Traverse City: The Dangerous Intersection of Bourgeoisie White Liberalism and Colonial “Land Conservation”

Traverse City, Michigan is a dangerous place.  White liberalism is dangerous.  White liberalism is colonization and therefore Traverse City, Michigan is full of the bourgeoisie colonial White liberals.  If the folks in Traverse City want to poke fun at Manistee, Michigan then at least the folks in the sticks down by the river are outright racist rather than pretending they are “do gooder White liberals.”  If there is a hierarchy in racism – pretending you are not racist is far worse.

The disease of colonization has White liberals believing that their hands aren’t dirty.  Go to Africa and bring colonial help instead of empowering Native folks right in your own backyard.  Open a co-op in a so called working class neighborhood in lily White Traverse City and please don’t feel good about yourself.  Do bike lanes make you feel even better?  Too bad your liberal city is the most sprawled out in Northern Michigan.  Conservatives pretty much run Grand Traverse County so liberals really don’t have power. 

ThrasedbyALadyCyclist.jpg

Bourgeoisie White Liberalism

Liberalism wants to not identify with conservatism.  If you are talking about the majority culture colonial politics in the United States then these are two sides to the same coin.  Good luck challenging the system by believing in the system.  Therefore, bourgeoisie White liberalism is colonialism and believes in the current system.  

Shut down Line 5?  What about help others choose recovery in your own backyard as environmental justice?  Or bringing a migrant farm worker family some clothes or decent housing that isn’t filled with mold?  If you drive a car then there is no reason to fight big oil?  Have plastic in your home?  Then get rid of everything that is associated with oil.  A partial list of products made from oil.  I am pro-industry but I believe the patriarchal industry needs to change.  I am pro-industry for the working class people.  I am pro-industry for the workers and the bread on the table.  I am from a working class family with UAW and CWA roots.  We need to change our ways but change and transformation takes time.  This downplaying of the poor and working class (who are mostly Native and People of Color) degrades the wealth and time of labour.  I am akin to the worker because it is in my blood and soul.  The sweat and tears for family and community instills a pride in labour.  Bourgeoisie White liberalism wants to end this labour without many solutions and doesn’t take into consideration colonial resource extraction in Indigenous communities to make their so called “environmental friendly,” Prius.

“Eco-consciousness” and “green living” are centrepieces of product branding for the Toyota Prius. But that feel-good packaging has rapidly worn thin for members of the Algonquin Nation and residents of Kipawa, Quebec, who are now fighting to protect traditional Algonquin territory from devastation in the name of hybrid car battery production.
In 2011, after nearly two years of negotiations, Matamec Explorations, a Quebec-based junior mining exploration company, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Toyotsu Rare Earth Canada (TRECan), a Canadian subsidiary of Japan-based Toyota Tsusho Corporation. The memorandum confirmed Matamec’s intention to become “one of the first heavy rare earths producers outside of China.” In pursuit of this role, the company plans to build an open-pit Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE) mine directly next to Kipawa Lake, the geographical, ecological, and cultural centre of Kipawa.” - Toyota Prius Not So Green After All

Water is life but that sounds like pro-life.  How about water is love?  Water is healing?  Water is scary!  Have you ever seen 15 foot waves on Gitchee Gumee (Lake Superior) in November?  That is life but it is also death.  See story on the Edmund Fitzgerald

Colonial Land Conservation

There are White environmental groups who plague the city.  This money is funneled from White conservation foundations who grant to White environmental organizations to save the bay or save the bike lane.  There is an outright discrimination in philanthropy towards Native led groups as well.

“Over the past decade, U.S. foundation support benefiting Native Americans declined from 0.5 percent to 0.3 percent of total foundation giving. According to Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples, total grant dollars targeting Native Americans dropped 30.8 percent in the latest year, compared to a 14.1 percent overall downturn in foundation giving. This report was prepared by the Foundation Center with Native Americans in Philanthropy.” – Report: Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples, by Native Americans in Philanthropy & the Foundation Center (2011)

You don’t see White environmental groups prioritizing Indigenous communities or talking about that colonization is still taking place through their work.  They just tokenize Indigenous people and usually Indigenous men to maintain the stereotype of the strong Indian man warrior.  Because warriors aren’t women or Two-Spirits, right? 

Summer Tourism

The worst place to go in the summer is Traverse City swimming with a sea of tourists from Midwestern cities fleeing their colonial suburban homes. They want their taste of northern Michigan with easy access to overpriced shops and food snobbery.  What you get is people who want easy access to consumption tourism.  They don’t want to be where there is nobody or no sound – that’s too frightening.   

Take Off the Mask

You might as well take off the mask Traverse City.  Your true colors don’t have much color.  You look a little peeked, pale, and famished.  You have a problem and that is your provincial bubble of so called “liberalism.” But you are surrounding by red as a beet conservatism in Grand Traverse County. 

