the federal government can prosecute major crimes committed by Indians on tribal lands.

The case hinges on whether much of Oklahoma should be considered reservation land, which has the potential to affect everything from tax authority to decades of criminal cases.

Back in the October term of 2018, the court heard arguments in the case Sharp v. Murphy, formerly named Carpenter v. Murphy, in which a Creek Nation member was convicted of murder in the state of Oklahoma. However, a lower court vacated that conviction under the premise that reservation and historical boundaries of the Creek Nation were never disestablished by Congress, and therefore the federal government had jurisdiction to try Patrick Wayne Murphy and not the state.

In an additional twist, only eight judges heard the Murphy case after Justice Neil Gorsuch recused himself because he took part in the case as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

After hearing arguments, the court called for additional briefings from both sides and ultimately decided to have the case be reargued in the October 2019 term. Yet, when the schedule came out for the current term, Murphy was not on the docket.

Here’s where McGirt v. Oklahoma comes into play.

Jimcy McGirt was convicted of sexual assault, and the conviction was upheld by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. But McGirt argues that because the crime allegedly occurred within the historical boundaries of the Creek Nation, the state cannot prosecute him.

The court granted review of McGirt, effectively tying the Murphy case to it, but will have all nine justices presiding over and hearing arguments since Justice Gorsuch has not had a previous role in the McGirt case.

The state argues the practical consequences of overturning these convictions would be drastic. Lawyers for the state say if the 1866 Creek Nation reservation boundaries are recognized, which would be most of eastern Oklahoma, the ramifications would touch on everything from tax authority to criminal justice and any number of cases may have to be retried. It's about tribal sovereignty.

Conversely, the tribes argue the 1866 Creek Nation reservation boundaries were never distinctly terminated or disestablished by Congress, and Congress is the only part of the federal government that has the power to do so.

They also point to Supreme Court rulings in favor of tribal land interests in the cases Solem v. Bartlett and Nebraska v. Parker.

All eyes will be on Justice Gorsuch as he is one of the justices with a deeper understanding of federal Indian law. When he was originally nominated for the Supreme Court, both the Native American Rights Fund and the National Congress of American Indians supported his confirmation. Gorsuch ruled in favor of tribes in two other cases early last year: Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc. and Herrera v. Wyoming.

Arguments begin Monday at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, and audio will be live-streamed on C-SPAN.
Source

If I'm able I'll be following the arguments as they're streamed because this could be quite a fascinating precedent, since a good number of reservation boundaries and other recognized national boundaries were never dissolved by the Feds but solely at a state level or by private market-based erosion through banks and sale. If this upholds the emerging caselaw from Murphy, NvP and SvB it could be quite exciting. Indianz has a more detailed article but as Indianz has a habit of using some really charged language around Alaskan Natives I don't like using them as a first source.

Now, to head something off since I've seen people misinterpret this kind of thing on here before: This case, if upheld, would not be 'giving' the Native American peoples of Oklahoma anything under 'Indian' law. It's purely a function of established principles of US constitutional law. This, right here, is Whitefella Law, and the question is really whether or not the State of Oklahoma breached its power within the framework of the US state vs federal power sharing arrangement by treating the territory as ceded in the absence of an express declaration it was so. It's a case that still exists within the framework of colonial hegemony, not outside it - indeed, it could not exist outside whitefella law, because it presupposes a right to terminate a territorial claim by the US Federal Government over Indigenous peoples.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by Darth Yan » 2020-05-11 01:47am

I'm all for changing reservation boundries; the original ones were chosen to be as shitty as possible so giving them access to more usable land and more autonomy is a good way to help fix things even if it is incomplete.

Also it's rather unusual that Gorsuch has actually been pretty solid about Indian rights. He still got the seat through republican chicanery and his views on the death penalty are beyond awful but it's nice to see he actually DOES have redeeming qualities

Also no offense but white fella and black fella just feel unusual to me. I know it's petty but yeah.

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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by madd0ct0r » 2020-05-11 02:27am

Ozzy terms I believe.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-11 02:36am

Darth Yan wrote:
2020-05-11 01:47am
I'm all for changing reservation boundries; the original ones were chosen to be as shitty as possible so giving them access to more usable land and more autonomy is a good way to help fix things even if it is incomplete.

Also it's rather unusual that Gorsuch has actually been pretty solid about Indian rights. He still got the seat through republican chicanery and his views on the death penalty are beyond awful but it's nice to see he actually DOES have redeeming qualities

Also no offense but white fella and black fella just feel unusual to me. I know it's petty but yeah.
It's one of the oddities about some of the staunchly Republican judges. When they actually hold somewhat consistently to positions around limiting state and government power and arbitrary executive action they inevitably have to take a surprisingly reasonable stance on Native American affairs because the government's policies were so often in fundamental breach of fiduciary duties and of treaties and contracts. We wind up in the present situation where Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas are the ones to watch closely for expanding reservation territory because, dreadful as they are in so many ways, they at least try to be consistent in their jurisprudential positions (at least when it doesn't come to abortion or the gays).

As for whitefella/blackfella (no space), it's an Australian thing. I got in the habit of using whitefella after spending time with a local elder who was himself in the habit. It has particular resonance in some reconciliation and anti-colonialism circles thanks to the Warumpi band, too - Blackfella, Whitefella was a real anthem for a while. That said, it's important to note that calling someone blackfella isn't something you do unless they're outspoken about preferring it even from whitefellas (like calling the Uncle I referred to above Indigenous - you might call another elder so, but not him. Likewise, if there's an elder who prefers to be introduced as a blackfella, well, you do as they say!) since it can still be a very loaded term coming from a whitefella. Beyond that, it's situational.

A generally safe rule of thumb is to use respectful terms (ideally the nation someone is from) until someone pulls you up on what they prefer, listen, and if you're in a community, do what the local preference is while you're there. Likewise, when you know some organizations are using terms to make a certain point (I've referred in the past to extreme fringe blackfella organizations looking for outright separatism and segregation, and I use the term precisely because they themselves use it to make a point about unapologetic blackness, though a good chunk have shifted to preferring Blak now) it's generally best to follow suit unless there's a good reason not to.

