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'From Jerusalem to the Grand River, Our Struggles are One': Challenging Canadian and Israeli Settler Colonialism



This article explores the possibilities and histories of indigenous solidarity struggles against the settler colonial states of Canada and Israel. Throughout this work, we examine activist and political movements from Canada that make connections between the struggles of indigenous peoples in Canada and Palestine. We ask: In light of efforts to usurp indigenous identities in the service of settler colonial states, how do Palestine activists in Canada create lines of solidarity with indigenous peoples? And how can we foster global solidarity with Palestinians that are attuned to local native struggles for sovereignty and self determination? We attempt to address these questions by utilising a comparative framework that addresses the gendered and racialised aspects of the settler colonial projects of Canada and Israel.
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Settler Colonial Studies
ISSN: 2201-473X (Print) 1838-0743 (Online) Journal homepage:
‘From Jerusalem to the Grand River, Our Struggles
are One’: Challenging Canadian and Israeli Settler
Mike Krebs & Dana M. Olwan
To cite this article: Mike Krebs & Dana M. Olwan (2012) ‘From Jerusalem to the Grand River, Our
Struggles are One’: Challenging Canadian and Israeli Settler Colonialism, Settler Colonial Studies,
2:2, 138-164, DOI: 10.1080/2201473X.2012.10648846
To link to this article:
Copyright Settler Colonial Studies
Published online: 28 Feb 2013.
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‘From Jerusalem to the Grand
River, Our Struggles are One’:
Challenging Canadian and
Israeli Settler Colonialism
This article explores the possibilities and histories of indigenous
solidarity struggles against the settler colonial states of Canada and
Israel. Throughout this work, we examine activist and political
movements from Canada that make connections between the struggles
of indigenous peoples in Canada and Palestine. We ask: In light of efforts
to usurp indigenous identities in the service of settler colonial states,
how do Palestine activists in Canada create lines of solidarity with
indigenous peoples? And how can we foster global solidarity with
Palestinians that are attuned to local native struggles for sovereignty and
self determination? We attempt to address these questions by utilising a
comparative framework that addresses the gendered and racialised
aspects of the settler colonial projects of Canada and Israel.
In 2005, Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First
Nations in Canada, and Ed Morgan, founding National Chair of the
Canadian Academic Friends of Israel, co-authored an opinion piece
entitled ‘Aboriginals, Jews Stand Together’. Published in the
Canadian daily, The Globe and Mail, and circulated widely through the
internet, the article redresses the controversy surrounding the anti-
Semitic statements made by David Ahenakew, former national chief
of the Assembly of First Nations.1 Throughout the piece, the authors
offer examples of solidarity and alliance that challenge the
perception of a ‘negative’ relationship between aboriginal and Jewish
communities in Canada.2 While issuing a strong condemnation of
racism and anti-Semitism, Fontaine and Morgan emphasise the
similar histories of dispossession and dispersal between Jewish and
aboriginal people. In order to strengthen alliances and solidarities
amongst the two communities, the authors suggest ‘exploring the
possibility of shared study missions, both to the state of Israel and to
First Nations communities in Canada’.3
Shortly after the publication of this article, a group of native
men and women traveled to Israel from Canada on a trip funded by
the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC). In a heavily distributed media
release that boasted about the significance of the mission, the CJC
highlighted the ‘educational’ aspect of this trip and listed some of
the planned excursions to cultural, religious, and historical sites in
Israel. The trip also included a meeting with Moshe Kastav, former
president of Israel, and Donald Sinclair, Canada’s ambassador to
Israel at that time.4 In their joint statement to the press, Fontaine
and Morgan emphasised the importance of aboriginal and Jewish
resilience in the face of racist threats. Building on the claim to
shared histories, the official media release extended Fontaine and
Morgan’s political call for affinity between Jewish and native
communities living in Canada in order to construct a naturalised
relationship of alliance between natives and ‘the people of Israel’.
This article opens with a discussion of the AFN visit in order to
explore how settler colonial states usurp indigenous identities. We
are invested in exploring the possibilities and histories of indigenous
solidarity struggles against the settler colonial states of Canada and
Israel and in ongoing efforts to reclaim indigeneity as a site of mutual
struggle and ongoing solidarity. Throughout this work, we examine
activist and political movements from Canada that make the
connection between the struggles of indigenous peoples there and in
Palestine.5 In our political desire to connect solidarity struggles
between indigenous peoples, we ask: How do Palestine activists in
Canada create lines of solidarity with indigenous peoples? How can
we foster global solidarity with the Palestinian people while
addressing native struggles for sovereignty and self determination?
We ask these questions while addressing the gendered and racialised
aspects of the Israeli and Canadian settler colonial projects.
The 2006 visit to Israel by the Assembly of First Nations took place
against an erased backdrop of normalised Israeli violence against the
Palestinian people. It was a political coup for Zionism in Canada,
Israel, and beyond. In an article published in the Israeli newspaper,
The Jersualem Post, Gil Zobar highlighted the significance of the visit,
writing that it fostered a ‘common language’ and encouraged
‘dialogue’ between the ‘18 aboriginal leaders’ and the Israeli state.
On the question of the Israeli occupation, Zobar asserts: ‘The group
largely refrained from discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’,
even though the aboriginal leaders were ‘intrigued by the plight of
the Beduin [sic]’.6 Several years after the visit, the Israeli embassy in
Ottawa continues to dedicate a page on its website to celebrate the
alliances and solidarities between native people and the Israeli state
which such visits inevitably suggest and seek to foster.7
Marketed as cultural visits that are based on the assumption of
natural solidarity between native peoples and Israelis, these
developments make clear how these alliances are secured at the
expense of indigenous peoples and their struggles against settler
colonial states. In the various interviews given after the visit, for
example, Phil Fontaine constantly refuted the connection between
natives and Palestinians, arguing, instead, that it is with Jewish
people and the Israeli state that native peoples have most in
common. In one interview, he states the following: ‘The purpose of
our trip was not to delve into the Palestinian situation. We came here
to learn about the Jewish experience and witness very directly the
transition of this country [… Jewish People have] secured their
homeland against tremendous odds’.8 While these statements flip
the categories of settler and colonial, coloniser and colonised, they
also operate by obscuring the material and historical legacies of
colonialism in both Turtle Island and Palestine. Moreover, these
visits provide important opportunities for both the Canadian and
Israeli states to extend the logics and powers of settler colonial
Although its success was claimed and celebrated in Canadian
media and on Zionist websites, this visit garnered strong opposition
and negative responses from pro-Palestine solidarity activists and
native allies in Canada. To understand this opposition, one needs to
contextualise the extent of Israeli occupation and systemic
colonisation in the year 2006 when this visit took place. In its
summary of annual statistics for the year 2006, B’Tselem, the Israeli
Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories,
reported that between January 2006 and December 27, 2006 Israeli
forces had killed 660 Palestinians, demolished a total of 334 homes
in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, held 9,075 Palestinians in custody,
including 345 minors, and that it maintained 54 permanent
checkpoints and 160 ‘flying checkpoints’. Commenting on the issue
of restrictions of movement in the West Bank and Gaza, the report
also noted that Israel had erected various barriers, dirt piles, and
trenches that impeded Palestinian movement.9 In light of this context
of the deepened colonisation of Palestine, a context which the AFN
leaders refused to acknowledge or witness, it is not surprising that
Phil Fontaine’s remarks and the AFN’s visit have been so heavily
criticised by indigenous and Palestinian activists engaged in
solidarity work between indigenous peoples.
In an ‘Open Letter’ issued to the Assembly of First Nations
(AFN) by Hanna Kawas of the Canada Palestine Association (CPA)
that was signed by over thirty organisations across Canada, the CPA
stated the following: ‘We are saddened, hurt and shocked by the visit
of a delegation of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to Israel’.
