Fire Walk With Me: a report back from the indigenous anarchist convergence

I answered a call to gather around a fire with Black, Indigenous, People of Color in Kinłání at Táala Hooghan Infoshop. Somewhere at the gathering, I expected to be in the presence of indigenous anarchism. I did not know if indigenous anarchism was the fire we would gather around, if it was the individuals converging, or if it was an empty space where individuals were to ignite the flames. It’s safe to say, my expectations were met. I witnessed an indigenous anarchism but it was unfamiliar to me, a Diné anarchist. 

Truthfully, it’s inaccurate to say that the indigenous anarchism I saw was unfamiliar because that implies it possessed unidentifiable attributes. I, very much, recognized the features of the fire and I recognized the methods to build that fire. In this case, the features were global indigenous justice and the methods were university jargon of the humanities discipline. The social movement that will be the fires of this indigenous anarchism require more and more indigenous resistance as the fuel to grow and grow the burning. What happens when we run out of fuel? Who do we reach out to for a fresh supply? I ask myself those questions knowing full well they will be answered quickly, meaning uncritically, by any individual enthusiastic with my premonition. Admittedly, the fire I had gathered around was not so much unfamiliar as it was unappealing. 

This was unappealing because I also answered the call as an indigenous anarchist [“sickened by fascinations with dead white-men’s thoughts (and their academies and their laws), reformist & reactionary “decolonial activisms”, and the uninspired merry-go-round of leftist politics as a whole”]. However, I found that many of the people in attendance were academics, activists, de-colonizers, and leftists that were in very good health despite their proximity to these toxic superstructures. Academics vigorously drawing from their learning curated by western liberal intellectualism while being hungry for another direction with an agreeable pan-indigenous guide. Activists energetically sharing their praxis acquired from footage of Standing Rock while local indigenous struggles remained unknown. De-colonizers robustly calling out problematic land acknowledgements for not being inclusionary while missing the value of being specific to the land they’re on. Then finally, leftists focusing on their vision of centralized solidarity as one voice united to change the world while the incoherence from every voice making individual demands to exhaust authority was never considered. 

Yes, the indigenous anarchism I saw was kind of unfamiliar and mostly unappealing but I would not say the gathering was unsuccessful. I believe people will grow this indigenous anarchism. An ideology succinct enough for Instagram stories, 280 character limit tweets, and vibrant screen printed art, excuse me, memes. A movement global enough to essentialize a racial, humanist, and material struggle of indigeneity so others will comfortably speak for any absent voice. A resistance so monolithic the powers that be could easily identify then repress all indigenous anarchists. 

For me, success would be more disagreements that are challenging and hopefully with humor. I’d rather agree or disagree with a new suggestion rather than dispute laudatory presumptions grounded in radical liberalism that has been indigenized, north american style, only for flair. 

I understand an indigenous person can have a complicated personal relationship with their indigeneity and their role within the violent dominance of capitalist settler-colonialism. Additionally, I understand an individual’s linear journey to Anarchism began somewhere and maybe they still sympathetically carry ideological mementos from their past. Facetiousness aside, I am glad people may have found potential from this gathering to develop their indigenous anarchist ideas.

The potential I have discovered at the convergence is the particulars of Diné anarchy. Fires made from crystal and fires made from turquoise. Fires bright enough to find the light of other Diné anarchists in this dark world I find myself in. A world sickened from the industrialization of civilized humans whose culture of control and destruction forces all living things to adopt, adapt, or die. I suggest that Diné anarchy offers the addition of a choice to attack. An assault on our enemy that weakens their grip on, not only our glittering world, but the worlds of others. An opportunity for the anarchy of Ndee, of O’odham, and so on, to exact revenge on their colonizers. Until all that’s left for Diné anarchists is to dissuade the endorsements of the next idol expecting our obedience. 

Call for an anarchist anti-fascist and anti-colonial presence against all Presidents

Anarchists & Indigenous Unite!

Call for an anti-fascist & anti-colonial contingent against Trump’s rally on Tuesday, August 22 at 6pm at the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix on occupied O’odham territory.

We will converge, in the spirit of solidarity and hostility to the current order, and as a physical body ready to act in self-defense and mutual protection of each other from cops, fascists, and liberal/radical “peace police.”

Below we address the reasons for an anti-fascist and anti-colonial presence, in addition to concluding details about gathering on Tuesday.

