The following quotations are from:
Taiaiake Alfred, Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom
“As Onkwehonwe committed to the reclamation of our dignity and strength, there are, theoretically, two viable approaches to engaging the colonial power that is thoroughly embedded in the state and in societal structures: armed resistance and non-violent contention. Each has a heritage among our peoples and is a potential formula for making change, for engaging with the adversary without deference to emotional attachments to colonial symbols or to the compromised logic of colonial approaches. They are both philosophically defensible, but are they both equally valid approaches to making change, given the realities of our situations and our goals? We need a confident position on the question as to what is the right strategy. Both armed resistance and non-violent contention are unique disciplines that require commitments that rule out overlapping allegiances between the two approaches. They are diverging and distinctive ways of making change, and the choice between the two paths is the most important decision the next generation of Onkwehonwe will collectively make.” 21
“All of the world’s big problems are in reality very small and local problems. They are brought into force as realities only in the choices made every day and in many ways by people who are enticed by certain incentives and disciplined by their fears. So, confronting huge forces like colonialism is a personal and, in some ways, a mundane process. This is not to say it is easy, but looking at it this way does give proper focus to the effort of decolonizing.
The colonizers stand on guard for their ill-gotten privileges using highly advanced techniques, mainly co-optation, division, and, when required, physical repression. The weak people in the power equation help the colonizers too, with their self-doubts, laziness, and unfortunate insistence on their own disorganization!
Challenging all of this means even redefining the terminology of our existence. Take the word, ‘colonization,’ which is actually a way of seeing and explaining what has happened to us. We cannot allow that word to be the story of our lives, because it is a narrative that in its use privileges the colonizer’s power and inherently limits our freedom, logically and mentally imposing a perpetual colonized victim way of life and view on the world. Onkwehonwe are faced not with the same adversary their ancestors confronted, but with a colonization that has recently morphed into a kind of post-modern imperialism that is more difficult to target than the previous and more obvious impositions of force and control over the structures of government within their communities. Memmi’s ‘break’ must itself be redefined.” 25-26
“Using violence to advance our objectives would lead to frustration and failure for political and military reasons, but it would also falter for deeper spiritual and cultural reasons. I find it very difficult to see any value in asking our future generations to form their identities on and live lives of aggression; would this not validate and maintain the enemy colonizer as an omnipresent and superior reality of our existence for generations to come? This is not the legacy we want to leve for our children. To remain true to a struggle conceived within Onkwehonwe values, the en goal of our Wasáse—our warrior’s dance—must be formulated as a spiritual revolution, a culturally rooted social movement that transforms the whole of society and a political action that seeks to remake the entire landscape of power and relationship to reflect truly a liberated post-imperial vision.
Wasáse is spiritual revolution and contention. It is not a path of violence. And yet, this commitment to non-violence is not pacifism either. This is an important point to make clear: I believe there is a need for morally grounded defiance and non-violent agitation combined with the development of a collective capacity for self-defense, so as to generate within the Settler society a reason and incentive to negotiate constructively in the interest of achieving a respectful coexistence.” 27
“To be Onkwehonwwe, to be fully human, is to be living the ethic of courage and to be involved in a struggle for personal transformation and freedom from the dominance of imperial ideas and powers—especially facing the challenges in our lives today. Any other path or posture is surrender or complicity. And though I am speaking non-violently of a creative reinterpretation of what it is to be a warrior, I am doing so in full reverence and honour of the essence of the ancient warrior spirit, because a warrior makes a stand facing danger with courage and integrity. The warrior spirit is the strong medicine we need to cure the European disease. But, drawing on the old spirit, we need to create something new for ourselves and think through the reality of the present to design an appropriate strategy, use fresh tactics, and acquire new skills.” 28-29