JULY 1, 2021
CART CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY:
WHITE COAT CAPTIONING
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This is being provided in a rough-draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
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>> EDNA: Hi, everyone and welcome. Today, we’re going to open the floor with a message in Maya Mam from Victor Sales, which is the coordinator.
>> (Speaking in native language).
>> EDNA: A very special greeting to our colleagues. Tonight’s conversation will be in Spanish and English with simultaneously interpretation to English and Spanish. At the bottom of your screen, there’s a button that says interpretation. Please click on the language that you would like to hear and know you can mute the original audio. If you’re listening to the English channel, we recommend that you mute the original audio for now. Next week, we will be sending all registrants the recording in English and Spanish and the recording in Maya Mam.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to our webinar, “On Our Own Terms: Indigenous Perspectives on Forced Displacement & Immigration System.” Today’s conversation will be taking place in Spanish and English and simultaneous interpretation in Spanish and English. At the bottom of your screen is a button that says interpretation. Please select and click the language of your preference. Notice that you can mute the original audio if you’re going to listen. If you’re going to listen in Spanish, do not mute the original audio for now. Next week, we’ll be sending to everyone registered recordings in Spanish and English and also a recording in Maya Mam. My name is Edna. I’m the coordinator of NISGUA. I’m wearing a flowered shirt. I’m wearing long yellow earrings. I have long dark hair, and I have a piercing on my nose. The background behind me is blurred and is mostly white.
Along with the interpretation, we’re also happy to offer subtitles in Spanish and English that will also be available. You can see the access to subtitles at the bottom of your Zoom screen. If you’re watching this on Facebook Live, please join the event through the link that we’re going to be putting in the comments. Our tech team at NISGUA is ready to help you. You can ask questions in the chat at any moment, and our team will be sending you a direct message. You can also ask questions to the panelists using the Q&A button at the bottom of your screen. All links and the information that we’re sharing in the chat will also be sent in a follow‑up email for those who registered for this event. We regret to inform you that Adriana Contreras, who is in charge of our graphic records, is out sick today, so we will be sending you the recordings, the whole graphic record, to all those who previously registered for the event. We also would like to collectively acknowledge the Indigenous territories that we are focusing on at this time. It’s very important for us to honor with gratitude all the people that have been at the forefront of the fight in defense of the earth for generations historically. If you want to know what Indigenous territory you’re in right now, please visit the link we’ll be sharing in the chat. Feel free to share in which territory you’re in.
To start this event formally, it is my honor to introduce Luis Marcos from the Maya Q’anjob’al Nation, who is also the ambassador of the Maya K’iche’, who will do an invocation to open this event.
>> LUIS: (Speaking in native language). Greetings everyone from the sacred territories of Omaha. In the Mayan sacred calendar today is in its apex. I invite you to do a small invocation with the energy of the women, of our sisters, and our mothers. It’s the energy of Mother Earth that at this time we call upon. We call upon the spirit of our Mother, her energy with us. I am in the sacred territory of the Omaha Nation, and I ask to all those grandfathers and grandmothers of the Omaha Nation who lived here and blossomed for a time, but is at this time occupied the northern part of Kansas and the southern part of South Dakota. These states that are on the sacred territories of this nation with the heritage of peace. These states that occupy these sacred territories in virtue of the doctrine of discovery that has come to dehumanize peoples and nations, the original peoples and nations. We ask Mother Earth, just as it is heard by us day‑to‑day, as it is exploited by us day‑to‑day, she heals herself. Heals her wounds and comes back to feed us again, to give us water, to give us air, to give us trees, to give us fruit, to give us vegetables that we eat and that sustain us and keep us healthy. That we, wherever we are and go through difficult times in our family lives, in our personal lives, in our professional lives, in our lives as a human family, heal. That we learn from the deepest story so we can build a new humanity from a single understanding of our sacred history to everyone.
