Category Archives: first nations/indigenous people

Celebrating Queer Indigenous Voices Week: Interview with Daniel Heath Justice

By Guest Contributor Jorge Antonio Vallejos, cross-posted from Black Coffee Poet

Near the end of my video interview with Daniel Heath Justice (above) for this special week Celebrating Queer Indigenous Voices I asked, “… anything we’ve left out?”

“There’s a lot we’ve left out,” said Justice.

True!

Although we had a table full of books we failed to mention Queer Indigenous writers from around the world. And I’m embarrassed to say that I did not mention an Indigenous, brown, queer woman who helped pave the way for a brown boy like me: Gloria Anzaldua. She was a Mestiza, Xicana who made an impact on the literature world and changed the way Indigeneity is seen, thought, read, written, and lived.

R.I.P Gloria.

Continue reading

For Your Women’s History Month: Loretta Ross on the Origin of “Women of Color”

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Full disclosure: I met Loretta Ross at a Women’s Media Center’s media workshop for progressive women last summer, and we’re connected through the New York City chapter of SisterSong, which reshaped the reproductive-rights fight to reproductive justice. And I just think she is an incredible activist and living historian.

I saw this clip of her explaining to another generation of feminists where the term “women of color” came from and wanted to share.

Transcript after the jump.

Continue reading

Culturelicious: An Interview With Mohawk Poet Janet Marie Rogers

By Guest Contributor Jorge Antonio Vallejos, cross-posted from Black Coffee Poet

Janet Marie Rogers is a spoken-word poet from Six Nations Territory in Ontario, Canada who started writing in 1996.

Her literary passions are Native heritage, feminism, historical territories, human love, sexuality and spirit.

Rogers hosts Victoria, BC’s only Native radio program, called Native Waves every Tuesday at 2:30 pm on CFUV 101.9 FM.

BCP: Why spoken-word poetry?

JMR: This is easy to answer. I was first exposed to poetry readings at a local pub. And there was plenty of “bad” poetry being shared. People droning on and reading a type of therapeutic poetry which is like masturbating in words. So I vowed then and there that I would NEVER bore my audience. Plus I believe in my words and wanted people to pay attention to my messages, so I began “teaching myself” the spoken word genre and its been growing from there ever since.

BCP: What is your process?

JMR: I wait for the good stuff. Some writers are disciplined and are able to write everyday. Myself, I know when a poem wants to be born. It is a strong energy in my stomach, then the words begin to sound in my head and I’m off to the races as they say. And during the execution of the poem, I keep telling myself to stay true, be honest, go deep, make it interesting and creative. I tell other writers and artists, there is no great crime than to be boring and unoriginal … I live by that code.

Continue reading

Friday Announcement: Native Youth Sexual Health Network Liveblogs 22nd International Two Spirit Gathering

The Native Youth Sexual Health Network, founded and led by the R’s Jessica Yee, will liveblog the 22nd International Two Spirit Gathering, which will be held this weekend, from September 3-6.

22nd International Two Spirit Gathering

The retreat, as described on the website:

The gathering will take place…at the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre, Beausejour, Manitoba, Canada (64 kilometers or 40 miles) northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Aboriginal/Native American gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender people, their partners, friends & families are invited to gather in the land of the Cree, Dene, Dakota, Inuit, Metis, Ojibway-Cree and Ojibway.

Check here for the updates from the event.

Another day, another apology – this time to Inuit for high arctic relocation

tp-arctic-exiles-file

By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

This past Wednesday newly appointed Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan issued an official apology from the government of Canada to Inuit for the forced high arctic relocation:

On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, we would like to offer a full and sincere apology to Inuit for the relocation of families from Inukjuak and Pond Inlet to Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay during the 1950s.

We would like to express our deepest sorrow for the extreme hardship and suffering caused by the relocation.  The families were separated from their home communities and extended families by more than a thousand kilometres.  They were not provided with adequate shelter and supplies.  They were not properly informed of how far away and how different from Inukjuak their new homes would be, and they were not aware that they would be separated into two communities once they arrived in the High Arctic.  Moreover, the Government failed to act on its promise to return anyone that did not wish to stay in the High Arctic to their old homes.

