Saturday, September 24, 2011

An Open Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Activists

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for making an attempt to improve the situation in what is now called the United States. Thank you for your commitment to peace and non-violence. Thank you for the sacrifices you are making. Thank you.

There's just one thing. I am not one of the 99 percent that you refer to. And, that saddens me. Please don't misunderstand me. I would like to be one of the 99 percent... but you've chosen to exclude me. Perhaps it was unintentional, but, I've been excluded by you. In fact, there are millions of us indigenous people who have been excluded from the Occupy Wall Street protest. Please know that I suspect that it was an unintentional exclusion on your part. That is why I'm writing to you. I believe that you can make this right. (I hope you're still smiling.)

It seems that ever since we indigenous people have discovered Europeans and invited them to visit with us here on our land, we've had to endure countless '-isms' and religions and programs and social engineering that would "fix" us. Protestantism, Socialism, Communism, American Democracy, Christianity, Boarding Schools, Residential Schools,... well, you get the idea. And, it seems that these so-called enlightened strategies were nearly always enacted and implemented and pushed upon us without our consent. And, I'll assume that you're aware of how it turned out for us. Yes. Terribly.

Which brings me back to your mostly-inspiring Occupy Wall Street activities. On September 22nd, with great excitement, I eagerly read your "one demand" statement. Hoping and believing that you enlightened folks fighting for justice and equality and an end to imperialism, etc., etc., would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you - that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. I had hoped mention would be made of the indigenous nation whose land that is. I had hoped that you would address the centuries-long history that we indigenous peoples of this continent have endured being subject to the countless '-isms' of do-gooders claiming to be building a "more just society," a "better world," a "land of freedom" on top of our indigenous societies, on our indigenous lands, while destroying and/or ignoring our ways of life. I had hoped that you would acknowledge that, since you are settlers on indigenous land, you need and want our indigenous consent to your building anything on our land - never mind an entire society. See where I'm going with this? I hope you're still smiling. We're still friends, so don't sweat it. I believe your hearts are in the right place. I know that this whole genocide and colonization thing causes all of us lots of confusion sometimes. It just seems to me that you're unknowingly doing the same thing to us that all the colonizers before you have done: you want to do stuff on our land without asking our permission.

But, fear not my friends. We indigenous people have a sense of humor. So, I thought I might make a few friendly suggestions which may help to "fix" the pro-colonialism position in which you now (hopefully, unintentionally) find yourselves. (Please note my use of the word "fix" in the previous sentence. That's an attempt at a joke. You can refer to the third paragraph if you'd like an explanation.)

By the way, I'm just one indigenous person. I represent no one except myself. I'm acting alone in writing this letter. Perhaps none of my own Nishnaabe people will support me in having written this. Perhaps some will. I respect their opinions either way. I love my Nishnaabe people always. I am simply trying to do something good - same as all of you at the Occupy Wall Street protest in what is now called New York.

So, here goes. (You're still smiling, right?)

1) Acknowledge that the United States of America is a colonial country, a country of settlers, built upon the land of indigenous nations; and/or...

2) Demand immediate freedom for indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier; and/or...

3) Demand that the colonial government of the United States of America honor all treaties signed with all indigenous nations whose lands are now collectively referred to as the "United States of America"; and/or...

4) Make some kind of mention that you are indeed aware that you are settlers and that you are not intending to repeat the mistakes of all of the settler do-gooders that have come before you. In other words, that you are willing to obtain the consent of indigenous people before you do anything on indigenous land.

I hope you find this list useful. I eagerly await your response, my friends.

Miigwech! ( ~"Thank you!" )

JohnPaul Montano


  1. It was interesting to read that. 70% agreed ! No country has the right to take other countries/people's land. I totally agree with the rights of Indigenous people. (( Just a reminder )) that does not mean Indigenous people have a right to Kick us all OUT. This mentality is the same as corrupt Zionism ! jews, not palestinians, are israel's indigenous people' and want their land back and everyone OUT. << This was only a reminder though.

  2. I completely agree with you JohnPaul and have considered bringing this up within the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street many times. I don't know the name indigenous people to whom the land belongs, but it's especially relevant given that Wall Street apparently derives its name from a wall erected by Dutch settlers to block indigenous people from their land.
    Thank you for giving me the extra push to recognize this important matter.