We send good energies, and we ask Mother Earth, who feeds us, who gives us life, who gives us air, who gives us water. Thank you. It is an honor to be here listening to the voices of my brethren, and good energies from that are going to be shared with us and we’re going to be sharing.
>> EDNA: Thank you very much, Luis, for this such healing space that is so necessary. We would like to say today’s panel has been a collaborative effort from different organizations. We’re going to share their names and their websites in the chat at this time. Many of the organizations, as you can see in the chat, are also part of a bigger effort through a campaign that was started through the cooperative agreement of asylum. We are very excited that as a result of a year and a half of grassroots efforts that the Biden administration stopped these inhumane agreements. In February, the President ordered different governmental agencies to determine if the federal regulations defined within the procedural frameworks should be rescinded. Five months later, these regulations still stand. The Biden administration is now in debt to rescind these determinations that determine Guatemala is an unsafe country, especially for Black population and Indigenous populations that are victims of violence. Our campaign is committed to stop deportation during the pandemic and afterwards. The Title 42 expulsion of people looking for asylum. Title 42 is a border policy that is an excuse to expel asylum seekers to Mexico without due process. We invite you to take action against these human rights violations through the petition that we are sharing in our chat, which we ask you to sign if you haven’t, and share with your relatives, your chosen family and your friends.
And now to start, it is an honor to introduce Mercedes Say, who is going to be introducing our panelists. Mercedes is a Maya K’iche’ woman from Guatemala in the Piscataway territory in Maryland, in the United States. She is a leader of the Council of Authorities of Indigenous Peoples in Diaspora.
>> MERCEDES: Thank you very much for having me here. Good afternoon. Thank you for listening to our brethren. My name is Mercedes Say. I come from the Maya K’iche’ community, from Chuimek’ena’ Guatemala. It is an honor to introduce our brothers and sisters that are going to sharing the topic of this event. I’m going to introduce Floridalma Boj Lopez, who is Maya K’iche’, who resides in Tongva territory in Los Angeles, California. She was part of the first migratory groups of Guatemala of people running away from state violence and intergenerational poverty. She is a professor at UCLA. She has organized with and for the Maya community in Los Angeles through different spaces. It is for me a pleasure to introduce you to Flori, as we call her.
It is also my pleasure to introduce Geronimo Ramirez. He comes from the Community Council of the Mayan League. He is from the Maya Ixil community. He was raised by his grandmother on the side of his mother. As a survivor of the internal armed conflict and a defender of human rights, he is a current leader of the Ixil ancestral Council. He started defending his territory, his people, and the rights of Mother Earth. In the United States, he has been a community organizer and human rights activist. He was part of the fight for driver’s licenses in Virginia. He also provides interpretation in Indigenous languages. He graduated with a degree in science and letters. He is bilingual in Maya Ixil and Spanish.
It is a pleasure for me to introduce our sister Natali Segovia. She comes from the Maya Quechua line. She is an international human rights attorney with a background in Indigenous rights law. She focuses on the protection of earth and the rights of Indigenous peoples and first nations. Also, affected by forced displacement, the desecration of sacred land and the violation of human rights as a result of destructive industries and mass development. She’s part of the modern‑day collective, a nonprofit that came from the resistance that works to provide legal aid to Indigenous peoples and the earth for environmental justice. Thank you, brothers and sisters, for your knowledge that you will be sharing with us tonight. Thank you.
>> EDNA: Thank you very much, Mercedes. At this time, we are going to start asking questions to our panelists, and we are going to start with Natali.
Natali, we would like to know, in your opinion, what are some of the structural causes for forced displacement that Indigenous peoples face?
>> NATALI: My name is Natali Segovia. Good afternoon, everyone. I was born in New York. I’m from Quechua and Peruvian family. For those who are here with us, have a great afternoon. Thank you for your question, Edna.
