Fire Walk With Me: a report back from the indigenous anarchist convergence
from phoenix anarchy
I answered a call to gather around a fire with Black, Indigenous, People of Color in Kinłání at Táala Hooghan Infoshop. Somewhere at the gathering, I expected to be in the presence of indigenous anarchism. I did not know if indigenous anarchism was the fire we would gather around, if it was the individuals converging, or if it was an empty space where individuals were to ignite the flames. It’s safe to say, my expectations were met. I witnessed an indigenous anarchism but it was unfamiliar to me, a Diné anarchist.
Truthfully, it’s inaccurate to say that the indigenous anarchism I saw was unfamiliar because that implies it possessed unidentifiable attributes. I, very much, recognized the features of the fire and I recognized the methods to build that fire. In this case, the features were global indigenous justice and the methods were university jargon of the humanities discipline. The social movement that will be the fires of this indigenous anarchism require more and more indigenous resistance as the fuel to grow and grow the burning. What happens when we run out of fuel? Who do we reach out to for a fresh supply? I ask myself those questions knowing full well they will be answered quickly, meaning uncritically, by any individual enthusiastic with my premonition. Admittedly, the fire I had gathered around was not so much unfamiliar as it was unappealing.
This was unappealing because I also answered the call as an indigenous anarchist [“sickened by fascinations with dead white-men’s thoughts (and their academies and their laws), reformist & reactionary “decolonial activisms”, and the uninspired merry-go-round of leftist politics as a whole”]. However, I found that many of the people in attendance were academics, activists, de-colonizers, and leftists that were in very good health despite their proximity to these toxic superstructures. Academics vigorously drawing from their learning curated by western liberal intellectualism while being hungry for another direction with an agreeable pan-indigenous guide. Activists energetically sharing their praxis acquired from footage of Standing Rock while local indigenous struggles remained unknown. De-colonizers robustly calling out problematic land acknowledgements for not being inclusionary while missing the value of being specific to the land they’re on. Then finally, leftists focusing on their vision of centralized solidarity as one voice united to change the world while the incoherence from every voice making individual demands to exhaust authority was never considered.
Yes, the indigenous anarchism I saw was kind of unfamiliar and mostly unappealing but I would not say the gathering was unsuccessful. I believe people will grow this indigenous anarchism. An ideology succinct enough for Instagram stories, 280 character limit tweets, and vibrant screen printed art, excuse me, memes. A movement global enough to essentialize a racial, humanist, and material struggle of indigeneity so others will comfortably speak for any absent voice. A resistance so monolithic the powers that be could easily identify then repress all indigenous anarchists.
For me, success would be more disagreements that are challenging and hopefully with humor. I’d rather agree or disagree with a new suggestion rather than dispute laudatory presumptions grounded in radical liberalism that has been indigenized, north american style, only for flair.
I understand an indigenous person can have a complicated personal relationship with their indigeneity and their role within the violent dominance of capitalist settler-colonialism. Additionally, I understand an individual’s linear journey to Anarchism began somewhere and maybe they still sympathetically carry ideological mementos from their past. Facetiousness aside, I am glad people may have found potential from this gathering to develop their indigenous anarchist ideas.
The potential I have discovered at the convergence is the particulars of Diné anarchy. Fires made from crystal and fires made from turquoise. Fires bright enough to find the light of other Diné anarchists in this dark world I find myself in. A world sickened from the industrialization of civilized humans whose culture of control and destruction forces all living things to adopt, adapt, or die. I suggest that Diné anarchy offers the addition of a choice to attack. An assault on our enemy that weakens their grip on, not only our glittering world, but the worlds of others. An opportunity for the anarchy of Ndee, of O’odham, and so on, to exact revenge on their colonizers. Until all that’s left for Diné anarchists is to dissuade the endorsements of the next idol expecting our obedience.