October 18, 2011

Occupy Albuquerque renamed

Occupy movement in New Mexico finds new name out of respect for Native Americans

By Nicolas MendozaIn response to concerns over the term “Occupy Albuquerque”, the protest movement has renamed itself “(Un)occupy Albuquerque.” The decision was made in a general assembly meeting of protesters at the University of New Mexico campus.

As the New Mexico Independent reported last week, some of the ’99 percenters’ objected to the association of the word ‘Occupy’ with what one Daily Kos contributor called “…five-hundred years of forced occupation of [Native American] lands, resources, cultures, power, and voices by the imperial powers of both Spain and the United States. A big chunk of the 99 percent has been served pretty well by that arrangement. A smaller chunk hasn’t.”

The ‘Occupy’ movement has emphasized its opposition to those in the top 1 percent of the country’s income distribution, as well as the financial sector, which in recent decades has drastically increased its share of the total national income.

But this emphasis has meant that many other societal tensions and grievances that have traditionally preoccupied left-wing and anti-establishment movements, such as those of the Native American community and other racial minorities, have not been a significant focus of the ’99 percenters.’
Comment:  I anticipated this result when I posted Indians Say "Unoccupy America."

Occupy Wall Street's theme goes something like this: "We the people, the 99% of Americans who aren't super-rich, are occupying Wall Street, home of the other 1%. We want the 1% to give up the reins of power--to unoccupy Wall Street and leave, metaphorically speaking."

"Unoccupy" also works for a Native-oriented protest. Unoccupy America doesn't literally mean "pack your bags and go back where you came from, rich white Americans." It means unoccupy the statehouses and boardrooms where you control all the power. Let the 99% rule--you know, the way a democracy is supposed to work.

Therefore, "Unoccupy" might be a clearer message than "Decolonize" for Indians. "We were here first, so stop occupying our space and telling us what to do. We demand the right to control our own destinies."

For more on the subject, see Critiquing the "Decolonize" Posters and Occupiers Aren't Decolonizers.

Below:  Albuquerque.

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