LANDBACK and Quakers. A case study

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.

This is a link to the PDF version of the LANDBACK case study, Wet’suwet’en and Quakers.

Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Minute 2019

To this day we have not come to grips with fundamental injustices our country was built on, the cultural genocide and theft of land from Native Americans, the enslavement of African Americans and the legal justifications of bestowing rights and privileges on white land-owning men. The consequences of these injustices continue to plague our society today. And will continue to impact us until we do what is necessary to bring these injustices to light and find ways to heal these wounds.

Several Friends recently assisted Boulder Meeting Friend, Paula Palmer, to lead workshops and discussions as part of her ministry “toward right relationships with Native people.” Part of the tragedy of the theft of Native land is that some Native people don’t have the concept of land as property, belonging to a landowner. Rather they have a spiritual connection to Mother Earth, that the land is sacred and not something that can be claimed as property by anyone. Being forced to leave their land broke their spiritual bonds with the land.

Native people have asked us to begin work toward reconciliation and healing. The first step needed is truth telling, recognizing that injury or harm has taken place. One of the important parts of holding “right relationship” workshops is to determine which Native nations were on the land before white settlers arrived.

–Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2019

Marshall Massey on LANDBACK

As far as archæology can tell, no one actually lived on any of the land within fifty miles of where I, personally, live, until the 1870s, when whites came to use it for transshipment. It was too dry and barren and empty to support people who just lived *here*. There’s a part of the Bighorn River Canyon about 90 miles southeast of me, where very small numbers of people like the Anasazi lived in Anasazi-style cliff dwellings, at about the time of the Anasazi, perhaps 800 or 1200 years ago. They fished the streams, hunted the nearby hills, and probably cultivated small patches of ground. But that was long before horses arrived, and they had no real reason to come the long distance (it would have been a week or more on foot) from where they dwelt to where I live, except perhaps in curiosity about what the land looked like.

By the time the natives of my area had horses, my area, along with most of the broad stretch of land from the Bighorn to the Rocky Mountain Front — 400 miles and more miles across — was an area that the nearest tribes (Crow and Blackfeet) hunted buffalo and other prey on horseback in, but did not settle in, and did not regard as a possession. They rode across it, from their own edge to the other tribe’s edge, to raid the other tribe’s dwellings on the far side, to steal horses and count coup and work revenge. They spoke of this to the European-Americans: “This all belongs to the Great Spirit,” they said, “and the Great Spirit meant us to have the use of it, but not to own it.” If you want an exact quotation, here is Crowfoot, a chief among the Blackfeet, speaking some time around 1885: “We cannot sell the lives of men and animals; therefore we cannot sell this land. It was put here for us by the Great Spirit and we cannot sell it because it does not belong to us.”

We have a similar testimony in the Bible — would you believe it? Funny coincidence. “The earth is YHWH’s,” it says, “and the fullness thereof.” (YHWH is a Hebrew word which some modern scholars believe began as a representation of the great wind that fills all the sky, or the great breath that animates all beings: the great spirit.) You may know this passage: it appears in Deuteronomy 10:14 and Psalm 24:1, and is repeated in I Corinthians 10:26. Not that the Bible matters much to liberal activists any more, though; most of them would much, much rather get the same teaching from some other source, anywhere else but their own tradition. Nonetheless, this teaching in the biblical tradition is why the believers in the early Church held all things in common and committed all their resources to look after one another. How can anyone really own what God has put in place for all, especially in cases where someone else has an unmet need? Deuteronomy and Psalms represent wisdom teachings that date back three thousand years, and were I a betting man, I would bet the wisdom of non-possession goes back to the dawn of thought about such things — millions of years back, to when our ancestors and the ancestors of chimpanzees were one people.

I have begun to think that many modern Americans — including, unfortunately, many modern, Westernized native Americans, and at least equally unfortunately, also many modern Quakers — will never, never let themselves comprehend the idea of non-ownership. Their souls are too far shriveled. Surely the land must have been someone’s property, whenever there was anyone even remotely able to make a claim. But this was the testimony of the natives of that time, and of Friends as well. And I believe it is the truth. You might as well claim that somebody owns the sun.