Strongly worded and impassioned, the letter makes direct references
to the settler colonial projects that led to the establishment of
Canada and Israel. It invokes long and shared histories of genocide,
ethnic cleansing, and land theft and provides the ‘chiefs, elders, and
leaders of the Assembly of the First Nations’ a very explicit account
of the history of the Zionist movement and its European settler
colonial predecessor. The letter delivers an unequivocal moral
condemnation of this visit and ends with the cautionary note that
‘indigenous peoples must never be a party to genocide’ against any
‘oppressed people’.10
In a similar vein, influential native author Lee Maracle’s ‘On
the AFN Visit to Palestine’ speaks of the author’s ‘shame and
chagrin’ at the visit. Maracle questions the AFN leaders on their
desire to share ‘language and culture’ and asks: ‘Just exactly what
values is the AFN sharing?’ Likening the act of visiting Israel to
placing a wreath on apartheid South Africa’s President Balthazar
Johannes Vorster’s grave or joining the Custer Committee to
celebrate the massacres of native people at Wounded Knee,
Maracle’s letter offers a damning critique of the visit from an
indigenous perspective. Leaving no doubt about her support of
Palestinians and their struggles, Maracle ends her letter with the
The traditional values we hold dear are freedom, the end
of oppression and justice for all…We want to assure the
‘Indians of the middle east’ that we will continue this
support despite the bizarre behaviour of the AFN
In her writing, Maracle makes a clear link between fighting apartheid
in South Africa and Palestine and the liberation and self-
determination of native people. More than that, her letter names
Palestinians as the ‘Indians of the Middle East’, thus extending
indigeneity as a site of solidarity, commonality, and shared struggle.
Her letter thus echoes the sentiment raised in the CPA letter, as they
both invoke settler colonialism as a paradigm for linking indigenous
peoples from one context to another.
What is striking about such statements is the ways in which
indigeneity becomes a principal tenet of solidarity. Such accounts
both limit and extend what it means to be indigenous. To be
indigenous, they claim, is to stand in solidarity with other indigenous
peoples. It is to resist their occupations and the conditions of
injustice to which they are subjected. It is to recognise, understand,
and resist settler colonialism in its various manifestations and to
make historical links between its interconnected racial logics. It is to
refuse to support, enable, or sanction settler colonialisms in any
context. It is precisely through an appeal to this shared history of
struggle and indigeneity, an appeal that the AFN’s visit undercut,
that solidarity between indigenous peoples is enacted in these
In order to explore our interest in solidarity movements and struggles
between Turtle Island and Palestine, we will define what we mean by
settler colonialism. In an article on the long histories of U.S. and
Israeli colonialisms, David Lloyd and Laura Pulido define settler
colonialism in this way:
Settler colonialism is the practice of conquering land
and then populating it with the victorious people, the
settlers. Such a population shift may be triggered by the
need for space for an expanding population, or it may be
prompted by the need to assert economic and political
control in the new territory; regardless, it results in the
dispossession and often the extermination of large parts
of ‘native’ populations and the subsequent cultural,
economic, and political subordination of the
Lloyd and Pulido’s definition helps provide a framework for
understanding how settler colonialism functions in various contexts.
It is important to identify the systemic and interconnected nature
and histories of the practices of settler colonialism that work to erase
native populations and make room for settlers. While it dispossesses
native peoples if their lands, it simultaneously asserts ‘a right of
possession, legitimated by appeals to manifest destiny, divine
dispensation, or merely a civilizing mission’, and enacted through
force and violence.13
We find this definition helpful for understanding how settler
colonialism functions and for analyzing how this complex process
shapes our experiences as indigenous peoples. Yet this definition
ignores how the process of settler colonialism is both gendered and
sexualised and that it is reproduced along the interconnected axes of
gender, race, sexuality, and class. In what follows, we will provide
some general similarities between the settler colonial projects of
Canada and Israel while recognising that settler colonialism does not
operate independently of the histories and legacies of genocide,
gendered and sexual violence, cultural appropriation, and land
confiscation. While we focus on the similarities of the settler colonial
projects of Canada and Israel, we do not seek to underplay the
differences or to suggest that settler colonialism articulates itself in
identical ways from one context to another.
The first and defining aspect of both Canadian and Israeli
settler colonialism is the displacement of indigenous people from
their land, and theft of that land and all its possible resources for the
use and benefit of the settler population.14 In the case of Canada,
this was done through the establishment of the reserve system. In
most of what is now ‘Canada’ the British and the Canadian
governments established treaties to demonstrate that they had
seized sovereign control over the lands of indigenous people by
diplomatic means and with the ‘consent’ of indigenous people.
However, there are also areas such as the majority of the province of
British Columbia where the colonisation of indigenous lands and the
establishment of reserves took place with very few treaties. This is
one of the ways in which the process of colonising indigenous land by
the Canadian government and corporations continues. In British
Columbia, for example, ‘modern day’ treaties are settled through the
permanent extinguishment of inherent aboriginal land rights in
exchange for fee-simple reserve lands.15
Israel’s colonisation of Palestine also proceeds crucially
through land theft. Zionist settlement began in earnest during the
first decades of the 20th century, a process culminating with the
1948 Nakba (the Arabic word for ‘catastrophe’) which saw the
displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians from what then became
the state of Israel. This trajectory of land theft deepened after 1967
with the expansion of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied
territories, which continues in the present and includes
interconnected and highly-developed policies of land confiscation,
annexation, alteration, and fragmentation.16 In 2001, this process of
‘spatial regulation’, as John Collins labels it, ‘became increasingly
sophisticated and calibrated’. One of its most ‘visible’ markers is the
creation of the apartheid wall which ‘[snakes] into the West Bank in
order to effect a unilateral annexation of the territory occupied by
Israeli settlement colonies’.17 In both Palestine and Canada,
struggles against settler colonialism continue to be defined by
ongoing settler land appropriations and thefts.
Importantly, land theft from indigenous communities often was
secured through the terrorising of indigenous girls and women and
their subjection to the technologies of sexual harassment,
intimidation, punishment, and rape. The rape and murder of
indigenous women in Canada was part and parcel of colonialism and
was a ‘tool of genocide’. In her crucial work on gendered and colonial
violence, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide,
Andrea Smith explores how colonialism was enacted and maintained
through regimes of sexual violence. Smith’s work demonstrates that
acts of gendered and sexual violence are not singular, coincidental,
or exceptional occurrences in the logics and actions of settler
colonial states. They are, instead, constitutive and foundational
aspects of settler power, control, and domination that work hand-in-
hand with colonial practices of land theft, cultural and linguistic
genocide, environmental racism, and spiritual appropriation. In her
extensive writing on gendered violence as a tool of conquest and
domination, Smith reminds readers that ‘It is through sexual violence
that a colonizing group attempts to render a colonized people as
inherently rapable, their lands inherently invadable, and their
resources inherently extractable’.18
In Canada, colonial power was maintained through both
explicit and implicit acts of sexual and gendered violence against
indigenous peoples. Colonial domination depended upon a legacy of
past and ongoing violence against native men, women, and children
buttressed by discriminatory, racist, and sexist legislations and laws,
collectively known as the “Indian Act.” As various indigenous activists
and scholars have shown, the Indian Act not only structured native
life in Canada but also shaped and delimited it by defining
indigeneity according to ‘Indian status’ and then exerting the power
to assign or revoke it. Writing on the gendered effects of the Indian
Act on native peoples, Bonita Lawrence demonstrates how as early
as 1869 native women who married white men were stripped of
Indian status and band membership through the ‘Gradual
Enfranchisement Act’.19 This law, which was not modified until 1985,
meant that by that time at least 100,000 native women and their
descendants were left without legal status as indigenous persons.
Their subsequent denial of band membership and access to
indigenous lands also for many people resulted in alienation from
native cultures and ways of being.
