Death to Settler Identity & the 5 Stages of Grief

This really cuts to the heart of the matter, coming from the next watershed over. Reblogging this, as it points to where I was going with my last post. Inspiring me to keep going….



Settler colonialism seems to be the least tolerable thing I have every tried to explain (for white settlers that is, Indigenous People’s know and live the reality with or with out the term). Unsettling is the perfect way to describe this work since most white settlers seem to get almost physically sick and extremely enraged over these concepts. There are many demotions to one’s status in settler colonizer society by becoming what I will call, borrowing from Meme, a self-rejecting settler (1). This is a small start in confronting settler privilege. In the big picture, decolonization has far more to offer to the self-rejecting settler than the toxic privilege that they/we embody. Fully gaining their/our humanity, reentering their/our place in the human family, freedom from an alienated, individualist, hierarchical existence, and continued life on this planet to mention a few (2). But time again I have experienced white settlers clinging…

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“You Have to Choose”: Islam, Secularism, and Amazigh Identity

So much of this is true for the Irish experience, with a remarkably similar timeline (we got the Christianists and they got the Islamists), apart from our success in resisting non-holy Roman colonization initially. For the Irish, our language is our soul, and is connected to our land (Tír gan teanga, Tír gan anam!) And then the colonizers religion invades our very identity, because another wave of colonization pits ‘us’ and the first colonization against ‘them’ and the second colonization, leaving us with some “neo-pagan” Druid silliness to “return” to if we bother to search at all.  Thus the struggle for Irish indigeneity, and the modern appeal of atheism amongst the Irish.

But is spirituality a lived experience in relationship to land, life, and death? Or it is just preforming empty ceremonies, going through the motions? I think the former is true, and I love this part here, “we are not static or entirely dependent on the past. Imazighen are unable to worship the same gods as our ancestors, and in response we are creating our own systems of spirituality and belief that will allow us to move forward and shape our ongoing resistance to colonialism.”

On another level, I am fascinated by the “bioregional” nature of Tamazgha as reflected in this statement:  “The land, too, is sacred and conceptualized in the political Amazigh imagination as Tamazgha, a region transcending the borders of modern nation-states.  This is a re-indigenized spirituality, not developed by ‘going back’ and looking at pre-colonial religious beliefs, but by constructing the present material world around them as sacred.”

I am fascinated by the emergence of a North Africa ‘bioregion’.  From a Cascadian perspective, there is an obvious difference in that our bioregional name has been appropriated (I prefer “reclaimed”) from Latin, whereas ‘Tamazagha‘ comes from the Indigenous Tamazight language.  However, both bioregional appealatures emerged in the 1970’s from the counter-cultural movements of the time.  If decolonization is as much a process of creation as it is deconstruction, then this all makes good sense.


Absolutely fascinated and inspired by the Amazigh People!  More and better thoughts from me coming soon!


by Nuunja Kahina

How do you decolonize and return to your Indigenous spirituality if you don’t know what it is?  At the beginning of this year, I wrote about the language question in Tamazgha (North Africa), the land of the Imazighen, arguing that decolonization requires the rejection of Arabic as a colonial language. This, however, is just one of many steps that must be taken. Interestingly, another Amazigh responded to my last article saying that Islam must also be rejected in order to achieve liberation. I am far more hesitant addressing the issue of religion in North Africa. It is not as simple and cut-and-dry as ‘reject colonial religion, return to Indigenous spirituality.’

Islam dominated Tamazgha after the Arab invasions of the 7th century C.E., and today the Amazigh population is overwhelmingly Muslim, adhering to a colonial religion. Yet even before the Arabs, there were significant Christian and Jewish populations…

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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.”



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.



July 12th Parades

Funny, I was also raised a fundamentalist Protestant, yet I didn’t have the nerve to cross over to the Shankhill when I was there! When I walked through the tiny West Bank Loyalist neighborhood in Derry, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. The police protect KKK marches in the States, and I support such expressions of free speech over shots being fired. But “scary” and “creepy” are things you just FEEL sometimes even when your trying not to judge for the sake of a greater good.

Great post anyhow! GRMA

Choosing the Green

Everyone likes a parade. I get it. They’re all pomp and circumstance – people showing off their heritage, their music, their flags. There are parades worldwide for what seems like every single little excuse that anyone can find. Some are big, some are small, some are downright silly, and some threaten a fragile balance.

