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Iroquois Nationals, Nationalism and Exception - Unbinding Prometheus

About Iroquois Nationals, Nationalism and Exception

Previous Entry Iroquois Nationals, Nationalism and Exception Jul. 16th, 2010 @ 04:30 pm Next Entry
Recently, I posted a number of articles about the Iroquois Nationals difficulty with using their Haudenosaunee passports to travel to the World Lacrosse Championship in Manchester.

A friend asked me, "I'm not, by asking the following, accusing you of exceptionalism, but what is the ground for exempting indigenous groups from your general anarchist critiques of other nationalisms and statisms? Or have all or certain indigenous groups politics been deemed sufficiently fitting of anarchist concepts that their exercise of 'human right' to 'collective' self-determination and self-definition are not considered nationalist and statist?"

It's a fair question.

I want Iroquois Nationals to beat the pants off of England!

More seriously, I believe in the free migration of people and I believe people have a 'human right' to self-determination. What constitutes a state is a fine discussion to have, though I think most human polities fall between the poles of anarchy and totalitarian and I prefer the kind that lean towards the anarchy side.

As to nations: I believe that nations exist at the very least as a social construct among those who self-identify with a nation. I think they can be limiting in ways and definitely fray towards the edges; where things get really interesting. When nationalism is tied to the state, all kinds of bad things happen including the stagnation of culture. Whatever definition I might come up with nation, I think the Six Nations have a far better claim to being a "nation" than perhaps some other claims. I'm really not caught up on defining what *is* and *isn't* a nation though... leave that up to whoever is identifying with whatever nation. If the nation is not the ideology of a coercive state, it really doesn't matter whether someone isn't say national enough for whatever national definition is being used.

As to nationalism: I support working class struggles against political and economic imperialism, racism, genocide and colonization. Which is not to say that I support the formation of a new minority ruling class that will engage in political domination and economic exploitation even if the lay claim to being part of the same nation as those they dominate and exploit. I also think that people have a right to participatory decision-making; if the decision effects them... then they should have a part in making it. I do think that people do have a right to decide what happens to the landbase they live upon and have done so for sometime.

Douglas Creek

To take it out of the abstract, I found it easy to support the Six Nations Reclamation of the Douglas Creek Estates in regards to the province of Ontario and the municipality of Caledonia. Seemed clear to me it was a case of outside developers wanting to expand suburban growth for Toronto as tract housing subdivision in what was relatively undeveloped land claimed collective by the Six Nations. This was a gentrifying land grab that was by no means necessary. It was an entirely speculative real estate endeavor for private profit. That's the class part. To add insult to injury, the city of Brantford, barely 30 miles away is in the process of tearing down a whole street of adequate buildings (similar to Huntington's 3rd Avenue before SuperBlock; actually the Brantford buildings are probably in better shape). Unlike Caledonia, Brantford has a larger highway, a rail hub and far more urban density--that's an urban planning ecological part.

Which isn't to say that the national identity of the 6 Nations wasn't important to the whole situation, it is! It's the unifying narrative of the community resisting and it's the historical basis to why there is a Six Nations at Ohsweken, a Brantford and a Caledonia at all. The Reclamation began as a non-violent sit in, but it was the Ontario Provincial Police that decided to escalate and attempt to violent enforce a claim of property ownership that was backed up by a judge who also claims landownership on disputed part of the Haldimand Tract. Even if the ownership of the particular land by the 6 Nations is in doubt, it would have been owned by the Government; which was choosing to "enclose the commons" by selling the land for private profiteering against the wishes of the local community. After the police violence was opposed, then folks started whipping up obvious racist sentiment among some Caledonians against the 6 Nations. The national aspect I don't think should be ignored here in addition to the class character of the conflict and the ecological and community aspects. Part of the reason that a developer thought they could profit easily without community opposition, part of the reason the Ontario police thought they could end a demonstration with a violent attack, and part of the reason the Judge thought he could get away with the decisions he was reaching is because of the history of how the Canadian state has treated the indigenous nations in the past. In living memory, Canada used to steal their children and hand them over to residency schools--they probably thought they could get away with seizing more land for private profit. In this situation, they guessed wrong. Outside of the abstract discussion on nationalism, I know clearly where I am in regards to this conflict.

