Two years ago, photographer, activist, and storyteller Aaron Huey gave a presentation called America`s Native Prisoner`s of War at the University of Denver. The presentation is a mix of photography and narrative, and traces the ongoing history of settling and occupying indigenous American land. The format of TEDx talks makes in-depth and serious discussions about important topics almost impossible. However, this presentation is exceptional in both its argument and its emotional rawness.
Today, three days after “Thanksgiving Day,” it is important to remember that in the United States, settler colonialism has been so complete, and so successful, that the world has forgotten that South Africa, Australia, and Israel are all reproductions, all approximations of the ongoing victory in the Americas. We have forgotten that people learn from each other, and that techniques and lessons of genocide have always travelled in well cut suits, paperwork, and handshakes. We have forgotten that those of us who live today in the United States, are continuing to settle native land, and that even the ability to be a politically progressive—or even radical—citizen of the United States is a wage of genocide. A reservation is a bantustan is a refugee camp is Area A is an allotment is native title is Gaza.
At the end of his presentation, Aaron Huey states that:
The last chapter in any successful genocide is the one in which the oppressor can remove their hands and say, `My God, what are these people doing to themselves? They’re killing each other, they’re killing themselves while we watch them die.
This logic of blame and of violent cultures is familiar to those of us who struggle for Palestine. Using all we have learned from Palestine, let us re-learn the ongoing history of the United States.