The Red Nation
The Red Nation was "formed in November 2014 out of a desire to contribute to the widespread resurgence of strong, vocal, organized and radical Indigenous struggle in Albuquerque and beyond," according to their website. Additionally, the group claims to be "an anti-profit coalition of Native and non-Native activists, community members, educators, and workers dedicated to the liberation of Native Nations, lands, and peoples..."
"People Get Ready"
People Get Ready: A One-Day Convening on Beating the Right, Strengthening the Left, and Building Power.
- Opening plenary featuring Alicia Garza, with a special performance by Kiwi Illafonte
- Session 1: What’s Left?: Building Power after the Elections, speakers include Ash-Lee Henderson, Justin Charles, Ollie Vargas and Ejeris Dixon
- Session 2: If the Kids Are United: Building Power against the Far Right, with Tarso Ramos
- Session 3: Build it on up: Tools for the Fight, speakers include The Red Nation and Marisol Ocampo of LeftRoots
Caracas, October 30 2019 (RHC)-- Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza spoke Tuesday with indigenous representatives from the United States to strengthen ties of brotherhood in the context of the First International Meeting of Native Peoples.
Inspired by the Indo-American socialism of Jose Carlos Mariategui (1894-1930), the representatives of both nations talked about the struggles and fraternity among native peoples, the Minister of Foreign Affairs explained, through a message on Twitter.
From this Tuesday until Thursday, the First International Meeting of Indigenous Peoples will take place in the city of Guayana, Venezuelan state of Bolivar, with the participation of indigenous leaders from some 20 countries.
The purpose of the meeting is to consolidate a plan of action, for which organizational strategies will be drawn up to promote dialogue, peace and respect among nations.
The initiative is part of the strategic lines of the 25th Meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum, developed in this capital between July 25th and 28th, to establish a Bolivarian alliance of indigenous peoples for sovereignty, solidarity and decolonization.
Venezuela's United Socialist Party's Vice President Adan Chavez explained that this platform was designed to move forward with regional integration and strengthen the struggles of native peoples for freedom and sovereignty.
More than 400 delegations of Venezuela participated in this first meeting, as well as 60 international delegations coming from Kenya, Peru, United States, Cuba, Brazil, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, Colombia, Sri Lanka Canada among others.
DSA resolution on Red Deal
Resolution to DSA National Convention Atlanta Georgia July 2019.
Amendment #1 on Resolution #34.
“Amendment on the Red Deal and Rejecting a Green Military” by Sofia Arias (NYC), Sydney Ghazarian (Los Angeles), Brian Ward (Madison), Rory Fanning (Chicago), Spenser Rapone (NYC), Joe Allen. (Chicago), Nazir Khan (Twin Cities).
[from Resolution #34] “…Amplify the perspectives & insights of impacted communities through national media platforms…”
As part of this effort, this Convention will endorse the Red Deal, launched by comrades in The Red Nation, a radical anti-capitalist Indigenous liberation group, and its principles on the fight for non-reformist reforms. As described by The Red Nation, “The Red Deal is not a counter program of the GND. It’s a call for action beyond the scope of the US colonial state. It’s a program for Indigenous liberation, life, and land—an affirmation that colonialism and capitalism must be overturned for this planet to be habitable for human and other-than-human relatives to live dignified lives.” At the end of this Convention, the GNDCC will be tasked with initiating a more direct working relationship between DSA and The Red Nation. The GNDCC will make direct connection with The Red Nation, dedicate one person to serve as the main point of contact, and collaborate with the comrades on joint actions, statements and local, national and international campaigns around indigenous liberation and climate justice.
[from Resolution #34] “...abroad for an ecologically thriving & just world…”
This Convention will also reject any effort at promoting a “Green Military” GND plan, as proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, including the bill she recently introduced in Congress, known as S. 1498, Department of Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act. Any literature, statements, memes, and other communications produced to support the Green New Deal should also clearly state DSA’s opposition to this plan, which is not simply a policy proposal from Warren, but represents a wider consensus within the Pentagon, and therefore risks undermining and rolling back the democratic socialist vision for an end to the military industrial complex. These are similar to arguments about the precision of “surgical strikes” and expanded drone warfare made during the Obama administration. Recent arguments for “climate resilience” and the fear of climate change producing a “threat multiplier” represent an effort by the US military to maintain its operations, occupations and bases around the world and to win back legitimacy for its endless wars today. The DSAEWG will work over the next year alongside the DSA for Bernie campaign to produce materials for GND organizing that challenge the greenwashing of the military and US imperialism, whether from Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden or other members of the Democratic or Republican Party in office or running for president.
DSA/The Red Nation connection
Tuesday, October 1, 2019 at 7 PM – 8:30 PM CDT
Siouxland Libraries 200 N Dakota Ave, Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57104.
Professor, author and The Red Nation organizer Nick Estes, Ph.D. will be in Sioux Falls for one night to discuss how the reckless destruction of Indian lands by various federal policies will be the future of ALL people in America if we don't organize a better tomorrow, today.
