A Public Statement of Apology From the Organizing Committee of Defenders of the Land

Some clarification, as the following supposed “statement” from Defenders of the Land has caused quite a bit of confusion as it has been distributed throughout the net via email without clarification of who wrote it and why (I myself recieved it without the clarification). Anyway, the following is some quick words about the letter and its content from the authors themselves (thanks go out to an Anishinaabe comrade from Ontario for pointing it out to me):

THIS LETTER IS A PARODY, although the gathering in Ottawa IS happening this weekend (April 22-25th). The Defenders of the Land gathering this year was in reality, organized as an exclusive meeting, and has for a long time, done the exact opposite of everything in the [below] letter.

This letter was written by women and grassroots people who have been silenced by the Defenders of the Land Organizing Committee.

It was written in order to turn these men’s attention away from themselves and toward the people they say they represent. We love and appreciate the men, and value their role in the community..but we felt that as grassroots women land defenders, we had to speak up in a way that we could be heard.

We sincerely, sincerely hope that in reading such a statement, the organizing committee will be inspired to change their ways and act in ways which truly honour the women and grasroots people. We believe in these men, and their ability to see a new way of reconnecting with all their relations and call on them to respond.

-Indigenous Women in the Movement

April 22, 2011.

Ottawa (Sovereign Algonquin Territory)

***Please distribute widely***

A Public Statement of Apology From the Organizing Committee of Defenders of the Land

This April 22-25th 2011, ALL indigenous land defenders are warmly welcomed to join the 3rd ever Defenders of the Land Gathering in Ottawa. We want to especially honour the women who stand on the frontlines every day protecting our families, and the land and water and those who face racism and brutality by police, …military and settlers. We respect you, not just in our words, but in our actions.

This year, we would first like to publically apologize as organizers for the way we have disrespected and devalued women Elders, clanmothers and young women by silencing their voices when they didn’t agree with us, by taking over in leadership and by powertripping on our male privilege, and on the amount of attention we get from the activist community.

We would like to especially apologize for exercising our male and class privilege, by using “nonviolence” language that excludes and criminalizes those with no choice but to use whatever means they have to defend themselves and their ancestral homelands.

As the Defenders of the Land Organizing Committee, we would publically like to make a declaration of our support to ALL grassroots, frontline land defenders, whether they burn bridges or flags, whether they take up arms or take up a pen..we will be there to support you, recognizing that as indigenous peoples, we must use whatever means necessary, and because that is what real Warriors do.

If we have trampled on you in our haste to get on the 6 o’clock news, if we have silenced or denounced your voice in order to keep our funders happy, if we have in any way marginalized, oppressed or abused one of our own people, we would like to personally acknowledge, apologize, make amends and take action in every single case where this has happened, no arguments, no questions asked.

We also recognize that the way we have been organizing has been exclusive and hierarchical. We would like to abandon our posts at the top of the Native Activist Pyramid and give the power back to the people, where it belongs. New people, gatecrashers, radicals, little old ladies in combat boots, gun toting bush indians, urban homeless youth, ALL are welcome to the Defenders of the Land network!

We would like to ask, however, that white activists and settlers of colour begin to check their privilege at the door, and truly question of themselves if they are not being barriers to sovereign, indigenous-to-indigenous relations by constantly mediating and facilitating between indigenous peoples and communities.

In fact, we would like to ask that all white activists take a month’s sabbatical to reflect on their “solidarity” and to begin to organize other white folks and in order to effectively fight racism and white supremacy.

We would humbly ask that each and every person or community who has anything to say about this statement of apology gets in touch with us by phone, email, or come in person next time you see us, or you can visit the Indigenous Environmental Network office in Ottawa.

We will shortly be releasing a full disclosure of our structure, our decision making processes, and the concerns which have been brought to us in the past year (and which we have thus far ignored) so as to be fully transparent as a network to the people who put their trust in us to represent them.

To demonstrate our committed resolve to this new leaf-turnover, we will be burning our suits and briefcases in a cleansing ceremony on Parliament Hill.

Lastly, we would like to ask all peoples who have supported Defenders of the Land in the past and present, to vigilantly watch our actions, and the actions of the organizing committee of Defenders of the Land, and of the Indigenous Environmental Network, to be on guard for any of this kind of unacceptable action in the future.

If we disrespect women, we want to know. If we exclude or marginalize poor, female, two spirited or youth voices, we want to know. If we abuse our power in any way, we want to know. We want to be accountable to each and every community within the network, and that means we need your help in calling us out and challenging us. No act of oppression is too small! Never again do we want to venture down the path we’ve created for ourselves. Never again do we want to talk the walk, without walking the walk.

From now on, the Defenders of the Land Organizing Committee will be fully accountable to ALL voices in ALL the communities it represents and if we cannot succeed in that, we will voluntarily disband the network.

Sincerely,

and with Mother Earth as our witness,

Corvin Russell
corvinr@gmail.com
1-613-979-4219 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            1-613-979-4219      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Clayton Thomas Mueller
monsterredlight@gmail.com
218-760-6632 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            218-760-6632      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
613-297-7515 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            613-297-7515      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Ben Powless
powless@gmail.com
1-613-979-4219 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            1-613-979-4219      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

defendersoftheland@gmail.com

Indigenous Environmental Network
180 Metcalfe Street
Suite 500,Ottawa, ON, K2P 1P5
Ph: 613 237 1717 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            613 237 1717      end_of_the_skype_highlighting Ext 106
Ph: (218) 751-4967 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (218) 751-4967      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Email: ienoil@igc.org

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Posted on April 24, 2011, in Imperialism & Colonialism, Indigenous Struggles, Women's Liberation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. My question is this, why are settlers and people not of indigenous cultures allowed a voice in this movement at all?

  2. @Tom:

    I agree. It may seem harsh, especially to our white social democratic, anarchist and liberal NGO friends and acquaintances, but that is just the way things should be I think.

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