Settlers on the Red Road

from It's Going Down

Settlers on the Red Road: A Conversation on Indigeneity, Belonging, and Responsibility

The start of a discussion around indigeneity and identity within the anarchist movement.

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By Tawinikay

This zine is not going to be comfortable for some people to read. It is likely to personally challenge a few of you out there who may yourself be dipping a toe in the pond of indigeneity, trying it out to see how it feels. This zine is not going to beat around the bush, because the bush has been thoroughly beaten around.

This is the start of a larger discussion on indigeneity, belonging, and responsibility in our anarchist community. But there is something here for everyone, even if you don’t call yourself an anarchist. At the time of it’s writing, it is already long overdue. In the past two years in southern Ontario, there have been multiple incidents of settlers claiming indigeneity within our intersecting anarchist circles, incidents which caused great harm to relationship and undermined solidarity with Indigenous communities. In Quebec, the rise of the “Eastern Métis” threatens to bleed over into radical spaces. In this era of state-sponsored reconciliation, the line between settlers and Indians is being purposefully blurred by Canada in an attempt to gently complete the assimilation initiated long ago and, try as anarchists might to keep ourselves separate, the dominant culture has a way of creeping in.

This is not a defense of identity. In fact, it will be a critique of identity in many ways, particularly of the way we drape identities over ourselves to give us a purpose for fighting injustice. A rail against the culture of identity that breaks people into hard categories and fuels each of our dark indulgent desires to join the ranks of the oppressed instead of being satisfied to fight for the dignity of all living things from wherever we happen to stand. But it will also be a critique of individuals and their choices, and it will urge each one of you to think not only about your potential complicity in trying on indigeneity but in allowing your friends and comrades to do so as well.

Taking Scope of the Problem

I long for a world in which the difference between settler and Indigenous communities is one of custom and not of power. But we do not live in that world and all alive today are unlikely to see it. Our reality consists of a colonial occupying state, armed with extraordinary force, urging a reconcilatory way forward while it simultaneously invades the last shreds of semi-autonomous Indigenous territory within it’s borders at gunpoint. It is still important to distinguish between oppressed and oppressor; it is still important to know to who wields violence in self-defense.

It matters when settlers decide that a distant Indigenous ancestor, or a DNA test, or affinity, or a “feeling” makes them Indigenous. I argue that race-shifting is a vehicle ripe for manipulation and an incredible opportunity to erode the legitimacy of Indigenous claims to land and liberation. And it is important to understand that this IS happening. It is possible that within your circles, you will find at least one person who is actively developing the confidence to start claiming indigeneity, publicly or privately. And around that person you will find a circle of settlers who feel too uncomfortable to challenge their “Indigenous” friend about their race-shifting identity.

They have good reason to be afraid. It is possible that if they refuse to support their comrade in their indigeneity, they will be accused of using blood quantum to discredit their “Indigenous” friend, placing them in a long line of colonizers who have tried to erase Indians by simply claiming they no longer exist. And more likely, they won’t understand how to argue back that point because they don’t actually have a deep understanding of the concepts of blood quantum or kinship or indigeneity. This is a problem in an of itself. This is why I am writing this zine. Settlers generally, and anarchists specifically, need to be more comfortable talking about these things amongst themselves. In the absence of a competent shared knowledge, it is time and time again left up to Indigenous communities – mostly women and Two-Spirits – to process these conflicts as they arise and to educate the settlers around them.

We need to talk about what is happening. We need to develop our own critique against this Native homeopathy bullshit or risk losing the very real bonds of solidarity forged between anarchists and Indigenous resistors across Turtle Island over the last decades. This is not to say that anarchists have not fucked things up and lost relationships in other ways: by swooping in and ditching early, by not repping their own politics, by breathing way too much air, or simply not knowing much about the history of this land. They definitely have. But having to add “letting their friends play Indian” to that list feels like a real shame. Of all the settlers here on Turtle Island, anarchists have the most to offer Indigenous struggle and the closest shared vision of a decolonial future. I say this as both a Michif halfbreed and an anarchist.

Why They Do It: Settler Redemption Stories

Settlers claiming Indigenous identity is not a new thing. Nor is the critique of it, which has been written about by others before me. There are settlers with no blood lineage or connection to Indigenous communities who simply say they “feel Indigenous” psychically or metaphysically or some nonsense. There are settlers who feel like they have spent so much time in Indigenous communities that they “become” Indigenous or claim adoption into those communities (these are the Joseph Boydens of the world). There are those who claim a distant and unknown ancestor through DNA testing or shoddy genealogy work (the Elizabeth Warrens and Michelle Latimers). There are those with a family story about a Indigenous ancestor. So common is this phenomenon that there has long been a term for it: the Indian grandmother complex. And there are also those who have a bit more information about their family history. Maybe they have a known Indigenous ancestor three or four generations back, giving them the false confidence to assume the identity of that ancestor and centralize it in their life while deprioritizing their much more real and tangible connections to their settler community. There are even settlers who slowly take on the symbols of indigeneity, eventually arriving to a place where most people they meet simply assume they are Native and they choose not to correct them, coming to exist in a personal mythology around their pretend indianness. In the last year, I have come face-to-face with almost every one of these variations. These settlers are most often white people, though not always. Though each of these claims differ from the others, they exist in the same continuum of violence.

That continuum has been best defined in Eve Tuck & Yang’s pivotal text Decolonization is Not A Metaphor. I’m not going to expand on their points here, look it up. The important note to hit is that these actions by non-Natives all represent a “settler move to innocence”. I don’t believe that I am on the same page, politically, with Tuck & Yang, but the basic premise of their piece is something I accept.

For settlers actively engaged in struggle, who share a vision of the future that best aligns with Indigenous thought and runs counter to the settler ideologies of their parents, the idea that they can escape settlerism is very appealing. It feels uncomfortable to want to fight for the land and water where you live, while also having to acknowledge that it is not yours at all. The opportunity to stand on the frontlines with your native comrades, not as a supporter, but as an equal part of the resistance feels deeply affirming. And being a white settler in solidarity sometimes means humbling yourself, decentering your opinions, and holding the colonial rage of your Indigenous comrades with grace. This is difficult and often produces hard and complicated feelings for people. The opportunity to cast that responsibility aside provides a tempting relief from settlerism and whiteness. But –

By telling yourself that you are Indigenous, you are giving yourself the right to feel entitled to this land. You are letting yourself alleviate some of the guilt you carry for your family’s participation in colonization. By telling Indigenous people that you are Indigenous, you are relieving yourself of some of the accountability you have to them. By telling other settlers that you are Indigenous, you are relieving yourself of some of the work you share with them.

I also understand that indigeneity holds the promise of a spirituality lost to white settlers nearly a thousand years ago during some of the earliest rounds of colonization that were between European societies. I think the devastation of that ancestrally is very real. And I believe that, as humans, we have a need to feel deeply connected to the world around us. Since settlers now live here on this land, it makes sense that some of them would crave a deeper connection to it. I personally feel like part of each settler’s decolonial work is to truly build their own relationship with this land and shatter their own ancestral alienation. But that connection needs to be hard won and honest and novel, and it can’t come from appropriating the traditions and identities of Indigenous people.

On Ancestry

I believe connecting with our ancestors can be grounding and healing, and it can break down the individualist indoctrination most all of us have gone through by situating us in a long lineage of those who came before and those who come after. Each of our own family histories tell us about the reasons things are the way they are now. Instead of just relying on the stories of a few dead white men, we can decentralize the stories of our communities. Knowing where we come from provides us with an anchor in this very complicated and scary world and it helps us to identify our responsibilities. It may be that you come from a long line of freedom fighters and that proud legacy keeps your fires stoked in this protracted social war. Or it might be that you come from a long line of fascists and colonizers and you are bestowed with the opportunity to be the generation that branches off towards a life of liberation.