If we go to the structural causes of forced displacement, we would have to start by defining what is forced displacement. There are organizations that define a forced migrant is someone who migrates to escape from persecution, conflict, repression, and human disasters, environmental degradation and other situations that threatened their life, freedom, or capability to survive. It’s those who flee from political persecution and armed conflict and environmental causes due to destructive industries such as mining and others, the lack of basic guarantees in rural communities. It is also important to define the difference between an economic migrant ‑‑ I’m sorry ‑‑ and a forcibly displaced individual.
An economic migrant chooses to leave their home to search for better financial opportunities. They’re leaving their country, leaving their home to try to use their skills to contribute to the economy and thus get better income. However, those who are forcibly displaced, they run from conflict. They don’t have a choice. They don’t have the capacity to choose. They run from armed conflict. Many times, forced displacement is accompanied by ultra-political or financial trauma. There are many who are forcibly displaced that don’t have assets. They are left without any form of maintaining themselves. There’s a lack of job opportunities. In 2015, the World Bank said that almost 60 million have been displaced around the world and have turned into refugees. 19.5 million displaced that are refugees in other countries. Internally displaced, those who don’t leave their national territories but are displaced from their homes, they also request asylum. That’s the highest figure since World War II. These figures aren’t always current. They are updated not very frequently, but those are figures from 2015.
When we talk about rural Indigenous communities, we see things such as environmental racism, such as we see with extractive projects and mass development projects in rural communities and Indigenous communities. We know that Indigenous lands have 80% of biodiversity in the plant, and they are rich in timber, minerals, and oil. Because of greed and everything that humans look for, we’ve had a long‑term vision of what it is to have a relationship with Mother Earth. These practices are violence against Mother Earth and violence against other humans, human beings, as part of extractivism. Thank you.
>> EDNA: Thank you very much, Natali. Now we are going to move on to a question for Geronimo. Geronimo, we would like to know from the perspective of the Indigenous peoples you have worked with how they see and understand mobilization and migration.
>> GERONIMO: Greetings, everyone. My name is Geronimo Ramirez. I’m from the Maya Ixil nation. I’m in the ancestral lands of Piscataway. To answer the question, we see it in a simple word, but it has very deep roots and very important consequences. As first nations, the Indigenous peoples, we see human mobility and the migration crisis as a constant persecution, as a constant persecution caused by invisibility, racism, marginalization, violence, and the violation of human rights.
A clear example of this is in Guatemala. Transnational companies come and displace the Indigenous people to extreme marginalization. These transnational companies under the authority and the support of the Guatemala state marginalize us as Indigenous peoples, first nations, violating our subdetermination on our assets, ransacking our jade, our rivers, and our natural resources. We are rooted and connected to our Mother Earth, to our Mother Nature. These conflicts cause forced migration and human mobilization. As first nations, we see this as a constant persecution caused by these reasons, such as invisibility, and react to this as a persecution from the beginning. This started over 500 years ago when our nations were made invisible and our nations were violated. That’s when it started, over 500 years ago. More than ever, we are visible, and we find our human rights violated. We find our assets and wealth are taken away. This has caused internal persecution, and we have been robbed and we have been displaced. We see this as a constant persecution. Thank you.
>> EDNA: Thank you very much, Geronimo. Now we are going to move on to Flori. I want to tell you Flori is going to be answering her questions in English. Those of you who are listening in English, we ask you to ‑‑ if you are using ‑‑ if you are listening in English, then mute the original audio. If you are using the interpretation to Spanish, mute the original audio and listen.
Flori, how do you think the Land Back Movement is linked to migration?
>> FLORIDALMA: I wanted to open my comments by recognizing I’m occupied Tongva territory. For me, it’s always important as an Indigenous migrant understand that when I am on this land it is not my ancestral homeland, and the people whose ancestral homeland it is are still fighting for a life of dignity, of sovereignty, so it is important for me to move through any space with that understanding.
Then I also wanted to begin by saying that I’m an academic, right? I’m a scholar, a researcher at a university. In academia, there’s a culture of always understanding ourselves as experts. For me, it is really important to challenge that, so what I offer here are very humble thoughts, knowing that I’m still learning from not just my elders but from different movements across borders, so I want to recognize that. It’s just an offering for folks, and I hope that it helps us think through a lot of chaos and destruction that we’re seeing being put on our communities today.