Cultural genocide in the case of Canada also depended on the
residential schooling system. Through its extensive state networks
and apparatuses, indigenous children were stolen from their families
and cut off from their communities, languages, and cultures. As
various testimonies have revealed, sexual violence against indigenous
children occurred throughout residential schools, with the last school
closing its doors in Canada in 1996.20 And, as the late Patricia
Monture writes, ‘it is notable, that as the prominence of the
residential schools began to decline, the child welfare system began
to scoop more and more aboriginal children’.21 Today, the
percentage of indigenous children in child welfare systems ranges
from 60% to 78% in some provinces and territories.22
Such examples reveal how cultural genocide is maintained not
only through the use of brute force but also through the application
of egalitarian and liberal conceptions of the law, ostensibly designed
to protect the very subjects it deems dangerous and unworthy or
ones it simultaneously scripts as nonexistent. The move from explicit
to more implicit forms of colonial violence, however, must not
obfuscate the reality that sexual and gendered violence against native
peoples are still practiced in Canada. As Andrea Smith reminds us,
‘while the era of Indian massacres in their more explicit form has
ended in North America, the wholesale rape and mutilation of
indigenous women’s bodies continues’.23 Although they may be less
apparent, with the aid of laws that facilitate land confiscation, denial
of services, and ghettoisation, they also have become more insidious,
less visible, and thus more routinised and pervasive. The case of the
over 580 missing and murdered native women in Canada is evidence
of how the legacy of sexual violence against indigenous women
continues to shape the ways in which indigenous bodies are targeted
for disappearance and death while indigenous experiences of
violence are erased.24
Similarly, in colonised Palestine, land theft was secured not
only by military force but also by laws that sanctioned the terrorising
of indigenous Palestinian girls and women and subjected them to the
technologies of sexual harassment, intimidation, punishment, and
death. This is why acts of gendered and sexual violence often
accompanied the various massacres committed by Israel, including
the massacre of the village of Deir Yassin where at least 300
Palestinian villagers were murdered at gun point by Zionist forces in
1949. In this massacre, Palestinian women were molested, raped,
and then killed. In one example of such gendered and sexualised
violence, the womb of a nine months pregnant Palestinian woman
was cut open before she was murdered. In her study of Palestinian
history, Rosemary Sayigh notes that this act reflects how ‘an atrocity
particularly calculated to horrify’ was used to send a message to
Palestinian men who ‘now had to choose: their country or their
family’.25 The message was simple but with considerable political
consequence. The use of women to break local patriarchal rule and
facilitate the colonisation of lands and peoples of course is not new.
As the anti-colonial psychologist and theorist Frantz Fanon explains,
the targeting and collective punishment of women is ‘a precise
political doctrine’, one that is intended to break the political and
social fabric of a colonised society and diminish its capacity for
Although they now take less explicit forms, tactics of gendered
and sexual violence continue in Palestine today. In addition to
effectively eroding the gendered ties on which Palestinian life has
depended for decades, Israeli colonialism has subjected Palestinian
women to a double patriarchal rule that renders them susceptible to
violence outside and inside their homes. As a report published by the
World Bank states,
Violence in the public sphere – through checkpoints,
body searches, settler violence, and so forth has
intruded into the domestic sphere, and men and women
have had to cope under conditions of tremendous
anxiety and incertitude to ensure family survival.27
While the report addresses the politics of gendered patriarchal
violence in Palestinian households, it also makes clear that private
acts of violence are shaped by public, historical, and political
circumstances created first and foremost by the conditions of Israeli
occupation. These acts include restrictions placed on Palestinian
movement via the building of apartheid walls, the destruction of
livelihoods, the confiscation of lands and natural resources, and the
military prison complex which in 2012 incarcerates, according to
Addammer, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organization, at
least 4,659 Palestinian men, 6 women, 192 Palestinian children – 36
of whom are under the age of 16.28 Together, these interconnected
webs of public and private acts of gendered violence reveal how
Israeli colonialism, subjugation and control are continually secured.
A second crucial tool from the early stages of Canadian settler
colonialism was the control of movement of indigenous people
through what was known as the ‘pass system’.29 Enacted in 1885, it
dictated that indigenous people required written permission from the
local Indian Agent to leave their reserve. This written permit stated
the reasons for moving from one place to another. The pass system
was put into place during the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, and was
justified by the Canadian government as a means by which to
monitor indigenous people who were potentially participating in or
supporting the rebellion. The pass system, though initially described
as a temporary measure by the Canadian government at the time,
was in fact used against indigenous people at least until the 1940s.30
This model of restricting the basic human rights of indigenous people
to mobility within their own lands lives on today in Palestine. This
includes the extensive systems of permits, checkpoints and the
apartheid wall restricting and regulating movement of Palestinians in
the West Bank and East Jerusalem, along with the hermetic siege of
Gaza as the most extreme expression of control over movement from
and within Palestinian reserves.31
Another element of settler colonialism in Canada that has been
perfected by Israel is the use of ‘negotiations’ as a means to
entrench occupation and control of indigenous lands and resources.
To give but one example from Canadian colonial history, when Treaty
7 was negotiated between the Canadian government and
representatives of the Blackfoot confederacy, Tsu Tiina nation, and a
number of Nakoda and Assiniboine communities, the Crown
representatives brought a sizeable contingent of Northwest mounted
police who pointed their cannons directly at the indigenous
encampments and occasionally fired them as a show of force. In an
oral account of the signing of Treaty 7, Stoney Nakoda elder Morley
Twoyoungmen recalls: ‘The chiefs said, “You talk of peace while
there are guns pointing at me. This is not peace, please lay down
your guns”’.32
Besides making indigenous people ‘an offer they couldn’t
refuse’ with this particularly dubious form of peace negotiations,
another colonial approach used by the Canadian government involves
granting of permits or licenses to corporations. These licenses
authorise the exploitation of natural resources from traditional
indigenous territories prior to consulting with or gaining the consent
of local communities. If native communities mount effective
opposition and resistance to such projects, be it by direct action in
the form of blockades or more conventional forms of registering
opposition (band council activity or court cases), the Canadian
government will begin ‘negotiation’ processes or public
consultations. Such processes usually only serve to tie up the
community in directionless negotiations that do not address its
actual demands, while the theft of land and resources continues
One of the most notorious examples of this is that of the
Lubicon Cree, who have been fighting for recognition from the
Canadian government and reserve lands, and against oil and gas
exploitation on their traditional territory, for over a century. The
Lubicon Cree, whose traditional territory is located in Northern
Alberta, were not included in the negotiations of Treaty 8 in 1899,
and as a result the Canadian government never recognised the
limited rights and establishment of reserve lands afforded to
surrounding Cree communities. The Lubicon Cree applied for a land
settlement in 1933, and the Canadian government agreed – after
extensive negotiations – to grant them a reserve in 1939. As of 1952,
however, when the provincial government started granting rights to
conduct oil and gas exploration on Lubicon territory, no agreed-upon
reserve lands had been established. By the 1980s gas and oil were
being extracted from Lubicon territory at an alarming rate. In 1985
the provincial government averaged $1.2 million a day in royalties
earned from the extraction of resources from Lubicon’s traditional
After decades of consultations, judicial inquiries, court
hearings, and a blockade of access roads by the Lubicon, the
provincial government initiated yet another round of negotiations in
1988, which yielded neither a ratified agreement nor a halt to oil and
gas exploitation.34 The last attempt to negotiate a settlement
between the Lubicon and the federal government on territorial rights,
compensation, and royalties for resource extraction ended in 2003
after the federal government withdrew from talks. Throughout this
time and up to the present day, the exploitation of gas and oil
resources by multinational corporations has continually intensified,
and the result has been decades of destruction of Lubicon Cree
lands, health, and traditional way of life.35 In the case of the Lubicon,
and in many other indigenous communities across Canada, this use
of endless negotiations has not only thwarted and circumvented
assertions of rights over traditional lands, but ultimately assisted in
extending the power of the settler colonial society and furthering its
national and corporate interests.
