The following quotations are from:
Taiaiake Alfred, Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom
“Not all of us have been conquered. There are still strong Onkwehonwe who persevere in their struggle for an authentic existence and who are capable of redefining, regenerating, and reimagining our collective existences. If we are willing to put our words into action and transform our rhetoric into practice, we too can achieve the fundamental goal of the indigensous warrior: to live life as an act of indigeneity, to move across life’s landscapes in an indigenous way, as my people say, Onkwehonwencha. A warrior confronts colonialism with the truth in order to regenerate authenticity and recreate a life worth living and principles worth dying for. The struggle is to restore connections severed by the colonial machine. The victory is an integrated personality, a cohesive community, and the restoration of respectful and harmonious relationships.” 45
“The question for us today is: What kind of ‘world confrontation’ is necessary to bring about not the Guevarian military ‘defeat’ (which has proven impossible to achieve) but the transformation of imperialism?
An emblem of the ‘revolutionary’ person and spirit, Guevara was uncompromising in his belief in the necessity of armed struggle and his hatred of imperialists. These are, in fact, the essences of the revolutionary spirit: violence and hatred. But the experience of revolutionary action in world history points to a fatal flaw (aside from the truth of living and dying by the sword): revolution and armed resistance theories with their simplistic materialist notions ignore the inextricable bonds between means and ends.” 51
“To honour the spirit and yet have an approach that respects our values and is effective against our adversaries and enemies, we need to define ‘struggle’ in a way that makes sense for us in our circumstances. This means finding a theoretical logic that rejects violence as a means of liberation.
Before that is possible we must recognize the attraction of violence. It is a powerful strategic weapon. Violence gets attention, it consumes state resources, people have a morbid attraction to its effects, and it is perhaps the easiest means of resistance. But the drawbacks to violence are serious. Violence forces people to choose sides, and because it is repugnant to as many people, it causes them to disavow the cause; it limits potential allies; and it is as addictive as a drug—its immediacy and paraphernalia are seductive and intoxicating in the short term, and in the long term, the inevitable cycle of repression creates a situation justifying further violence.” 51-52
“It is a warrior’s definition of courage that most concerns us, as it will be individuals who will contend against the state. Willpower and determination are the elements of courage. They are not a finite reserve and must be nurtured, fed, and developed if Onkwehonwe are to be able to stand up to state authority in any way—whether it be protest, contention, or more aggressive assertions. People who engage in battle in whatever form are anot ‘fearless.’ Ninety-eight per cent of combat soldiers break down mentally in wartime situations, and for military commanders, the question is not if, but when will the men’s well of courage run dry? Onkwehonwe, like all warriors in battle, will realize our collective courage from sharing in others’ wells of strength and determination and building up our collective store of mental and emotional strength by supporting each other in struggle and achieving victories along the way to our goals. And it is the warrior’s question that is our challenge: How to shore up courage? The answer is that we, like any warrior in battle, need to realize that our collective fortitude consists in sharing in others’ courage, as leaders inspire and motivate us to persevere when we feel like quitting the ight, and by building up our collective store of mental and emotional strength through the uplifting and cumulative effects that victory provides a people.” 52-53
“The real question facing Onkwehonwe is how to counter the evil of imperialism ethically. Raw anger against the Settler society is potentially a good thing because it is a force capable of driving us to action—altruistic action. Yet anger must be investigated to discover its roots and to discern its appropriate focus. It should not be denied—either suppressed out of fear or for a show of stereotypical stoicism—but it must be restrained and channeled through a deliberate and voluntary discipline. This is ‘patient forbearance’ in Buddhist teachings. In terms of our discussion here, it may be that the most suitable term is non-violent militancy, meaning remaining firm in the face of fear, doing what is necessary for what is right, yet not allowing negative thoughts and emotions to control us.
