The idea of “landback” — returning land to the stewardship of Indigenous peoples — has existed in different forms since colonial governments seized it in the first place. “Any time an Indigenous person or nation has pushed back against the oppressive state, they are exercising some form of landback,” says Nickita Longman, a community organizer from George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada.
The movement goes beyond the transfer of deeds to include respecting Indigenous rights, preserving languages and traditions, and ensuring food sovereignty, housing, and clean air and water. Above all, it is a rallying cry for dismantling white supremacy and the harms of capitalism. Although these goals are herculean, the landback movement has seen recent successes, including the removal of dams along the Klamath River in Oregon following a long campaign by the Yurok Tribe and other activists, and the return of 1,200 acres in Big Sur, California, to the formerly landless Esselen Tribe.Returning the Land. Four Indigenous leaders share insights about the growing landback movement and what it means for the planet, by Claire Elise Thompson, Grist, February 25, 2020
There are several reasons I’ve been praying, studying, and writing about LANDBACK. Most importantly my Native friends have told me the best way to support them is by doing so. Those who work for justice often hear we need to follow the leadership of the communities impacted by injustice. It is often not clear how to go about doing that.
I’ve been a bit apprehensive about trying to get Friends involved with LANDBACK because many Friends have trouble dealing with the history of Quakers’ involvement with the forced assimilation of Native children. Many white Friends have trouble dealing with Quakers’ history related to enslavement. Many white Friends are uncomfortable with their white privileges today.
So I was very grateful to receive a response to something I’d written about LANDBACK from my friend and fellow Quaker, Marshall Massey, which you can read here: Marshall Massey on LANDBACK – LANDBACK Friends
I wrote the following case study, hoping to give an example of the implementation of the ideas related to LANDBACK.