Revolutionary Socialism is the Primary Political Ideology of The Red Nation'
This position paper of the Third General Assembly formally adopts revolutionary socialism and liberation as the primary political ideology of The Red Nation. While incomplete, the purpose of this proposal is to articulate the basic principles of revolutionary socialism and Marxism and its connection to Indigenous socialism and communism. By adopting this proposal, we commit ourselves to the study and practice of revolutionary socialism (also known as scientific socialism) by aligning ourselves with the long traditions of resistance that predate Marxism itself. Nonetheless, Marxism has become the weapon of the poor and colonized throughout the world and largely outside of Europe, a weapon we now take up as our own. Marxism is the five-fingered fist—the hand of the worker, the peasant, the colonized—and our traditions of resistance are the power behind that fist.
Marxism is a tool for making revolution, first and foremost. But it is a useless tool unless wielded properly by the oppressed. Our traditions of Indigenous resistance wield Marxism, not to uphold European traditions, but to emancipate ourselves from the colonizers by destroying that which destroys us, and building and rebuilding our nations according to our traditions and cultures so that our human and nonhuman relations and thus all people may live. And we cannot merely destroy capitalism, without the foresight and knowledge of replacing it with a more humane and just system without rulers and without colonizers. That system is called socialism, which seeks to destroy the class system and the ruling classes, redistribute land and wealth to its proper owners, and restore dignity to the humble people of the earth. Put simply, socialism is people power. Socialism puts people before profits. Socialism aligns with Indigenous traditions of relationality as we seek to be good relatives to other humans and other-than-humans. Socialism is the natural state of humanity, to live and work towards peace and justice.
Communism is the greatest expression of love for the people and our nonhuman relatives. And it is the only solution for a planet on the brink of destruction at the hands of the ruling bourgeoisie and their backwards ideologies and institutions.
1. US imperialism is the number one enemy of the planet.
Our socialism is rooted in Indigenous resistance, African slave rebellions, and European labor history. It is also rooted in the nations of the Tri-Continental—of Asia, Africa, and the Americas—that aligned themselves against the primary enemy of the planet: US imperialism. Indigenous peoples were the first victims of European imperialism and invasion. The US inherited that mantle and has exported the settler colonial project to the rest of the globe by plundering and killing other darker nations. We are internationalists.
As Indigenous nations, who are in the United States but not entirely of it, we align ourselves with the Third World. We seek to end the oppressive relations between European nations and the Third World. This means opposing US imperialism at all turns, denouncing all US imperialist wars, and aligning ourselves with the poorer nations of the world in the defense of their sovereignty and self-determination. The US must get out of everywhere, including Turtle Island!
Global climate change is also not a Third World problem—it’s a first world problem. Nations like the United States consume and produce the most carbon. This concentration of wealth and consumption derives from the histories of African slavery, Indigenous genocide, and European settler colonialism. Thus, the struggle against the multinational oil and gas corporations is an anti-imperialist struggle in which Indigenous nations are leading the fight. But we also recognize that our socialism, our freedom and emancipation, can never come at the expense of our Third World comrades and relatives.
Marx and Engels developed their theories of change and history from the vantage point of the laboring European proletariat. Industrial capitalism, however, didn’t begin solely in the English factory. The hands that picked the cotton that was weaved in English textile mills were African — stolen from their homelands and enslaved by European masters. The land where the cotton grew had to be cleared of Indigenous people and Indigenous title to make way for the plantation economy, the main driving force behind the expansion of modern capitalism. Thus, the expansion of African slavery fueled the dispossession of Indigenous peoples.
US settler colonialism was thoroughly a racial project of genocide and Indigenous elimination, which is an enduring structure that changes over time. After all, even the so-called Five Civilized Tribes who had adopted the plantation economy and African slave system from their European counterparts were themselves dispossessed and extirpated from their lands. And both freed Africans and Indigenous people fought as soldiers and scouts for the US settler wars of extermination against western Indigenous nations and overseas campaigns of conquest. Despite their military service in the US imperialist army, their stations within settler society have always been subordinate to white Europeans. They faced Jim Crow segregation, police violence, mass incarceration, and the continued settler occupation of Indigenous lands. We reject settler colonialism and US imperialism as the means of emancipation for the working class and for colonized people.
Our communist and anti-imperialist principles to which we ascribe are as follows:
1. End the unequal relations between European and colonized nations.
2. End the violent competition between the nations of exploiters and colonizers.
3. End the plunder of the earth for profit.
2. Marxism is not European. Socialism is Indigenous.
Marxism is founded on the expropriated knowledges of non-capitalist Indigenous societies. Although Marx himself was wrong about many things, Marxism, as a science, has a built-in self-correcting mechanism that has helped revolutionaries throughout the world build off the political theory Marx first formulated. If this were untrue, there would be no Russian Revolution, no African Revolution and decolonization movement, no Vietnamese liberation, no Bolivarian Revolution, no Cuban Revolution, no Chinese Revolution, etc. Each adopted Marxism and applied it to its specific and unique circumstances by building off the long struggles against exploitation and European imperialism.
Even for Indigenous peoples in the Americas, the concepts and theories of decolonization explicitly derive from Marxist revolutionary movements. It’s dishonest for us to not recognize this history. It’s not because of Marx or European thinkers that these revolutions were successful. It’s because Marxism is the science of revolution for the poor masses, the colonized, and the wretched of the earth. Fundamentally, Marxism is the science of how to get free. It is the study of class struggle.