For sure, this is different from do-nothing passivity and the total loss of confidence that is cowardice. The middle path between raging violence and complacency is akin to the Gandhian strategy of non-cooperation.” 55
“In colonial relationships, impositions of power and authority can probably be absorbed, tolerated, or accommodated by indigenous populations in various ways over time, but true conquest becomes inevitable when the Settlers’ imperial claims to legitimacy are accepted and normalized by Onkwehonwe. Legitimation (acceptance and support for colonial institutions) is the fundamental battlefield. Imperialists and colonial governments know this from their long history of scourge and defilement of non-white countries. This is why, for the colonizers, the most important and immediate imperative is to assimilate indigenous peoples culturally: without an indigenous cultural foundation or root there is no memory store or intellectual base upon which to build a challenge to the empire.” 56
“Violence, or at least the guerrilla posture, does remain attractive for emotional and cultural reasons. To prevent people from being drawn to useless strategies of resistance, the Onkwehonwe movement requires discipline. By discipline I mean the development of a resurgent power and culture of resistance that channels our angry and potentially deadly and self-destructive energies into a positive force for change. This strength lies in Onkwehonwe communities and people being decultured and disabused of the colonial mentalities and various colonial myths and recultured to support the resurgence of action against state manipulations of their identity. Strong people and strong, united communities can provide the support and validation for serious actions; we need authentic ideas and intellectual tools drawn from the heritage of Onkwehonwe peoples, physical infrastructure, and reinforcement of community cohesion in communications and media and education. It is a major problem that we are, for the most part, lacking these sources of strength in ourselves and in our Onkwehonwe communities. Outside of the Zapatista army and other indigenous Mexican people currently supporting rebellions of indigenous truth against capitalism, there is no cultural base for mass action, nor is there. A crucial mass of strong people to support actions an dstrategy that have any hope of challenging state power in any form. This must change if we are to survive.” 59
“[I]n getting Onkwehonwe to become involved and take on the challenges and sacrifices needed to build a movement for change, on a collective basis, three important things must be realized in concrete ways, as Tarrow discovered in his own research:
- self-sufficiency: people must have access to the resources that will alow them to defy the state and the control of colonial institutions;
- reorganization: new channels for people’s energy must be created for them to take part in contentious action against state structures and colonial power; and,
- reculturation: people and communities must come to understand that cooperating with colonial authorities is wrong and must be acted against.
All of these are at the same time material and spiritual processes, as much internal and psychological as external and strategic. Getting people moving, and moving toegether in the same direction, starts with waking them up or shaking them up. Awakening the people is both a spiritual movement and a political mobilization. Individual and collective militancy is generated and deepened when people are exposed to experiences by leaders who seek to provoke a heightened sense of reality through collective action. The leadership’s acts of resistance are designed and conducted to inspire and set an example, and to directly challenge the world-view and mentalities of the colonized peoples.” 63
“[T]he primary goal, given the basic lay of the land (our peoples being disorganized for struggle and divided amongst ourselves) is for a strategy of direct action with the intent of unifying Onkwehonwe and demonstrating the necessity of further solidarity. This is the positive lesson to be drawn from the incidents of assertion that took place in the Oka Stand-off and at Burnt Church: action brings Onkwehonwe together and teaches us the true nature of colonial power.
