June 25, 2012

Declaration from the Aboriginal Women's Action Network


July 6th, 2011

"As Indigenous women living on occupied territories now known as Canada, who have survived over 500 years of attempted genocide, we declare:

1. We, Indigenous women, will not allow anyone or anything to break the ties that bind us. Despite the  impacts of colonialism - the racism, sexism, poverty and violence that pervade our lives and communities, working to divide us both inside and out - we are profoundly aware of our connectedness to each other as women, to our ancestors, and to our lands. No man, men, or external force will ever ultimately sever these ties.

2. Our analysis of prostitution as a form of violence against women and as a system of colonialism is the result of over five centuries of resistance stories, stories told to us by our Grandmothers, who have retold the stories of their Grandmothers, who have retold the stories of their Grandmothers. This analysis is based on our own life experiences, on the life experiences of our mothers, our sisters, and all our relations. It is based on theory and knowledge constructed collectively by Indigenous women.

3. Purposeful legal tolerance of prostitution and pornography, as with the Indian Act and the residential school system, was and is an external colonial system imposed on Indigenous women and girls in continued attempts to harm and destroy us.

4. We, Indigenous women, reject the racist assumption that prostitution was ever part of our traditional practices. We denounce the idea that we are objects to be bought and sold.

5. We, Indigenous women, reject the capitalism that has resulted in the theft and destruction of our homelands and our environment. We reject the International capitalism and greed that also drives the “sex industry”, an industry that regards Indigenous women and girls as objects to be sold at the highest price, should we survive the transaction. We reject the colonial terminology of “sex work”, as it hides the racist, sexist, and classist realities of prostitution. “Sex work” masks the violence that our sisters struggle against on a daily basis and repackages that violence as a form of freely chosen labour.

6. We, Indigenous women, reject the imposition of patriarchy, which has had devastating and deadly effects for Indigenous women and girls. We face male violence within our own families and communities, and often we are pushed out of these very communities seeking safety. We are forced to migrate into cities where we continue to face physical, emotional, and sexual violence at the hands of men, including at the hands of johns, pimps, brothel owners, and traffickers. We demand a return to our traditional values that place women and girls in high esteem.

7. The Nordic model of state policy will give Indigenous women and girls the best chance of not only survival, but life. This model includes law reform that criminalizes the male demand for paid sex and decriminalizes prostituted women, offers comprehensive social programs to all women and girls, and educates the public about prostitution as a form of male violence against women and girls.  We, Indigenous women, believe this model encourages true social change that works in our interest.

8. We, Indigenous women, reject the total decriminalization and/or legalization of prostitution as an acceptable solution to sexual violence. The total decriminalization and/or legalization of prostitution only encourages the racist and deadly male demand for access to the bodies of women and girls, with Indigenous women and girls being disproportionately targeted.

9. We, Indigenous women, reject the patriarchal, colonial, and capitalist male perception that our sole worth is as sexual objects. We recognize that prostitution and pornography, incest, physical and sexual assault, and murder exist on a continuum of male violence and hatred toward Indigenous women and girls. The tragic outcome of that hatred is the over 580 documented cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

10. We, Indigenous women and girls, have survived over 500 years of attacks on our cultures, our bodies, our lands, and our lives.  We refuse to abandon our future generations to the colonial sexist violence that is prostitution and we demand an immediate end to the male demand for paid sex.


*All Indigenous Women - First Nations, Inuit, Metis - who are in agreement with this Declaration are invited to sign on as individual endorsers or organizations.  You can contact us at awan.bc@gmail.com to do so.

**Update: Due to demand we are compiling a solidarity list for non native women and orgs to sign in support of the declaration**"


The Aboriginal Women’s Action Network (AWAN) was established in 1995 in response to a pressing need for an Aboriginal women’s group to provide a much needed voice for Aboriginal women’s concerns regarding governance, policy making, women’s rights, employment rights, violence against women, Indian Act membership and status, and many other issues affecting Aboriginal women in contemporary society. The founding members of AWAN conceived of themselves as salmon swimming upstream with determined vision to create new life, and therefore, renewed hope and possibilities for our children. For members of AWAN the Salmon Nation’s legacy of survival depends on an unwavering commitment to future generations, a commitment which serves to guide AWAN in our political involvement and quest for social justice for Aboriginal women and children.