There's a lot of contextual stuff that goes into whether the term 'blackfella' is appropriate or not (safe rule of thumb: if you're a whitefella, don't use it unless you've been instructed to use it by the people you'd be referring to by it in any given context), but 'whitefella' is generally safe to use to refer to whitefellas in the colony from anyone. It's a way to render whiteness visible in the Australian context by acknowledging it, and one that, when used to refer to the self, both signifies solidarity with Indigenous people and doesn't come with too much baggage, which is part of why I use it during introductions.* in this particular context, 'Whitefella Law' is how I refer to imposed settler-authored legal traditions in CANZUS as a matter of habit, as while the term 'whitefella' is specifically Australian, the general practices and dynamics of the settler-colonial rule of law as a tool of domination apply fairly comfortably across CANZUS as all four states descend from the same legal rootstock.

(*: It's fairly standard in a lot of the circles I move in to do kin and territory (and sometimes teacher) introductions for Indigenous persons. There's been a recent trend to do the same for whitefellas and non-Indigenous people. So in my case, I introduce myself as a whitefella of Anglo-Australian descent, living on Bundjalung country (I give the name of where I'm from in both English and Bundjalung and recognize the two clan nations my town straddles when I do, but for privacy, I won't be doing it here - and, where we're going all out, I include that my relevant teachers were Auntie <X>, Dr. <Y>, and Bro. <Z>). The alternative has been for only Indigenous peoples to recount heritage and territory, which serves to reproduce the invisibility of whiteness and the hypervisibility of blackness in the colony. I was initially uncertain of this approach but having had several Aunties and Uncles approve of it I've stuck with it. The protocols for navigating the interface and the liminal spaces it creates are still evolving.)
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by Darth Yan » 2020-05-11 02:56am

I'll keep that in mind. It's a lot to take in though.

I would like to lay out my general impressions, because I do want to set the record straight

Your intro post helped clarify things a great deal. I do agree with a lot of the general ideas and you do address a lot of concerns I had previously, but I just do not and cannot EVER accept the idea of dismembering the US to make newer nations in the aftermath. Maybe it's unfair of me but the US IS my country and it feels like leaping straight to that as the only way is extreme in my mind (you yourself said in the past "certainly, but it is the way we've chosen." WHY though? Why not try another solution? I'm asking in all sincerity?)

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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-11 03:21am

Darth Yan wrote:
2020-05-11 02:56am
I'll keep that in mind. It's a lot to take in though.

I would like to lay out my general impressions, because I do want to set the record straight

Your intro post helped clarify things a great deal. I do agree with a lot of the general ideas and you do address a lot of concerns I had previously, but I just do not and cannot EVER accept the idea of dismembering the US to make newer nations in the aftermath. Maybe it's unfair of me but the US IS my country and it feels like leaping straight to that as the only way is extreme in my mind (you yourself said in the past "certainly, but it is the way we've chosen." WHY though? Why not try another solution? I'm asking in all sincerity?)
Bluntly, because the US as constituted cannot be redeemed (well, at least so long as we do not believe that settler-colonialism can be a morally or ethically valid model for society). Neither can Canada, New Zealand, or Australia. The foundation of the settler-colonial project is the elimination of the Indigenous peoples of the land claimed by the colony. Since this is the foundation of the nation, changing it will fundamentally alter the nation such that what it is will have little resemblance to what it was in terms of its basic construction.

Now, what might happen is that an entity emerges from this that shares the same name and title, but with a radically different internal political structure that is no longer predicated on the destruction of Indigenous peoples. You might still call this the US, but it is the same US only in the same way the current US is the same as the US of 1776 - in name, in shared history, and in certain points of philosophical and ideological aspiration, but in virtually no other respect meaningfully so. This is why it is helpful to confront the idea head on of actually dismantling the settler-colonial states as concrete geopolitical entities. It's one far end of the spectrum of options, but any option that actually achieves decolonization will ultimately end those states as we currently understand them, even if it preserves the geopolitical entity as a successor that shares the name and the geographical boundaries. Examining this, which we might call the 'strong form', also allows us to examine the arguments for the 'weak form' in a clearer way and compare their actual capacity for reform to a possible 'total revolutionary' approach.

It also achieves the goal of setting aside the preconceived starting notion that the US/Canada/Australia/etc have a right to exist as polities built on genocide. We might be personally attached to them, or feel they're a net force for good - but if we begin the process of reform by saying 'look, it'd be nice to be better, but my nation right or wrong must endure!' then we impose a hard limit on the potential for reform. If it is necessary, in the end, to dismember our nations to obtain the goals of those nations (and here I suggest that the best goals of CANZUS are shared, and consist of a desire for justice, fairness, and the unflinching pursuit of truth. Rarely actually pursued vigorously, unfortunately, but nonetheless - those, I believe, are the fundamental philosophical goals of CANZUS as liberal democracies), then we must not close that option off pre-emptively. We must remain open to the possibility that it will be necessary to dissolve those nations to achieve their goals, even if we would prefer not to.

So, in a very real sense, the goal is not actually to leap straight to 'and now we dissolve the US and dismantle every aspect of it', but to take any and all action necessary to end the ongoing process of colonialism and the toxic effects of colonial legacies. The solution may wind up being a radical reformulation of the underlying basis of the settler-colonial state (for a start, away from being constituted on settler-colonial lines entirely) that preserves the state in a transformed way, or the creation of new states. Doing so necessarily entails exploring the other solutions you'd like tried, so rather than leaping over them, it creates the conceptual space for them to be considered.

To put it another way, dissolving the US/Australia/etc may not the only solution, but it is epistemically useful as a device for enabling the pursuit of other solutions by opening up the full range of possible solutions. Drawing a line that says 'no, we will never dismantle the US/Australia/etc' renders the ongoing existence of these states as settler-colonial edifices an always-already precondition of discussing their reform, and thus, closes the horizons of reform's possibilities in a way that renders an actual transformation away from settler-colonialism impossible.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by Darth Yan » 2020-05-11 05:05am

That.....clears things up. In a lot of our previous debates I felt like you were advocating a "dissolve the US as the only way" and quite frankly that bothered me; I might have spent time abroad but the US is my home so it felt unfair. I also do think that actually putting ideas into practice can be downright hard.