  3. The Declaration specifically abhorred our country's colonialism both abroad and at home. That is a clear recognition of the human rights of indigenous peoples.

  4. Considering the viral nature of these protests and the copious amounts of information swirling around, the trends, search terms, etc, it is interesting (but unfortunately not surprising) how few comments are here.

    Particularly since the author kept it so calm and easy-going, something many victims of white American genocides don't bother doing.

    I imagine that most Occupy Wall Streeters don't understand what this essay or the issue generally, has to do with what they are doing.

  5. I completely agree on the sense that everyone should have the right to be what they are, and as a Brazilian seeing all our indigenous people being kicked off from their current lands because of some "improvements" for the "society" without considering them (again) makes me angry.
    On the other hand, and I'm really sorry if I sound imperialistic or unfair here, I cannot see the land belonging to indigenous or white or black. I cannot see a land belonging to anyone and therefore I cannot see the land as you say, indigenous land as it was hundreds of years ago.
    If at some point, white europeans colonized the land, who were them? It was me? It was my father? It was my grandfather? It was people from so much time ago that I haven't even met in my entire life, most probably. So how can I give you back something that I didn't take. Or almost everybody currently living there took.
    I was watching Meltdown and saw all families losing their house because they couldn't pay the mortgage in California. But, it means that if I pay to the bank then now I have rights over the land?
    And if you get the land back, what you are going to do? Bulldozer the buildings so you can have the same life you used to have hundreds of years ago?

    As a foreigner baby that is born in a foreign land and has (sometimes) the right to be a "citizen" of that country and now there are Asian-americans, mexican-americans, indian-americans and so on, I see that now that land is not indigenous or white land, it's a land that both must share.

    So I do think Occupy Wall Street should have indigenous representatives, but I do think that everyone has the same rights over the land, the rights to have freedom for a decent life not based on greed. The claim for the right of the land doesn't appeal to me as it maybe should, but that's because even knowing the history, it's still a solution that I don't think it's fair for those who lives there now.

  6. Particularly since the author kept it so calm and easy-going, something many victims of white American genocides don't bother doing.

    Proof positive that they will rarely, if ever, get any conversation, much less a reaction at all, if they remain calm and easygoing. Why go to the effort of making your pain palatable for others when there will be engagement?

  7. I agree with Marc, which is why this letter is so important. It has been shared with those of us in the RGV and I will bring it up as we plan our event and reach out to thse originarios of this land, as well as the indigenous immigrants.

  8. I feel defensive when reading stuff that suggests "permission" is needed to do something here. I want to say, "then what is my land, what land needs my permission to occupied, surely not Wales, Czech,, Germany and countless other lands of ancestors I never knew, I don't belong there either?" Then I allow that question to fill me as it has no doubt filled countless others with far less privilege than myself.

  9. I am not geographically close to what is happening on Wall St right now. Indeed, I am far away from the 'United States' and am not familiar with the workings of the indigenous activist movements there or the dynamics between people within groups there. However, this post is so relevant to me as an activist living in a colonised country (Aotearoa New Zealand). I wear the same coloured skin as the colonisers, as do most members in acivist groups I have been a part of (Animal Rights, anarchist groups.) And I have absolutely no doubt that I have benefited in my life outcomes because of that.

    Aotearoa has a strong Maori activist movement but their absence from many groups that don't have an exclusive Maori focus was always a mystery and concern for all of us across the activist networks. Is it enough to 'write indigenous groups in' to statements..? I would rather they were there in person to say it for themselves, and I have had that echoed by Maori here in Aotearoa. Indeed, often (but not often enough) we work alongside local iwi (tribe) and they can tell of their own oppression in their own words. But I wish the partnerships could be closer.. I am at a loss as to why they aren't..

    Thankyou JeanPaul for this piece. Lots of thoughts in my head right now.. But my concluding thoughts for now would be firstly, is writing indigenous people into a statement enough? Shouldn't they be there claiming their own space on Wall St? Writing themselves into the statement? Shouldn't indigenous people be in all political movements, in all countries? How can we grow closer, form friendships, work together??

