Indigenous led Green New Deal

The book The Red Deal is about an Indigenous led Green New Deal (GND).

The Sunrise Movement was launched as a national campaign for a Green New Deal (GND) in 2017. From the beginning I heard my native friends talk about the importance of a green new deal to be Indigenous led but didn’t have a clear idea of what that meant. In 2019 Sunrise’s Green New Deal tour included a stop in Des Moines. There my friends Trisha Cax-Sep-Gu-Wiga Etringer and Lakasha Yooxot Likipt spoke about Indigenous leadership as part of the GND.

So I’m glad to be reading the recently published book, The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth by the Red Nation.

The Red Nation is a coalition of Native and non-Native activists, educators, students, and community organizers advocating Native liberation that formed to address the marginalization and invisibility of Native struggles within mainstream social justice organizing, and to foreground the targeted destruction and violence towards Native life and land.”

Inspired by the appeals to divest from the financial institutions funding oil pipelines during the Standing Rock uprising and the Movement for Black Lives’ divest-invest strategy, the Red Deal also targets the institutions of the military, police, and prisons for divestment. Imagine divesting from these institutions and opening up $1 trillion to accomplish the task of saving this Earth for everyone.

In 2018, Winona LaDuke pushed for an Indigenous-led GND. The former Green Party vice-presidential candidate inspired us to think about how divesting from fossil fuel infrastructure—such as billion-dollar oil pipelines—could be reinvested into building wind and solar farms and sustainable agriculture on reservations. Indeed, the most radical appraisals of the GND come from Indigenous people. According to the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), the GND, as is, “will leave incentives by industries and governments to continue causing harms to Indigenous communities.” Before endorsing the GND, IEN called for a clear commitment to keep fossil fuels in the ground; reject carbon pricing schemes; strengthen language on Indigenous peoples and uphold Indigenous rights; and stop, not prolong, our current exploitative and abusive economic and political systems.

Nation, The Red. The Red Deal (pp. 18-19). Common Notions. Kindle Edition.

… what if the question all water protectors and land defenders asked was, why don’t we just overturn the system that makes development a threat in the first place? This system, again, is capitalism. Rather than taking an explicitly conservationist approach, the Red Deal instead proposes a comprehensive, full-scale assault on capitalism, using Indigenous knowledge and tried-and-true methods of mass mobilization as its ammunition. In this way, it addresses what are commonly thought of as single issues like the protection of sacred sites—which often manifest in specific uprisings or insurrections—as structural in nature, which therefore require a structural (i.e., non-reformist reform) response that has the abolition of capitalism via revolution as its central goal. We must be straightforward about what is necessary. If we want to survive, there are no incremental or “non-disruptive” ways to reduce emissions. Reconciliation with the ruling classes is out of the question. Market-based solutions must be abandoned. We have until 2050 to reach net-zero carbon emissions. That’s it. Thirty years. The struggle for a carbon-free future can either lead to revolutionary transformation or much worse than what Marx and Engels imagined in 1848, when they forewarned that “the common ruin of the contending classes” was a likely scenario if the capitalist class was not overthrown. The common ruin of entire peoples, species, landscapes, grasslands, waterways, oceans, and forests—which has been well underway for centuries—has intensified more in the last three decades than in all of human existence.

Nation, The Red. The Red Deal (pp. 21-22). Common Notions. Kindle Edition.

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James, Des Moines Mutual Aid, Great Plains Action Society

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