General Assembly notes 10/20

Occupy Seattle General Assembly

  • Date/time: 2011-10-20 19:30
  • Location: Westlake Park
  • Minutes taken by: Phil Mocek
  • Audio archive:

Facilitation Team

  • Facilitator: Hudson
  • Taking stack: Michael
  • Time keeper: Jake
  • Orientation: Elvina
  • Agenda: Jacob


  • ?
    • 13th day here, spends quite a few nights
    • last night was particularly challenging, as not many people stayed
    • seems that Westlake Park is not a place we can occupy for sleeping long term
    • hopes to have a place we can have library, cafeteria, proper medical tent, can function as model society, and use Westlake as civic area during the day
  • ?
    • has been here 2.5 weeks
    • has been difficult at night
    • after 10:00pm the police go around, kick children, kick adults, and harass us
    • need people to be here after 10
    • don't need to go elsewhere
    • if we stay here, will show them that the masses stand against us
    • this is our land, our country
    • won't give in to tyranny
  • ?
    • rah, rah, rah, Westlake!
    • In Thursday's USA Today, headline reads, "Wall Street protest boil down to loss of opportunity, stagnant wages for middle class, economists say"
      • Thought, is it that simple?
      • Please think deeply about this
      • What has caused us to gather together?
      • Do we lack economic opportunity or something part of human experience?
      • Political climate or shift in collective consciousness?
      • Ready for new paradigm?
  • ?
    • Was very cold last night.
    • Tried to protect face with bandanna, but police officer kept trying to wake him up while he was fully awake, protecting himself from the cold.
    • Saturday's anti-police brutality protest:
      • anarchists are planning to smash-and-grab
      • please pay attention
      • let's be prepared to retreat if anything goes wrong
  • ?
    • Wants this movement to succeed, to reach this new paradigm some people speak of.
    • If you want something to change, must visualize what it will look like and start acting as if it's already true.
    • If we fight among ourselves, fight first symbol of authority we see, are missing the point.
    • Only love can defeat fear and anger
    • Cannot fight fear and anger with bigger fear and anger. Someone will alway shave bigger gun.
  • ?
    • Thinks we need to address hoarding greed at City Hall.
    • Brought a soda, was denied a cup.
    • People there accused Westlake of stealing food.
    • Friend was denied cookie though there are three large bags. They said it's only for volunteers.
    • If we cannot stop greed and hoarding among ourselves, how can we convince the 1% that they should.
  • Scott
    • Was asked to bring 18 years of management experience to City Hall to keep our permit.
    • Were threatening to revoke it Sunday night.
    • City Hall group did not call GA, Phil from ICT did.
    • Apologizes to those who think people there were trying to take control.
  • ?
    • Has been part of this movement since day one, coming in and out, sacrificing ability to work.
    • Finds it disturbing that people are willing to sacrifice our health and well being in the name of Westlake Park.
    • For a week straight, there were hypothermia cases nightly. People were getting things stolen. People were getting scabies.
    • This is important, but if we're all martyrs, who will carry on?
    • We can occupy multiple spaces.
    • Doesn't want to sacrifice for people who can't see the big picture.
    • This is Occupy Seattle. We can occupy every park.
  • David
    • Just came from Occupy Tacoma, across the corner from his office.
      • Small but strong group.
      • They send their love, say if anything they can do, call.
      • They're concerned about possible splintering here. If need help, call them.
  • ?
    • Has been here for 2.5 weeks. Has not slept here last two nights.
    • This park and these petty arguments that are lacking long-term logistical sense has been mentally draining.
    • At night, battling the police officers about warmth and closing eyes is driving him nuts.
    • Logistically speaking, this place is important during the day.
    • At night, and as a whole, what's really important is building a community, laying a cornerstone for future of humanity and our children.
    • Suggests we stop arguing about Westlake Park or City Hall. Neither will end up being central base for the movement.
  • Circus
    • Ryan Paulowski's ID card located.
  • Doc
    • Let us not forget that we are setting a precedent all over the world, together. Look what happened to Greece 36 hours ago. Trenton NJ, Athens Georgia.
  • Cameron
    • Has been here for two nights.
    • We're at war with the police, and we're at war with City Hall.
    • They want us out of here; that's all they want. To give it to them is defeat.
    • Should hold Westlake.
    • People have difficulty getting to SCCC, people don't understand it.
  • ?
    • Has been here past two weeks.
    • Was not here last two nights because she was sick.
    • In order to stay here, must be able to sleep.
    • Doesn't think SCCC is the solution, but can't stay here if we can't sleep.
  • ?
    • Stayed here one night.
    • No possibility of sleeping here.
    • Sleeping is not same as occupying.
    • When he stayed here, cops outnumbered us. They took food.
    • Agrees that we need facility where people can maintain their health.
    • Should have rotating groups willing to give cops hell all night.
  • ?
    • Stayed here a few nights.
      • Were only a few people here.
      • Cops winning, but people are strong.
      • Last night several people shared people from cops' lights.
    • Next Saturday will be big push with more tents.
    • If they take 150 tents, they better make 150 arrests.
  • ?
    • Just one more day. Day after, we're taking over.