The process of meeting our ancestors makes us each historians who have an opportunity to interpret the information we find and weave a story based on birth certificates and travel documents and funerals. This responsibility needs to be taken seriously and it takes a great deal of humility and honesty. It is up to us to contextualize race and class and gender in a way that positions us accurately and fairly in the world today, because identities are extremely loaded and come with advantages that can – in the right context – grant us material benefit, rights, access, and privilege. Especially when those identities are not written on our skin and are things that we can step in and out of with ease. In many other communities, being Indigenous does not come with social advantage. This is why generations of Indigenous people, including my family, sometimes made the choice to pass themselves off as settlers. But in our anarchist/leftist communities, being Indigenous often grants you a certain honour and respect. This, coupled with the growing (tokenistic) appreciation of Indigenous culture in Canadian society at large, presents a tempting set of reasons for people to try to claim Indigenous ancestry.

When settlers find Indigenous ancestry in their family, it is a very respectful thing to do to honour the story of that person and consider it a responsibility to stand in solidarity with their struggle. But if that ancestor is not connected to your family in any way other than blood, it is not okay to assume their identity as your own. It does nothing to uplift the struggle of that person and it undermines Indigenous sovereignty in a way that perpetuates colonial violence today.

Adopting yourself into an Indigenous community that you have only a blood connection with but no kinship ties to serves the blood quantum goals of the state. It says, blood (the way the state defines membership in a community) is enough and kinship (the way Indigenous people define membership) doesn’t matter.

It dissolves the lines that Indigenous people draw to define their communities, which makes it harder for them to fight for land and reparations based on who has been wronged and who carries the burden to right the wrong. In another time and place where there wasn’t a massive imbalance of power and a grave injustice to be righted, it might not be so harmful to let the boundaries around community waver, but right now it is.

The Pseudoscience of Blood Quantum

Make no mistake about it, blood quantum is a tool of state violence. It has been used to disenfranchise First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people for hundreds of years. In the US, Natives have status cards that list their percentage of Indigenous blood. Vicious and self-serving state structures govern who no longer counts as Indigenous because their blood is no longer pure. But these constructs of mathematical genetics are imaginary. Contrary to what eugenics-hungry rationalists might believe, genetics do not pass down in easy fractions and race is not biological. Nor is there any truly accurate way to map your racial genetics from a swab of your cheek, leading some scientists to issue warnings to unwitting customers of DNA tests that the practice can amount to little more than “genetic astrology”.

The one-drop rule is the racist theory behind the pseudoscience of blood quantum. When used against Black people in the colonies, the one-drop rule served to govern that even “one drop” of Black blood in a white person made them Black. The colonial mentality ruled that Black people were so animal, so depraved, that any amount of Blackness in a person made them less than human. Plus, they needed more slaves so there was a benefit to counting as many people as possible as Black. In regards to Indians, the rule was generally reversed. To take the land, settlers needed to erase Indigenous title, and an easy way to do that was to say that only “true Indians” had a valid claim. If you can say there are no more Natives left, then you rightfully own the land. Essentially, whichever way white supremacy needs the one-drop rule to work is how it works.

Governments invented “status” because they needed a way to quantify and control Indigenous people based on these ideas. Colonial legislation serves the purpose of creating the categories of Indian and Canadian and then slowly assimilating the Indians into the Canadians until they can complete the colonization of the Americas. The Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 was the first such  document and it allowed for Indigenous peoples to voluntarily give up status to receive private land or to vote. Only one Native ever partook. So the Indian Act was created in 1876 with mechanisms to take their status from them against their will. To this day, it remains a vital tool in the domination of Indigenous people in Canada. Native people here have lost status because they were children of even just two generations of mixed-race unions. The “double mother” rule said that if your mother and grandmother did not qualify for status, then you lost yours on your 21st birthday. Yet there were many reasons that Indigenous folks, women in particular, lost status that weren’t attached to blood quantum at all. Up until 1961, Indigenous people who graduated from university had to give up status. Indigenous women who married settlers, or who married a status man but became a widow, lost their status automatically. The gendered discrimination over status was “revoked” in 1985 but much of the damage had already been done.

It has been obvious from the beginning that people didn’t become Indians when they gained status and they didn’t stop being Indians when they lost it. It is an unfortunate truth that some of this logic has been internalized by Indigenous nations and some here in Canada and in the US will kick out their own members for falling under “25% Native”. But for as long as status and the pseudoscience of blood quantum have existed there have been those fighting against it. Arguments made by Indigenous people against blood quantum were meant to keep close Indigenous relatives who were cut out of community by the state. So that grandchildren of the “double mother rule” were still part of their Native community if they lived there in the culture and shared kinship relations. It is a beautiful resistance. To deny the state’s ability to determine for your community who belongs and who doesn’t is an act of decolonization.

However, it’s not as simple as saying that it’s wrong to disallow the families of settler-Indigenous marriages to live on the reservation. The gradual inclusion of white spouses over time could lead to a situation where settler spouses make up a large part of the population. Does that mean they have the right to be represented on Council? What about the shortage of land? Indian reserves only make up 0.02% of “Canadian” territory. This continues to be a real problem. With the shifting political landscape of Canada, we are now needing to defend ourselves against a new intrusion.

The original theories on blood quantum were established at a time when being anything but white was shameful. Canada is currently undergoing a complete paradigm shift in terms of their national story. State-led reconciliation is attempting to erase the past injustices of colonialism and is urging Canadians to see the Natives of this land as a proud, noble people that are part of Canadian multiculturalism. There have always been summer camps where white kids play Indian and there have always been colonial tales of frontiersmen who dance with wolves, but we are witnessing a wave of indigenous romanticization unseen in history. Our peers are growing up as the first or second generation where settlers are becoming proud to claim “Indian heritage”. And as such – because it now suits settlers – the rules of blood quantum are being reversed. It seems now settlers agree that one drop of Native blood makes you an Indian.

From a Native perspective, however, the argument remains simple: Indigenous people never willingly judged membership in our nations based on blood, but by kinship, and only we have the legitimacy to decide who belongs to us and who doesn’t.

A Case Study: Métis ≠ Mixed

Placeless and often unwanted, the children of French fur traders and Native women called themselves the Bois-Brûlés (later adopting the name, Métis). A strong bond led them to form their own communities with their own language, governance, and custom, with a motherland in the Red River region of current-day Manitoba. They had complex kinship, political, and trade relations with the Cree, the Saulteaux, the Assiniboine, and at times the Iroquois. Yet, the government opportunistically denied them status, reservation land, or basic human dignity for not being “Indian enough.” It is likely this denial of land and recognition was a punishment by the Canadian state for their armed resistance in 1885, given that Chris Andersen – in his book Métis – has demonstrated that other federally-recognized Native nations along the fur routes were of comparably mixed descent. They fought for years alongside other non-status Indians for recognition. Métis Nation organizations – formed to advocate for rights from the state – first opened up for membership in the 60s. Immediately, they were flooded with a barrage of people claiming citizenship from all over. Some people who applied for citizenship were Natives who lost status from their own communities for any number of Indian Act reasons and were trying to regain state legitimacy. A lot of people were settlers who had one or more Indigenous ancestors.

This occurred because a great majority of people saw (and continue to see) Métis identity as one of mixed blood, instead of a political community of Indigenous people who were born, lived, fought, and died together in kinship on the Prairies. Métis organizations have spent the last 40 years grappling with this issue and trying to determine who is Métis and who is not. They’ve done a generally dismal job and, while I am a member of one such organization, it is my belief that their existence does more harm than good. They cater to the Canadian government when it needs token Native support; they sign pipeline deals through lands they have no claim to; and they perpetuate forms of democracy, nationalism, and statehood that I feel are counter to the aim of dismantling colonial-capitalism.

Métis Nation formation led to a huge backlash by First Nations people who saw Métis identity as a backdoor for settlers to flood into indigeneity. While some of the criticism was akin to lateral violence, it was also really legitimate. Because the Canadian appetite leaves us fighting for scraps. Because many, many white settlers call themselves Métis illegitimately. And because Indigenous people have never governed belonging and membership based on blood alone.

