Stolen Land

IMG_3052
Waking Up to a New Landscape. Photo: Jenny Holmberg, June 2019

“Who used to live here, before?”

The constant question. Sometimes it’s possible to find information about it quite easily, but often only after a long scrolling through European-sounding names from the last 500 years or so. The picture above is from somewhere near Rowe, New Mexico, from the first morning of the train ride this summer. www.native-land.ca (a good place to start at, I’ve recently learned) tells me that that used to be the land of Jicarilla Apache, Pueblos and Jumanos nations (using the “territory” part of the map). Ok, and then what? What do I actually do with that knowledge?

To be able (if even possible?) to live as a just person in a country where the history – with Indigenous peoples being forced from the land, other peoples kidnapped and brought from their homes to the continent to work in slavery – is so pressingly present in the system today, what does one need to do? Who do we need to be? Personally I quickly end up thinking that I just shouldn’t be here in the first place…and it might very well be the case that we will head east back to Sweden to live eventually (I am lucky to have a partner who, even though being born here, loves the idea of living in Sweden some day).

For now, I am reading about the territories I’ve traveled through this summer, for example starting with a google search of the names given at native-land.ca, checking #:s to find accounts/people to learn more from and maybe finding businesses or causes to support. It won’t change anything really (especially not the history) but knowledge is a start, as always – including about land acknowledgements and the risk of them turning into performance while not really doing any good if not followed up properly.

@nativeapprops and @lilnativeboy are two excellent people to follow, support and learn from, as a start, as well. And fellow swedes, check out voices under for example #girjasmotstaten to learn more about what’s happening in our corner of the world too.

🗺🗺🗺🗺🗺🗺

The above text is from a post on instagram a few days ago. Since coming back from this summer’s travels, I’ve gone deep into the…I don’t know even how to word it yet. Reading about the lands I’ve traveled through (as well as the land I currently live on) is taking up more and more space in my thoughts and in my heart. The stories that are told in sometimes short descriptions are horrendous. And slowly slowly I’m also realizing how this is not talked about, as widely as I thought it was, here. I think I’ve been in the belief that all this stuff is so known, and “worked on” (whatever that would even mean), that that’s why I haven’t heard it talked about so much during my first year and a half here. I don’t know if that makes sense at all (probably not…) but anyhow, I’m realizing now that many people just really…don’t think about these things, at all.

As I walk down the streets here in Venice, looking at all the “young and beautiful” people entering the bars, sitting in the cafés, hanging out on the beach…and at the same time thinking about the indigenous people whose words I’m searching for more and more…it seems so divided. Like different planets lived on. And yet, it’s not. The earth we now walk upon here, used to be Tongva land, according to the map www.native-land.ca (“territory” setting). Now, centuries later – what does that mean to us? It is not possible to go back in history and make it “not have happened”. And for the hundreds of years that have followed the atrocities performed by colonizers in the past, generations of settlers have been born on the same grounds that the native nations were driven from and killed upon. Where treaties were dishonored. Where the white man entered as an evil force onto the lands – instead of arriving peacefully, which would have also been possible (and who knows what things could have been today if that would have been the case).

In this moment, this all seems too unclear to even go anywhere with. It seems unsolvable and the only thing I can think of to do now is just about what I wrote a few days ago. To read more, learn more. And probably, maybe, eventually retreating, as well. Not that that will really change much, or anything (again), but…anything else just sounds impossible, at least right now. Until then, I want to talk to everyone I meet, and ask them what their view on this all is. I am so wondering what people think, if they think about it, what they “do”, if they do anything at all. I will listen and learn, talk and walk the walk. To the best of my means.

Make sure to read this text about Land Acknowledgements, too, as a start, if you happen to have read all the way here (in which case, thank you and please reach out with thoughts and input):

www.native-land.ca/territory-acknowledgement

And a few other resources just as examples of places to go – plenty of links in the articles to further our reading:

www.archive.attn.com/stories/12954/us-history-of-broken-promises-to-native-americans

www.papermag.com/thanksgiving-native-american-history

www.womensmediacenter.com/news-features/research-reveals-media-role-in-stereotypes-about-native-americans

www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/10/1/17924088/halloween-costume-yandy-sexy-native-american-backlash-handmaids-tale

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s