  10. Thank you for writing this. It is too easy for those of us who have grown up on colonized land to be ignorant of our position as those on a land that doesn't actually belong to us - and for us to act in our do-gooding as though it does. We may have grown up here, and this may be our home, but there is still a debt owed.... We cannot "fix" this society without those whose home this was first or by ignoring the historical legacy that resulted in us being here. It is always possible for social justice to be done better, we must always be on the look-out for those better ways.

  11. Wóciciyaka wácin:

    I read your post; I am linking to it, as I believe it is something to keep a mind on.

    But I would like to say, from my perspective of a displaced person [Welsh, Irish] who's own lands were stolen from them hundreds of years ago by usurpers [Milesian and Frankish Celts, Saxons, Angles and Jutes] and from having worked with a Lakota Road Chief and Pipemaker, the words of the great healer and shaman Black Elk:

    "Indian is a state of mind, not a blood. How much blood is necessary for a man to be Indian? 10%? 5%? 1%? I know of Indians I wouldn't care to be friends with, because their mind is already taken over by a white man's spirit. I also know many white men who would make good Indians."

    I don't like separatism in any form, shape or color. I stole no land; it was all done before I was born. I'd rather concentrate on what we all have in common rather than what we don't.

    This is not a troll, and I welcome debate on these matters. We have to quit playing the Fracture Game; it only aids the enemy of us all and is one of the diseases we must conquer for all human peoples and tribes.

    mitakuye oyas'in


  12. good stuff, it's interesting that the assumption is made that all of the Occupy Wall Street people are white, thus labeling them as guest etc. But it's true, the majority of the folks that I see in the images on youtube are white people. so the critique is valid. I would add more and that is to say, indigenous people, of which I identify myself are always having to school white folks on their racist tendencies. several of my friend that are also indigenous mainly from the philipines have also questioned the white character of the protestors, but that is because, whites haven't risen up in years, perhaps for 40 years and before that perhaps 80 years, so now Chicanos, Indigenous people, Blacks and Asians must also rise up. The whites that have opened up a space for us to again engage in the national debate is an opportunity. hopefully they will support our anti-racist and anti-imperialist work, that we have been engaged in since 1492.

    on another note, i identify as an indigenous socialist, kinda repetitive i guess, but don't think socialist or communist tried to fix us in this country. they have never succeed that far in the u.s.



  13. Well said, niiji. It's bothered me that a number of Indian people have jumped into this protest, thinking that there is something at stake for Indian people. But to me, the Wall Street protest is about class division and the unbalanced economics between the classes. One of the things that bothers me the most is the misinformation and doctored photos flooding Facebook by Occupy Wall Street organizers.

    One example was a post on Sunday afternoon. A woman said she went to elders and received their permission to attend the protest and fly the Anishinaabe flag to protect the protesters. What was odd is that there isn't such a thing as an Anishinaabe flag - a flag that represents all the various Anishinaabe nations on Turtle Island. So I asked her if she had photos. I asked for photos because I needed some kind of proof/evidence that what she was saying was true. She said she took photos on her cell phone and she would post them. Needless to say, they were never posted. And they weren't posted because her story was bogus.

    But the bottom-line is that this isn't our battle - it's the Chimookomaanag battle. We have our own battles. And I know I am not a part of their 99%.

  14. Thanks for this powerful and important piece. Some of us who are part of the "Occupy Greenbsoro" (NC) group are in the process of networking with Native activists in our area before making our plans. We have so far received positive responses and helpful advice from folks we've reached out to, but know we need to do more.

    Also, a response to the comment above where the poster says "that does not mean Indigenous people have a right to Kick us all OUT": Andrea Smith talks about this in her amazing book "Conquest." She says that often those of us who are non-Native assume that a call for acknowledgement of Native claim to the land is the same as a call for killing and kicking out Euro-settlers. But she points out that just because European occupiers in the American colonies claimed the land then used that as an excuse to kill and chase out does not mean that Native people would/will do the same. Its a very Euro-Western idea that Claim = Exclusion & Killing. We need to start from a place of openness and truly ask for permission from Native folks, and hope/trust that if/when we do they will not kill us or chase us out as our ancestors did to their ancestors. We need to reflect on and try to understand our projection of our ancestors' actions onto current Native people, our settler-paranoia, our fear of giving up some part of settler-power and the fears that surface when we think about doing that.