If capitalism upholds the systems of racism, settler colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and imperialism, then we cannot use capitalism to undo these systems. It’s not enough to just be anti-capitalist. Like our ancestors we must be forward-thinking by drawing from and amplifying our non-capitalist social relations as Indigenous peoples, not to make Indigenous traditions relevant to Marxism or socialism but to make socialism and Marxism relevant to our struggle as Indigenous peoples.
You cannot fight fire with fire. You cannot fight capitalism with Indigenous capitalism. You cannot fight nationalism with hyper-nationalism. You can only fight fire with water. And the solution to all these ills—and it is what capitalists and colonists hate the most—is socialism. If capitalism is burning the planet, then socialism is the water to douse the flame. Water is life. We all need water to live, but we don’t need capitalism.
And for us to fight colonialism, we must ensure that our nations can live. But our nationalism cannot mirror the bourgeois settler nationalism of colonial states, which is premised on exclusion and white supremacy. We adopt a revolutionary Indigenous nationalism that aligns with the most oppressed and marginalized first, within and outside our own communities. And we recognize that by organizing production—for our food, medicines, resources, etc.—according to need and not profit is the only possible path forward according to our traditions.
The philosophy of communism neatly lines up with the philosophy of our Indigenous ancestors. Friedrich Engels admitted as much when in the 1888 English edition of the Communist Manifesto he added a footnote to the famous line: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” He clarified, “That is, all written history,” making note specifically of Lewis Henry Morgan’s study of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which was a communistic, classless, and democratic society before European invasion. Moreover, it was the relative gender equality of Indigenous societies that inspired the suffragettes — white women seeking parity with white men. The study of Indigenous societies, the inherent equality and freedom they engendered among producers and the common ownership of property and social institutions, also inspired European workers to demand eight-hour workdays and the abolition of child labor. And, in the final analysis, despite their own limited understandings, Marx and Engels, the founders of the modern communist movement, had developed theories of emancipation largely from the expropriated knowledges of Indigenous and communal people, whose examples they relied on to prove that capitalism is neither inevitable nor natural. But, in fact, communism is both natural and inevitable.
This is not to suggest Indigenous societies were utopias — no society is perfect. It is, however, important to understand that Indigenous peoples have been knocked off the path of their natural social development to live in balance and correct relations. We are not trying to recreate the past so much as steer Indigenous nations back on their communal developmental path that has been destroyed or seriously distorted by capitalist social relations.
3. The United States is not a “nation of immigrants” but a nation of colonizers.
Whereas contemporary racial identity politics attempts to mask or obscure class antagonisms, a class struggle that doesn’t overturn white supremacy and settler colonialism frees no one. We are not seeking parity with colonizers or further integration into a colonial system. We’re seeking to end settler and white supremacy entirely over Black, Indigenous, and colonized people. We aim to end the colonial system entirely.
Why? The United States, as a nation of European colonizers, had no feudal or communal past. Unlike other nations in history who transitioned from feudalism to capitalism, the United States was the first nation born entirely as a capitalist state. It was constructed from the ground up according to the nightmare vision of European slave owners and Indian killers — the nation’s founding bourgeois ideologies. The United States began as an oppressor nation, as a colonizer of oppressed people, and its function remains so. It not only has a capitalist ruling class, but all strata and classes of white Europeans among its ranks are encouraged to become preoccupied with the aims of the ruling class through petty racial privileges and private property ownership, the guiding stars of white settler nationalism. We reject those national and settler aspirations and ask our comrades in struggle to reject them as well.
The current US colonial state is not only an instrument of racial and class rule, it is also an instrument of imperialist plunder and the oppressor of nations. It thus obscures its own internal divisions of colonizer and colonized. The United States fabricates national myths by calling itself a “nation of immigrants” to hide its unnaturalness and crimes. Immigrants come to a land to integrate within the existing legal, social, and political orders. The first European settlers came to colonize, to destroy and replace existing Indigenous legal, social, and political orders. The United States is, therefore, more accurately described as a “nation of colonizers.” Immigrants don’t come in chains; you can’t immigrate to a land you already belong to; and refugees fleeing imperialist violence are not immigrants.
We recognize that the colonial state keeps in place irreconcilable class antagonisms, between rich and poor, between settler and Native. The state is first and foremost police and military violence. Its legitimacy is maintained by force. It’s primary function is enforcing capitalist social relations. The veneer of “representative democracy” is only possible because the ruling classes have crushed and will continue to crush any alternative to capitalism by mobilizing the police and military.
In this sense, Indigenous people are the first “Red Scare.” Because we held land in common and represented an alternative to the settler state (whether it be by taking in escaped slaves or mounting armed resistance), we had to be annihilated. Today, because we adopt revolutionary socialism as our struggle and vision for a free society, we are the second coming of the “Red Scare.” But we are not exclusive in our struggles for freedom. We align ourselves with all colonized and oppressed people of the world. Only imperial borders and nation-states that are not of our own making divide our common humanity. Therefore, our struggle transcends the state, but we are not naive enough to turn away from the state as a site of struggle.