Pure communism, if it could work, would be a wonderful system. And yet pretty much every big attempt (USSR, China, North Korea etc) not only failed to live up to its lofty ideals but condemned a lot of innocents to the grave despite whatever noble intentions the creators had. In essence putting noble ideas into practice is a lot harder and while humans do have a noble side they also have enough assholes to fuck everything up for the rest of us. This is true regardless of whether the person is indigenous or a settler (ex; In the US native americans are 0.2% of the population. Even if the vast bulk of the native american population DO accept indigenization there are going to be some individuals who will feel threatened unless native americans are given dominance). And for a while it felt like you weren't really addressing that (Again your initial post did clear a lot up and showed that you are thinking about this).

When I called decolonization a beautiful dream I meant it sincerely. If you REALLY could make it work it would be wonderful and hell I'll come out and say it. A lot of what you advocate CAN be achieved and should be. And THOSE things should definitely be fought for. But I have my doubts about every last one being achieved. I think something like south africa (where the boundaries were pretty much the same but the government was changed to be truly representative of everyone rather than just a minority) is something that most reasonable people can live with. Getting it there is the problem.

PS

Another issue with me is that yes the doctrine of terra nullius (correct me if i'm wrong) was used to justify conquest. Thing is.......once you get past the fancy wording it doesn't really strike me as all that different from other conquests. People will cook up whatever bullshit excuses they have to in order to justify stealing someone's land. The Romans did it when they destroyed Carthage and resettled it. The Saxons probably did the same when they killed the Celts off; Chinese with the Dzungir as well.

Overall Terra Nullius seems something that's less uniquely evil and more one in legions of bullshit excuses that humans have used to justify hurting their fellows and making off with their land.

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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-11 05:49am

Another piece of news. I'll address your post tomorrow, Yan. The postscript is actually something I should've addressed in the intro.
Indigenous studies requirement is a ‘no brainer’
‘This is needed at all universities because this is all Indigenous land in Turtle Island’
Dalton Walker

Indian Country Today

A land full of rich Ojibwe culture and Dakota history that stretches back hundreds of years can go unnoticed to college students attending a northern Minnesota university in the thick of Indian Country.

A small steering committee of faculty and students at Bemidji State University has a solution on how to lift that history and culture to the front of the classroom: make an Indigenous studies course a requirement for all students.

It’s a step, supporters say, that would benefit the roughly 5,000-student body and the university’s commitment to serve the people of the state and region. It could happen, perhaps as soon as fall of 2021. And a goal for it to happen is to not increase student workload or require additional funding for more staff, said Erica Bailey-Johnson, Red Lake Nation. She is a leader of the committee working to implement the three-credit course requirement and Bemidji State’s Sustainability Director since 2008.

“We feel like we actually have the capabilities right now to make this happen with the courses and the instructors and programs that are already existing,” she said.

If successful, Bemidji State would be one of the first public, four-year institutions to implement the requirement in the country and likely the first in the lower 48 states.

It’s already happening on all campuses at the University of Alaska. Students are required to complete a minimum of three credit hours of Alaska Native-themed coursework as part of all baccalaureate, associate of arts and associate of science degrees.

First-year students in fall 2019 were the initial class to take on the new requirement as part of their curriculum. A faculty and staff-led group called the Alaska Native Studies Council worked with other faculty and university officials to make the requirement a reality.

Evon Peter, vice chancellor for rural, community and Native education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said the implementation has been successful and has seen an increase in Alaska Native-related classes being taken. The Fairbanks campus already had an “robust portfolio” of Alaska Native-themed courses to pick from, he said.

“We wanted students to be able to go where they are most passionate, but still have that exposure to Alaska Native knowledge and worldview,” Peter said.

“This is needed at all universities because this is all Indigenous land in Turtle Island,” he added. “It’s a shame that U.S. citizens can grow up here and not really know anything about Indigenous peoples. It should be a part of required history that we learn about and understand. How else are we gonna move forward in a kind, respectful and just way? We are trying to do our part in Indigenizing the institution this way.”

Another initiative to strengthen a connection to Indigenous people is to implement a mandatory Alaska Native cultural awareness training for all university employees, Peter said.

Some universities in Canada have similar student requirements, including the University of Winnipeg, which was approved in 2015 and began in fall 2016.

“The University of Winnipeg is proud to be one of the first universities in Canada to mandate that all incoming undergraduate students learn about Indigenous peoples and be exposed to Indigenous perspectives and worldviews,” according to the university's website.

Is Bemidji State University next?

The university sits along the western shore of picturesque Lake Bemidji and in the heart of a community known for its outdoor recreational activities. The school formed in 1919 and became a university in 1975, six years after adding an Indigenous studies degree program. It used to be called Indian studies, a first in the state. It was also one of the first collegiate Ojibwe language programs. In 2003, it opened an American Indian Resource Center, a building dedicated to serving Native students. Before, an Indian Studies Center was located in a smaller shared academic space.

Bemidji is also a major hub for Native people who live nearby on three of the largest reservations in Minnesota in Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth. The name Bemidji comes from an Ojibwe word bemidjigamaag, “a lake with crossing waters.”

Although the town and university are formally named after an Ojibwe word, the Dakota people lived on the land before the Ojibwe migrated, forcing them west and south. The Ojibwe stayed but were pushed by white invaders onto reservations, which became the seven Ojibwe reservations known today. Where Bemidji is located, the land was once part of Leech Lake.

This is the type of history that is often overlooked by the masses, Bailey-Johnson said.

Bemidji State offers 56 undergraduate majors. Student to faculty ratio is about 20 to 1, according to the school’s online fact sheet. Nearly 85 percent of the student population self-identifies as white, while American Indian or Alaska Native students are two percent of the student population.