  15. thank you for this. I am going down to visit the Seattle protest today and will bring a few copies of this down with me.

  16. I just want to clarify my previous post under Protect Our Manoomin. My opinion does not represent the Protect Our Manoomin organization. It is solely my opinion - Robert Desjarlait.

  17. Thank you to all of you who have replied to my Open Letter. I appreciate your time. I'm very grateful that you've chosen to share your thoughts on this topic.

    Since publishing this Open Letter on September 24, 2011, several hopeful developments have occurred. I'd like to share with you three in particular:

    (1) On October 1, 2011, in response to Jessica Yee's related article, 'OccupyWallStreetProtestor' ( ) wrote of their intention "to bring these issues before the General Assembly this afternoon...

    -America, as a nation, was built, and continues to be built, on land stolen from people still exploited and oppressed under the current system. This fact should be acknowledged and vocally opposed by Occupy Wall Street.

    -The nationalistic language of phrases like "take our country back" is something that should be examined in terms of its associations with imperialism and colonialism.

    -Occupy Wall Street should oppose and seek to end colonialism as much as it opposes and seeks to end unregulated capitalism, imperialism, war, or institutional racism."

    Quite articulate, indeed, my friend. Thank you! I'm excited to hear how it's going.

    (2) On October 1, 2011, again in response to Jessica Yee's related article, 'Valenciennes' ( ) points out that the "one demand" statement (which I mention in my Open Letter) is "in no way an official release from the NYCGA/OWS." According to Valenciennes, the apparently official statement is called the "Declaration of the Occupation of New York City," and was posted on the 30th of September:

    Referring to corporations, one line in this document reads as follows: "They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad."

    This is an encouraging start, indeed! Thank you!

    (3) On October 3, 2011, in response to my Open Letter, Leslie Radford ( ) mentions that she has opened up the topic at OccupyLA, and will bring it to the General Assembly. Thank you Leslie, for taking the time. I greatly appreciate your effort.

    To all of you whose kind words are expressed in this post's comments: Gchi-miigwech! (~"Thank you very much!") It is truly my pleasure. In writing this Open Letter, I have attempted to be one of the many voices working to assist Occupy Wall Street in remaining true to its noblest goals. For me, this begins by acknowledging whose land we are on. For others, it perhaps begins someplace else. I hope I am succeeding in contributing positively to this *ongoing* debate while remaining true to my Nishnaabe ancestors.

    To rephrase the last two sentences of the second paragraph of my Open Letter: I believe that you are making this right. (I'm still smiling.)

    I leave you with this song by Ulali.

    Miigwech. :)

    JohnPaul Montano

  18. My Aniishnabe relative the only thing i would like to see included in your brilliant piece of work is the demand of COMPLETE, ABJECT and TOTAL DISSOLUTION of the CRIMINAL Bureau of Indian Affairs.

  19. I agree with everything you said, and furthermore, I will say that I personally wouldn't think it'd be right for all of us who are indigenous to "kick out" all who are not. However, I will say that I think if we had power over our occupied lands, we would have that right should our masses see it fit. Just as the occupying people in power see fit to do everyday in Arizona (our land) and all over the so called "land of the free".

  20. I have to reply to the first comment on this thread, I don't believe that the author wants "everyone out"! He is merely asking for recognition and some reparations for past injustices, which were of course grave and massive and included genocide. That's not so much to ask. I think it's about time, and I think it's imminently doable, especially if we're at the point where a true revolution of values and government can take place. Secondly, the palestinians do not want "everyone out" either. They want equal rights and equal opportunity and equal representation, at least that's what the vast majority want, that's what they are telling anyone who will listen, but unfortunately that seems to be a small audience.

  21. As most of those who are visible in the protests are white, I understand the point of this letter clearly. (However, there are many brown and black folks involved who just aren't photographed by the media). As a black American (slave-descended), though, I don't know how to respond to this article, since my folks can't be classified as "immigrants" in this country who took land that wasn't ours.