Working group announcements

Supply and Storage

  • Alyssa
    • Many people are very concerned about where the money is.
      • It's in a safe.
        • Legal has the key.
    • Since we don't have a bank account, but many people got arrested, so we're banking with the bank of King County Jail. When people go to court, we'll get the money back.
    • Tomorrow, Legal will address GA about options regarding acquisition of tax ID.
      • So checks written to Occupy Seattle can be cashed.
      • Has check for $500 nobody can use until we decide how to get a tax ID.

Direct Action Working Group

  • Sallah
    • group of people met to take direct action
    • Based on New YOur
    • Occupy buses.
      • Test drove. Occupied, then handed out cards that look like ORCA cards, but say, NOPE.
    • Meeting 4:30pm Friday, near hot dog stand at north end of park

Fundraising Working Group

  • ?
    • Need help of vampire hunters — need wooden stakes.
    • In next few days, will have 100 yard signs that need stakes.
    • If we buy from store, costs money and kills trees.
    • If you are vampire hunter and like to save trees, get with it. If you're a vampire, steal the stakes.

Internet Communications Working Group

  • Andrew
    • Have been asking for help, and got it.
    • Got a bunch of people to email applications to help with website.
      • Can only help from home.
    • Still need more help.
    • Need people here to help determine how to communicate better.
    • Need people on-site to update Twitter, Facebook, etc.
    • If you're here and want to help, email

Legal Working Group

  • Patricia
    • Introducing new legal volunteer Braydon
    • Even though there are not many Legal Team members on-site, receiving many lawyers who want to help support the cause and be part of long-term legal strategy.

Outreach Working Group

  • Derrick
    • Working on:
      • Neighborhood outreach program
        • Starting by hitting farmers markets to tell people what we're about
          • First will be Sunday at Ballard Farmers Market
      • Cafe meet and greet
    • Join daily at 4pm and after GA
    • Contact via email to

Peace and Safety Working Group

  • Cameron
    • Knowingly or unknowingly, proposals passed last night about our relationship with the police becoming nonexistent put an enormous weight on P&S.
    • Need more members. Are about three dedicated members now.
    • Meeting directly following GA at Peace Tree (third tree from Pine Street)

Sustainability Brigade Working Group

  • Joey
    • Many wonderful things we can do to exemplify sustainability
      • Bring own cups, utensils, and water bottles
      • Help with maintenance of washing stations
      • Donate bicycle power setup
    • email
  • Anastasia
    • is local organizer with Sierra Club
    • Sierra Club:
      • Is nation's largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization
      • Represent 1.5 million members nationwide, 25,000 in Washington
      • Has announced support of Occupy movement
    • Press event tomorrow
    • Next week, Sierra Club will help out and lead teach-ins about environmental and organizing skills

Tactical Working Group

  • Zach
    • WG is working on plans for November 5 National Day of Divestment
    • facilitating inter-team communication
    • Meets daily at 3pm and 9pm in front of Seattle's Best Coffee
    • Sunday from 12-4pm, meeting at Pacific Place to discuss process
    • Earlier announcement by someone who said he had authority of legal and tactical between two tents.
      • Not concerned with what he's doing, but neither Tactical or Legal has authorized that.

Animal Rights and Environmentalism Working Group

  • Betty
    • newly-started group
      • represents the 99% of earthlings that do not ever have a voice or a choice
    • Meet Saturday by See's Candy store at 1:30pm
      • will have table with information
      • will educate people about what corporations hide from everyone
    • Not only about what we eat but choices that we make when we buy things.

Sanitation Committee

  • Andrew
    • WG is two people
    • Loves seeing people spontaneously pick up brooms and start sweeping. You're all deputized.
      • Please bring them back to other side of information tent.
    • Needs volunteers.
    • Don't have to be here all week, maybe just take a day or two.
    • Needs one volunteer for very important issue:
      • Be here tomorrow to help get porta-potties
      • Andrew and Connor cannot help
      • Afternoon – "general afternoon" is as specific as we have
    • One member of Sanitation Crew left to form group Mobile Occupy
      • Has been traveling multiple Occupations in Pacific Northwest
      • will bring volunteers from Portland
    • To Seattle Police Department: the sleep deprivation is very effective

Logistics Working Group

  • Doc
    • Unknown fact that Logistics is here, because he's the only member
    • The reason we can't reach him is that his bag was stolen during the Monday arrest.
    • Please buy him a mobile phone and spaghetti.

Accountability Working Group

  • ?
    • Meeting tomorrow at 3:30pm at north end of park to formulate community accountability process to hold each other accountable for violations of the principles of our movement.
      • We voted for these on Sunday. See the website.
      • Others came from GA decisions over past few weeks.

Demands Working Group

  • Emily
    • Yesterday, said that during and after GA, will be collecting local demands
    • Will be happening again today. Please go let them know what we want.

