Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Life In Occupied America (2003)

"By 1890, the census of the United States officially recorded that there were fewer than 250,000 living Native people within the borders of the 48 contiguous states of the United States. This from a population which ranged anywhere from 12—15 million: 98% attrition of population from the point the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock, and the date that census was taken. Corresponding, you find Native people at that point reduced to approximately 2% of their original land base. And the land, of course, is what it was always about....In order to consume the resources within the land, you had to consume the people of the land. That is the nature of the process. And the situation has not changed at the present." —Ward Churchill, from the CD

In this trenchant, and often bitingly acerbic lecture, coupled with a fiery question and answer session, Native activist scholar Ward Churchill lays out the current state of Native America. From the first recorded instance of biological warfare (a written order from the British commander Lord Amherst in 1763 to utilize smallpox infected blankets as a means of cleansing his rebellious subjects) to a Native population today living in conditions of Third World poverty (a life expectancy on the Reservations for a man of less than 50 years, 60% unemployment, and outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague, for example), Churchill tracks the effects, causes, and consequences of 500 years of wars, broken treaties, duplicity, exploitation, environmental degradation, genocide and colonization—life in occupied America (in the words of John Trudell) since predator came.
Crucially, Churchill addresses the confluence of interests that we all have, indigenous, and otherwise—the promise and challenge of overcoming Occupied America.

"Whatever happens to us, ultimately happens to everyone else...It's self preservation and survival for you, just like it is for us. So you need to take a look at our resistance, and you need to support our resistance, not because you think in some abstract way that our resistance is just and correct, but because our resistance is your resistance in the end. If we lose, you're lost. To the extent that we win, you have a chance. Don't do us any favors, do it for yourselves....Indian struggles for land, life and liberty, are the same everywhere. Every square inch of land that Indians can maintain control of, or regain control of, is one less inch of land the predatory process that consumes you, along with us, can affect." —Ward Churchill, from the CD