    My only response then: I understand your grief, and I think this is an article that needs to be read by everyone. I just think you might want to not lump all non-indigenous peoples in America together (as people who stole this land) because black Americans really heritage-wise can't be classified as such. Yet, all of us, my people included, NEED to recognize and respect that this land was stolen from its indigenous people and, therefore, make an effort to never forget that history and the indigenous people who remain oppressed in this land. We need to support the demand that the U.S. government honor its treaties because we are ultimately all in this together. And we need to understand that oppression to one group is oppression to all of us (at least, that's my philosophy). As such, thank you very much for this letter!

  22. I only just encountered this article today, and I want to thank you for writing it. I am glad you are finding ways to have your message and letter be represented on the ground at the protests. Please keep trying to find a way to get the message through. Might i also suggest you send a paper letter to them on the ground, and ask them to post it somewhere? Thank you again and best wishes to you.

  23. Thank you for writing this! I am Dine' and agree with your points. The "Occupy" strategy reinforces colonialism as our lands are already occupied.
    The brief acknowledgment of US colonialism in the assembly's statement doesn't contextualize or clarify where their "occupy" strategy is going.
    As it is it reads as lip service.

    I hope your piece brings attention to the consciousness we need to foster stronger movement(s) towards liberation.
    Occupation is a tactic whereas Liberation is a goal. If we focus on goals as opposed to tactics I think we'll get a lot further.

  24. I see the point of the article and largely agree with it, but still think it is important that such a recognition of being on occupied land does not mean the various indigenous peoples of these occupied lands should not engage in such a struggle, as Robert Desjarlait suggests when he says "But the bottom-line is that this isn't our battle".

    I would agree that there is an argument to be made about whether or not we as indigenous people are part of the 99% as originally conceived by the OccupyWallSt folks, but nonetheless this is our struggle as well, since it is an opening towards an acknowledgement of ongoing colonialism in the Americas. There are a lot of contradictions internal to the 99% discourse and movement, but we must challenge those contradictions *alongside* those calling themselves the 99% and not against them, as to do so would be detrimental and would only reinforce the various same dynamics of power we have been fighting for the last five centuries anyways.

  25. I'm black and I'm not a guest in this country. I was born and raised here and so have my ancestors for hundreds of years. But carry on.

  26. The idea that land belongs collectively to an ethnic or racial group is a harmful one.

    It is what has led to endless strife over the middle east. Which group has a 'right' to the land of Israel.

    It is what allows white supremacists in Europe to talk about black people invading their land.

    It is an idea people need to move past.

  27. I´m glad I read your letter, JohnPaul. Ah, privilege... I´ve read and read news about the protests, every day, and also about people trying to emphasize the importance of intersectionality. I have been in repeated contact with Indigenous People, and understood thus the necessity to say "the so-called United States of America" or "what is now considered Canada". And yet I hadn´t thought of the impact of the world "Occupy". Something so simple but so powerful. After all, when I read about the Occupation in France during WWII, or the Occupied Lands in Palestine, I immediately grasp the injustice and tragedy implied, right?

    Thanks for writing this letter. We need to listen to each other to know what it is we´re not seeing. And then we have to acknowledge it. No one´s struggle is more important than another´s, and so no one deserves to be told their issue needs to be put on the backburner until others have made progress. There are Indigenous People living right now who have fought their entire lives to see their history recognized, to see their struggle for their rights raised as part of today´s demands (not yesterday´s complaint, as some would like to believe).

    And might I say how rich I find it to see some people come to the space of a Native American to lecture him about how the land doesn´t belong to anyone, as if the Indigenous People were trying to patent their ownership? Particularly since Indigenous People of many different Nations famously protested against the settlers claiming they now "possessed" the land? We´d better learn to stop projecting Western societies´ vision of private ownership unto every group of humans.

  28. Dan fuck you. Its easy for you to say to move on when you don't suffer from colonialism.

    Also fuck all those who say this isn't our struggle. This movement is against the crisis of capitalism, a system which is fund of screwing us harder than even the white folks protesting this.

    And yes Anglos should read this, they can't demand justice while ignoring the biggest oppression of all.

