Here be dragons.

no hay puentes,
se hace puentes al andar.
– Gloria Anzaldúa
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Posts tagged "language"

Mayda del Valle - “Tongue Tactics”

For anyone who was ever told that the way that they speak isn’t proper.


The teachers cut off their tongues
in the morning;
the language hanged
from their necks.

The graduate rendered silent;
each belted child
another native word hidden
behind a layer of oppression.

Sgath na teagasgairean ar teangan
‘sa mhaidinn;
a’ chàinnt chrochta
air barr ar n-amhaich. 

An neach-ceuma na thost;
Bu gach clann shàraichte
facal dùthchasach eile na chaillte
fo fòirneart. 

Counting 1-10 in Tuscarora.

(You notice I use the term American Indian rather than Native American or Native indigenous people or Amerindian when referring to my people.) There has been some controversy about such terms, and frankly, at this point, I find it absurd. Primarily it seems that American Indian is being rejected as European in origin - which is true. But all the above terms are European in origin; the only non-European way is to speak of Lakota - or, more precisely, of Oglala, Brule, et. - and of the Dineh, the Miccousukee, and all the rest of the several hundred correct tribal names.
(There is also some confusion about the word Indian , a mistaken belief that it refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus called the tribal people he met “Indio,” from the Italian in dio , meaning “in God.”)
Russell Means, on being Indian. (via leechesareforsuckers)

(via dirtyrezkid)

I also was not a big fan of the choice of the word "occupy" for the campaign, but knowing what was meant, and knowing that we do agree about the basic issues, has helped me to reinvent another connotation for it, one that I can be proud of. I don't know if that will help you, but I thought it might. Aside from that, just practically speaking, it'd be difficult to rebrand the movement at this point and I understand why people think we should rally under the same banner. All the best, - Ari
jalwhite jalwhite Said:

I’d argue that the word “occupy” hasn’t been reinvented. I think it still means to take up space. I do think that there are now a set of ideas attached to the word but I actually think that if you poll people at any of these protests, most would tell you that they are ‘reclaiming’ space that ‘belongs’ to rightfully to ‘the people’. Ironic for obvious reasons.

I would genuinely like to hear about other definitions of “Occupy” because I hadn’t yet heard anyone say that the word was being redefined through the protests and other actions.

I also think that for me as an Indigenous woman, it is not in my best interest to reinvent the concept of occupation. I’d rather address the original issue of occupation - the colonization of the Americas and its long lasting impact. Everyday, the US government fails to live up to its promises to Indigenous communities. Every single day.

I think citizens of the US, including those at Occupy, are generally very ignorant to the self-determination struggles of Indigenous peoples.  This is partially because Indigenous peoples are made to be invisible in the US. It comes from all fronts. Our schools teach children a grossly inaccurate American mythology. The use of past tense language when discussing Indigenous cultures - as though we have all gone extinct - only furthers the damage. The US government has intentionally discouraged people from identifying as Indigenous and made it incredibly difficult for those that would identify ‘legally’ as such. What other groups in the US go through as much to ‘legally’ claim their heritage? All because to truly learn/teach the real history and to acknowledge the living communities would be to admit responsibility.  This invisibility is what allows non-Indigenous people to not think about our struggles when they choose to build a movement and brand it under the name “Occupy”.

I agree with you, at this point, a successful re-branding of the is unlikely. I’m very curious to see how the Boston group goes about this. But this is also the source of my frustration. I need there to be an acknowledgement  (accompanied by real action and commitment) that Indigenous people and their causes were not of concern to the organizers and participants of Occupy unless they happened to be the same causes that those same organizers and participants were concerned with.

And to clarify - I do understand the financial focus of Occupy. For those that argue that conversations about decolonizing the language of the movement etc. derail the group from achieving its goals, I ask, what kind of movement dedicated to ending class warfare ignores the those that struggle most? Ignores the reasons why they struggle most?

There was no acknowledgment of- no apparent awareness of - and no concern for what the impact of using a word like “Occupation” would have on Indigenous communities. Some hear the word decolonization and assume we’re talking about putting people on ships and sending them “back to where they came from”. That’s an easy way to write us off as being ‘unreasonable’. What I think people are missing is that decolonization benefits all marginalized people - the only thing to be lost is unearned privilege.

I want this movement to be successful. I am still very inspired by the work that I’ve seen and some of the people that I’ve had the chance to dialogue with - particularly the youth. Like I said in my previous post, I’m eternally hopeful for us. I’m hopeful for us as a ragtag group of people that want more from their government and from the financial sector.

But I also know that no successful social movement in history became successful without growing pains and without thoughtful critique. We still have miles to go.

All the best to you as well - jillian