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Two Native Peoples, Two Oppressive Powers: American Indians and Palestinians
Christian Sanchez • Chicago Monitor • 12 August 2016
“The Palestinians in Gaza are the American Indians of the Middle East.” This was the opinion of the late American Indian civil rights leader, Russell Means. In reviewing the history of the two peoples, it is clear that both Palestinians and American Indians share similar hardships. There is the common usurpation of land, loss of self-determination, and the destruction of families that plague both peoples. There is also the issue that if transgressions against American Indians and Palestinians are not addressed, there may be no solution to ending the oppression of these two peoples.
The US assault on Palestinians mirrors its assault on native Americans
Ahmad Moussa • Middle East Eye • 20 September 2018
Like indigenous North Americans, Palestinian refugees have two options: to remain permanently dependent in exile, or to assimilate into the social fabric of wherever they reside
.....The camps are considered de facto autonomous regions for Palestinians, who are marginalised politically, socially and economically in relation to the host country. UNRWA provides their economic livelihood; thus, cutting that funding is a clear political assault on the exiled nation’s survival.
Looking at the indigenous peoples of the US, the same pattern is evident. The US Bureau of Indian Affairs and related agencies serve as the UNRWA for native Americans, providing services such as healthcare and education.
Making way for settler-colonialists
As with Palestinians, the Trump administration has sought to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from services for indigenous Americans without regard for their treaty rights.
Also similar to the situation of Palestinians, reservation areas were created with a goal to eject indigenous peoples from their original lands and make way for a settler-colonial regime.
Using Indigeneity in the Struggle for Palestinian Liberation
Ahmad Amara, Yara Hawri • Al-Shabaka Policy Center • 8 June 2019
On Indigenous People’s Day in 2018, several Palestinian human rights organizations released a statement
that called on the international community “to center Native history as the necessary beginning of historical
reconciliation and a collectively emancipatory process of decolonization.” The statement demonstrated how
indigeneity has recently re-emerged within the discourse on Palestine and is becoming a central facet of
political mobilization. It also highlighted the increasing links between Palestinians and indigenous
communities across the globe and the collective nature of decolonization, which constitute important tools in
the ongoing struggle against settler colonialism worldwide.
But what does this mean in practice for Palestinians engaged in the liberation struggle and how can it be harnessed to further Palestinian rights and sovereignty?
This commentary addresses these questions by fleshing out the notions of settler colonialism and indigeneity and the relationship between the two through an exploration of the process of Israeli settler colonialism that created Palestinian indigeneity. It then discusses the limitations of the application of international law to indigenous struggles and concludes with thoughts on how to better incorporate the notion of Palestinian indigeneity in the Palestinian quest for freedom, justice, and equality.
From Palestine to Honduras, every day is Land Day
Budour Youssef Hassan • Electronic Intifada • 6 April 2016
.....The social movements sprouting in Central and Latin America grasp the multiple facets of their fight and the need to connect the struggle against the corporations seizing their lands with resistance to capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, militarism and environmental destruction.
For Palestinians, Honduras and Guatemala might seem too distant, even too irrelevant for our struggle. And while there are some apparent stark differences in our lived realities and in the faces of our oppressors, there are commonalities as well.
In Palestine as well as in many parts of Central and Latin America, the oppression is directly sponsored by US military and financial aid. And in all these places our collective survival rests upon defending and preserving our land.
FROM STEVEN SALAITA
The Native American model of Palestine’s future
Steven Salaita • Electronic Intifada • 10 March 2016
Note: hyperlinks throughout this article lead to book recommendations in American Indian and Indigenous Studies.
Comparison of Native Americans and Palestinians has become increasingly common. Thus arises a corresponding need to assess the problems and prospects of comparative analysis.
Because I teach American Indian and Indigenous Studies in the Arab World, I’ve been thinking frequently about how we might productively engage Natives from spaces of Palestine solidarity.