  29. My great grandparents moved here from what is now Slovenia and what was once Yugoslavia. I have other ancestors from England, Ireland, Spain, and yes there is even Native American blood in me as well. As a Nation there were indeed many atrocities that took place. The Indigenous people were wronged time and time again. But, to me the Occupy Wall Street movement is only going to be able to rectify so many issues. And as I see it, the main issue on the table has to do with the fact that corporations are running our Government with their money and thus their power. I don't want to dismiss the racism, religious persecution, or the many deaths and battles that have occurred on this land or abroad. By all means continue to fight for the acknowledgement you seek. But to me this movement is not about any one people... any specific gender, race, creed, or religious affiliation. Its about the human race as a whole. We are one people of this planet and we should stand together NOW for what is right... even if did not do so in the past.

    I'm sorry if you don't feel included, but sadly if you live in what is now considered the United States of America... you are definitely being affected by the issues being raised by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

    Sure, I may not be 100% Native American, and thus perhaps cannot fully understand your emotions and feelings on this issue... I am instead like most Americans in that I am not 100% anything... except I suppose 100% human, just like you

  30. There is no such things as Jews or Israel in real history, and we do hav a right to remove illegal immigrants from OUR LAND!!!!

  31. I'm sorry that I had time to read less than half of the comments to this thought provoking post, so I hope you'll forgive me if I repeat something already said.

    I think the passage of centuries makes it difficult for your issues to be addressed to your satisfaction. As an African American, I don't live here because my ancestors came willingly to participate in what was done to your people. I'm not sure how you would want my people to word their query for permission, considering how upsetting it would be to add that insult onto our existing injury, but I still understand your point. I understand it more than you know.

    Perhaps, more than the asking of permission, you might be better served at this date, with a public, all-encompassing acknowledgment of the grievous injustices that have been done to your people over these centuries. I believe you deserve an apology for it, and also thoughtful reparation, but I don't think either of us should hold our breath for that kind of thing.

    The reluctance the "powers that be" have in truthfully acknowledging the scope of the issues that have plagued my people in this country, along with their reluctance to discuss logical ways to make it right, illustrates the kind of thinking that impedes the conversation you want to have.

    Unfortunately, human beings of countries all over the world have stolen lands from indigenous peoples. With so much history having passed, how could anyone ever say for sure who is the rightful "owner" of what place? In that one regard alone, yours are not the only people to have suffered greatly.

    A last point to ponder: I wonder, who else could write something like this - someone whose past in this country is just as painful, but whose story we don't know because we are each more familiar with our own, the ones our own ancestors lived?

  32. I'm white, and I'm the descendant of immigrants, so I am definitely in the category of those who stole land. I abhor the treatment of the indigenous people of this country, and I remember being amazed that my Chinook friend from my teen years seemed to be so calm about it, even as she maintained what she could of her native traditions while attending a predominantly white high school. My ancestors did a grave wrong against yours, no question.

    However - only SOME of my ancestors did a grave wrong. My grandmother's family is descended from early settlers in Virginia in the 1780's, so they probably count. But what about the much more recent branches? The Scottish family who emigrated when my five-great-grandfather needed to separate himself from the increasingly unhealthy environment of his family? The English couple of different social stations who fled to Wisconsin rather than endure the prejudices against both of them? The even more recent great-grandparents from Denmark whose family farm was simply too small to hold so many sons?

    They all moved here in good conscience and bought land with hard-earned money. Going way back, the land was stolen, yes. But what were they to do? Where else should they have gone? Where could they go that was not the indigenous land of SOMEONE? When an indigenous culture requires access to millions of square miles to exist in its ideal state, what are the displaced sons and daughters of other nations to do?

    And most of all, where would I go now? I cannot go home - this IS home. Shall I go back to the little farm in Denmark and insist on my percentage of the acreage? Would I track down the current holder of the noble title my great-great-great-grandmother Jane had to abandon when she married her beloved Henry, and tell Lord So-and-so that I am his cousin and he must let me live in his house?

    I'm being silly here, of course - I don't speak a word of Danish, and the Baldwicks would have no responsibility for the many-great-granddaughter of their scandalous ancestor. But I think you see my point. This is my home, based on the fact that my ancestors have lived here for many generations. It is your home, for much the same reason. How many generations is enough for us to call the same place home?

