Taiaiake Alfred is one of Canada’s best known radical indigenous intellectuals. A Mohawk who grew up in Kahnawake (near Montreal), he currently teaches at the University of Victoria and is the author of a number of books such as Peace, Power and Righteousness, Heeding the Voices of our Ancestors and Wasase. These books, along with his articles and speaking tours, touch on themes of indigenous self-determination, decolonization and his vision of native resistance.

As a self-described “anarcho-indigenist, Alfred rejects Band Councils and self-government agreements as extensions of the Canadian state. Instead he urges a return to traditional indigenous forms of political organization, which he characterizes as consensual and directly democratic, in contrast with nation-states based around force and coercion. This transformation, he argues, needs to take place through a widespread and nonviolent grassroots movement and tackle not only economic and political issues but also the psychological and spiritual effects of colonization.

His views, of course, aren’t without their detractors. Zig Zag makes a lot of good points in his review of Wasase about the lack of militancy in Alfred’s “warrior” philosophy. While I tend to agree, I also look back fondly on reading Wasase in university and going to hear him speak when he visited McMaster years ago. For a young white kid who was only starting to really grasp the politics and history involved, it was an excellent introduction. Over the next few weeks I’ll be presenting some other views on the subject as well as likely a Black History Month special or two, which is my way of saying that last week was fun, but I’m done with European history for a while.

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