Working Draft of Occupy Portland Statement of Indigenous Solidarity

(Note: This statement will be read to the G.A. on Saturday, Nov 26th for approval, please comment below to further workshop it before then.)

Artist: Tania Willard (redwillowdesigns.ca)

Occupy Portland recognizes that the land now referred to as the Willamette Valley is already occupied. It was stolen from the people who speak the many dialects of the Molallan, the Kalapuyan and the Chinookan languages. This is their land.

Before colonization the people were integrated into the ecology, gently pulling abundance from the rivers and trees and reaping nourishment from the soil of the floodplains. Trade networks extended from as far away as the big lakes we call Superior and Michigan and the deserts the Spanish called Mojave and Sonora, converging in this place as a flourishing, diverse and wealthy economy whose health was measured by the entire community. Everyone was cared for and there were no banks, foreclosures or evictions.

Occupy Portland recognizes that our economic woes are a result of the displacement and destruction of integrative cultures across the world. In North America it started with Columbus’ invasion of Arawak land more than five hundred years ago. This invasion has never been something to celebrate. It is a genocide against many peoples and the biodiversity of the landbase that sustains us all, and it continues to this day.

The United States has become the wealthiest nation in the world through practice of the extractive and predatory mindset known as “Manifest Destiny”: the belief that settlers are entitled to all land and resources by God’s decree. This mindset continues as the US further exploits lands and peoples around the world. We recognize that indigenous peoples still provide the Earth’s first line of defense, and many have been criminalized and imprisoned for their efforts.

Occupy Portland recognizes that the injustice of colonization — whether by militarism, settlerism, statism or corporatism — is a wrong that must ultimately be righted. We know that to do this, we must stand in solidarity with these struggles: not only with the people whose land we now stand on, but with struggles of all indigenous cultures around the world.

In 2007, one hundred and forty-four nations signed onto the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Four countries voted against it: The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is time to stop the destruction of indigenous peoples and cultures by these governments. It is time to hold our governments accountable for repairing all damages done to the original people. We, Occupy Portland, demand that the US government sign this document and act on it in order to begin addressing the crimes that the US has perpetuated since its inception.

http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf

  16 comments for “Working Draft of Occupy Portland Statement of Indigenous Solidarity

  1. runner
    November 25, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    I think that the people who should sign this are the Occupyers. It is ambitious to entertain the thought that the government would sign or even acknowledge this. The Occupy movement is made up of a patriarchal, white supremacist settler mentality. Occupy Portland needs to call out and fix their own shit before demanding this of the government. Really, this statement should be removed.

    “Occupy Portland recognizes that the land now referred to as the Willamette Valley is already occupied. It was stolen from the people who speak the many dialects of the Molallan, the Kalapuyan and the Chinookan languages. This is their land…”

    WHO in occupy Portland recognizes this?? Where are they? If this is so, why then has it not reached the public, or more specifically any Portland Natives? And who are the Natives in Occupy Portland who have sign on to or helped write this?

    Back to the drawing board, not even a good start, really…

    • Nate
      November 25, 2011 at 3:15 PM

      “The Occupy movement is made up of a patriarchal, white supremacist settler mentality. Occupy Portland needs to call out and fix their own shit before demanding this of the government.”

      Is not bringing this statement to the GA for consensus, as is stated at the top of the post, a good step in that direction?

    • walker
      November 25, 2011 at 3:18 PM

      Good points. Can you come to the GA and express them?

    • illona
      November 27, 2011 at 12:27 PM

      Ahh, after a little more research, it appears that the US and Canada finally did sign it in 2010. Which means this is going back to the drawing board. I’ll be back in town after Dec. 20th and plan on reapproaching GA then, hopefully after having a few discussions with local Indigenous folks about what they feel should be in the document in terms of action items.

  2. Occupier Davis
    November 25, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Yes, reading this to the GA is the correct step. As a Native American whose family was mercilessly herded across the US by murderous forces intent on genocide, it’s about time. The Countries that refused to sign are some of the worst offenders.
    I support this whole heartedly.

  3. runner
    November 25, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Great sentiment, Davis. I am also Native, and again I have to say; The government wipes it’s ass with (y)our demands. Sorry to be so explicit. Who in their right minds actually thinks that the feds are going to sign this or anything from us?

    Walker “Can you come to the GA and express them?” Right. In pouring rain. To a hundred people who I don’t know. And who don’t know me. Seasoned organizers would have met privately with Indigenous folks in your coalition. Except that you don’t have representative Indigenous folks in your movement. You don’t even have a coalition formed. Why is this?

  4. Occupier Davis
    November 25, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    So your reasoning is because it’s uncomfortable and has a chance of failure we shouldn’t ask? I do not agree. I am willing to be cold (or dress warmly) and wet (or bring an umbrella) and be with strangers who are only strangers until I introduce myself. Yes we have representative Indigenous folks, such as myself. No one meets privately with anyone, as we are a horizontal and transparent movement of Leaders.

