Taiaiake Alfred is an old friend and a fierce and eloquent advocate for his people. Among other things, we agree on a fundamental premise: the colonization of North (and South) America and the displacement of indigenous people is not an event that took place in the distant past, not a fait accompli, but a complex ongoing economic, social, spiritual, and psychological act. Until this premise is accepted and understood, most attempts to resolve indigenous issues will come to nothing, will in fact be little more than an extension of the colonization process (think, for example: residential schools).
I’ve been mulling this over lately and it occurred to me that NC might be a good place to pull together a collection Taiaiake’s speeches and lectures, to give you the measure of the man and sense of his thought. He’s very smart, studied, thoughtful and ethically fierce. Like Edward Said in a different arena, he is attempting nothing less than a complete revolution in the way the white European west views indigenous people.
From here you should go to his books:
- Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors: Mohawk Politics and the Rise of Native Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 1995). [This book is out of print but you can track down a copy easily enough or download a pdf here.]
- Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto (Oxford University Press, 1999).
- Wasase: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2005).
See also some of Taiaiake’s published papers.
And, finally, you can see a piece of his fiction, which we published here on NC — “Smoke is Still Rising.”