–Marshall Massey

Some Quaker history regarding residential schools

Friends were brought in by President Grant in the hope of mitigating the evils of an appallingly evil system. The meetings that became involved — some Hicksite, some Orthodox, but none Wilburite — were required to obey the law (including the laws requiring forcible enrollment) — but, within those limits, did indeed mitigate the suffering as best they could, doing things like making sure that tribes got the supplies that Congress voted for them. (Prior to Grant’s “Quaker policy”, the agents assigned to the tribes would take the supplies for themselves instead and sell them off to white buyers.) Some individual Friends appointed to this work were strongly prejudiced regarding the supposed inferiority and savagery of the native; others were remarkably enlightened. As with every part of the human drama, it was never simple, but the meetings that took up this project genuinely struggled to do their best.

Great Plains Yearly Meeting — our neighbor yearly meeting to the west and southwest — still maintains a presence with the Osage nation, which is the last truly lively relic of that Quaker policy. I have visited their meeting at Hominy, Oklahoma, the center of that effort. There are native American members there who are fourth-to-sixth generation descendants of the original native American members of the meeting. The pastor at the time I visited, David E. Nagle, is Anglo by birth, but an adopted member of the tribe; he participates in the tribal dances (and there are photos of him doing so on FB), and he took a prominent role in the work of creating a dictionary of the tribe’s language and reviving the use of the language among its children.

Great Plains Yearly Meeting itself is a bridge-builder. It is fully affiliated with FUM, but various of its individual meetings maintain affiliations with EFI or FGC. I know of no other Friends yearly meeting that is so dedicated to maintaining *all* those connections and making them meaningful. David Nagle himself is an associate member of Ohio Yearly Meeting, our sister Conservative meeting.

–Marshall Massey

There is much that our past can show, if everyone will stop turning away from the truth

Following are stories from Madonna Thunder Hawk and Chase Iron Eyes (both from the Lakota People’s Law Project) about the Native boarding schools in the lands called Canada and the United States. And a petition calling for the Biden administration and congressional committees to form and empower a Truth and Reconciliation Commission today.

As we wrote to you several weeks ago, there’s a lot of justified anger and trauma in Indian Country right now. For many of us, the reality of what happened in these horrific church-run and state-sanctioned facilities is not something we want to relive. That said, because I was there, I want to share with you some of what my experience looked like.

By the time I went to boarding school in the late 1940s and early ‘50s, things weren’t as horrifying as they’d once been. I spent a period of these years in the U.S. government and parochial boarding school systems on and off the Cheyenne River reservation. It may not surprise you to learn that I was always on the verge of getting kicked out. They said I was “too mouthy!”

My parents’ generation had it much harder. In their day, boarding schools were military in style and very strict. In the late 1920s and early ‘30s, my mother attended Pipestone Elementary. It was a U.S. government school, but many like it were parochial, mainly Catholic. She and her classmates were made to wear uniforms and march wherever they went. Neither crying nor laughing was allowed. No one talked, and many tried to escape, but they would always be found and brought back against their will. Then the administrators would shave their heads bald, march them into the auditorium, string them up, and flog them. All the other kids were made to watch as a lesson in what happens when you run away. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that many children died from illness under these harsh conditions.

This is the intergenerational trauma that I and so many of my contemporaries still live with today. It informs our current fight to keep our young ones from being stolen away into white foster “care.” It’s why we, as an organization, back Secretary Haaland’s investigation, and why we hope even more will be done to empower a true reckoning here in the U.S. — through an audit of our own school properties and teaching real history in the schools of today. There is much that our past can show, if everyone will stop turning away from the truth.

Wopila tanka — thank you for your understanding and allyship at this hard moment.
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Chase attends a prayer circle in D.C. and offers his thoughts on the tragic discoveries of more graves at Indian boarding schools over the past weeks

Sign the petition here: America cannot hide from the ramifications of its own history (

After the continued findings of mass graves of Indigenous children at boarding schools, it’s long past past time to confront the genocide of Indigenous People on Turtle Island. Tell the Biden administration and congressional committees to form and empower a Truth and Healing Commission today.

Petition Text:

The tragic discoveries of mass graves full of Indigenous children at boarding school campuses shocked Americans and Canadians alike — but this news did not surprise any Indigenous person on Turtle Island. The history of boarding and residential schools are a well-known horror in these communities. Generations have suffered and continue to suffer the fallout of this criminal legacy.

