Native American Writer Reminds Occupy Wall Streeters Who The Real Occupiers Are

event Native American Writer Reminds Occupy Wall Streeters Who The Real Occupiers AreJohn Paul Montano, a Native American writer and activist posted online late last week an open letter to Occupy Wall Street activists reminding demonstrators that they too are interlopers of a sort.

Hoping and believing that you enlightened folks fighting for justice and equality and an end to imperialism, etc., etc., would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you—that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. I had hoped mention would be made of the indigenous nation whose land that is.

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I had hoped that you would acknowledge that, since you are settlers on indigenous land, you need and want our indigenous consent to your building anything on our land – never mind an entire society. See where I’m going with this? I hope you’re still smiling. We’re still friends, so don’t sweat it. I believe your hearts are in the right place. I know that this whole genocide and colonization thing causes all of us lots of confusion sometimes.

The writer of the tongue-in-cheek letter,  Mr. Montano is an Anishnaabe writer and teacher of Nishnaabe language.

The rest of his letter can be found below:

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for making an attempt to improve the situation in what is now called the United States. Thank you for your commitment to peace and non-violence. Thank you for the sacrifices you are making. Thank you.

There’s just one thing. I am not one of the 99 percent that you refer to. And, that saddens me. Please don’t misunderstand me. I would like to be one of the 99 percent… but you’ve chosen to exclude me. Perhaps it was unintentional, but, I’ve been excluded by you. In fact, there are millions of us indigenous people who have been excluded from the Occupy Wall Street protest. Please know that I suspect that it was an unintentional exclusion on your part. That is why I’m writing to you. I believe that you can make this right. (I hope you’re still smiling.)

It seems that ever since we indigenous people have discovered Europeans and invited them to visit with us here on our land, we’ve had to endure countless ‘-isms’ and religions and programs and social engineering that would “fix” us. Protestantism, Socialism, Communism, American Democracy, Christianity,Boarding SchoolsResidential Schools,… well, you get the idea. And, it seems that these so-called enlightened strategies were nearly always enacted and implemented and pushed upon us without our consent. And, I’ll assume that you’re aware of how it turned out for us. Yes. Terribly.

Which brings me back to your mostly-inspiring Occupy Wall Street activities. On September 22nd, with great excitement, I eagerly read your “one demand” statement. Hoping and believing that you enlightened folks fighting for justice and equality and an end to imperialism, etc., etc., would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you – that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. I had hoped mention would be made of the indigenous nation whose land that is. I had hoped that you would address the centuries-long history that we indigenous peoples of this continent have endured being subject to the countless ‘-isms’ of do-gooders claiming to be building a “more just society,” a “better world,” a “land of freedom” on top of our indigenous societies, on our indigenous lands, while destroying and/or ignoring our ways of life. I had hoped that you would acknowledge that, since you are settlers on indigenous land, you need and want our indigenous consent to your building anything on our land – never mind an entire society. See where I’m going with this? I hope you’re still smiling. We’re still friends, so don’t sweat it. I believe your hearts are in the right place. I know that this whole genocide and colonization thing causes all of us lots of confusion sometimes. It just seems to me that you’re unknowingly doing the same thing to us that all the colonizers before you have done: you want to do stuff on our land without asking our permission.

But, fear not my friends. We indigenous people have a sense of humor. So, I thought I might make a few friendly suggestions which may help to “fix” the pro-colonialism position in which you now (hopefully, unintentionally) find yourselves. (Please note my use of the word “fix” in the previous sentence. That’s an attempt at a joke. You can refer to the third paragraph if you’d like an explanation.)

By the way, I’m just one indigenous person. I represent no one except myself. I’m acting alone in writing this letter. Perhaps none of my own Nishnaabe people will support me in having written this. Perhaps some will. I respect their opinions either way. I love my Nishnaabe people always. I am simply trying to do something good – same as all of you at the Occupy Wall Street protest in what is now called New York.

So, here goes. (You’re still smiling, right?)

1) Acknowledge that the United States of America is a colonial country, a country of settlers, built upon the land of indigenous nations; and/or…

2) Demand immediate freedom for indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier; and/or…

3) Demand that the colonial government of the United States of America honor all treaties signed with all indigenous nations whose lands are now collectively referred to as the “United States of America”; and/or…

4) Make some kind of mention that you are indeed aware that you are settlers and that you are not intending to repeat the mistakes of all of the settler do-gooders that have come before you. In other words, that you are willing to obtain the consent of indigenous people before you do anything on indigenous land.