Israel has employed the tactic of negotiations as an extension
of war and settler colonialism with similar success at the expense of
Palestinian aspirations. We can look at ‘Oslo 1’, ‘Oslo 2’, the
‘Roadmap to Peace’, the ‘Annapolis conference’, and other ‘peace
processes’ sponsored by the US, EU, and ‘The Quartet’: in each case,
not only does the Israeli settler project continue in its colonisation,
war, brutality, and murder of Palestinian people in their lands, but
the most basic demands articulated by Palestinians – ending the
occupation, guaranteeing the right of return, granting equal rights for
Palestinian Citizens of Israel are invariably left out of the
negotiations. Writing on the meaning of Oslo for Palestinian
independence, Joseph Massad explains:
What Oslo aimed to do, therefore, was change the very
goal of Palestinian politics from national independence
from Israeli colonialism and occupation to one where
Palestinians become fully dependent for their political
and national survival on Israel and its sponsors in the
interest of peace and security for their occupiers.36
Subsequent negotiations after Oslo also utilised this political model,
producing similar linguistic, national, and international effects.
Displacement of the language of colonialism and occupation among
Palestinians by the language of statehood and recognition effectively
squelched Palestinian resistance, reframed and weakened
Palestinian solidarity movements against Israeli occupation, and
shifted Palestinian attention from civil mobilisations and anti-colonial
struggle to focus, instead, on the promise of statehood.37
A final example we wish to examine here is the ways in which
both Israel and Canada are guilty of the crime of apartheid. The
definition of apartheid as laid out by the Rome Statute can be
applied to Israel.38 The same holds true when comparing Canada and
Israel and their similar but different uses of apartheid as part of their
settler colonial projects. The Rome Statute, the international treaty
which allowed for the establishment of the International Criminal
Court, lists apartheid as a crime against humanity ‘committed in the
context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and
domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups
and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime’. This is
undoubtedly a fitting description of the basic logics of both Israeli
and Canadian settler colonialisms.39
Illustrating the similarities between the settler colonial regimes of
Canada and Israel helps Palestinian solidarity work. The history of
solidarity work against apartheid South Africa undeniably serves to
advance and inform the BDS-centered approach of solidarity work
with Palestine.40 Given, however, that this solidarity work against
settler-colonial Israel is being performed within a ‘fellow’ settler
society, the movement doesn’t necessarily need to reach to an
example as spatially- and temporally-distant as South African
apartheid. Moreover, failing to inform Palestine solidarity work in
Canada with an understanding of native struggles is inherently
detrimental, both to amassing effective support for the Palestinian
struggle and to advancing liberation struggles within Canada for
indigenous and non-indigenous people alike.
An example of how failing to challenge Canadian settler
colonialism can negatively impact Palestine solidarity work appears
in the tendency of groups in Canada to rely on non-Palestinian
speakers when organising local public forums and national tours. The
lack, or at least underrepresentation, of Palestinian voices in
educational work about Israel in Canada leads to solidarity work
being less directly informed by the aspirations of Palestinians
themselves. It is important to note that this phenomenon is
experienced along gendered lines as well. Often, white male allies are
asked to speak on behalf of the Palestinian cause in Canada.
Women’s voices remain few and marginalised. We argue that
questioning this mode of representation is crucial because the lack of
Palestinian voices both reflects and reinforces the normalisation of
settler colonialism through its exclusionary gendered, racialised, and
national logics.
Fortunately, and to the credit of both local indigenous and
Palestinian activists living within Canada, connections between the
two struggles have been articulated at least since the 1970s in ways
that inform political organising. In Vancouver, for example, there was
a working relationship between the Canada Palestine Solidarity
network and the Native Study Group as member groups of the Third
World Peoples Coalition. In recent history, Palestinian solidarity
groups across Canada, including Solidarity for Palestinian Human
Rights (SPHR), Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA), and
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), have worked hard to
establish links between indigenous struggles of Turtle island and
Palestine. Palestinian solidarity activists have also physically
supported various indigenous struggles. This section examines an
example of concrete support in the work of SPHR, CAIA, and Niagara
Palestinian Association, who in 2006 offered material and physical
assistance to Six Nations occupiers during the Haldimand Tract
Reclamation. We interpret this political moment as a key example of
the gendered political of transnational solidarity among indigenous
peoples in the Americas and Palestinians.
The 2006 Haldimand Tract Reclamation
On February 28, 2006 the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy became
involved in a dispute with Henco Industries Ltd. when a group of
native protesters from the Grand River Territory reserve occupied the
construction site. The company had planned to develop Douglas
Creek Estates, a housing development on lands that were part of an
unresolved land claim. Susan M. Hill describes the history of this
land reclamation struggle in this way:
A small group of Six Nations people moved onto a construction
site on land between the contemporary boundaries of the Six Nations
of the Grand River Territory and the town of Caledonia. The land had
been municipally approved for a housing development. But long
before Henco Industries’ suburban vision formed, the land was part
of Haudenosaunee Territory, recognised by the British Crown in the
Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 and the 1701 Albany Treaty. This
parcel and thousands of other acres in the Grand River Territory are
part of land claims clearly articulated to the Crown, in some cases
for over two hundred years. 41
The struggle to reclaim the Six Nation land unfolded into a
long encounter involving the Canadian state, the Ontario Provincial
Police (OPP), the non-indigenous residents of Caledonia, and the
indigenous communities and non-indigenous communities that
joined this struggle. The occupation of the Grand River Territory and
the Six Nations’ opposition to urban sprawl quickly became a
national news story. Various media reported that the Six Nations land
reclamation struggle challenged the authority of the Ontario
government and carried ramifications on indigenous resistance in
North America and beyond.
In an article on the different types of solidarity enacted at the
site of the occupation, Tom Keefer notes:
With the people of Six Nations fighting to regain
ownership of the 950,000 acres of the Haldimand tract
originally granted to them by the British crown in 1784,
the outcome of the struggle at Douglas Creek Estates
has major implications for white settlers, the Canadian
state, the Iroquois Confederacy, and indigenous peoples
throughout North America.42
The Crown’s recognition of the authority and power of the traditional
government of the Grand River Haudenosaunee, including the central
role of the Haudenosaunee clan mothers within the traditional
longhouse system, signalled that the state would have to contend
seriously with land claims and contestations. How it interacted with
this would also have consequences for future encounters with
indigenous struggles in Canada. The land reclamation struggle
intensified on April 20, 2006, when the OPP raided the occupation
site, and attacked, tasered and pepper sprayed protesters. This
attack by state officials was met with resistance from native activists
who eventually drove the OPP off the occupation site and called for
reinforcement and solidarity from native and non native allies.
While providing a longer discussion of the history of this land
reclamation struggle falls beyond the scope of this paper, there are
two important dimensions of this reclamation that concern us here.
The first is the gendered process inherent to both the colonisation of
Haudenosaunee lands and the resistance to settler colonialism posed
by the reclamation of the Haldimand Tract. Second, we use this
moment to speak about the ways in which Palestinian solidarity
activists responded to this call for solidarity and how their response
posed a challenge to the actions of the Canadian state against Six
Nations peoples.
