A message from the streets of Oakland where Dakota writer, teacher, and activist, Waziyatawin, addressed Occupy Oakland on Nov. 12, 2011.Waziyatawin comes from the Pezihutazizi Otunwe (Yellow Medicine Village) in southwestern Minnesota. After receiving her Ph.D. in American history from Cornell University in 2000, she earned tenure and an associate professorship in the history department at Arizona State University where she taught for seven years. Waziyatawin currently holds the Indigenous Peoples Research Chair in the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.
“Given the history of colonial occupation, I would like to add my voice to the voices of other indigenous peoples who have called for a name change of the Occupy movement and Occupy Oakland specifically.
When these movements use the language of occupation, it invokes all the destruction of the past 519 years. It precludes indigenous involvement because indigenous people from all over the world – from Australia, Africa, New Zealand, South America, Central America, North America, Palestine – any population living under occupation will cringe at that word.
If you truly seek to align yourselves with the marginalized and with the dispossessed, it is imperative that you reject the language and ideology of the capitalistic, colonial enterprise.
Today I encourage you to immediately abandon the language of occupation and instead replace it with decolonizing language that distinguishes you from the builders and players of Wall Street.
Further, if you are just interested in simply acquiring your fair share of the economic pie, I hope you understand that this would only be a short lived solution to a major economic crisis that is just one crisis among many.
With the U.S. owing 14 trillion in rolling debt and reaching 100% of the yearly GDP, with European countries facing bankruptcy, we are witnessing the endgame of capitalism. The paradigm of unlimited growth is inherently unsustainable, it always has been, but this truth is finally catching up to American society.
Given the realities of peak debt and peak oil, we are now facing the collapse of the American economy and the collapse of civilization more broadly. These combined with the crises emerging from global warming, climate change, and the collapsing of ecosystems due to hyper exploitation, mean that it is time for everyone to recognize the harm of existing systems and institutions and to seek to dismantle them completely to save all life before it is all destroyed.
You will not find your justice in capitalism. You will not find your justice in the colonial government of the United States. You will find justice when the institutions of capitalism and colonialism are destroyed and they are replaced by sustainable ways of being that nurture and protect all life.”