I try to do most of the writing on this blog, rather than sharing tweets and videos. But it is important for those on the frontlines to tell their stories themselves.
Some may wonder why I, a white male in the so-called United States, follows so closely and writes about the Wet’suwet’en. There are several reasons. My whole life I have worked to reduce fossil fuel use. Which has been frustrating because so few people in industrialized societies look beyond their own needs for fossil fuels for transportation, heating, cooking, and all the products made from fossil fuels, such as plastics, etc. Our capitalist economy focuses on these things, completely ignoring the draining of non-renewable fossil fuel supplies and the many damages to Mother Earth.
The situation with the Wet’suwet’en peoples is an example of the global nature of environmental devastation. And their Indigenous leadership is an example of the path we all need to embrace to protect Mother Earth for the sake of our children and future generations.
These are moral and spiritual problems for me, again for many reasons. It is not right for certain societies to demand their overconsumption of fossil fuels, while so many others have little access to fuel for heat and cooking. And when the environmental devastation from the overconsumption of fossil fuels disproportionally impacts those with the smallest carbon footprint. When the rights and practices of Indigenous peoples are ignored and attacked. When hundreds of activists are killed each year.
1/UPDATE – RCMP Are Blocking Food And Medical Supplies From Wet’suwet’en Homes The RCMP are openly violating the human rights of the Wet’suwet’en people again.
2/Today, the driver of a vehicle carrying food and medical supplies was blocked by an arbitrary illegal police exclusion zone and threatened with arrest. 3/There are multiple Wet’suwet’en home sites beyond the police road block and many permanent full time Wet’suwet’en residents on the territory, including elders, children, and chiefs. 4/Despite human rights complaints filed against previous RCMP exclusion zones and recent BC court decisions condemning the use of unlawful exclusion zones, the RCMP is again using this illegal tactic. There is clearly no accountability or capacity for learning. 5/It is a human rights violation and a war crime against Wet’suwet’en people. This is just mind blowing. Let your representatives know how you feel about the treatment of Indigenous peoples. 6/ Mike Farnworth PSSG.Minister@gov.bc.ca Phone: (250) 356-2178 Murray Rankin IRR.Minister@gov.bc.ca Phone: (250) 953-4844 Marc Miller Marc.Miller@parl.gc.ca Phone: (613) 995-6403
You never know what might happen when you join a struggle for justice. One day in January 2020, I saw this video, “Coastal Gaslink Evicted from Unist’ot’en Territory”. I was amazed! I had been working for years on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline resistance. But had not known about the Wet’suwet’en peoples in British Columbia and their efforts to protect the water and their beautiful lands from construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline.
Not surprisingly there was little written about this in the mainstream media. Then, as now, the Wet’suwet’en asked supporters to share their stories on social media, which I did. My Quaker meeting wrote a statement about this and sent a letter to British Columbia Premier John Horgan, January 26, 2020. (below)
On February 7, 2020, several of us held a vigil in Des Moines, Iowa, to support the Wet’suwet’en. This vigil was life changing for me because that is where I met Ronnie James, an Indigenous organizer with many years of experience. I first learned of the concepts of Mutual Aid from Ronnie and to this day we work on Des Moines Mutual Aid projects. Mutual Aid and LANDBACK have become the focus of my study and writing. https://landbackfriends.com/
This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago when some of our Mutual Aid friends offered their support for the Wet’suwet’en. You probably notice using the same signs we used in 2020.
The reason for all this backstory is because Sunday the Wet’suwet’en enforced the eviction notice that was first given to Coastal Gaslink in the video above, in January, 2020. Following are stories of what has happened since. You can find updates on twitter at https://twitter.com/Gidimten
The Gidimt’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation has told Coastal GasLink it will enforce the eviction of pipeline workers from its territories in central B.C.
The enforcement notice, issued at 5 a.m. PT Sunday, provided an eight-hour window for CGL workers to move out of the territory before the access road was blocked.
Jennifer Wickham, media co-ordinator for the Gidimt’en checkpoint, which monitors access to part of the territory, says the Morice River Forest Service Road is now impassible for all vehicles, including supply trucks. She says only a handful of CGL workers were seen leaving the area before the blockades went up along the access road Sunday afternoon.
On Sept. 25, members of the Gidimt’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en and supporters established a camp on a CGL work site south of Houston, halting plans to drill under the Wedzin Kwa (Morice River). Wickham called the river “the major concern” right now. She says the enforcement notice is “the next step” in the actions taken to protect the Wet’suwet’en sacred headwaters, salmon spawning river, and source of clean drinking water.
This morning, we upheld our laws and issued a mandatory evacuation order for all pipeline workers trespassing on our territory. We are enforcing the eviction order from January 2020, where Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs representing all clans of our nation stood together and removed Coastal GasLink from our lands. We will never abandon our children to live in a world with no clean water. We uphold our ancestral responsibilities. We continue to protect our yintah and invite all of our supporters to join us on the ground or to take action where you stand.There will be no pipelines on Wet’suwet’en territory.