Therefore I ask today that the United States government take immediate corrective action to address its own genocidal history. I call upon the Biden administration, the House Subcommittee of the Indigenous People of the United States and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to immediately spearhead the formation of a Truth and Healing Commission empowered to confront the scope of this tragedy head-on.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s creation of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative is a wonderful start, and we applaud Secretary Haaland for taking action on behalf of her Indigenous relatives. But we need a true reckoning, and any agency must be empowered to find the hard answers.

The proposed Commission — or Secretary Haaland’s Initiative — must be given the authority to conduct a full audit of all Indian boarding schools within the U.S. and any relevant associated properties. We demand that government agencies, churches, property owners, and faith-based organizations prioritize cooperation with these efforts to help ensure they are comprehensive and fully effective.

Until America confronts its own history and continued use of colonial tools of oppression, these discoveries will continue to be made. Communities will continue to grieve and America will continue to skirt responsibility for its violent history — and current practices — of colonialism and resulting genocides.

America was founded on documents which granted legal immunity and bestowed moral imperatives to conquer and “civilize” the Original People of Turtle Island. These documents, issued as papal bulls from the Vatican and known as the Doctrine of Discovery, authorized and encouraged the violent origins of America. By 1860, with the opening of the first Indian boarding school, America was simply updating ancient methods of colonization to continue acting with impunity and violent arrogance. The latest evidence discovered of genocide, murder, and violence underlines the horror resultant from the Doctrine, which is still being used as a tool of disenfranchisement and oppression in today’s court systems.

America cannot hide from the ramifications of its own history. With the closure of our last Indian Boarding school in 1978, Americans must understand that this is living history, not some historical footnote. People and communities are still suffering. Let this tragic discovery in Canada be the wake up call that America needs. Please use your authority as members of the executive and legislative branches to begin blazing a new kind of trail. Form a Truth and Healing Commission — and vest it with the authority to begin addressing this nation’s long history of violence and oppression toward Native communities.

Sign the petition here: America cannot hide from the ramifications of its own history

Quaker meeting 6/27/2021

Yesterday afternoon a group of Midwest Quakers gathered via Zoom in response to the terrible news of the remains of children at Native residential schools in Canada. Tragically there is no doubt many more will be found.

We began with an hour of worship together. For those not familiar, many Quakers worship in silence. If so led, vocal messages can be given. Afterword we had a discussion about what we might do.

I believe those gathered shared my appreciation for a chance to listen for the Spirit, and to each other, for strength and guidance for what we might be called to do. Many, if not all of us, wonder what our responsibility is for the trauma of forced assimilation. We are aware that Quakers played some role in some of those institutions in the land called the United States.

These traumas have been passed from generation to generation. Described as an open wound in Native communities today.

We must look to Indigenous peoples to learn how we can support them. I’ve been asked to tell people about the concept of LANDBACK. I created the website as one way to do that. There you can find explanations of the concepts of LANDBACK and Mutual Aid. And a number of posts about Native residential schools.

Also there is An Epistle to Friends Regarding Community, Mutual Aid and LANDBACK. This is based on An Epistle to Friends Concerning Military Conscription that was signed by Iowa Friends Roy Knight and Don Laughlin, among others. That espistle discussed options related to military conscription and made the case for draft resistance.

If you are so led, you can add your signature to the LANDBACK epistle. You can also add your email address if you’d like updates.

My friend Christine Nobiss, of the Great Plains Action Society, asks us to support the July 4th event Stop Whitewashing Genocide and Slavery This is a real opportunity for us to demonstrate our support for her work. I would also encourage you to invite young people to attend.

Photos I took at last year’s event can be found below.

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Proximity and perspective

This is likely to be a kind of stream of consciousness. Exploring proximity of distance, of time, proximity to the Spirit. How proximity changes our perspective.

I’m floundering. I seem to have become unmoored from the Quaker faith community I was raised in and chose to remain part of my entire life.

Throughout my life there have been tensions between us. One related to the profligate use of fossil fuels. I had hoped when I was led to live without a car, other Friends might also. Had hoped other Friends would be draft resisters. Find ways to join communities of color. Ways to be accountable for settling on Native lands. For participating in the cultural genocide of institutions of forced assimilation.

There have been some Friends who have done some of those things.

A number of things contribute to my current condition. One is realizing the inherent racism, evil of the colonial capitalist economic system. How have we become immune to the hunger, houselessness, disease and despair of millions of people? To endless wars? To the utter devastation of Mother Earth? All predicated on capitalism and white supremacy.

