Video of Tahltan blockade against Imperial Metals Red Chris Mine

There will be no other time….this is it.

Warrior Publications

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of restoration and repatriation: storm coming

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In so many places that’s just the blink of an eye, you know, slightly more than 200 years since Lewis & Clark walked out of the United States and into the Columbia River watershed.  The world was a place of 16 million wild salmon that came each year to spawn and renew this great cycle of life, and people that have lived with the river for time immemorial.  And in 200 years look what has happened! So if you look back, and then look forward, it is very unsettling.

And if you care about life, so many voices that have no voice in the decisions that are destroying the planet….if you care about the birds and the children, and the children unborn, and on and on, then you have to take action.  Not to take action would be unacceptable.  How could you live with yourself?  So the question isn’t whether or not you take action, it’s what actions do you take?

-John Osborn

IndigenousNORTH

West of the Continental Divide.  West of Treaty 8.  The land in unceded, unsurrendered.  West of the Continental Divide are the watersheds of the Cascadian bioregion.  Below the 49th parallel is a declining Empire, occupying the same watersheds.  The Klamath is under assault.  The Fraser is under assault.  The Columbia is under assault.  From the Mattole to Yakutat bay, resistance is growing.

Get the picture?

i am a settler. i live in a colony.

 

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The following is a list of readings for people who feel “unsettled” by the term settler.  Settler is not a pejorative term.  It is a term relative to the historical trajectory of Empire and ENTRENCHED by the laws of the US and Canadian States.  As an optimistic bioregionalist, I share these on the premise that “we can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’re coming from.”  I wrote the first from a Cascadian perspective, the rest are based on general theory.

Notes on a Bioregional Decolonization

Indigenous Settler?  Decolonization and the Politics of Exile

Understanding Colonizer Status

Settler Colonialism Primer

Who are you calling a “settler”?

Why the term ‘settler’ needs to stick

Decolonization is not a metaphor 

 

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on cascadian independence and fourth world decolonization (sketch #1)

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A member[1] of the Cascadia(n?) Independence Party recently asked:

“Question, what would you do if the natives said they did not want us to officially create Cascadia and told us to get out? What if they started to “fight back” and start a war with us to make us leave, how would you feel about it? After all they were here first right and we are just occupying their land.”

It’s a good question, worded in a way to get folks from any persuasion to show their true colors.  And it opens up one of the biggest questions that I explore here on this blog (as well as through other venues).  So here goes:

First, there are no “the natives.”  There are at least 140 Indigenous Nations within the Cascadian bioregion.[2]  If a settler was asked or forced to leave a place, refuge with the neighboring Indigenous Nation would be an option.  Given the density of Indigenous diversity within the bioregion, this my be a move of around 20-200 miles, depending on location.  And of course this is a hypothetical situation, assuming some revolution where the colonial State has been expelled from any particular Ancestral Territory and wont use force to protect settlers.  A big assumption, but certainly one potential manifestation of decolonization.  One that settler Cascadian independentistas may inadvertently be working toward.

I’ve spent plenty of time being unsettled by this thought.  If Warm Springs folks gave me the boot, I’d ask my Klamath friends.  If they said no, then I’d be off to Galway.  It’s actually a fantasy of mine, but and extremely unlikely scenario.  In truth, if I absconded for Ireland, I’d feel like I was abandoning a place that is in desperate need of folks to fight for it, and abandoning an Indigenous minority in desperate need of a mass of settlers to uncompromisingly have their backs as they uphold their responsibilities to protect the land.  That’s the realpolitk as I see it.

Of course this hypothetical settler expulsion brings Algeria and South Africa to mind: both very, very different contexts however.  French settlers in Algeria were once faced with “the suitcase or the coffin”: Leave or Die.  And Native resentment towards European settlers in South Africa led to the slogan “one settler, one bullet” with plenty of violence to accompany the rhetoric. (fun fact: active units of the Irish Republican Army fought in South Africa against the white Apartheid State)

Cascadia is very different from “Third World” Algeria or South Africa.  Cascadia is a “First World/Fourth World” context populated by a vast settler majority, whereas the former had/have settler minorities and were pre-existing States prior to “decolonization.” Cascadia is a bioregion with no State to represent it, while both the US and Canada pride themselves on integration, assimilation, and multiculturalism (I’ll save that critique for later).