The attitude from Traverse City to Manistee or any place else is arrogance.  Just because the White road of success was laid out so you can have a cozy White life doesn’t mean you bash the folks who were born in dire poverty down by the river in Manistee.  Your bourgeoisie Whiteness makes you a racist asshole.  Many of those folks born down by the river happen to be Odawa Native American.   

Racial Justice

White liberals in Traverse City don’t care about addressing racism.  Having a “Human Rights Commission,” doesn’t mean much when there is discrimination in housing, work, and other areas in your city.  Nothing to pat yourself on the back about.  You have a lot of work to do.  Tokenizing minorities in the workplace is racism. 

Bad Medicine in Traverse City

I am pointing the finger at you and your nasty city.  Most every person I have ever met from Traverse City with the exception of a very few has bad medicine.  Every meeting I have gone there from work has turned to shit because the people are shit.  I’ve heard “Manistee-tucky,” and “we are better than Manistee,” from mostly White hillbillies who think they are somehow above the realness of Manistee.  I was there one time for work on my car and a White guy said, “you don’t look Native American, you look Pakistani.”  Do you get out much from your White town?  Then he went on to say, “the Native people around here are fat.  They are lazy.  They don’t live the culture.”   The town is so full of racism that my list could go on and on. 

From my point of view, the excessive amount of money (i.e. – Old Mission Colonial Peninsula) taints the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.  Members of this tribe are influenced by the gentry and bourgeoisie White liberalism that taints the land.  The culture is not strong nor is it intact.  The patriarchal Christian White influence has infiltrated the tribe.  Money is driving the band and if you have money before culture you lose the people.  My tribe is very poor but the culture is intact.  There are many many many sober community members who do the work and help other community members heal across Anishinaabe Aki.  This bad medicine in Traverse City has tainted any sort of centering Anishinaabe people in the region.  I will not do work in Traverse City and avoid that place like the plague.  If we have a meeting you can meet me in real salt of the Earth places such as Manistee or the anywhere in the UP! 

Defending Manistee

Not revealing too much about who we are one thing I can know is Manistee is real.  Manistee is far more diverse being inside the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians reservation.  My friend visited from Detroit and was happy to see Black and mixed families in Manistee.  We are real and not fake.  Manistee is not without problems.  Conservatives in Manistee here have encouraged my work on racial justice.  They are acquaintances at the park and friends.  When I first moved to Manistee I was impressed with Odawa kids playing with mixed race and Polish kids.  There is racism here too and White liberals who deny there is a problem.  Some have gone to Africa to paternalistically “help.”  Some who say they are Christians when they find the biggest sand dune and bury their head in it when racism is in their own backyard.  Manistee is working class and real.  Thank you Manistee for creating allies with conservatives and doing community work with people that is truly inclusive.

An Ojibway/Métis Two-Spirit Statement on Standing Rock

Ojibway/Metis Introduction – Standing on the Soil at Home

This is my Ojibway/Métis Two-Spirit introduction and declaration.  I never felt called to go to Standing Rock.  I have had enough violations, violence, racism, discrimination, bullying, and hate in my life that I didn’t need to voluntarily subject myself to further torture.  I did not receive “likes” or hundreds of comments for enduring workplace discrimination on numerous occasions nor did I gain internet “followers” who saw my documentation of the horrors of racism and taking action against this injustice.  The reason I mention standing up for myself and taking action is because where is everyone in everyday life supporting Indigenous people right where you live?  Everyone felt the need to run off to Standing Rock.  It is bad everywhere – racism is right out your front door and on every inch of this land.  Taking action against a racially hostile work environment deserves equal treatment from so called “allies.”  Additionally, the violence of heteropatriarchal settler colonialism oppression is still here and this means we live in a racist world.  I have a right to my serenity and peace given the oppression I have faced and struggles I have overcome.  Do you see why I didn’t want to go out to Standing Rock?  

Please note that this piece doesn’t represent Red Circle Consulting, Waub Ajijaak Press, or any of the organizations that I’ve consulted with or currently work with.  This piece represents Ojibway/Metis Two-Spirit self-determination and sharing my voice based in reporting live from Anishinaabe Aki.  Additionally, I work with Honor the Earth and they had a main presence at Standing Rock.  I was indirectly but directly involved in the work there but mostly behind the scenes.  This is frontline work that should be validated and is just as equally important labor.

Environmental Racism Since 1492

There are currently at least 532 superfund sites in Indian Country.  A sacred site that my tribe – the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, which was battled for 11 years is being mined beneath.  This site is Migizi Wa Sin – Eagle Rock.  We have no access to this sacred site as it is gated with a barbed wire fence.  This didn’t garner international attention and probably never will.  Yet, people and some distant relatives from my tribe camped out, resisted, and were arrested.  Migizi Wa Sin is one battle of many that was fought and lost because or resource colonization, environmental violence, and environmental racism.  Therefore, environmental racism has existed since 1492.  Environmental racism is the reservation or reserve system.  Environmental violence is the availability of alcohol, drugs, and toxic foods on our lands and within reservation boundaries.  Environmental violence also includes: reproductive injustice, sterilization of our women, mining, pipelines, toxic buildings, and discrimination towards Two-Spirits.