The fact of the matter is, if all settlers who had a blood connection to an Indigenous person were considered Indigenous, it would make the category meaningless. Settlers and Native folks have been intermarrying for as long as settlers have been here. Some studies show that up to 40% of francophones in Quebec have an Indigenous ancestor. What would happen to Indigenous claim to land if all of those settlers began demanding to be included as Native people?

A Case Study Inside a Case Study?: The “Eastern Métis”

Ah! But we don’t need to imagine it, because it’s already happening. There is a sizable movement in QC of white settlers who have formed their own “Métis” organizations to claim Indigenous heritage in order to gain rights from the state. A lot of those people base their indigeneity on ancestors from the 1700s, but quite a few of them have a relation in the last five generations of their family. I’m not going to get into the absolute fuckery of what those people are doing and why (go read Darryl Leroux’s many critiques if you need to know more) but their selfish actions have severely undermined both the real title Métis people have to indigeneity, and in turn, the concept of indigeneity entirely. While this is a fairly extreme example of Native appropriation, it is important to look directly at it. The phenomenon of settlers trying to edge their way into indigeneity based on distant ancestry has had real and lasting impacts on historic Métis communities, further robbing them of the recognition they deserve as a real people on the losing end of colonialism.

And I don’t mean that the appropriation by settlers is going to sabotage their process of recognition by the state, because FUCK recognition by the state. As anarchists, we need to realize that white folks claiming Native casts doubt on the indigeneity of Métis and other mixed-blood Native people, which creates chasms between them and First Nations on the front lines of struggle.

Kinship is the Backbone of Our Nations

So if blood alone doesn’t make you Native, then what does? What came out of the very messy and public dialogues on the Indian Act and status and Métis community were well defined arguments explaining that identity is multifaceted and that blood connection is but one of many markers that determine membership in a community. More important than how much “Indian blood” you have running through your veins is your connection to a community to which you are accountable. This means that your family has a history with a community and relationships that are meaningful and reciprocal. It is important because there are folks who are adopted into communities and have no blood relation but are nonetheless considered a full and welcome member. Accountability in that relationship means you are openly claiming your community and allow the other members the opportunity to hold your actions and words up to the values of that community.

The notion of accountability is tied to the more controversial idea that your community needs to claim you. This standard gets complicated for a lot of folks because some people are kicked out of their communities, some people lose connection to their communities through state removal, and a variety of other factors (like drug addiction) could mean that people in that community don’t have relationships with you anymore. This is a hard reality for some to accept, but it doesn’t make it less meaningful. When you lose ties to a community over your lifetime or over many generations, you do lose membership in that community in a real way. It’s possible to rebuild those connections, but it’s also important to step back and evaluate whether or not it is appropriate for you to do so. Our communities often reveal themselves to us if we take a minute to look at our existing strong and reciprocal relationships.

These webs of relationships are what Indigenous people call kinship. And they have been more important to our understanding of community than blood ever has been.

In addition to the main questions of:

“Who are you accountable to?” and

“Does the community you claim also claim you?”

It is important to explore the questions of:

“Do you have meaningful relationships with people in that community?”

“Do you have a family history interwoven with the families of that community?”

“Do you share a connection to a common land base?”

“Were you raised with or close to the traditions of that community?”

“Do you, or people in your family, speak the language of that community?”

“Do you have shared experiences with the members of that community?”

“Do you share struggle with that community?”

All of the answers to these questions together organically form a larger and more nuanced picture than blood quantum. Which is why in the last few decades, Indigenous activists have been fighting to diminish the worth of blood alone in claiming a connection to a community or identity. The rise of genetic testing and sites like ancestry.com have led to a large number of settlers “realizing” they are actually part Indigenous, some who then feel as though they should be included in a community they have never really been a part of.

If a child with Indigenous parents is stolen by CAS and raised with white people, it might seem as though the strong blood connection to indigeneity is all they have. Yet, that wouldn’t really be true. Because already they share a personal story of race-based state oppression, plus the histories of their immediate family (which are part of their story) are connected to stories of other Indigenous people and place. Blood might be a part of their claim to community, and so it’s not completely irrelevant, but it’s the complicated interplay of a variety of factors – blood, kinship, language, experience – that come together to create an identity and belonging in a community.

When you tell another Indigenous person that you’re Native, often the first question out of their mouth is “from where?” Maybe even “who are your parents? Or “lemme guess, Sturgeon Clan?” This is a pretty widely accepted line of questioning and it’s not considered rude, because kinship and ties to land are a huge part of how we know each other and build relationships. Complex systems of kinship existed in all Native communities on Turtle Island. Family lineages combined to form clan systems which combined to form nations and the governance systems depended on these interconnected forms of communication and accountability. Were colonization not so successful, settlers touting indigeneity just wouldn’t be a problem, because it would be easy to trace the kinship ties of that person and weed out false claims. The power of the state, however, relies on concentrating authority and breeding loyalty to an institutionalized political body, and it is in its best interest to undermine and destroy allegiance to any decentralized systems. The state has tried to destroy clan governance from the first days of colonization. Inventing the racist ideology of blood quantum and insisting Indians be defined by their DNA instead of their kinship ties is another tactic to disrupt the autonomy of Indigenous people.

Identity Politics & Liberation

It is a very uncomfortable position to be at once an anarchist, a freedom fighter, and also part of an oppressor class. On the internet, identity is a simple category, black and white (so to speak). But in real life, identity is nuanced and slippery. It makes it so that we are often disadvantaged and privileged at the same time. We owe it to ourselves and our community to act with integrity, to represent ourselves accurately and honestly, and to not try to jostle for position with our friends.

Anarchists look to the roots. It’s not enough to say the problem lies in individuals who make ego-driven choices. This is not only about individuals doing independently shitty things, it’s also an issue of politics. The adoption of a politics of identity helped to put words to the centuries of degradation and devaluation faced by women, queers, BIPOC, and disabled folks. Oppression that often felt invisible. Yet, it was too easily co-opted by the state and capital and too easily divorced from the material struggle for a radically different world. It is now wholly possible for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be called a “revolutionary” for being a Latinx woman, trailblazing a path for other women of colour to become agents of the state. This is not a critique of all forms of radical thought that center around identity. I am a woman, an Indigenous person, and a queer and I find power in organizing around those identities. But there are many, many other times where I find my strength in the affinity of ideas, running into dark alleys with whichever comrade feels up to the task.

It is always important to remember that no identity marker can bind together the disparate experiences of all people who match it. There is no united womanhood, or Indigenous experience, or proletariat. The binaries used to conveniently speak about identity are just as fake as blood quantum. Unfortunately, the climate change and land defense movements have romanticized Native peoples so that they take on an almost mythical quality as earth guardians, with many anarchists buying into it just as much as liberals.

Western society pushes us away from true community and towards an individual, atomized existence. This transcends physical space to infect the realm of ideas and stories, which we are encouraged to see as accessible for anyone to use and change. It is common practice in identitarian circles for people to depend on self-identification as acceptable validation of an identity marker, and this has become rampant in the issue of settlers claiming indigeneity. It is not enough to simply proclaim that you now identify as Indigenous and it is playing into settler psychology to do so. Using a wider lens, there are many situations where it is appropriate to challenge someone’s claim to an identity based solely on self-identification and I hope that as critiques of identity politics mature, these questions can be responsibly visited.

It is important to not let the logic of liberal identity politics dominate relationships between anarchists, or between anarchists and Native folks. This paves the other false path to settler redemption: the white-guilt-ridden settler who sees self-sacrifice as the way to cleanse their ancestors crimes. Co-creating a culture of obedience to Indigenous people is a losing strategy, fostering not rebellious solidarity but an environment of scarcity. Not only does it put too much pressure on Indigenous people to make decisions for you, it robs us of one of our most important protections against repression – decentralized action. It prevents settler anarchists from questioning sketchy claims to indigeneity touted by their comrades for fear of being accused of racism, and creates a situation where settlers feel the only way to be a true defender of the land is to become Indigenous.

