Categories: Editorials

Workers World Party hails Indigenous people on National Day of Mourning

The 49th National Day of Mourning will be commemorated on Nov. 22 in Plymouth, Mass., on so-called “Thanksgiving.” On that day, Native people will honor their ancestors, expose the myth of the benevolent Pilgrims, and tell the truth about colonialists’ theft of Indigenous lands, murder of their people and destruction of their culture. Homage will also be paid to Leonard Peltier, 74-year-old Native political prisoner, unjustly imprisoned for 42 years.

This annual event expresses solidarity with Indigenous people fighting today against continuing racism and oppression — and for the protection of the Earth from the ravages of Big Oil and other capitalist profiteers. Native people in the U.S. and worldwide are leading these struggles against environmental genocide.

Workers World joins our Native sisters and brothers in showing solidarity with all Indigenous refugees and condemning the rabid, racist attacks on them by the Trump administration. They are fleeing U.S.-backed repressive governments in Central America and impoverishment brought on by imperialist exploitation of their countries.

The sadistic, horrific policy of separation of migrant families, ordered by the White House and enforced by Immigration Customs and Enforcement, is reminiscent of the decades of widespread kidnapping of Native children by federal and state officials. Currently, the Indian Child Welfare Act, meant to stop that crime, is endangered by reactionaries in Washington.

Oppression of Native women is demonstrated by this shocking report issued in early November: The Urban Indian Health Institute tells of 506 murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit people, based on data from 71 U.S. cities. Due to poor recordkeeping, the real numbers are unknown, but are much greater. (tinyurl.com/y9j29w8c)

First Nation activists say that this number exceeds 6,000 people in Canada. (#MMIWG2S) Moreover, in a countrywide scandal there, publicized reports tell of widespread forced sterilization of Indigenous women. Lawsuits have exposed the prevalence of the practice in Saskatchewan province.

The Indian Health Service is the most underfunded and understaffed federal agency in the U.S. In many areas of this country, medical care for Indigenous families is simply not accessible. This is another instance of “Native Erasure,” where Indigenous people are left out, as occurs constantly in the mass media, educational system and elsewhere.

Indigenous resistance inspires millions

The Trump administration came into office vowing to aid Big Oil, Big Gas and other major corporations — to sweep out environmental protections and seize Indigenous lands. Officials aimed to suppress courageous fighters against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and stop all movements opposing the greedy drillers, polluters and land grabbers.

Some Native fighters against DAPL are being sentenced to prison terms by pro-corporate courts. However, struggles have not ground to a halt in spite of government repression and threats. Brave activists are protesting pipelines that transport dirty fossil fuels from Canada to the Louisiana Bayou and opposing “fracking” of natural gas.

Recognizing the strong opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, a federal judge in Montana halted its construction Nov. 9, saying its environmental impact has been “disregarded.” This ruling is due to the leadership of Indigenous activists, supported by allies, including environmentalists and small farmers, in a many-year, militant and at times life-and-death struggle. Even if the decision is temporary, Native activists are determined to keep the pressure on.

A year ago, by executive order, the U.S. president handed fossil fuel and mining tycoons the prize of 1.3 million acres of Bears Ears National Monument, so they could freely drill and mine for oil, gas and uranium. Five Native Nations together fought for years to gain protected status to preserve these ancient, sacred sites in Utah, which they achieved in 2016. Significantly, pro-Bears Ears Diné (Navajo) representatives just won local elections. The struggle to regain monument status and Indigenous oversight of Bears Ears continues.

In North Dakota, conservatives tried to disenfranchise Indigenous people, as right-wingers attempted to suppress voting rights of African-American, Latinx and other oppressed, poor and rural residents in other states. New legislation required voters to use street addresses, rather than post office boxes, when registering. However, anger at the voter ID law helped elect Ruth Buffalo, an Indigenous woman, to the state legislature. Significantly, she defeated the law’s main proponent.

The Trump administration is attempting to rob the Mashpee Wampanoag of their ancestral lands in Massachusetts. However, the nation has garnered support statewide and from other Indigenous nations around the country — and are resisting.

In dozens of cities and many states, Native people and their allies have won the demand to commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day.

On this National Day of Mourning, Workers World extends our solidarity to Indigenous peoples worldwide. We express our wholehearted support for all Native peoples fighting back against oppression and for the preservation of the planet and all forms of life on it.

Editor

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