The Role of Indigenous Women in Reclaiming the Land
One of the key aspects of the Canadian colonisation of the
Haudenosaunee people and their lands was the imposition of the
Indian Act band council system by force in 1924, which directly
undermined the status of Haudenosaunee women (and weakened
their society as a whole) by removing the positions of authority they
previously held. A 2008 report by the Six Nations Traditional
Women’s Council Fire And Haudenosaunee FORWARD, submitted to
the United Nations Committee to End All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW), clearly articulates this process:
The Clan mothers traditionally wield great influence in
the well-being of their Clans and Nations [...]. [I]t is to
be a matriarchal society as women are sacred as they
are life givers, are title holders to the land, and that
women instinctively know the price of war. With the
European Contact, their roles were almost diminished
with the genocidal policies of the European oppressive
systems of law, politics, and social inequalities towards
their women. With that, a lot of our men started
practicing inequalities towards our women.43
Rather than viewing the imposition of European patriarchal values as
a by-product or incidental result of the colonisation of the
Haudenosaunee people, the process of undermining the power of
Haudenosaunee women is understood to be inherent to colonisation,
a necessary aspect of imposing Canadian settler colonial rule over
their lands. Further, this passage directly relates the day-to-day
inequalities Haudenosaunee women experience within their own
communities due to the process of colonisation.
Given that the imposition of Canadian settler colonialism was
an inherently gendered process, it is not surprising that the
Haudenosaunee authors of the report also see their project of
resistance to the continued theft of their lands as one where the
empowerment of Haudenosaunee communities starts with, and
depends on, the reassertion of power and decision-making by
Haudenosaunee women:
The governments of Canada do not recognize the Clan
mothers’ legitimate and equal role in traditional politics,
for example in the Six Nations Confederacy which is a
matriarchal society. However, because women are the
traditional leaders, it is women who are leading many of
the current struggles for land rights in Canada. As a
result, women are disproportionately affected by the
police brutality and other forms of repression with which
the state targets these struggles.44
Here the role of Haudenosaunee women are positioned within
struggles against Canadian settler colonialism, not simply as equal
partners alongside indigenous men, but in providing unique
perspectives as indigenous women that enables them to occupy
particular leadership roles. This results in Haudenosaunee women
being disproportionately feared by the Canadian government as a
threat, and become more likely targets of state violence.
The central role of the Clan mothers in the Six Nations
reclamation also disrupts understandings of resistance to settler
colonialism that fail to incorporate a gendered analysis. The Clan
mothers’ roles challenge the commonly held perception of the
‘Native standoff’ as being led by (or exclusively) a male-dominated,
militaristic ‘warrior’ style organisation. In a Toronto Star interview of
one of the spokespeople for the reclamation, the report addresses
how ‘mainstream society misunderstands the term “warrior”’,
associating it with gun-toting males. ‘The warrior spirit is in all of us’,
the spokesperson says. ‘It’s not a male thing. It’s not a female thing.
It’s about love. It’s about harmony’.45
From Six Nations to Palestinian Solidarities
The Six Nations reclamation that started in 2006 is also significant
because of the ways in which connections between Canadian and
Israeli settler-colonialisms were directly highlighted through the
support provided to the reclamation by Palestine solidarity
organisations. On May 3, 2006, the Niagara Palestinian Association
(NPA), a southern-Ontario based coalition, responded to the call for
support from the reclamation organisers by visiting, and later
occupying, the site with indigenous men and women. With them, the
Palestinian solidarity activists brought food and reinforcements to
support the indigenous occupiers. In addition to such assistance, the
group provided Palestinian scarves and a Palestinian flag. This flag
was presented to ‘Onkwehonweh clan mothers, chiefs, braves and
[the] solidarity community who are camped out at the blockade’.46
Shortly after, the Palestinian flag was raised on the same pole below
a Mohawk flag. The symbolic significance of this moment of
solidarity was enormous in that it showcased how indigenous peoples
and Palestinian solidarity activists in Canada supported each other
and that their struggles are aligned.
Speaking at an event entitled ‘The Politics of Six Nations-
Palestinian Alliances’ held in 2008 at McMaster University, Jamilla
Ghaddar, former member of SPHR and one of the occupiers at the
site, recounted her feelings of pride at this display of solidarity:
One of the proudest moments in the lives of the
McMaster SPHR and of my life and the Palestinian
solidarity movement was the day the Palestinian flag
was raised over the reclamation site. That day the
Niagara Palestinian Association along with the
Haudenosaunee people hoisted and raised the
Palestinian flag along side the flag of Haudenosaunee…
In the months following, through cold and mud,
moments of exhaustion and worry, we would raise our
eyes to the swaying of the flags and think, we are one,
and the winds carry our colours together from Jerusalem
to the Grand River […] Our struggles are one.47
As an Arab woman witness, leader, supporter, and active participant
who put her body on the line at the Six Nations reclamation site,
Ghaddar reveals the importance of solidarity in thoughts, deeds,
gestures and actions. Her moving words have consequence for settler
colonial states and our solidarity struggles against them. By
connecting the struggles of indigenous people at the Six Nations
reclamation site with those of Palestinians, Ghaddar and others
challenge the assumption of the Canadian state’s innocence and link
its actions to those of other settler colonial projects at a global level.
The example we discuss above does not contest that Palestinian
organising in Canada has a long way to go by way of supporting
indigenous struggles and forming real alliances that do not mimic or
reproduce settler colonial relationships between colonisers and the
colonised. There is still some resistance to making explicit
connections between these struggles within Palestine solidarity
circles in Canada. It is also our view that Canadian Palestinians have
not yet confronted their own relationship to settlement in Canada
and have not yet clarified how they position themselves in relation to
the European settler project here.48
Although some Palestine solidarity organisations in Canada
have made efforts to employ a comparative analysis of settler
colonialism when fighting Israeli apartheid and have fostered
alliances with indigenous peoples, these efforts have not always been
successful. For example, it is now common to invite indigenous allies
to speak at Palestine events. While we believe this is an important
and necessary turn, we are concerned that the inclusion of
indigenous spokespersons at Palestine solidarity events can, at
times, be tokenistic. What does it mean to issue such invitations and
what material consequences do they have on the organisational
structures of Palestine solidarity efforts in Canada? Do the current
directions and initiatives incorporate a gendered analysis of
Canadian or Israeli settler colonialism? Are these inclusions and
invitations accompanied with serious analytic and structural changes
in Palestinian solidarity organising? These questions are complex and
do not have singular answers. It is our view that, although in many
ways Palestinian solidarity in Canada has attempted to forge
important and necessary alliances with local indigenous struggles, it
has done so unevenly and to varying degrees of success. These
alliances need to be improved and deepened, because we believe
that solidarity between indigenous and Palestinian struggles is
paramount for challenging the settler colonial states of Canada and
Throughout this article, we have attempted to state the
importance of a comparative framework for indigenous struggles
from Turtle Island to Palestine. We have argued that Palestine
solidarity work in Canada has, to some extent, recognised the
importance of forging connections and alliances and between
indigenous struggles of Turtle Island and Palestine. We have
provided a few examples of solidarity to show how these moments
are part of long and continuing efforts to create meaningful and
sustainable solidarities between indigenous peoples. We are aware
that these alliances must be meaningful, because we know that
‘weak, fractured groups trading hollow noises about each other’s
pain will not move us forward’.49 Our motivation in writing this piece
is to further the conversation between solidarity activists about the
importance of centering indigenous alliances.
To be effective, this conversation must begin by asking difficult
questions about the gendered and racialised politics of current
solidarity efforts. An example of how this conversation can begin is
the 2011 visit to Palestine by a delegation of Indigenous and women-
of-colour feminists who went to Palestine to witness Israeli
colonialism and stand in solidarity with Palestinian men, women, and
children. In their commentary on what they witnessed, the authors
drew links between life in Jim Crow South, apartheid South Africa,
and Indian reservations in the United States. The group also issued a
statement expressing their support for the Palestinian call for
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).50 The group’s visit, which
included forming alliances with women academics and women’s
organisations throughout Palestine, signals an important shift in
women-of-colour and native feminist organising in the academy.
Since the issuance of their call, the women activists and academics
have organised and participated in speaking tours across American
university campuses and at major feminist conferences, including the
National Women Studies Association Convention held in Atlanta in
November 2011. They have raised awareness about the Palestinian
cause and reiterated their commitment to the principles of BDS.
