Below is a short submission from Lakota ‘Black Elk’ Maroon, a youth militant on the struggle to #StopLine3. Critical of movement leadership, the text looks at how mutual aid and political education could be a counter to the culture of constant mobilization.
Even if this pipeline is completed, this is my home. Many seem to forget this fact, swearing there is no future if this pipeline is finished. Once again, the Native people are erased but now by fellow Indians who swear on our futures. I promise you my Nephews and Nieces will still call this land home and their Nieces and Nephews will do the same.
I would consider myself a Rebel and, in true Zapatista fashion, I wish to convince my comrades, oyankte, and opposition to stop fueling these Indian mascots and their rhetoric, which is individualistic in approach and stagnant in the peoples. I’ve seen many great peoples put their persons at risk, endangering their lives in front of Slave Catchers and Bounty Hunters, locking themselves down unable to fight. “Land Back” they chant, following their Indigenous leadership blindly. Many of whom are politicians, political advisors in “Native Affairs,” independent candidates and Democratic Congressional hopefuls. One whose words reach Vogue and New York Times yet doesn’t touch Panema or Cass Lake. No Native supports the pipeline but many are ambivalent to its creation, as if we are futureless already.
So you see this shortsighted take does not just forget the people but is doubling – down on the colonial, inherently necrophilic and abusive ways of creating “solidarity” and “camaraderie.” I’ve seen this abuse take shape in array of different forms. In one story I know of, a young person who, in a mistake/misunderstanding with one of these so-called leaders, was called a “retard.” In more than plenty of discourse I have seen those who sacrifice their safety in efforts to stop this pipeline considered as nothing but bodies. I’ve watched the approach of these non-profits amidst the chaos peoples are facing in their daily struggles. The Giniw Collective and Honor the Earth consistently “recruit” (majority white) youth into their bidding while simultaneously acting as the voice for Indigenous struggle. Red Lake on-reservation natives currently have the 2nd shortest life expectancy in the Western Hemisphere behind Haiti; please trust me when I say this pipeline is just one of many struggles. One which must be confronted; but it will not be confronted in totality by those whose careers depend on this conflict. If you wish to confront the Hydra of colonization, it will not be on their terms but rather on ours.
On 9/4/21, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Corey Bush, Ayanna Pressley and Mary Kunesh-Podein came to Camp Namewag at the invitation of Giniw Collective to stand in solidarity and to hear firsthand the voices of our water protectors and land defenders fighting to #StopLine3 pic.twitter.com/S0QT19MZsV
— Indigenous Environmental Network (@IENearth) September 7, 2021
I am not one just to complain neither, if these Native “activists” and their allies (hopefully soon to be accomplices) wish to take part in a revolutionary struggle, and legitimately stop extraction and colonization, they could allocate their resources into building community mutual aid and resources, such as schools, gardens, and daycares for those who are partaking in long-term struggle or live in the areas of these encampments. They should be looking to build local community and self-governance, not “supporters.”
Instead of these encampments hosting white foreigners who have no bidding in the living conditions for the native, it could be converted into more permanent structures for the houseless, abused women, or community child-rearing needs. Other encampments equipped to face the pipeline will be created and hidden by the people in part of the community. Leaving no Vanguard, no voice and no “political” leader in between the people and their struggle. In truth, it is the radical’s responsibility to divest the resources misallocated to the community and put wedges in-between the so-called leaders and the people daring to struggle.
– Lakota ‘Black Elk’ Maroon
Photo credit: @GiniwCollective on Twitter