We have to select which points of tension are worth navigating. Here I’m concerned with the perception that Natives are defeated and disinherited. This perception exists in the Arab World, but originates in Canada and the United States.
People often assume that Natives have been permanently dispossessed or exist as ahistorical monuments of conquest unable to access modernity, if they exist at all.
Based on this assumption, those concerned with the colonization of Palestine can be tempted to evoke Natives as the victims of a tragic fate that Palestinians must avoid.
This formulation, however well-intentioned, does a tremendous disservice to Natives. A less sanguine reading might observe that it reinforces an ongoing colonial erasure of Indigenous peoples in (and beyond) North America.
Decolonization. Survival. Water. Life
Steven Salaita • Mondoweiss • 11 October 2021
During the summer of 2016, thousands of people representing dozens of nations converged on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in the American state currently known as South Dakota. They arrived to prevent the destruction of land and water by a foreign oil company. Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, a regular in the Fortune 500, was constructing an underground pipeline to deliver crude oil from near the Canadian border to southern Illinois, where it would hook up with extant transport infrastructure to the Gulf of Mexico. The convergence at Standing Rock, a nation existentially threatened by the pipeline, earned the world’s attention and became an extraordinary site of multinational organizing. The Palestinian black, red, and green could
be seen in the spectrum of colors.
While corporate media focused on environmental impact, Indigenous leaders, following the example of their Lakota and Dakota hosts, discussed the pipeline as a byproduct of colonization.
Zionism and Native American Studies
Steven Salaita • Abolition Journal • 6 June 2017
It was only a matter of time before Zionism and Native American Studies [NAS] came into conflict—or, to be more precise, before Zionists began targeting the field for acrimony and recrimination, as they have long done to various humanities and social science disciplines. With an increasingly global focus (in concert with emphasis on local concerns), a commitment to material transformation, a disdain for US imperialism and militarism, a rejection of state power in nearly all its manifestations, and a plethora of young artists and scholar-activists interested in Palestine, it’s little surprise that Israeli colonization would become a topic in the field. And because most people in the field don’t have nice things to say about Israel, some of the state’s apologists have forced themselves into Indigenous spaces with a singular purpose: to intimidate its practitioners into obedience. As usual, those undertaking the intimidation know nothing about the people
they endeavor to subdue. Over five centuries of history prove that Indigenous peoples are not given to submission.
Decolonizing Native America and Palestine - Book by Steven Salaita
Peter d'Errico • Indian Country Today • 14 January 2017
Steven Salaita's new book, Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine, explores
possibilities for shared academic research about Indigenous Peoples against a background of activism in
global decolonization efforts. He writes in an academic tone, but repeatedly focuses on intersections
between academics and actions.
Steven Salaita engages multiple layers of history, theory, and politics. The very title of the book raises complex challenges: He posits "inter/nationalism" as a mode of thinking about relations among selfdetermining peoples, differentiating it from "internationalism" as the name for a unified global order arranged by the dominant (and dominating) states.
Steven Salaita's book may be characterized as a "radical" approach to contemporary world politics; but we must be clear what we mean by the word. Some people use "radical" as an epithet, meaning "extremist"; but the word actually means "going to the root" or "foundation." Salaita's book goes to the historical and political roots of international colonialism and explores the foundations of inter/national decolonization.
Indigenous Solidarity: Our Struggles Unite
Palestine Solidarity Campaign • 30 March 2022
From Turtle Island to Khirbet Humsa, from Standing Rock to Haifa, indigenous people resist settler colonialism and its practises of surveillance, containment, military checkpoints, police brutality, mass incarceration, displacement, theft of water and other natural resources, environmental destruction. Many indigenous activists are standing together to resist parallel colonial agendas, learning, and strengthening mutual resistance to racist rule and injustice. Activists in solidarity with Palestinians have also joined forces with other indigenous solidarity movements to build united struggles. On Land Day, join activists from the indigenous solidarity movements to discuss how we build our struggle against settler colonialism.