DGR Caravan / Speaking Tour to Unis'tot'en Action Camp

Deep Green Resistance will be participating in, and working to raise awareness and support for, the 3rd Annual Unis’tot’en Action Camp in Unis’tot’en territory in the north of Unceded Occupied so-called British Columbia. In addition, several DGR members will be traveling up the west coast holding public events to build opposition to these genocidal and ecocidal pipelines and gather donations of food, blankets, money, and other supplies, and then attending the 3rd annual Unis’tot’en Action Camp August 6th-10th.

We seek to stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and other First Nations in their fight against the exploitation and degradation brought on by the tar sands, including the Enbridge Northern Gateway and other pipelines, fuel terminals, and refineries. Members of Deep Green Resistance will participate in the Action Camp, as well as organize a series of events to raise support [and collect donations?] for the Unis’tot’en Action Camp and the struggle.

Now in its third year of resistance in the ongoing struggle, the Action Camp, will see many activities focused on building solidarity, as well as campaign and action planning for those communities who will stop the pipelines and mining projects that are unwelcome in the First Nations territories. The Lhe Lin Liyin, will stand with strong and uncompromising allies to stop this destruction to protect future generations and biodiversity. In taking this action, we will act in solidarity with those living amidst the horrific damage of the tar sands in northern Alberta, as well as those affected by natural gas & shale oil fracking. The Action Camp is located on the shore of the Wedzin Kwah and the mouth of the Gosnell Creek (km 66 on the Morice River West FSR), tributaries to the Skeena, Bulkley, and Babine Rivers, at the exact location where the Northern Gateway Pipeline, the Pembina Pipeline, the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and the Kitimat Summit Lake Looping Project seek to cross the rivers.

In addition to participating in the Action Camp, we seek to raise support for our allies fighting the pipeline projects. Deep Green Resistance will be planning several events in the Pacific Northwest to raise awareness about the ongoing struggle by the Wet’suwet’en and other First Nations against the colonization and destruction by the fossil fuel industry.

Read a report-back from this Unis'tot'en speaking tour or see all DGR events related to the Unis'tot'en Camp.

June 9, 2012

Lakota and DGR Allies Win Concessions in Blockade of Liquor Stores

DGR Members in Blockade

Whiteclay, NE – Activists from across the country participated in an act of civil disobedience in the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska. Members of Deep Green Resistance, Unoccupy Albuquerque, Occupy Lincoln, and Lakota organizers attached U-Locks to their necks and strung a chain between pairs of activists, blockading the road running through the town to bring attention to the town’s infamous liquor industry. After blocking the main road running through the town for 3 and a half hours, police agreed to work with Lakota women to investigate the plethora of crimes and abuses committed by the owners of the four alcohol peddlers in Whiteclay.

In addition to the blockade, the Lakota women posted eviction notices, which gave the alcohol stores 30 days to change their business and stop selling alcohol. The organizers are also determined to take on the brewers who supply the stores.

“The action in Whiteclay is the first in a series of assaults that will ensure that the poisons of Anheiser-Busch and Coors do not infect another Generation of Our Lakota here within Our homelands,” said Olowan Martinez, one of the Lakota organizers of the action.

Speaking on the strong stand taken by herself and other Lakota women, Martinez said “We the life-givers of this Nation are expecting in 30 days of June 9,2012 that these businesses are to agree to change their type of Business. If they refuse to do so, We, the Women will consider it a breach of peace against Our future generations. It is our responsibility as Life Givers of the Lakota Nation to protect Our Future by any means necessary, not only in Whiteclay Nebraska, but also the border towns of Interior, Gordon, Martin, Boondocks, Rushville, and Olreichs.”