In explaining the reasons behind her joining this delegation,
Waziyatawin, a Dakota scholar and activist currently based in
Canada, writes,
I traveled with the delegation as an Indigenous woman
living under US occupation seeking to understand how
another Indigenous population struggled under settler
colonialism. Sometimes it takes seeing the suffering of
others to realise the full magnitude of our suffering.51
Waziyatawin demonstrates the power and significance of indigenous
solidarities against settler colonialisms. Her visit to Palestine puts
into motion a politics of solidarity attuned to the complexities of
race, gender, citizenship and belonging. Waziyatawin’s comments
reveal how a comparative approach to settler colonialism can enable
indigenous people to better understand their own struggles. Her
partaking in this solidarity visit is instructive as it reminds us of the
importance of fighting settler colonialisms wherever they exist and
stands in stark contrast to the AFN visit we discuss at the beginning
of this paper. For us, this form of indigenous solidarity is crucial
because it enacts both a comparative gendered analysis of settler
colonialism and contests the racialised logics and politics of
solidarity efforts. It is therefore a critical example of international
solidarity and resistance between indigenous people.
Commenting on the significance of Six Nations reclamation
struggle, Jamilla Ghaddar has said, ‘A victory for the American
Indians of Palestine is a victory for the Palestinians of North America,
and a victory for the Palestinians of North America is a victory for the
American Indians of Palestine’.52 We want to celebrate these hard
earned victories in the Canadian context. We want to join hands in
struggle. But we do not want this at the expense of asking difficult
questions of one another or demanding respect, recognition, and
reciprocity. We want to build solidarity without reproducing and
enacting the same colonial logics and asymmetric relationships of
power on which settler colonialisms hinge. We believe that our
futures are connected and that we are especially powerful when we
enact solidarity by words and actions. To expect solidarity, we must
be willing to give it, share it, and maintain it. To do otherwise is to
risk producing solidarity on the very colonial terms that our
movements seek to challenge and undo. As Jamal Juma wrote in ‘An
Open Letter to the People of Six Nations’, we believe that ‘the future
will look substantially better than the past only when the people of
the world stand together united by their solidarity’.53 This is our
small contribution to beginning the difficult work of making
indigenous solidarities.
Mike Krebs is an indigenous activist of mixed Blackfoot and European descent who is
currently focused on Palestine solidarity work as a member of the Boycott Israeli
Apartheid Campaign. He resides on the unceded Skwxwu7mesh, Sel’it’wetulh, and
Xwmetskwiem territory known as Vancouver, BC in ‘Canada’.
Dana M. Olwan is a Palestinian researcher, teacher, and activist. She is Assistant
Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Syracuse University. Dana is a member of
Faculty for Palestine.
1 Phil Fontaine and Ed Morgan, ‘Aboriginals, Jews Stand Together’, The Globe and
Mail (12 July 2005). Available at:
Accessed: 10/11/11.
2 For an overview of consequences of statements made by Ahenakew, see
‘Ahenakew stripped of Order of Canada’, CBC news. Available at:
Accessed: 29/06/12. Also, for news on Ahenakew’s acquittal of hate crime in
second trial in 2011, see Troy Fleece, ‘Ex-First Nations head acquitted in hate
trial’. Available at:
Accessed: 29/06/12. It is important to note that this the connection between the
controversy surrounding Ahenakew’s statements and the visit was made in an
article published in The Jerusalem Post which notes that the visit took place six
months after Ahenakew was stripped of his Order of Canada. Quoting Jewish
Congress President Ed Morgan, the article states, ‘If that [David Ahenakew’s
sentence] was a catalyst for our communities getting to know each other, then
there’s a silver lining’ (sic). See Gil Zohar, ‘Finding a common language’. Available
at: t:
Accessed 29/06/12.
3 Fontaine, Morgan, ‘Aboriginals, Jews Stand Together’.
4 Moshe Kastav resigned from presidency in July 1, 2007 due to allegations of
rape. He has been convicted of two counts of rape and other sexual offenses and
sentenced to seven years in prison. This conviction has been upheld by the
Supreme Court in Tel Aviv in November 2011. See Yanir Yagna and Tomer Zarchin,
‘Legal sources: Unlikely that former Israel President Katsav will be pardoned.
Available at:
former-israel-president-katsav-will-be-pardoned-1.395938 Accessed: 06/11/11.
5 Within this article we use the term ‘Turtle Island’ to refer to indigenous North
America. Though originally rooted in the belief systems of indigenous Algonquin
and Haudenosaunee people, ‘Turtle Island’ has over time also taken on a distinct
‘pan-indigenous’ meaning as a way in which to conceptualise the continued
existence of indigeneity in North America. We have thus chosen to use Turtle Island
at times to describe the traditional land of indigenous people living in what is now
‘Canada’ to reflect the need to challenge the legitimacy of the settler state that we
live in/under (as opposed to the highly problematic and paternalistic language of
‘Canada’s indigenous people’), which is additionally necessary when taking into
account that the traditional territory of many indigenous nations stretches far
across both sides of the Canada-US border. We recognise that this pan-indigenous
use of ‘Turtle Island’ is also problematic and not universally recognised among
indigenous people (both within and outside of the Algonquin/Haudenosaunee
traditions from which the term originates), but within the ongoing project to
redefine our indigeniety and how we reassert our rights to this land it is currently
the most useful anti-colonial term.
6 Zohar, ‘Finding a common language’.
7 The website of the Israeli embassy in Ottawa lists the AFN visit under examples at
‘Bilateral Relations: Israel and the First Nations’. Available at:
Accessed 02/11/11.
8 Hilary Leila Krieger, ‘Native lands’, The Jerusalem Post, 05/03/06. Available at: Accessed 01/07/12.
9 B’Tselem, ‘683 people killed in the conflict in 2006’, 26/12/06. Available at: Accessed: 28/10/11. While
generally reliable, it is important to note that the report neglects to include
statistics on the construction of the apartheid wall and the illegal Israeli
10 Canada Palestine Association Vancouver, ‘Open Letter by CPA to the Assembly of
First Nations’, 06/03/06. Available at:
the-assembly-of-first-nations Accessed: 01/07/12.
11 Lee Maracle, ‘On the AFN visit to Palestine’. Available at:
Accessed 25/06/12.
12 David Lloyd, Laura Pulido, ‘In the Long Shadow of the Settler: On Israeli and
U.S. Colonialisms’, American Quarterly, 62, 4 (2010): 795-809.
13 David Lloyd, Laura Pulido, ‘In the Long Shadow of the Settler’: 797.
14 This is not to imply that there are not schisms within Israeli or Canadian settler
society (including but not limited to those along lines of class, gender, and/or
race). It is certainly arguable, however, that when it comes to colonial approaches
towards the indigenous population, under most circumstances the need for ‘inter-
settler unity’ proves greater than the very-real contradictions within the settler
society. For an analysis of class politics in Israel, see Moshe Machover and Akiva
Orr, ‘The Class Character of Israel’, International Socialist Review, 23 (2002).
Available at:
Accessed: 02/11/11.
15 For a comprehensive analysis and critique of the modern BC Treaty Process, see
Arthur Manuel, ‘New Relationship or “Final Solution” – An Analysis of the Certainty
Provisions of the Final Agreements Initialled Under the BC Treaty Process’, First
Nations Strategic Bulletin, 4, 12 (2006). Available at: http://epe.lac-
Accessed: 31/10/11.
16 ‘Netanyahu steps up settlement construction after UNESCO vote, The
Washington Post, 02/11/11. Available at:
Accessed 03/11/11.
17 John Collins, Global Palestine (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011): 90.
18 Andrea Smith, ‘American Studies Without America: Native Feminisms and the
Nation-State’, American Quarterly, 60, 2 (2008): 312.
