Is There A War Against Indigenous People
Make your own free website on

Today, there are some people who believe that military force and violence does not characterize our present reality here in N.America. But this is only half-true: the selective use of military/police violence can be clearly seen in recent examples from the last 30 year period.

Thousands of soldiers and police, using military equipment, weapons, and tactics, have been deployed against our Indigenous movement. The most notable examples being: the 71-day siege at Wounded Knee in 1973; the reoccupation of Ganienkah by Mohawks in New York state in 1974; the blockade at Cache Creek, BC, in 1974; the reoccupation of Anicinabe Park near Kenora, Ontario, in 1974; the 1975 shoot-out at Oglala, S.Dakota; the 77-day standoff at Kanehsatake (Oka) and Kahnawake, near Montreal, Quebec, in 1990; the month-long siege at Gustafsen Lake (Ts'Peten) in 1995; and the reoccupation at Ipperwash, Ontario, that same year.

During these confrontations and the time periods in which they occured, thousands of people were assaulted, arrested, and jailed. At least six Indigenous people died during these incidents; in S.Dakota, between 1973-1976, at least 70 Indigenous people involved in, or associated with the Indigenous movement -particularly the American Indian Movement- were killed by paramilitary groups acting under the direction of a corrupt tribal council, with the complicity of local, state, and US federal law enforcement agencies. FBI agents supplied training and equipment to these paramilitary forces.

Therefore, it must be acknowledged that the use of military force, or the threat of violence by military force, has in fact continued, directed against and mostly limited to, those Indigenous people who become involved in protest or resistance activities.

Because of this, certain people believe these confrontations are the result of"extremists," and that this use of military force is used only to resolve "criminal" matters. This viewpoint only shows the success with which the state has isolated resistance actions and the Indigenous movement, in the minds of some, as being the work of Indigenous "criminal-terrorists," etc. This reflects the degree to which an individual has had their head emptied and refilled with disinformation and state propaganda. It is illogical and without basis to say that the use of military force against our people is not at all ongoing simply because those to whom it is directed against do not fit into one's concept of "politically correct" forms of struggle.

The understanding of this concept has long been articulated within the Indigenous movement. Leonard Peltier, an Anicinabe-Lakota involved with AIM in the 1970s, and currently incarcerated in a US-federal prison for that involvement, has observed that,
"If white society's attempts to colonialize people meets with resistance, it is called war. However, if the colonized Indians of N.America unite to rise up and resist, then we are called criminals."

Portraying our Indigenous movement as "criminal" is the primary method by which the selective use of military force directed against our people, at certain times and places, is obscured and distorted as being something else.

Now, some may agree that the selective use of military force can be said to characterize our present reality as Indigenous people. Some may admit this to be true, but argue that this is result of the imperfect society we live in, and that in other parts of the world, Indigenous people live with military/police violence daily, as in Central America, and in Chiapas, Mexico, where state-terrorism through massacres, death squads, torture, and executions are carried out against entire populations. That is war, some will say. In N.America, we may be oppressed by colonization, but in general it is not a war, because military force is not used against our people as a whole.

This perspective, however, is based on a narrow definition of war, characterizing it as purely military. A broader, and more realistic definition of war, states:
"war involves the use of all the elements of national power, including diplomacy, military force, economics, ideology, technology, and culture."

By its very nature, because it is a struggle between two opposing wills, war is both uncertain and constantly changing. Wars can be of either high or low intensity, depending on the overall objectives and the means available to wage that war. Because of these factors, different means of waging war can dominate over others in certain conditions.

Here in N.America, as our military ability to resist was overcome, other means besides a primarily military one came to dominate colonialist strategies and methods. The suspension of military campaigns did not, however, mean the end of colonialism. Colonization is an ongoing and continual process that does not end so long as the territory and people are occupied by the colonialist nation.

Just as war cannot be said to be purely a question of military force, neither can colonization.

The imposition of special laws contained in the Indian Act, including the reserve and band council system; the residential school system and religious indoctrination; distorted and incomplete depictions of our people and history in the public education system, etc.; these are some examples of colonization using legal, political, ideological, and cultural means.

Colonization, the occupation of a territory and the domination of the Indigenous people, can be characterized as a clash between two forces, opposed to each other by their very nature, with one force attempting to impose its will onto the other. This characterization fits our definition of war as previously stated.

It is therefore factual and correct to say that colonization is a condition of war, and is itself a form of warfare against a people to gain control and territory.

Because colonization is a process that continues to this day, it follows then that a war is being waged against our people at this time.

This war of colonization is conducted by the state of Canada using all the elements of national power at its disposal, including diplomacy, military force, economics, ideology, technology, and culture.

Because the national state known as "Canada" is part of an international economic, political and military system, and because other national states interconnected with this system wage similar wars of colonization against Indigenous peoples around the world, this international system must therefore be defined as an enemy to our Indigenous peoples, both in Canada and world-wide.

It is implied that decolonization is a war against colonialism. It is only logical that this war be fought with all the means at our disposal.