We understand that state power is nearly impossible to achieve, since Indigenous peoples are a minority. Yet, in alliance with other colonized and oppressed peoples, we can take state power, not to become the new rulers of a capitalist society, but to use the mechanisms of the state to wage our rightful struggle against our class enemies—the rich. A socialist state uses the power and democracy of the masses to undo the privileges and wealth of the ruling classes and the colonial elite, even among our own people. A socialist state seeks to destroy itself because it is built in the shell of the old. But it has to be wielded by the oppressed in the service of the oppressed to achieve freedom and the abolition of the state itself, because, whether we like it or not, the state is the primary organizer of society. And through a decolonized socialist state, we will reorganize society to redistribute wealth and land by taking it back from those who stole it from us in the first place.
We recognize the fallacy that capitalists and settlers will simply give up their wealth and privilege if we win their hearts and minds. Their wealth and privilege were earned by force and it is kept in place by violence. Any challenge to that authority, whether it’s democratic or “non-violent,” will always be met with violence. Even the fallacy of democracy is upheld by force. A capitalist government, even if it is “democratic,” will always serve the interests of the ruling classes no matter how much we reform it. As revolutionaries, our focus is not to organize and appeal to the oppressors for our rights. Our role is to organize the oppressed to build authentic democracy from the ground up. And we cannot wait for someone else to save us. Only we can save ourselves.
Marxism and socialism take up the position of the poor. That is why they are derided and hounded by the rich and powerful, because they work in the interests of the colonized and oppressed. We advocate for socialist revolution as the only means of achieving decolonization.
4. Indigenous liberation is the tip of the spear.
Class is fundamentally about power. The class system was imported to our lands and it upholds racism, sexism, homophobia, and settler colonialism. Indigenous nations are not immune to this system, and, in fact, have internalized it as their own. Indigenous nations face a double class oppression—first as Native people colonized by a foreign power and second as poor people. Only revolutionary socialism that seeks decolonization and the abolition of the class system can emancipate us from the ills plaguing our nations.
Only through creating a revolutionary organization can we hope to facilitate decolonization on the path towards socialism. No revolution in history ever came about spontaneously. The conditions of a rebellion (war, slavery, starvation) may have been spontaneous, but the successful defeat of the oppressors always required determined and effective organization of a disciplined and highly-trained revolutionary cadre. This is the difference between rebellion and revolution. Rebellion is a temporary protest that seeks the recognition of those in power to change their minds. Revolution seeks to build power from below and doesn’t require the recognition of the rulers—but seeks to entirely replace them with people power and the organized masses. Rebellion is a nascent phase that can lead to revolution. But it is not guaranteed. Revolutionaries, however, guide rebellion to revolution. To do so requires a lifetime commitment, building the revolutionary organization which is the vehicle of democracy and struggle, and the unwavering belief that things can and will change.
The Red Nation is a multinational organization, representing many different Indigenous nations. Yet we recognize a common oppression, a common experience, among Native people. We are oppressed because of our Indigenousness. Therefore, as our name suggests, we are seeking to unify as a nation in this hemisphere and beyond. But our nation is one in which many nations fit. We do not privilege one Indigenous experience over the other (for example, Lakota or Diné, urban or Rez, Anglo or Spanish, etc.). But our diversity and our plurality is our strength, not our weakness. We should actively seek to create and build alliances with non-Indigenous people and struggles but our primary struggle is dedicated to building our organization and unifying our people and nations. Only a revolutionary organization, dedicated to the principles of socialism, equality, democracy, freedom, and Indigenous liberation, is capable of doing that work. But we must submit to a collective will for liberation by abandoning bourgeois individualism and narrow nationalism.
We recognize that we cannot simply make use of the ready-made machinery of the capitalist state, and that we must work towards the abolition of the police, prison, and related systems of capitalist and colonial violence. We fight for the reorganization of the economic system according to socialist principles and the democratic control over the means of production and distribution of goods, while also not reproducing unequal colonial relations. We support the growth of workers’ unions and seek to revolutionize unions towards decolonization and socialism. We reject the notion that capitalism can be administered or reformed towards more humane ends. We do, however, support policies and office-holders (even our own members if elected) that work against the interests of colonialism, capitalism, and the ruling classes, while maintaining socialist revolution as the only solution.
We encourage our membership to develop revolutionary socialism within their own nations so long as it is dedicated to the liberation of all relations. We also recognize that our traditions have been distorted as tools for oppression. If a tradition becomes a shackle, it must be broken. And while our specific nations and the lands in which we inhabit take priority for our political, cultural, and spiritual development, it should never come at the expense of others or exclude people or beings removed by force or displaced from their homelands. Therefore, the struggle of The Red Nation may take on national Indigenous characteristics depending on region and geography, but it is fundamentally dedicated to national liberation for all Indigenous peoples, which is contingent upon the liberation of everyone and the planet.
The Red Deal
Activist Cheyenne Antonio lists the toxic legacies left by resource extraction and industry on Navajo lands: Superfund sites, coal mines, uranium contamination. But fracking, she says, “is a beast times ten that we cannot contain.”
