Wednesday, May 05, 2010

First Nations weigh in on AZ anti-immigrant law

A powerful message from:

First Nations United
3044 Longfellow Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55407


April 26, 2010

"While the power of the Europeans has continued, I see the other part of
the Ghost Dance prophecy coming true today. So-called 'Hispanics,' with
faces that sure look like Indians to me, are returning to repopulate North
America. We cannot always speak to each other because we have learned the
languages of different colonial powers. But these Indians have as much
right to come and go on our land as the geese when they migrate north and
south. No one would dare to ask them for their passports and visas as they
cross manmade borders.

Instead of seeing 'Hispanics' as outsiders who do not belong here, we need
to start seeing them as ancestors of the original inhabitants of these
lands. They are the living fulfillment of the Ghost Dance prophecy."

-Chief Billy Redwing Tayac, Piscataway Nation

First Nations United, an Indigenous organization largely made up of
members of the Red Lake/Ojibwe Nation and the Dakota/Crow Creek Nation,
would like to formally express its outrage and disagreement with the SB
1070 ("Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods") Bill passed
last week by the state of Arizona. This bill is extremely detrimental to
the indigenous communities (including indigenous peoples of Latin American
origin), which reside in the state of Arizona as well as those who live
throughout the country. The language of the bill states that if there is
"reasonable suspicion" that a person is an illegal immigrant, a
"reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable" to check for
documents. Such language purposefully promotes the racial profiling of
brown-skinned people, and in particular, of people of American indigenous
background. As an indigenous organization, which stands for the civil and
human rights of indigenous peoples throughout the continent, we are
concerned that this bill will promote the unfair and discriminatory
arrests, prosecution, and deportation of people of American indigenous
descent-not only of those who belong to federally recognized tribes, but
also of the hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who have migrated
from South/Central America and Mexico to what is now called "the United
States." Indigenous peoples across the continent do not recognize the
borders established by the settler colonialist state on our lands, and, we
do not agree with the malicious and dehumanizing way in which the settler
colonialist government wants to enforce them.

As an Indigenous organization, we recognize that indigenous peoples from
Latin America have every right to migrate up and down the continent as
they please and as they have done through trade and communication routes
since time immemorial. The native peoples of the continent should be the
ones establishing immigration laws and enforcing them. However, because we
were disempowered through genocide and colonization, and because we have
consistently treated "foreigners" in a more humane and hospitable way, we
respect peoples' rights to migrate. If we did enforce such power, only
tribal identifications from throughout the continent (including
documentation identifying peoples from Latin American indigenous ancestry)
would be recognized as legitimate, and we could very well racially profile
people of Caucasian descent as the true and eternal foreigners.

As the first peoples of this continent, we pose this question to Governor
Brewer, Senator Russell Pearce, and law enforcement in the state of
Arizona, "Who are you to check for documents?" We remind them that the
power they have taken to legislate was established by an immigrant and
illegal settler colonialist government, which has consistently relied on
the genocide and mistreatment of the original peoples of this continent.

First Nations United greatly objects to SB 1070 and denounces Governor
Brewer, Senator Pearce, and the State of Arizona as anti-Indigenous,
cruel, and racist. We call for an Indigenous boycott of the State of
Arizona until this bill is repealed or found unconstitutional as it will
gravely violate the civil and human rights of indigenous people in the
state and throughout the country.


Gabriela Spears-Rico
Doctoral Candidate
Dep't of Comparative Ethnic Studies
University of California, Berkeley
506 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 643-0796 [Tel]
(510) 642-6456 [Fax]

"Note to Gov. Brewer and those Arizonans who voted for its new police-state law: If you're really that upset about being surrounded by Mexicans, maybe you shouldn't live in what was, until relatively recently, Mexico." (

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