I want to thank Russell Diabo for the most recent edition of the First Nations Strategic Bulletin and the raising of the critical issue contained in the phrase "Choosing A Path: Self Determination or Re-Colonization". Ever sine the first UN/NGO conference on Indigenous nations and peoples in 1977 there has been a long simmering tension that is reflected in this phrase. It is a tension that exists between the positions taken by Indigenous nationalists and what I term "Indigenous accommodationists" - those who are arguing with the settlers to be more accommodating to our presence and rights but want to stay within some sort of settler defined framework.
This tension has become ever more pronounced with the inclusion of Indigenous peoples from other regions. One of the defining differences is that we have treaties throughout North America where in most parts of the rest of the world there are none. Another difference arises in the fact that many so-called Indigenous peoples - particularly from Africa and Asia - come from countries that are no longer colonies or settler states such as we have in North America. That struggle is very different from ours and the origin of the issues lies in the fact that they liberated or de-colonized the colonial imposed countries that have nothing to do with the original nations in those regions. No effort has been made to re-constitute the original nations so what exists is an Indigenous imposed re-colonization of the territory mostly to the benefit of the majority Indigenous within those colonial boundaries. Definitely a lesson we need to learn and a trap we need to avoid.
I have watched a steady eroding of the Indigenous nationalist position over the years. This erosion has been insidious because of the various ways it occurs. First, there is the representation of Indigenous nation issues by organizations and not the nations themselves. Nation voices have been methodically and systematically diminished by the actions of organizations and individuals purporting to be acting on behalf of nations.
The second, and even more insidious erosion, has been political correctness. "Unity" and "solidarity" have become the saboteurs of Indigenous nationalism because nationalist are all too often having to give up key positions and principles for the sake of unity and/or solidarity with non-nationalists. The tyranny of "being united" or "showing a common front" has cost the efforts of nationalists dearly. Precious time has been lost hammering out accommodations and concessions with the non-nationalists that ultimately do not advance a nationalist agenda or the liberation of our nations.
We've reached a point where we need to choose a path, and be clear about the choice we make. We've been shown this in our prophecies and teachings such as those shared by the Hopi or the Two Row Wampum. This needs to be sorted out in North America where the tension is most pronounced. If one want to continue to beseech the settlers and the international system to be more accommodating of the presence of Indigenous peoples, fine. But those who choose that path need not stand in the way of those who choose a national liberation path. Those who want enhanced minority, linguistic, religious or cultural rights with a framework of Indigeneity, fine. But do not denigrate the positions and actions of those who are pursuing a path of sovereignty and quit asking us to join a false unity that requires the setting aside of the national liberation agenda.