The Mohawk people at “Douglas Creek Estates” are reclaiming their land, not mine. Indigenous culture is not my culture. Their struggle is their struggle, and they will take the lead and set their terms and define their own strategies. This is just normal.
Nevertheless, as must be obvious from the past weeks on this blog, i am not neutral or disinterested about what happens in Caledonia. I see the Mohawk struggle as an inspiring front in the war for a better world. While thousands of settlers may have rallied against the Mohawks in Caledonia last night, there is no genetic rule which forces non-natives to take such a bigoted stand. It’s a choice.
What follows is an explanation for why i think even settlers should choose to support the Mohawk reclamation.
Canada is a parasitic society. It is a nation built on other people’s land, with labour stolen from workers here and around the world. Those who identify as proud Canadian citizens are really identifying as proud parasites. And parasitism is like a drug – it is both mind-altering and addictive. It can leave you unable to see the truth when it’s staring you in the face, or have you seeing things that aren’t even there.
Let’s look at the forms these delusions can take.
Take a look at the Hennings, the two brothers generally described as upstanding citizens and pillars of their community. They’re the ones who sunk their money into a housing development on Mohawk land, and who are now facing bankruptcy. Don Henning was quoted as follows: “I didn’t sign up for this, I’m afraid. I guess I haven’t got much choice to try to continue doing what I can.”
Or then there is the unnamed Caledonia resident who spoke to the media, explaining that “I’m not against native rights, but what about my right to go about my life, and drive down the road without getting turned back at a roadblock?”
The way in which parasitism makes some people lose touch with reality, or flip it around in a guilty-conscience induced projection, was most clear when that sorry white woman was shown on tv worrying about how far the natives might go. “Are they going to try and take your land? That’s the big issue,” she said.
Geez… maybe they’re going to put white folks in reservations and steal their kids away in residential schools? You think?
This “forgetting who you are”, this loss of any sense of reality, was also present during last night’s rally in Caledonia, where settlers shouted “Go home!” to the Mohawks on the other side of the police line.
As these examples show, being the citizen of a parasitic society sometimes means becoming oblivious to irony itself. Not surprising as “Irony involves the perception that things are not what they are said to be or what they seem.” (wikipedia)
How can a delusional person be trusted to recognize such a thing?
The delusions and psychoses these people are suffering from are all caused by Canada and colonialism. Being citizens of a parasitic society creates distorted expectations about what a “normal” society looks like, and creates unrealistic expectations about the nature of that power and privilege and wealth and safety which every settler is taught can be theirs.
If we are ever to free ourselves from these delusions, Canadians must be taught certain hard truths. But instead we are lied to – and more often than not we lie to ourselves, for being addicted to parasitism makes a person scared to learn what’s real.
Canadians are not taught that we live on land which is still owned by First Nations. Canadians are not told that our society’s wealth – stored in its infrastructure, institutions and land – was just recently stolen from other nations. (Is still being stolen, even as i write these words!)
Most importantly, Canadians are not taught that colonialism did not “win” and the indigenous nations did not “lose”… how can we talk in such final terms when the war is not over and people are still resisting the colonial monster in communities across this continent and around the world?
Watching tv yesterday i thought Caledonia was beginning to look like Chateauguay did back during the Oka crisis. Back in 1990 white folk in that Montreal suburb were inconvenienced by the Mohawk barricades on the Mercier bridge, so they responded as settlers so often do: with race riots and attacks on any Mohawk (or suspected Mohawk!) they could find.
The truth is, though, that the people of Caledonia (like those of Chateauguay) are no more racist than settlers across Canada. Like those Israelis who think the Middle East belongs to them, like those Afrikaaners who still insist they arrived in South Africa at the same time as Black Africans, most Canadians believe the land belongs to “us” now.
“Whatever bad stuff might have happened to the Indians happened centuries ago, and how can we be blamed for that?” So goes the reasoning of the delusional.
