Defending Stolen Land: Ceremony, Becoming, and Rethinking our Relations
Nickerson, Rachael Leigh
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As awareness of the environmental impacts caused by capitalist driven industries such as fossil fuel extraction continues to grow, so do the number of communities engaging in protest against these industries. The shared vision among these communities to protect the land has the potential to build stronger resistance, but too often oppressive power structures such as white supremacy, manifestations of racism, colonialism, and different ways of conceptualizing land have undermined cross-cultural action; especially for Indigenous resistance. One of the most challenging tensions between and among white-settler activists and Indigenous activists exists around the term decolonization and what it really looks like, particularly regarding the role of land within the decolonization process. This essay explores how settlers might engage with and defend the stolen land they occupy from environmental destruction in ways that work in solidarity with Indigenous autonomy. Inspired by theorists like Dave, Deleuze, Haraway, and Silko, I consider the possibilities that ‘ceremony as becoming’ offers as a catalyst to a land-based ethic, alternative to the capitalist ethic common in settler communities. I am especially interested in how the space created by ceremony might offer separate and cross-cultural healing that would facilitate temporary or even long-term coexistence.