“This morning Cas Yikh enforced the eviction to Coastal GasLink. CGL was given 8 hours to evacuate the yintah.
CGL has been trespassing and violating our laws for too long. We will continue to uphold our laws! Join us.”
Bear Creek Friends (Quaker) meetinghouse is in the Iowa countryside. Many members have been involved in agriculture and care about protecting Mother Earth. A number of Friends have various relationships with Indigenous peoples. Some Friends have worked to protect water and to stop the construction of fossil fuel pipelines in the United States, such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
We are concerned about the tensions involving the Wet’suwet’en Peoples, who are working to protect their water and lands in British Columbia. Most recently they are working to prevent the construction of several pipelines through their territory. Such construction would do severe damage to the land, water, and living beings.
Bear Creek Friends (Quaker) Meeting, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) January 26, 2020
We’re concerned that you are not honoring the tribal rights and unceded Wet’suwet’en territories and are threatening a raid instead.
We ask you to de-escalate the militarized police presence, meet with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, and hear their demands:
That the province cease construction of the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline project and suspend permits.
That the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and tribal rights to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) are respected by the state and RCMP.
That the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and associated security and policing services be withdrawn from Wet’suwet’en lands, in agreement with the most recent letter provided by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s (CERD) request.
That the provincial and federal government, RCMP and private industry employed by Coastal GasLink (CGL) respect Wet’suwet’en laws and governance system, and refrain from using any force to access tribal lands or remove people.
Bear Creek Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quakers) 19186 Bear Creek Road, Earlham, Iowa, 50072
A recent article in Popular Resistance by Don Fitz is titled, “PATH TO EXTINCTION OR TO A LIVABLE FUTURE. Climate change is not a “thing-unto-itself” but is interwoven into a fabric of oppressive systems. Addressing climate change requires multiple approaches, including participatory economics, financial equality, and mutual aid networks.
COP 26 has shown, once again, that solutions for climate change will not come from societies whose goal is to maintain the status quo. That will not act to decrease fossil fuel extraction and use. That refuse to listen to the wisdom of Indigenous peoples who have lived for millennia in balance with Mother Earth.
It has long been said in many ways that problems cannot be solved by relying on individuals and institutions who created them. The novel crisis of climate change nested within intertwined social problems calls for new ways of thinking – ways which are manifested in new mutual aid groups, new trade unions, and new political institutions.
Stan Cox whacks all three dragon heads in his new book The Path to a Livable Future: A New Politics to Fight Climate Change, Racism and the Next Pandemic. He dismisses the anti-science and racism of climate denialists such as Trump, strips bare the insincerity of the early Biden administration, and uncovers the lurking dangers of energy denial.
The book goes beyond these. Cox demonstrates that climate change is not a “thing-unto-itself” which can be halted by a quick fix of a few trillion dollars; but, is a pernicious stain in an interwoven fabric of oppressive systems. This lays the groundwork for outlining a multiplicity of problems which must be addressed to confront climate change. These include reducing production via a participatory economy, establishing financial equality, and building mutual aid networks.
Readers of this blog know Mutual Aid is a focus of my study, writing, and work. https://landbackfriends.com/?s=%22mutual+aid%22 What Sam Cox says deepens my conviction of the importance of Mutual Aid as a pivotal part of change that is desperately needed now. To immediately address the consequences of our current fossil fuel-based economy.
But I wasn’t familiar with the term participatory economy. I updated the model I’ve been working on to include that. (See below)
The Participatory Economy model, also known as Participatory Economics, or Parecon, was developed by economists Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel and first formally presented in 1991 in Princeton University Press. Drawing on libertarian socialist ideas and real-world examples throughout history, their motivation was to inspire hope, inform strategy and to demonstrate that a viable and better alternative to the two dominant economic systems of the last century, capitalism and a command economy, is possible.
Another term I’ve just learned is “energy denial“. I’ve been guilty of thinking “alternative energy” would play a significant role in transitioning away from fossil fuels.
The term “energy denial” reflects an intense belief that “alternative energy” (AltE) such as solar, wind, and hydro-power cause nothing but trivial problems which should be ignored in order to allow unlimited expansion of production. Michael Klare is one of innumerable progressive authors who use justified hysteria over climate change to demand unjustified spending of trillions of dollars on AltE.
Core to Cox’s analysis is a concept that runs so contrary to conventional leftist wisdom that many will not speak it, read it, or publish it. He is at the forefront of authors willing to melt the golden calf of AltE. He slams congressional proposals for a “Green New Deal,” noting that they fail to include any plans for restricting fossil fuel (FF) production and merely pretend that increases in solar and wind will cause a reduction in its use. Reduction is not written into the plans because FFs are essential for manufacturing AltE equipment. The book portrays the most troubling aspect of AltE to be its promotion as a panacea. This contributes to the preservation of social structures that are most in need of replacement:
As a result, I’ve also changed this diagram by removing “renewable energy” and replacing that with “conservation“.
