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Protect The Sacred: Young Native Organizer Speaks Out About Tar Sands, Line 9, Environmental Racism & Colonialism


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Our friend, a young Onondawaga Haudenosaunee woman, has written a personal message to Tar Sands Blockaders, our followers, and all defenders of the earth and life within it followed by a new piece that she wrote, “Protect The Sacred”. Those of us who are settlers and working to be indigenous allies must follow the lead of our native friends who have been fighting industrialization and colonization for over 500 years. We are honored to share her message with you and encourage you to listen closely to what she has to tell us.

“I wrote this piece to situate the fight against Line 9 and the fight against the Tar Sands within a larger, more important struggle – the fight to reclaim our humanity. Colonization seeks to rob us of our connection to the earth, and as a young Onondawaga Haudenosaunee woman I understand that the struggle for earth liberation is a one in the same as our onkwehon:we struggle towards sovereignty. My path of decolonization is one that seeks to reclaim my sacred sites, my language, my lifeways. However our struggle is not emergent – and it will take many hands many generations to dismantle the colonial-capitalist constructs. It is for this reason that I urge all ecodefenders to reflect critically on the dominant culture, their position and role within settler colonialism and all institutions of power, to understand the histories of colonization and systemic disposession, to actualize a decolonized notion of biocentrism and to rise up to the challenge of the anti-colonial struggle. Not until we all are free…. for total liberation!”

//al

a young onkwehon:we

Cross posted from  No Line 9 Reversal

Protect The Sacred

Why oppose resource extraction? What do the Tar Sands mean for life on Earth? What is the interest rate of fresh water? How do we calculate the market value of the life of our grand-children?

Inter-generational Responsibility, Healing, and Biocentrism – Overcoming the Crisis of Colonial-Capitalism

The impact of a hundred-thousand photographs of burst pipelines – ruptures of thick, toxic, black liquid seeping deep into the heart of our Earth Mother – is insufficient. We can not actualize the immensity of the destruction of entire ecosystems. We have become disconnected, lost, isolated and distracted. Today, we live in a social order that seeks to satiate us immediately – we are overrun and bombarded with stimuli. Popular culture, media, advertisements, socially constructed and enforced norms tell us how to look, how to think, how to act, how to eat. The myth of choice in a so-called free market economy has been made into a dark satire as multi-national corporations move towards monopolies, their CEO salaries a more important priority for so-called democracies than their citizens basic needs. In the Western world, we are told to buy now and pay later. But what if we have miscalculated the price?

The project of the Tar Sands is a frightening grasp to maintain a fleeting system. Market crashes, big bank bail outs, and the fear of “peak oil” have lead the rationale behind the devastating Tar Sands – a project of resource extraction so huge it can be seen from space. But doesn’t this beg the question – how did we get here? How did we end up in this position? And more frighteningly, what will this truly cost?

kkkanada is a settler-colonial nation. It’s establishment as a nation-state was part of a larger project of Imperialism originating from European powers. kkkanada and amerikkka are built on lands and resources that are stolen from Indigenous peoples. There is a long and ongoing history of colonization here in so-called ‘North America’, Turtle Island. This ongoing project of colonization helps to inform terms like “environmental racism” – wherein Indigenous and racialized peoples’ communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental contamination, disasters and devastation. In this capitalist system, in this colonial system, there is a disparity between who holds power in society and who does not. Who is privileged by a system of power – like White supremacy, ciscentrism, ableism, classism, ageism, heteronormativity – and those who are at the expense of that power, those who are oppressed, repressed and dispossessed by these social orders.  This is the social and cultural context that we find ourselves in, and the starting point of understanding the impacts of the Tar Sands as a project of resource extraction.

As part of the process of colonization, there is a deep cultural shift in how we relate with the natural world. It is a shift which rips our familial relationship with Mother Earth away and estranges us, separates us from the beautiful and complex bio-diverse ecologies of which we are apart. This inherently colonial process of other-ing nature from humanity gives way to replace that which was once familial, family, with bonds based on market value. It seeks to replace our connection to our Earth Mother, to all Life Sustainers of the natural world, to one based in commodification, monetary-exchange and a cold, sterile, market economy. This cultural shift is the diminishing and loss of our connection with water, with food, with the earth, and is made into something that is external and not connected to us. This removal of humanity from the natural world carves out a space wherein capitalist measures of value can be asserted.

The framework of colonialism which allows for the commodification of the sacred, that opens up the possibility for capitalism to emerge as a dominant framework of exchange, is the vary mechanism that allows for Mother Earth to be looked upon as “resources” to be “extracted”. The commodification of the sacred is a violent tactic of colonization that seeks to erase our connection with nature, this in part can be seen by the binary that we understand as domesticated vs. wild, civilized vs. savage, wherein that which is “natural” must be seen as separate or lesser than that which is “human” (or assimilated into human “civilization”). This worldview ensures that environmental degradation is endemic through it’s quantification of “value”, is unable to account for the interconnected relationships that are inescapable realities, and asserts an abusive dynamic between humanity and the natural world. Institutions of so-called “civilization” seek to dominate and exploit the natural world by mobilizing reductive measures of value based in industrialization and consumption. This worldview creates a schism which separates us from Mother Earth, creating the illusion that we are not a part of the greater interconnected life-systems and pollutes our relations so deeply that we are able to harvest for “resources”. However, despite the struggles and failures of humanity as a social organism, the natural world has stayed true to the covenant that we share in life. The sun continues to shine upon us and all life, water continues to nourish us, the soil and earth continue to nurture all of Creation, plants and animals continue to give of themselves to us so that we can survive – we must acknowledge these contributions that necessitate our survival, and understand that we must now take up our responsibilities for a relationship with the natural world that is based in mutual aid and respect.

As human beings, we are fundamentally and inescapably tied to the natural world. We have a responsibility to heal our relations with all Life Sustainers, eachother, and ourselves. Our responsibilities as living creatures require us to consider the impacts of those generations coming in behind us, who will inherit what we leave here for them. We have a responsibility to identify and dismantle the abuses of power that remove us from our Earth Mother, and create an absence of the sacred in our daily lives. A cultural and social shift towards biocentrism – the centering of Life – is necessary if we are not only to survive as an organism, but if we hope never to repeat the mistakes that forgetting where we come from has brought us. Part of this process is one of healing. Our struggle is inter-generational; it is tangible, material, literal, it is emotional, spiritual, cultural. Our struggle is cross borders, cross oceans and cross mountain ranges. We must understand power and how it plays out in our society and our social relationships. The devastating impacts of resource extraction on the human and non-human communities that are forced to co-habitat with these entities of colonial-capitalism, are ones that we are responsible to. We are responsible to the water, to the soil, to all that which nourishes us – and we are responsible to the histories of the territories which we occupy, and the social paradigms of extraction and consumption which continue to harm us all. We must take up our responsibilities. We must protect the sacred.

Stop the Line 9 Reversal

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//al
a young onkwehon:we

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/protectthesacred/