The vast majority of Quakers in the United States are white and relatively well off financially. Benefactors of capitalism and white dominant culture. Many avoid looking at the evils of the capitalist economic system they/we live in. Which, I would contend, is why we don’t have a diverse membership. Why many of us have trouble comprehending racism and privilege.

My perspective has radically changed over the past decade. First when I was blessed to become part of the Kheprw Institute community in Indianapolis. A black youth mentoring and empowerment community. I was mentored myself in the process. I learned there is no substitute for spending a great deal of time in oppressed communities. Justice work is founded on relationships. Without this development of friendships, no meaningful work can be done. This is the proximity of physical distance.

Over the past four years I have been similarly blessed to build relationships, friendships with Native people in Iowa. This was another example of the proximity of physical distance, which was the intention of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March I am profoundly grateful to have been part of. For a week in September, 2018, a small group of about 15 Native and 15 non-native folks walked together, and camped along the route of the Dakota Access pipeline. Walking down rural gravel roads, we shared our stories with each other. Began to build friendships and trust. Since then, there have been numerous occasions when we worked together.

For over a year now I have been so grateful to become part of Des Moines Mutual Aid. My good friend Ronnie James, an Indigenous organizer with more than twenty years of experience, has been generously, patiently mentoring me about Mutual Aid and activism in Iowa. I spend several hours every Saturday morning with a very diverse group of friends as we put together and distribute boxes of food for those in need. Another example of proximity of distance. Over these times together we share our stories. Get to meet family members. Share our joy of being with each other. My perspective relative to Quakers and black, indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) has changed significantly as a result.

What has brought about my crisis of connection with Quakers has been the recent verification of the remains of Native children at residential schools in Canada. Verification because Indigenous peoples knew children were buried there.

A problem for me was Quaker involvement in some of these schools in the land called the United States. I doubt those Friends harmed the children physically. But looking back from our perspective today, grievous harm was done by forceful attempts to assimilate the children into white culture.

I knew I could not have honest relationships with my Native friends if this wasn’t brought up. So I did. Those stories are for another time.

There are Quakers and many others who contend this was done in the past. Not something that needs to be dealt with today. Not a close proximity of time.

But that is not true. Some of those schools were still in operation until around the 1970’s. And the traumas that occurred at these residential schools have been passed from generation to generation. A close proximity of time. Native peoples suffering now.

Some have suggested we aren’t accountable because there were not residential schools close to us geographically. Proximity of distance.

More what I meant by the proximity of distance relates to physical presence. Because I am often in the presence of my Native friends, I see the great pain this latest news of the Native children has caused. This totally informs my perspective.

I don’t know how often my Native friends think about it, but I imagine our conversations about Quaker involvement come to mind.

There are calls now to look for children’s remains at all the residential schools. They will undoubtedly be found. Very likely found at schools Quakers were involved with. The numbers are already staggering, with over 800 children found at just two schools. Heightening tensions between Native and non-native peoples.

So there is proximity of time. Here and now. For some Quakers there is also proximity of distance. In various ways some of us are physically in touch with Native people. Close in terms of relationships with each other.

Don’t be a bystander to white supremacy

Christine Nobiss

I know I am fortunate, and many other Friends don’t have such relationships. That needs to change.

There are several reasons I have, hopefully temporarily, created distance from Friends. Many don’t acknowledge our responsibilities in this tragic history. Contend we don’t have accountability because these schools operated in the past. Don’t feel a proximity of time. Don’t realize the depths of the pain of Native peoples, because these Friends don’t have physical proximity.

So how can Friends find ways to be present with Native people? One way is to show up for Native gatherings. One such opportunity will be this July 4th, 2021, 1 – 3 pm. West terrace Iowa State Capitol. Stop Whitewashing Genocide & Slavery!!! Bring Back Critical Race Theory & Remove Monuments to White Supremacy in Iowa! 

My friend Christine Nobiss is asking for a large turnout to support the removal of such statues in Iowa. She writes, “Don’t be a bystander to white supremacy. Fight back!” For more information: Stop Whitewashing Genocide and Slavery

I pray for proximity of the Spirit for all of us. Extremely trying days lie ahead of us. There will be an increasingly desperate need for Quakers learn about all this. So we will be prepared for what the Spirit will ask of us.