19 Bonita Lawrence, ‘Gender, Race, and the Regulation of Native Identity in Canada
and the US: An Overview’, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, 18, 2 (2003): 3-
20 ‘A History of Residential Schools in Canada’, CBC News, 16/05/2008. Available
schools.html Accessed 05/11/11.
21 Patricia Monture, ‘Race, Gender, and the University: Strategies for Survival’, in
Sherene Razack, Malinda Smith, and Sunera Thobani (eds), States of Race: Critical
Race Feminism for the 21st Century (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2010): 26.
22 See Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal, ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
Available atL Accessed 3/11/11.
23 Andrea Smith, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide
(Cambridge: South End Press, 2005): 22.
24 The Native Women’s Association of Canada has documented 582 cases of
missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. For more information, see: Accessed: 4/11/11.
25 Rosemary Sayigh, The Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries (London: Zed
Books, 2007): 77.
26 Frantz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism (New York: Grove Press, 1994): 37.
27 See ‘Checkpoints and Barriers: Searching for Livelihoods in the West Bank and
Gaza/Gender Dimensions and Economic Collapse’, Sustainable Development
Department Middle East and North Africa, February 2010: xv. Available at:
EnglishFeb2010.pdf Accessed 06/05/ 2012.
28 See ‘Addameer Monthly Detention Report – 1 June 2012’, Addameer: Prisoner
Support and Human Rights Association. Available at: Accessed 07/06/2012.
29 See F. Laurie Barron, ‘The Indian Pass System in the Canadian West, 1882-
1935’, Prairie Forum, 13, 1 (1988): 2542.
30 Treaty 7 Elders and Tribal Council with Walter Hildebrandt, Dorothy First Rider,
Sarah Carter, The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s
University Press, 1996): 147.
31 For more information on Israel’s systematic restrictions of Palestinian
movement, see B’Tselem, ‘Background on the restriction of movement’. Available
at: Accessed: 29/06/12. See also
Occupy Palestine, ‘OCHA: Movement restrictions in occupied West Bank affecting
200,000 in #Palestine’, 10/10/11. Available at:
restrictions-in-occupied-west-bank-affecting-200000-in-palestine Accessed:
32 Treaty 7 Elders and Tribal Council, The True Spirit and Original intent: 117.
33 John Goddard, ‘Last Stand of the Lubicon’, Equinox, 21 (1985): 67-77. Available
at: Accessed: 14/07/12.
34 Olivia P. Dickason, Canada’s First Nations (Don Mills: Oxford University Press
Canada, 1997): 368-370.
35 See Amnesty International, ‘Canada: From homeland to oil sands: The impact of
oil and gas development on the Lubicon Cree of Canada’, 16/06/10. Available at: Accessed:
36 Joseph Massad, ‘Oslo and the End of Palestinian Independence’, Al Ahram
Weekly Online, 982, 21/10/10. Available at: Accessed 28/10/11.
37 See Josseph Massad, ‘The State of Recognition’, Al-Jazeera English Online,
15/10/11. Available at:
Accessed: 05/11/11.
38 See Hazem Jamjoum, ‘Not an analogy: Israel and the crime of apartheid’,
03/04/09. Available at:
and-crime-apartheid/8164#.TsnoM-YtjvR Accessed 26/10/11.
39 ‘Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court’. Available at: Accessed: 01/11/11.
40 For a detailed account of this BDS-centered approach to Palestinian solidarity
struggle, see Abigail Bakan and Yasmeen Abu-Laban, ‘Palestinian Resistance and
International Solidarity: the BDS Campaign, Race and Class, 51, 2 (2009): 29-54.
41 Susan M Hill, ‘Conducting Haudenosaunee Historical Research from Home: In
the Shadow of the Six Nations–Caledonia Reclamation’, The American Indian
Quarterly, 33, 4 (2009): 479-490.
42 Tom Keefer, ‘The Six Nations Land Reclamation’, Upping the Anti, 3 (2006).
Available at:
reclamation Accessed: 03/11/11.
43 Six Nations Traditional Women’s Council Fire And Haudenosaunee FORWARD,
‘Report to the United Nations Committee to End All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW): Canada’s Flagrant and Scurrilous Human Rights
Violations Against Ogweho:weh Ago:weh (First Nations Women)’: 2. Available at:
aw42.pdf Accessed: 25/10/11.
44 Six Nations Traditional Women’s Council Fire And Haudenosaunee FORWARD,
‘Report to the United Nations Committee to End All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW)’: 6.
45 Peter Edwards, ‘“The warrior spirit is in all of us”; Clan mothers play significant
role’, The Toronto Star, 22/04/06. Available at:
Accessed 25/10/11.
46 ‘Palestinian Flag Raised in Support of Caledonia Land Claims Dispute’,
03/05/06. Available at: Accessed: 28/10/11.
47 Jamilla Ghaddar, ‘The Politics of Six Nations-Palestinian Alliances’. Available at: Accessed:
48 We are aware of the academic debate regarding the value, relevance, and
usefulness of the term ‘settler of colour’. See, for example, Bonita Lawrence and
Enakshi Dua, ‘Decolonizing Anti-Racism’, Social Justice, 32, 4 (2005): 120-143,
Nanditha Sharma and Cynthia Wright, ‘Decolonizing Resistance, Challenging
Colonial States’, Social Justice, 35, 3 (2008-2009): 120-138. Our paper focuses on
indigeneity as a means of fostering solidarity. We believe it is crucial to interrogate
the uneven and asymmetric relationship of people of colour to the European settler
colonial project manifested in the Canadian state. To foster solidarity between
native peoples in Canada and Palestinians, that relationship needs to be stated,
acknowledged, and clarified.
49 Taiaiake Alfred, Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1999): 87.
50 See ‘After witnessing Palestine’s apartheid, Indigenous and Women of Color
feminists endorse BDS’, The Electronic Intifada, 12/07/11. Available at:
Accessed: 05/11/11.
51 Waziyatawin, ‘Malice Enough in Our Hearts and Courage Enough in Ours:
Reflecting on US Indigenous and Palestinian Experiences Under Occupation,
Settler Colonial Studies, 2, 1 (2012): 172.
52 Ghaddar, ‘The Politics of Six Nations-Palestinian Alliances’.
53 Jamal Juma, ‘An Open Letter to the People of Six Nations’, The Electronic
Intifada, 05/03/07. Available at:
people-six-nations/6789#.TssSo3GQ3-Q Accessed: 15/11/11.
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To see for ourselves the conditions under which Palestinians live and struggle – this was the mission of the delegation of Indigenous and Women of Color Feminists that traveled to Occupied Palestine in June 2011.1 All of us had been part of social justice struggles in our respective communities and all of us sought to increase our capacity for effective solidarity action with Palestinians. I traveled with the delegation as an Indigenous woman living under US occupation seeking to understand how another Indigenous population struggled under settler colonialism. Sometimes it takes seeing the suffering of others to realise the full magnitude of our own suffering. As a Dakota woman in Palestine, I had the painful experience of witnessing the monstrous destructiveness of settler colonialism’s war against a People and a land base. I told one friend that it was like witnessing ahigh-speed and high-tech version of the colonisation of our Indigenous homelands. Colonisation ought to be one of the most easily recognised forms of oppression in the world, but it is not. In fact, colonising powers work so steadfastly to rationalise and justify this crime against humanity that it eventually becomes normalised, acceptable, and even righteous. I come from a place where the government denies that it is colonial – it denies that it is a government of occupation. I recognised this same colonial deception at play in Israel’s disavowal of itself as a colonial entity.
