On Independence Day and Other Colonial Holidays
This weekend marked celebrations of nationalism all across Turtle Island, with canada day on july 1st and independence day today. But while we enjoy a long weekend, bbqs and fireworks, we must recognize the expense that was paid by the Indigenous peoples of this continent for us to enjoy such revelries.
We must remember that these nations are invented, that their borders were drawn by white men without respect or consideration given to the existing Nations who lived here before the colonials’ violent arrival. We must remember that these borders are maintained by political and economic ideologies that benefit imperialist powers. We must remember that the lines drawn across Turtle Island have fractured Indigenous families and communities, and that the wall separating Mexico from america keeps Indigenous peoples out of their rightful home, calling them illegal immigrants.
We must remember genocide, the beginnings of biological warfare, the displacement from ancestral lands, the denial of culture, the sterilization of Indigenous women, the stolen children, the residential schools, the assimilation, the continued poverty within and isolation of Indigenous communities, the death of languages, the fetishization, commercialization and appropriation of Indigenous bodies, identities and cultures.
For those of us who are descendants of settlers, we must recognize and analyze our privileges and understand the historical context and complexities of our presence on this land. We must commit to being better allies, without dwelling in guilt. We must listen, and offer up our voices in support when we are asked. We must stop treating the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island as an afterthought in our organizing. We must commit to being more respectful, critical and loving in our diverse allied communities.
Most importantly we must remember and recognize that Indigenous peoples are not extinct, are resilient, are brave, are struggling and are brilliant.
For more thoughts on the pain of national holidays in Indigenous communities: this article is more particular to canada day.
And for a wonderful counter-narrative to colonial imagery of Indigenous peoples, take a look at this tongue in cheek tribute to Edward S Curtis.