"black snake defeated" 

I made this painting, “black snake defeated,” over 3 years ago. It was shortly after witnessing first-hand the use of attack dogs and paramilitary against indigenous water protectors in Oceti Sakowin (standing rock). After a lifetime of mourning the loss of my own territories and community to colonial violence, I’d been traveling for years between communities on the west coast of so-called canada, gathering stories of resistance, trauma, and survival from the indigenous women and two-spirit land, water, life, and culture protectors for a book project called Voices. We as indigenous peoples are groomed from birth -- by lived and intergenerational trauma, but also by traditional teachings -- to one day step into the positions of leadership youth across turtle island are stepping into right now to shut down canada. We have known for a long time that this was coming.

This month once again it is my friends and loved ones placing their bodies in the space between mouths of dogs leashed by soldiers, defending canadian corporate interest, and the unceded lands and waters they protect. Our knives dig into the railroad arteries of industry and out pours snake oil, but the “country” recoils as if it were blood. White liberal culture has co-opted the concept of nonviolent resistance, decrying destruction of property as violent, disruption of the flows of capital as violent. This is in stark contrast to the teachings of nonviolent resistance that indigenous peoples have been passing down to each other for generations.

I have been taught during my time on the Wet’suwet’en Yintah, that when we are faced with hatred and violence from people in and out of uniform, that we do our best to become mirrors, that we might be able to see the relatives in each other whose lives are borrowed from the same lands and waters which we protect. We are taught to see things in this way so that that we can keep our knives clean and sharp until the time comes to cut the head off of this fucking snake, which gets granted the sanctity of something living but is the enemy of all life. It is at the center of the non-violent tactics advocated for by Wet’suwet’en Dinïze and Tsakïze.

Land is alive, water is alive, We are alive, The pipelines are not alive; the railways are not alive. canada is not a country, canada is a corporation. Stand With Wet’suwet’en, shut it down.