  33. No doubt the idea of "private property" and or the private ownership of land was a European invention that was introduced here - what we now call the US, through settler colonialism and the systematic extermination campaigns of the First Nation peoples.
    I thank the author of the article for putting this movement in perspective and for providing the opportunity for some of us to re-examine the integrity behind the tactical occupation of Zucotti.
    As almost an afterthought, I'd say, the occupation of Zucotti has some commonalities with the occupation of Alcatraz by AIM (American Indian Movement) in 69.
    I'm curious what your thoughts might be about this?

  34. Occupy Boston passed this memorandum:

  35. Your thoughts, please...

  36. I don't really know why folks seem to get bent out of shape about this article. It is completely legitimate for indigenous community to expect at least some sort of communication as it was a land they belonged to (they would not say the land belonged to them, as I know them). The indigenous communities who dwelled here in NYC, the Lenape nations, were many and displaced many more times and hardly any trace of them remain in this "great" city. I don't think the author of the article was telling people to ask for permission (which always seems to set people off, again, I don't know why), and the point really is, did anyone take a minute to think of whose land they're really occupying? And if they did, were there any efforts made to reach out to the First Nations folks currently residing in NYC? Yes, there are still many communities here. Also, what about the use of the word "occupying" as well? I think the point was not really about permission, rather, it is about honoring the legacies of those who stood and lived on this land as efforts are made to change the current climate of such a place. I have worked with the Lenape people on occasions, and they are not an enigma, nor are they impossible to find. If you can get a mass to support your cause I am sure you can find at least a handful of elders to consult and get their blessing if not their involvement.

  37. Dea John Paul,

    Thank you for your articulation of the situation we are all in. Thank you for your kindness and patience - more than 400 years is a long time to wait and a long time to keep smiling.

    I agree with all you say. I hope that when we who now live on this land come together to form a new system of government, and all that entails (new monetary system, new legal system, new rules and regulations for corporations) that we have the wisdom and humility to recognize that the United States is built upon genocide and slavery, and that we have to acknowledge that and act out of that acknowledgement. And that all forms of oppression and continued colonization be broken down, so that the indigenous peoples of North America can take your rightful place in government and stewardship of the land, our society and culture.

    Without this any transformation we make now will be meaningless.

    I am involved in the work in New Mexico in Occupy Santa Fe, and I am completely committed to bringing this consciousness to the movement here, and doing all that we can to ensure that ALL of us are included in this potentially wonderful transformation.

  38. Miigwech ("Thank you") to everyone here who has taken the time to contribute to this discussion of the Open Letter. I greatly appreciate your time.

    I'd like to share some wonderful news. On October 8, 2011, Occupy Boston issued a 'Memorandum of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples'.

    As mentioned in a previous comment on this page, the memorandum is available here:

    In part, the Memorandum reads:

    '...those participating in “Occupy Boston” acknowledge that the United States of America is a colonial country, and that we are guests upon stolen indigenous land that has already been occupied for centuries, Boston being the ancestral land of the Massachusett people ... We wish to further the process of healing and reconciliation...'

    There are two inspiring individuals at Occupy Boston whom I would like to specifically thank for their work in helping to write and issue the Memorandum:

    (1) Lindsey Mysse
    ( )


    (2) Marty Driggs
    ( )

    Miigwech ("Thank you") to *everyone* at Occupy Boston as we all continue to engage in this hopeful, ongoing, activist discussion.

    JohnPaul Montano

  39. The timing of JohnPaul Montano's open letter to Occupy Wall Street arrived precisely at the opportune moment according to the 7th Fire Prophecy.

    In the Seventh Fire prophecy of the Anishnabek, each of the seven fires represent an era in human history. We are now in the time of the Seventh Fire. The task of the people of this age, including the Anishnabek and other red people, the yellow people, the black and the white, is to come together through choosing the road of cooperation. Without this, there will be no Eighth Fire, or future for Natives and others. Read more:

    Grandfather William Commanda now walks with the Ancestors, but his strength and vision has been passed down to all peoples to guide us toward peace and understanding. Meegwetch, All my Relations.

