An Invitation to Decolonise: Sunday 27th & Monday 28th at Bishopsgate institute
by Yayra Colque
This weekend provides the very rare opportunity to sit with not only one of the founder women of Idle No More but also to sit and learn from a number of Indigenous thinkers currently in London. Sylvia McAdam Saysewahum is coming to London all the way from Saskatchewan, Turtle Island (Canada), to highlight the link between ongoing attacks on Indigenous peoples and corporate led, government enabled land grabs.
The Idle No More movement was founded in order to fight the C-45 bill that the colonial state of Canada is trying to pass through, which will make it easier for reserve lands to be bought and sold by big companies to get profit from resources. This bill is a direct violation of Treaties, Indigenous sovereignty and the land and water that belongs to the Indigenous of Canada.
However, it has now become so much more. Indigenous peoples from all over the non-white world are identifying with the struggle of the Indigenous in Canada, and there is a one reason behind this; white supremacy. This is one thing that unites all non-white Indigenous peoples; we have all suffered under the brutality of white supremacist policies and its underlying logic.
The outright violation of Indigenous rights is not just happening in the far North region of Abya Yala (The Americas). The Indigenous peoples of the US are now suffering on the reservations they were forced onto, living in poverty and helplessness, while the white settlers live in comfort on their land and off their resources. In Chile, the government is made up of politicians of European descent, and it is these politicians that persecute and murder the Mapuche people for trying to take back what rightfully belongs to them from the white landowners. In Brazil, the Guarani-Kaiowa are also faced with a government of European descent, which always takes the side of the white landowners who are stealing their ancestral land and killing their tribe leaders in an attempt to stifle resistance.
However, white supremacy does not just come in the form of poverty and violence. The distortion of Indigenous identity is also necessary for the perpetuation of European domination. A prime example of this is the labeling of the mixed-blood and full-blood Indigenous peoples of Tawantinsuyu (South America) as “Latinos”. Latinos are people who are from Southern Europe, who speak languages derived from Latin, i.e. Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French. Abya Yala was once divided into “English America” and “Spanish America”; the term “Latin America” was only coined when the French were attempting to get a piece of the colonial pie.
This label of “Latino” disconnects us from our land, our resources and most importantly, our ancestors. This label glorifies the genocide that the Europeans carried out on 70-100 million of our ancestors. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office estimated that at any one time, there are 700,000 to one million mixed-blood and full-blood Indigenous peoples of Tawantinsuyu visiting and living in the UK. Imagine the power if we shook off the colonial term of “Latino” and began to demand reparations for all that was stolen from us.
It is crucial that the mixed-blood and full-blood Indigenous peoples from all over Abya Yala not only get involved in the Idle No More movement but that they also take the lead. Decolonization will only occur when we all unite as one people and begin to reject the European borders that are being imposed on our continent. In the words of Steve Biko, we must “formulate our own thinking, unpolluted by ideas emanating from a group with lots at stake in the status quo”.
These two sessions are an opportunity to de-colonize our own minds as well as the lands. This is particularly important to me because if Abya Yala were genuinely free from European domination, my Aymara family would not have been forced to flee to the UK. However, due to the colonial government of the US propping up a brutal dictator of German descent, to govern the Indigenous peoples of “Bolivia” during the 1970s, they had to. It is about time the European settlers were forced to flee themselves. Join us on Sunday at 1:30pm and Monday evening at 6:30pm so we can have a real discussion about decolonization.
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