Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 5.28.09

Revisioning America
Why is our civilization based on inequity?
by Mark Harris

There are days when I wish I could write citations for violations of the Turtle Island United Code of Justice. The basic violation is acting as if you are not connected to All Your Relations, in the indigenous sense of the word “relations.” Ignorance of the law is no excuse, any more than it would be under American jurisprudence. It does require that you act as if you have some sense, at least a sense of history before 1492, 1776, 1859 or of late, Sept. 11, 2001. 

After attending a series of events over the last few months, starting with a Sesquicentennial Observance at the library and ending with a UO Conference on Racial Formation, the DisOrient Fillm Festival and the Pacifica Forum, I’ve come to revision America beyond a form of settler colonialism (a term from the UO conference). Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel) notwithstanding, it’s not your homeland until you’ve lived there for at least 100 generations, until the very soil itself gives you its voice, in the form of your language. For example, Hawaiian He ali’I ka aina, he kauwa ke kanaka: Land is chief, people are its humble servants. 

Settlers, much like squatters, come into your homeland and claim it for their own, deeming you too lazy or primitive to possess it — not seeing that the forestlands of Virginia were kept free of underbrush by natives; not seeing that the grass field burning of the Kalapuya kept down the grasshoppers, provided fertilizer for the camas and generally kept the balance in the valley. 

But beyond sustainable ecological coexistence, there exist sets of racial grammar and etiquette, rules of discourse and behavior which serve to further understanding or confusion and at worst genocide and oppression. The settlers weren’t interested in coexistence as guests on the homelands of the indigenous. Here and elsewhere, the indigenous were in the way of the progress of Western Civilization. The role of the indigenous is to disappear. The role of yellow, black  and brown is to serve while the white man bears his burden of civilizing the rest of us. Thus speaks the Supreme Court in interpreting the Constitution over the years.  

Elsewhere conservation refugees — people who have lived on the land for millennia — are moved out of their ancestral lands so the newly created parks can be enjoyed by eco-tourists on safari. When they attempt to hunt as they always have, they are deemed “poachers.” Of course oil companies who pollute are not poachers but bearers of progress and prosperity. 

So it’s not just the racial discourse but also the doing. Whether you believe (as I do not) in ZOG, Western Civilization is a social form based on inequity. Like junkies need their fixes, we depend on a system which replicates not only a form of racial superiority but human supremacy rather than interdependency with the rest of our relations. Which of Earth’s children shall remain unfed; which should pass away? Which remain? Why not all?


Mark Harris is an instructor and substance abuse prevention coordinator at LCC.