I blame this binary between spiritually-rich Indigenous folks and deadened, alienated white people for a part of the race-shifting phenomenon of settlers trying to claim indigeneity, at least within the “Left.” However, this is not a problem for Native folks to solve. There are many steps that anarchists (and everyone) can take to practice real solidarity and break away from the traps of allyship. Adopt your own reasons for defending the land or attacking the state, separate from your practice of support. Learn the real, unromantic history of colonization, complete with occasional Native complicity. Understand who you are and what your responsibilities are to the next generations. Gain confidence in communicating your own politics of anarchism to Native comrades. Don’t allow your crew to adopt a politic that makes it valiant to be a victim, the kind that leads people to want to stack up oppressed identities in order to gain social power. And, most importantly, practice the self-assurance necessary to stop yearning for the approval of Indigenous land defenders. Understand yourself well enough to catch validation-seeking behaviours and be able to interrupt them and ground yourself in your own reasons for acting.

Solidarity isn’t about going along with someone else’s project, it’s about seeing a mutual and parallel cause between you and another community/crew and acting together towards a common goal. Most often that means you go your separate ways afterwards. Which is what the intention should be if you are a settler doing solidarity work. Because if you are showing up to the struggle in hopes of leaving settlerism behind and being accepted into Indigenous community, then turn around and go home.

How To Have the Conversation

Maybe you picked up this text because you were interested, or maybe you have someone close to you whose evolving indigeneity is making you uncomfortable. Maybe you picked it up because you have been exploring the possibility of an Indigenous connection in your own life. I hope that, by this point in the text, you are seriously mulling over your actions and assessing whether or not you are engaged in any of this bullshit. This section will mostly be about holding our friends accountable but you can follow along for yourself as well.

You may think that your friend assuming an Indigenous identity is not harmful so long as they are not accessing monetary resources, land, or jobs meant for Indigenous people. However, this analysis is short-sighted and could also be an excuse you are using to get out of an uncomfortable conversation. If your friend is not accessing these things now, it doesn’t mean they won’t later, especially if their claims to indigeneity go unchallenged and they grow in confidence. Outside of financial benefit, they still gain access to space and power, often resulting in the displacement of Indigenous people. They could take up a seat in a car going to ceremony, they could speak at a demonstration meant to uplift Native voices, or they could gain support for their initiatives based on misplaced solidarity. It is important to widen our gaze when assessing impact.

It is important, as a settler, to hold your settler comrades/friends/family responsible for their choice to inappropriately assume an Indigenous identity. This is a delicate task, but – really – holding our friends accountable is part of an honest and healthy friendship. It would really suck if you accused a friend of playing Indian and they had a legitimate claim they were just stepping into for the first time. This zine is not talking about Native folks who have been cut out of their communities by the state or for those reconnecting to their kinship ties, this is for (mostly white) settlers who are attempting to “rekindle” a Native identity based on ancestor connection or a feeling. Luckily, the difference can be ascertained quite easily.

First, ask a lot of questions. Your friend just confided in you that they have “discovered” an Indigenous ancestor in their family and it’s really “bringing up a lot” for them. Look for the words “discovered” or “found” in their language. If they have kinship relations and ties to a community, it is not likely they are discovering it as an adult (unless they have just found out they were adopted). “Discovering” an Indigenous identity usually means digging up old documents or looking over a family tree, which demonstrates blood connection and not kinship relation. It’s common practice to ask a lot of questions about kinship between Native folks and it is only Western “politeness” that stops us from “prying” into our friend’s story. Be curious. In some of the worst incidents of a settler manipulating people around them by pretending to be Indigenous, the biggest regret people had afterwards was not asking more questions. If they are making you feel rude for asking, if they are evading your questions, if they insist their ancestry is a private matter, this is a bad sign. It is important to suss out exactly how they are connected to indigeneity and it is possible they will speak in vague terms or try to exaggerate their situation. Get specific.

Second, encourage them to seek out more information. If they don’t know the answers to your questions, urge them to go find out before they start telling people they’re Native. That means before telling people they’re even a “little bit” Native, and it also means before privately telling people while publicly identifying as a settler. Ask them to prioritize the search for kinship. If kinship ties exist, it won’t be hard to find out a good deal of information. And if they don’t find anything, then there’s nothing to find and that’s really all there is to say about the matter. They shouldn’t identify as Indigenous.

Third, if they do find some information about their ancestral ties or relatives from a family line, press them to go through the questions outlined in the section on kinship. Maybe give them this zine in advance of the conversation and ask them to sit down with you to talk about it. Remember that, as their comrade, you have a right to ask them to reconsider political choices you disagree with and you have the ability to walk away from them if they refuse. It is not apolitical to tell people in activist communities in Canada that you are Indigenous. There is a huge amount of reverence paid to Indigenous land defenders and a great deal of criticism that they evade from settler accomplices. Claiming indigeneity falsely is a way of manipulating power in your organizing community. If they are embedded in a community of anarchists or organizers, but long to join an Indigenous community, ask them and yourself why they are attempting to do so and why they aren’t fulfilled amongst those who are most obviously their kin. If they have no kinship ties to Native folks, it is okay to question or reject their claim to indigeneity. Try to steer them towards an accurate interpretation of their ancestry, maybe one that names them as a settler with a distant Indigenous ancestor that they try to honour in struggle. Draw a hard line if it is revealed that they are acting on an old family story, a feeling, or perhaps nothing at all.

Fourth, ask them to interrogate their own desires to identify as Indigenous. What do they feel is pulling them in that direction? Do they feel a hole in their life that they think could be filled by ceremony? Get them to dig honestly into their own narratives about what delineates Indigenous people from settlers. Have them entertain the thought experiment of switching out their Native ancestor with another racial identity. If they found out they were from a lineage of white settlers but discovered that one of their great-grandparents was Korean, would they then feel entitled to start calling themselves Korean? Would they learn Korean and start attending cultural services and get involved in organizing projects for North Korean liberation? If not, what is the difference?

Prepare yourself for backlash. They may accuse you of discriminating against their claim because they are white or “light-skinned”. But this isn’t about color. There are plenty of white Natives, and Black natives too. In fact, the insistence of indigeneity to be defined by culture and kinship instead of physical racial markers carves a wide doorway that (mostly white) settlers take advantage of when they let themselves in. Proving yourself as Native when you present Black is a far more difficult burden and those individuals face far more lateral violence than white skinned Indians ever will.

Your friend may accuse you of violence for forcing them to talk about something “deeply personal” without their consent, or criticize you for making something personal into something political. Identity is as much a political issue as it is personal though, and it is important for us to know the politics of our comrades, the way they see themselves in relation to you and to others, and their reasons for acting. Additionally, just because something is personal, does not mean it cannot be challenged. There are many beliefs and stories that are entrenched and meaning-making to a person that must be confronted and dismantled, even if it should be done with care.

They may accuse you of weaponizing blood quantum against them to disqualify their nativeness, of maintaining racist settler colonial institutions that took Indians away from their community. This is settler entitlement and it’s a gross ignorance of both history and of the kinship systems of the community they are trying gain access to. The idea of entitlement/disentitlement based on racial blood percentage has always been used according to the needs of those in power at the time.

Settlers who convince themselves that a distant ancestor (or a story) make them Indigenous are reversing the historic ways blood quantum has been used against Native people for their own benefit. They are the ones using blood quantum arguments to force themselves into a community they have never really been a part of. They are the ones perpetuating settler colonialism for their own benefit.

