The most powerful struggle for self-determination in the US is taking place right now on stolen Sioux land alongside the Standing Rock Nation. This struggle has galvanized the Environmental and Indigenous Rights Movements in their confrontation with the voracious capitalist fossil fuel profiteers. It is a struggle about the United States’ original sin: the physical, cultural and spiritual genocide practiced against American Indians in order to steal their land and resources, including water, the basis for life: it is a struggle that the US government threatens to crush today.
Freedom Road* (FRSO/OSCL) stands in solidarity with indigenous tribes, organizers, leaders and elders in the fight against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in particular and continued attempts at settler-colonialism in general. We reaffirm the indomitable right of indigenous peoples to sovereignty and self-determination.
Historically, the United States was crafted as an imperial project, one grounded in the bedrock capitalist principle of privately owned property for individual profit, and the unmitigated violence of settler colonialism required to get more land and natural resources. When colonizers first set foot on this land, indigenous peoples and their governing bodies, cultures and societies had existed and thrived for thousands of years prior. The brutal creation of early U.S. capitalism (what Marx called “primitive accumulation”) made land a prime objective for ownership and control, imported and enslaved Africans as the prime workers of this land, targeted women and oppressed genders for subordination to men, and made indigenous people as a whole a prime ‘obstacle’ to white supremacist capitalist rule, an obstacle that was to be overcome through genocidal warfare, forced cultural assimilation, and the institutionalization of strict patriarchal gender roles.
In the face of this imperialist cascade and at every point in U.S. history, indigenous people resisted genocide, terror and attempted forced removal. From Little Bighorn to Red Cloud’s War, from the 1969 Occupation of Alcatraz to the 1973 Battle at Wounded Knee, there exists a long and rich history of Native American resistance to imperialist aggression. We believe in and affirm the right of the Sioux tribe, and every tribe of this land to determine the best way to honor all that is sacred and determine how best to move towards an emancipatory destiny.
In stark contrast to this vision for collective liberation stands what we are calling the New Confederacy, the nationally specific form of rightwing populism with roots in the old Confederacy: it seeks to eliminate public programs that re-distribute resources, to privatize public services and de-regulate corporate activity such as in the fossil fuel industry, to militarize society – and most fundamentally, to “make America great again” – a great bastion of white male supremacy. The power and ability of this group to implement its strategy dramatically increased in size and scope with the victory of their presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump.
A crucial component of this alliance is the corporate fossil fuel industry. This section of capital bases its profit margin on the continued extraction of fossil fuels and catastrophic agricultural practices, both of which deeply diverge from indigenous practices and rituals holding land and life as sacred. In a historical moment where our climate is undergoing a major restructuring, we cannot afford continued extraction. Extraction, we must add, that the incoming President is personally invested in.
We are living during a climate catastrophe, an extinction level event that can be directly traced back to the forced removal of indigenous people and forced destruction of entire ecosystems. Because of historical and contemporary human agricultural practices and continued extraction, weather is becoming more dangerous and unpredictable. Clean water, once an abundant resource, is becoming a luxury good, with struggles for access by indigenous peoples, rural folks and people of color multiplying around the world, from Bolivia to sub-Saharan Africa to Flint Michigan. With the capture of a united federal government, and with more state governments than at any other moment in U.S. history, the New Confederates feel emboldened. As revolutionary socialists it is our task to identify the enemy and cohere the alliance necessary to crush its rule. We believe that enemy is the New Confederacy, and we believe that alliance is oppressed nationalities and the multi-national working class.
There is no socialism without Native American self-determination. FRSO affirms this historical truth, supports this struggle, believes water is life and stands in solidarity.
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