Kinłani/Flagstaff, AZ — An anti-colonial anti-fascist gathering of more than 60 participants was held at Táala Hooghan Infoshop from April 6-8, 2018. This was a powerful weekend for a number of reasons but primarily because it was explicitly organized from an anti-colonial position, not as a posture. Indigenous peoples weren’t just “recognized” or tokenized, we were the initiators and planners. The space was opened with cultural protocols without need for explanation. In the opening, a volunteer with the infoshop stated, “The event is in many ways an extension of the cultural and political work that has been ongoing at here for more than 10 years. This is not a safe space, we cannot pretend it is exempt from the systems of oppression that exist outside these walls, but what we can do is assert that this is a threatening space against those actions and behaviors.”
The agenda for the gathering wasn’t overwhelming or packed with too many competing workshops, just two tracks that reflected the work and interests of the organizing crew. While we won’t go into detail we’d like to share this brief report back..
The opening discussion on “Anti-colonial & Antifascist Intersections & Tensions” was presented in a circle with an informal panel, the discussion was then facilitated and opened to the group. Some of the discussion focused on smashing allyship (the primary author of Accomplices not Allies presenting) and anti-colonial posturing. Most of the discussion centered around anti-colonial struggle as, although invitations were made, some of the regions anti-fascist groups did not attend.
A statement was read (originating from www.rageandresist.org) that embodies the spirit of the discussion: “We recognize the limitations of anti-fascism on stolen land. We’ve experienced the heavy hand of the state in ‘Arizona’ long before Trump was elected. We’ve resisted widespread attacks on migrants (many of whom are our Indigenous relations) through state mechanisms, many of these institutions designed to ensnare or kill migrants also enforce a colonial rule on un-ceded Indigenous lands. From the patrols of Arpaio’s MCSO saturations targeting Yaqui people in Guadalupe, widespread police violence targeting Indigenous people across the state, forced removal of more than 20,000 Diné from Black Mesa, repression against indigenous Peoples defending sacred sites such as the San Francisco Peaks, the Border Patrol checkpoints dotting the roads of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and the border wall as a physical barrier dividing Indigenous Peoples separated by the colonial US-Mexico border. Indigenous resistance to these efforts is long, while accomplices are still new to this struggle. We have organized projects of solidarity to oppose the colonial networks of control, because we understand that an anti-fascism that is not grounded in anti-colonialism is certain to reproduce the same structures of settler colonial violence that has existed for over 500 years on this continent, and over 200 years of representative democracy in the ‘United States.’”
One of the presenters said, “Take risks. If this conversation and this gathering does not make you uncomfortable at some point, than we’ve done something wrong.”
Sakej Ward offered powerful insights with the workshop on “Indigenous Revolutionary Doctrine,” he analyzed select historical revolutionary strategies and discussed why a distinct contextual strategy is necessary for Indigenous nationhood. Sakej’s talk also explored the “Indigenous post-collapse ongoing apocalyptic environment” and challenged pacification of Indigenous struggles by non-governmental and non-profit organizations.
Other workshops included: Anti-fascism & Security Culture 101, Fascism & Anti-fascism in France, Armed Defense, Smashing Toxic Fasculinity in Radical Movements & Spaces, and self-defense workshops.
The Toxic “Fasculinity” workshop was a closed space for womxn, trans & genderqueer folx (no cis men). The workshop detailed the ways in which militant, radical movement spaces can embody hyper-masculinity in a way that silences, alienates, or harms womxn, femmes and other non-cis-male genders. The workshop was facilitated as a conversation circle and attendees held the space to share and learn from each other’s experiences. Following this conversation circle, there was a self defense workshop specifically for womxn, femmes, and non-cis-men.
The evening ended with another informal panel on “Anti-Police Community Support.” Two unsheltered Indigenous community members joined Louise Benally from Big Mountain –where resistance to forced relocation has been waged for more than 40 years– and anti-fascist organizers in a discussion that focused on alternative methodologies and transformative and restorative justice.
On Saturday evening a police station was improved with red paint and the message “Fuck the Police.” Other areas were also redecorated but that one caught the attention of multiple pigs and a helicopter. Though they were not associated with the action, two comrades were captured by pigs and held overnight. Jail support was quickly activated and after determining charges (two counts each of misdemeanor criminal graffiti) and bail part of the crew from the gathering rallied outside the jail. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for ways to support those facing multiple charges.
The morning started with a youth workshop on ageism and ways that youth are fighting back and concluded with a discussion that focused on building a regional Anti-Fascist Movement.
“We don’t choose to be activists,” stated one of the coordinators of the gathering, “We are born into this struggle and live it everyday.”