The intention of the website, LANDBACK Friends, is to help us learn and share about Quakers and Native peoples, about the Native boarding schools. Learn about the concepts of LANDBACK and Mutual Aid. LANDBACK Friends

In their silence; they woke the world

The Indigenous people who have suffered the tragedies of the residential schools are who should their stories.

“In their silence, they woke the world” – these powerful seven words are spoken at the end of a short video released by the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) this week to remember the many lives lost and impacted by residential schools. 

The moving video comes after Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation Chief Rosanne Casimir shared the heartbreaking news on May 28 that the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School site.

“To support our people in their grief and promote healing in light of the recent discoveries at former residential schools, the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) filmed a video response,” Kelley McReynolds, director of Ayás Mén̓men Child and Family Services, the team that produced the video, explained.

“For far too long, these schools taught our children to be ashamed of their culture and language. This video celebrates that we are still here and encourages our people to take comfort and pride in their culture during this difficult time.”

‘In their silence, they woke the world’: Squamish Nation releases powerful video by Elisia Seeber, Pique Newsmagazine, June 21, 2021. Take a moment to watch this short video by Squamish Nation to honour and remember the many Indigenous lives lost and impacted by Residential Schools.

See video here:


From their beginnings the Indian residential schools, as they were called, in the United States and Canada, were institutions of cultural genocide, abuse, hunger, illness and death of Native children. Some were literally killed. Others died from disease. Or during their desperate journeys of escape. The institutions were usually far away from the tribe.

I hadn’t realized it until recently, but this purposeful cruelty was intended to quell Native resistance to being forced off their lands.

The recent verification of the remains of Native children at the Kamloops institution has triggered profound grief. See: Boarding schools – LANDBACK Friends

This discovery led Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, to create the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative for a comprehensive review of Federal boarding school policies in the United States. See: Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative – LANDBACK Friends

Part of the devastation at the news from Kamloops was knowing children’s remains would be found at many, probably most, other residential schools. Now there is news of many more remains at another Canadian institution. It doesn’t seem right to call them schools.

“This was a crime against humanity, an assault on First Nations,” said Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations in Saskatchewan. He said he expects more graves will be found on residential school grounds across Canada.

“We will not stop until we find all the bodies,” he said.

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools, the majority of them run by Roman Catholic missionary congregations, in a campaign to assimilate them into Canadian society.

Report: Over 600 bodies found at Indigenous school in Canada. Leaders of Indigenous groups in Canada say investigators have found more than 600 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school for Indigenous children — a discovery that follows last month’s report of 215 bodies found at another school By JIM MORRIS, Associated Press
June 24, 2021

This is just incomprehensible. A web of grief for all the connections of each child. The parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and other families and tribal communities and nations. A web that continues across generations.

It adds to the injury that there has been so little press coverage of these monumental tragedies. Yet another way lack of concern for Indigenous peoples continues to be demonstrated. I find it infuriating. Native people are who should tell the stories here. But we can help spread the news as appropriate. So others are aware and looks for ways to help in these dire times. The purpose of this blog is to inform people about the concepts involved in LANDBACK. Which includes being informed about all aspects of the relationships of non-native people with Indigenous peoples.

Additional coverage: Canadian First Nation group finds 751 bodies in unmarked graves at another ‘Indian residential’ school run by Catholics where children were ‘assimilated’ into society By SOPHIE TANNO FOR MAILONLINE, DailyMail, June 24, 2021

The foundation of LANDBACK is to support the leadership of Native people. In Iowa we are being asked to show up for “Stop whitewashing genocide and slavery. Bring back critical race theory and remove monuments to white supremacy in Iowa”. July 4, 2021 at the Iowa State Capitol.”

With this crappy critical race theory bill being passed in Iowa, I think it’s more important than ever that folks show up to this event! The law bans teaching certain concepts, such as that the U.S. or Iowa is systemically racist… but yet this entire state is littered with monuments to white supremacy.

Please try and find the time to be there and show your solidarity with BIPOC folks.

Christine Nobiss

Stop Whitewashing Genocide & Slavery!!! Bring Back Critical Race Theory & Remove Monuments to White Supremacy in Iowa!

We have an event planned for July 4th at the Capitol Complex and we would love to see a mass turnout to support the BIPOC struggle in Iowa. If your organization would like to join our coalition and co-host, hit me up ASAP and send me your logo.