Racism and Assault in Everyday Life

Most non-Native people were shocked at the level of militarized violence at Standing Rock.  I'm not minimizing the oppression, pain, trauma, collective trauma, or colonial state sanctioned militarized violence that happened there.  However I wasn’t shocked because every turn you make in the world as a Native person can mean you will face discrimination, racism, hate, and violence.  The majority culture didn’t absolve itself of its sins by showing up for a week, 3 weeks, or 3 months at Standing Rock.  Action needs to be taken every day and where you live.

Native people are still invisible.  Our issues are still ignored.  The root cause of the many issues we face are not addressed.  One can’t live traditionally and harvest wild rice when land has been divided up by the Dawes Act.  If we want to ice fish we can only do so in locations where we will not experience racism.  We are not allowed into certain areas, cities, or towns because we will never be allowed into a certain income bracket.  Sometimes we are heckled by just walking down the street or shopping in a grocery store.  The colonial creation of poverty is racism.  How much alcohol is piped into tribal communities?  How do we stop this form of environmental violence and racism?  There are many questions to be raised and discussions to be had.  Walls need to be broken and bridges need to be built.  This always needs to be Indigenous led by and for our people.

Plains Indians are Only the Real Indians

The world became obsessed with Standing Rock.  The world didn’t become obsessed with Eagle Rock – Migizi Wa Sin, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Neskantaga First Nation, systemic racism in Thunder Bay or Winnipeg, Ontario, etc.  It became obsessed with the Plains tribe.  As an Ojibway/Métis I see this obsession with other Native groups who are often viewed as the “real Indians.”  Here in the Great Lakes our ancestry has been mixing for a long time hence my Ojibway/Métis identity and heritage.  We are still real Indians despite the bogus blood quantum standard set up to prove being Indian, which the US government created for annihilation purposes.  I believe the reason Standing Rock gained so much attention is because the majority culture has lumped "Plains Indians," into a group and therefore this social construction of the "real Indian" exists.  Hence the obsession and widespread cultural appropriation with the "Plains Indians" headdress.  The majority culture has been fetishizing, romanticizing, and appropriating "Plains Indians" for a long time.  Would this movement in Standing Rock had been as large if the tribe was a less well known tribe?  Probably not!

Celebrities

My personal belief is that there is no reason to trust any celebrity who showed up at Standing Rock.  They are not amplifying our voices as Native people.  They are amplifying their voices.  They have never lived on a reservation, or lived the life of a Native person, nor can the ever speak for us.  Frankly, I will not give them any power or allow them to speak for me.  They aren’t doing anything radical then going home to their plush home and existence.  Posting on anti-social media with hashtags doesn’t make you radical.  Actions in everyday life make you radical.  I believe they need to stay far away from Indigenous led movements and let us lead!   

The Money Trail

Meanwhile there are many water issues and continuous states of emergencies in many First Nations and Native communities across Turtle Island.  I encourage everyone to read about Neskantaga First Nation.  Not minimizing oppression or the militarized violence that took place at Standing Rock but it is not the only place where all action is needed.  So where are all the donations going?  Can anyone answer this?  Millions of dollars were donated but we don’t know where it is going.  How can we trust that the money is being spent for what it has been raised for?  In searching on gofundme.com for “Standing Rock,” 6,069 results come up.  Some of these results include money raised for: compost toilets, wood stoves, yurts, solar trailers, tattoos, and general winter supplies.  Another fundraising website called YouCaring.com had 392 results for Standing Rock.  There were fundraisers for things such as: Support the Traditional Elders of Standing Rock or Water is Life: Two-Spirit Warriors & Water Protectors.  Specifically I commend fundraisers for elders and Two-Spirits.  However, where is all this money actually going for everything else? 

The Standing Rock Obsession

I had nearly a dozen people ask me, “are you going to Standing Rock?”  I am not a mainstream person and I believe this movement was hijacked by mainstream people, big green NGO’s, and celebrities.  Many “activists,” are pretty darn mainstream in how they live by ingesting alcohol, drugs, television, etc.  I don’t identify as an activist but a “community worker” in a world where we have “non-community.”  I am glad visibility was brought to Native people but I felt it was brought in a fetishized way, yet again.

