“Nationhood declaring and establishing and defending itself by the good smithy sword….I assert the forgotten truth, and ask all who accept it to testify to it with our blood.” -Pádraig Anraí Mac Piarais
“The stars of freedom light the skies, Uncrowned queens of yesteryear….” -Roibeárd Gearóid Ó Seachnasaigh
Is mian liom raibh mé in ann a rá seo i mo theanga féin. Ach deir Lowkey sé breá i slí is féidir linn a thuiscint go léir:
“Behind my smile there’s generations of pain, self-hatred, ingrained miseducating my brain
Decimated the place where my dead relations where slain
Not just physically but mentally penetrated our veins
What you got inside hasn’t gotta die once it can die a lot of time’s, that I promise my son
Analyze every song that I’ve done – tryna fight colonialism with a colonised tongue”
OK. Bird chatter. 408 years to the day after “The Fenian Guy Fawkes” was found guarding a stockpile of gunpowder, conveniently located directly beneath the the British House of Lords on the day Parliament was to open, the Indigenous Nationhood Movement was launched. Interesting.
The epicenter of this movement is located in the most colonial feeling city I’ve ever had the chance to wander the streets of; so-called “Victoria, British Columbia.” However, the movement has no stated location other than “Turtle Island/Worldwide.” I’ve been told that INM is a spin-off of IdleNoMore, but I’m quite certain that this movement is more of a reaction against the reconciliatory nature of IdleNoMore, and one towards legitimate sovereignty and autonomy. I’ve heard some grassroots Indigenous warrior friends put down the movement as being overly academic, but if these folks mean what they say, then they’ve opened the last and biggest can of worms on the colonial shelf. And it’s been a long time coming, so bring it on!
But I’m not kidding, this is a big can of worms.
I live on stolen land. A treaty was signed in 1855 on this side of the Cascade mountains, but a war continued until 1858. The treaty was punitive, it was not a peace treaty. And the war against the land has never ended, raging on outside my window as I write these words. In the upper reaches of the watershed where I reside, across the colonial boarder, there are no treaties. The map may say “Crown land,” but this land has never been ceded to the British empire, unique from the “Treaty territory” east of the continental divide. My Tlingit friends living in Portland and Seattle also live on stolen land, and to this day the US Federal government refuses to recognize the Chinook and Duwamish Peoples who’s land those cities stand on, respectively. And in the Tlingit homeland of Tlingit Aani, the US Federal government has created a for-profit corporation to represent the Indigenous People of the SE “Alaskan” pan-handle. This corporation clear-cuts the great Tongass in order to survive as an institution. Other parts of Tlingit Aani are unceded territories, under British….excuse me “Canadian” occupation. “Crown lands”, again.
I want to be clear. I support the Indigenous Nationhood Movement. If I point my finger and scratch my head at all, it’s because I’m wide-eyed and hopeful, NOT because I am trying to be a naysayer. Mar sin féin, it is clear to me when I read their declarations that these are fighting words. And this is historically epic to a profound degree. When I read, “Colonial laws and systems must be abolished” and “reoccupying Indigenous homelands,” my heart swells, my eyes grow wider, and then I smell the blood and cannons. “Colonialism is not a machine capable of thinking,” Fanon’s words keep ringing in my ears, “It is naked violence and only gives in when confronted with greater violence.”
Again, I do not want to dissuade. But do they really mean it? I hope so. And I’m flooded with so many questions, ones that many of us have been pondering for years. If one of the objectives is “Restoring nation-to-nation relations with Settler people and governments,” then what about B.C. where there is no legitimate settler government? Are they really going to conflate Nation with nation-state? Can the Irish Nation make a treaty with each Indigenous Nation on Turtle Island to legitimize our being here? Would the Maori living on Turtle Island do the same? And what does Indigenous Nationhood mean to my Native relatives back in Ireland!? Land, Life, Language, Liberation: all of those struggles continue back in my native homeland.
And what does Indigenous Nationhood mean state-side, with a failing US government and looming balkanization? (seriously folks, visit some rural counties, this ship is going down) I have my own idealistic answers to these questions, I am a cascadian after all, but I really want to know what the potentials are and what wild future can be dreamed up out of the turmoils of decolonization. Quite frankly, this is all very sensitive and shouldn’t even be discussed in public, much less on the internet. Or can it be? Isn’t the business of each Nation their own? Should any of us hide from the State in fear? And what happens to “the State” after National Liberation? These questions cannot and should not be avoided. And I don’t think they will be.
The birth of the Indigenous Nationhood Movement is not occurring in a historical vacuum. Hundreds of years of struggle are tied to each other across space and time, from one continent to the next. This is most certainly the time of the Last Battle. Ecology dictates. And the colonial borders drawn through Nation after Nation present many unique challenges and potentials. I’m sure I’ll be full of more words in the future in regards to Indigenous Nationhood, positive and joyful words no doubt. The empire is finally about to sail off the edge of the world….
So I hope they mean it. I certainly do. Tiocfaidh ár lá. Ní buan aon ní.