Indigenous Support for Palestine

Mural en recuedro de Camilo Catrillanca en el muro del apartheid, Cisjordania, Palestina

Since the bombing of Gaza began in early May, killing at least 240 Palestinians and leaving behind scores of flattened buildings and family apartments, indigenous people across Abya Yala have called out for an end to settler colonialism of Palestine. Although a cease fire has been called, many see clear parallels between the resistance of Palestinians for their homeland to centuries-old struggles of indigenous people against colonial power and the right to exist. These are just a few examples of what we saw via social media.

Music producer and song writer Frank Waln recalled his visit to Palestine in 2017 with a delegation of the Dream Defenders, “In 2017 I went to Palestine as a member of an artist delegation organized by @Dreamdefenders. What I witnessed was settler colonialism and genocide happening in way that mirrored what I know about how the US government enacted genocide on my people.”

As a Lakota, Waln shared on his Twitter feed how transformative his visit had been, particularly when seeing the parallels between the Palestinian struggle and the US colonization of indigenous lands. “One of the biggest similarities I saw/see is how media frames colonization and genocide as a ‘conflict’ or ‘battle’ between two sides when in fact it is one side colonizing while people defend themselves against that genocide. They did the same and called our massacres ‘battles’,” he wrote.

Another similarity he drew was the “open air prison system run by the colonizers” in Gaza and the West Bank, which he equated to the forced relocation of indigenous people in reservations. He then shared a song he wrote after his trip to Palestine, inspired by their struggle, their resilience, and “the beautiful art and music I witnessed.”

The NDN collective called upon Congress and the US government to stop fueling the billions of military aid sent to the Israeli government every year. We know all too well the impacts that colonialism, genocide and land theft had on our families, communities and Nations, and the U.S. is complicit in this,” said Krystal Two Bulls in a statement.

Nick Tilsen, NDN’s president and CEO, Oglala Lakota and also Jewish from his father side added that the forced removal and continued violence of Palestinians was nothing less than genocide. “From one Indigenous Peoples to another, the fight for land back, self-determination and sovereignty will always be embraced as a collective struggle, wherein we continue to leverage our power as people who live within these colonial borders, existing despite them,” he said.

From Ecuador, members of ACAPANA, a collective of film and documentary makers, expressed solidarity with Palestinians and against the “criminal violence of the State of Israel.”

“Those of us who are part of the indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian peoples that make up ACAPANA, we send all the strength, solidarity, and rebellion of our peoples. The struggle of the Palestinian people is our struggle,” they said on a video published recently.

Many also recalled declarations made a couple of years ago by Mapuche leader Moira Millán, member of the Movimiento de Mujeres Indígenas por el Buen Vivir, in which she saw clear parallels between the Palestinian struggle with the criminalization of Mapuches in defense for their land. “I always say that the Mapuche Nation is South America’s Palestine,” she said in an interview with Canal Abierto, where she talked about the exploitation of Mapuche’s resource-rich territories and the criminalization of her people. “There are large transnational corporations with billionaire interests that have to face the barrier of the rights of a Nation, the Mapuche Nation, who will always defend life and our territories, and they want to get rid of us,” she said. Millán has been leading a campaign against terricide in the Southern Cone, trying to tipify it as a crime against nature and against humanity.

Mural en recuedro de Camilo Catrillanca en el muro del apartheid, Cisjordania, Palestina
Mural of Mapuche Camilo Catrillanca on the West Bank wall