Thanks to bright green technologies, we can continuously grow the level of consumption on planet Earth and deliver a bloated North American lifestyle to all without inviting climate catastrophe or a general breakdown of natural ecosystems that support all living things.
That’s the big bold lie that politicians are telling themselves this week at yet another climate conference. Greta Thunberg calls such dissembling just so much “blah, blah, blah.”
As I’ll share in this piece, a number of brilliant energy critics from Vaclav Smil to William Rees have done the figuring, acknowledged the physical limits of things, and told us the truth. A truth that is not as uncomfortable as you might think.
It is this. We must contract the global economy, restructure technological society and restore what’s left of natural ecosystems if we want to live and breathe.
COP 26 can only be seen as a failure since there was no agreement to end fossil fuel extraction and use. Nothing short of that will even slow down environmental collapse. It is not true that the deal “keeps 1.5C within reach” as COP26 President Alok Sharma says. Already the temperature has increased 1.1C. We are on a path to reach at least 2.7C by 2100, if drastic changes aren’t made immediately.
China and India will have to explain themselves to climate-vulnerable nations, COP26 President Alok Sharma has said as the summit ends.
It comes after the two nations pushed for the language on coal to change from “phase out” to “phase down” in the deal agreed in Glasgow.
But Mr Sharma insisted the “historic” deal “keeps 1.5C within reach”.
Under the Glasgow climate pact:
Countries were asked to republish their climate action plans by the end of next year, with more ambitious emissions reduction targets for 2030
There is an emphasis on the need for developed countries to increase the money they give to those already suffering the effects of climate change – beyond the current $100bn annual target
The language about coal has been included for the first time ever in a global climate deal
A pledge in a previous draft to “phase out” coal was instead watered down to a commitment to “phase down” coal
A new diplomatic alliance to phase out global oil and gas production was formally launched at the UN climate change conference in Glasgow on Thursday, signaling an emerging international front in the fight against climate change.
The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, which Quebec announced it would join last week, is led by Costa Rica and Denmark, and now also includes France, Greenland, Ireland, Sweden, Wales, and Quebec as “core” members, California, Portugal, and New Zealand as “associate” members, and Italy which joined as a “friend” of the alliance.
Core membership means the country — or province, in the case of Quebec — has committed to end new exploration permits. Associate members must demonstrate efforts towards an oil and gas phase-out, like ending fossil fuel subsidies. The alliance expects to add new members in the coming months, including Scotland, according to news reports, which could upend the United Kingdom’s oil extraction plans, given much of its reserves are in the North Sea.
“There’s no future for oil and gas in a 1.5-degree world,” said Denmark’s Minister for Climate Dan Jørgensen, at the launch.
On 7 November, during the COP26 Coalition People’s Summit, I was on the jury of The People’s Tribunal on the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and its failure to address a range of issues. We heard from a range of rapporteurs and witnesses, each speaking with great feeling about the differential climate catastrophes on nature and on human life. Every minute, $11 million is spent to subsidise fossil fuels (that’s $5.9 trillion spent in 2020 alone); this money underwrites the cascading climate catastrophe, yet few funds are raised to mitigate the negative effects of fossil fuels or to transition to renewable forms of energy. The remainder of this newsletter details the findings of the Tribunal, which was comprised of Ambassador Lumumba Di-Aping (former Chief Climate Negotiator for the G77 and China), Katerina Anastasiou (Transform Europe), Samantha Hargreaves (WoMin African Alliance), Larry Lohmann (The Corner House), and me.
There were six charges put before the Tribunal concerning the failures of the UNFCCC to:
address the root causes of climate change;
address global social and economic injustices;
come up with appropriate climate finance for planetary and social survival, including the rights of future generations;
create pathways to a just transition;
regulate corporations and avoid the corporate capture of the UNFCCC process; and
recognise, promote, and protect the Rights of Nature law.
The jury of five listened carefully to the special prosecutor, to the rapporteurs, and to the witnesses. We were unified in our conclusion that the UNFCCC, which was signed by 154 nations in 1992 and ratified by 197 countries by 1994, has utterly failed the peoples of the world and all species that rely on a healthy planet to survive by failing to stop climate change. This perilous inaction has failed to limit the increase of the average global temperature.
In its latest 2021 reports, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the Earth has reached an average temperature increase of 1.1 degrees, while sub-Saharan Africa is close to breaching the ‘safe’ 1.5 degree mark.
The UNFCCC has forged an intimate partnership with the very corporations that have created the climate crisis. It has allowed powerful governments to threaten poor countries into submission, guaranteeing certain misery and death for hundreds of millions of people in the poorest parts of the world over the next two decades.
The UNFCCC’s inaction has permitted powerful oil, mining, agriculture, logging, aviation, fishing, and other corporations to continue their carbon intensive activities unfettered. This has contributed to a growing biodiversity crisis: recent estimates suggest that anywhere from 2,000 species (at the low end) to 100,000 species (at the high end) are being exterminated each year. The UNFCCC is implicated in mass extinction.