The four liquor stores in Whiteclay (a town with a population of 14) act with chronic illegality and a total lack of ethical concern. The stores repeatedly violate the terms of their liquor licenses on the daily bases by allowing on premise consumption of alcohol as well as selling to those who are intoxicated. The liquor stores of Whiteclay are notorious for selling to minors, and it is common knowledge that the dealers sell alcohol for sexual favors and sexually assault women.

The act of civil disobedience took place after the 2012 March for Justice, an annual march from Pine Ridge to Whiteclay in memory of the victims of Whiteclay, including Loren & Wally Black Elk and Ron Hard Heart. Several hundred participated in the march, demanding justice for the countless victim’s of Whiteclay’s alcohol. As the march came to a close, seven activists locked themselves together and blocked the single road running through the town of Whiteclay. The action cost the liquor businesses an estimated $1000 in liquor sales in the ongoing struggle against alcohol-fueled genocide of the Oglala Lakota.

“Deep Green Resistance is here today to stand with the Oglala Lakota people against Whiteclay, which is an instrumental piece of the ongoing genocide of the Lakota people and their culture. As allies, we are here to put our bodies on the line in solidarity with their struggle,” said a representative of Deep Green Resistance Great Plans participating in the lockdown.

The blockade ended after the police signed a written agreement, promising to meet and work with the Lakota women on a joint-investigation into the rampant illegal activity and abuse of the Whiteclay alcohol stores. Provided with the opportunity to have a direct impact on the alcohol infrastructure of Whiteclay the blockade was concluded.

Justice is far from complete, and Whiteclay continues to enable and enact the destruction of the Oglala Lakota and the people of Pine Ridge. The continued subjugation of the Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Reservation will not end as long as the liquor stores in Whiteclay continue to operate.  If the concessions granted do not bring about the change demanded by the Lakota women, or if those in power do not live up to their end of the bargain within 30 days, escalation in this struggle will continue.

June 1, 2012

Solidarity Needed with Winnemam Wintu in California

Call for solidarity in defense of Winnemem Wintu Coming of Age Ceremony

The Winnemem Wintu are a salmon and middle water people living on what is left of their ancestral lands from Mt. Shasta down the McCloud River watershed in California. They have issued a request for solidarity in defense of a sacred Coming of Age Ceremony for young Winnemem Wintu women. This Ceremony is traditionally held on a 400-yard section of the McCloud, and the Tribe has called for closure of this section during the four-day ceremony from June 29th-July 3rd.

Of course, the Forest Service has denied the Tribe’s demand for a closure of the area during a popular tourist weekend. Last year the agency imposed a voluntary closure in which the Winnemem Wintu could request that boaters stay out of the area, but could not force them. In past years the Ceremony has been interrupted by drunken boaters, a constant stream of loud engines, racial slurs, and even indecent exposure by a woman in a passing boat. The Ceremony includes an important element in which the young women swim across the river. With the constant boat traffic, this action puts participants in direct physical danger.

“We have been backed into a corner with no other choice. We should be preparing for Marisa [Sisk]’s ceremony, setting down prayers, making regalia, getting the dance grounds ready, making sure it happens in a good way,” said Caleen Sisk, spiritual leader and chief. “But instead we have to fight simply to protect our young women from drunken harassment.”

The Winnemem Wintu are requesting help to blockade the river and prevent intrusive disruptions of this important Ceremony. Experienced kayakers are especially needed. Help is also need to publicize these violations through phone, networking, media, social media, and letters of protest sent to the regional Forest Service office. (See contact info below for the office’s address)

For anyone considering participation in this blockade, there are some important things to think about. First and foremost, this is an act of solidarity. This is not an invitation to a sacred ceremony or a protest. Individuals interested in participating should be fully self-sufficient with provisions, tents, and other camping equipment.

A supporter of DGR who works in solidarity with Indigenous struggles offers some insight on Indigenous solidarity in general:

“Ask the Winnemem Wintu and trusted supporters on-site where help from non-Natives is appropriate and needed.