Antonio, 25, has seen the impacts in her home Torreon, a small Navajo community surrounded by oil and gas development in northwest New Mexico.
Antonio is a lead organizer with the coalition The Red Nation, whose mission calls for “the liberation of Native peoples from capitalism and colonialism” and to “center Native political agendas and struggles through direct action, advocacy, mobilization, and education.” The group is calling for a Red Deal, a new movement with a broad platform that includes treaty rights, land restoration, restoration of watersheds and waterways, and a moratorium on oil and gas extraction.
Last week she joined other activists from the Red Nation to protest the latest round of oil and gas leases auctioned by the BLM. Barred from accessing the BLM’s offices in Albuquerque, a couple dozen activists protested on a street nearby, chanting, “You can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil!” and “We won’t drink your fracking water!”
At the BLM protest, organizer Nick Estes told protesters, “Everything is up for sale: our water is up for sale, our land is up for sale, our future is up for sale,” adding: “Nobody except for us is protesting today.”
In fact, several tribal entities did file formal protests against the June 20th sales, including the All Pueblo Council of Governors and the Ojo Encino and Torreon/Starlake Chapter Governments of the Navajo Nation. They cited concerns about increasing carbon emissions as well as pollutants from oil and gas development. In its protest, the All Pueblo Council said the BLM “failed to provide adequate and meaningful tribal consultation” and violated the National Historic Preservation Act as well as the National Environmental Policy Act.
“We understand the movement to protect water and the movement to have a thriving future for everyone on the planet is what’s at stake,” she says.
“We’re trying to develop a movement that is confronting climate change head on,” she says. The Red Deal is not just fighting resource extraction, Yazzie emphasizes, but “reclaiming a relationship with our ancestral land, and treating the land and the water as a relative.”
Melissa Tso is an activist and social worker originally from Chinle, Arizona, who notes that when The Red Nation hosts educational events “people get inspired and want to take action right away,” and calls the BLM protest a way to “propel people into an action to save the earth.”
At a workshop to introduce the Red Deal held in Albuquerque near the University of New Mexico the day before the protest, activist Antonio addressed a full room of 75 Native and non-Native participants, ranging from students and educators to longtime community activists.
“We’ve been in this fight for 500 years and we’ve made multiple deals,” she said, “but this is the one where we actually get shit done.” Estes, another organizer, emphasized that “the best forms of environmental policy and protection comes not from the top down but from the bottom up.”
After a prayer and a hearty meal of bison stew, participants broke into groups to work on drafting solutions. Estes called for creating “clusters of action,” that he said could translate to different contexts, including governments at the city, state, or tribal level.
Congresswoman Deb Haaland, sent a representative to the workshop. Haaland says The Red Nation activists “are absolutely right, for far too long the US government has not lived up to its obligations to Indian tribes, and this is a new era.” Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal and says she plans to make sure tribes are included as it is developed.
Haaland says she’s also fighting for permanent protection for Chaco Canyon, a sacred site for many tribes and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In recent months the greater Chaco area received new protections from oil and gas development after both the New Mexico State Land Office and the Interior Department declared short-term moratoriums on drilling. Yet lands outside the 10 mile buffer zone remain unprotected. In May, a federal court ruled certain past leases were improperly approved by BLM without considering environmental impacts, yet the agency continues to approve new leases.
Haaland says she’s “disheartened” the latest leases were approved by the BLM. “The last thing we need are more fossil fuel projects on public land,” she says, noting that 25 percent of all US carbon emissions comes from fossil fuel production on public lands, according to a recent USGS study. “Unfortunately this administration is hellbent on pleasing the gas and oil industry at every single opportunity,” she adds.
The Red Nation activist Yazzie says given the circumstances, their coalition has no choice but to take action. “Fighting against fracking and all types of resource extraction fundamentally is about trying to allow us to have a livable future on the planet,” she says. “We really don’t have much time.”
Native Liberation conference 2018
More than 400 people made their way to historically Pueblo and Diné (Navajo) land, modern-day Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the third annual Native Liberation Conference, hosted by The Red Nation on August 11 and 12. The Red Nation is a radical organization of Natives and non-Natives organizing for Native liberation and the liberation of all.
The success of the conference follows directly from the unfolding of the largest wave of Native resistance since the 1960s and 1970s, including rise of Idle No More in Canada, the fight at Standing Rock and against other pipelines, and the #NativeLivesMatter movement.
These developments have contributed to an uptick in the questioning of the very foundations of the U.S. nation-state, which was formed as a settler-colonial state that extracted wealth from lands stolen from Indigenous Nations and the exploited labor of African slaves.
The growing resistance needs organization — in order to sustain the movement and help guide its direction. During the last big upsurge of Indigenous struggle in the 1960s and 1970s, groups like the American Indian Movement became the organizational expression of the Red Power movement. Today, we see a similar development with the founding of The Red Nation.
The Red Nation started in July 2014 after two Diné people, Cowboy and Rabbit, who had given up their home for a night to house a Diné family in need, were murdered by two white people in the community. Throughout the Southwest, this is referred to as “Indian rolling” — which is when non-Native people go around town and torture and kill Native folks on the streets.