These are very hard conversations to have. I can’t guarantee you won’t lose a friend. But it is important to hold your ground and stay committed to your principles. Letting people continue on a path of self-deception and entitlement is likely to end with a massive rupture of conflict as Indigenous people who aren’t afraid to ask questions eventually get smart to the ruse. You may find yourself answering for your comrade’s behaviour. You may lose relationships with Indigenous friends or comrades. The best thing that could happen is for settlers to hold each other in community and stop this process before it gets out of hand.

In Conclusion

This whole thing honestly sucks. I hate that I felt compelled to write about it. But I almost left my anarchist community over an incident of this very kind in the last few years. It was exposed to me that no one really understood the issue and fewer people knew how to talk about it. While I wish this was an endeavour taken on by settlers for settlers, we don’t live in a perfect world. I want the people I organize with to act from a place of strength. I want to know I can trust my comrades to make good decisions. I want to know that my co-conspirators understand their place in Indigenous struggle.

I believe that we push harder when we fight for our own freedom and existence. I believe we try harder to build community and relationship when we feel rooted in place. I believe that being motivated by a personal connection to and love for the land makes us better anarchists, and gives us the best possibility to create a new world less shitty than the old. I want all of my friends in struggle to find those things, on their own terms, from their own tradition (historic or invented). Let us not forget that all tradition, ceremony, and ritual is created by us to make meaning of the world around us and of our relationships to each other!

I don’t need to be seen as only an Indian, I’m okay with my strange halfbreed mutt identity. My indigeneity is grounded in blood, kinship, and a fairly disjointed human experience. I walk my road trying to be open and honest, and never overstepping my place. I demand no less integrity from those around me because I honour and respect the beautiful kinship relations that have built and sustained Indigenous community on Turtle Island for tens of thousands of years. You should too.

Further Reading:

“Decolonization is Not A Metaphor” by Eve Tuck and K. Yang (essay)

Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigeneity authored by Darryl Leroux (book)

Métis authored by Chris Andersen (book)

“Wiisaakodewininiwag ga-nanaakonaawaad: Jiibe-Giizhikwe, Racial Homeopathy, and “Eastern Métis” Identity Claims” authored by Darren O’Toole (essay)

“Old Myths, New Peoples: The “Eastern Métis” and Indigenous Erasure” by Sabordage Distro (zine) https://enoughisenough14.org/2020/11/01/old-myths-new-peoples-the-easter...

“Statement on Michelle Latimer” by Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Twitter post)

https://twitter.com/kdeveryjacobs/status/1339960923218391040

Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science by Kim TallBear

Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity by Pam Palmater

There are 69 Comments

wow! this is brilliant. this writer just handed me the idiots-guide-to-not-saying-stupid-things and i'm a very grateful idiot.

not just a full grasp but made it easy to understand too. don't think I can find a single thing to disagree with except maybe that framing the critique of identity with "because there's a very real political struggle going on, questioning identity too hard is harmful" is a bit of a sneaky, checkmate flex of rhetoric. but it's a pretty valid point too so ... yeah. good stuff!

I have ever read: it's respective of the many different layers of reality and being. I agree that the new-agey trash that people do sometimes (for example, claiming some sort of "indigenous identity") is pretty infuriating and certainly doesn't help anyone, not even the person who's being fake.

The only complaint I have is the continued using of "the settler" identity, because in the end people now adays don't even really even know what that type of a lifestyle was like...it's also true that not every person from europe who came to this continent and set down roots was responsible for the destruction of the indigenous way of life. I know from discussions with my family that I'm mostly European in terms of blood and culture. I am not a settler. Sure, I'm white, but I don't really like to think about that on a regular basis. I do think learning about your family through legitimate channels is a pretty healing experience overall, a lot of people now adays aren't a tremendous wealth of historical information but we do need to wrestle the human capacity to learn from the education system and authoritarianism.

I am not accusing the author of this of somehow committing a wrong, i realize she's just using one of the words all those white id-pols are doing, i just wanted to set the record straight that the only thing i know about settlers is all these tales of servitude, christianity, heroic hardship, etc.

Also, the article links the history of western colonization back one thousand years: it goes back even further than that. Where would modern and colonial europe be without the romans? It's very hard to say...but none of us know.

I hope this text get's circulated a lot because it brings up a lot of things that modern anarchists/de-colonizers are completely ignoring...fuck elizabeth warren, that shit was so stupid and it basically just gave the republicans a way to make fun of her, lol.

Will continue to read the last parts and maybe comment whenever I do...

A lot of your comment - the stuff about how you are not a settler - seems to (wilfully?) misunderstood what the word "settler" means, in the context of the language that North American leftists, progressive, and anarchists use.

It does not mean the ORIGINAL settlers only. It means people who are not indigenous.

As a dichotomy, settler/indigenous doesn't work perfectly. It fails to miss some ambiguity. Certainly there is a whole realm of discourse (and a backlash to such discourse) about how Black people don't really fit into either category.

But yeah, it definitely doesn't mean you're like, a pioneer or a coureur du bois or something, haha

On this website get bent out of shape about how someone else disagrees with them...doesn't seem incredibly anarchist...also, to do all this macho speak about how "I'm afraid of the word settler"...lol.

I guess it's a personal preference, the word choices...but not according to the a news idols and gawkers!

Just because you're white doesn't make you a settler or colonialist sheesh!

no? it's also about where on the planet you happen to be existing for the majority of your time and if there's an ongoing colonial project also occurring there.

but that includes lot's and lots of different people...did you even read that essay above? A big part of it was pointing out how it doesn't even matter what your blood quantum is, that still doesn't give you the easy pass towards being an "indigenous person".

Maybe I should just slit my wrists since I buy things! Then, my blood shall "return to the earth"! Sounds very new-agey and faux-indigenous no???

You can't totally disassociate yourself from from colonialism and white people! Seems especially weird to do that over the internet

yes, I read it and I didn't say any of that?

my only point was the defensiveness that people have is only further clouding the issue. i think it's better to accept the reality of the world and our positions in it. damn near all of us have atrocities in our family histories. the trick is not to freak the fuck out and act the fool during the discussion. that seems to be what the essay is saying too

entails:

-not imposing some sort of mythical "settler identity"

-and not expecting people using an anarchist website to just sort of accept this imposition.

It's like you know...if you are a bully, you insult somebody, but then somehow you get upset and cry when the person either freaks out or insults you back, lol...reciprocity, worth looking into for sure.

you remind me of the anti-Semites who think the Hebrew word "goyim" is an insult. or the cis guy who, the same week that he first heard about the word "cis", decided that he wasn't "cis" even though he was also not trans (I am sure he has a better position by now, tho)

the word "settler" is a neutral descriptor. there is a case to be made that it's an imperfect word, and another case that, like, Words Are All Spooks. but no one is "imposing a settler identity" on anyone, hahaha

if anything, I think the general vibe in this convo right now would be that, uh, "settler identity" (that is, "Canadian" or "Québécois" or "U.S.-American" identity) is bad and people should snap the fuck of that stuff!

any of negative reaction as an over-reaction, it's especially stupid to see someone comparing me to an anti-semite. You remind me of that white guy who goes down to the ghetto and is shocked when they get punched in the face after saying certain things. Oh gosh! People actually get upset by the things that other people say! Gasp!

"the word "settler" is a neutral descriptor. there is a case to be made that it's an imperfect word, and another case that, like, Words Are All Spooks. but no one is "imposing a settler identity" on anyone, hahaha"

have you been paying any attention to how the leftists and marxists have been using the term "settler"? It's just a negative descriptor for anyone who isn't indigenous or a "Person of Color". It's some fairly petty fan-boy/identity-politics stuff.

It's this kind of stuff that makes solipsism so retarded. Of course i have no power to ban the derogatory "settler" insult, but i'm gonna keep pointing out the issues with using it in any sort of a practical way! Get your fucking "anti-oppression" bullshit out of my face.

Oh, since you brought up anti-semitism, let's talk about "goyim" for a second:

goyim:

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=goyim

so in other words, the word can be derogatory, depending on what is being said and the way it is being said. Stop trying to asset some sort of an objective view of reality, it makes you look freakin' rediculous. But at least you taught me about a new word.

