Reflections on the Native Liberation Conference
By Murad Salem
Early in September, I was fortunate to attend the Native Liberation Conference in Gallup, New Mexico, hosted by the Red Nation Movement. I met several Native American and Palestinian community members and learned more about third world struggles, decolonization, and The Red Deal.
As a Palestinian who has had the privilege of traveling and meeting other people and nations around the world, I realize the importance of relationships between the oppressed. Through my conversations with African Americans, indigenous people, and other oppressed peoples, I realize the depth of understanding and the intersectionality of our struggles.
We exchange knowledge, wisdom, and resilience, and most importantly, we share the same future. That is a future of justice, self-determination, and liberation for all. We are facing the same systems of oppression, and therefore, we must struggle together. My liberation is very much tied to theirs and will be realized only by working together to defeat the systems that oppress us.
The Red Deal embodied this philosophy. The Red Nation Movement defines the deal as a program for indigenous liberation, life, and land affirmation. They assert that colonialism and capitalism must be overturned for this planet to be habitable for humans and non-human relatives and for them to live dignified lives. The Red Deal is about indigenous liberation as it is about liberatory principles, so it really is “universal because indigenous liberation is for everybody.”
The Red Deal is our indigeneity and unity. It is a call for all the oppressed to use that slogan wherever they are, to tailor it to their struggle, and to keep the connection with the rest of the oppressed. I am sure that the present is not ours alone and that the future is indigenous; the future is us.
It is crucial that every oppressed community has its own space to heal, strategize, and speak its own language. However, it is as important, especially now, to have a common space that these communities can create together around the world: a platform to collectively strengthen one another, jointly create future steps, and re-learn our consciousness as communities on our own and as a collective with our oppressed siblings around the world.
Murad Salem is a Palestinian community organizer originally from Dheisheh Refugee Camp close to Bethlehem, Palestine, and currently living in Minneapolis, Minnesota.