The formation of the The Red Nation in opposition to anti-Indigenous violence — from non-Native people and from police — bears a striking resemblance to the origins of the American Indian Movement, which was also founded to fight police brutality.
The Red Nation has also organized against the Entrada, an annual celebration in Santa Fe to commemorate the re-colonization of the Pueblo People after the Pueblo revolt of 1680 kicked out the Spanish for 12 years; for the establishment of Indigenous Peoples Day; and much more.
The organization is membership-based and open to Natives and non-Natives alike. The Red Nation opted not to become a non-profit, preferring an organizing based on grassroots, democratic organizing. Its elected leadership includes Natives and non-Natives.
THE CONFERENCE opened with a reading of The Red Nation’s principles of unity, which reads in part:
- We are anti-capitalist and anti-colonial. We are Indigenous feminists who believe in radical relationality. We do not seek a milder form of capitalism or colonialism — we demand an entirely new system premised on peace, cooperation, and justice. For our Earth and relatives to live, capitalism and colonialism must die.
This statement of principles deserves to be read in its entirety, because it conveys why today’s growing left should be inspired about the project of building an anti-capitalist and socialist current in the U.S. — one that takes Native liberation and solidarity seriously.
By framing the conference with this statement, the organization started with a clear conception of who it is and what it stands for — in order to position the group to grow and build. Its membership has doubled in the last year.
The focus of this year’s conference was solidarity, and to that end, The Red Nation brought many Palestinian activists to the conference to discuss the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and the need for unity between Native and Palestinian communities with their shared history of struggle against settler-colonialism and capitalism.
Crucially, the struggle for Palestinian liberation not only means opposing Israeli apartheid, but also landing a blow against U.S. imperialism.
Nick Estes — who is Kul Wicasa, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and a co-founder of The Red Nation — moderated one of the panels about Palestine and explained why Palestine is a central issue for The Red Nation:
- We are afraid what is happening to Palestinians is what happened us...In the 19th century, about 90 to 95 percent of our population was exterminated. We had no international community to turn to. We had nowhere to flee. We were incarcerated in boarding schools. We were put on reservations. We were starved to death just the same way that is happening to Gaza. We were forced to sell our land...
- This isn’t just about [Israel] hating Palestinians for being Palestinians, it’s to take the land. It’s to eliminate the Native population...There’s a profit motive.
ANOTHER PANEL featured elders and activists from the Black Mesa region of the Navajo Nation, who have been fighting resource-extraction corporations for decades.
Melanie Yazzie — who is Diné and the recently elected chair of The Red Nation — discussed the importance of this historic struggle and her joy at hosting elders from the Black Mesa resistance in order to connect the new radicalization with the veterans of the struggles of the 1970s.
“The struggle against forced relocation is really a forced removal up on Black Mesa and the communities like Big Mountain where our relatives come from,” she said. “[This is] one of the primary struggles of indigenous resistance that ignited, as least in this region we call the American Southwest, the spirit of resistance in the 1970s.”
Melanie went on to talk about the fabrication of the conflict between the Diné people and the Hopi people over the land. “That conflict was generated and manufactured by capitalism and by the U.S. settler-state because Peabody coal came into the region and wanted to mine,” she explained.
There were also panels to connect African national liberation struggles, the historic Irish liberation struggle, the fight around ecological and treaty justice in the greater Chaco Canyon landscape, and the struggle to abolish ICE with The Red Nation’s struggle to end the Entrada.
In addition, the International Socialist Organization hosted a panel, featuring the authors of this article Brian Ward and Ragina Johnson, entitled “Solidarity Will Win: Socialism and Indigenous Peoples.”
Each room of the conference was named after different political prisoners — the Free Little Feather Room, the Free Red Fawn Room, the Free Leonard Peltier Room, the Free Mumia Abu Jamal Room, the Free Khalida Jarrar Room and the Free Tony Taylor Room.
PERHAPS MOST exciting was the infectious feeling of solidarity throughout the event. It didn’t matter who you were — if you were down for Native liberation and opposed to capitalism, there was a broad understanding that we were all on the same side.
Added to that is The Red Nation’s clear intention to build up its organizational capacity. The Red Nation has revamped its organizational structures by instituting an elected leadership and forming Freedom Councils (chapters) to prepare for growth. And the conference’s last session explained how to join The Red Nation.
Currently, The Red Nation has three chapters: in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Window Rock, Arizona (the capital of Navajo Nation); and Gallup, New Mexico (a border town of Navajo Nation with a majority Native population). But the conference included folks from around the country, including Oregon, Colorado, Wisconsin, New York, California and more.
The conference was inspiring and a further indication of the radicalization taking shape around the country and the world. The Red Nation, which is growing based on explicit class and liberation politics, promises to be a dynamic current within today’s growing left.
Its commitment to organize a grassroots, dues-paying membership is rooted in a larger political understanding of the world and the struggle needed to transform it.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz connection
The Red Nation September 5, 2018 ·
One of our favorite authors and a dear friend! Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is essential to The Red Nation political literature, and yesterday we got to hear her perspective on the history of immigration. Reminder: We have a study group on Thursday, where we’ll be discussing some of her work. Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in joining. — with Nick Estes, Elena Yen Suffling, Kiley Guy, Jennifer Marley, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Melissa Tso.
