November 28 marks the 50th National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, Mass., when Indigenous peoples pay homage to their ancestors and relate their history as the original inhabitants of this country, while they expose the myths about the “benevolent” Pilgrims. In fact, European colonialists committed massive crimes against Native peoples, stealing their lands and food, obliterating their culture and engaging in genocide.
This year’s event will honor ailing Native political prisoner, Leonard Peltier, age 75, who has been unjustly imprisoned for 43 years, currently in Florida, separated by thousands of miles from his family and nation in North Dakota.
It is a day to laud Indigenous peoples worldwide who fight oppression and lead the struggles to save lands, forests and rivers from capitalist destruction. This is a time to pay tribute to all Native water protectors and land defenders, including those murdered for daring to oppose corporate profiteers, such as Honduran Berta Cáceres, a Lenca leader.
Workers World Party hails Evo Morales, Indigenous president of Bolivia, who was ousted in an illegal coup by wealthy right-wingers, in league with Washington. Courageous Indigenous peoples there have demonstrated against the brutal, racist coup-makers, despite horrific repression. We honor Indigenous peoples, workers and youth participating in anti-government demonstrations in Chile, Colombia and Ecuador.
WWP expresses our solidarity with all im/migrants and refugees being held hostage by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on orders from the White House and those deported and denied entry. We condemn the Border Patrol for separating migrant families at the U.S./Mexico border, caging and mistreating children.
Regarding family separation, reactionary forces are mobilizing to overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act, meant to keep Indigenous children with their families and nations, instead of adopted out by right-wing networks. This campaign is a deliberate effort to suppress Indigenous culture and undermine legal protection gained by Native communities.
Shocking data from 71 cities tells of 506 murdered or missing Native women and girls; that is a vast undercount. There has been little follow-up or media coverage. Federal legislation on this is inching along only because of public pressure.
Another problem facing Native people is the underfunded, inadequate and unreliable Indian Health Service, which leaves many Indigenous families with little to no medical care.
Indigenous peoples lead resistance to corporate polluters
A militant struggle was waged to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the Dakotas, designed to transport oil across several states at great risk. An oil spill would poison the precious water source relied on by millions of people and contaminate Native land and sacred sites.
Led by the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, with other Native nations and joined by environmentalists and other supporters, water protectors heroically occupied the land, defying brutal state and private security repression. Hundreds of people were arrested and detained under inhumane conditions — including in cages.
Some Native fighters were sentenced to federal prison terms. North Dakota arrested hundreds and prosecuted many. Currently, DAPL owner Energy Transfer Partners seeks to double its oil flow in North Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux are fighting this expansion in court.
Meanwhile, 9,120 barrels of oil spilled on Oct. 28 from the Keystone XL Pipeline — which carries tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas — contaminating North Dakota wetlands. A KXL pipeline leak of 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota set off protests of thousands of people in 2017. Despite these disasters, TC Energy, KXL’s owner, plans to expand the pipeline, which Native groups and environmentalists are challenging.
No surprise: Polluter in chief Donald Trump issued an executive order allowing KXL’s construction, regardless of environmental and health dangers, violation of Indigenous land rights or mass opposition.
The greedy companies that profit from these pipelines have successfully pressured many states to prohibit anti-pipeline activism, denying the basic right to demonstrate. These pro-corporate laws designed to stifle the movement must be opposed!
The racist Trump administration shows contempt for Indigenous peoples’ sovereignty, seizing their lands and trampling on their rights and culture: Big Oil’s friend in the White House ordered that Bears Ears, ancestral land for five Native nations in Utah, be opened up to corporate fracking, drilling and mining. Years of struggle won national monument status for Bears Ears; now these Native nations are fighting this land grab to regain oversight of their sacred site and protect it.
Indigenous people in Hawai’i have been occupying Mauna Kea, the world’s the world’s tallest mountain when measured from sea bed to top, to prevent installation of the multimillion-dollar Thirty Meter Telescope. It is a sacred place, a conservation site and the watershed for the Big Island.
A successful struggle is winning commemoration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in cities and states around the country, as more people reject the Columbus myth and want to honor Native people, not a colonizer.
On the 50th National Day of Mourning, Workers World extends our utmost solidarity to Indigenous peoples worldwide — and gives our wholehearted support to all the struggles against environmental racism and imperialist oppression and for the preservation of the planet and all forms of life on it.