Another important point to bring up is the phrase “officially create Cascadia.”  From the bioregional view, Cascadia was created many thousands (she’s a new landform rising from the sea) of years ago by the Creator (insert your theological or evolutionary interpretation here).  The question becomes “is there a government/governance system representing and defending this place as a whole.”   No matter your persuasion, the answer is NO.  The US and Canada don’t represent this place.  Cascadians want this to change….somehow.  And Cascadians have long been working to build settler/Indigenous alliances to defend the land, with Indigenous folks supporting and literally helping to define bioregionalism as a theory and practice.

This doesn’t mean that there is no Indigenous resentment towards settlers and our(sic) Governments.  There is plenty.  It is legitimate.  So the question is not without merit.  Some of my favorite Native hip-hop waxes eloquently about doing away with settlers.  And if a Cascadian independence movement takes a turn away from bioregionalism into any form of statist settler nationalism, this sentiment will only grow, mark my words.  It is for this reason I advocate “bioregional decolonization” instead on mere secessionism.

But there are also Patriotic Native veterans, plenty of intermarriage amongst newcomers and both status and non-status Indigenous folks, and strong divides between Federally recognized Tribal/First Nation governments and the grassroots Indigenous resurgence.  This means there is, and will likely always be, Indigenous folks who are pro-Cascadian independence and anti-Cascadian independence, and for potentially opposite reasons at that.  A good friend who is Tlingit reminded me that Indigenous folks fought on both sides of the American Revolution and the “French and Indian”/Seven Years’ War.  We’re all humans.  We’re all political to some degree.

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For me, the movement for Cascadian independence must be built on the restoration of Indigenous Nationhood and the repatriation of Indigenous land.  (for all you private property folks, try not paying your taxes and you’ll soon find out who really owns the land: the State)  I for one would rather my landlords be the people whom the Creator[3] placed in this land to protect and defend it, as opposed to a globalist colonial empire with puppet States acting as property managers.

This is not pure speculation on my part either.  I have asked many Indigenous folks what their take on “Cascadia” is.  My experience has been mostly positive responses.  I’ve also heard enough resentful responses to know that land issues are a very sore subject.  There is a right way and a wrong way to fight for Cascadian independence.  The response I’ve completely taken to heart is from when I asked Jeannette Armstrong of the Okanagan Nation the following question:

C.B.: So in the process of conscientization, and within the bioregional movement, we use the name “Cascadia” for the land here, because many feel the term “Pacific Northwest” is a colonial orientation in regards to Ottawa and D.C. We have a map of the watersheds that is meant to show an ecological integrity that we relate to as “home”, and we want to encourage people to relate to the reality of the land base as opposed to an abstraction like the nation-state. Yet the majority of the population now comes from a settler background, and lives as a settler majority within a colonial system.

 So what would you say, in encouraging people to relate to bioregional Cascadia and the interdependent watersheds that have been home to them, and in learning and respecting the Indigenous Knowledge of their place? How could we go about that better? What would you encourage people to do in this process of dreaming up “Cascadia” into something that works for everybody?

 Jeannette Armstrong: “One of the things that I think about is the way that the Okanagan, the Syilx people, think about developing a new way of being or a new way of doing things. One of the things that our people believe in and rely on is the ability to step out into the unknown.”

“And to be clear that we’re stepping out into the unknown, meaning that we can take risks, and that we have to take risks to make changes happen when we know that something here isn’t working, or that something here is preventing us from moving toward a better direction”.

 “And I think that when we’re talking about the idea of Cascadia, for instance, that idea is an idea. The idea, in terms of it’s concept and in terms of its meaning might be understood or might be theorized or might be believed in. But what are the actions that are putting it in place in a practical, everyday way? What are those things that people are willing to do, to take a risk to do to make happen? And I think in a lot of ways, the idea for me has a lot to do with finding a way to create that common ground and common place with the Indigenous peoples, and finding a way to be able to work with them and through them to be able to establish practical ground in that area.”