"It's just a negative descriptor for anyone who isn't indigenous or a 'Person of Color"'"

This is proof that you don't know what you are talking about. The word "settler" is often applied to people of colour, e.g. a person living in North America, who is an immigrant from Pakistan or a person of Chinese descent, will be understood as a settler.

As for "goyim", it CAN be used in that fashion, but it does not inherently mean that. Just as "Jew" or "gay" or many other words can be used in an insulting fashion, but on the whole, the words remain neutral descriptors. Some people, like Marxists, use the word "anarchist" to insult each other, too

"This is proof that you don't know what you are talking about."

settler is very often used with a negative connotation in leftist circles, and the same is also the case with "the white people". Now, i'm aware there's a "sociopolitical context for that", however I'm still not impressed.

What's with all this stupid knee-jerk backlash about how i don't want to be called a settler? Why do you think it makes any sense to refer to a Mexican or Chinese immigrant as such? This is the same issue with the people who want to refer to every single person on the right as "a fascist", it literally describes nothing.

So if your standard is that I understand, then why are you hung up about me when the above article provides zero explanation of what a settler actually is within radical political/left circles?

it's not just an opinion tho, that's the thing. you can reject structural and material analysis of history if you like but that means you're the one making an outlandish claim, not everybody who prefers to live in a world where context matters.

put another way, you've got it backwards as to whose knee is doing the "stupid jerking".

i also see why the mods have deleted a great deal of this chatter here but imo, it's a bit of a disservice because even though this person is probably trolling, they're almost perfectly representing the reactionary position ... which is very real out there in the world.

anything: because i know that whatever gets deleted is just going to come out in a different way. I also tend to think their deletion choices veer towards what is more popular and acceptable, which is questionable but i do think that i risk eering in perception if i say anything beyond that.

"it's a bit of a disservice because even though this person is probably trolling, they're almost perfectly representing the reactionary position..."

it's a sad state of affairs to believe that there is a single "reactionary opinion", and to only be able to critique what is being said by associating it with said opinion. There's a pretty huge world of difference between a reactionary take on colonial-era oppression (that the colonialists weren't doing anything that should be frowned upon and it was mostly diseases that killed the indigenous off anyway...) and all of the critiques i've seen about the above essay. Overall, i tend to find anarchist dialogue unique in that anything is open to be disagreed with, and that we should be careful about aligning ourselves with any sort of ideology, or just knodding in agreement with anything that seems pro-active and kosher. I'm personally a little sick of talking about this article now, as I've said my position very clearly: it was both positive and negative. There is much to sift through and reflect upon.

I didn't say there's a single reactionary position, however there's a very standard set of reactionary talking points that get rolled out on this issue and at least a few of them are very similar to the wholesale rejection of a word because of its implications.

Wouldn't that be a great place to start with sifting and reflecting?

"...the reactionary position..."

"the" implies a single position, like others have said individuals do not make up word usages. I was not the person who said "the reactionary position", that was you sir.

This sounds like a great moment for sifting and reflecting on your end.

here, lets look at how inferences work. "the reactionary position ... for this topic". see? but hey, you sure do stink of desperation!

i think you just made it up as a reaction for your standard troll enemies on here.

i thought the whole point of anarchy was we were gonna buck the left-right political spectrum and think for ourselves.

"the reactionary position" in this thread. So: the article uses different words that mean things to different people. I get that. To me settler (and i have read some marxist texts that mention the word and some articles on here) in the newest sense appears to refer to non-indigenous white people...based on it's original meaning (literally the first europeans to come to the americas...who were farming/hunting at times with the help of slaves), apparently i was wrong and settler is mostly a reference to pakistani and chinese people...apparently i am "willfully obtuse" is you read some of the other arguments i've been having with my dissenters on here...

this was not the first text i read about the matter, that text was given to me via a leftist who i knew in real life and contained marxist terminology, but here's a glimpse of what we are talking about:

https://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/file/4b1c55df-d8e7-4b08-aaa9-c13fe...(Accepted%20manuscript).pdf

So, the fact that you are so logical, i find it odd for you to bring up a singular strawman/reactionary position only to deny it snarkily later.

:-p

Sorry for the disrespectful tone, I just believe you are being wilfully obtuse.

It is very clear what "indigenous" and "settler" mean in this conversation, and it has already been explained. You don't have to accept the parameters of this conversation - by all means, reject it - but I don't know why I would need to explain it again. You will not be the first person I've ever encountered who was upset about being described as a settler, even though the word, as it is being used (as a neutral descriptor for a non-indigenous person) seems to fit well.

The fact that these words are intoned insultingly when uttered by people who adhere to identitarian ideologies is an entirely unrelated matter. Again, for a homophobe, the word "gay" can be used insultingly. Doesn't mean that "gay" isn't a useful descriptor, within a certain conversation

Maybe its because I have landless nomadic values, but to me there seems to be a strong similarity between indigenous isolationism and xenophobic segregationism which exacerbate the binary war narrative between different nationalities/identities, and I have a feeling its rooted in some cultures having exclusive religious belief structures.

here's the part of it where it gets super-idpol:

"You may think that your friend assuming an Indigenous identity is not harmful so long as they are not accessing monetary resources, land, or jobs meant for Indigenous people. However, this analysis is short-sighted and could also be an excuse you are using to get out of an uncomfortable conversation. If your friend is not accessing these things now, it doesn’t mean they won’t later, especially if their claims to indigeneity go unchallenged and they grow in confidence. Outside of financial benefit, they still gain access to space and power, often resulting in the displacement of Indigenous people. They could take up a seat in a car going to ceremony, they could speak at a demonstration meant to uplift Native voices, or they could gain support for their initiatives based on misplaced solidarity. It is important to widen our gaze when assessing impact."

all im going to say is...the writer is starting to make very intense assumptions about the reader. Maybe there's a particular person that they need to have this conversation with? I don't know. I'm not from Canada, but I don't think anyone "assuming an indigenous identity" is necessary some horrendous threat to "real indigenous people as a whole".

When dealing with people, I think it's important to meet them where they are in each given moment, rather than start hurling a bunch of assumptions at them.

*takes deep breath and fucks off*

there's many particular people. i've seen some pretty extreme examples of it in my travels: people who are doing it for the wrong reasons, using their assumed identity to bully others using liberal guilt.

the harm done is very real imo. turns the political arenas even more toxic than they already are. it's more noticeable in activism land so if you avoid that shit, lucky you!

i think overall though if some "non-indigenous" person goes through some sort of a ritual and gives themselves a different name, then that by itself isn't harmless, the problem is if they then see themselves as being superior to other people and recycle some sort devastating call out culture.

overall the essay does look like identity politics to me, but i think it's overall still a good thing to understand the problem with being an exploiter (to me this is a better euphemism than being a "settler" because it's more specific)

May we all learn how to share...

Really liked this article. It is too bad the use of the word "settler" has frightened some of you. What if we now pretend a different word, more amenable to discussion is being used? You do understand what is meant by this word, yes? Something like: one whose ancestors are not from this place. This applies to many of us then, without any stigma.

I know it can be hard for anarchists to be told they can't do a particular thing, that knee-jerk reactionary streak rearing its ugly head again, but maybe it is okay not to be allowed to do this one thing, you know, just this once.
Because, what do you know about the bio region you are residing on now, how long have you lived there, what does the air smell like after the first rain, who are your neighbors? I have parents and grandparents buried in the state I'm in, but none of them were born in this state. How many generations of my DNA recycled through the Earth does it take to become "from" a place? And how do we calculate that if the way one's ancestors lived in place never took into account the actual, you know, place?

in French, people say "autochtone" for "indigenous" and then "allochtone" as the opposite, which effectively means "other than indigenous".