See the webinar
Commemorate by Resisting: The Nakba and Indigenous Struggles
FOSNA • 18 May 2020
From Palestine to Turtle Island (North America) settler colonialism continues to exploit land and natural resources to the detriment of indigenous communities. To commemorate Nakba Day, when 700,000 Palestinians were violently displaced from their lands, FOSNA has lined up a powerful conversation with Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, Indigenous scholar-activist Melanie Yazzie and Nadya Tannous, a Palestinian activist residing in the USA. These powerful women will share past and present stories of Indigenous resistance to colonialism.
Ahed Tamimi Ahed is a 19 year old Palestinian, living in Al Nabi Saleh, Northwest of Ramallah. Currently she is a Law student at Birzeit University. She spent 8 months in Israeli prisons after being accused of slapping an Israeli soldier, and other charges. Her continual resistance to the Israeli occupation has earned her then nickname, the Lioness of Palestine.
Melanie Yazzie is an Assistant Professor of Native American Studies and American Studies at the University of New Mexico. She co-founded and helps lead The Red Nation, a grassroots organization committed to the liberation of Indigenous people from colonialism and capitalism. She specializes in Navajo/American Indian history, political ecology, Indigenous feminisms, queer Indigenous studies, and theories of policing and the state.
Nadya Tannous is a passionate community organizer with a focus on refugee rights, transitional justice, youth education, and inter-community empowerment. She is a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement –USA and was previously on staff of Friends of Sabeel North America. Nadya holds an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford and a BA in Anthropology and Global Information and Social Enterprise Studies from UC Santa Cruz.
See the webinar
Global Indigeneities: Understanding Indigenous Experiences from Turtle Island to Palestine,
Part I and II
Jewish Voice for Peace • 14-15 January, 2016
A two-part virtual seminar exploring the deep connections that link indigenous struggles and resistance from Turtle Island to Palestine. We want to better understand the similarities (and distinctions) between US and Israeli settler colonialism, and we want to better extend our work in support of Palestinian self-determination, sovereignty, and rights to to all Indigenous peoples and struggles.
See Part I See Part II
See these pages also:
ON THIS PAGE:
• Samples of indigenous solidarity related to Palestine
• Standing with Standing Rock
• Visuals - comparing Loss of Land mapcards
• On the right side of the page: resources to dig deeper and connect the dots of indigenous struggles, including WEBINARS on Indigenous Solidarity
Statement by Native American International Caucus, United Methodist Church
Portland, OR • 16 May 2016
After the Act of Repentance by the United Methodist at GC 2016, a continuation of the denomination's acknowledgement of its role in the ethnic cleansing and genocide against Native Americans that had begun at GC 2012 in Tampa Florida, Native American United Methodists joined UMKR outside the convention center to make this statement.
See the text of the statement below the video.
"Today we looked at the sins of colonialism and the effects it had on the past and present lives of Native Peoples.
The taking of land for the use by others is called “Manifest Destiny.” If you look at a map of the U.S. and a map of Palestine, both have been slowly inhabited by another group of people, mostly by force.
The Native Peoples were placed on reservations in their own lands and this is also happening to Palestinians. They are prisoners in their own land.
We as Native Peoples stand in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters. We understand their struggle to keep their land and identity. We must work to keep them safe, help them keep their land so that they can again be a whole community with homes, jobs, and educational opportunities for future generations.
Let us as a church not stand back and watch this happen to the Palestinians as in our past when we stood back when this was happening to Native Peoples."
Cynthia Kent, Chairperson, Native American International Caucus (NAIC)
The United Methodist Church
Palestinian Support for Indigenous Peoples’ Day Commemorations and Historical Justice from Palestine to Turtle Island
In August 2018, several Palestinian human rights organizations attended The Red Nation’s annual conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"We support and celebrate the victories of indigenous people on Turtle
Island to change Columbus Day from a holiday that glorifies colonialism, to a day that respects and honours Native people."