“So it means then that is has to relate to the fish, it has to relate to the forest, it has to relate to Nature in its various ways of interaction and interdependence with the Indigenous peoples. So what does that mean? It means finding out! It means talking to them. And it means supporting some of the things that they’re involved in. But supporting it in a way, which says, “we’re supporting this because it is foundational to establishing Cascadia. We are supporting this because it’s foundational to the idea of what Cascadia is.” And so that it’s always creating that parallel in that way. And making no mistakes about that part. And making no mistakes about what Cascadia is, in terms of its reality, right?”

 “So it can’t be just a theory, in other words. It has to be real things on the ground that get highlighted and get established as standards for what Cascadia is. And also achievements, you need to have some achievements that are accomplishments that can be pointed to that give hope and that gives people reason to move toward it, and to want to move toward it, and can move toward it easily.”[4]

 

Stay tuned for the next episode:  (sketch #2) Where is the Fourth World?

 

[1]are there official members yet??

[2] I’m not counting the colonially constructed “First Nations”, of which there are over 200 in B.C, or “Tribes” who may include multiple Nations placed on one reservation, diminishing this count south of the 49th.   This number is based on Peoples with distinct languages, internal/external recognition, and distinct Ancestral Territories.  This is not based on Bands or Language Groups either [as in Niimíipu (Nez Perce) and Liksiyu (Cayuse) both speak Sahaptin, as the Irish and the Scots both speak Gaelic.  Almost mutually intelligible, but not the same, and are very distinct Peoples.  Each their own Nation with various dialects, each their own Land].  There are many ways for this to be complicated in the real world.  I know.

[3]….“The Warm Springs Tribes, an Iciskin (Sahaptin) -speaking people, lived further up the Columbia, and on the Deschutes and John Day Rivers and their tributaries, during aboriginal times. They possessed the sovereign prerogative of ne-shy-chut, which meant that Native Warm Springs people were rooted in the soil of their ancestral domain and were free of any outside forces, free to follow their own culture and religion. For millenia, Warm Springs people followed an elaborate structure of sovereign tribal responsibilities embodied in the Sahaptin phrase, tee-cha-meengsh-mee sin-wit na-me- ah-wa-ta-man-wit, which means “at the time of creation the Creator placed us in this land and He gave us the voice of this land and that is our law.”….

[4] The recording of these words is available in the film “Occupied Cascadia

there are so many of us

The end result of colonialism is well summed up in the phrase:  “you do not exist,” which is the title of a recent article over at Bella Caledonia about the Scottish YES campaign.

Isn’t that what the colonizer says?  “We are the real people and you are not.”

Another line caught my attention from a “study” that found the Scottish people don’t really exist:

“Clearly it is in the interest of the SNP leadership to conduct the argument for independence on the premise that there is a single Scottish identity. No separatist movement has achieved its aims by highlighting the internal diversity of a would-be independent territory.

Scotland is uniform neither in terms of its ancestry, history and culture; that its electorate, just like that of the rest of the UK, is an amalgam of people of diverse origins who, despite the similarity of their physical appearance, derive from distinctly different cultural backgrounds; and that these differences may have a significant influence on people’s support for the concept of an independent Scotland.”

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No separatist movement has achieved its aims by highlighting the internal diversity of a would-be independent territory.

What?  So Nationalism is the only pill that works, and Nationalism is false, so don’t even try.

From a Cascadian perspective, “highlighting the internal diversity of a would-be independent territory” is the perfect description of what we are trying to do here.  People from all four directions, many or most of whom belong to some dissident persuasion (religious or political), living together in a place, integral to itself.

No doubt Irish Republicanism had/has an advantage over the Scots because we  have our own island.  For all of our divisions, at least the geographical division is black-and-white for all the world to see.  The Atlantic was enough of a divide to create “America.”  And the Continental Divide is enough to separate us Cascadians from the rest of a continent.  Salmon do not swim over the Rockies.

OK.  But what I really want to do is question the ‘it has never happened so it will never happen’ mentality, apart from being leery about the historical veracity of such a statement.

I firmly believe that a diversity of people finding common ground and common cause is more powerful than ethnic Nationalism, and I am interested in the kind of common ground that is NOT Nationalism.  (a common language is most powerful, in my opinion, but this does not imply ethnic unity!) For a bioregionalist, this common ground is the real ground: the place itself.  And I suppose the Lowland/Highland divide (interestingly geographical and historical) is one impediment against Scottish independence.

