The Drumming of Rebellion: Idle No More and Beyond

Native protesters in canada's Idle No More movement speak of responsabilities to mother earth, the spirit of the ancestors, the creator; a language which resonates poorly with a secular and atheistic left and is often celebrated hypocritically by this same left in public, in the name of some kind of anti-colonial, multiculturalism.  There is a great deal of blindness and opportunism in such gestures, which then extends to the reading and engagement with other elements of this movement.

The protest of native peoples in canada that began in November of 2012 against proposed government legislation that would restrict enshrined native rights, under the name of Idle No More, both inspires and disturbs.

The protests and occupations of public spaces, the blocking of streets and roads, the defense of native uses of lands and waters against State-Capital appropriation for intense resource extraction, position the movement potentially against Capitalism.  The defense of grass-roots organizational principles and the rejection of vertical leadership structures points to an anti-representational, even an anti-authoritarian, politics.  (Click here)

And yet one cannot but hesitate before the celebration of nationhood, sovereignty, political demands centered on the affirmation and defense of treaty rights, or the defense of something as modest and ambiguous as sustainable development. (See Idle No More Manifesto)

These contradictions reveal fragilities and tensions in the movement and in the aspirations of the communities of peoples it seeks to express.  Native groups in canada, and elsewhere, are not free of internal fissures and conflicts, even oppressions; conflicts which do not fail to show themselves within the movement and among natives outside it, especially among its chiefs and ruling groups. (Coop média de Montréal)

The native peoples of canada, and of the americas as a whole, have for over 500 years suffered the violence of Empire and Capitalism.  This history however has also been that of resistance and struggle, of which Idle No More is only one of many current examples.  Today, as in the past, from the Mapuche of chile, to the natives of Chiapas, from the Kaiapo of brazil to the many First Nations of canada, the indigenous peoples of the americas have never simply suffered their oppression; they have fought and rebelled against it, always.

The history and the expressions of protest of Idle No More, and the broader political context of the movement, open up possibilities for the emergence of a more radical opposition to the oppression, an opposition which can only be anticapitalist.

The left, whether in its' anarchist guise, or some other, can only embrace such possibilities, but never passively, blindly, or uncritically.  And this same left can never itself assume that it holds the truth that other movements must learn and assimilate.  It is for the left to also learn, to change, to continually become more than it is at any one moment.

 

For canadian Anarchist readings of Idle No More, see Anarchist News and Linchpin 

 

Video chronicles of Idle No More …

 

600px-Flag_of_the_American_Indian_Movement_svg.png

Idle No More inevitably calls to mind the rise of the American Indian Movement, founded in the late 1960s.  Passing over controversies around and within the movement, the history of its' struggle for native autonomy has often been and remains an extraordinary example of radical politics …

 

WHAT IS THE AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT?

Things will never be same again and that is what the American Indian Movement is about …

They are respected by many, hated by some, but they are never ignored …

They are the catalyst for Indian Sovereignty …

They intend to raise questions in the minds of all, questions that have gone to sleep in the minds of Indians and non-Indian alike …

From the outside, AIM people are tough people, they had to be …

AIM was born out of the dark violence of police brutality and voiceless despair of Indian people in the courts of Minneapolis, Minnesota …

AIM was born because a few knew that it was enough, enough to endure for themselves and all others like them who were people without power or rights …

AIM people have known the insides of jails; the long wait; the no appeal of the courts for Indians, because many of them were there …

From the inside AIM people are cleansing themselves; many have returned to the old traditional religions of their tribes, away from the confused notions of a society that has made them slaves of their own unguided lives …

AIM is first, a spiritual movement, a religious re-birth, and then the re-birth of dignity and pride in a people …

AIM succeeds because they have beliefs to act upon …

The American Indian Movement is attempting to connect the realities of the past with the promise of tomorrow …

They are people in a hurry, because they know that the dignity of a person can be snuffed by despair and a belt in a cell of a city jail …

They know that the deepest hopes of the old people could die with them …

They know that the Indian way is not tolerated in White America, because it is not acknowledged as a decent way to be …

Sovereignty, Land, and Culture cannot endure if a people is not left in peace …

The American Indian Movement is then, the Warriors Class of this century, who are bound to the bond of the Drum, who vote with their bodies instead of their mouths … THEIR BUSINESS IS HOPE.

 

Words and thoughts by Birgil Kills Straight,

Oglala Lakota Nation.

Author, Richard LaCourse, Director,

American Indian Press Association 1973

 

See also: American Indian Movement, Cleveland American Indian Movement,  American Indian Movement of Colorado

The following A.I.M documentary from the 1970s testifies to the inspiration for the movement and its' aims, and the extent to which so many of the issues confronted by the A.I.M. remain …

 

The film, Belo Monte Announcement of a War, is an excellent documentary about the struggle of native peoples of brazil against the State's effort to build a multiple hydroelectric dam project in the amazon basin …

 

 

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