The marching season in Ulster falls into the last category. July 12th is a day that roughly half of the population celebrates the victory of William of Orange (a Dutch King, by the way) over the English King James II. It’s a huge holiday which is steeped in irony, when you think about it. This is a bunch of people who violently insist on being considered British that take to the streets to celebrate a Dutch victory over their own historical ruler. Label that one for storage in the “Things that make you go hmmmm

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Anti-Colonial Anarchism vs Decolonization

Go raibh míle maith agat! I am privileged enough to know who my People are, the exact places we come from, and my language is still alive to be reclaimed. But I must wonder about those who feel they are ‘settler mutts’ or are adopted, or what of English people who actually are speaking their Native language? What of the Indigenous folks who’s languages are now sleeping?

Of course I ask this in the spirit of further deconstruction and reconstruction, celebrating the intersectionalities that connect us all and make us all unique.

Awakening the Horse People


Many forms of resistance to colonialism and empire are necessary and important, and this poster should not be interpreted as dissuading those forms of solidarity and resistance. Nor should anti-colonial consciousness and decolonization be thought of as mutually exclusive forms of action.  They often co-exist as “named” movements side by side. This poster seeks to point out that they may not be equivalent, and there are some critical differences between the two.

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cascadian bioregionalism: neither left nor right, but autonomous (sketch #1)

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say. 

-William Stafford


Someone saw fit to etch a few words from this poem into stone, then use it to build one of the walls of a building called “Deschutes Public Library.”  There is a good chance that those words will remain after I am dead and gone, perched a short walk up from the river.  I do not doubt that they will remain true.  They also saw fit to leave out the parts referencing “silence” and “stillness,” however, as the truth that we cannot hear today may become loud and clear tomorrow.

“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake”

In an essay subtitled “Leaving the Left Behind,” anarchist writer Jason McQuinn describes the historical tensions between anti-capitalist tendencies beginning with the “social ferment that gave rise to the Age of Revolutions – introduced by the English, American, and French Revolutions.” This is described as “the historical period in which early capitalism was developing through the enclosure of the commons to destroy community self-sufficiency.”  As a bioregionalist, I find both these tensions and that moment in time to be of deep significance towards our understanding of the current ecological, social, and political crises facing our planet.  Kirkpatrick Sale saw the genealogy of bioregionalism as stemming from anarchist theory, utopian socialist ideas (as opposed to the scientific Socialism of the Marxists), and the regional planning traditions of Lewis Mumford, etc.  This has been a somewhat demon-haunted trajectory, with the totalitarian tendencies of both the Left and the Right hitchhiking their way along towards the current intersection of decentralist resistance to the ominous birth of globalism.

Focusing on this trajectory unfortunately ignores the ecological and biocentric roots of bioregionalism in favor of an ideological and humanistic orientation, but as my purpose now is to take the surgeons scalpel to our left-wing and right-wing hitchhikers, I will simply state that I am saving the good part of the story for later.

As both the dominant culture and it’s industrial economy have risen to global ascendancy in a form called ‘Capitalism’, opposition to this domination (call it Empire, colonialism, globalist tyranny)  has taken on an increasingly ‘anti-capitalist’ orientation; the territorial pissing grounds of something called “The Left”.  With the fall of Communism as a global power and its moral fall from grace, thanks to the likes of Stalin and Mao, the Left has mostly embraced the “international anarchist milieu” who’s Black Block’s and barricades have become visible in the media from the streets of Seattle to the streets of Athens.  This has increasingly blurred the distinctions between anarchism and Socialism, which has led to a push away from Socialism by the theorists of “post-Left” anarchism, who are at pains to elaborate how this is not a push towards either the Right or Capitalism. Yet here the demon-haunted spectrum of Eurocentric political ideologies has unveiled it’s ugly collection of museum pieces once again, including the other anti-capitalisms of European ‘racialist’ bent.  It is therefore beneficial to not neglect a genuine push away from the so-called “Third Position” while remaining at pains to demonstrate how this is not a reconciliation with the Left or Socialism.

Against the opportunism and Entryism of both the Left and the Right, I see a great promise in following the post-Left trajectory towards formulating bioregionalism as a theory and critique of Ideology itself, never forgetting bioregional living as both our means and end.  And given our Cascadian context of the spiritually individualistic and stubbornly independent US/Canadian West, with it’s renegade ranchers and disenfranchised rural population living close to the land, can we find or feel some kind of post-Right trajectory towards ecology and biocentrism?



“We make the road by walking”