No I didn’t want to live in a tipi.  I am Ojibway and my ancestors lived in a traditional birch bark house called the wiigwam.  This became all people focused on.  From the moment this movement took a more mainstream approach, which it did once the big green’s showed up, I knew that I didn’t want to be there.  Some other Native folks called the camp, “sacred stone colony.”  Yes being colonized by white people thinking that they are helping the Indians.  Not interested in your white liberalism and fetishization of me, my family, relatives, or ancestors.  This obsession took a colonial turn and I knew it wasn’t for me.  I decided to stay at home in Anishinaabe Aki and hold it down on the land and water here.  Praying and doing work in your home territory is just as important.  Warriors need to stay and pray!  This is everyday resistance!

Moving Beyond the Typical “Frontlines,” Definition

Many people have felt called to go to Standing Rock from many Indigenous nations across Turtle Island and the world.  Many warriors were called by the ancestors to go to Standing Rock.  This is a very respectable and resilient action.  However as a Two-Spirit I have questioned my safety even in a space that could be designated safe for me hence the Two-Spirit camp at Standing Rock.  I don’t mean safety as in violence but safety as in how I live my life.  That I would be required to wear a skirt when this is a colonial concept.  Men and men identifying people also wore skirts traditionally.  I would constantly have to demand space for myself and this gets exhausting.   Additionally, as an introvert how would I manage being at a camp with people who I couldn’t necessarily trust?  I don’t thrive on being around people because as an introvert they drain me.

There has been a direct and violent attacks towards warriors and I am not minimizing their efforts, heart, or soul because this is state sanctioned oppression that our Indigenous warriors seek to challenge.  There are frontlines at Standing Rock and there are frontlines in daily life.  We get caught up in what “frontlines,” work means and we need to expand our definition.  For some the frontlines are making it through a day, surviving colonial imposed economic poverty, surviving racism, healing themselves, addiction recovery, mentoring a youth to rise above oppression, or taking care of an abandoned elder.  Defining “warrior,” as someone always at the “frontlines,” is bogus and closed minded.  Warriors for our people are everywhere.  A warrior is a single mom living in poverty who loves their child with so much love.  A warrior is someone in recovery and taking it, yes, one day at a time.  A warrior is someone who stands up against racism in the workplace.  A warrior is someone who survives community ostracizing and being an outcast.  A warrior is someone who has no one to call when in a time of trouble but makes it through the day, week, month, years, or their life.  A warrior is someone who never knows true love or never has a partner but continues living in the world.  A warrior is someone who has no family, networks, resources, or a place to truly call home.  A warrior is the prisoner.  A warrior is the silenced never given a space to share their voice.  Remember us!

Healing Justice

Since the resistance camps at Standing Rock were supposed to be a sober space I’m wondering how many people there chose recovery from their addictions?  This is more than fighting the black snake.  It is about fighting the illness which has been internalized.  This illness could be addiction in any form: alcoholism, marijuana, pharmaceuticals, sexual, social media, etc.  This illness could be eating toxic foods.  This illness could be accepting a toxic masculine mindset to plague your life.  This illness could be violence towards the self or others.  This illness is the illness of patriarchy, rape culture, the sexualization of the female body, and sexual violence towards any gender or gender identity.  There is certainly a lot to heal in our world.  We all have a lot of work to do.  No one person carries this burden on their shoulders alone.

Healing justice is difficult work because it goes unnoticed in a very boisterous, narcissistic, and “selfie” world.  Does anyone talk on the phone anymore?  Since the dawn of 140 characters and accumulating “followers,” I have found that people rarely respond to emails or don’t like to talk on the phone.  Being that I am Generation X, I’m not down with this at all.  We can’t heal by just being on a screen of our “smartphone,” or “liking” radical Indigenous statuses.  Really folks, how does this make change but stroke egos?  We have to do this work out in the world.  But do it and don’t boast about it.  Humble yourself in the eyes of the Creator.  Seriously social media is not deprogramming either for those that think they are so “radical.”  It is a tool of mind and social control to keep you all hooked.  It is another addiction similar to TV and shortening your attention span and ability to think for long periods of time.  How many of you out there can sit down and read a book for hours on end?  Probably just a few of you.

Closed Reservations and White Liberal Saviors

Not all reservations have open doors and in fact the door is shut tight to outsiders.  Every white liberal in the world can now say that they have been to Standing Rock and on a “reservation.”  This is all Native land!  I have lived on a reservation for 6 years and traveled to my tribal community since I was a kid.  Going to a reservation better not become to latest “mission,” trip.  Oh wait those already happen.  Take your mission trips to cul-de-sacs of suburbia and do work in your own perfectly plotted community.

The action in Standing Rock doesn’t mean that all other communities will be open.  In fact, we are very closed and sometimes to our own people.  It is absolutely obnoxious that this has happened and stating “we are all one” is actually very violent and colonial.  We are not all one and we need to honor the deep pain of generation trauma, current invisibility, current injustices, and that we are survivors of genocide that has never been acknowledged in the colonial United States.  Some hippie-dippie walks into Standing Rock for the “experience,” and to feel good.  Uh-uh, no way, and go away.  I am not looking to feel good all the time but to be real and do the work that needs to be done in our Anishinaabe communities.  Our lives as Native people should never be an “experience” for non-Native people.  Unfortunately the level of exotification and festishization is deeply prevalent coming from the majority culture.