"We call on the international community to center Native history as the necessary beginning of historical reconciliation and a collectively emancipatory process of decolonization."
See the full statement
The Red Nation Supports the Liberation of Palestine and BDS
The Liberation of Palestine Represents an Alternative Path for Native Nations
The Red Nation urges all Native people and Nations to respect the Palestinian call for BDS by pledging NOT to collaborate with universities, institutions, or organizations that promote and normalize the occupation.
"There is a prominent tendency within US-based Palestine solidarity work to foster peace and reconciliation as a model of justice. We strongly object to this tendency. Israeli colonization perpetuates violence, regardless of the liberal niceties about “peace” and “respect” you place on it. Peacemaking is not a bilateral responsibility in a settler colonial state that perpetuates war crimes against the colonized. The notion of “mutual” peace implies that the colonized holds equal responsibility for justice. In a colonial context, colonialism is the original crime, and colonizers the aggressors."
"Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid in the world. They offer their citizens complete healthcare coverage paid for by U.S. dollars, while Palestinians die on a daily basis because they are unable to access healthcare in the occupied territories, much less pay for it. Israel commits atrocities against Palestinians with impunity because the U.S. allows it to happen. We are citizens of Native nations that endure despite violent colonial occupation by the United States. We have not achieved decolonization and the national liberation of our homelands because the U.S. has sought to thwart our freedom dreams at every turn. It is thus no surprise that it bankrolls Israel’s efforts to do the same to Palestinians. U.S. occupation gains strength and legitimacy through Israeli occupation, and vice versa."
We, The Red Nation, pledge to fulfill our commitment to Palestinian liberation by doing the following:
• Holding Native celebrities, politicians, athletes, and artists accountable when they choose to cross the BDS picket line.
• Supporting the Palestinian right of return without hesitation or apology.
• Supporting BDS at all turns.
• Offering full solidarity to Palestinians in the diaspora by giving them space for organizing and speaking about Palestinian liberation.
• Extending Indigenous hospitality and kinship to our Palestinian relatives whenever they are in, or traveling to, our homelands.
• Supporting Palestinian resistance in any and all forms; when people are occupied, resistance is justified.
• Educating our membership about Palestine through delegations, readings, and events.
• Educating Native Nations and other colonized people about Palestinian Liberation and Resistance efforts.
See the full statement
Palestinians Endorse Idle No More
Gale Courey Toensing • Indian Country Today • Dec 2012/Sept 2018
American Indians and Palestinians have supported each other’s struggle since at least the 1970s when the American Indian Movement hosted a delegation of leaders from the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
“What the American Indian Movement says is that the American Indians are the Palestinians of the United States, and the Palestinians are the American Indians of the Middle East,” the late great Indian leader Russell Means said many times. So it is no surprise that Palestinian activists are coming out in support of Idle No More.
“We recognize the deep connections and similarities between the experiences of our peoples – settler colonialism, destruction and exploitation of our land and resources, denial of our identity and rights, genocide and attempted genocide,” the statement says. “As Palestinians, we stood with the national liberation movement against settler colonialism in South Africa, as we stand with all liberation movements challenging colonialism and imperialism around the world. The struggle of Indigenous and Native peoples in Canada and the United States has long been known to the Palestinian people, reflecting our common history as peoples and nations subject to ethnic cleansing at the hands of the very same forces of European colonization.”
Palestinians and Canadian Natives Join Hands to Protest Colonization
Hidani Ditmars • Haaretz • 29 January 2013
Native peoples from all over the world joined together on Monday as part of an international day of solidarity with Idle No More, an indigenous uprising that has supporters across the globe.
Idle No More began in Canada, but it has sparked support from peoples including North African Tuaregs and New Zealand Maoris. And with the many messages of support that came on Monday from indigenous peoples across the globe were messages of solidarity from Palestinians – both in their historic homeland and flung throughout the diaspora.