This crisis solidarity can be transformed into momentum for a resurgence if the cycle of co-optation is broken and if the positive energy that flows from people working together in resistance against injustice is channeled by leaders and organizations toward positive ends as opposed to being leveraged as bargaining power in existing colonial processes to accommodate the Settlers’ power. Just imagine how different things would be in Canada today if band councils had seized the opportunity to make meaningful change during the most recent era of confrontation that culminated with the Oka Crisis in 1990. They could have focused on spreading the wave of assertion and linked the reserve-based communities’ capacity to resist land incursions with the disruptive potential of urban Onkwehonwe. Or they could have started promoting education as a way to reduce people’s dependency on the colonial infrastructure and white-owned businesses. They had the option of turning away from the bureaucratic models of community government imposed through land claims and self-government processes and could have reinvigorated indigenous governments. If instead of flying in airplanes to collect cheques and sit at meeting tables with white lawyers, they had instead stayed home and walked on their lands with their people, learning and working with them to create healthier communities, might our people be better off now? These kinds of things are all it would take for a resurgence to happen and for that movement to transform the country.” 65
“People like Sakej and the warrior societies Anówara don’t do submission. And a growing number of Onkwehonwe youth are following their lead. Pushing the colonial tyrant to his limits takes both strong words and courageous blows against his coercion. Hence the necessity of a physical capacity for resistance and a practised politics of contention to supplement education and growing enlightenment. The Chinese classic Taosit teaching, I Ching, advances that, ‘In contention there is sincerity.’ Trouble doesn’t start without reason, contention arises because of a need for change. Contention flows from a manifested unwavering commitment to the truth: sincerity. The Chinese hexagram for ‘contention’ shows both internal desire and outward strength; the etymology of the Chinese hexagram shows how, in Chinese philosophy as in Onkwehonwe teachings, contention is natural and organic to human relations.” 75
“There are five main characteristics, both authentically indigenous and effective as a means of confronting colonial dominion, which are evenident in Onkwehonwe movements from the Mohawk Warrior Societies to the Zapatistas to the recent mass movements against governmental corruption in Ecuador:
- They depend on and are led by women.
- They protect communities and defend land.
- They seek freedom and self-sufficiency.
- They are founded on unity and mutual support.
- They are continuous.” 81-82
“It begins with attitude. If we find a way to shed the defeatism of colonial identities and take on instead the outlook of the proud warrior, we would be able to regenerate ourselves as free people. I recall reading in one of the anthropologist Carlos Castaneda’s dialogues with a Yaqui elder a simple definition of a warrior that frames well what we are trying to understand: ‘a warrior is one who leads a warrior’s life!’ This straightforward statement points us towards two important lessons on being a warrior: the importance of belief, which provides emotional stability in the face of constant conflict and danger, and the necessity of consistency between belief, thought, words, and behavior.” 85
“What kind of people do we need to become in our personal transformations into warriors? There are myriad exampoles of cultures bringing to reality the universal concept of devotion to service, self-discipline, and the ethic of courage. The ideal was expressed most elegantly, perhaps, in the fourteenth-century Japanese Samurai prayer that has come to be widely known among practitioners of the martial arts as the Warrior’s Creed:
I have no divine power.
I make honesty my divine power.
I have no magic secrets.
I make character my magic secret.
I have no sword.
I make absence of self my sword.
The way of the new warrior is as much a tactical battle against the patterns of our modern existence as a philosophical and political struggle. The warrior will be reborn inside and among us if we simply do the things that make and have always made a warrior:
- mental awakening through the promotion of knowledge and the reassertion of a social environment where children and youth are encouraged to seek out and listen to knowledge, to learn from it, and to practice it;
- emotional fortitude and the instilling of emotional and psychological stability leading to the generalized state of courage where Onkwehonwe can again persevere against the fears that are used so cynically to oppress us;
- purifying and strengthening our bodies by returning to traditional diets and regular hard physical labour and exercise so that we can be rid of the scourges of diabetes and obesity that create total dependence on the colonial state’s health bureaucracy; and
- rediscovering meaning outside of shallow materialism and our hollowed-out existences as consumers by reviving ceremonial and ritual cycles as a means of restoring social connection and spiritual rootedness, thus making life sacred again.
The process is definitely one of experience, risk, experiment, and exploration of new-found psychological, intellectual, and emotional terrains. And, in addition to the effort, strain, and aches that are the natural effects of all change processes—where friction accompanies movement there is turmoil on an internal as well as external level—there is also a cost to be paid for an individual’s movement away from colonial mentalities and behaviours because not all Onkwehonwe are involved in struggle or care to be, nor does everyone move at the same pace or in the same way even when they are committed to change. There are relationship costs to be paid by the warrior on the path of truth.” 87-88