I think "settler" is fine - my panties are not up in a bunch about it - but I do think the French is a bit more elegant

In French the more commonly used term is "colon", like in Spanish. In Gaybec Yankeefrench speech, "colon" is also a fun insult... a synonym for "moron" or "bigot".

Just saying.

you're absolutely right. "allochtone" is a bit of a fancy new word for sure

ben on peut mix it up bien sûr

This doesn't need "fancy new words" to describe, it needs "living in the empirical Now" and the stopping of the engineered historical land-ownership paradigm.

This is coming up a lot right now because it’s been determined that there are a ton of white cultural figures in Canada - poets, novelists, film makers, curators, professors - who are using claims to a non-existent indigenous experience and history to get grants, awards, funding, jobs - that were specifically earmarked for actual indigenous people. Also what they teach, write, etc is often inaccurate, and often just centering themselves as ‘innocent victims’ not responsible for the world we live in, thus avoiding taking any responsibility or self-reflection themselves as ‘settlers’ ( all the while, ironically, being very vocal about opposing colonialism. ) Indigenous access to funds, awards, grants and to public forums to express an authentic indigenous outlook or to share trauma from their experience living in a racist society,, is being denied by this phenomena. Collectively it amounts to a form of colonial violence.

Check out @nomoreredface on Twitter. They’ve been doing research and exposing this.

-do the standards themselves make any sense?

-any way to verify?

-infinite ways to falsify?

the first two questions get a no from me, the third gets a yes. I remember one of the things i disagreed with concerning my dad was he thought that affirmative action was a legit way to get rid of racism...and I'm seeing the same thing with the logic of "including people-of-color on the movie set"

you can't force people to get rid of their petty stereotypes!

I get why some white people in IdPol circles with a small amount of indigenous blood would claim to be indigenous - from the standpoint of status/power in IdPol circles and the opportunity to liberal-guilt bait other whites in these circles. I suspect few indigenous people would be fooled.

What I DON'T get is how they live with themselves. I would feel like a BUFFOON, an OBVIOUS fake.

I am of redneck descent, being up to 75% Scots-Irish, with ancestors, the Younger brothers, who ran with Jesse James. This is real/authentic and I feel comfortable in my own skin with it. Not comfortable with the bad things my tribe has done.

Given my ancestry, it is almost certain I have a small amount of indigenous blood, like 1% to 4%, possibly a little more. Am I supposed to do an Elizabeth Warren? She is also of redneck descent, and would have not made a vast public buffoon out of herself had she publicly embraced her actual ancestry.

(2 first-degree blood relatives of mine have a high amount of Neanderthal DNA even compared to other Europeans. I probably have more Neanderthal ancestry, at at least 4%, than Native American. I am fascinated by this, but I have no kin group of Neanderthals to reconnect with.)

got me thinking about ancestry/identity again...according to the older people in my family, I'm a combination of nordic/germanic/polish/scotch/irish, i don't have any other evidence for any other words i would add to this list. It sort of does make sense to think of myself as "an indigenous american" because my family lineage pretty much just goes back to the 18th century, but it doesn't make any sense (and i would never say it in a serious way) that i'm indigenous, because that generally refers to americans who were here before the europeans...

now the "redneck" thing again...I do think of myself as a little bit of a redneck since I'm from west virginia, but strictly speaking that word describes white farmers...

whatever, i am nothing, i am everything. My family has done some bad things but the one's i'm more familiar with are in the recent history, and i certainly want to reverse those masochistic/abusive behaviors...

I'm well versed in recognizing the nuances of the noble savage narrative of the 19th and 20th centuries and I can only see this essay as reinforcing the idea of exclusive national characteristics tangentially via the identity politics of the 21st century.

it is identity politics, yet i appreciate the fact that we see identity politics critiquing itself...i do appreciate that the article itself is very nuanced and there are a lot of useful gems. I rate "settlers on the red path" as a better reflection tool than many of the articles i see that are posted here, but that's just my opinion, it probably has to do with my fascination with human psychology than anything else...i get sickened pretty easily by identity politics yet "identity" is something I'm going to be investigating as long as popular opinion keeps talking about it.

The thing I find the most hypocritical about the article is that it's saying "This is not a defense of identity..." but then she goes on to explain that it's not right to mis-appropriate the real indigeneity. Identity is a fixture, any attempt to further ingrain certain characteristics about "what we are" is identity politics in my opinion. As you point out, it's falling back on anti-colonial narratives which do not seem to help indigenous peoples very much.

"I'm well versed in recognizing the nuances of the noble savage narrative"

Ok, just because you said you got this expertise, you're expecting people to believe your view is correct. I'm well versed in recognizing bullshitters who can't substantiate their claims.

Just like 23:17, I'm more interested delving into the psychology of identity, and additionally also its politics of acceptance by the State. My critique focuses on the psychology of obedience to the mob or tribe and its religious belief systems. I see insecurity and the need for master/slave relationships in these identity quests and the subsequent loss of individual autonomy.

Wait are you another from the camp of "I'm indigenous coz I decided so"? This is the hypocrisy here.

First, you just go along pretending something you're just not, while likely taking an active part in the settler society, supporting its private property, its industry, its State... This is just illegitimate, unfounded and dishonest nativist bullshit.

Then, you also do not negate but support this ID pols by (illegitimately) defining yourself by it.

So there is a clear notion for what "native" or "indigenous" is. Both in botany and ethnology. You as a settler are still a settler due to your foreign ancestral, parental or birth origins. You were introduced in a bioregion with its specific biome. You likely are still supporting settler culture, economy and politics that go in contradiction with this biome, like for the aspect of having imported cattle from abroad and still depending massively on this cattle exploitation, or being interdependent on land property gimmicks for using the land and having shelter. Or dealing with a State based on colonial conquest and blunt denial of native people's identities and free *right to the land*. These are clearly not native ways.

Everybody-I repeat-EVERYBODY is potentially indigenous . What makes indigeneity a thing is that you have a psychogeographic endogenous relationship with the landscape. It is not based on first dibs on the land(which the Clovis peeps might not have been btw). The issue with Euros is that they default to a psychogeographic identity that is from another time and place. The Metis represent a bucking of that trend. Anarchy and indigeneity need MORE metis, the metis are not the problem. This IDPol retrograde pocolon rubbish on the other hand is.

^^^ another open rejection of structural and material analysis, for those keeping score.

sure feels good to completely toss out most of the context of history and perceive reality however you like but should you tho?

... should you?

Yes.

I have a bond with a particular ecosystem that is not dissimilar to that of the Original People.

I know it intimately, how to live in it, and how to tend it to peak health. I have been bonded with it since age 4, have had the experience of no separation from it, and have received an entire body of what is (badly) called mystical experience in it. It's now ongoing destruction by vast crown fires (due to 100 years of clear-cutting followed by fire suppression) has ripped me open. It's like my own flesh and blood is burning.

None of this makes me indigenous. I have no kin relationship with a tribe of the Original People there. I have no cultural memory of when my ancestors were normal humans (hunter-gatherer- permaculturist). It could be said I'm naturalizing.

Back in the '60s, the media spread a sensational rumor that people on LSD thought they could fly and then jumped out of 3rd story windows. This may have actually happened a few times. This did not mean that they could actually fly, and the results were predictable.

Why would I care for that analysis. Besides I'm not the one who lacks a critique of civilization history and leviathan. Most pocolons lack THAT analysis and hug to their elective identity discourse.

Do you understand anything about Métis people (including any of the history cited in "Settlers on the Red Road") and/or are you just affirming métissage, e.g. mixing, because it seems to fit with some of your tired talking points

The Metis are an example of a Leviathan Euro culture that regrounded their existence and ancestry in a new land which included mixing with a non Western outgroup. There's some inherently important lessons from that and mixing or not more of it needs to happen. I don't see indigenous existence as an identity to begin with so I simply don't scope these problems in the way your lot does. I also don't care for the hard colonizer/settler binary. All human indigeniety involved some level of colonization at some point. What matters is whether there is a marching hot historical leviathan component. Again, most pocolons don't care about those greater issues.