The UNFCCC has refused to democratise the process and to listen to those on the frontlines of the crisis. This includes the one billion children who live in the 33 countries that are at ‘extremely high risk’ due to the climate crisis – in other words, almost half of the world’s 2.2 billion children – as well as indigenous communities and working-class and peasant women from the countries and nations that bear the brunt of a crisis that they did not produce.
As the world confronts a rapidly escalating climate crisis – evidenced by flooding, droughts, cyclones, hurricanes, rising sea levels, furious fires, and new pandemics – the poorest, most vulnerable, and highly indebted nations are owed a great climate debt.
Powerful nations in the UNFCCC have forced a rollback on earlier commitments to global redress for the long history of unequal and uneven development between nations. Developed countries pledged $100 billion per year for the climate fund but they have failed to provide that money, thereby neglecting their own commitments. Instead, developed countries plough trillions of dollars into their own national efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change and support adaptation to a warming climate, while the poorest and most heavily indebted nations are left to fend for themselves.
We, the jury, find that the UNFCCC violated the UN Charter, which demands that UN members states ‘take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace’ (Chapter 1). The Charter charges states ‘to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems’.
The UNFCCC has also violated Chapter IX of the UN Charter, ignoring Article 55’s demand to create ‘conditions of stability and well-being’ as well as ‘economic progress and social progress’ and to promote ‘universal respect for, and observance of, human rights.’ Furthermore, the UNFCCC has violated Article 56, which enjoins member states to take ‘joint and separate action in cooperation’ with the UN.
We, the jury of the People’s Tribunal, find the UNFCCC guilty of the charges made by the special prosecutor and established by the witnesses. In light of our sentence, we claim the following measures of redress for the peoples of the world: (list follows)
I’ve followed the work of Chase Iron Eyes and the Lakota People’s Law Project for years. He was involved in the Dakota Access pipeline struggle at Standing Rock, including begin arrested there. In the video below, he and his daughter, Tokata, talk about why everything discussed at COOP26 isn’t nearly enough.
As we near the end of COP26 — the United Nations’ most recent climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland — we have reason for concern. Because, while nations the world over have again come together to talk about addressing the climate emergency, activists — including a host of Indigenous People and organizations — are watching closely and sending a strong message from the frontlines: everything being discussed and promised at COP26 isn’t nearly enough. This past week, my daughter, Tokata, and I appeared on Christiane Amanpour’s show, broadcast on both PBS and CNN, to talk about COP26, our anti-pipeline stands, and the future of Indigenous and climate justice.
As Tokata’s friend, Greta Thunberg, put it in Glasgow, “It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure. It should be obvious that we cannot solve the crisis with the same methods that got us into it in the first place.”
I suspect you’ll agree with Greta, Tokata, and me when we say solving global warming isn’t going to be easy. It will demand sacrifices on the part of individuals and nations and a willingness to embrace a diversity of perspectives — from the latest climate science to the wisdom of Indigenous peoples. Our voices matter, because we have long practiced living in harmony with Unci Maka, our Grandmother Earth, and all the other species who inhabit her.
Chase Iron Eyes
In the video he says the human species is at a very vulnerable, but teachable moment. Our social contract is broken and requires social, economic, and racial justice. That solutions to our environmental crisis depend on Indigenous liberation. And yet, he is hopeful because Standing Rock raised global consciousness and once progress is made, there is no turning back.
There was an emotional part of the video, when Tokata was asked how she felt about the remains of native children being uncovered on the grounds of the institutions of forced assimilation. About learning of these atrocities while she is in school herself, a tool of the genocide of her people. She said she gives thanks for those children. And feeling she is carrying on their legacy.
The video ends with Chase talking about their work building bridges with non-Indigenous people. Let’s come together.
For a long time, we have been observing the breakdown of so many systems we depend on. In medicine we have the term ‘multi system organ failure’. I’ve begun to think of the dysfunction of our economic, political, educational, medical, spiritual, and social support web as being in multi system failure now.
We have three choices.
We can try to continue to ignore these failures. But that is becoming increasingly difficult to do.
We can try to repair those systems, hoping they will keep working a little longer.
Or we can build something new. Which might be a return to how things once were.
The consequences of the Covid pandemic are a preview of the future if change doesn’t happen now. As in NOW. As umair haque says below, “And so what do you expect to happen? If change can’t, then only collapse is left.
I think of Covid as a message backwards, from the future. And it says something like this. Life as you knew it is now over. The future is now going to become a bitter and bruising battle for the basics. The basics. Air, water, food, medicine, energy. Things that many of us once took for granted, and assumed would simply be around, as if by magic.
That age is now coming to an end. Did you ever think that breathable air would be in short supply? Where you have to wear a mask, because the air could infect you with a respiratory virus? That is what the future looks like, except for all the basics.
Life as you know it really is coming to an end, my friend. If it hasn’t already. The problem? Not enough of us can face that simple fact with courage, grace, truth, kindness, love, and goodness. And so what do you expect to happen? If change can’t, then only collapse is left.
The phrase about Covid as a message from the future reminds me of this Terry Tempest Williams quote.