Bailey-Johnson said the Indigenous studies requirement would not increase the 120 semester credits needed to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

The steering committee has support from the senate faculty, student senate and President Faith Hensrud, Bailey-Johnson said. One of the university’s strategic goals is to emphasize learning Native culture. The next steps are to coordinate with departments on how the new requirement will affect them. Some programs like the education and nursing already have an Indigenous studies course as part of a student track.

“Almost all of the Indigenous studies courses already either count for a program or account for liberal education requirements so that’s a bonus,” she said.

Another hurdle is gaining support from additional faculty and the community in Bemidji, Bailey-Johnson said.

The steering committee has been limited to online video meetings and phone calls more recently because of the COVID-19 restrictions. But that isn’t stopping any gained momentum.

For business administration Assistant Professor Veronica Veaux, the timing is right and it only makes sense considering the growing Native student population, opportunities for Native students and the university’s focus on adding Native faculty or staff.

Veaux, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, is part of the steering committee. She has created Indigenous curriculum geared towards business students and hopes both classes will be available for students to take in the fall. One class is Indigenious business and the other is Indigenous entrepreneurship.

“I think this would be one way that we could attract students from an Indigenous business emphasis perspective, because if they are required to take an Indigenous studies course as a [Bemidji State University] student we have a class in business that would fulfill that,” Veaux said. “The business school is one of our biggest programs.”

Bemidji State senior Alicia Bowstring, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, is getting ready to graduate in May with an Indigenous studies degree and a minor in Ojibwe language. She’s the Council of Indian Students president this school year and said she supports the initiative.

“I don’t think a lot of non-Indigenous students know anything about Ojibwe people or Indigenous people in general,” she said. “It would be really beneficial for them to have some type of Indigenous class so they could learn more about people. I think it’s really needed on campus because [campus] is on Native land.”

Another supporter and student, junior Serena Graves, Red Lake Nation, stressed the importance of the quality of Indigenous studies coursework available and Native experts at Bemidji State. Even though she attended a reservation high school, it wasn’t until her college coursework where she learned the details of her people’s history.

“Classes [here] really do change how you feel about history and how you understand how we got here, why reservations were created, what problems it imposes,” she said. “It’s such an important history, I don’t know why this isn’t widespread.”

Graves is also a teaching assistant and assisted with Ojibwe language and an introduction Indigenous history classes. She’s majoring in Indigenous studies with a minor in Ojibwe language.

Bemidji State Ojibwe language professor and author Anton Treuer wrote books on Ojibwe people. He’s been at the university for 20 years and spent much of his life in the area. He said because of the large Native population in and around Bemidji, most students will interact with Native peoples in some way.

“It’s a no brainer to me on why we should be doing this,” Treuer said. “Ultimately, the schools, universities that are most successful in equipping people for a world that will surely be multiracial and multicultural and will always have an Indigenous story, I think they are going to have the greatest success.”
source

As a law undergrad, I wasn't required to take any non-law units but used some of my electives to take several relevant courses from the Indigenous Studies college at my university since I was preparing for a career in criminal defence and that meant dealing with disproportionately Indigenous clients. The ones I did were fantastic (though ironically not where I picked up an interest in decolonization and Indigenous rights), so in countries and degrees where academic diversity credits are a must this seems like a solid idea.

Part of the process of decolonization involves shifting an awareness of the First Nations of the places we live to be front and center rather than hidden away or downplayed. Universities are a great site for that (leaving aside the debates around representation in higher academia and the thorny issue of who owns what knowledge for the present) since they're already allocated for expanding people's experiences and knowledge bases and to fostering critical thinking. When you factor in the blossoming field of Indigenous publishing and the rapidly evolving field of formally recognized Indigenous epistemologies and research methodologies it could be tremendously exciting to see work at the interface (for those not familiar, the interface is where cultures meet and can freely analyze and examine each other and, through the similarities and differences they discover, hidden aspects of themselves) like this become a mainstream affair. Even if it remains primarily a historical/cultural study, it's still a great thing to see the actual history of a place being recognized and taught since the convenient narratives of progress occlude huge swathes of how modern Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures of place evolved.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by Rogue 9 » 2020-05-11 11:40pm

NBC
South Dakota tribes defy governor and maintain checkpoints in coronavirus fight
"We have every legal right to do what we're doing," said Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier. "We're just doing preventative action."

May 11, 2020, 1:15 PM EDT / Updated May 11, 2020, 6:36 PM EDT
By David K. Li

Two Native American tribes are defying South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem's order to remove roadside checkpoints that tribal leaders claim are necessary to keep the coronavirus from infecting reservations, officials said Monday.

If the Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes don't take down their checkpoints on state and federal highways, the government in Pierre will take them to court, the governor said.

Delivery personnel, property owners, ranchers and highway maintenance workers are being slowed or turned around, Noem said.

"We need people that are just driving through the area to be able to do so," she told reporters Monday afternoon. "These checkpoints have been an issue allowing these kinds of services to get through."

There are no plans for state police or other law enforcement action, a spokesman for the governor told NBC News on Monday.

Noem's staff issued memos Friday and Sunday to make it "perfectly clear it is unlawful to interrupt the flow of traffic on these roads," according to the most recent communication.

"The checkpoints on state and U.S. highways are not legal, and if they don't come down, the state will take the matter to federal court," senior adviser and policy director Maggie Seidel wrote Sunday.

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier told MSNBC on Sunday that federal-tribal treaties allow the tribe to monitor who comes through reservations and to turn away travelers if they're from areas known to be coronavirus hot spots.

"We have every legal right to do what we're doing," he said. "We're just doing preventative action. It's nothing to try to hinder people."

Frazier said that with few hospital beds on its reservation, his tribe believes the checkpoints will save lives.

"When we talk about rights, one of the greatest rights is the right to live," he said. "And that's all we're trying to do is to provide that right for our residents on this reservation."

Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner said tribes have been in regular consultation with state authorities, but he insisted that Pierre ultimately has no authority over their actions.