Canadian aboriginals are also known as First Nations. And while solidarity between Palestinians and First Nations has existed for decades, says Toronto-based Canadian native poet and activist Lee Maracle, Idle No More has “crystallized” the relationship.
Citing Ben-Gurion’s 1948 statement, “The old will die and the young will forget,” Krebs says the assumption from both Canadian and Israeli authorities was that both peoples would die off or assimilate.
“Well we haven’t all died, or gone away. We’re still here and getting stronger. There’s a political and cultural revitalization going on that neither Canada nor Israel might have expected or wanted,” he says.
Towards Collective Liberation
Kristian Bailey • Palestine Legal • November 2019
More than 400 years after the first European settlement of Turtle Island, Palestine Legal acknowledges that the territory on which we live is the product of ongoing settler colonialism, racial and religious supremacy. We understand Israel to be the product of these same forces.
Because the injustices our communities face are interrelated, the contemporary attacks on Indigenous activism, Palestinian rights, and on Black and Brown lives cannot be separated. That’s why we’re are proud to support those working towards justice in Palestine, to stand alongside Black and Indigenous advocates fighting for justice on Turtle Island, and to build strategies for legal support across movements.
Indigenous and Arab organizers stand in solidarity with Water Protectors Resisting Line 3 Pipeline
Statement following a week-long solidarity delegation to Indigenous-led resistance camps along the construction path of Line 3, Indigenous and Arab organizers representing The Red Nation, the Arab Resource & Organizing Center, and the Center for Constitutional Rights issue the following appeal:
"Our delegation of Indigenous and Arab organizers, scholars and advocates was built on long-standing relationships and a shared political commitment to decolonization and self-determination for Indigenous peoples from Turtle Island to Palestine. We recognize in the Indigenous-led struggle to stop Line 3 a righteous expression of Indigenous sovereignty and know that averting climate crisis is only possible by following the leadership of Indigenous people. According to the Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigenous people of Turtle Island are challenging a quarter of all carbon emissions from the United States and Canada, two of the world’s largest per capita emitters. Land Defenders and Water Protectors are fighting for a world where all can live in a dignified relationship to the earth."
See the full statement
Standing Rock Sioux in
“struggle for all humanity”
Andrew Kadi • Electronic Intifada
10 September 2016
(On the right: artwork created for Palestinian solidarity with the Standing Rock initiative)
"We the undersigned Palestinians – artists, academics, activists, elders, laborers, musicians, authors, businesspersons, attorneys, students – hereby declare our unqualified and heartfelt solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their epic struggle to protect what remains of their ancestral lands, waters and sacred sites.
As an indigenous people whose lands have been robbed and pillaged, and who face existential settler-colonial expansion in Palestine, we recognize that Native American and First Nation peoples have endured centuries of violent settler colonialism that has dismantled and robbed them of home, heritage, dignity, security, narrative, land, language, identity, family, trees, cemeteries, animals, livelihoods and life."
See the Electronic Intifada report and the full statement
Palestinians join Standing Rock Sioux to protest Dakota Access Pipeline
Nadya Tannous • Mondoweiss • 24 October 2016
Nadya Tannous is the LANDBACK organizer for the NDN Collective and has been a visiting U.S. policy fellow for Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Center. She is also a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement-North America.
.....Protectors, support, and solidarity with Standing Rock are arriving from all edges of the world, many of them representing Indigenous Nations. My own caravan set out from California the 2nd week of September, preceding the Palestinian Youth Movement-USA Caravan that arrived soon after. As a contingent of Indigenous peoples in diaspora and recent settlers on Turtle Island, we attest that those standing at Standing Rock are standing for our present and future as well. We must in turn stand for each other against the present, future, and historical supremacies of erasure, the active legacy of settler-colonialism, and the viciousness of greed.