From personal experience as a non-Native doing support work, I would only bring other non-Natives if they are known to be respectful of boundaries, and not doing this work as a way to steal Indigenous Knowledge or gain access to ceremony. Undoubtedly some of those sorts will turn up, and I think it's our job as non-native allies to run interference and keep any disruption, even "well-intentioned" disruption, away from the ceremonies.

I know some AIMsters who blockaded the river for the last ceremony. They were not there to participate in ceremony, but to do support. So they set up their own camp and organized patrols on the water and shores. They kept a boundary around any ceremonial activity, they worked in the kitchens, they made sure the Winnemem Wintu folks had the space to do their thing. From what I saw from my friends' photos, there's a campground there and it makes sense to have a series of interconnected camps like affinity groups.

This type of protection of ceremony is similar to what some of my male friends have done to protect women's ceremonies - they have stood just out of earshot (though a yell could reach them), turned their backs so they don't witness anything private, and kept other men from coming into the women's space.”

Watch a video of the intrusive disturbance of a previous Ceremony

Those interested in protecting this Ceremony please contact: winnememwintutribe[at]gmail[dot]com

To send letters or make phone calls in protest of the Forest Service’s inaction:

Email Attorney General Kamala Harris: kamala.harris@doj.ca.gov

Email Assistant AG Kristian Whitten: kris.whitten@doj.ca.gov (civil rights violations)

Governor's twitter: @JerryBrownGov

Email Randy Moore, Regional Forest Director: rmoore@fs.fed.us
Snail Mail: 1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592
Call: 707-562-8737

The Tribe requests that messages are respectful and peaceful

Media inquiries, please contact:
Jeanne France, Media Relations: 530-472-1050
Michael Preston, Media Relations: 510-926-1513

Learn more about the Winnemem Wintu
Learn more about the Ceremony
Press Coverage of the Winnemam Wintu War Dance in protest of the Forest Service’s inaction:
San Francisco Chronicle



"Politics of Reality" Book Review

Ben Cutbank / Deep Green Resistance Wisconsin

The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory, written by Marilyn Frye in the 1980's, is one of the most instructive books I have read to date. The succinctness of each of her essays, which cover such fundamental topics for the feminist learner as white privilege, male supremacy, lesbianism and gay rights, and violence against women, combines with an impressive comprehensiveness that leaves the reader with little room for debate. It's simple, but forceful, similar to, I would assert, the works of radical environmental author Derrick Jensen, and especially his two-volume book, Endgame.

In one essay, a difference between love and arrogancetwo forces that, in a sense, speak to the entire battle of life against oppressionis drawn out:

The loving eye does not make the object of perception into something edible, does not try to assimilate it, does not reduce it to the size of the seer's desire, fear and imagination, and hence does not have to simplify. It knows the complexity of the other as something which will forever present new things to be known.

The arrogant perceiver's perception of the other's normalcy or defectiveness is not only dead wrong, it is coercive. It manipulates the other's perception and judgment at the root by mislabeling the unwholesome as healthy, and what is wrong as right. One judges and chooses within a framework of values — notions as to what 'good' and 'good for you' pertain to....If one has the cultural and institutional power to make the misdefinition stick, one can turn the whole other person right around to oneself by this one simple trick.

As a woman living under the rule of patriarchy, and as someone with a radical feminist analysis, Marilyn Frye is no stranger to the meaning of privilege, both in concept and practice. As one might expect, she speaks thoroughly and often about the privileges afforded to men over women. However, her analysis doesn't stop there: those with white skin, including white women, experience a certain kind of privilege as well, because the dominant culture is both patriarchal and white supremacist. Connecting these dots is both crucial and, unfortunately, too rare. Says Frye:

In a certain way it is true that being white-skinned means that everything I do will be wrongat least an exercise of unwarranted privilegeand I will encounter the reasonable anger of women of color at every turn. But 'white' also designates a political category, a sort of political fraternity. Membership in it is not in the same sense "fated" or "natural." It can be resisted.