"The Oglala band is ready to stand against foreign intrusions in our daily lives. We have a prior, superior right to make our own laws and be governed by them," Bear Runner said in a video message over the weekend.

"We are not moved by threats when they come from a position of weakness."
The state doesn't get to dictate to the tribes. We'll see where this goes with the feds.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-12 01:03am

I listened live to the arguments in McGinty last night, and there was some truly top tier analysis on offer from the Muscogee representative Riyaz Kanji and the US Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler. There was also, unfortunately, some very shitty analysis. The representative for the State of Oklahoma relied on fundamentally inaccurate mathematical modelling to try and make an argument based on flooding the federal system with new crimes and appeals, and Kavanaugh's historical analysis is truly incompetent - like, '100% wrong' incompetent, even in a field in which 100% certainty can be tricky to come by. Kavanaugh also emphasized the demographic argument, which generally doesn't work, and did so in such a way that Gorsuch actually took a couple of shots back at him. Alito said some truly stupid things, but ones that mirror arguments I've seen on this board, fearing the oppression of non-Indigenous peoples by Indigenous people. Clarence Thomas was unusually talkative, though I'm informed this may just be how he is now he gets to do questions over the phone - makes you wonder if they shouldn't always allow him to fulfill the duties of his office in a bathrobe and slippers.

McGirt's representative gave a very solid accounting on the text of the law, and most of the questions focused on ramifications and the issue of exactly when a reservation is dismantled, which the Muscogee representative addressed very nicely. It's a very debateable issue since there appears to be ambiguous evidence that could fit either narrative, but then, we knew this was effectively a test case going in that'd clarify quite a few uncertainties. The evidence for disestablishment is, however, rather more piecemeal and had to be propped up by appeals to ramifications.

Indianz coverage.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-12 01:50am

Darth Yan wrote:
2020-05-11 05:05am
Pure communism, if it could work, would be a wonderful system. And yet pretty much every big attempt (USSR, China, North Korea etc) not only failed to live up to its lofty ideals but condemned a lot of innocents to the grave despite whatever noble intentions the creators had. In essence putting noble ideas into practice is a lot harder and while humans do have a noble side they also have enough assholes to fuck everything up for the rest of us. This is true regardless of whether the person is indigenous or a settler (ex; In the US native americans are 0.2% of the population. Even if the vast bulk of the native american population DO accept indigenization there are going to be some individuals who will feel threatened unless native americans are given dominance). And for a while it felt like you weren't really addressing that (Again your initial post did clear a lot up and showed that you are thinking about this).
So, this is where we have to get into some heavy theory stuff that I still don't quite have the time and energy to go over (yay chronic health conditions and work commitments). It's a valid point that things don't come easy and that people will be assholes, but one of the basic concepts behind decolonization is to change the field of what being an asshole looks like so that the amount of damage any one individual can do is limited, and to implement social norms and customs that limit the capacity of assholery to spread from the individual to the systemic level. If you can arrest that spread then it doesn't matter as much if a few well placed people are dickheads - they're dickheads under scrutiny who can't get away with shit.

Doing that requires an extensive interrogation and retooling of social institutions away from the current toxic focus on individuals in isolation and towards a relational model, which we're already starting to see happen of its own accord. The goal is to reestablish a set of ethics in every person capable of fostering one that will regulate behaviour not by reference to what is best for the self, but for the community as a whole (without grinding any individual beneath the demands of the majority), and to reframe institutions around pursuing that purpose. So, yes - people are dicks, but the practical process of decolonization and Indigenization is as much about addressing the ways dicks get to exert undue influence as anything.
When I called decolonization a beautiful dream I meant it sincerely. If you REALLY could make it work it would be wonderful and hell I'll come out and say it. A lot of what you advocate CAN be achieved and should be. And THOSE things should definitely be fought for. But I have my doubts about every last one being achieved. I think something like south africa (where the boundaries were pretty much the same but the government was changed to be truly representative of everyone rather than just a minority) is something that most reasonable people can live with. Getting it there is the problem.
Well, this is where we come back to the field of epistemic possibility. It may not actually be possible to attain every element of the anti-colonial and decolonizational dream - but their presence on the field keeps it open, rather than foreclosing on other possibilities and making them the far end of what can be done. When that happens, inevitably, there's further push to draw it back a little further. Keeping the goal fixed on 100% might just allow you to hit 95%, while keeping it fixed on 95% might stall you out at 90%.
Another issue with me is that yes the doctrine of terra nullius (correct me if i'm wrong) was used to justify conquest. Thing is.......once you get past the fancy wording it doesn't really strike me as all that different from other conquests. People will cook up whatever bullshit excuses they have to in order to justify stealing someone's land. The Romans did it when they destroyed Carthage and resettled it. The Saxons probably did the same when they killed the Celts off; Chinese with the Dzungir as well.

Overall Terra Nullius seems something that's less uniquely evil and more one in legions of bullshit excuses that humans have used to justify hurting their fellows and making off with their land.
So, the fixation with colonization isn't that it was necessarily a unique evil (though in many respects, it actually is - it differs significantly from regular invasion and genocide approaches) but rather that the use of the specific excuse of 'well, you weren't using the land anyway' opens up possibilities.

Your average person isn't actually monstrous. So when you can show them that the basis of their involvement in a system of theft and genocide is a lie, there's a reasonable chance they'll go 'well, that's fucked up' and be willing to entertain some kind of reparative scheme. The scope of that expands with each generation where the justificatory myth has been eroded. This is why explaining just why the legal basis of colonization is wrong matters - people still believe in the justification, and the number of people willing to go along with an open 'fuck you, we're stronger, we murdered your ancestors and stole your shit, shut up and let us keep doing it or else' is lower than those who'll go along with justificatory narratives of terra nullius or 'bringing civilization'. People don't, as a whole, like to feel implicated in enormous crimes, so they invent justifications to excuse themselves, and the first step to addressing those crimes is to remove those justifications.

Now, I might be wrong. If I am, and it turns out society is perfectly happy to own its monstrousness, then at least I know where it stands - Malcolm X's immortal line comes to mind:
I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.
I'd rather know that appeals to decency and justice are futile even when everyone agrees on the facts than not, because that changes the fight's rules completely.