I also want to honor the NISGUA with the energy of the jaguar and the energy of women. This is something my own grandmothers fought to do, experienced racist discrimination because they did it. For me, it is really important for me to ground myself in that. I want to recognize my traditional clothing was woven by my uncle. Also, happy to be representing that in this space as well.
The question about the Land Back Movement and how it ties into migration. As I was thinking about this question, I thought about two things. I thought about the Land Back Movement as a transnational framework. For me, Land Back in Guatemala is an ongoing struggle. It’s a struggle as Geronimo shared that began 500 years ago with the invasion of our territories and the formation of these settler countries who have really come to attempt to steal Indigenous territory but also dispossess us of our own labor and knowledge systems. For me, the Land Back Movement is not just saying we want to own a piece of land because that’s not necessarily the relationship we want to have, but it is about saying we have the right to live life with dignity, to establish and continue to reproduce our own forms of governance. And I think on our ancestral territories, because when we don’t have land, that’s why we see displacement and migration we see today. We’re not able to have a physical land but also an economic system where we can sustain ourselves against these major corporations that are invading our territories. Land Back for me is really important, but I think there’s a way to tie back this notion of Land Back with gender as well and the reality that we see a lot of gender violence in Guatemala against femmes, against women, girls, and femmes.
Part of what Mayan women scholars and organizers in Guatemala have also pushed to the forefront is to say Land Back to reclaim ancestral territory is also to reclaim our own bodies. It is to reclaim the self‑determination of our very beings. I also want to think about how gender violence becomes one of the factors for forced migration. Women and girls fleeing sometimes sexual violence, sometimes abuse. Land Back also becomes an opportunity for us to intervene in that as well, that gender violence, in a place where Indigenous people are so often and have their own systems of governance. We have to figure out how to confront that gender violence that is also a symptom of colonialism.
I was on also thinking about Land Back as a better framework than what the Biden plan has been proposing. You get these imperial settler colonial governments, like the U.S. government, that develop these plans on how to stem migration from Guatemala. We get the Vice President in Guatemala telling people do not come. Do not come. For me, it would be better for them to learn about The Land Back Movement as opposed to trying to provide more aid to military and policing and state violence.
The last comment I’ll make is that for me Land Back Movement is about how to be a good relative on these territories. We migrate to the United States, yes, but we are also migrating to a place that is also Indigenous, where Indigenous people have also fought for their territory. For me, supporting Land Back in California and Los Angeles is about me trying to understand how to be a good relative. I’ll end my comments there.
>> EDNA: Thank you so much for Flori. For the public that is listening in English, we’re going to go back to Spanish now. Once again, we are switching back to Spanish. Please click on the “mute original audio” because we will be speaking in Spanish.
We’re going to go ahead and ask a question to Geronimo. Geronimo, how do you feel? How do you think a world without forced displacement would look? I’m sorry. I’m sorry. That’s not the question. My mistake. Geronimo, can you talk about the visualization of Indigenous rights?
>> GERONIMO: Yes, thank you again for the opportunity for being here. We are invisible with our rights because we’re not acknowledged as original people. To date, in Guatemala, in the United States, and in several other places we are called and seen as Latinos or Latinas. We are sort of boxed and labeled into this particular place. This violates our rights as human beings, our rights to exist. They have invisiblized us. When you invisiblize someone, you violate their right to exist as human beings. That’s what’s happening with each of us, but this invisibility did not begin here. Rather it has been here since the invasion when the invaders came in, which were not invited, but came here to rape our lands. When they came to our land, they actually then fought against their crown in our land without talking to us, without asking us, without involving our ancestors whose land they were on, and so, when they made our ancestors invisible, this began the violation of human rights, the violation of our free will. And this has been happening for 500 years, the massacres and genocides. We just saw it 36 years ago when my people, Ixil, and other peoples suffered a massacre. It is regrettable to remember this. For being connected to our ancestral lands, we had to be massacred. They had to violate our human rights, and we see them at these peace Accord signatures. They’re signing documents and treaties that were, of course, left in the middle of a desk drawer, but the true rights as people never came and our rights are continually violated constantly. Today, we still see at the borders ‑‑ in 2019, when our children from our original peoples ‑‑ we saw Claudia, Jacqueline, Philippe, Carlos, all who belonged to Mayan nations, Mam nations. Because they were invisible, they did not have access. They did not have the right to an interpreter. When they invisiblized the whole nation, when they invisiblized a whole people, they violate our existence and human rights as human beings. Today we fight to be visible because once we become visible our free will ‑‑ we’ll regain the right to exist as humans in our free right to determination. That’s our fight, being visible again. Thank you.