ANTI-FASCIST
Because we anarchists value the individual we refuse any ideological movement(whether it’s statist communism, free market capitalism, or national socialism) which seeks to amplify attacks on the individual through systematic coercion, brutality, and murder. It is obvious why we oppose fascism, why we should never confuse this pseudo-revolutionary movement of the right with a project of liberation founded in solidarity with others also struggling for freedom (from authority, from god, from masters) rather than squabbling over which section of the elite to liquidate (colloquially known as “drain the swamp”).

If we have to convince you why we oppose fascism, take them at their word. We have. Their intention is to criminalize, terrorize and murder anarchists, “race traitors”, feminists, LGBTQ people, indigenous people, non-white immigrant populations, Muslim and Jewish people, and Black people. They want to build a white ethno-state in the US. Indigenous people, immigrants, anarchists, and other have fought white nationalists, neo-nazis, and anti-immigrant zealots in the streets for years in Arizona. This story is not new.

We fight them because we do not believe there is freedom for the individual in the state or the nation, whether democratic, communist, or fascist. As anarchists we oppose all tyranny of majorities imposing their will on minorities and that includes decrees from dictators or through the democratic means of the ballot box. Nor should we forget that when the democratically elected politicians are desperate, they point to the fascist and warn that authoritarianism is the consequence to a crippled democracy. The politicians must want us to thank them for this world of cops, landlords, and bosses. No state, no thanks.

ANTI-COLONIAL
Because we recognize the limitations of anti-fascism on stolen land. We’ve experienced the heavy hand of the state in “Arizona” long before Trump was elected. We’ve resisted widespread attacks on migrants (many of whom are our Indigenous relations) through state mechanisms, many of these institutions designed to ensnare or kill migrants also enforce a colonial rule on un-ceded Indigenous lands. From the patrols of Arpaio’s MCSO saturations targeting Yaqui people in Guadalupe, widespread police violence targeting Indigenous people across the state, forced removal of more than 20,000 Diné from Black Mesa, repression against indigenous Peoples defending sacred sites such as the San Francisco Peaks, the Border Patrol checkpoints dotting the roads of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and the border wall as a physical barrier dividing Indigenous Peoples separated by the colonial US-Mexico border.

Indigenous resistance to these efforts is long, while anarchist accomplices are still new to this struggle. We have organized projects of solidarity to oppose the colonial networks of control, because we understand that an anti-fascism that does not center anti-colonialism is certain to reproduce the same structures of settler colonial violence that has existed for over 500 years on this continent, and over 200 years of representative democracy in the “United States.” We don’t want a return to normal, going back to “common sense” is the same world in which Loreal Tsingine and Bennett Patricio (baht). are murdered by state enforcers, a normalcy that degrades and attacks Indigenous cultures as “impediments to progress” as we have seen with the desecration of South Mountain. We refuse this colonial “normalcy” as colonization has always meant war against Mother Earth and all life.

JOE ARPAIO AND “THE MOVEMENT”
Trump’s announcement that he is considering a pardon for the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, evoked outcry from activists who believed that the system had worked where the movement had failed. Arpaio’s conviction was politics as usual, but when news broke that Trump may pardon the former Sheriff, the immigrant advocacy non-profit Puente responded with: “Trump will be in Arizona and we want to send a very clear message that we will not pardon white supremacy the way he has done so with#Charlottesville and now with Joe #Arpaio.” Really?  What does that even mean? We can only hope that if Trump pardons Arpaio the response will be more than some vague commitment to “the people” not pardoning white supremacy. The social peace in the valley is as much a product of the state repression as it is the task of the non-profit activist groups to suppress an insurrectionary moment and funnel outrage and anger into a series of endless marches.

Trump’s visit is social war, Arpaio’s pardon is social war, daily life is social war.

“I believe it was Clausewitz who said that war was simply politics carried out by other means. I think that the reverse is a truer expression of social reality. Politics is simply the social war carried out using less bloody means. If we consider that it is always the ruling class and its lackeys who call for social peace, demanding that the exploited and excluded refrain from violence in dealing with their social condition, it becomes obvious that social peace is simply part of the strategy of the social war.”
-Wolfi Landstreicher

Join us on Tuesday, August 22 at 6pm at the Phoenix Convention Center at 100 N. 3rd St. in downtown Phoenix. Look for the black flags.