The other element here is that comparing an ongoing state of affairs to one that is well and truly finished - Carthage, say - misses a crucial point of distinction. Settler-colonialism is an ongoing and enduring institution with living victims whose injury can be traced directly to its existence (and those injured aren't just Indigenous peoples - settler-colonialism is corrosive to the humanity of the settler as well). It is an ongoing and enduring institution that can still be stopped, and this injury made as close to right as can be achieved. So when we look to crimes in the past that can't be addressed and ask 'well, why is this different?', the central distinction is that this one is still happening. It's a little like if you find someone bleeding to death after being stabbed and ask 'well, why is this different from if I found a skeleton of a man stabbed in 1000AD?' The key difference is that action to change the state of affairs is actually possible in the former scenario, but not the latter, and that the former is provoking ongoing suffering now, while the latter is not.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-12 07:46am

Calls to reopen Uluru climb to kickstart Northern Territory tourism hit by coronavirus
A business lobby group has made a controversial call to reopen the Uluru climb to help kickstart Northern Territory's tourism industry.
Key points:

The NT tourism sector has taken a massive hit amid the COVID-19 travel restrictions
A business lobby group wants a "bold" plan implemented to bring tourists back when borders reopen
Thousands of tourists flocked to Uluru in the lead up to the climb closing in October.

The climb was permanently closed in October at the request of traditional owners.

But there has been talk of a "grand" reopening of the climb, said Dave Batic, chairman of Alice Springs Major Business Group and general manager of Alice Springs airport.

Mr Batic said "bold" thinking was needed to re-build tourism when NT borders reopened, possibly by August.

"We are competing against every other state and territory in Australia for the tourism dollar," he said.

Mr Batic said opening the climb for two-to-three years, in partnership with the traditional owners, would be a windfall for Territory tourism.

"The concept there is that the traditional owners would provide tours for paying climbers and have a safety harness system in place just like the Sydney Harbour Bridge," he said.

"I guess it would be a grand opening or reopening of the Northern Territory.

"There's three iconic destinations in Australia that we talk about: The reef, the rock and the Sydney Opera House. The rock is actually going to be our saviour from a tourism perspective."

Mr Batic acknowledged that it would be up to the traditional owners to manage any reopening of the climb but it was important to have the discussion.

"We know that when the rock climb closed, we had 10,000 less people through the airport per month," he said. "We know that the rock climb [closing] had a direct impact on tourism straight away."

But the idea was flatly rejected by Sammy Wilson, who was chairman of the Uluru Kata-Tjuta Board of Management in 2017 when the decision was made to close the climb.

"No. Enough is enough. The word is no," said Mr Wilson, who remains on the board.

"We don't want to open a can of worms or put more logs on the fire."

Traditional owners say closing the climb presents an opportunity for visitors to experience the spectacular country around Uluru and learn about the Anangu people and culture.

In the lead up to last year's closure, tourists flocked to the sandstone monolith and images of hundreds of visitors snaking their way up the rock received global coverage.

The closure coincided with the 34th anniversary of the park being returned to traditional owners.

"The closure represents the long-held wishes of the park’s traditional owners, Anangu," said a Parks Australia spokesperson.

"At Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the Board has been working with tourism businesses for several years to develop new attractions."

The spokesperson acknowledged it was a difficult time for tourism in central Australia, and beyond.

"When the park is open it offers cultural workshops and demonstrations at the Cultural Centre every day, and the free ranger-guided Mala Walk each morning," the spokesperson said.

"Visitors can discover ancient rock art, learn about the park’s amazing plants and animals and their significance to Anangu, and find locally made, authentic Indigenous art and crafts at the art centre."
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is closed until June 18 when the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act is due to expire.
Source

Here we have another disconnect in progress. It sure would boost tourism for a few years - but it's a bit like suggesting that Britain allow people to go and throw eggs at the Queen for twenty quid a dozen or that you should be allowed to take a piss on the Vatican Altar for a crisp hundred dollar bill. That'd be good for the tourist economy too, but no one in their right mind would seriously suggest it.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by Ziggy Stardust » 2020-05-12 10:09am

Darth Yan wrote:
2020-05-11 05:05am
In essence putting noble ideas into practice is a lot harder and while humans do have a noble side they also have enough assholes to fuck everything up for the rest of us.
I've never really understood this general line of argument, though it's used all the time. It's logically incoherent.

Yes, in general you can expect that there will always be assholes whose goal is to take advantage of other people for their own benefit, to the perversion of any nominal ideas that asshole uses as justification.

But if you really think that's such a problem, why would you want to live under a system that either actively or at best tactily encourages and incentivizes said asshole behavior? Wouldn't it be better if the sticks-and-carrots of society were at least aligned in such a way as to TRY and discourage asshole behavior, instead of just a collective shrug of the shoulders and a "boys will be boys" attitude? Either you think it's a problem and want to try to fix it, or you don't think it's a problem so you can't use it as a critique.

For example, if you think that human greed is an insurmountable problem that has led to the downfall of previous attempts at communism (which is a sincere argument that many people make), it makes no sense to offer capitalism as the solution, since the entire point of capitalism is to actively encourage greed as a goal unto itself. If you think that greed is the problem, it's incoherent to think the capitalist status-quo is okay, though of course you can disagree over the precise non-capitalist solution. But if you don't think greed is a problem, that defeats your entire argument about noble ideas being perverted in the first place, which means that examples like the USSR need to be treated within their nuanced historical context, which means we can't throw communism (or socialist, or anarchist, or whatever) ideas out the window entirely, either.

The same basic logic applies to the argument against de-colonization. If you think it is an inevitable outcome of human nature that the parties in a society with the greatest accumulation of power are going to abuse that power, then why do you think the solution is the current system, which has literally and explicitly codified this accumulation and abuse? It's difficult to answer that question without it coming down to you just happening to be on the side that benefits from the abuse and don't want that to change.