>> EDNA: Thank you so much, Geronimo. To our audience, given we’re discussing things that are very, very delicate, if you need to move your body, if you need to drink water, if you need to take a step back, do so. We will be here, and you will also have the recording sent to you.
Now we’re going to go on ‑‑ now this is a question for Natali. That is, how, in your perspective, do you believe a world would look without forced displacement?
>> NATALI: Yes, Edna. Flori and Geronimo, thank you so much for sharing the space with us and just filling it with that special energy you both have. We’re all connected to each other. We’re all family. We’re extended family and that is worldwide.
As Geronimo said, we’re fighting for visibility, for our Indigenous visibility, for the visibility of our ancestors. We’re still standing strong with the strength we draw from our ancestors, from our grandmas. Imagining a world without forced displacement makes us think not only in the current state of the world where there’s 82.4 million displaced individuals globally by 2020 ‑‑ it makes us think of what we are living, which is a world where humans have basically created their own destruction or sown the seeds for their own destruction. In a world where even now when we realize there’s so much inequality, so many violations to human rights, to Indigenous rights, to the rights of our Mother Earth, we are still, we are still, thinking about choosing extractive products, like mining, gas pipes, oil pipes. Thinking of a world without forced displacement is going to the root. It’s going to the core. We have to look at wars. We have to look at conflict. We have to stand and rise above everything that causes forced displacement. It’s so necessary to become human again, to go back to our roots, to understand what it actually is to be a human being and live in coexistent peace with one another and with our Mother Earth.
Basically, what is the relationship that we have and what is the relationship we have? We have to stop hurting our Mother Earth. And we have to fight for the free determination of people. We have to stop looting the land. This also entails a legal fight and the free determination of the peoples who are focused not only on international law but on Indigenous rights. Also, just look for our ancestral lands. See how we can nourish it and not only extract from it. We are missing a world free of discrimination. That’s what we have to aim for. There’s no environmental discrimination.
Somebody asked in the chat the socioenvironmental issues that are part of the forced displacement problem. This is basically a world where we should not be in fear of genocide at all times. And so, we are still missing, as humans and also as Indigenous beings ‑‑ we have to understand the sacred aspect of the law.
Here in the United States the Constitution and the law is something that is almost sacred. We have the possibility and the ability to change and push changes in the social fabric and also within the laws around the world. We will do it. The river told me. Thank you.
>> EDNA: Thank you so much, Natali. Now we have another question for Flori. Once again, I will advise the audience we’ll be switching languages again. Again, if you are in the original language, please click on translation. Take out the original audio.
Flori, this question is a little bit connected to what we’ve already been discussing, which would be the alternatives for the colonial aspect of colonization, which the Guatemalan and the diaspora are already building.
>> FLORIDALMA: I want to begin by recognizing this question is huge. There’s no way I’m either aware of or at the forefront of thinking through all of these things. I just want to start by saying that. I think for me it actually builds on a lot of what Natali was saying, which is about being in relation to each other. I even see her, for instance, who is part of an Indigenous nation in South America but who has come to these territories to support and build with displaced Mayan people as part of that relationship building. I think there’s so many different examples of that, and I think we saw some of those even during the pandemic, right? This ongoing pandemic where native nations did also support Mayan immigrants with access to masks and the ways that even across different Indigenous migrant communities there was also a lot of social support. The needs are very, very big, but I think every time that we can rupture these boundaries or barriers it represents a really important opening.
