Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

December 14, 2011

De-Occupy O'odham Lands: In defense of the land and peoples

Dr. Julian Kunnie: Anarchy and Democracy in America

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Listen to this gathering at Censored News Blogtalk Radio: Audio Part I, II and III
TUCSON --  Author John Zerzan and Professor Dr. Julian Kunnie joined O’odham at the gathering, De-Occupy O’odham Lands. Ofelia Rivas, founder of the O’odham VOICE against the Wall, welcomed all to O’odham land, as they gathered at the Dry River Radical Resource Center. Rivas said it was International Human Rights Day and pointed out that those rights apply only to a few in America.

Julian Rivas, O'odham, said O’odham are protecting their traditions and sacred way of life, the Himdag. “We’ve been here 500 years and we’re going to be here 500 more years.”

Julian Rivas said the border fence has come across O’odham land dividing animals, human, ideals and governments. He said, however, that the border does not exist for O’odham.

“That does not exit for us. We are still one and always will be.”

Recognizing that Indigenous Peoples were the first peoples of this land, John Zerzan, author living in Oregon, spoke at the gathering. Zerzan said Indigenous Peoples must be listened to, and included in the consultations at the current Occupy movement, in order for the movement to be viable. Zerzan described the recent vote at Occupy Oakland, where the request to change the name to Decolonize Oakland was narrowly defeated. Zerzan described how on Sunday, Dec 4, 2011, Ohlone, original peoples of the Oakland area, were among those who presented the proposal to the General Assembly to change the name from Occupy Oakland to Decolonize Oakland. The vote was less than the 90 percent necessary for passage.

“Free the people, free the land,” said Dr. Kunnie, as he urged for freedom for political prisoners. Dr. Kunnie began with recognizing the bounties of Mother Earth and describing the rape and destruction of Mother Earth. “She gives us life, oxygen. Without her turning we would not be here.”

Dr. Kunnie thanked the Tohono O’odham, and the neighboring Indian Nations, recognizing the first people of this region of Turtle Island. “Mother Earth does not recognize borders. That is why we say, ‘Down with the US Mexico border!’ ‘Down with the US Mexico border!’ ‘Down with the wall.’ We thought the wall fell in Berlin in 1989, only to be erected right here in Nogales; this electrified wall. Why do we have walls that separate us?”

Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier and Bradley Manning were among the long list of political prisoners that Dr. Kunnie named.

Dr. Kunnie said the Declaration on Human Rights states that prisoners should not be placed in solitary confinement for more than 15 years. However, in the US some have been in solidarity confinement for more than 30 years. He described how people of color and the poor are targeted for incarceration, and then suffer the most, in US prisons.

“This marks the repression of the state,” Dr. Kunnie said, speaking out against control, colonization and Christopher Columbus.

After thanking the Dry River Radical Collective for hosting the event, Dr. Kunnie discussed the words “anarchy” and “democracy.”

“In fact, there’s a play on words, because anarchy implies total chaos, lawlessness and destruction. But all that, that we have seen, has come out through United States democracy.”

“The laws of the state have been laws of repression.”

 Indigenous Peoples, he said, are barred from carrying out their ceremonies in this repressive police state. In Arizona, Indigenous Peoples are prevented from carrying out their sacred ceremonies on San Francisco Peaks because of the Snowbowl.

“We don’t pay rent to Indigenous Peoples, but we do pay rent to large corporations like Bank of America.”

“The earth is respecter of no boundaries, no borders, ask her.”

Listen to more of Dr. Kunnie’s talk on Censored News Blogtalk Radio:

About the speakers:

John Zerzan has been active in the anti-authoritarian movement from the ‘60s on and has articulated a critique of technology and civilization that has deepened and sharpened hostility to capitalism. In recent years he has been published in the theory journal TELOS, the Detroit publication Fifth Estate, Eugene’s Green Anarchy, and Species Traitor (an anarcho-primitivist journal). His books include Elements of Refusal (1988, 1998), Future Primitive (1994), Against Civilization (1999), Running on Emptiness (2002), Twilight of the Machines (2008), and Origins: A John Zerzan Reader (2010). Future Primitive Revisited will appear in Spring 2012. His weekly Anarchy Radio broadcast streams live on KWVA radio, Eugene. Oregon, USA; past shows are available at

Julian Kunnie is a Professor of Religious Studies/Classics at the University of Arizona He is the author of numerous articles in various internationally recognized journals and books. His books include Indigenous Wisdom and Power: Affirming our Knowledge Through Narratives (2006), Is Apartheid Really Dead? Pan Africanist Working Class Cultural Critical Perspectives (2000), and Models of Black Theology; Issues of Class, Culture, and Gender (1994). His forthcoming book is Globalization and Its Victims: Wars Against the Earth and the Impoverished of the World (Rowman and Littefield). He is currently working on a prison research project that interrogates issues of race, class, and gender and is geared toward preventing the incarceration of youth, particularly those of color, entitled Enchained Humanity: A Comparative Study of the Infliction of Incarceration on Persons in United States and South African Prisons.

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