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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by TimothyC » 2020-05-13 01:47am

loomer wrote:
2020-05-12 01:03am
Clarence Thomas was unusually talkative, though I'm informed this may just be how he is now he gets to do questions over the phone - makes you wonder if they shouldn't always allow him to fulfill the duties of his office in a bathrobe and slippers.
Justice Thomas is the most senior of all current Justices, sans Chief Justice Roberts. As a result he is second in line to ask questions of the petitioners, as opposed to being able to sit back and let the other eight ask questions. Under the in court version he could afford to wait to see if another Justice would ask a question he had, but that isn't exactly an option now. It is a big change for a Justice that went a decade without saying anything.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by Darth Yan » 2020-05-13 02:00am

Thomas is a wanker. My uncle calls him “Scalia’s lapdog”

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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-13 04:13am

'Time to embrace history of country': Bruce Pascoe and the first dancing grass harvest in 200 years
Writer’s farm in East Gippsland, Victoria, is producing native grains for flour and bread using traditional Aboriginal techniques

On the hill above Bruce Pascoe’s farm near Mallacoota in Victoria’s East Gippsland, there’s a sea of mandadyan nalluk. Translated from Yuin, the language of the country, it means “dancing grass”.

Pascoe and his small team of coworkers have never done a harvest like this before. There’s so much grass that both sheds are full, and Pascoe says they are “racing against the clock to refine our methods so we can extract the seed and make the flour. We have got to get this done in two or three weeks before the seed completely drops.”

The team had a ceremony for the the beginning of the harvest because they think it’s the first time in 200 years that mandadyan nalluk has been harvested for food.

“And some of these people are descended from those who would have done the last harvest,” Pascoe says. “That’s what this farm is all about – trying to make sure that Aboriginal people are part of the resurgence in these grains, rather than being on the periphery and being dispossessed again.”

They had intended to harvest a different, more promising crop of kangaroo grass but it was destroyed by the summer’s catastrophic bushfires. As a CFA volunteer, Pascoe spent weeks on the fire and recovery efforts. His sheds burned down but his house survived.

“It was terrible. Terrible. All the days merged into one. Here it went for five or six weeks. The days were indistinguishable. Everyone was just racing around, trying to fight a fire here, fight a fire there, save a house here, save a house there. It just went on and on and on. The people of Mallacoota have done it really tough. [They] are just recovering, and will still be recovering in a decade.”

The sheds, rebuilt after the fires, are full of harvested grass. Extracting seeds has been elaborate, experimental and "a lot of grunt work". "We’ve been working flat out now for about eight or nine days and we do something new every time." Today they are extracting seed using smoke and heat on a series of threshing tables. "Some of the things work and some of them don’t. We just have to be really patient. The old people had 120,000 years to get this process right, so if we have some failures in the first eight days, you’ve got to put it in perspective. The emotional toll of reviving this knowledge is in understanding how much has been lost. While there’s grief, there’s also triumph. It’s very easy to despair. So we try not to use words like ‘lost’. We try to use words like ‘found’ and ‘recovered’. And that’s what I’m looking at. I’m looking at recovery."

As he battled the fires, Pascoe was under increasingly vitriolic attack over his 2014 book Dark Emu, which used historical sources, including the journals of explorers, to show that Aboriginal people engaged in complex agriculture and were not just hunter-gatherers.

The personal attacks, largely driven by the Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt and a prominent Aboriginal businesswoman, Josephine Cashman, escalated. Cashman asked the Australian federal police to investigate allegations that Pascoe had received financial benefit from claiming to be Aboriginal. The AFP said Pascoe’s Aboriginality “was not relevant in determining whether a commonwealth offence had been committed, as such there was no need to undertake these inquiries”. Then the provenance of a letter Bolt and Cashman relied on to denounce Pascoe was called into question by NITV. Cashman was removed from the senior advisory body to the minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt.

Pascoe had little to say publicly at the time and withdrew from some scheduled appearances. But he says book sales went up and he could afford to hire four young people to work with him.

“When Andrew Bolt attacked me a lot of Australians took it as a personal attack on them, because a lot of people have read Dark Emu,” he says. “The same people, booksellers have been telling me, bought 10 copies as Christmas presents.

Sales boomed around that time so I was making money, and all of that money is going into wages. And wages then go back into Eden [across the NSW border] and they’re spent on the children, at shops where the shopkeepers are battling their guts out to stay alive, so I feel a lot of good has come out.”

But Pascoe says it was “the worst, worst time of my life”.

“It was hard for me, that period,” he says. “I’m not trying to downplay it. I’m not trying to say I’m this resilient character because I’m not. But I was totally supported by Aboriginal community. Not every Aboriginal person, obviously, because people tell me that social media was rife with other opinions. But basically the elders stuck by me firm, and some of them came down here, some of them stopped me in the street, to tell me to keep doing what I was doing.”

Pascoe says he took solace from the number of Australians “who want their children to learn a better history, a more true history”.

“It’s a wave that is washing over these dinosaurs,” he says. “There’s an extinction event happening, and the dinosaur, of course, is never aware of his demise.”

Pascoe’s team has been able to work right through the coronavirus: “We just carry on. This is a very isolated farm and we’re isolated on it, so it’s pretty good.”

This week they milled some of the mandadyan nalluk seed into flour and baked a loaf of bread.

“It’s beautiful bread. It’s a really dark, rye-like flour. Incredibly dark, incredibly aromatic, but also very tasty,” Pascoe says, and it’s not like anything he has smelled before.

He gets seven or eight requests a day from bakers and restaurateurs to supply seed or flour, which they will do when they get the milling right.

He also wants to show local farmers that letting these plants grow is worth the effort.

“In future years it’ll be commonplace because we can grow these grasses on degraded land. I think there are a lot of farmers on marginal land now. They want some consistency, and they want reduced costs. Perennial grain is a way to do that.”

The dancing grass is only one of several perennials the team is working with, including kangaroo grass, warrigal greens, samphires and water ribbons.

