Monday, November 7, 2011

Support Occupy Big Mountain

Dineh Resistance Since 1978
Written by Nephew Jake, October 2011

During the last month I have followed “Occupy Together” and its extended family from reading newspapers and internet sources. I understand this is not the best way to be informed about a popular social movement, which would be more informative if i was on the ground, inside the multiple encampments growing all over the United States.

However i am not as naïve as I sound. For the past several years I have been a seasonal sheepherder on Big Mountain. I worked and lived with Dineh elders and their relatives, who have maintained an occupation of their own for last 33 years in defiance of the genocide policies of relocation and mining expansion. The people of Big Mountain, Black Mesa, AZ continue to occupy their ancestral homelands with a diversity of tactics and a strategy that is deeply rooted in their cultural and spiritual heritage. Alike the “Occupy Together” they too are fighting multinational corporations and corrupt governments. Yet, the Dineh resistance on Big Mountain adds the vital rights to the water, clean air, land, and animals. Therefore the welfare of the Mother Earth is never separated from their struggle. This part is tragically missing from the occupy movement.
So far I have gathered “Occupy Together” has strong grievances against corporate greed, governmental collusion in corporate profiteering, neo-liberalism, and economic warfare on the non-owner, working class. i wholeheartedly support their choice to camp out in parks and streets; visible to financial districts in which to express these grievances, and create an evolving public forum. May their resolve continue and grow to disrupt commercial progress.

Although I am not directly connected to an occupied urban area I feel the messages the I have received represent dominant voices and do not challenge racist colonial patriarchy enough. Some evidence I have received say people from marginalized communities are being silenced by organizers and facilitators who are mostly white or male. For every white, straight male that takes control or positions himself in the center, distances women, people of color, First Nations, and LGBTQ folks from the movement. This is not about creating divisions with identity politics; it is about acknowledging privilege, and widening the circle to hear the views of those who are most often held silent.

I realize this is not happening everywhere. I am encouraged by a letter of solidarity with the people on hunger strike inside Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit by “Occupy Oakland:”

“Your daily struggle, as victims of the prison-industrial complex, is a critical component of our ongoing occupation of public space.”

I was impressed when “Occupy Boston” passed a resolution on Indigenous Peoples day recognizing their occupation stood on Massachuset land. The group also acknowledged the continuous resistance of indigenous people to “violent oppression and exploitation of the colonizers” and invited First Nations peoples to join the movement. I also support “Un-Occupy Albuquerque” who recently changed their name after persistent native input to decolonize the uprising there.
My strongest critique of the popular occupy movement is the absence of will to protect the earth. In an age when it’s cool to be green and be an “environmentalist” one would think environmental concerns would be well founded within the principles of “Occupy Together.” However I find half measures like:

“As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality, that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth.”

This does not realize extraction of fossil fuels, uranium, gold, copper, etc needs to stop. It does not realize the burning of fossil fuels is causing climate change and threatens life on this planet. It does not realize the need to protect potable water sources for all life not just humans. Even if corporations and governments came together accepted their guilt in extortion, corruption, and forgave all the debts they would still be able to rape the Earth. If the message is to stop corporate greed but save the middle class and somehow promote social justice, how would the treatment of the Earth change? Think About It.

Resistance on Big Mountain, Black Mesa is an example of on-going occupation with a vast horizon towards economic rights, human rights, religious freedom, AND the rights of Mother Earth. The Dineh leadership there has shown me what hardships one must hurdle to live as a human being on planet Earth. These hardships and hurdles I carry with me on a daily basis that keeps my heart strong so that I can continue to walk for freedom. So when deep snows fill your camps and the heavy rains fall remember the Dineh on Black Mesa, who are hauling water, chopping wood, living without electricity, and face police harassment and fear genocide on a daily basis.
Dineh elders have always stated, all are welcome to herd sheep, chop wood, and haul water and gain some perspective on Big Mountain, Black Mesa.

Any additional questions can be addressed directly to: Nephew Jake,

For More Info checkout, contact Black Mesa Indigenous Support:

Black Mesa Indigenous Support, P.O. Box 23501, Flagstaff, Arizona 86002
Voicemail: 928-773-8086

Letter to the Occupy Together Movement

RESOLUTION: Memorandum of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City