The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come.
Terry Tempest Williams
When I decided to start my own blog about six years ago, I was led to call it Quakers, social justice, and revolution. I wondered what “revolution” might be about. Now I know this revolution is Mutual Aid. As my friend and Mutual Aid mentor Ronnie James says, “The recent past shows us that mutual aid is not only a tool of survival, but also a tool of revolution”.
“Mutual aid, a radical practice that has been undertaken by marginalized groups for decades”. Setting up Mutual Aid communities is more urgent now as systems we depended on are collapsing.
“Mutual Aid Goes Mainstream” is the title of an article published yesterday. Subtitled “Now that the pandemic has shifted from an immediate to a chronic crisis, organizers have a chance to rethink the political implications of their efforts.”
Last spring, within hours of the University of Chicago’s announcement that classes would be held online, students created a Facebook group to coordinate mutual aid efforts. Even with finals right around the corner, UChicago Mutual Aid came alive with activity. Students eagerly offered and accepted support in the form of advice, essential supplies like food and moving boxes, and spreadsheets listing leads on resources like housing.
What I witnessed at my college was just one example of the many mutual aid networks, both college-based and non-college-based, that sprung up across the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mutual aid, a radical practice that has been undertaken by marginalized groups for decades, became a mainstream buzzword almost overnight.
Mutual aid efforts often arise during moments of crisis when those in positions of authority fail to help people, and when the importance of grassroots efforts comes into full focus. When the immediate crisis passes, groups may either fizzle out or choose to adapt to a new context.
“Mutual aid is a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions,” wrote organizer, lawyer, and mutual aid advocate Dean Spade in 2020. Mutual aid involves people “building new social relations that are more survivable.”
I’ve been blessed to have become involved with a local Mutual Aid group for over a year. I’ve seen the concept in action and am now trying to get others involved in Mutual Aid. Some of the reasons why are because the underlying principle of Mutual Aid is the opposite of capitalism. At a time when millions of people are feeling hopeless about the future, isolated, and living in conditions of poverty, Mutual Aid is about supporting everyone in the community. Working in the present to provide food, shelter, and dignity. Not waiting for help from government systems. Government that serves the wealthy and not the rest of us.
As bleak as this is, there is a significant amount of resistance and hope to turn the tide we currently suffer under. We stand on the shoulders of giants that have been doing this work for centuries, and there are many lessons we can learn from.
The first, and possibly the most important, is that it was not always this way, which proves it does not have to stay this way.
What we have is each other. We can and need to take care of each other. We may have limited power on the political stage, a stage they built, but we have the power of numbers.
Those numbers represent unlimited amounts of talents and skills each community can utilize to replace the systems that fail us. The recent past shows us that mutual aid is not only a tool of survival, but also a tool of revolution. The more we take care of each other, the less they can fracture a community with their ways of war.
It seems a paradigm shift is required to understand we can only make progress to protect Mother Earth and future generations by replacing the capitalist economic system. I have struggled to find ways to express this to other white people. When I asked an Indigenous friend about this, he said those who are doing well economically won’t understand until they their circumstances change, and capitalism no longer works for them. Something that is happening to a rapidly increasing number of people.
I often write about the necessity of replacing the capitalist economic system as essential to addressing our evolving environmental catastrophes. Recently The Free blog of post-capitalist transition re-blogged my post, It’s Decolonization or Extinction. And that starts with Land-Back. Many people and organizations are working toward a post-capitalist world.
As we gather in Glasgow for two weeks of deliberations for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties #26, (COP26) otherwise known as the “Conference of Polluters” or the “Conference of Profiteers,” we must be like Jesus in the temple overturning the tables of the money changers. We can no longer accept business as usual in the vein of moneyed interests suppressing ambition and holding us back from the bold commitments necessary to turn the tide of climate change. Too often, we members of frontline communities convene at these meetings, raise our voices and demands, yet find ourselves unwitting spectators to the parade of dominating capitalists who are more concerned with maintaining the status quo and corporate interests than saving the planet.
For Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in the US, capitalism has never really worked out. By design. Indigenous and Black people were not only unwelcome participants in the “free market” system; through enslavement, we were actually the commodities being traded in the market.
As the settlers established dominance, they institutionalized policies, practices and an economy that has evolved into the complex system that prevails today, one that is rooted in exploitation, enclosure of wealth and power, and ruling by force.
So it is that we find ourselves on a collision course with climate change. Energy is produced by extraction and burning of fossil fuels, which sends greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and poisons the communities that host these facilities and practices. Moneyed interests invest in policymakers, trade associations, and political action committees that ensure that the suite of policies include everything from voter suppression to prison, school, and water privatization — all towards concentrating the spoils into the coffers of a handful of profiteers.
And yet, even as humanity faces perhaps the greatest existential crisis in its species’ history, the public debate on climate barely mentions the underlying economic system that brought us to this point and which continues to drive us toward the precipice. Ever since its emergence in the seventeenth century, with the creation of the first limited liability shareholder-owned corporations, capitalism has been premised on viewing the planet as a resource to exploit — its overriding objective to maximize profits from that exploitation as rapidly and extensively as possible. Current mainstream strategies to resolve our twin crises of climate breakdown and ecological overshoot without changing the underlying system of growth-based global capitalism are structurally inadequate.
