Occupy Denver Hears Native Concerns
With spring’s approach, Occupy Denver is renewing its plans to affront the corporate state and economic inequity after being driven by police in November from a downtown park where members were camped.
As part of its effort to build support the Occupy movement is reaching out to Indigenous groups that feel they have been marginalized by Occupy, said some Native attendees of an Indigenous Resistance meeting February 21. They reiterated the oft-repeated reminder that North America has been occupied since at least 1492.
“You don’t feel like you really belong there (at an Occupy general assembly),” said Robert Chanate, Kiowa, director of the nonprofit Indigenous Training Resource Center and a columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network. “With Occupy, it didn’t really seem like it was a place for us.”
Citing local resistance to the XL Pipeline, Chanate said, “We can reach out to people like us, or we’ll continue what we’re doing. We have other support groups out there.”
Glenn Morris, Shawnee, a leader of the American Indian Movement of Colorado (AIM) and a professor of political science at the University of Colorado-Denver, traced the history of Native people’s superior cultures and later oppression on the continent and said that “people have to be open to hearing that Native people have something to offer.”
Morris pointed to an Indigenous platform said to have been adopted in similar form by a number of Occupy cities, including Boston, Oakland, Seattle, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Albuquerque and Durango, Colorado but not by Occupy Wall Street, whose members insisted “We’re not colonizers” although, he noted, “Every one of them was a beneficiary (of colonization).”
Other AIM speakers were Tessa McLean, Anishanaabe; Scott Jacket, Ute Mountain Ute, and Shannon Francis, Hopi/Navajo.
McLean said that at a recent antipollution protest an Occupy member had questioned why AIM was present since “you’re not a socioeconomic group.” But “We have to have a part in it, too,” she said. “We’ve been doing it for a long time.”
Jacket urged collaboration with groups that have similar goals and he noted that “If you want to make a statement, you have to stay there for as long as it takes.”
Francis said she and others are “looking for allies to be advocates for the land,” telling Occupy members “we do need your help.”