Don’t be a bystander to white supremacy. Fight back!

More info at the

Great Plains Action Society

As we struggle with these tragic stories, one thing we are asked to do is show up.

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#LANDBACK #NoMonumentsToWhiteSupremacy #GreatPlainsActionSociety

Monuments to White Supremacy July 4, 2020

Following are excerpts from a blog post I wrote about the gathering on July 4 last year related to white supremacy and monuments to white supremacy.

Statues to Confederate soldiers are monuments to White supremacy. These White men committed treason by seceding from the United States, and going to war to preserve the institution of slavery. They were clearly saying White culture is superior to all others.

Another campaign of White supremacy was the theft of Native peoples lands and the cultural genocide from forced assimilation of more than 100,000 Indigenous children. This occurred in White run boarding/residential schools and was the epitome of White supremacy. Forcing native children to give up their ways, and try to learn how to fit into White society. The trauma related to forced assimilation that affected the children and their relatives has been passed from generation to generation and is felt by those living today.

Systemic racism in the U.S. today is the interconnected web of ways White supremacy continues in our society.

As I have learned more about Indigenous peoples, it is clear to me we would not be in this rapid spiral into deepening climate chaos is we had lived within our ecological boundaries, as Indigenous peoples have always done. Another way we are all suffer because of White supremacy.

Besides the Confederate statues, pioneer monuments are also displays of White supremacy.

The earliest pioneer monuments were put up in midwestern and western cities such as Des Moines, Iowa and San Francisco, California. They date from the 1890s and early 1900s, as whites settled the frontier and pushed American Indians onto reservations.

Those statues showed white men claiming land and building farms and cities in the West. They explicitly celebrated the dominant white view of the Wild West progressing from American Indian “savagery” to white “civilization.”

Think Confederate monuments are racist? Consider pioneer monuments by Cynthia Prescott, The Conversation.
Pioneer statue, Iowa State Capitol grounds, Des Moines, Iowa

My friends Christine Nobiss and Donnielle Wanatee organized the event at the Iowa State Capitol on July 4th, 2020, regarding removing the Pioneer statue on the grounds there.

Following are rough notes I took from Christine Nobiss’s remarks.

Christine Nobiss: As an academic, as an Indigenous person, as an organizer railing against monuments to White supremacy, whether they be statues, murals or entire buildings.

As an organizer, rail against statues, murals, buildings, spaces
Uprisings George Floyd
Movement to taking these statues down
Concerns about safety of my people, the safety of black people, people of the world majority when taking statues down.

Is it our job to take them down?

In reality, in the best sense of how all this is occurring, the best thing would be that they would just be taken down. The states would see these as human rights violations, symbols of hate speech that leave out and single out portions of the populations and make them feel unwelcoming spaces.

So it wold be the duty of the state and Federal governments to see these as symbols that glorify of slavery, ethnic cleansing, land theft and so many violations of human rights.

But that’s not happening, is it?

So it is, again, up to people on the ground to do it, to make this happen.
But I don’t want people to get hurt.

I would like to see legislation, I would like to see us push for the ancestors of these people who put them up take them down.

They put them up, they should take them down.

S.A. Lawrence-Welch: I have to concur. I believe in the power of the people. We need to start holding the government accountable for the atrocities that have occurred, are still occurring, and these monuments that remind us day after day that this has happened. You know that taking them down we are not erasing history, we are acknowledging the actual stains on our history as a nation.

It is incredibly uplifting to see this uprising happen, but to decentralize the White superiority narrative I think that we need to work as people of the world majority, especially in these United States, to dismantle the government as its known now by influencing and having them follow our lead.

Christine: I am not saying I want to rely on them. I’m saying lets make them do it.
I would love the nation states to recognize all the wrongdoings that are perpetuated and how they are responsible for the daily historical trauma of people that have to look at these and be reminded of what’s happened in this county. And look our whitewashed history because that history is not the truth, that is absolutely not the truth of this country was founded at the point of a gun for the sake of free land and free labor. That little sentence just basically barely describes the amount the violence and terror that people have had to deal with for centuries. All of these statues are monuments to that. They are basically irresponsible acts to put these up. Its not the truth and I believe they are human rights violations. They are symbols of hate speech.

Photo gallery from this event: Monuments 7/4/2020 – LANDBACK Friends