I’ve worked on this diagram for some time to try to express these ideas. Capitalism (red box) is built on the labor of enslaved African Americans and the land and resources of Indigenous peoples. And to show continuing capitalism will produce more greenhouse gas emissions and worsening environmental chaos.
The solutions include transitioning to new, or returning to old social, political, and economic systems by means of the concepts LANDBACK, Abolition and Mutual Aid. “Promoting anti-authoritarian, mutual-aid, voluntary-cooperation, horizontalism and culture of Sharing.” –Buting Community Free Shop and Pantry
An example of Mutual Aid
Buting Community Free Shop and Pantry Libreng Palengke Mutual Aid Not Charity Culture of Sharing
October 22, 2021
We packed 50 mix vegetables, good for “Pakbet” dish. One meal that can benefit four people in the family. We just put the banner and placards in front of our space with tables for vegetables to be given away for free for those in need. Our way to show solidarity to our neighborhood who were affected by the on-going pandemic crisis.
This self-managed initiatives strictly done by the community. We are not accepting, endorsing and promoting any dole-out or donation coming from the government, politician, Corporate sponsorship, party/NGO’s, foundation or any charitable institution.
This is done by the community, for the community.
Our dedication and passion on community-centered projects and values-oriented initiative will continue. Promoting anti-authoritarian, mutual-aid, voluntary-cooperation, horizontalism and culture of Sharing.
As we enter into COP26, we must remind ourselves that sometimes the most effective solutions are the simplest ones. We must also remind ourselves that those closest to the problem are best placed to design effective remedies
In the case of climate change, frontline communities are already showing us the way:
In Portland, a multi-stakeholder coalition of frontline communities developed a set of principles for environmental and climate justice, which they used as the basis to draft legislation that creates a revenue stream for job creation, access to clean energy and community economic development. The bill received citywide support and its successful model is now being replicated in other cities.
From Soulfire Farm in upstate New York, to the Earthseed Permaculture farm in Sebastopol, these initiatives are showing how local food systems can provide access to healthy and nutritious foods while shifting away from unsustainable agricultural practices and the shipping and trucking of foods.
Kristen Brown in Honolulu, HI demonstrates the power of narrative in working with other youth in her school and community to tell the stories of what we have to preserve in our oceans and beautiful landsc
I’m discouraged to learn about the latest tactics to use children, once again, as leverage to take away Native rights. The intentional cruelty of the violent removal of children to the institutions of forced assimilation was what finally broke Indigenous resistance to stealing the land, and its resources, from native peoples.
The previous administration also used the intentional cruelty of stealing children from those trying to enter the country called the United States.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted in 1978 to help keep Native children in Native homes. The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) worked closely with Congress to enact the legislation. One benefit of ICWA was to give Native families the legal right to keep their children out of those schools.
If the Supreme Court overturns the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) — a federal law that keeps Native children with Native families — tribal sovereignty could soon be a thing of the past in the U.S. Should the Supreme Court rule in the plaintiffs’ favor in the case of Brackeen v. Haaland, we could quickly see a return to blatant, pre-1978 genocidal practices — when Native babies were legally stripped of their families, culture, and identities.
In this landmark case, the Brackeens — the white, adoptive parents of a Diné child in Texas — seek to overturn ICWA by claiming reverse racism. Joined by co-defendants including the states of Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, and Indiana, they’re being represented pro bono by Gibson Dunn, a high-powered law firm which also counts oil companies Energy Transfer and Enbridge, responsible for the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipelines, among its clients. This lawsuit is the latest attempt by pro-fossil fuel forces to eliminate federal oversight of racist state policies, continue the centuries-long genocide of America’s Native populations, and make outrageous sums of money for energy magnates, gaming speculators, and fossil fuel lawyers. The story below may seem unbelievable, but it is 100 percent true.
Key Points to Take Away
Big Oil’s lawyers, Texas, and three other states with very few Native inhabitants are attacking the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
The Texas Attorney General is asking the Supreme Court to declare ICWA unconstitutional.
The Plaintiffs argue that tribal affiliations should be considered racial, rather than political, designations.
Overturning ICWA could be the first legal domino in a broader attack on tribal rights and sovereignty.
I can only write from the perspective of a settler, but I do want to highlight a few of the current struggles. We have a responsibility to educate ourselves about the history of the founding of the United States, to join in struggle with those who are oppressed and to transform our society to end these devastating institutions.
The Tulalip tribe in Everett, Washington also participated in the national day on September 30 with a vigil and speak out. They called it Residential Boarding School Awareness Day or Orange Shirt Day because one survivor Phyllis Webstad’s favorite orange shirt was taken from her on the first day of school. It wasn’t until 1978, through the Indian Child Welfare Act, that indigenous parents gained the right to keep their children out of those schools. Now that act is under threat of being overturned by the US Supreme Court and big oil is behind that attack.
