From Turtle Island to Palestine:
Indigenous Delegation to Palestine
November 12, 2018
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We, the Palestinian Youth Movement, are leading a 10-day, grassroots delegation of 10 Palestinian and Indigenous youth from the United States on Turtle Island to Palestine. This delegation follows in a recent history of Palestinian initiatives to bring indigenous peoples to Palestine. However, this is the first delegation of indigenous youth from the United States led by an all-Palestinian and Arab contingent. The delegation will be visiting with Palestinian youth, community members, and leaders in key sites of struggle, including Al-Quds, Khan al-Ahmar, Al-Naqab, Al-Khalil, Ramallah, Yaffa, Haifa, and refugee camps in the West Bank.
We have long recognized a natural alliance with the struggle for sovereignty by indigenous nations on Turtle Island due to our shared history of enduring settler-colonialism. Bound as we are in joint struggle against settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing, forced displacement, and environmental devastation to our homelands, this delegation aims to strengthen these bonds and deepen our analysis for engaging resistance against settler-colonialism on Turtle Island. Our status as settlers or arrivants in the United States necessitates an awareness of and commitment to local indigenous struggles. The frameworks of Indigeneity and settler-colonialism have become integral to how PYM articulates the Palestinian struggle as an anti/de-colonial one.
Our theoretical framework cannot be divorced from on-the-ground, practical applications with parallel and interconnected struggles. The delegation’s short term aim is to build with our indigenous comrades while in Palestine, to enlighten them to our contexts, to reflect on their contexts as well, and to strengthen Indigenous networks internationally. We believe that genuine solidarity cannot be fortified without concrete, sustained, campaigns of reciprocity and hospitality. As such, this delegation is an important building block in PYM’s development, and the Palestinian liberation movement as a whole, in terms of building relationships and cultivating our frameworks and praxis for joint struggle with indigenous peoples.
This delegation builds on our previous and ongoing work to forge and strengthen relationships with our indigenous siblings on Turtle Island. Our San Diego chapter has hosted an annual border run for the last five years with Colectivo Zapatista, and last year, we co-hosted the run with the Kumeyaay and Yaqui Nations. In 2013, PYM members joined a delegation to Black Mesa in defense of the Diné people’s sacred mountain. In 2016, PYM organized consecutive delegations of Palestinian and Arab community organizers to Standing Rock across the Fall and Winter months to lend support and solidarity to the people of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota nations. In 2018, PYM members in the Bay Area organized with local Ohlone people to defend the sacred Shellmound in West Berkeley from gentrifying development efforts. Most recently, the PYM New York Chapter participated in a theatre residency with indigenous cultural workers and performers through the American Indian House.
We have witnessed and taken part in local struggles and national campaigns, led by Indigenous youth, for their rights to water, to land, and to their self-determination and affirmation of sovereignty. It is now our turn to bring them to our homeland. The delegation will carry an educational focus on land, the environment, youth, and on-going resistance to colonization, while engaging with our histories through current events. Each of the communities we will be meeting with during the delegation is facing a specific set of struggles. Palestinians in 1948 have been struggling against Israelization and Zionist gentrification. Palestinian subsistence farmers have been resisting against the wall and the theft of fertile farming land by creating alternatives for food sovereignty and reviving traditional farming methods. The youth of Dheisheh and Aida refugee camps face the realities of refugeehood on a daily basis and have proven to be sites of resistance to occupation for over three generations. Palestinians in Gaza who were forced out of their homes in 1948 have been rising up en masse to demand their freedom from blockade and displacement. Although we are barred from traveling to besieged Gaza, we recognize that our Palestinian siblings there have been at the frontlines, defending our demand to return to our homelands.
Represented in this delegation are members of the Kumeyaay, Yaqui, Diné, Seneca, and Hawai’i nations, as well as Palestinian youth originally from Jaffa, Lyd, Jerusalem, Nablus, and Aboud, currently living in diaspora/exile on Turtle Island. We are honored and grateful to our indigenous siblings for coming with us to visit our homeland, share their struggles with us, learn about our struggle and context, and explore ways to decolonize our lands together from Turtle Island and Palestine. Inter-community building, co-resistance, and decolonization are not just metaphors, they are a set of actions that we are committed to bringing into our everyday struggle for dignity and self-determination.
Until Liberation and Return,
The Palestinian Youth Movement - United States Branch
For regular updates from the delegation, check out our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and blog, From Turtle Island to Palestine. To support our work, consider donating here! We are an entirely grassroots organization of Palestinians in Palestine and in exile dependent on community support. Thank you!