What You Can Do to Take Action and Actually Support Indigenous People Everyday!

  1. Stop using the term “ally.”  It is obnoxious and insulting.  Klee Benally (Diné) has a really great zine on “Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex.”  Read this!                        
  2. Listen to Indigenous voices: storytellers, writers, poets, public speakers, intellectuals, and academics.
  3. Deconstruct Native stereotypes in your local community such as in mascots in high schools, colleges, and other forms of discrimination and racism that are right outside your front door.
  4. Think of the many ways you can amplify Indigenous voices through supporting Indigenous made films, reading books by Indigenous authors, purchasing music, attending powwows, artists markets, and craft fairs.
  5. Know what treaty land you are on as well as the traditional name of the place you reside in.  For instance, Manistee, Michigan – Naaminitigong, which means “the land beneath the trees.”  Naaminitigong is in the 1836 Treaty Territory.
  6. Understand what Two-Spirit means based on the tribe in the area you reside.  This is not a pan-Indian definition.  Know what Two-Spirit means and how you can support amplifying Two-Spirit people, their voices, and their stories in your area.
  7. Form an Indigenous-settler support group in your high school, college, or community.  Truly do the work, show up, be challenged, and grow far beyond your comfort zone.
  8. Decolonize organizing.  Let Native people lead in movements and organizing.  Particularly give voice to women, LGBTQ-Two-Spirited people, youth, elders, and the disabled.  So often Native people are tokenized but never truly given leadership roles or space to speak.  We desperately need to change this.
  9. Don’t fetishize us and know that with our own communities nothing is perfect.  There is internalized patriarchy, internalized sexism, internalized homophobia, nepotism in tribal governments, and overall toxic lateral violence.  If you are to work with us and support us you need to know that lateral violence is an unfortunate social colonial illness that plagues most of our communities. 
  10. Celebrate daily personal victories for Indigenous people such as “one day at a time,” SOBRIETY!  HEALING!  RECOVERY! 

Returning & Amplifying Our Work in Our Home Territories

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe asked folks in January to pack up and go home from all camps as well as not build any new resistance camps without the consent of the tribe.  I feel this is a good move and believe we all need to do work in our home territories.  While this was the largest gathering of Indigenous people on Turtle Island since colonization, it is not the only gathering.  I know there will be other gatherings, actions, and forms of resistance.  Perhaps the next gathering or action will be larger and create an even deeper and meaningful impact for generations to come?  There are gatherings, actions, and forms of resistance daily.  We need to grow and amplify our work by and for our people.  I respect and love our various Indigenous prophecies across Turtle Island but we have to commit to this work in order for it to be a reality.  This is the union – blue collar worker raised, practical Midwestern, and Michigander in me speaking.  This war has always been taking place since the colonization and erasure of our people starting in 1492.  This has always been a disgrace from the naming and occupation of lands to states, counties, and cities.  For Native people our eyes have always been open and now the rest of the world is seeing through our lens.  Think about your every action and intention.  What can be done at home?  Take a look at other Indigenous led environmental struggles you can support right in your own backyard.  Remember environmental justice is not just about land defending and water protection.  It is about healing our people, sobriety, wellbriety, and recovery.  So let’s all get behind love water not alcohol too, eh?

What can you do to heal relationships in your life?  To heal yourself and your family.  To bring healing to your tribal community.  What can you do to give voice to those who need it the most?  What are some ways you can decolonize on a day to day basis?  Think of other ways to amplify this work, healing, and bring justice in your home territories. 

Resources

“Dear White People, Standing Rock Is Not Burning Man”

Reporter's notebook: Standing Rock is not the new Woodstock

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 1], Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, & Part 6

Standing Rock to the World: 10 Indigenous and Environmental Struggles You Can Support in 2017

Video: Aamjiwnaang Water Project

Video: Migizi Wa Sin – Eagle Rock

Video: Sirens Over Aamjiwnaang

Weeding Out the Allies from the White Saviors at Standing Rock  

Poem: From Eagle Rock to Standing Rock

Every treaty broken,
Meanwhile genocidal amnesia plagues the land,

We have never left the land,
We have always spoken for the land,
We have never left the water,
We have always spoken for the water,

From Eagle Rock way up in the UP,
In the 1842 Treaty of LaPointe territories,
In Anishinaabe Aki,
To the Ring of Fire,
Attawapiskat First Nation,
Neskantaga First Nation,
Aamjiwnaang First Nation,
To Standing Rock,
We join hands across Turtle Island,
Our tears become the cleansing waters,