That big oil would go after indigenous children is a response to the effectiveness of indigenous leadership in the fight to protect the planet. A recent report led by the Indigenous Environmental Network found that just in the past ten years, indigenous resistance to fossil fuel projects “stopped or delayed greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to at least one-quarter of annual U.S. and Canadian emissions.”
On Sept. 3, the U.S. solicitor general, Cherokee Nation, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Oneida Nation, and Quinault Indian Nation filed cert petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court in Brackeen v. Haaland to defend the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
This law was enacted in 1978 to help keep Native children in Native homes. FCNL worked closely with Congress to enact the legislation. In ICWA cases, the first preference is that the child go to an extended family member for placement, even if the relative is non-Native. The second preference is placement with someone within the child’s tribe, and the third preference is placement with another tribe.
The state of Texas, however, is continuing to challenge the constitutionality of ICWA. They claim that it’s a race-based system that makes it more difficult for Native children to be adopted or fostered into non-Native homes. A Supreme Court response to the tribes’ petition and Texas’ petition is due Oct. 8.
“To those of you invested in anti-pipeline movements, know that this fight is no different from those we’ve undertaken at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline or in Minnesota against Line 3,” said Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota Law Co-Director and Lead Counsel. “It’s the same enemy using a different tactic to poison the planet. This is almost certainly Big Oil coming through the back door, and the danger may now be even greater. The victim is not just Mother Earth, her waters, and her sacred womb. It’s not just the Indigenous women and families on the front lines of the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. It’s not even just the children being protected by ICWA. We are talking about the potential destruction of all tribal law, the taking of all tribal lands, and the elimination of all Native sovereignty. The only difference is that, this time, it certainly appears that Big Oil and its allies are using children as human missiles and the courts as the lever to accomplish its destructive agenda — all, of course, in the name of corporate profits.”
Native children and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland are under legal attack in Brackeen v. Haaland. The powerful people behind the lawsuit include both Big Oil and the State of Texas. If their attempt to have a conservative-majority Supreme Court overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act is successful, the door will be open to the total elimination of tribal sovereignty. Take action now to stop this horrific attack on Native rights!
Dear President Biden and attorneys for the Department of Justice,
As the Supreme Court decides on whether to render judgment in the case of Brackeen v. Haaland, I write today to ask you to do everything in your power to protect the Indian Child Welfare Act and defend Secretary Deb Haaland. We need strong federal protection of Native families and tribal sovereignty.
Please file every available motion, prepare every legal argument judiciously, and do everything else you can to stop this attack on tribal citizens. The plaintiffs will not be easily stopped. Should the Supreme Court accept this case and validate the plaintiffs’ argument that tribes do not have the power to place their own enrolled children in tribal kinship care, we will have crossed a rubicon into dangerous legal territory that could ultimately lead to the disbanding of tribal nations — and the loss of tribal lands, gaming revenues, and mineral rights.
It’s no coincidence that the same attorneys — Gibson Dunn — representing the plaintiffs in this case also have deep ties to fossil fuel interests such as Enbridge and TC Energy (the oil conglomerates responsible for attacking tribal interests through the Line 3 and Dakota Access pipelines, respectively).
The Indigenous peoples of this land have always deserved better. The few gains made over centuries littered with oppression, and in the face of overwhelming systemic racism, must not be lost now. Please fight hard to protect original Americans. Please do everything possible to stop this attack on children, families, and sovereignty.
My friends at the Great Plains Action Society have a graphic that says “Infiltrate the system. Vote.” A variation comes to mind with the news that Indira Sheumaker was elected to the Des Moines City Council. “Infiltrate the system, run for office.” Indira has been involved in the Black Liberation Movement.
Des Moines voters sent a new, young candidate to the City Council chamber in Tuesday’s election, ousting a longtime incumbent, and supported keeping two other council members in office.
First-time candidate Indira Sheumaker defeated incumbent Bill Gray in the Des Moines City Council’s Ward 1 race. Gray was first elected in 2014.
Sheumaker attended her first council meeting when the group voted on an ordinance to ban racial profiling by the police department. There, she said, she heard “a lot of passionate people” speak up — herself included — but she felt like city leaders moved quickly without considering additional action.
Sheumaker said she would not have run for office if it weren’t for her involvement in last year’s protests with the Black Liberation Movement.
“I got involved protesting, showing up to the (Iowa) Capitol, got tear-gassed … and then a lot of members from organizations and older members of the community were encouraging us to go to City Council meetings,” Sheumaker previously told the Des Moines Register.
Sheumaker, 27, represents a new generation of politics, forged during a summer of protests and activism following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020. Already, she’s marshaled her influence to rally speakers at City Council meetings, organized protests against police brutality and created a grassroots campaign that toppled two-term incumbent Bill Gray.
Now, with a seat on the Des Moines City Council, she faces a new challenge as she seeks to channel that grassroots energy into her role as an elected official. The goal, she said, is not to settle into the entrenched political dynamics she has spent the last year and a half protesting, but to lift up new voices and create avenues for change by being more transparent about the inner workings of Des Moines city government.