“We cooked with murnong the other day in a recipe we hadn’t tried before and it was sensational,” Pascoe says. “Water ribbon tubers are absolutely delicious. We found a plant, we still don’t know what it is, which came back after the fires, a lovely little onion type thing, absolutely sensational.

“There’s nothing new about it at all, but we ignored it. We turned our back on anything of Aboriginal provenance, such was our sensitivity to the history of the country.

“It’s time to embrace the history of the country, and with that we will be able to embrace its food.”
source

Bit too focused on Pascoe rather than the actual news about the grain as far as I'm concerned, but a tremendously exciting development. The resurgence of traditional foodcrops adapted to the climate, especially in the hands of traditional owners and custodians, is a really promising move in terms of both restoring food sovereignty and helping adapt Australian agriculture to the land so that it stops actively destroying the country. Also, just as a food lover, more flavour possibilities is always a good thing.

I'll try and write something up tomorrow on decolonizing foodways and agriculture, because it's generally something people are vaguely aware of but don't know what it actually looks like or the devastating ways non-native foodstuffs tend to absolutely fuck up the local ecosystems and the adapted diets of local peoples when introduced. There's a tremendously good study of the lost opportunities in the African context in the freely-available 'Lost Crops of Africa' series, which looks at staples and mainstays that were ignored, and continue to be ignored, by Western models of agriculture (including grants from the IMF and development organizations that insist on the use of introduced crops from Europe and North America), and while the individual events, crops, and such differ from place to place, the general failure to adapt and the loss of adapted, often very tasty crops and foodstuffs that resulted is a huge loss for humanity in general and for their traditional owners and custodians in particular.
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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by Darth Yan » 2020-05-13 02:05pm

Ziggy Stardust wrote:
2020-05-12 10:09am
Darth Yan wrote:
2020-05-11 05:05am
In essence putting noble ideas into practice is a lot harder and while humans do have a noble side they also have enough assholes to fuck everything up for the rest of us.
I've never really understood this general line of argument, though it's used all the time. It's logically incoherent.

Yes, in general you can expect that there will always be assholes whose goal is to take advantage of other people for their own benefit, to the perversion of any nominal ideas that asshole uses as justification.

But if you really think that's such a problem, why would you want to live under a system that either actively or at best tactily encourages and incentivizes said asshole behavior? Wouldn't it be better if the sticks-and-carrots of society were at least aligned in such a way as to TRY and discourage asshole behavior, instead of just a collective shrug of the shoulders and a "boys will be boys" attitude? Either you think it's a problem and want to try to fix it, or you don't think it's a problem so you can't use it as a critique.

For example, if you think that human greed is an insurmountable problem that has led to the downfall of previous attempts at communism (which is a sincere argument that many people make), it makes no sense to offer capitalism as the solution, since the entire point of capitalism is to actively encourage greed as a goal unto itself. If you think that greed is the problem, it's incoherent to think the capitalist status-quo is okay, though of course you can disagree over the precise non-capitalist solution. But if you don't think greed is a problem, that defeats your entire argument about noble ideas being perverted in the first place, which means that examples like the USSR need to be treated within their nuanced historical context, which means we can't throw communism (or socialist, or anarchist, or whatever) ideas out the window entirely, either.

The same basic logic applies to the argument against de-colonization. If you think it is an inevitable outcome of human nature that the parties in a society with the greatest accumulation of power are going to abuse that power, then why do you think the solution is the current system, which has literally and explicitly codified this accumulation and abuse? It's difficult to answer that question without it coming down to you just happening to be on the side that benefits from the abuse and don't want that to change.
Communism's problems boil down to greed and the fact that centrally controlled economies don't account for how unpredictable human wants and needs are. But that's besides the point. And yes you should try to discourage the behavior. That's why I'm fine with socialist elements being included into the mix to mitigate the worst excesses.

Decolonization is also a tricky one. Yes change needs to happen but ideas like dismembering an entire country are both extreme and sometimes ignore that even among the indigenous there are a variety of opinions (many native americans happily assimilated into the US for instance). You have to be careful and thoughtful in how you do it.

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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by Zwinmar » 2020-05-13 03:46pm

Correct me if I am wrong, but from what I am seeing the idea of Decolonization has a major flaw in that it doesn't address people born and raised in the area who's ancestors were the Colonial occupiers. At what point should they be considered native to the land? Many do not have ties to the old home country.

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Re: Indigenous affairs and Settler-Colonial Decolonization News Megathread

Post by loomer » 2020-05-14 12:21am

Zwinmar wrote:
2020-05-13 03:46pm
Correct me if I am wrong, but from what I am seeing the idea of Decolonization has a major flaw in that it doesn't address people born and raised in the area who's ancestors were the Colonial occupiers. At what point should they be considered native to the land? Many do not have ties to the old home country.
I'm really not sure how you've come to this conclusion, but I suspect it stems from your confusion around when people become Indigenous. Bluntly - if you're a settler (or other non-Indigenous part of the triad), you don't so long as it's a settler-colonial state. Indigeneity is not just a factor of time.

If we took an alternative view, we would have to consider a whole lot of people who aren't meaningfully Indigenous in any sense (literally any - no language, cultural, familial, or social ties to the pre-colonization peoples of the country they live on) to be, diluting the utility of the term in representing a set of peoples whose existence the state is by necessity hostile to, whose lands were unlawfully seized, and who were and are subject to both historic and ongoing colonial projects of erasure and genocide.

Settlers only cease to be settlers when the settler-colonial project ceases. At that point, we can speak of 'nativity' for Settler persons, because at that point their claim to residency isn't based on erasure and genocide but to naturalization and integration on fair terms. Until that point, settlers are settlers - and the irony of this is that this is not coming from the Indigenous side of things, but the Settler side, because the logic of elimination involved in settler-colonialism requires that the Settler always be held apart from the Native until there are no Indigenous peoples left. Further, connection to the home country is irrelevant. It's part of what makes settler-colonialism unique: The occupying country is the same country it occupies.

I'm going to guess you've raised it because you have a follow up question of 'how do you deport people who only have <Australia/etc> as their homeland and no ties elsewhere?' Am I mistaken?
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