The idea of a pristine indigenous subject is itself a product of a counter statecraft that began with counter western nationalist independence struggles. I don't think anarchists/anarchs should be feeding those narrative war games and deep memes.

"The Metis are an example of a Leviathan Euro culture that regrounded their existence and ancestry in a new land which included mixing with a non Western outgroup."

no?

the Métis identity emerged from people who were already the product of indigenous and European intermixing. there was no "regrounding", i.e. a conscious act. there was a putting-of-a-name that already existed.

I'm not gonna make your arguments for you. But like, if you actually knew what you were talking about, you would understand that the Métis are not at all a good example of your own (asinine) politics

clarification: "to something that already existed", e.g. their largely francophone or French-adjacent, largely Catholic communities that were too racially admixed to mix into the prevailing white society and too Christianized to fit comfortably in indigenous cultural spaces

I know about the Metis context already dude. The point I'm making is that at the end of the day what started French on a different land became something else that was more connected to the North American Canadian landscape. Generally I consider that to be a good thing whether there is ancestral mixing or not.

Yes yes yes that is what the eternal migrational existent requires, a connection to land without the claim to ownership.

I mean, this is just weird, and bigtime spook territory

"What started French ... became something else"

What is the “what"? It is a transhistoric national essence. But you don't believe in those. Neither do I, incidentally

You don't call it a conscious act, true. I take it that this "regrounding" just means "colonizing" then... Something French and Catholic took root in this landscape. A positive thing I guess?

Just take the L, admit you don't know shit about shit

totally agree with you but your conclusion is perhaps too generous?

the trolls you're arguing with are in complete bad faith imo: their arguments hang on a categorical rejection of a coherent understanding of history. they work backwards from their shitty starting conclusions so they'll never admit that you destroyed their bullshit. they're not interested in truth ... maybe you already know this and you're just playing out the dialogue?

Duh. This thing call "colonizing" that you obsess over is simply not my problem. Again, there is not separation between colonization and indigenization as far as human movement goes. This is your silly leftarded pocolon language. There's no L to take on my end because I don't even accept your Idpol elective indigenous ideological nonsense.

of "settler" try "those-who-forget-where-they-come-from-and-by-this-forgetting-have-become-petulant-bullies".

I swear, all this "there are no rules" "I can do whatever" is what has us all in this modern Civilization death cult. There are no rules, let's build an atom bomb! I can do as I please, let me cut down all the trees! I don't have to take other people into account, let me attempt genocide and steal their culture!

I used to think anarchists knew how to think about the world, that by calling themselves anarchist they were displaying a certain acumen. Now I see this is only within certain parameters.

This article makes clear that Indigeneity is not solely about blood quanta or ancestry, but also not not involving those. It is about Ceremony and belonging too. And, it seems, about a reciprocity with the earth. None of that comes about merely by declaration.

People-who-have-forgotten-their-story, our first task is to remember and that will include remembering the harm we have done. The dead will not take responsibility, we the living have to, because someone has to in order for anything to become whole again.

a decent take.

"instead of "settler" try "those-who-forget-where-they-come-from-and-by-this-forgetting-have-become-petulant-bullies""

that's pretty much the justice system psychology right there: that it's wrong to forget about "what one has done", that those who commit transgressions are to be condemned to think about what they did until they ask some higher power for forgiveness, no remorse, no second chances. We are all going to listen to rants about settlers and white people if we dare speak out of turn.

Or maybe it's you whose the bully? You rant about things that other people have done, but you hide behind this anonymous handle and just throw these loaded words out there like some standard internet troll. Just...lol. The assumptions flow right out your mouth like diarrhea!

they gave you your phone in the SHU? sweet of them!

"better make sure the idiot has his phone"

"yeah, otherwise we'll have to listen to him"

For the sake of argument let's assume you are in the SHU. I am not in any way talking about whatever petty crime they have accused you of & locked you up for. Even murder. No one should be in prison and I'm not even talking about "justice " in that individual sense.

What we need to remember is the path we walked to get here, the absolute fuckery that some humans have perpetrated on the rest of the planet.
And my take is we must remember this not in order to feel guilt or to ask a higher power for forgiveness. We must remember so as to understand, to understand in order to NOT keep doing the shit that brought us here. But the people who actually committed those crimes are never the ones to go to prison, they deserve a different fate.
We did not commit the crimes but some of us, even if we do not want to, we benefit from those crimes.
To make it explicit, the past 600 years of European fuckery is what I'm referring to.

even further than that, i was reading how in robert grave's intro to "the greek myths" about the shift to patriarchy from "indigenous" tribes in europe, it must have happened a long time ago. He was relating that event to the knowledge that sexual intercourse leads to women getting pregnant where with many HGs they were overall somewhat clueless about how babies were made. The germanic tribes he spoke of thought women got pregnant by going into rivers until there was some untraceable shift to male-oriented hierarchies. Who knows? All the evidence has shown me that civilization is just an outgrowth of slavery/stratification and intensive agriculture, the old testament is more evidence of how long this stuff has been around...THOUSANDS of years...

The Europeans are only distinct from other people's in terms of the fact that their civilizations were the direct precursor of the more "big tent politik" capitalism where hierarchy is more diffuse and we have things like leftist identity politics, corporate bureaucracies which are increasingly using leftist identity politics...if you look in every other precursor to modern nation states across the world there was/is nationalism, patriarchy, racism...i see de-colonialism as part of the current civilization rather than some departure from it. The native Americans did not invent this thing we refer to as "the indigenous", it probably came out of western academia.

While I don't disagree with you necessarily, don't you think undoing the last 600 years is enough of a task? Once we do that, then let's talk about the rest, ;-)

The only task required is to depopulate gradually over the next centuries to about 3 to 4 billion and cease consumerism. Not a complicated big task.
But we know this won't happen so maybe Nature will scuttle this ship of fools and make it happen.

,",,the knowledge that sexual intercourse leads to women getting pregnant where with many HGs they were overall somewhat clueless about how babies were made" Huh, wuh??!!
Many HGs are NOT clueless about how babies are born, and their myths are not as unbelievable as the dominant one believed by a majority of Europeans today, namely the divine Immaculate conception.

I don't think that's the issue. The Masterless Men pretty much forgot where they came from when they went all Croatan in Atlantic Canada and they became the ultimate example of post-civilized anarchy in the process.

Believe it or not Archaic indigenous Americans were once 'colonizers' over 12 000 years ago. They probably carried over old Siberian ways of being. Note the similarities between North Americans and certain indigenous Mongolians for example. The issue isn't colonization but the type of system and scale that they are bringing to the new lands. In the case of Euros it's a bad case of a toxic built up Leviathan disease. The Vikings on the other hand had a much more negligible effect. Some indigenous groups like the Aztecs are crudely leviathanic and the more anarchic indigenous tribes/bands were ready to do anything to get rid of them including team up with the Spanish.

You have governments in Botswana and Namibia that are made up of indigenous ethnicities that the San have to put up with and do propaganda battle against just to preserve their ways. Those governments are currently a bigger issue to groups like them the Pygmies and other survivor international groups then the now departed whiteys. Again, it's about the state and the greater logic of history, civilization and leviathan that's the prime root issue.

Post-colonialism is mostly coming from upper crust black yellow and brown ethnicities who are not interested in the greater radical issues I mentioned.

I always connected with the Fuegians because of their rugged non-materialistic intense interpersonal clan relational system. Darwin thought lowly of them, well that's to be expected from an Empire man with Malthusian values. I think their passive empathic qualities had them driven south over millenia to the most harsh and inhospitable part of the Americas, but their overwhelming inner strength and intersocial bonds had them surviving there. To a degree I think that most of the most excellent indigenous variants were driven to the harshest places by their leviathanic cousins. I think they accepted the idea of an eternal migrational existence.

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