[News] Indigenizing 'Occupy Wall Street'

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 12 11:00:16 EDT 2011

Indigenizing 'Occupy Wall Street'

Up to now, the Occupy Wall Street movement has 
been a mostly white and a mostly middle-class affair.


Taking a glance at the Occupy Wall Street 
movement and its many offshoots across the United 
States, many observers asked, “Where are the 
American Indians of the reservations, the Blacks 
of the ghettos, the Chicanos and other Hispanics 
of the barrios, the homeless of all races, and the undocumented immigrants?”

And the answer was, “For the most part, they are 
not to be found in the Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoots.”

This fact illustrated the limited nature of the movement.

But perhaps the times are changing.

On October 8, the Occupy Denver General Assembly 
unanimously endorsed an initiative by the 
American Indian Movement of Colorado on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Afterwards, some members of the Occupy Denver 
movement said the Occupy Denver General Assembly 
is a self-appointed group that does not speak for the entire movement.

However, the fact that at least some members of 
Occupy Denver did endorse the AIM Colorado initiative is an encouraging sign.

It was reported that Occupy Boston also approved 
a similar but much less detailed and less 
specific proposal on the rights of indigenous peoples earlier on the same day.

Occupy Denver and Occupy Boston agreed to the 
proposals on the eve of Indigenous People's Day, which was observed on Monday.

Progressives in the United States are opposed to 
the official holiday called Columbus Day and 
celebrate Indigenous People's Day on that date.

Following are a few excerpts from the text of the 
American Indian Movement of Colorado initiative, 
which is entitled “An Indigenous Platform Proposal for Occupy Denver”:

“As indigenous peoples, we welcome the awakening 
of those who are relatively new to our homeland. 
We are thankful, and rejoice, for the emergence 
of a movement that is mindful of its place in the 
environment, that seeks economic and social 
justice, that strives for an end to oppression in 
all its forms, that demands an adequate standard 
of food, employment, shelter and health care for 
all, and that calls for envisioning a new, 
respectful and honorable society. We have been 
waiting for 519 years for such a movement, ever 
since that fateful day in October 1492 when a 
different worldview arrived -- one of greed, 
hierarchy, destruction and genocide.”

“In observing the 'Occupy Together' expansion, we 
are reminded that the territories of our 
indigenous nations have been 'under occupation' 
for decades, if not centuries. We remind the 
occupants of this encampment in Denver that they 
are on the territories of the Cheyenne, Arapaho 
and Ute peoples. In the US, indigenous nations 
were the first targets of corporate/government oppression.”

“If this movement is serious about confronting 
the foundational assumptions of the current US 
system, then it must begin by addressing the 
original crimes of the US colonizing system 
against indigenous nations. Without addressing 
justice for indigenous peoples, there can never 
be a genuine movement for justice and equality in the United States.”

Elsewhere in their proposal, AIM Colorado asked 
Occupy Denver “to repudiate the Doctrine of 
Christian Discovery
 to endorse the right of all 
indigenous peoples to the international right of 
 to acknowledge that 
indigenous peoples have the right to practice and 
teach their spiritual and religious traditions, 
customs and ceremonies
 and to have access in 
privacy to their religious and cultural sites
recognize that indigenous peoples and nations are 
entitled to the permanent control and enjoyment 
of their aboriginal-ancestral territories
to assert that indigenous peoples have the right 
to maintain, control, protect and develop their 
cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and 
traditional cultural expressions.”

AIM Colorado also asked Occupy Denver “to 
recognize that the settler state boundaries in 
the Americas are colonial fabrications that 
should not limit or restrict the ability of 
indigenous peoples to travel freely, without 
inhibition or restriction, throughout the 
Americas” and “to demand the immediate release of 
American Indian political prisoner, Leonard 
Peltier, US Prisoner #89637-132, from US federal custody.”

Those are tall orders.

Will the members of the Occupy Wall Street 
movement and its many offshoots agree to all of 
this, join forces with the indigenous peoples of 
the Americas, embrace indigenous perspectives, 
and transform their movement into an Occupy Together movement?

Some of them are ready to do so already. However, 
it will probably be very difficult for most of them.

Very many of them do not have a one-world 
mindset, and it will not be easy for them to adopt such a worldview.

Many of them grew up in a racist environment or 
went to schools that used biased curriculums.

They are not familiar with Native American 
history and the indigenous narrative.

To understand the indigenous perspective, they 
will have to elevate their consciousness and will 
have to unlearn some of the things that were 
“taught” to them in the Western education system.

If they can do all that, an Occupy Together 
movement can be created in the United States, and 
they could even join forces with like-minded 
people in similar movements in other parts of the world.

And if that happens, perhaps it will be the 
beginning of the long-awaited global paradigm shift.


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