Settler society is terminally dangerous. It is putting at risk the Earth, as well as any and all Earth-based communities. Wielding economic clout and military might unprecedented, it continues an agenda of omnicide and brutal power that is now 520 years old. It is time that it is directly challenged. In addition to the countless projects whose aim is an agenda of cultural survival and eco-defense, a steadfast resistance to the foundation of settler society must be established. Settler society, defined as those who benefit from a colonial subjugation of indigenous peoples, has established the United States as occupied territory, cemented a foreign government which imposes ongoing colonization as a matter of course, and developed a social structure which enlists those who immigrate to the United States, as well as those who were brought here as a result of forced displacement, and indoctrinates them all into this dangerous pattern. Colonization is the fire stoked by greed, avarice, and contempt for life. Decolonization as a theory, then, is the smoke of this fire. Decolonization in practice can be said to be the ashes of the fire once it has been extinguished. I am an advocate of decolonization. An advocate of reparations, of secession, and defender of the position of conscientious objectors who opt out of the omnicidal system.
Who am I to endeavor in these projects? Matrilineally, I am the third generation of a family of Italian immigrants, and on my father’s side I am descended from former black slaves, and am of the second generation since the Great Migration to call the Northern states my home after my family moved from their home in Florida. Socially, I am a benefactor of settler society, that is, sharing no direct linkage with an indigenous family whose presence in this hemisphere precedes colonization. Biologically, I am of African and European descent, though I’ve so far been unable to follow my lineage to a degree of specificity regarding the whole of my genetic make-up. As an advocate of both secession, reparations, and decolonization, the questions of lineage and ancestry are crucial and loaded issues. I will here make the case for my own ideal conclusions of a decolonized future.
THE PAST IS NEARER THAN IT SEEMS; THE FUTURE, FARTHER: Indian & Black Solidarity in the Seminole Wars
Depending on your sources, dates may vary, but most historians agree that the first Seminole War (also known as the Florida War) was from 1814 until 1819. During the war of 1812, the British, in the hope of recruiting southeastern Indian tribes as allies in their war against the Spanish Crown over the territory of Florida, military personnel travelled to Florida to begin training soldiers. In 1814 the British arrived with around 1,000 of their own soldiers, and a garrison of several hundred blacks whom they had recruited as militiamen. In this period of time they established what was called Negro Fort, near present-day Pensacola. Shortly after the end of the War of 1812 the British abandoned the fort, leaving behind the blacks. In short time the fort became a community of freedmen, maroons, and escaped slaves. By 1816, the estimated black population of the community was somewhere around eight-hundred. The Indian tribes who had maintained rightful occupation of their territory through the two-and-a-half centuries of Spanish conquest openly interacted and in several instances adopted and intermarried within these black communities. Relations had been normalized as two displaced cultures established a steadfast resistance against invaders of both British and Spanish origin, and it was also this year that Andrew Jackson, aided by the United States Navy, began to make regular incursions into Florida to re-supply the newly built U.S. Army Fort Scott. During one of these supply missions, a party of Navy soldiers from two gunboats stopped at the abandoned Negro Fort to fill their canteens with water. In doing so, they were promptly and successfully attacked by residents of the community. All Americans were killed except one. In response, Andrew Jackson requested permission to attack Negro Fort. His request was granted by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, who deemed the battle a critical facet of national “self-defense”.
On July 27th, 1816 a crew of black militiamen had been deployed ahead of the encroaching American soldiers, and were already battling with the residents of Negro Fort, which at that time was occupied by about 230 people, the vast majority of which were the freed blacks-turned-insurgents, and a fraction of which were Seminole and Choctaw Indian warriors accompanied by their Chief. After U.S. Army General Gaines requested and was denied surrender by the Fort, he gave the orders to Navy gunboats moored on the Apalachicola River to begin bombardment. The battle was ended when a cannon devastated much of the fort, and caused an explosion whose results were the fatalities of the majority of Fort Negro defenders. Survivors of the battle were executed, held prisoner, or sold back into slavery. In the aftermath of the battle, Seminole leader Neamathla issued a warning to Gaines that if further U.S. forces crossed the Flint river, they would be met with hostility. The threat prompted the general to dispatch 250 men to arrest the chief in November 1817. The resultant battle would be the onset of what is now known as the official Seminole War. The first attempt to capture Neamathla was fended off by the Mikasuki, but the next day they were defeated by U.S. forces. A week later, another Navy gunboat was attacked by Indian tribes, which prompted the U.S. to give orders to Gaines to attack Florida, but not any Spanish posts therein. However, Gaines had left for East Florida to fend off pirates who were attempting to seize control in the region, leaving Andrew Jackson to take the position. He began his invasion in 1818, armed with U.S. soldiers, Tennessee and Georgia militiamen, and about 1,400 allied Creek Indian warriors. During this time Secretary of State Adams had initiated negotiations with the Spanish for the purchase of Florida. Spain, having protested Jackson’s invasion, suspended the negotiation. To stave off Spanish retaliation, Adams issued a letter which blamed the war on the Spanish, British, and Indians, as well as apologizing for the capture of West Florida. The letter also offered to return Pensacola and St. Marks to the Spanish. Spain accepted the offer, though soon thereafter an agreement was reached in which they ceded the territory to the United States, rather than responding to Adam’s demand that they control the inhabitants of Florida.
While the history of this saga, these wars, has been written, its implications upon the present have not. Through the annexation of the Florida territory, and then through the Civil War and Reconstruction, both Indian and Black families alike were continually subjugated by U.S. government policy and social structure. The “White is Right” doctrine has outlasted any attempts to subdue the imperialist thirst of settler society, though their is no reason that this has to, or will, continue.
IN SIGHT OF ETERNITY: Understanding the Possibilities of Another World
The present can not be stopped, evaluated, and re-worked. Not by governments, popular uprising, or grassroots efforts. It is the springboard of action from which we can move successfully toward an ideal future. So it is crucial in this time to strengthen bonds of solidarity, to enforce our own agenda. The struggles which independently represent cultural survival, reparations of past harms, an agenda of truth in education, democratic accountability, and eco-defense are all seperate sides of the same prism of Justice.
Because it is inextricably stained with the blood of millions, human history has a stultefying, even frightening effect on those who, within the present, resolve to challenge its trajectory. As far back as history is capable of reaching (which is not so far in the grand scheme), political struggle has been our enemy. All of politics has, really. However, it is also the only tool we have in ridding ourselves of such a parasitic ideology. Because, given an evaluation of the human species as one which shares the absolute freedom afforded the rest of the natural world, politics and its bedmate, civilization, are aliens. We have been successively colonized by the automatic workings of a structure which is immortal. The practice of culture, that is, a people’s philosophical and spiritual and scientific investigation of human life, its connection to the rest of the world and to the cosmos, is the apex of human expression. Culture is organic, is creative, is unchained and unchaining. Civilization, on the other hand, consists of demarcating boundaries, imposing hierarchy upon equality, and authorizing the proper and improper use of our natural freedom. So it can be said that we were colonizing ourselves mentally, even before colonization was implemented politically. Does not the oppression of women root within the soil of patriarchy? Perhaps patriarchy is rooted in male insecurity. Perhaps then that insecurity is rooted in a notion of possession. And then perhaps there was a time when “possession” as a word, as a concept, did not exist as it does today. Is there any reason that we can not begin to forget it tomorrow? Is there any reason that we cannot empty ourselves of harmful notions which presently govern our very lives?