  40. The timing of JP Montano's open letter to Occupy Wall Street arrived precisely at the opportune moment according to The 7th Fire Prophecy.

    In the Seventh Fire prophecy of the Anishnabek, each of the seven fires represent an era in human history. We are now in the time of the Seventh Fire. The task of the people of this age, including the Anishnabek and other red people, the yellow people, the black and the white, is to come together through choosing the road of cooperation. Without this, there will be no Eighth Fire, or future for Natives and others. Read more:

    Grandfather William Commanda now walks with the ancestors, but his vision and wisdom has been passed down to many seekers of truth for guidance of peace and understanding. Meegwetch, All my Relations.

  41. Miigwech brothers and sisters for your comments and views.

  42. I am of Native descent. As a Cherokee, a distant grandmother of mine escaped the Trail of Tears by marrying a German. Her sisters and brothers and parents were in the Trail of Tears, and most of them died. It has been said that my family is also from the Lakota Nation, of which my great grandfather practiced the traditions of til his death, and of which he taught my dad, as much as he could.

    I am also descended from other European nationalities besides German, including British, Scottish, Irish, Welch, Dutch, French, and Greek. While many of my European ancestors did come for the purpose of colonization, not all did. Some were just trying to escape famine while others were trying to escape genocide from the Turks a century ago.

    No matter when our ancestors came here or what brought them here, right now, we are all facing oppression from people who have more money and power than us. We are all living in an democratic dictatorship where policies are shaped by those who have the money to buy off the President and policy makers. Our so called leadership does not represent any of us besides themselves and those with money.

    Even though you don't feel like you're a part of the 99%, you most definitely are. Your voice is not heard by those who make policies, just as our voices are not. That makes you a part of the 99%. You don't have the money to "buy" the politicians. That makes you a part of the 99%.

    This is just for those who are here because their ancestors came for colonization, were kidnapped and sold, refugees from famine or genocide, or those who just decided to move here. It's for justice for people everywhere, for it is a movement with many voices, one of many nations that knows no borders.

  43. Thank you for your important contribution and timely invitation. I will share it widely and fervently hope others will join me.

  44. Hi,

    You are 100% right in what you wrote. It's disgusting for me to think about but I am a settler and I feel like I don't belong here and I am haunted every day by the thoughts of living on stolen land. Anyways, I wanted to talk to you about a few questions. I am very concerned with indigenous issues, and I would like to ask you some stuff but I don't know how to private message you. My email is if you can email me. thanks.

  45. Hi JohnPaul,

    First, 'kol ha kavod!' (Hebrew term meaning 'much respect'). I wholeheartedly agree.

    Second, your focus seems to be that the OWS should recognize and acknowledge, more than they have, that America was forcibly taken without consent (overwhelmingly) from the local natives. And that where possible, treaties should be respected, restitution made. And to recognize that most of the protesters are settlers....

    I started out working on Wall St. and saw what it does to the world, and then joined protests including helping tree sits and Earth First!, and the Direct Action Network at the Seattle WTO and DC world bank protests, and I came to the same conclusion--that we needed to most of all respect native connection to the land. So I started working with local first nations, esp. river peoples in Oregon, Blackfeet and Navajo and Lakota.

    And the bottom line of what I heard from them was--where are you from? Oh, you're Jewish? You guys actually won your homeland back!!

    SO I moved to Israel...

    Would you advocate that as many Americans as possible research and return to their roots? To Celtic or Druid or Gaul or Angle or Jute or Norse or Hun or Visigoth or whatever tribal ancestry they can find, and those homelands?

    It seems like a Pandora's box-- Israel is certainly my homeland, one can see 2500 year old Jewish ruins 5 min. walk from my house-- but other peoples made it their homeland as well during our 1900 year exile. Isn't that really true everywhere?

    How long does one have to be settled to claim to be at home, to be 'native'? How long can one be gone before one loses the right to reclaim indigeneity? Or is it about attitude to the land, to the plants and to the wholeness of creation? What would you say to me or to the OWS if they ask you, one Nishanaabe, how should WE think about this, should we 'go home' and where would that be?

  46. Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us. utah wholesale diamonds


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