The Red Nation November 27, 2017 ·
The Red Nation family with ally Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz ❤ — attending Matriarch Monday: Open Discussion with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz with Majerle Lister, Micheailin Butler, Melissa Tso and Kodee Artis at K'É Infoshop.
The Red Nation in PALESTINE! 🇵🇸
Our empire slayer, Melissa Tso, is currently in Palestine teaching Palestinian higher-education students on Water, Land and Justice: From Standing Rock to Palestine. Contact us for more information on her presentation tomorrow in Nablus, Palestine! #FREEPALESTINE
- therednation #b4p #black4palestine — with Anntoohneohh L. Shye, Kristian Davis Bailey, Melissa Tso and Nick Estes.
- "KIVA Club and The Red Nation in the front lines standing up to the riot police protecting the convention center that housed Trump. Not because we are Bernie Sanders supporters. Not because we wanted a picture. Not because we're asking for trouble. Not because for the media attention. Not because we're 'just kids'. Not because 'don't you have better things to do'. Not because someone told us to do this. This is because we believe in our people. We believe in our purpose that our ancestors, relatives, and leaders before us have instilled into us. We, as indigenous peoples, are resilient and resistant. We do this because our past relations have stood up for us, and we shall do the same for those that will come after us. This is indigenous land, and we will always stand against someone speaking down on us, or our brothers and sisters of color. We wear our KIVA Club shirts with pride, in honor of Larry Casuse."
The Red Nation September 17, 2015 ·
Abolish Columbus Day Rally
Effort to abolish the seal of the University of New Mexico
On May 1, "Over 100 people including students, faculty, administration, and community members joined The Red Nation and the KIVA Club for a speak-out in front of the president’s office on University of New Mexico’s campus to abolish the school’s racist seal featuring the infamous colonizers, a conquistador and a frontiersman."
According to a report at The Red Nation website, "Black, Chicano, LGBTQ, Indigenous, Palestinian, Asian, and other working-class people came together and united against a common enemy, colonialism and capitalism."
According to Rebecca Hampton of Liberation News over 100 people including students, faculty, administration, and community members joined The Red Nation and the KIVA Club for a speak-out in front of the president’s office on University of New Mexico’s campus to abolish the school’s racist seal featuring the infamous colonizers, a conquistador and a frontiersman. UNM is located on traditional Indigenous Pueblo land, where occupation and genocide against Native people is ongoing.
The Red Nation organizer David Maile said, “Respect existence or expect resistance!” The seal mocks the existence of Native people, but today activists and community members celebrated 500 years of resistance and carried the struggle forward for liberation and self-determination for Native people.
UNM directly profits from its occupation of indigenous land in multiple ways, Sharidynn Denetchiley, student and organizer with the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, explained. “UNM gets a lot out of Tribal Scholarships from in-state and out of state, and [UNM] is gaining more and more financially, so these demands need to be met.”
Black, Chicano, LGBTQ, Indigenous, Palestinian, Asian, and other working-class people came together and united against a common enemy, colonialism and capitalism.
Former UNM instructor and community organizer Vernon Butler stressed, “You cannot have racism without oppression, and you cannot have oppression without capitalism!”
It was clear that UNM President Bob Frank doesn’t stand with his students against racism and couldn’t even listen to his own students when he fled his office for a “meeting” at the beginning of the speak-out. After the speak-out, protesters stormed the president’s office to deliver a list of demands and petition signatures in support of abolishing the racist seal.
When confronted, President Frank told students that he did not find the seal to be racist and fumbled when they continued to ask if the seal promotes genocide. The Red Nation organizer and PhD candidate Melanie Yazzie declared: “Bob Frank you have blood on your hands! We are going to keep holding this university accountable until it concedes to our demands!”
When asked why the seal should be abolished, activists asserted:
“It [the seal] should be abolished and removed,” said Robin Minthorn, UNM faculty. “It is racist and hurtful to Indigenous students and community,”
Student Renata Yazzie explained, “It is a slap in the face and inherently racist,”
Student Kory Klee elaborated: “The seal’s colonial imagery is a continuation of the ignorance in our education system. Its colonial ideas continue the romanticizing of a genocide of indigenous people.”
“It [the seal] is representative of a harsh period of colonial imperialist conquest of the original people,” said Shiloh Tso, community member.
“Abolish the seal! Abolish Columbus Day!” said Cheyenne Antonio, former president of KIVA Club and The Red Nation organizer, who has been organizing against racism since she was a freshman at UNM. Antonio. “[The seal] is racist and offensive to me and my ancestors because it promotes violence and genocide towards Native people.”
Jennifer Marley, KIVA Club secretary and The Red Nation organizer, affirmed, “[If the seal were abolished] this would push UNM towards taking an anti-colonial stance, as well as instill basic human rights norms into UNM policy.”