  5. walker
    November 25, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Just to be clear, here, what we’re demanding, and what we hope other General Assemblies will demand in tandem with us, is the the U.S. sign onto the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, not this particular document. That would be ambitious :p But if it becomes a central part of the ethos of this movement, it opens the doors to the conversations that you draw attention to. And in my opinion too, they NEED to happen, and yesterday.

    Would this not be a good way to show some fundamental solidarity with indigenous groups, and the empowerment need to try to foster alliances and affinities with local reservations, Native individuals and advocacy groups?

  6. Peter
    November 25, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    I read through the UN declaration document linked above and can clearly understand why the United States Congress would not, under any circumstances, sign such a document. For example, I refer you just to Articles 19, 26, 28, 46, among others, which would essentially hand back the entirety of U.S. land and resources to the control of the indigenous populations, and require indigenous approval before any use of the land or resources occurs. That just isn’t going to happen.

    Showing fundamental empathy with indigenous people’s history seems like a worthy goal. But having the above demand submitted to the GA on Saturday seems like an enormous waste of time. Why focus your efforts on things that simply aren’t going to happen? It’s like saying that the air we breath is polluted and dangerous to health and therefore submit a resolution to demand that the residents of the planet stop breathing it.

    There are far more pressing matters that affect the abject survival of every human (and other species) on the planet, including indigenous people. Why can’t you work on some of those?

  7. bullet
    November 26, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    This is great, a wonderful start. From where it’s at now it sounds like the overall goal of this statement is to get the US to sign the document. Yeah, sure, the US should sign the document. But even if it does, there will still be a great lack of solidarity with indigenous people, there will still be racism and essentialism amongst us all. There will still be a hoard of issues within the white-dominated Occupy movement regarding this. I think this statement needs more emphasis on what indigenous solidarity is, with or without the help of the UN document.

  8. Jolene
    November 26, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    I believe everyone has made really good points but (there is always a but) I feel this step is a bit early. I believe Occupy PDX has to make more pressing statements that parallel Occupy Wall Street. Where’s a statement to end corporate personhood? To get $ out of politics? Bank reform? I don’t think this is the right time for this – for now. Will be curious to see what the GA does with this.

  9. November 26, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Great start.. What I would focus on is a positive goal that is also a long term vision that everyone can move towards…

    How about asking the question; what is good for seven future generations, before any law is passed, as was done in the American Indian Congress that settlers copied? This question could be made into law.

    Most laws are not even read anymore by the people voting on them. ALEC writes laws favorable to corporations, and against the people, with no one watching or caring. This practice should also be abolished, and laws should be written in so that anyone reading them, can understand them. All laws can be posted for seven days online so that the public can weigh in and offer wording changes.

    How about banning of any laws created or lobbied for by corporations (via ALEC) as a part of returning this country to the people?

    These items, plus taxpayer funded elections (no more donations from anyone) and banning ALL lobbyists except for average citizens, will offer a solution to the problems posed so eloquently in the draft above.

    If we do not make these changes first, nothing else will matter.

  10. Stuart Copeland
    November 26, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    Sorry, but I was not here when these crimes took place. Most of those affected are gone now, so who are we making up to? If anyone deserves compensation it is me, the Irish boy, whose immigrant relatives were treated harshly by Protestant America. Just like me. anyone who is unhappy with the past is always free to leave the United States at this time.

  11. rob
    November 27, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Drawn in by Silverman’s Occupy Earth piece, and completely driven away by this silly waste of time. Not that it is not a worthy cause, just a ridiculous time to bring it up. Laughable.

    • illona
      November 27, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      Rob – I’m constantly recognizing that focusing on issues instead of the bigger picture of this movement is draining resources and energy that we could be using to focus on that bigger picture. For me, the first step to working on that bigger picture is to recognize our place in the world. Be it from white settler background or Native background, there is much to heal before we push forward in building a better society. I’m hoping this document helps open up a dialogue that will continue between Occupiers and those whose lands have been occupied for too long.

      And to quiet those voices who can only imagine a black and white world where white settlers either continue living in the fashion they live now or else are told by Native folk to “go back to Europe” , there are a realm of possibilities that exist between those two extremes. We must begin a conversation to understand what will work for all.

      • rob
        November 28, 2011 at 9:45 AM

        Illona-
        Sorry…this completely lost me. The perception I have of Occupy Portland is something along the lines of the movie PCU (Jeremy Piven). This “pressing” matter reinforced that notion. There are so many issues that need to be resolved yesterday…this one is not high on the list in my opinion. Ridiculous comes to mind actually.

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