Tag Archive: indigenous resistance

Prisons, Ecology and the Birth of an Empire


From Earth First! Newswire/ By Panagioti

Strange sometimes how worlds collide. Nine years ago I found myself in the swamps of the northeastern Everglades listening to an independent, traditional Seminole activist asking for support in challenging the state and federal government’s plans to fund a celebration of 500 years of Florida—a history that began, in many ways, with the founding of one of the best known tourist traps in this country’s history.

If Christopher Columbus is a symbol marking the origin of Manifest Destiny’s rampage across the western hemisphere, then conquistador Pedro Menendez de Aviles, who established the colony of St. Augustine, built the first literal foundation under that genocidal, ecocidal mindset.

Today, as I occupy my time developing the Prison Ecology Project, aimed at mapping the intersections of incarceration, ecology and environmental racism, it’s hard not to also view St. Augustine as the first prison town of what would become the U.S. Empire—a nation that has distinguished itself in the modern world by simultaneously pushing global policies that have facilitated an unprecedented pillaging of the planet for resources and for locking people up at a never-before-seen scale or pace in human history. (more…)

Supreme Court rules for Native American inmates in Alabama

Doug Dark Horns Bailey talks about trying to practice his religious beliefs during the more than 18 years he spent in prison.

Doug Dark Horns Bailey talks about trying to practice his religious beliefs during the more than 18 years he spent in prison.

From Montgomery Observer

The U.S. Supreme Court says a lower court must reconsider whether Native Americans in Alabama prisons can have longer hair.

The high court on Monday reversed an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had upheld an Alabama Department of Corrections policy saying Native American inmates had to keep their hair cut short, which Native Americans argue deny them their right to religious expression.

As is often the case, the justices did not issue an opinion with its ruling, but ordered the 11th Circuit to reconsider the decision in light of its ruling last week in Holt v. Hobbs. In that case, the court ruled that the Arkansas Department of Correction could not deny a Muslim inmate’s request to grow a half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs, saying the state had failed to show a compelling reason to deny the request.

Bob Horton, a spokesman for ADOC, said in a statement that the decision was expected.

“Until the 11th Circuit has a hearing and offers a ruling, ADOC will continue to enforce its current policy,” the statement said.


Native-American inmates in Alabama continue fight over prison system’s rule against having long hair

Doug Dark Horns Bailey talks about trying to practice his religious beliefs during the more than 18 years he spent in prison.

Doug Dark Horns Bailey talks about trying to practice his religious beliefs during the more than 18 years he spent in prison.

11th Circuit ruling sided with Ala. Corrections Department

From Montgomery Advertiser

Doug Dark Horns Bailey held the silver-and-brown strands of his hair, gathered in two tails running down his back. This, he said, was sacred.

“Long before science ever heard of DNA, our ancestors knew our essence was contained in our hair,” said Bailey, an artist and Creek Indian who lives in Wetumpka. “Long, long before they ever started using DNA, we believed our essence was in our hair. That’s why we don’t cut it.”

While serving an 18-year sentence for robbery in the Alabama prison system, Bailey reconnected with his faith, and said it was key to helping him reform his ways and stay out of legal trouble.

“I just felt reconnected again,” he said. “I felt like myself again. I felt like a real individual, and not some lost, castaway soul.”

Bailey, released in 2004, is a plaintiff in a long-running suit brought by Native-American inmates against the Alabama Department of Corrections over religious rights. The suit, which dates back to 1993, has opened the door for some practices for inmates. However, DOC policies require all male inmates to keep hair cut short, and that remains a point of contention. (more…)

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz Speaking At UNC-CH October 8 & 9

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Feminist. Revolutionary. Historian.
On October 8th and 9th, The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies will host a two-day event organized around the work of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a long-time feminist and historian of indigenous peoples.A native of rural Oklahoma, Dr. Dunbar-Ortiz holds a PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. She was co-founder of the Department of Ethnic Studies at California State University, East Bay, where she taught Native American Studies. Among her many publications are Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico and The Great Sioux Nation: An Oral History of the Sioux Nation and its Struggle for Sovereignty.  She is currently writing a history of the United States from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples. (more…)

United Nations calls for the US to return stolen land to American Indian peoples

By Chris McGreal / The Guardian

A United Nations investigator probing discrimination against Native Americans has called on the US government to return some of the land stolen from Indian tribes as a step toward combatting continuing and systemic racial discrimination.

James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said no member of the US Congress would meet him as he investigated the part played by the government in the considerable difficulties faced by Indian tribes.

Anaya said that in nearly two weeks of visiting Indian reservations, indigenous communities in Alaska and Hawaii, and Native Americans now living in cities, he encountered people who suffered a history of dispossession of their lands and resources, the breakdown of their societies and “numerous instances of outright brutality, all grounded on racial discrimination”. (more…)