But does this really mean that it is hopeless to highlight diversity as a strength?

True, there MUST me unifying factors.  There must be a “self” in the struggle for self-determination.  But I’ll be damned if ‘ethnic unity’ is the only legitimate grounds for self-determination.  Actually….EEF#&! THAT!

This is perhaps the question any modern independentista & autonomista must come to terms with.  How do we separate without separatism? How do we actively cultivate strength in diversity?

If we only share the colonizer’s tongue and are divided by colonially imposed class divisions, is there really no ground to stand on?

Well, if you can feel the sand between your toes….there is.  Because I want to read this news headline one day:

The Cascadian Bioregional movement has achieved its aims by highlighting the internal diversity of a now independent territory.

fist

 

the other white: basque and irish in occupied territory

Don’t start me talking
I could talk all night
My mind goes sleepwalking
While I’m putting the world to right
Called careers information
Have you got yourself an occupation?

-Elvis Costello “Olivers Army”

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Just read a fascinating article that I want to share from the Basque Tribune called “Basques and the American Indians”

Basque author Mark Bieter grew up in Boise and shares his experience of hearing the Basque people described as the “Indians of Europe.”  Avoiding too much colonial equivocation, he insightfully remarks:

The Basques are the Indians of Europe: I liked the idea. I’d grown up in the Western United States with Basque ancestry, and I suppose I felt a kind of solidarity with Indians. But when I did my own amateur archaeology and dug into it, the solidarity crumbled. I looked at my own life. Shoshone and Bannock tribes lived(sic) close to my childhood home in Boise, Idaho. They might have been on the same spot where I played as a kid. What happened to them? Looking even further back in history, I knew Basques had a role in Spanish colonization in the Americas. It’s hard to stand with the indigenous when you’ve had all the advantages as a descendant of the newcomers.

Echoing the Irish experience on this side of the pond, I appreciate the time and willingness it take to explore the tensions created by a history of colonization intersected by the assimilation into whiteness and it’s advantages within the Empire.  Sleuthing out the grounds for solidarity while not overlooking the cultural gaps created by settler colonialism is touchy, but this article turned up a gem; one that resonates deeply with the Gael:

A German doesn’t have to do anything to be a German. A Basque or an Indian has to do something more. That can be a blessing or a curse. An Apache woman can move into a city, do nothing, and a piece of the tribe dissolves. Or she can do something else. Basques and Indians, separated by thousands of miles and years, actually might have a few things in common, a similar past and some of the same questions: Does your background mean something to you? And if it means something, what are you doing about it?

Of course this made me think of Elvis Costello’s song with the words “white n*gger” and certain Indians referring to us Irish as the “Blacks of Europe.”  Really?  The only real answer is Yes and No.  No because whiteness is a very effective mechanism that cannot be ignored.  But YES because our stories do present a grounds for solidarity that has a past, present, and future that needs to be actively cultivated.  Much like the Mi’kmaq and Acadians together in Elsipogtog, a willingness to understand each others stories has more power to bring people together in solidarity than it does to perpetuate the divisiveness of privilege.

 

RESIST: The Unist’ot’en’s Call To The Land

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A Simple Matters Films production

RESIST: The Unist’oten’s Call to the Land is a short documentary that was filmed in the summer of 2013 on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory, 1000 km north of Vancouver in northern BC (western Canada) over the duration of the fourth annual Environmental Action Camp, hosted by the Unist’ot’en (C’ihlts’ehkhyu/Big Frog) Clan.

The focus of the film is on the Camp as a year-round resistance to exploitative industry, and what it represents in relation to indigenous sovereignty and the environmental, legal, and social issues surrounding pipeline projects in British Columbia. The short film documents one of the most important resistance camps in North America at this time.

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YES! YES! (fUK)

What Fanon said (below) about ‘cognitive dissonance’ seems to be having an effect throughout the world media (even independent media) these days.  There is a peculiar fact about life on Earth: Empires rise, Empires fall.  And everyday I believe I am seeing the fall of the British Empire, but I really don’t hear many people talking about it.  I suppose the primary reason for this is the belief that the British Empire has faded and been superseded by a) American hegemony or b) the UN’s version of “Decolonization.”  (as if that had anything to do with….Decolonization….FYI it didn’t!).  And while, yes, the Empire has evolved some new tentacles, no, it is still alive even if not completely well.