Hands on the land,
Hands on the water,
Standing for the land,
Standing for the water,

Ancestors draw near,
Touch our hearts and souls,
As a people we rise,
Together in prayer,

Across Turtle Island injustice is normalized,
Through militarized colonial violence,
Denial of Indigenous identity,
Voice or visibility,
Our sacred sites gated with barbed wire and barricades,
They tell us our lands are not as worthy as a church,
Dominion reigns,

Eagle Rock is mined below,
We have no access to it,
Contamination of the soul is welcome,
We seek to bring healing,

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community fought for 12 years,
The colonial white government ignores our voices,
Colonization has never ended,

The security guards laugh and take pictures,
I tell them this is our land,
My heart connected to Migizi Wa Sin,
Through the barbed wire fence,
Our heart is Migizi Wa Sin,
I love you my family,
I love you my relatives,
I love you my ancestors,
I love our land,
I love our water,
The ancestors still protect Migizi Wa Sin,
We still protect Migizi Wa Sin,

Missing and murdered Indigenous women,
Girls and Two-Spirits,
Sex trafficking,
The Bakken,
Duluth,
Thunder Bay,
The ports,
Broken hearts,
Broken lives,
Wounded souls,
We never wanted to live this way,

The water flows under the steel and iron,
The voice silenced,
She never wanted to live this way,
Maybe the water will lead her to safety?
To heal,
To be renewed,

We are all rising,
So no one else goes missing in the oil fields,
On a Great Lakes freighter,

We are all rising,
To prevent more pipelines,
Which bring the toxic and patriarchal violence of "man camps,"
To say no more to colonial sexual violence,
We are on the tributary of a healing to a decolonized future,
When we stand and speak,

Eagle Rock is our ancestral soul,
Standing Rock is our ancestral soul,
Resonation in healing justice,

Heart,
Spirit,
Land,
Water is life,

The ancestral soul is rising,
We are rising,
We are here,
We are here with our ancestors,
We are here with the ones to come,

We are singing,
We are dancing,
We are speaking,
We are healing,
We are love.

Article: Michigan Sells Treaty-Protected, Pristine Public Land for Limestone Mine


A group of American Indians in Michigan have lost their bid to block a land transfer of nearly 9,000 acres to a company proposing a limestone mine—the “largest single public land deal in Michigan history,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

The attempted injunction was the last legal line of defense against the mine, which would cover as many as 13,000 acres, according to the Detroit Free Press. In the deal, which was approved in March, the state will sell 8,810 acres of “surface land or underground mineral rights” to Graymont, a Canadian mining company, for $4.53 million so it can build the limestone mine in the Upper Peninsula, the Detroit Free Press said.

The group—comprised of members of several tribes—had filed suit in Grand Rapids trying to stop the Michigan Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh from transferring land to Graymont Mining Co., based on treaty rights. The mine would be built on about 10,360 acres in the northern peninsula, the  Associated Press reported.

"The land subject to transfer is wholly within the 1836 Treaty of Washington Ceded Territory and subject to the conditions laid out in the 2007 Inland Consent Decree,” said lead plaintiff Phil Bellfy in a statement. “It would be unconstitutional for the MDNR Director to transfer those lands as we—American Indians—have Treaty rights to "the usual privileges of occupancy" on those 11,000 acres. We are asking the Court to step in and preserve our Treaty rights and enjoin Mr. Craegh from transferring that land."

Bellfy said that the land transfer is unconstitutional under treaty provisions. The Michigan Department of Resources announced on Tuesday March 10 that it would recommend Creagh approve the deal at the agency’s March 19 meeting.

Besides Bellfy, members of several area tribes are plaintiffs in the lawsuit—the Bay Mills Indian Community, 
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, 
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, 
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. They are also backed by the Sierra Club and numerous residents who oppose the project, but the prospect of jobs in the economically beleaguered town won out.

Though the tribes were unsuccessful in their bid to get an injunction against the company, the judge did refer the matter to the Court’s Magistrate to see whether or not it should be assigned to the judge who is overseeing the consent decree, Bellfy said in the group’s statement.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/04/14/michigan-sells-treaty-protected-pristine-public-land-limestone-mine-159996

Article - No, You’re Not Imagining It: 3 Ways Racial Microaggressions Sneak into Our Lives

This is a good article however again and as per usual there is no mention of Native American/First Nations people.  A heads up on this because the term is called "statistical genocide."  We as Native American/First Nations people are left out of statistics, research projects, studies, articles, reports and on and on.  Raising awareness on this will continue indefinitely as long as the dominant/majority/mainstream culture continues to treat us the invisible minority.  Nonetheless this is a good article on racial microagressions.  From my point of view we deal with colonial racial microaggressions.  Racism can occur towards us as a people (insults, stereotypes, discrimination) or racism towards our lands and waters (environmental racism). 

