Tag Archives: ecology

Kwetlal Against Colonialism: A Summary

This is Corey Snelgrove’s summary of his MA Thesis, drawing connections between environmentalism, colonization, and what he calls “settler stewardship”–settlers’ ways of knowing and relating to the land perpetuate and reify settler colonialism. All of this is grounded on Lekwungen Territory, in “Victoria” where he did his MA, and he also gestures towards productive alternatives where settlers are taking leadership from indigenous peoples and supporting indigenous relationships to land, worked through his participation in the Community Toolshed here:
“This orientation marks a difference between the Tool Shed and settler stewardship, and this difference is shared by many of those participating in the Tool Shed. For example, discussions with Community Tool Shed participants reveals a recognition of the entanglement between colonization and the environment. Participants also recognize the different role for non-Lekwungen peoples than Lekwungen peoples in engagements with the land, such as removal of invasive species versus the harvesting of camas. Additionally, participants do not seek to absolve themselves from colonization. Rather, they often trace their involvement to their implication in colonization.”

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notes on a bioregional decolonization

Really thought-provoking and nuanced perspective on decolonizing bioregionalism: “For every thread in the fabric of colonialism, there is a story of resistance to be told. For every lie told by the civilizers, there is a truth to be told. For every place that has been decimated through industry and agriculture, there is still possible a good way to live there; and this way is kept alive in the stories of that particular place, the Indigenous Knowledge so viciously and systematically attacked by the colonizers. And each of us as an individual is a living story, connected to place(s) and ancestors, whose stories formed the world we live in today. Our identities are not static. Our stories evolve and our cultures evolve, as Cascadia herself rises in fire and falls into the sea. All of our stories need to be told, and in a way that empowers us in our responsibilities, not as a set of evasions or “settler moves to innocence5.” Telling our stories as our identities moves us beyond the dualism of guilt or innocence, denying neither, while illuminating our responsibilities as individuals and as Peoples in this life. (I reject the guilt-ridden associations of the word “responsibility” and embrace response-ability as the antidote to resignation and disempowerment)”

Míle Gaiscíoch

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The lands and waters of the Northeast Pacific Rim are a colony.  This was not always so.  Colonization began in the late 18th century and has continued unabated to the present day, as the centralization of power continues to be concentrated into a disembodied abstraction called Capital.  Prior to colonization, power was balanced throughout the many Nations here, each with their own decentralized network of autonomous clans, bands, villages, and families.  At that time, the epistemological separation between the Land and the People was contradictory to the cultures here, and it was exactly this division that the colonizers came here to enact in order to replace laws of relationship and reciprocity with resource extraction to feed the growth of Capital.  This process has turned living communities into dead commodities through the imposition of a culture of occupation1, and despite the many successful acts of defense and restoration…

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Matt Soltys interviewed by Kelly Reinhardt

Matt Soltys ran a radio show for a number of years called Healing the Earth Radio, which made connections between capitalism, settler colonialism, the prison industrial complex, patriarchy, and other political struggles that are often left out of ecological politics or environmentalism.  The interviews are archived on his website, and they are really great.  He recently published a book called Tangled Roots, which includes some of the most significant interviews he did over the course of his radio show.  I highly recommend this book; these interviews are really amazing and it’s rare to see such a wide diversity of voices and topics discussed, with lots of connections and resonances between them.  I think this is one of the most important resources for anyone thinking about ecology and environmentalism in North America.

In an interview with Kelly Reinhardt, Matt Soltys discusses how he became involved in struggles around ecology, indigenous solidarity, and decolonization, among other things.  He talks about how he draws strength and inspiration from nature and spends time listening to the land and conversing with other species, and he explains his efforts to unlearn Western, scientific ways of thinking and perceiving the world.  The interview is from 2008, but it’s still relevant today.  Check it out, and buy his book.

Below is the transcription:

(0:00 – 0:56) intro

(0:57 – 1:08) … You do good work with community radio… tell me a bit about that.

(1:09 – 1:49) … trying to make connections between ecological and political issues like power and colonialism… touching on issues of healing

(1:50 –  1:52) How did you come to that way of thinking?

(1:53 – 2:36) … not letting school beat it out of me… too many environmentalists not wanting to make connections between militaristic uses of the earth, weather warfare and genocide, stolen land… we’re not gonna be doing anything effective if we’re just talking about environmental issues or just talking about political issues

(2:37 – 2:46) … when you first started becoming concerned about things around you, what kind of effect did that have on you and your relationships…?

(2:47 – 3:30)  it’s a really good feeling to be connected to struggles that go back thousands of years and know that there is a long history of people being proud of resisting and standing up for something that really means something.

(3:31 – 3:37) … How are you able to maintain such a positive outlook…?

(3:38 – 5:57) … it’s overwhelming sometimes… the grief builds up… what’s kept me strongest and sane has been a strong connection with nature.

(5:58 – 6:41) you’ve identified a couple of key things… meaningful work and a connection to nature are very positive forces in ones life. What kind of advice would you give for people who just can’t access the positive work or a positive environment?

(6:42 – 7:45) … something as simple as feeling the pulse of our heart and breathing deep, knowing that each single breath connects us to each tree transpiring oxygen for us to breath

(7:46 – 8:12) … you came to these insights, whether it’s practical, intuitive, training… seems you are quite comfortable with your positions… feeling with the heart rather than thinking with (the brain)

(8:13 – 9:04) … most of my insights have come from spending a lot of time by myself outside…

(9:05 – 9:12) Where’s your secong favorite natural spot?

(9:13 – 9:23) … anywhere along a riverbank…

(9:24 – 9:32) when you’re communing with nature do you feel it’s reciprocal?

(9:33 – 10:53) certainly! … a river is happy to have someone sit by them or a tree would love to be touched just like a human loves to be touched.

(10:54 – 10:58) …tell us where people can plug in to some of your media work?

(10:59 – 11:22) resistanceisfertile.ca … and it is fertile, it certainly isn’t futile.