For me, in thinking about this question, which felt very, very big, I also went to thinking about abolition, which I think Alejandro is here in the comments ‑‑ I organized with a community organization for environmental justice. I see they’re in the audience too. With some of those thinking partners, we’ve been talking about abolition and abolition being something grounded in a very Black radical tradition. This was the abolition of slavery and the ongoing need to abolish mass incarceration. I started to think about what would it look like to think about migration “immigration” from an abolitionist perspective, where we not only want to abolish the detention centers and get rid of them but abolish these settler governments who have no right to say who belongs on these territories and who doesn’t. They came here to declare their independence on our ancestral territories, which is a huge problem. That conversation around abolition in relation to Black communities across the globe is something that I would like to see happen more because I also think that abolition is very generous. What I mean by that is that it acknowledges that we may not have every single detail worked out about what that vision for the future is, but in the process of abolishing these systems we start to enact that future in our relationships. And I think that’s really important, so I even look at, for instance ‑‑ if people saw the previous webinar, our elder Luis Marcos, who opened today, also shared about being an ambassador to the Omaha Nation. I think there’s multiple examples like that where Indigenous people, despite settler borders, are still building in a way where they’re supporting each other and understanding each other’s struggles as common struggles. For me, I even see that in relation to Tongva relatives. They had Los Angeles built on top of their ancestral territory, which for me felt very similar to how in Chile, many I hometown ‑‑ it is really a city. It’s a huge city now, but that city was built on top of us. We were there before. For me, even that urban Indigenous experience is something that I use to inform how I think about a future outside of settler borders.
>> EDNA: Thank you so much, Flori. I think I already explained the process to go back to the original audio. We are going back to Spanish now. We’re going to open up the Q&A session that the audience has been sharing.
The NISGUA team is still looking at the Facebook chat. They’re sending us some questions. I would like to be making some questions for Natali. Natali, can you please talk a little bit about how things can be done better in solidarity with your customers, which are identified as Indigenous?
>> NATALI: First and foremost, I believe that practicing law has a certain vocabulary that we use, like the word customer. Starting from that, the word customer are the people that I work with, the people that I work for, the people that I represent. And so, working in law, making it merely transactional isn’t right. We have the right to represent somebody as their legal counsel, but we have the duty of highlighting the human side of the law. And I think that it is very difficult to answer without context because context is always important whenever we’re answering any type of question. Depending on where we’re at, who we’re working with, what are the goals and the purpose of the work that we’re attempting to achieve, I believe in general terms doing a good job with an Indigenous community or anyone you’re representing it’s important to have the innate respect toward their culture, toward their cultural practices, which many times are part of the identity of those we represent. We need to understand we’re not always going to really know or understand everything to a T, but as an attorney, we are locked down in a colonial system. We are boxed in a legal framework that was designed in such a way where it is an oppressive system that is systematically not working. And we have to start searching for creative options, creative arguments, and not be so fearful of making arguments that are not going to be winning arguments, quote, unquote, but rather make those arguments that we need to start putting out there. For example, the self‑determination and sovereignty, which a lot of times a lot of attorneys will say that’s an argument that will never win in court or approved by a judge. They let it go because that argument will never be a winning argument. Just leave to the side that idea, that all we care about is winning because maybe telling a story is more important and more impactful for what we’re trying to achieve at the end of the day. It may be something very powerful for those that we are representing, and so thank you very much. That would be my answer.
>> EDNA: Thank you, Natali. We’ll go on with a question for Geronimo. This is a very loaded question. If you don’t want to answer, you can always say no. But this question is being made for you specifically within the context in the last few months and the context on the global level. The mass graves that have been found in Canada filled with the cadavers of Indigenous children, how do you feel about the mass murder and the disappearances of these Indigenous children? Where do the rights of these Indigenous children lie, particularly Mayans, and how does this relate to the separation of families that is taking place amongst borders now?