I hope you find this list useful. I eagerly await your response, my friends.

Miigwech! ( ~”Thank you!” )

JohnPaul Montano

 

 

Comments

  1. Totally Correct says:

    Oh fuck off. They lost that battle centuries ago, we owe them nothing.

    1. Lee says:

      totally correct has totally no style

    2. Tammy says:

      I find Totally’s comment absolutely offensive and absolutely ignorant. The earth doesn’t need any more of this kind here.

  2. Hawken says:

    Sorry Bud, ya lost the war!  You are no longer the owners.

    1. Tara says:

      “Lost the War”, “Lost the Battle”????
      I think you all need to better understand history. Please know that MUCH of the land was gotten through making treaties with natives. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has and still is having difficulty keeping up their end of the treaty. If someone doesn’t hold up there end of the bargain, is it unreasonable to consider the deal undone? 

    2. Tammy says:

      You just don’t get it. It is only the european culture that brought any notion of ownership…and then just took what they felt they should have. Those who revere the earth KNOW one can never OWN the earth.

  3. Nagaland says:

    The one key to the success of this movement is this. Acknowledge who the real owners of this land are.

  4. Jodi says:

    You ARE the 99%.   Yes, a few centuries ago there were thefts and genocides.  But nearly all here have at least a few generations who’ve sweated and bled and been born here.  We are now part of this land Truly.  This is especially true as blood has mixed between people.  My own daughter carries a large amount of Lakota and Blackfoot blood.

    This movement is about far more than the media portrays it as.  At any rate.. if we end the stranglehold on our nation.. and follow the principals that anonymous stands for.. it will tear down the power structure that has been harmful to the NA movement since the 1930’s.  It will also free more people of all races from the economic structure that is hostile to the old way of life.  NA people would have a greater opportunity to rebuild from the damage done them.  NA people may also be able to have greater influence to show others the benefits of their way of life.

    You will have more of a voice, more autonomy, and a greater chance of forcing old treaties to be honored.  

  5. Chris says:

    The way I see it, as a “guest of the earth”…I was born here and am not proud of my ancestors way of killing cultures for personal gain with total disregard of nature’s way,but I don’t believe in land ownership, except that the land owns us until we become part of the land itself and then, perhaps, then we will be owning the humans who live on us.” I’m in a space allocated to me by the human race and until I die, this space is occupied .”-Ray Davies said that and it makes sense. (I’m still smiling, are you?)But it saddens me that an indigenous people may miss an opportunity to come together with the 99% to help “fix” the government by joining us for some common causes and help make things right for the first time ever. Can I get a smile now? You can choose friends, but you can’t choose family. Not an excuse, just the truth

  6. James says:

    I have white skin, and have heard my ancestors came from European countries, but consider myself to be Indian. (not from the 1 native american ancestor, but from my relationship to mother earth)
    I voted for Leonard Peltier to be president, and have not been allowed to register to vote, since then.
    I do not believe ANY man owns this land, & I believe the great white buffalo should roam free. 
    I invite ALL my brothers and sisters, regardless of ancestry or skin color, to come occupy with us.
    YOU should be proud to include YOURSELF in the 99%, just as I am proud to call myself Indian.
    Peace trumps violence, and love is stronger than hate.
    TOGETHER, we can change the world.

  7. Jeannemromaine says:

    All Human Beings were once tribal peoples,some still are today.Throught out human history many have conquered and many have been conquered.It is still going on today and will continue until the end of the life of the earth or of the human race.With it comes suffering and death.The world is very large,there is enough room for everyone.Yet,man must expand his domaine far and above what he needs out of greed.Greed is always the cause .America should and must honor all treaties made with Native American Indians.I think what JohnPaul is saying is very clear.Washington has always been dishonest and NA has always kept its word.Until the people of the U.S. do all in their power to right the wrongs of the past done to NA peoples,we will contine to suffer as they have and continue to suffer under this oppressive government.In other words,”what’s new ?”. Open your eyes to the truth and the truth will set us free from Washington’s oppression!

  8. Joe Chapman says:

    I don’t see why anyone should exclusively own the land. Of course, everyone should have at least some ground with a place for privacy and to work but all of this leads to hoarding of wealth and the unfair society that people are apparently trying to level at the moment. I wonder what the various indigenous tribes really thought about land ownership. I heard that some of them did not believe they actually owned the land.