Members of the dominant culture must be able to mark or define the sex of human beings so that it's clear who is to subjugated and who is to do the subjugating, who is to be exploited and who is to do the exploiting. Masculinity and femininity are concepts created and enforced by patriarchy to keep the social order running smoothly. As Marilyn Frye puts it:

I see enormous social pressure on us all to act feminine or act masculine (and not both), so I am inclined to think that if we were to break the habits of culture which generate that pressure, people would not act particularly masculine or feminine.

Imagine a bird in a birdcage. The bird is confined by numerous wires that connect with each other in order to imprison the bird. If one looks at one of the wires alone, it could seem silly as to why the bird doesn't simply fly around it to freedom. However, it takes stepping back and seeing the whole picture that is the birdcage in order to understand why the bird is trapped. This is the classic metaphor that Frye has used to describe the meaning of oppression. She goes further to give a basic definition:

Oppression is a system of interrelated barriers and forces which reduce, immobilize and mold people who belong to a certain group, and effect their subordination to another group (individually to individuals of the other group, and as a group, to that group).

In a discussion of the gay liberation movement, and the fatal mistake of gay men often trying to embrace masculinity instead of rejecting it, Marilyn Frye speaks to a different vision, a lesbian vision, in a line that I believe is one of the most powerful in the book:

The general direction of lesbian feminist politics is the dismantling of male privilege, the erasure of masculinity, and the reversal of the rule of phallic access, replacing the rule that access is permitted unless specifically forbidden with the rule that it is forbidden unless specifically permitted.

This book is crucial reading for any person with the love and courage it takes to fight for a better world. While anyone would benefit from heeding the lessons that Marilyn Frye has put forth, I especially think that men need to hear this radical feminist message and begin to join women in the fight against patriarchy and for the liberation of all of life.

DGR Great Plains Report from Rapid City Protest

Report from Great Plains Visit to Pine Ridge and Participation in Vern Traversie Protest

This past weekend, Deep Green Resistance Great Plains (and Alex from Deep Green Resistance Colorado) went to Pine Ridge to meet with our Lakota allies there about the upcoming action in Whiteclay, NE and to participate in and support a March for Justice for Vern Traversie.

Saturday afternoon we hosted a showing of End:Civ at the library in Rapid City. About 20 people attended, many of them friends from Pine Ridge. After the screening, we had a discussion about the film and the need for unity and resistance. All were in agreement that we need to work together to make the resistance movement in the Great Plains stronger so that we can start to win.

The next morning, we drove the remaining couple of hours down to Pine Ridge, where we met with allies and members of AIM. We were invited to a meeting about the March for Vern Traversy, where we were asked to help be a part of the march security team.

Vern Traversie is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and was at Rapid City Regional Hospital several months ago for heart surgery. While he was unconscious, the letters “KKK” were carved into his stomach. In the words of Dennis Banks, who marched with us and spoke at the rally, this is at Regional Hospital. The march was a call, a demand, for justice and an end to racism in Rapid City and Regional Hospital.

The next day, we awoke and joined our allies in Pine Ridge, where a caravan assembled before leaving for Rapid City and the March for Vern. We stopped outside of Rapid City for a ceremony and to rendezvous with others who joined the caravan. There were more than 20 cars, honking horns and waving AIM flags out the windows as we drove through Rapid City, drawing as much attention as we could to ourselves and the fact that racism and crimes like that against Vern would not go unanswered.

After a short rally at Memorial Park, about 700 of us marched 3 miles to Rapid City Regional Hospital, where many people got a chance to speak out about racism and their own experiences. After the march, we said goodbye to our friends (and some new ones) and drove back to Jefferson.

It was a great trip, both fun as well as being a productive and meaningful time spent with our allies, building relationships and supporting on going work. We look forward to having more people with us for the action in June, and to seeing our comrades in Pine Ridge again soon.