The Government of Canada deeply regrets the mistakes and broken promises of this dark chapter of our history and apologizes for the High Arctic relocation having taken place.  We would like to pay tribute to the relocatees for their perseverance and courage.  Despite the suffering and hardship, the relocatees and their descendants were successful in building vibrant communities in Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay.  The Government of Canada recognizes that these communities have contributed to a strong Canadian presence in the High Arctic.

The relocation of Inuit families to the High Arctic is a tragic chapter in Canada’s history that we should not forget, but that we must acknowledge, learn from and teach our children.  Acknowledging our shared history allows us to move forward in partnership and in a spirit of reconciliation.  The Government of Canada and Inuit have accomplished many great things together, and all Canadians have benefitted from the contributions of Inuit to our culture and history.  We must continue to strengthen our connections and deepen our understanding and respect.  We must jointly build a stronger, healthier and more vibrant Inuit Nunangat and, in turn, build a stronger, healthier and more vibrant Canada.

The forced “high arctic relocation” is a horribly little known part of Indigenous apartheid in Canada. So many families I know have relatives who were part of this and have fought for years to seek justice, even just to get the government to admit that it purposely put people there to assert so-called “Canadian sovereignty” (which is insulting even just to type those two words out).  Words like “relocation” are also coercive and intentionally polite to deceive people into thinking that Inuit were just fine and happy to be moved – and of course to defend Canada’s imposed right to commodify Indigenous people and make us disappear.

Continue reading

The 20th anniversary of Oka and the continuation of unearthing human rights at the G8/G20

By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

Video after video, photo after photo, story after story came pouring in this weekend telling us about another friend or another relative who had been unlawfully arrested, beaten, spit on, psychologically, physically, and emotionally abused and relentlessly harassed by the police in Toronto. All this and more unearthing of human rights happened to the people for demonstrating, protesting, taking action and speaking out against one of the most undemocratic and unethical convenings of the world’s largest superpowers – the G8/G20.

Counts of the number of arrests that took place this past weekend are at some 500 or more – with some having now been released – but so many others remain cramped and overcrowded in the mass jails that were erected in what we know were government and state plans to throw people in and violate their human rights – which is of course in line with the entire theme of the G8/G20. Rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray were deployed by police at will and used against people of all ages who yes – were peacefully protesting (and I’m not going into the less than 100 who were not because they were the very small minority) but more importantly, YES IT IS our civil liberty and fundamental right to do so.

Reports also came rushing in about police keeping people cornered outside in the heavy rain for hours, as well as further accounts of violent police brutality directly inside and outside the jails – and I don’t owe them any benefit of the doubt to believe otherwise. This also occurred two intersections down the street from my house in Toronto.

Continue reading

Some Basic Racist Ideas and some Rebuttals, & Why We Exist

By Thea Lim

On Tuesday Racialicious Special Correspondent Jessica Yee wrote a post for the Bitch Magazine blog called “On hipsters/hippies and Native Culture” (scroll down one to see the post itself), which was basically a post listing some of the major cultural appropriation no-nos practiced by hipster and hippie culture.

The Bitch Magazine blog comments section is usually fairly quiet, averaging about 10 comments a post. Jessica’s post got 51 comments (at last count).  While a few comments were supportive of Jessica’s point, a lot of them were angry, obtuse and condescending, accusing Jessica of being combative while they themselves were combative or accusing Jessica of “excluding people” while remaining completely insensitive to the fact that our culture has actively and institutionally excluded the communities Jessica speaks for, for hundreds of years.  A little proportion, please.

Racialicious considers Bitch a friend – all year Racialicious bloggers will be guesting at the Bitch blog.  But when Jessica sent out an email to the team with a link to said Bitch post and its comments, we shuddered a long, sad, collective sigh.  This kind of blowback is so depressingly standard, and calls immediately to mind the dozens of times we’ve received these types of responses when we’ve asked for ourselves, our cultures and our experiences to be respected.

The resistance Jessica got is so standard that we can categorise it into three, typical responses that entitled folks make when called out for their privilege.  So here, organised for your reading ease, are some of those soul-scorching comments, and my rebuttals to their nonsense.