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No, You’re Not Imagining It: 3 Ways Racial Microaggressions Sneak into Our Lives

Have you ever experienced someone insulting you in a way that felt a little bit racist, but you couldn’t quite figure out why?

Were you worried about “reading too much into it,” “being too sensitive,” or taking offense when none was intended?

When this happened, did you let the other person know you were hurt, only for them to become distressed or defensive? Have you been reluctant to say something when you felt this way because your opinions have been silenced or ignored in the past?

Like many other people of color (POC) living the US, I’ve felt all of these things. For some of us, feeling this way is the norm and, without realizing, we put up a wall to protect ourselves from the damage that comes with it.

These uneasy, uncertain feelings can be the result of what Chester M. Pierce, a psychiatrist and professor, coined racial microaggressions – originally defined as the racist insults directed at Black people from non-Black Americans.

Dr. Derald Wing Sue, who also writes about racial microaggressions, explains them as the “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”

Microaggressions are “micro” because they often happen in small, private situations, yet their effects often impact us in massive and dangerous ways.

Over time, being on the receiving end of these everyday (yet often unrecognizable) attacks can lead to depression, social isolation, and lowered confidence. Because we’ve been conditioned to question ourselves and not the perpetrators or the situations, we begin to wonder if our own feelings and experiences are legitimate.

Sometimes, without understanding what we’re doing, we even internalize those aggressions and use them to police both our loved ones and ourselves.

As a kid, I often corrected my mother’s pronunciation of English words. Though she did have a Chinese accent, she didn’t need me to tell her how to speak English – she’d taught English as a second language for more than a decade.

I didn’t realize that by doing that, I was communicating that her foreign accent not only made her English different, it made it wrong. And like so many others, I had no idea I was regurgitating racist ideology (practicing internalized racism).

While small acts of internalized racism like mine go unnoticed all the time, there are too many occasions where the victim is just too shocked to say anything in the moment.

Whatever the reason, it amounts to letting racism off the hook. When we allow these small incidences to keep happening, we are allowing racism, in general, to remain a part of our culture.

As Dr. Sue goes on to state, the perpetrators of microaggressions are often unaware of how they may be offending or hurting others.

It’s important for us to remember that just because a perpetrator of racism is clueless (or in denial) about the impact of their words doesn’t mean that their actions were any less violent or that the impact of that violence is changed.



When it comes down to it, intention is irrelevant.

If we only focus on intention, we continue to center and prioritize the perpetrator. And let’s face it: The perpetrator is always a more privileged person who is used to getting their opinions and feelings validated.

We are trained to believe people with social power.

But if ever we hope to truly put an end to racism (or any other injustice for that matter), we, as people who encounter so much marginalization, must also validate our own feelings and opinions. We re-center our attention to our needs and experiences by focusing on impact, not intent.

By not reacting to microaggressions, we can lose our sense of being true to ourselves. We risk bottling up the toxic feelings brought on by unending racism. But if we react angrily, we are often faced with defensiveness and criticism from our perpetrators.

But, alas, there is a middle ground, and that is to engage the perpetrator in a thoughtful manner. Vlogger Jay Smooth has a great video about it here. 

The Three Types of Microaggressions

Dr. Sue and others at Teachers College of Columbia University have identified three basic forms of microaggressions: 

1. Microassaults

Microassaults, the most conscious and intentional form of microaggressions,  best resemble what we are accustomed to thinking of as “old-fashioned” racism.

Some common examples are using racial epithets (or abusive, derogatory language or names), displaying confederate flags or swastikas, mocking another language, telling racist jokes, and serving White customers first.

What they all have in common is their explicitness. Whether verbal or nonverbal, microassaults are fairly direct forms of prejudice and discrimination.

The following two forms of microaggressions are less direct and intentional on the part of the perpetrator. 

2. Microinsults 

Microinsults communicate rudeness and insensitivity towards someone based on their racial identity or heritage. These acts take away a person’s dignity or sense of self-worth, but they do so indirectly.

Some microinsults can seem like compliments to the person saying them.

Growing up, I was repeatedly told by White boys that I was “cute for an Asian.” This always made me feel incredibly shameful even though I had done nothing wrong. It led me to believe that being Asian meant being undesirable. It also taught me that White boys would never see me as an individual but as a race.

Other examples of microinsults are being told that “You are a credit to your race” or “You are so articulate.”

These statements assume that intelligence or role model behavior is tied with Whiteness because they reveal surprise at the POC’s excellence in what they do.

And even more examples (because racism is so frustratingly relentless) are a White person crossing to the other side of the street at the approach of a Black or Latino man, or a storeowner carefully watching or following a customer of color.

This conveys the message that these people deserve to be feared and are likely to steal or hurt, but this fear is based on racist stereotypes hyped by the White media.

