I can’t wait until our own people start to protest lateral violence within our Anishinaabe communities. I can’t wait until we start demanding action be taken and misogynistic tribal councilor’s are removed. I can’t wait to see the mass of Anishinaabe people at Tribal government buildings demanding that corruption be stopped. I can’t wait to see our people with protests signs that say – LOVE WATER NOT ALCOHOL. I can’t wait until we stop running from our own communities and do the work within.
I am aware of “large actions” against Line 5 – “the straits sunken hazard.” However I am even more aware of the apparent visible hazards of addiction, sexual abuse, and lateral violence within our Anishinaabe communities. We need not run from these problems but to face them directly. This is the greatest direct action!
The problem with anti-social media is no one can have 5,000 “friends” or “followers.” That is a small town you’ve accumulated in a virtual un-reality. Even in small towns not everyone gets along. This is why small towns are often quiet and the curtains are drawn because it is better to keep to yourself.
Personally, I am at a breaking point with the lateral violence. This is a call for help. This is a decolonial treatise, if you will.
Decolonization – For Real
I have been involved in community work (I don't use the word activism) since I was 12 years old when I fought against gentrification in my hometown of Royal Oak, Michigan. Now Royal Oak is a place I wouldn’t want to live. For 7 years I have resided in the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Territory – or colonially known as Manistee, Michigan. I have a love and hate relationship with this place. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is a non-community meaning there is no community with this tribe. The level of heteropatriarchy and misogyny is extreme here. As an Ojibway/Métis Two-Spirit, I have experienced more lateral violence here than I can count from men and women. On the flipside, there are also people who supported me in crisis, usually more conservative people. Mostly what I love about Naaminitigong (Manistee) is the land and water. The non-community troubles me but fuels my life work.
Heal Yourself to Heal Your People
Fighting a pipeline is bullshit when you haven’t healed yourself. If you are struggling with an addiction seek help right now. Stop running from your pain. Besides big oil will win and it is better to get to the root cause of trauma within our communities that continuously fight against one another. Big oil doesn’t care about Treaty Rights or Native American rights, we all know this. You aren’t going to change big oil’s mind with a protest and they actually think it’s funny you are out there “resisting.” It is the same old song and nothing will change by screaming at cars driving by on the Mackinaw Bridge. This is Michigan and I come from a Ford family. My great-Grandfather was a Union Organizer who assisted in the building and the founding the UAW (United Auto Workers). Without the ancestors hard and monotonous labor we wouldn’t have the world that we have today. We need cars because we can get to protests. Otherwise how do you get there? So what solutions do you propose post oil and post auto industry? The auto industry has a strong hold on Michigan and these actions won't change it any time soon. I praise the auto industry for innovation and changing our world. Do I love the auto industry? No, I am not in love with it and changes can be made within it.
I’m Sick of Standing Rock
For those of us who resisted in our home territory we see that Standing Rock did nothing to heal you. Are you really a warrior when you attack your own people? You are not a warrior when you degrade, insult, and bully another person. I am sick of hearing about people who went to Standing Rock. So what? I went to the racist work environment on numerous occasions. I wake up in the colonial white supremacist land as a Two-Spirit every single day boldly walking a sober road. The frontlines are our lives and not this show of power and ego when it comes to “resistance.”
If you are authentic in your work you need not make a show of it. This is ego as well as insecurity. If you are a true warrior then live it and say nothing of your work. I am not interested in a show of power or a show of ego (insecurity). You prove you are more in alignment with Diocletian or King Henry VIII when you do this. I believe in the old Anishinaabe ways. I believe in what the ancestral and hereditary Chiefs in my lineage might say. Blood memory means we may feel this or get insights via dreams, intuition, etc. This leadership is often not even welcome in our own Anishinaabe communities. Leadership is nurtured throughout one’s lifetime. It is not something you attain and then know everything. If you think like this then you are still in alignment with King Henry VIII and not Ogema Waub Aijaak (Chief White Crane). Leading an authentic life means you don’t need validation of your work by anyone.
Zaagidewin – Love Is the Solution
My treatise doesn’t declare surrendering. In fact, I am gaining strength. I am tired of “water protectors,” who are violent towards their own people or smoke “medical marijuana” around their Anishinaabe children. Anishinaabe are around other Anishinaabe at events and no one can talk to each other. Then you bully me because I am strong, independent, fierce, educated, creative, intellectual, healed, and healing. You say I am “intense” because I work very hard for our communities. You lack intensity because you are normal and boring. I challenge the patriarchy within men and women. I challenge those who who hog the stage and are not allowing anyone else to be up there. This is not the work of our people or in our 7 Grandmother (ehem) and Grandfather Teachings. There are elders who are not passing the torch to the next leaders so I will make my own place to lead without ya’ll supporting me. This brokenness needs repair.
There is no Anishinaabe “community.” There is no “Michigan Native community.” At this point the oppressor has won. Colonization and genocide has never ended and we are now continuing this oppression in our own non-communities towards each other. All the buzz words of “resistance,” “decolonization,” and “water protection,” fail because we need to empower our people by and for each other. Forget the pipeline – get alcohol off of our tribal lands!
I love my parents. I love my family. I love the LaPointe’s. I love the Sanborn's. I love the land. I love the water. I love Michigamig. I even love my enemies. These are my teachings. The more hate, anger, jealousy, hostility, and lateral violence you send me the more I grow my love. This garden I tend is beautiful – can you see it? This work is lonely but I continue forward working from – zaagidewin – love. Chi miigwech Mishomis LaPointe for supporting me from the so called “other side.” You are always with us.
Nigig-enz Baapi (Little Laughing Otter)