1. Why are you so angry? Don’t you know that no one will listen to your cause if you’re angry?

…Her defensive, hostile and generally angry tone does no service to the Indigenous community nor to her own self-claimed authorty as the arbiter of all things Native. Many of her points (Native women were the first to acknowledge that periods aren’t gross?) fail to recognize that these same concepts are fairly universal and are held by the early peoples of pretty much every continent- including Europe. She needs to take a breath and get over herself…

It seems somewhat contradictory to put stickers on your laptop that indicate a Mohawk heritage and then rudely dismiss a stranger who expresses an interest in your advertisement. Perhaps a better way to accomplish your agenda (whatever it is) would be to engage in polite and open-minded conversation with those who mistake your stickers for an invitation.

if you dont like the ignorance people have of you then fix it! teach them the right way! dont get all huffy and upset and tell them to go away!

Note that the second comment suggests that Jessica should take a nicer tone if she wants to accomplish her agenda – without even knowing (or I guess, caring) what the agenda is.

This kind of hey-let-me-help-you-achieve-your-goal-by-suggesting-you-be-more-radio-friendly response totally misunderstands (and appears disinterested) in the anti-racist project, because it assumes that anti-racism is all about convincing white people to be nice to people of colour.   In other words, it assumes that anti-racism revolves around white folks.  Like everything else in the world.

Anti-racism and people of colour organizing is not about being friendly, being appealing, or educating white folks. While individual anti-racist activists may take those tacks to achieve their goals, the point of anti-racism is to be for people of colour.

Anti-racism is about carving out a space for people of colour; decolonising and reappropriating the spaces which have been taken from us by racism.  So sometimes people put Mohawk stickers on their laptops (or wear yellow pride t-shirts or support black music) because that is a way for them to affirm to themselves who they are, within a dominant culture that tries to ignore and erase their pride in their own cultures.

Continue reading

Feminist Intersection: On hipsters/hippies and Native culture

By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee, originally published at Bitch Magazine

tumblr_ku2w1neBzC1qzvu6ro1_500.jpg

Lately I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the hipsters and hippies, as well as the hippie/hipster “culture” at large, and have become increasingly annoyed at their depiction/co-option of my ethnicity as a First Nations person.

Kelsey pointed me to this post on Sociological Images last week which rounds up some of the latest and greatest of this ever continuing trend.

I know my parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles have had to deal with this in their time and it’s certainly not a new thing –but it’s 2010 and not only does it still continue strongly to this day – it’s taken some interesting turns down the erasure of true origins road. This isn’t a hate letter, or reverse racism (as if there were such a thing!). It’s also not an attempt to discourage you from finding out more about Native people – and in fact I strongly ENCOURAGE you to do some actual research and knowledge seeking so you might get our culture right and think twice about things like permission and respect before you act on your appropriation.

So to the hipsters/hippies who appropriate Native culture but aren’t First Nations/Aboriginal/Indigenous, I’m asking you nicely now, to PLEASE stop annoying (the fuck out of) me with the following:

The clothing. Whether it’s headbands, feathers, bone necklaces, mukluks, or moccasins – at least put some damn thought into WHAT you are wearing and WHERE it’s from. I know our people sell these things en masse in gift shops and trading posts, and it seems like it’s an open invitation to buy it and flaunt it, but you could at least check the label to see A. If it’s made by actual Indigenous people/communities B. What does this really mean if YOU wear it?

Organic living and environmentalism as “new” concepts. One of my friends jokes that all Native people should get green energy for free because that’s how we’ve been living for centuries and also taught the colonizers how to live (which may or may not have screwed us in the end). I really do love the resurgence of the green movement and how things are becoming more environmentally friendly – but I don’t need certain members of the movement pretending like they started this or ignoring extreme realities we’re facing like environmental racism and justice. I also think we need actual Native people being in charge of and leading the responses to environmental degradation that are happening in our own territories. It’s not to say we don’t need allyship and support – but it’s also rather irritating when I read an event posting for a cause of some sort for a First Nation where there’s like two Native people in the whole place (who either barely say anything or are supposed to go along with the way the hippies organize without complaint because they’re “doing something for us”).

Continue reading