>> GERONIMO: Thank you, and thank you for the question. With a heavy heart and with much respect to our extended family of the original peoples in the Canadian borders, we know originally it was 215 children who were found in that mass grave. This has to do with the separation which took place of Guatemalan children at the border. This does not start today. It’s a policy of genocide and massacre. These children are our future. This is the future of an existing nation, and this is a colonizing policy to massacre. Genocide, it’s all connected. It’s all connected to our extended family. Not only Canada, Guatemala, and the United States but all throughout America where we have existed for thousands and thousands of years.
To separate the children, the first minister said this is an embarrassment in our history, but besides that, how can we fix this? What reparation can we provide? When we separated the children from their parents on border, Donald Trump said, oh, I don’t want to do this, but he was still doing it, so this is something that is so very painful, but I do not wish to continue without mentioning the heroes. Claudia, Jacqueline, Philippe, Juan, Carlos, and the children. Not only those children, but all those thousands of children that can’t find their parents now. Not only is it a shame and an embarrassment to the colonizers, but these are aberrations. These are nations which have stepped all over our dignity for over 500 years now, and this is a policy for massacre and genocide. Thank you.
>> EDNA: Thank you very much, Geronimo. Thank you for putting your all in all your answers and sharing this type of analysis that is so hard.
Now we have a question for Flori. Please switch to the translation channel. Flori, can you speak about the way the migration centers men? How can we construct this narrative and build alternatives to it?
>> FLORIDALMA: Thank you for the question. I just want to begin by again acknowledging Geronimo’s comments. For me, they kind of take my breath away a little bit because it is true. When I was seeing this news around the graves that were found, a lot of people now they were there. A lot of Indigenous people knew the graves were there. It was the strategies of war. Part of the healing has been to recognize the tremendous capacity of Mother Earth to hold our relatives because she’s our mother.
In terms of the question that was asked, I think part of it is challenging. It’s understanding that settler colonialism is also a gendered project. It is not just about settlers in general, but it’s about the reproduction of a nuclear biological family that is going to own property, that is going to, quote, unquote, good citizens of the nation, and so, I think part of what we’re seeing in migration is that there’s a certain type of gender violence that is impacting women in part because we’re not seen as real full members of our families, of our communities sometimes, especially of our nations. What we see is this kind of ‑‑ and this also goes for trans women too. What we see is this powerful overlapping of impunity that is available to a lot of men, men who are part of the police force, men who are soldiers, men who work at these construction sites at these MAGA projects, men who work as part of border properly. Part of the violence as a result tends to get overlapped, so that’s partially what we’re seeing, is the inability for the media and for the government to also recognize that we’re talking about not just men, but we’re talking about entire families and communities and nations really, and that that has to be part of how we rethink migration on our own terms. Right? If we understand within Indigenous frameworks that children are sacred, why would we ever put them in detention centers? I think that’s part of the promise or possibility that exists when we shift away from thinking about migration solely through the experience of cis hetero men.
>> EDNA: Thank you so much, Flori. We’re going to be closing right now, this webinar. I would like to ask ‑‑ Flori, maybe you can give some closing remarks, one or two minutes, just to tie up a little bit of some of the things we’ve been talking about, a call to action, a message that is important to deliver tonight. Then we’ll go on to Geronimo and Natali.
>> FLORIDALMA: I think just two things. I think one is that all of us have a responsibility to learn how to be good relatives when we’re part of the diaspora. That can happen in so many ways. Begin small, exactly where your two feet are right now. That would be one thing. Two, I think all of us are hungry for a different world, a world where we don’t see this type of violence, but I think part of the process to get there is what they say. Kill the cop in your head. Start to, as much as possible, denaturalize. Question how normalized violence against each other, against other members of our community who may not share the experience as but are still part of our people, and really start to challenge that within ourselves so that we can lose those kind of barriers and walls that exist within us, and we can embrace each other more fully outside of settler logic, outside of ideas of citizenship, outside of ideas of heterosexuality, outside of ideas of gender norms. I think the more we can open ourselves to all the vibrant, beautiful people who make part of our relatives, then the more we’ll be able to put into action the world that we’re trying to create.