“The stuff that isn’t talked about, but isn’t, you know, protected behind some kind of confidentiality barrier … I have no qualms about being completely open about that and telling people what’s going on because people need to know what’s happening in their city,” she said.
In her own race, Sheumaker spoke openly about drawing inspiration from the protests, as well as her desire to redirect funding from the city’s police department into social programs, with an eventual goal of making the Des Moines Police Department obsolete.
“I want to be creating a public safety system in Des Moines that’s from the community, is built into the community, and is focused on transformative and restorative justice that is designed to lessen interaction between residents and police,” she said previously.
“We just won our campaign on a platform centered on Defunding the Police for Safety and Justice. It can be done,” Sheumaker said in a campaign statement. “My goal for this city has always been to work from the bottom up. Not the top down.” In her campaign, Sheumaker also stressed the importance of making food and housing accessible, flood preparedness, rent control, decriminalizing cannabis, tenant rights, and combating corporate greed.
“I want to be the kind of leader who is part of the community, the kind of leader people can talk to you,” Sheumaker told the crowd at a cafe in downtown Des Moines the night election results rolled in, according to Iowa Public Radio. She said given that she’s a protester and activist herself, she can’t tell people not to “show up” on her lawn.
Sheumaker became involved in politics after the police killing of George Floyd when she organized marches for racial justice in Des Moines. Since then, she’s worked steadily with the Black Liberation Movement (which supported her campaign) and advocated for defunding the police.
I’ve been working on the idea of abolition of police and prisons, too. Following is a link to one blog post I’ve written.
A photo in a news story showed Indira sitting in front of a memorial to black children. I drive past there when I go to Des Moines for our Mutual Aid food project. Here are some of my photos of that memorial.
As expected, little was accomplished at the recent COP 26 meetings because countries with capitalist economic systems were in control. Industrial nations’ policies will continue to protect the capitalist economic system and the fossil fuel industry regardless of the environmental consequences. See: https://landbackfriends.com/?s=capitalism
I often write about the necessity of replacing the capitalist economic system as essential to addressing our evolving environmental catastrophes. Recently The Free blog of post-capitalist transition re-blogged my post, It’s Decolonization or Extinction. And that starts with Land-Back. Many people and organizations are working toward a post-capitalist world.
And yet, even as humanity faces perhaps the greatest existential crisis in its species’ history, the public debate on climate barely mentions the underlying economic system that brought us to this point and which continues to drive us toward the precipice. Ever since its emergence in the seventeenth century, with the creation of the first limited liability shareholder-owned corporations, capitalism has been premised on viewing the planet as a resource to exploit — its overriding objective to maximize profits from that exploitation as rapidly and extensively as possible. Current mainstream strategies to resolve our twin crises of climate breakdown and ecological overshoot without changing the underlying system of growth-based global capitalism are structurally inadequate
This is doubly tragic because the dominance of capitalist governments also meant Indigenous peoples didn’t have a voice at COP 26. It is Indigenous knowledge that can help repair Mother Earth.
“The Cop is a big business, a continuation of colonialism where people come not to listen to us, but to make money from our land and natural resources,” said Ita Mendoza, 46, an indigenous land defender from the Mixteca region of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, attending Cop for the first time. “What benefits does the Cop bring when more than a thousand people fighting to keep the planet alive have been killed [since Paris]?”
“It’s a testament of our resilience that even after hundreds of years of colonization and betrayal that we indigenous communities are still willing to sacrifice our lives, health and energy for this last-ditch attempt to save the planet,” said Ruth Miller, climate justice director of the Alaska-based Native Movement, a Dena’ina Athabaskan and Ashkenazi Russian Jewish woman, who is a member of the Curyung tribe.
“We’re here offering sustainable solutions to the rest of the world that require an ideological shift, not a green industry built on colonialism and repression. It’s up to them if they listen or not.”
As the United Nations Climate Change Conference—also known as COP26—got underway in Glasgow, Scotland this week, Indigenous activists from around the world warned that failure to center their peoples’ voices and solutions would seriously hamper efforts to tackle the growing planetary emergency.
“We can develop actions based on our culture and our traditional knowledge.”
“Today, the climate is warming, the animals are disappearing, the rivers are dying and our plants don’t flower like they did before,” Txai Suruí, a law student, activist, and member of the Paiter Suruí people of northwestern Brazil, said during Sunday’s COP26 opening ceremony. “The Earth is speaking. She tells us that we have no more time.”
“Indigenous people are in the frontline of the climate emergency, and we must be at the center of the decisions happening here,” she stressed. “We have ideas to postpone the end of the world.”
Kyle Whyte, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma who serves on U.S. President Joe Biden’s White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, toldNBC News that “if countries don’t get on board with us, leaving out the people who steward a lot of the lands, it’s not just a moral issue anymore. It will have a devastating effect on the speed at which the rest of the world will get to sustainability.”