While some data makes it looks like Blacks and Latinas are more likely to steal or hurt others, it is based on a racist system (the prison industrial complex) that targets people from those communities

3. Microinvalidations

Microinvalidations exclude or negate the experiences, feelings, and experiential reality of a POC.

A common microinvalidation is the notion of “color blindness” or the assertion that we now live in “post-racial” times. It is also invalidating to downplay occurrences of racism, or to tell a POC, “Stop being so sensitive” or “Not everything’s about race!”

These phrases, perhaps meant to smooth over the perpetrators discomfort of the situation, completely dismiss the racialized experiences of POC.

What lies at the heart of most microinvalidations is the norm of Whiteness and White experiences.

Dismissing the racialized experiences of POC is oppressive and continues to give credence only to the White experience. Along with that, colorblind thinking dismisses the reality of white privilege and white supremacy, and allows them to keep doing what they do.

An example of this is asking a person of color, “Where are you from?” or “How do you say ____ in your language?”

This question is often directed at Asian and Latin Americans – whether immigrants skilled in other languages or not – out of simple curiosity. But the message is that even if they consider America their home, they will never truly belong.

Another example is “I’m not racist – I have a ____ friend!”

Racism is culturally pervasive, which means that it’s part of almost everyone in this society. Whether or not we believe ourselves to be racist, our words and actions often conform to what our racist culture has taught us – and having a Black friend does not change that fact.

Also: “If you work hard enough, you will succeed.”

This is called the “myth of meritocracy” – the idea that through determination and hard work, alone, we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps (for a classic example, read the story of Horatio Alger).
This is what leads us to believe the racist, classist stereotype that we, POC (and people in general) who don’t succeed, are lazy, stupid, or incompetent – that they deserve what they have or don’t have.

But the experience for many, though not all, of us is more complicated.

Factors such as institutional racism, education level of family members, and access to fewer resources that help us succeed means that many of our paths to personal success is challenging in more ways than our White counterparts.

The truth is, privilege — due to race or class — is what helps you succeed in an unjust society. (POC benefit from class privilege, too.)

This is why Affirmative Action exists, though it cannot and will not ever make the playing field entirely even.

There is a last kind of microaggression that doesn’t take place between individuals. Instead, environmental microaggressions are felt in our everyday surroundings or through our social “climate.”

For example, a Latina woman waiting for a job interview sees pictures of the other employees, all of them white men. Even if the company is not racist, its office is telling her that she does not belong there and is less likely to be hired than a white man.

The way that abortion rights and Planned Parenthood funding is debated can be seen as a sexist environmental microaggression because it invalidates the healthcare needs and decision-making abilities of women, especially those with lower incomes.

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As POC, we are often silenced or stunned by microaggressions. But just as there are positive ways to deal with stress, there are empowering ways to address microaggressions.

How I deal with microaggressions depends on the situation. There is no one way to cope.

And just as the answer for me differs from case to case, what I find helpful may not apply to you. But the first step is always the same, and that is to acknowledge your sense of discomfort, hurt, or anger.
There is a lot we can do for ourselves to minimize the impact of such events. Journaling, meditation, or movement (zumba or yoga, anyone?) are all forms of self-love that can restore our well-being and give our emotions a safe outlet.

Reaching out to friends and other trusted confidantes can be a great way to validate our feelings. Sometimes when something happens that makes our skin crawl with anger or disappointment, all we need is someone to feel it with us.

While we don’t have to engage the aggressor, opening a dialogue with them is one way to come to terms with what happened.

Before starting that conversation, ask yourself what you want to gain from the conversation. How you approach them will differ depending on whether you’re trying to change their behavior or solely desiring to verbalize your feelings.

I am often reluctant to engage with the perpetrator myself, but it can be especially important to do so if the person who microaggressed you is someone you encounter frequently, much less someone you care about.

The last (and maybe most important) thing is to eventually let it go. By this, I don’t mean forgive or forget. I mean taking care not to give them, or the microaggressor themselves, more power over you in the process.

This might happen naturally once you’ve processed the event, but sometimes we need a little reminding that microaggressions should be addressed, but they are not worth dwelling upon and reliving.

Living in constant anticipation of mistreatment is not only draining and stressful, it can even prevent us from experiencing joy or letting wonderful people into our lives. This is the biggest challenge: to strengthen ourselves without becoming hardened against vulnerability.

True strength resides in the reed that bends with the wind but does not fall down. It is rooted. It turns towards the sun. However you choose to handle it when someone micoraggresses you, remember that you are not alone. Your opinion counts. Your feelings matter. And you deserve sunshine.

Anni Liu is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She’s a writer, musician, and Chinese DREAMer. Anni is currently working with emotionally and behaviorally challenged kids at an alternative school. She lives in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont with her partner and his son and hopes to make the acquaintance of a moose. Read her articles here.

Original article posted on Everyday Feminism.