Oka Crisis

Though I was 16 at the time and completely unaware of it, I'm generally now infavor of Kanesatake pine groves and cemeteries not becoming a private golf course and luxury housing for similar reasons.

Play Ball!

When it comes to whether some world championship quality Lacrosse players ought to be able to fly to the once in every 4 years world Lacrosse championship, and compete in the game that their ancestors invented, and to do so in as a team constituted among the nations that invented the game, and in honoring the treaties going back centuries, a very short time after the Queen of England also acknowledged that, and that they should do so with identity documents that acknowledge that history, and that travelling that way has been legal for centuries and permitted all up until NOW... I'm clearly with the Iroquois Nationals on this. Let them play! Generally speaking I'm not a fan of the onerous restrictions governments make on the migration of people.

One aspect of the Iroquois Nationals which I find politically fascinating is in terms of terminology is that it's not a national team, but rather a team of a confederacy of distinct nations (that, albeit share a common history, language and cultural similarities). Haudenosaunee, traditionally, is a confederacy of distinct nations and not a nation unto itself. Atleast, that's how I understand it.


As a contrast, when it comes to say the Oneida nation, I think Arthur Raymond Halbritter is a petty dictator and capitalist exploiter willing to use violence to increase his power and money through the Turning Stone Casino. I generally favor the efforts of Oneidas for Democracy; and I think Halbritter shows the kind of man he is by uprooting the tree of peace that Jake Swamp (who I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by two weeks ago) planted to try and encourage peace and reconciliation.

Trafficking and Relocation

When it comes to things like tobacco and firearms trafficking or the relocation of established community residents by decree of say the Canadian or U.S. recognized Indian governments with such criteria as blood quantum (or as another example, recent evictions in Kahnawake; I am considerably more conflicted and have contradictory thoughts. Rarely do I ever think forced population transfers are good thing and often show humanity at it's worst.

What about me?

Ofcourse, keep in mind... I am very distant to all these struggles; and have only once been to Kahnawake. It's really not my place to be throwing a lot of judgements around; but once I learn about these things... I can't help but have opinions, and I'm offering them here to explain how my own politics address the contradictions of being an anarchist in a world of states, and being an internationalist in a world of nations (an internationalist is not the same thing as an anti-nationalist). Personally, I try to take up T-Pain's banner "My country is the world, and my religion is to do good." Merely surviving day to day causes me to constantly sacrifice pure political principle. That said, I still find those principles useful for informing my actions and deciding upon my pragmatic choices.

As to "exceptionalism", I will say that I have developed an appreciation and fondness for what I understand of Iroquois culture. Something I did not have when I was in ignorance of all things Iroquoisan. Part of that appreciation does come from seeing similarities between a multitude of political ideas I have and with historical aspects of the traditional Haudenosaunee polity--though it also goes beyond that as well. I would hope that those cultural aspects I appreciate would not disappear from the world. I would also hope that the Iroquois culture would be a living, changing, evolving culture. I think that tradition has a lot of values I prefer over some contrasting values of the society within which I was raised... though even those traditional values I admire are as much in need of reconstruction as they are in sustaining.

It is something I'll will largely have to be outside of, though it does influence how I think about things and potentially my actions.

I am in a wage labor relationship with a private employer, use currency, pay taxes, have a U.S. passport, a state issued ID by Maryland, a 401K tied up in mutual funds, private health insurance and I'm a joint owner in automobile, and I have a lease with a landlord. Most of that also wouldn't be part of my anarchist utopia.

Did I mention I want the Iroquois Nationals to beat the pants off of England?

Bump hips!

Update: FIL announced that the competition schedule had progressed too far to allow Iroquois to compete in the tournament. France, Canada, U.S., England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales all got to compete in the tournament. That's right, England, Scotland and Wales field their own national teams, despite being part of the same sovereign state.
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Date:July 16th, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
Beating pants off people, bumping hips...frankly sir, I'm uncomfortable with this post.
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Date:July 16th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
Obviously very uncomfortable you anonymous prude!
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