Why Standing Rock matters
Nada Elia • Mondoweiss • 31 October 2016
....Of course, the intersections between Standing Rock and the struggles and resistance of various other communities are many. Palestinians see ourselves in the Sioux, a long-vilified nation still standing strong against the onslaught of settler-colonialism. “Standing Rock is Palestine,” one friend asserted, as he announced his decision to go to the warrior camp for a second time. Nadya Raja Tannous, who was part of a Palestinian caravan that recently went there from California, wrote eloquently, passionately, about the intersections between the Palestinian and Sioux resistance to settler-colonialism, land dispossession, theft of resources. “Why did I go in the first place? Because somewhere in the awkward power dynamic of being a US citizen, a non-native inhabitant of Turtle Island, and a Palestinian in the Diaspora, I saw the struggle for livelihood and culture, the struggle against settler-colonialism, the struggle to protect the sacred and maintain your own legitimacy, and the ever ominous force of erasure and historical amnesia.”
In one of my own OpEds, comparing our Nakba to the catastrophe that befell the indigenous people of this land with the arrival of European settlers, I wrote: “Whatever factors brought Palestinians to live in the USA, speaking of the ongoing Native American Nakba, and creating anti-colonial alliances that better the circumstances of this country’s indigenous peoples, should be the rent we pay, for our stay here.”
The Native American, the Palestinian: A spirited fight for justice
Ramzy Baroud • Middle East Monitor • 13 September 2016
.....But missing from this story is an essential component: the mobilization and unity among Native American tribes has been the most awe-inspiring in many decades. As chiefs and representatives of tribes from all across the United States kept arriving at the encampment grounds, the collective spirit of Native American nations was being vigorously revived.
In fact, the ongoing mobilization of Native American tribes is far greater than the struggle against a money hungry Corporation, backed by an aggressive state apparatus. It is about the spirit of the Native people of
this land, who have suffered a prolonged genocide aimed at their complete eradication.
To see them standing once more, along with their families, riding their feather-draped horses and fighting for their very identity is a cause for celebration. It brings hope to oppressed people all across the world that the human spirit will never be destroyed.
VIDEO: Palestine Stands with Standing Rock
A one-minute video about the beautiful mural above, created in Gaza.
More about the mural and Palestinian solidarity with Standing Rock:
Palestinians support indigenous Dakota pipeline protests: "We stand with Standing Rock"
Ben Norton • Salon • 18 November 2016
Israa Suliman, a young student and writer in Gaza, penned an open letter that accompanied the video.
"Although we are of different color, religion, culture and place, I have learned, as I read about the protests at Standing Rock, that we have much more in common than differences," Suliman wrote in the letter to indigenous Americans. "When I read your history, I can see myself and my people reflected in yours. I feel in my core that your fight is my fight, and that I am not alone in the battle against injustice."
Comparing the Maps
"Shrinking Palestine" mapcards have long been a staple educational tool in the movement for Palestinian rights. The illustration of the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, also due to settler colonialism, is a similarly striking visual lesson.
On the right side of this page:
Resources to dig deeper on indigenous struggles and solidarity
See these pages also:
RESOURCES TO DIG DEEPER
Many generations of marginalized and oppressed peoples around the world have understood that their struggles are linked with one another. In recent years, modern technology as well as the broader growing understanding of an intersectional approach to transforming society have expanded the opportunities in justice activism, including for indigenous solidarity.
The common experiences of racist colonialism, ethnic cleansing and genocide unite indigenous peoples on every continent, and that unity brings strength to transform the oppressive reality of today for a future that honors and liberates all people.
Palestinians have forged strong bonds with indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (North America), Asia, and Africa. In recent years, we have seen an exciting expansion of solidarity between Palestinians and Native Americans as well as Palestinian relationships with natives of central and South America, indigenous Filipinos, black South Africans and other Africans, and more.
See on this page some samples of Palestinian indigenous solidarity across continents, along with analysis, graphics designs and webinars to dig deeper into this burgeoning area of activism. Please contact us if you have suggestions for items to include here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Indigenous Solidarity Solidarity
The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary, as a cause of the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.
Palestinian author, journalist, artist, intellectual, and activist, assassinated in 1972