Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network
What can you share from what's happening now, particularly in Standing Rock? How do we think about the need to mobilize from the ground up? Take us through your vision of where we go from here.
I think that understanding deep organizing and supporting the grassroots level and supporting the grassroots voices—not only uplifting what they're fighting against, but also uplifting what they're fighting for—I think that that's a critical dialogue that is always necessary in order for us to move ahead.
Right now, what we’re facing in North Dakota and the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is just a mere continuation of five hundred years of colonialism and white supremacy. That’s just point blank. The visuals that we are facing off against, this overtly militarized law enforcement who are dictating who has access to what on traditionally Native land is no different than what our ancestors faced off with over 150 years ago. It’s just painful to see that in the modern context.
With the recent election stuff… we are disappointed, yes, but surprised not in the least. I think that, as indigenous communities, we have a special relationship within the context of this hegemonic system, this colonial system. We’re not just ethnic minorities, but political entities unto ourselves, as tribal nations. For us, it’s a critical moment for us to exert our inherent sovereignty and our ability to self-determine the future of our communities. Also to connect that with other struggles from other communities that are basically in the same boat of self-determining for themselves, what happens to their water, their land, their bodies, their homes, their food, and really building it from that support base.
A lot of relatives, whether they’re in the middle of Detroit, or in Oakland, or out in the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona really look to the leadership of the indigenous land-based struggle as a solid foundation for moving ahead. No matter what we have to rethink our relationship, not only to each other, but at the very core of it, rethink our relationship to the land itself, and to Mother Earth. As long as we keep to this conversation about how we are trying to heal the relationship between our communities or our relationship to our oppressor without having a conversation about how we’re healing our relationship to the land itself, to the water, then we're ultimately going to fail.
I think that it’s all a critical part of the holistic approach to bringing healing to each and every one of us.