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So it was to my delight that I read an article in The Spectator highlighting the consequences of Scottish Independence:

The result on the 18th September may cause the dissolution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This Union is in fact made up of three different uniting acts, the evolution of which is worth examining.

The following 2 articles from the Act of Union 1707 clearly show that the primary Union was between the Kingdom of England ‘incorporating Wales’ and the Kingdom of Scotland. Together they formed the so-called ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain’.

‘ARTICLE I’

‘That The Two Kingdoms of England and Scotland shall upon the first Day of May which shall be in the Year one thousand seven hundred and seven, and for ever after, be united into one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain.’

‘ARTICLE III’

‘That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament, to be stiled, “The Parliament of Great Britain”.’

It was this United Kingdom of Great Britain that in 1801 entered into a union with the Kingdom of Ireland. The rump of which after 1922 is the ‘province’ of Northern Ireland. This was not part of the primary Union but was a secondary Union and as such did not interfere with the primary Union.

However for Scotland to become independent the Act of Union 1707 would have to be repealed, thus dissolving the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain’.

Calculating the rippling effects of this is something that is forcing my brain to stretch a bit.  I honestly don’t know enough to present a thorough analysis, but it’s clear to me that Scottish Independence could really be a shot heard round the world.

The consequences for the north-east of Ireland have been foremost on my mind, but how would this play out in Canada where the British Crown claims most of the land and Lizzy Windsor is head-of-state?  Vancouver, BC just formally declared themselves to be on unceded territory, and the Tsilhqot’in Nation just won a lands claim case in BC.  So not only is Canada’s claim to the land in BC losing more and more legal legs to stand on, we now have to ask ourselves, what is Canada without the British Crown?

How will this play out in the rest of the Empi….I mean Commonwealth?  Australia, where Indigenous Republican movements are active?  Aotearoa (so-called New Zealand) with its ‘constitutional monarchy’ and active Maori decolonization movement?

To me, the big questions are how the EU plays into this (obviously), along with the usual suspects at the IMF, World Bank, etc.  Many of us know that a change of flag does not a revolution make, but the dissolution of Britain is truly no small potatoes.

why i am a cascadian

(i wrote this as a response to the above CBC news segment.  i’ll skip the obligatory denunciation of  “white, flag-waving soccer fans” as that is a cheap-shot stereotype of our movement, and/or the only damn thing they’ll put on TV.)

In light of the growing popularity of a movement that I believe will only be gaining momentum in the years to come, I want to be clear and unambiguous about why I am a Cascadian.

Let me first state that I am a bioregionalist, as opposed to what may be termed as a ‘nationalist.’  It’s a somewhat complicated, yet desperately important distinction to be made up front.  I won’t give an in-depth explanation here, but suffice it to say, “voting to secede” and/or “creating a new nation-state” are not the particular strategies that I embrace towards emancipating this place from the unsavory gamut of impositions placed upon us.  Some form of traditional “Nationalism” is the unfortunate conclusion jumped to by most folks when trying to understand “Cascadia.”  It’s understandable, and something I would sympathize with, but in all honesty, our movement here goes much deeper than geopolitics and mere economics.

The Earth is in deep ecological trouble, and Humanity as a whole is at a crossroads.  Yet despite the universality of this danger and hope, this place contains many uniquenesses both historically and ecologically that have come to bear upon our present reality.  I believe this distinctiveness has a role to play in the future that will have, well, cascading implications for both the Earth and Humanity.

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Cascadia is a place.  Created and define by geomorphological  processes, not political projection.  The name simply refers to the “falling waters” that result from this process of land rising steeply out of the sea against a much older, flatter continent.  This place is home to a profound diversity of Indigenous peoples.  Within the watersheds that meet the Pacific Ocean all along the unbroken rainforest coast, from Cape Mendocino (presently California) to the tip of Tlingit country (presently SE Alaska), the diversity of languages spoken is astounding, despite the failed, long term US and Canadian government policies to erase and destroy these languages and cultures.  This diversity is a direct reflection of the landscape itself, and is also the best explanation as to why there is not just one single historically indigenous name for the entirety of the bioregion that has now gained the latin-rooted name “Cascadia.”

