Indigenous memes aim to unsettle after passing of Queen Elizabeth II
'The Queen is dead. Long live EVERY INDIGENOUS PERSON who survived despite the British Empire's best efforts to destroy and assimilate them.'
Indigenous peoples worldwide are using the death of Queen Elizabeth II to remind everyone that her own monarchy and many others throughout history have been devastating for Natives of most regions of the globe.
While some people view these reflections as inappropriate given her very recent passing, Indigenous peoples, Africans and others are widely saying that that is precisely the point: She represented an ongoing colonizing force that many blindly and faithfully pledge allegiance to — without ever wanting to examine the negatives behind that same colonizing force and all of the deep, dark policy and transgressions toward Indigenous peoples and others that helped lead to its seemingly everlasting power, prestige and riches.
How she personally treated Princess Diana is a much more popular idea to ponder in the mainstream — even in this moment of international grief — compared to, say, how many Indigenous peoples and nations were destroyed as a direct result of actions of the British Crown.
So why not now, the thinking goes:
Natives from countries she reigned over, including Canada, New Zealand, Australia and others have already widely weighed in within the press (selected links and quotes below):
CBC News: Indigenous groups share condolences after death of Queen Elizabeth, but colonial past leaves some conflicted
"The Crown has perpetrated terrible abuses against us as a people — been a part of stealing our lands, been a part of passing horrendously racist legislation," Niigaan Sinclair, a professor of Indigenous studies at the University of Manitoba, tells the CBC.
CBC News: After Queen Elizabeth's death, Indigenous leaders in Newfoundland and Labrador reflect on her legacy
"If there's any change [that] comes to us as Aboriginal people in this province it will come directly from the government of the day," Miawpukek Chief Mi'sel Joe shares with the CBC.
Daily Mail: Indigenous professor is slammed for rant attacking Queen as an 'architect' of colonialism who built her wealth on 'pain and suffering' just hours after monarch died
“Sandy O'Sullivan, of the Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, posted a Twitter thread on Friday morning to say that expecting Aboriginal people to react respectfully to the news is 'outrageous'.”
National Indigenous Times: Indigenous reactions to Queen Elizabeth II’s death from Australia and around the world
“Reactions from prominent Indigenous Australians and on social media spanned from sorrow to mockery spurred on by her family’s historically destructive influence on First Nations people.”
APTN National News: Indigenous community pauses to reflect on the death of Queen Elizabeth: Mixed feelings about the Sovereign and First Nations relationship with the Crown
APTN News spoke with Chief Wilton Littlechild, former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission who was on his way to a funeral for a friend in Calgary about the passing of Queen Elizabeth. Like many Indigenous people, Littlechild thinks of First Nations and the Crown as having a special, even sacred agreement between them.
“Condolences to the royal family first of all,” said Littlechild. “I am wondering if with her death there will be an impact on our treaty relationships with the crown,” he said.
Littlechild says there are differing opinions about the Queen in different generations. “There is a difference. The older people have a very different opinion about the crown’s relationship with treaty but the younger leadership doesn’t seem to have that same thought.”
After a very difficult week in his community, Chief Wally Burns of James Smith Cree Nation released a statement about the passing of Queen Elizabeth. She wrote a letter expressing sympathy for the tragic deaths of eleven people in the largest mass stabbing in Canadian history.
“Today we found out the monarch that served Canada has passed. She wrote a letter to James Smith Cree Nation on behalf of the monarch expressing the condolences to the families, the friends, to the community and to rest of the world,” said Chief Burns.
Cleveland.com: Queen Elizabeth II was the modern face of colonization. Her death is undeserving of worldwide mourning: Nancy Kelsey
“But mostly I hope that the non-Indigenous understand that the passing of Queen Elizabeth II may hit differently for those among us who view the monarchy as representative of the cruel and destructive colonization that resulted in the enslavement, displacement and dispossession of Indigenous peoples.”
While many tribal and aboriginal governments, leaders and nations have struck measured, condolence-filled tones in their messages to the press, some Indigenous citizens and their allies on Twitter and social media have been much less judicious:
There are many, many more out there, if you care to go down the rabbit hole. But some people are also taking the time to educate:
And some, like U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, are simply being respectful during a time of international mourning:
Is King Charles listening to the voices of the Indigenous peoples who are speaking out with these varying messages worldwide? That remains to be seen. He and other royals have made personal outreach and visits to various tribal communities in the past, but no Native nations (to our knowledge) have ever said enough has been done to justify — or rectify — the means that led us here.
Happy Friday, Wiredians. Keep calm, and meme on.
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Flashback, 1 month ago:
Indigenous Australian senator refers to Queen Elizabeth II as colonizer