We stand with struggles of oppressed peoples around the globe! Black Lives Matter!
CHÉNCHENSTWAY IN SOLIDARITY WITH ELDERS
Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee, Skwxwú7mesh, is a decolonial facilitator and strategist catalyzing social change to transform colonial narratives impacts.
In our work, we share the teaching of Chénchenstway, it’s a Squamish sacred law that means lifting each other up. It’s been beautiful to witness the teaching in action and be part of the circle. I’m always talking about the value of Indigenous ways NOW, envisioning ways forward grounded in ways of the lands we occupy. We were able to lift the Elders who have always lifted us. Community has lifted us up with donations and sponsorships for a digital series of our workshops. We’ve had three philanthropic organizations approach us to sponsor five workshops, which is helping us a lot. So, everything that we share from Squamish values and teachings has come back to us, back to our Elders.
How is Chénchenstway connected to mutual aid and solidarity?
What’s interesting is we, Skwxwú7mesh stelmexw, don’t need the words Solidarity or Mutual Aid. Chénchenstway is embedded in our lives as a sacred law to live by. Community care and collective wellness is a social norm, so to encourage solidarity or mutual aid would be like encouraging breath. Within our cultural resurgence, we’re surfacing these ways, but to be clear, neocolonialism, trauma, and scarcity continue to get in the way. I appreciate the notions of mutual aid and solidarity, and to connect across language and teachings, with the shared meanings and impact of these approaches, keeps me going.
Klee Benally (Diné/Navajo) is a volunteer with Táala Hooghan Infoshop and Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual Aid, and a writer, musician and filmmaker.
We’re organizing with the vision that these efforts have the power to make capitalism and colonialism irrelevant. We are actively establishing interventions to ensure that these systems don’t recuperate. To that end we’ve established an Indigenous Mutual Aid network (www.indigenousmutualaid.org) to build connections through and beyond this crisis. Since most of the current Indigenous mutual aid organizing is an extension of work that has been ongoing in sacred land and water struggles, for unsheltered relatives, or elder support, we already have a lot of those deep relation- ships and experiences working together. We want to radically redistribute resources and power but we also don’t want to be burdened by leftist political baggage.
In many ways that and the threat of non-profit industrial cooptation are perhaps our biggest challenges. That’s part of why we’re asserting the need for a specific tendency of Indigenous Mutual Aid; we’ve dealt with white saviors and so much “decolonial” fetishism from radicals. We need them to get out of the way so we can do what we need to do. They have a role, but if we’re not organizing on our terms than it’s the same charity bullshit we’ve faced before, no matter how much people say it’s “solidarity.”
Lefxaru, from the Lof (community) Newen Mapu, in the Argentine Patagonia.
"There are people who share their certainties with us, but also, and this is key, they share their questions, their doubts ...
Our experience is sustained essentially through the questions we ask ourselves ...
Those questions that mobilize, break maps, open paths ...
Those people who build strength in uncertainty – with them I go to life and I go to war, I go to death and to the party, with them I plunge into a river or a song ... "
In the north of the city of São Paulo there is a Guarani Indigenous land, Aldeia Jaraguá. Thiago Karai Djekupe’s family has been fighting for the right to stay on the land for generations and to protect the native nature that sur- rounds it.
We are demanding fast testing for everyone in the community. So far we’ve had a few losses of indigenous people to corona in other territories throughout Brazil. We are part of the Guarani Yvyrupa Comission that covers the Guarani people from all territories, and the APIB, which is the Articulation of the Indigenous People of Brazil. Through these organizations we exchange information and organize to work for prevention and to denounce abuses.
… In the capitalist model of civilization it is hard to learn to live in equilibrium.
Even after suffering so much, once things get better, people forget. People have been under so much anxiety that their way of life has imposed on them that they take risks, because without risking their lives they can’t survive in that system.
People are still confused about who they are. Ailton Krenak, my godfather, indigenous leader and author, wrote about this lesson we learn from the elderly: postponing the end of the world will take people re-learning how to live. Understanding that simplicity is what matters. That having shelter, food, joy and community is what one needs, so we can have an actual sustainable life. This life is possible, but Capital has been fighting this idea and this model of life since its beginning. Capitalism is trying to destroy our indigenous culture as another way to destroy this model of a communal and sustainable life.