I say this because I believe in the power and morality of maintaing and restoring Indigenous place names.(1)  Cascadia, in a sense, is a name that has come to this place, yet etymologically speaking, the name comes from the land itself, reflective of what the land actually does: it cascades!(2)  I would make the contention that the broader name Cascadia does not (and should never) erase the many Indigenous place names found throughout the broader region.  In fact, it should be a Cascadian ethic to know and support the Indigenous place-name restoration processes that are presently occurring throughout the bioregion.  Names are powerful things.  So when I call myself a Cascadian, I am not speaking lightly.

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The heart of bioregionalism is ecological restoration.  This place has been devastated.  What was once the greatest salmon fishery in the world has been reduced to a fraction of a percent of what it was, with the ecologically dubious fish hatcheries glossing over this, and the ecologically malicious salmon farms expediting this.  The vast majority of what was once the worlds grandest temperate rain forest has been clear-cut, the same happening to the massive Ponderosa Pine savannas of Cascadia’s arid interior.  The fight to protect the last refuges of these ancient giants, and their unique ecologies, has resulted in car bombs, arson, sabotage, and exaggerated prison sentences.  A time known locally as The Forest Wars.

Yet as the late bioregionalist Peter Berg emphasized, our movement is “more than just saving what is left.”  We need to be on the offensive.  We need to do what it takes to restore to 100% the annual regeneration of salmon, steelhead, oolichan and lamprey runs.  We need to do what it takes to restore the forest ecologies of watershed after watershed, and not accept the smothering of landscapes with industrial tree farms.  To this end, our way of life and our economy must uphold and directly reflect these values.  The dominant economy (presently “corporate” Capitalism) is ferociously at odds with these aims.  The economic turbulence of recent years does not bode well for what has become a self-annihilating economy that is being forced upon us.  If our way of life (and hence economy) does not change in order to re-create and maintain an active, living  harmony with the land upon which it is based, we will all have to face the consequences.  And in so many places, these consequences have already reached a breaking point.  We do not have all the time in the world to put this place back together.

The US and Canadian governments do not represent “The People” whether we mean settler people or Indigenous people.  These governments are tools of multinational corporations used to create laws that protect these corporations and fetter the self-determination of individuals, families, and communities trying to maintain honest, respectable lives for themselves.  Assimilation into the servitude of these corporations, at one level or another, remains the only viable option for survival within this imposed context.  And this context expedites unfettered resource extraction in a manner that leaves communities and ecologies in abject ruin.

For the ecological restoration of the interconnected watersheds we call Cascadia, there must be a fundamentally different economy.  The US and Canadian governments will not facilitate this desperately needed restorative economy by any far stretch of the imagination.  However, our imagination is desperately needed for this to become a reality.  And it needs to become a reality.  So does this amount to “creating our own country?”  My answer is that the “country” is already here, it just needs to be restored.  And it means a level of economic and cultural creativity, self-determined at the community level, rooted in the living reality of this place, that is both highly contentious and highly emancipatory.  No small fish to fry, but just one can feed so many here….

I will also insist on reminding everyone that Canada’s claim to the land here is completely illegitimate.  The US Government seems to be following it’s economy straight down the tubes, even apart from a certain “Founding Father’s” admonition to periodically “water the tree of liberty.”  Make of that what you will, Professor Resnick.

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So what are we really after here?

I’ve been told that the word decolonization is “inflammatory.”  Really?  Well, I believe that it is only a sad ignorance of the gut-wrenchingly offensive realities of colonialism that could portray the undoing of that damage as anything other than a breath of fresh, clean air.  Or a drink of water from a mountain stream.  (OK, the road to get there may be a bit tumultuous….)  Now, it must be understood that colonialism in the lands and waters of the Cascadian bioregion is alive and well.  But it’s not just colonialism, it’s a particularly nefarious strain called settler colonialism.  Unlike some other historical contexts in other places, the Cascadian landscape houses a profound settler majority.  So isn’t decolonization just a hopeless aspiration against this tsunami of “progress?”