“We abolished Columbus Day, and it wasn’t because we asked nicely and appealed to City Council. We abolished it because we demanded it. We stood up, we marched in the streets, and forced them to listen to the community standing up against injustice and we’re gonna abolish the racist seal! The war on Indigenous people never ended. Socialism calls for all oppressed people to unite in our struggle against a common enemy, capitalism. Colonialism needs to be equated with capitalism. We unite and fight because not only do Native lives depend on it, but all lives depend on it,” said Party for Socialism and Liberation organizer and The Red Nation co-founder, Paige Murphy.
In the spirit of internationalism, organizers from the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice and Jewish Voices for Peace called for solidarity with Palestinians struggling against colonial occupation and for support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.
“If they [UNM administration] really wanted to get rid of racism on campus, this seal wouldn’t have even been created. We all need to join together, Black, white, Native , anybody on campus if you are against racism, which you should be!” exclaimed Jacklyn Asamoah, president of the Black Student Union.
“Like Larry Casuse said, ‘What’s your commitment? What are you going to do? You can’t just talk about it,” said Demetrius Johnson encouraging activists, students, and the community members to get involved in the movement. Only through multi-national unity and by building a broad movement against capitalism, colonialism and imperialism will we cultivate real change.
Michael Butler April 5, 2015 ·
The Red Nation held a march and press conference against border town violence in Gallup on April 4th, 2015 — with Jeremy Yazzie, Melanie Yazzie, Nick Estes, Larry Foster, Peter Clark and Daniel Foster.
Abolish Columbus Day
March 2015 a new group of activists, The Red Nation, and an estimated 80 community members endured snow flurries and cold temperatures for a press conference in front of Albuquerque’s City Hall to demand the city abolish Columbus Day.
The press conference was held symbolically on the 42nd anniversary of Wounded Knee Liberation Day. On February 27, 1973 the American Indian Movement occupied the Wounded Knee Massacre site in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, which lasted for 71 days. It was initiated by AIM to spread awareness of historical and ongoing injustices to Indigenous people.
The Red Nation is a newly-formed coalition in Albuquerque composed of Native activists and allies to intervene in the struggle for Indigenous liberation against colonialism. The coalition formed as a response to the marginalization of Indigenous people in the mainstream social justice movement. The Red Nation provides a voice and a space to build a widespread movement against a racist, sexist system that profits from the exploitation of Native life and land all across the globe.
Nick Estes (Lakota), an organizer with The Red Nation, spoke about the history of genocide perpetrated against the Lakota at Wounded Knee in 1890 and ongoing police and community violence against Native poor and homeless in Albuquerque.”Symbolically, that’s what Columbus Day represents, ongoing violence and genocide against Native people on Native land,” he said.
“If South Dakota, a right-wing and racist state, can abolish Columbus Day, why can’t New Mexico?” asked Sam Gardipe (Pawnee/Sac and Fox), from The Red Nation and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Bianca Cowboy (Diné), from The Red Nation, a student, and a member of the UNM undergraduate senate, ASUNM, spoke about the violent history of Columbus and how ASUNM will be considering a resolution that would call on UNM administration to change Columbus Day on campus to “Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance & Resilience Day.”
“From the disproportionate violence that Indigenous people experience from citizens and cops here in Albuquerque, to the ongoing theft of Indigenous water rights by big cities and corporations through so-called ‘legal settlements’ that will ensure we are no longer able to live in our own homelands, to the horrifying impact of nuclear and uranium development in Indigenous communities,” Melanie Yazzie (Diné) stated on behalf of The Red Nation, “it is clear that Indigenous people must fight simply to survive.”
Speaking against Columbus Day and the history of the Catholic Church in perpetuating injustices towards Indigenous peoples, Catholic Priest Frank Quintana with Ecumenical Catholic Communion said, “in repentance and reparation, I propose that non-Native people – especially Christians – unite in solidarity with indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere to impress upon Pope Francis, when he visits the U.S. in the fall, how important it is for him to revoke, in a formal ceremony with indigenous people, any Papal Bull, and all Church documents that gave authority to the archaic, erroneous, reprehensible, and anti Gospel teaching of The Doctrine of Discovery, which allowed the conquering and oppression of the indigenous peoples of this hemisphere, and the world over.”
District 6 and Albuquerque City Council President Rey Garduno supported Friday’s actions. He said, “There aren’t three cultures [in New Mexico]. There are two oppressors. Time to take that yoke off.”
“There is still a war being waged on Indigenous land,” Paige Murphy (Diné), from The Red Nation and the Party for Socialism and Liberation. “We’re not going to take it. We’re not going to be abused anymore. We’re still fighting. We’re still resisting.”
- The Red Nation website, accessed May 26 2016
- Native Liberation 2015: The Red Nation’s Year in Review, accessed May 26 2016
- Radio Havana Cuba,Venezuela promotes ties of brotherhood with U.S. Indigenous people30/10/19
- The NM Report June 24, 2019CHACO CANYON It’s not the Green New Deal: It’s the Red Deal… and it’s in NM By Sara Van Note
- Facebook Invitation
- Facebook Post by The Red Nation
- The Native Struggle
- UNM President Stands with Racism, Students Speak Out
- Liberation News Albuquerque: Activists speak out against racist seal, university president stands with racism By Rebecca HamptonApr 29, 2016
- Liberation Activists demand city of Albuquerque abolish Columbus day By Paige MurphyMar 03, 2015