This ignorance, this fantasy belief that imperialism “won” and the game is over now, is fostered by all sectors of settler society. It is a mechanism whereby anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism are relegated to the dustbin of history and resistance becomes as pathetic as beating a dead horse in the blinkered view of the oppressor society.
So let’s be clear, both to the Hennings and to the “good volk” of Caledonia, and to our neighbours and to ourselves – because, as the Native Youth Movement reminds us, this land is all Indian Land – so let’s be clear: colonialism is war, and the war is not over. The Canadian and American States both exist on other people’s land, and looking to the government to guarantee that your home, your neighbourhood, your community be “protected” from First Nations peoples makes you complicit with the whole kit and caboodle, right back to those infected blankets and the residential rape schools. So you see, Mr Henning, when you turned to the colonial State to protect your business investment, when you demanded that the police attack the Clan Mothers’ reclamation, that’s when you “signed up” for this…
Choosing To Break With Our History
So what’s the way forward? What’s the solution?
There is news both bad and good.
The bad news (at least so far as those who cling to their delusions are concerned) is that Canada does not hold title to this land. Regardless of where you live, there’s no guarantee you won’t some day be faced with a conflict at your doorstep, barricades and angry people and cops and tough choices to make. Because those maps you studied in school lie and you can’t rely on the colonial State to tell you the truth about who owns what. It would be like asking Chretien who was guilty in the sponsorship scandal, or asking Bush who was to blame for Abu Ghraib.
And the good news? Well, the good news is really great. The good news is that we don’t have to side with Canada. You see, the indigenous nations are nations not bigoted constructs like the European “races”. Time after time the First Nations have welcomed allies from the settler society who were willing to struggle against the colonial monster.
This open-mindedness, this non-racist approach to anti-colonialism, is particularly obvious in the current standoff. While the people of Caledonia have held demonstrations where they have talked about “killing Indians” and bringing in the army the people at the reclamation site have time after time expressed their concern for the people of Caledonia and their view that they are fighting against the Canadian State, not against their neighbours who may claim Canadian citizenship. They even put themselves at risk to allow settlers to go to their church services on Sunday!
(Indeed, these constant displays of goodwill coming from the Mohawk side make the deranged hostility of some settlers all the more disgusting to see…)
So my advice to my fellow settlers is to disconnect your identity from Canada. The Mohawk Nation is not asking you to “go back to Europe” (or wherever you came from), nobody is arguing that you should become second class citizens, so you should just calm down and take a deep breath. This is a serious situation, incredible injustices have been done, genocide on an unparalleled scale, but you don’t have to remain complicit. You have a choice.
And if you make that choice, if you see the justice of the First Nations’ struggle and if you see that it is not a threat to you… well, you may notice some other things too.
You may notice that the system Canada is a part of – global capitalism – is not a particularly great way for people to live. It gives us war and superstition, and with every passing year it brings humanity to new lows. It gives us a woman-hating culture, with rape as the fastest growing form of male entertainment. It gives us global warming and skyrocketing cancer rates and news that we’re about to experience a species die-off of geological/historical proportions. It gives constant insecurity and (for the lucky middle classes) lives defined by mind-numbing work and even more mind-numbing shopping… and for the rest of the planet it gives lives of back-breaking labour and an existence just a step away from starvation and homelessness and watching your kids die of easily preventable illnesses.
Haven’t you noticed that this is what capitalism gives? It’s written clearly enough even in the lying daily news…
What we can see at the Six Nations land reclamation is people keeping alive a struggle for their sovereignty, for a renewal of their better way of life that existed before colonialism swept this land, and has never been extinguished. The First Nations have survived centuries of genocide inflicted upon them by euro-capitalism – their resistance struggle is only threatening to those who identify with this death-system.
For those of us who dream of a better world, their struggle serves as an inspiration, a glimmer of hope and a reminder that all is not lost. Far from it.
So take the plunge. Say goodbye to your illusions, to your addiction to colonialism and genocide. Life can be better than this.
Categories: canada, colonialism, first-nations, protest, racism, revolution