Indians Counter Occupy Wall Street Movement With Decolonize Wall Street
The Occupy Wall Street movement has taken root across the nation. Organizers say protestors are drawing attention to the 1% of the population who have destroyed the country and its values through greed.
While many people in Indian Country can sympathize with the protestors' claims, there is also some growing criticism for the idea behind its name, which overlooks the first occupants of the Wall Street area. This has given rise to the response from Native bloggers and activists to not Occupy Wall Street but Decolonize Wall Street.
"The 'OCCUPY WALL STREET' slogan has gone viral and international now. From the protests on the streets of WALL STREET in the name of 'ending capitalism'—organizers, protestors, and activists have been encouraged to 'occupy' different places that symbolize greed and power. There’s just one problem: THE UNITED STATES IS ALREADY BEING OCCUPIED. THIS IS INDIGENOUS LAND. And it’s been occupied for quite some time now," stated Jessica Danforth (then Jessica Yee), Mohawk, the executive director for The Native Youth Sexual Health Network, in a blog post originally posted on Racialicious.
"I also need to mention that New York City is Haudenosaunee territory and home to many other First Nations, " Danforth wrote.
Still, Danforth clarifies that she supports the mission and integrity of Occupy Wall Street. "I’m not against ending capitalism and I’m not against people organizing to hold big corporations accountable for the extreme damage they are causing," Danforth wrote. "Yes, we need to end globalization. What I am saying is that I have all kinds of problems when to get to 'ending capitalism' we step on other people’s rights—and in this case erode Indigenous rights—to make the point."
I hope you 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.
The blog People of Color details the history of the occupation of Wall Street, in which enslaved African peoples constructed the wall "that barricaded the land white men had seized from native peoples."