Writings on Native women and feminism often rely on essentializing claims that Native women cannot be feminists, thus erasing the diversity of thought that exists within both scholarly and activist circles. 1,2 To the extent that Native women's writings on feminism are cited, their use is often limited to demonstrating the racism of "white" feminism. Such rhetorical strategies limit Native women to a politics of inclusion—let us include Native women in feminist theory (or if we do not think that they can be included, let us reject feminist theory completely). This politics of inclusion inevitably presumes that feminism is in fact defined by white women. Instead, I would contend that the theorizing produced by Native women scholars and activists makes critical and transformative interventions into not only feminist theory, but also into a wide variety of theoretical formations. In this essay, I am not seeking to make representative claims about what Native women think about feminism. Rather, its purpose is to share some of the theoretical insights of Native women organizers currently engaged in social justice struggles. Post 9/11, Bush's evocation of sovereignty has prompted Judith Butler to define sovereignty as "providing legitimacy of the rule of law and offering a guarantor for the presentational claims of state power."3 According to Butler, the resurgence of sovereignty happens in a context of "suspension of law,"4 whereby the nation can, in the name of "sovereignty," act against "existing legal frameworks, civil, military, and international . . . Under this mantle of sovereignty, the state proceeds to extend its own power to imprison indefinitely a group of people without trial."5 Amy Kaplan similarly describes Bush's policies as rendering increasing numbers of people under U.S. jurisdiction as "less deserving of . . . constitutional rights."6 Thus, Bush's strategies are deemed a suspension of the law. It is said that his administration is unconstitutional, thus eroding civil liberties and U.S. democracy. From this perspective, progressives are called to uphold the law, defend the U.S. constitution, and protect civil liberties. The question, then arises, what are we to do with the fact that, as Native scholar Luana Ross notes, genocide has never been against the law in the United States?7 On the contrary, Native genocide has been expressly sanctioned as the law. And, as legal scholar Sora Han points out, none of these post-9/11 practices is actually extraconstitutional or extralegal. In fact, the U.S. Constitution confers on the State the right to maintain itself over and above the rights of its citizenry.8 Butler may be arguing that post-9/11 rule of law through sovereignty (seemingly displaced, in Foucault's analysis, during the rise of capitalism) has made a comeback as a legitimizing notion that works to extend state power. But this argument, as the work of Joy James and Rey Chow demonstrates, fails to consider how the state has always operated through sovereign power exacted through racial and colonial violence.9 Thus the argument that we are currently under a resurgence of sovereignty itself normalizes the history of U.S. sovereign power exacted against the bodies of indigenous peoples and peoples of color. In fact, a Native feminist analysis could be used to read Butler's Gender Trouble against her analysis of sovereignty. In Gender Trouble, she critiques theorists such as Lacan, Irigaray, and Wittig, who posit a naturalized, prediscursive, gendered body as the foundation by which to critique contemporary heteropatriarchal practices. She argues that the very process of theorizing a prediscursive body demonstrates that the body cannot be prediscursive and hence it cannot be represented outside of prevailing power relations. But positing the body as prediscursive, according to Butler, allows the theorist to disavow her or his political investments because the theorist is supposedly rendering an account of the body prior to power relations. Butler's critique could then be more broadly applied to a critique of "origin stories." That is, when we critique a contemporary context through an appeal to a prior state before "the fall," we are necessarily masking power relations through the evocation of lost origins. In even radical critiques of Bush's war...
As a historian I expect that most people will not find my research very exciting. I am used to working in a comfortable obscurity that piques the interest of a few but does not draw the gaze of many. But for the last three years that has not been the case. In February 2006 a small group of people from my community of Ohswe:ken (Six Nations of the Grand River Territory) reclaimed a parcel of land that is part of our historic territory and adjacent to our contemporary settlement. Caledonia, the town to the southeast of our settlement, is often seen as a dormitory community of Hamilton, Ontario, and Hamilton is seen as a dormitory community of Toronto. Suburban sprawl is consuming the farmlands of southern Ontario, and what had been vacant fields are quickly becoming tracts of repetitious single-family homes. The Six Nations–Caledonia land reclamation has been the focus of national and international attention, with many people wondering why Six Nations people would feel justified in stopping construction of a housing project and refusing to leave the land. My dissertation research, completed in 2005, examined the historical land relationships of the Haudenosaunee on the Grand River Territory. Even though it is not specifically a land claims study, it is the most recent public research related to the history of Six Nations lands, and I have been inundated with phone calls, e-mails, and requests for interviews. Six Nations land history has become a very exciting topic both for the people of Six Nations and for those non-Native people who settled in communities built upon land within the Haldimand Proclamation territory (six miles on each side of the Grand River, from the mouth to the source), which the British Crown promised to forever protect for Haudenosaunee interests over two hundred years ago. And the relative obscurity I once knew as a Haudenosaunee academic historian has flown right out the window. The attention, particularly from the media, has been stressful, and this is no less so for those who are actively engaged in "insider" community research. Our relationship to and limited space within the troublesome structure and process of local and national media production in many ways exemplify some of the key issues faced by Indigenous historians working from home. Canadian media have generally ignored complex Native issues, so that when those issues do arise, the media are unfamiliar with the community and unable to distinguish between legitimate spokespeople and individuals with isolated points of view. This is compounded by a media tendency to seek speakers who express extreme opinions and by a community history that respects individual freedom, including freedom of expression. But having a PhD and an Indian status card does not make me a spokesperson for my people. Moreover, I feel that providing a summary of the issues in less than ninety seconds does a disservice to what are complex, difficult matters that deserve careful, concentrated attention. The mainstream press has portrayed a very negative image of all Six Nations people in their coverage of the reclamation. Reporters cut and edit people's statements to fit their idea of the truth, often contributing to the fear and mistrust felt by many on "both sides of the line." I have become increasingly cautious in dealing with reporters, since I have little control over what parts of an interview become public and little leverage if I am quoted out of context. Finally, I do recognize that the PhD and community membership do make me responsible to help. And that is where I have attempted to focus my energies, primarily in the area of public education and through my work at a local university. Despite the bad press, the reclamation has created an opportunity to raise awareness of our history both inside and outside our community. Along with community leaders, traditional knowledge holders, and other community historians, my work has been focused upon that goal. On February 28, 2006, a small group of Six Nations people moved onto a construction site on land between the contemporary boundaries of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and the town of Caledonia. The...
:This forum discusses the comparative dimensions of settler colonialism in Israel and the U.S.-Mexico border region, including separation walls, issues of migration, and the control of movement, dispossession, and settlement. The contributions take a variety of perspectives, both activist and scholarly. They engage with the longer historical perspective and with contemporary realities that suggest the comparability of the experience of Chicana/os and other Latina/o minorities in the United States and Mexico and that of the Palestinian populations of the Occupied Territories and Israel itself. Methodologically, they cross the disciplinary boundaries that separate disparate instances of oppression and struggle and propose that both scholarly and activist work should make connections between locations while respecting the distinctiveness and specificity of places and histories. Solidarity, these essays suggest, is based not on absolute identification, but on differentiated experiences of oppression and struggle against systems of domination like settler colonialism and capitalism.
The regulation of Native identity has been central to the colonization process in both Canada and the United States. Systems of classification and control enable settler governments to define who is “Indian,” and control access to Native land. These regulatory systems have forcibly supplanted traditional Indigenous ways of identifying the self in relation to land and community, functioning discursively to naturalize colonial worldviews. Decolonization, then, must involve deconstructing and reshaping how we understand Indigenous identity.
Native lands', The Jerusalem Post
  • Hilary Leila Krieger
Hilary Leila Krieger, 'Native lands', The Jerusalem Post, 05/03/06. Available at: Accessed 01/07/12.
On the AFN visit to Palestine
  • Lee Maracle
Lee Maracle, 'On the AFN visit to Palestine'. Available at: Accessed 25/06/12.
Strategies for Survival
  • Patricia Monture
  • Race
  • Gender
  • University
Patricia Monture, 'Race, Gender, and the University: Strategies for Survival', in Sherene Razack, Malinda Smith, and Sunera Thobani (eds), States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2010): 26.