Here it must be remembered that decolonization is, and has persistently been, as much a process of creation as it has been one of dismantling and deconstruction.  Historically, the strategy of colonizers has been to create and/or fuel divisions amongst colonized and exploited populations using ethnic and  religious difference as points of antagonism.  This has time-and-again been a very effective tool used to obscure the much larger chasm maintained by the class divisions created by the colonial system.   Wars between exploited settler and native populations have raged on for years, while the colonial upper class go on drinking tea.  It’s a sad historical fact, and I bring it up mostly as a model to learn from, because the chasm between Cascadia’s “Fourth World” Indigenous communities and our “First World” settler ‘working’ people can present a greater class division in all reality than there was between a king and a peasant of old.  In so many ways, Cascadia is a search for “common ground” where, at present, there may be none at all.  Still, as human beings, we all share more in common than not, and this stubborn belief in Humanity reconnecting with the Earth is what stubbornly gives us hope in the face of an almost unthinkable past.

My point in all of this “class” talk is to emphasize that there is nothing essential about class.  No mater what form it takes, it is created and maintained by an imposed colonial system.  And as we say in my language, “sin é.”  There’s nothing more too it.  So at base, colonialism is the imposition of “Law from without.”  The “law” that divides and conquers, extracts and exploits, fills the markets of the metropole with gold and furs while leaving a devastated landscape in its wake.  Decolonization, at base, is the restoration of Indigenous Law: law from the land itself, upheld and defended by the People who’s language and culture are inextricable from the land itself.  With this in mind, and no matter who’s toes I may be stepping on, decolonization is the best, most concise word to describe what bioregionalists, at heart, are trying to do.

So what does the restoration of Indigenous Law mean for a settler like me?  My task is to ask this question of all my Indigenous neighbors (human and non-human) and be open hearted with all the various answers I am given.  And my task is to tell my story; one of colonization, genocide, survival, exile, assimilation, and ascendancy.  What can be learnt from my story is my gift.  And with all these stories coming together here in this place, each one is a strand that may be woven together in a creative process, the manifestation of which has yet to fully take shape.

But that is my Cascadia.  No small fish to fry.

le meas, C.B. Ó Corcráin

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(1) The place of my ancestors and living relatives in Ireland has the indigenous name Béal Átha na mBuillí, (or  “the mouth of the ford of the strokes”, with “strokes” referring to ancient clan battles that took place there.)  Thanks to Oliver Cromwell and his ilk, the place became  “Strokestown.”  The idiots who changed the name starved half the county to death at one point.  I will admit to harboring no small amount of resentment towards this kind of behavior.

(2) I would encourage all readers to search out the “Cascadia Institute” for more on the ecology and lore of Cascadia, including the “Falling Waters” description.

Some Basque Lessons

Super interesting and personal, as I live a (relatively) short drive west from Boise. My mom went to Bend Senior Highschool (as did I) in the 60’s with Basque students who would bus all the way in from eastern Oregon every day. There was a lovely Basque flag on the ceiling of the Pub on Inis Oírr today, and the Basque flag has often flown next to the Cascadian flag (and others) at our local haunt in Bend, OR. So here I am looking out on Galway Bay, becoming a Gael….hoping to be reading ‘Cith is Dealán’ on the Oregon coast this summer and understand all I’m reading.
After meeting SO MANY people in Ireland who mention their families in Butte, Montana sending money home (often returning themselves after a generation) I am kicking myself for still never having made it to the largest St. Paddy’s day festival in the world that happens there every year. (some friends from Butte go every year) Butte, Boise, and Bend; all in the same watershed, all Cascadian….and Irish….and Basque. Can’t wait to visit Boise again when I get home!!

AN SIONNACH FIONN

Celebrating at Jaialdi 2010 on Boise’s Basque Block (Íomhá: The Blue Review)

This article on the resilience of the indigenous language of the historic Basque nation in north-eastern Spain and neighbouring France is filled with the sort of optimism that one rarely hears in relation to the Irish language. From The Blue Review, a publication of Boise State University in the United States:

“Steve Mendive is a history/government teacher who spends his summer breaks in the Basque Country (Euskadi) and enjoys the literary challenge of reading Voltaire’s Candide in Euskara. He has informally studied the Basque language for many years, first speaking with his family and progressing to advanced language coursework in the Basque Country. For Mendive, learning Basque is personal. “I am an Euskaldun (Basque speaker). Before, I was just Basque. There is a big difference.””

A point of view that many an Irish-speaker in Ireland, be they native…

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