>> EDNA: Thank you so much. Okay. Now we’re going to move on to Spanish. You can go to original audio if you were listening to the interpreters. I would like to open the floor to a few closing remarks to close this event. Any thoughts that you think might be important and might encompasses the topics we discussed today or a call to action. I would like to ask Natali.
>> NATALI: Thank you, Flori. It is important to look for those things that link us. There’s something that sounds maybe idealistic, but I’ve seen the possibility when we have the opportunity to make small changes and how those changes tend to grow. I’ve seen it also within the rural communities that I work with in our networks, our professional networks, our community networks, the spaces that we occupy. We look to occupy them with integrity. As a very dear and respected Lakota brother says, it’s not the what. It’s the how. How we relate, how we do things, and go beyond those problems that we have. Start looking for solutions. Don’t be afraid of being afraid. Don’t be afraid of imagining a new and different world. We really need it and the time is now. We don’t have more time. We don’t have another world, so the time is now. Thank you very much for allowing me to be here in this space. It was an honor for me to be able to share with Flori and Geronimo the pain that we feel many times when we go through this world. We understand and see and experience in our own person that our communities at the international level are being assassinated. They are being murdered. There’s genocide that is running rampant. Many people say cultural genocide is not genocide, but it is. There is actual genocide, which is the killing that has been part of the history of our communities and our peoples. It’s part of our current reality.
It’s important to know that we are still on our feet, and we are still fighting. As Flori said, it’s the Land Back Movement and the reclaiming of ancestral land. It’s not just for the purpose of changing its property from one owner to another. It’s looking for a different way so that we can also relate with this world, with this land that is our mother.
>> EDNA: Thank you very much, Natali. Also, I would like to now hear from Geronimo some closing remarks.
>> GERONIMO: Thank you again. It’s important that we stay in the fight. I want to leave you a message as a man from the traditional people. How do I help? How do I start? If they say I’m too young for this. It’s not about age. I started at 13. My grandmother is a defender of Indigenous peoples and Mother Earth and Mother Nature. It’s how we, as people, at any age can help. It’s knowing the organizations that already exist, knowing the plans and processes, the fight that is underway, knowing it and supporting it. If we want to start help, there’s work that’s already being done. In my language, we have a word for the road you’re already on. It’s signified in the plans and the processes, and we need to start contributing. Also, donations are very important because without donations there is no fight. All of us are volunteers, but donations are so important as well. If I don’t have the time but I have the possibility, there are different ways in which we can contribute to the fight on our visibility, on our equality and justice, on true forgiveness and true payback. Thank you very much for this opportunity, and thank you to everyone present. Thank you, brothers and sisters. I represent the League of Maya. You can follow us at League Maya. We are present on social media. You can follow us there.
>> EDNA: Thank you very much, Geronimo. I want to thank you profoundly, all of you. I want to thank our interpreters and the people in charge of subtitling in realtime and all the organizations that sponsored this event. A special thanks to American Friends Service Committee and Lush Charitable Giving Fund for their financial support to this event. We ask you to join us in our call to action by signing the petitions sent to the link. You can see it in the chat, and you can also find it going to www.NISGUA.org.
For those who want to contribute to the fight, but they don’t have the chance because of time or resources, because we’re trying to survive capitalism, we invite you to make donations to the organizations that our panelists have shared with us and that we’re going to be sharing in the chat, International Maya League as well as Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim, and the Water Protector Legal Collective. These links are available to you via chat if you’re on Zoom. If you’re watching on Facebook, you can access the links to donate through the comments. Thank you very much once again, and we hope to see you next time. We say goodbye in solidarity.