Hip Hop Occupies Working Group

  • Daniel
    • Five elements to hip-hop
      • MCing
      • DJing
      • beat boxing
      • B-boying
      • graffiti
    • send artists
    • meet after general assembly at hot dog stand
    • WG has experience promoting

Theatrical Working Group

  • Shane
    • Seek to gather people and perform, to entertain
    • Seeks contact from Arts and Entertainment Working Group

Steering Committee

  • Russ
    • there are lots of questions about how things work
    • doesn't always run smoothly, but they try
    • 5:30pm each day, meet by Romax on east side of park


  • proposal: Saturday, proposals and voting suspended, replaced with open-ended discussion: Topic ideas and actions to move message of Occupy Seattle forward
    • presenter: ?
    • restated: Saturday night GA: replace proposal section with open-ended discussion of actions and ideas to bring forth the message of Occupy Seattle.
    • source: P&F
    • rationale: Are mindful that some people only able to attend on Saturday. Hope it will not be free of decisions, because ideas will fly and many will decide to do things. Out of this will come proposals for other nights.
    • vote
      • time: 20:50
  • proposal: Allow Media Committee to talk to police for reporting purposes
    • restated: Livestream reporters can talk to police for reporting purposes only, not to give them information, to help them, or anything like that, just to get them on record.
    • presenter: Ian, livestream reporter
    • rationale: We passed proposal that we shouldn't talk to police. Wants to abide by proposals we pass. Wants to get police on record for some of the things they do. Not so they can get buddy-buddy. Not giving them information; getting information from them. 5000 people watched them arrest Liam the other night.
    • discussion
      • Concern: What stops other groups from making same proposal (tactical, food, etc. Can all make excuses to talk to them.) Actions speak louder than words. Police are trained to give statements to justify their actions. People are watching, and can discern when things are f'd up.
      • Yesterday under awning, was filing a kerfluffel. Cop asked her to move out from under awning. Instinct was to ask her to repeat it, and to capture it on film. Wonders if that was in compliance with group decision.
      • Likes the idea of catching cops on film saying stupid things. Doesn't trust common sense of everyone who may find themselves on the media committee to do that in a way she likes. Thinks it's really important to film the police.
      • proposer: Everyone on livestream is working for us. Will only talk to police when it's duty to do so.
      • In a free society, freedom of the press is the most precious commodity. Livestream people are our free press. Cannot believe assembly is considering censoring our press. At times of war (not that we're at "war"), the press move through the battlefield and talks to both sides. You can turn on a TV and watch in Afghanistan every day. Don't censor our press.
      • Part time occupier, livestream reporter. Has child. Waits tables for the 1%. Many people he's speaking with are taken aback with the way we're treating the police. There is a group of occupiers who want to be here. Will talk to cops no matter what. Wants them to join us.
      • Has mixed feelings about talking to the police. Trying to overcome his fear of them. If something happens, don't need to shame them, but show the world.
      • Doesn't trust police until they break rank. Media and anyone else has right to talk to them. Gathering evidence is helpful. Should not go further than that.
    • vote
      • time: 21;09
      • strong majority
      • proposal passes
    • proposal: pass
  • proposal: adopt statement affirming decolonization of Seattle with indigenous people (read long statement via bullhorn)
    • restated: People of Color Caucus produced a document extending solidarity to indigenous people locally, nationally, and globally. Occupy Seattle supports this statement.
    • presenter: Christie
    • met with People of Color Caucus
      • having conversation about decolonization, how to make movement more inclusive to all groups
      • in solidarity with Boston and other cities, have drafted declaration of solidarity with indigenous people
    • clarifying question
      • statement included name change; is that separate?
        • yes
    • discussion
      • Allowing a group to divide us by race is bad.
      • This doesn't divide us; it unites us.
      • We are on native land. They lived here first. We need to honor that. We get to live here at a higher status. Need to make a statement to the community that is native that we want and need them here, and that we understand.
      • Matt: Fully supports proposal. There would be no one percent without colonialism. 1% got their money by stealing native land and spending it in ways that oppress us all. This proposal does not divide us; the U.S. border divides us from the rest of the 99% and from the rest of the working class. White people are a minority of the 99%, and we need to recognize that. This proposal is a step in that direction.
      • Grandmother was from Okanogen. Five tribes were there. They were divided by the border. Unsure of whether this proclamation includes her.
      • Is from global south. Maybe not included, but stands in solidarity.
      • Also is indigenous group – Bahamas
      • Language included seems to be religious. Unclear if we document says we respect or agree with the religion.
        • response: Document does not affiliate with any specific religion.
      • Phil: If this is draft, bring back a final and let's vote.
    • vote:
      • time: 21:44
        • solid majority
        • motion passes
  • proposal: change name from Occupy Seattle to something decided by temperature check
    • restated: In solidarity with indigenous people around the world, Occupy Seattle will change name to "Decolonize / Occupy Seattle"
    • source: People of Color Caucus
    • presenter: Christie
    • discussion:
      • The only way he'd vote for this is so that he could go and start and Occupy Seattle brand new. The people who feel that strongly about this might as well start their own group. Has been solidarity with Occupy Wall Street movement. Within it there has been many smaller, congruent movements. Didn't change the name for them, so why start now?
      • Very concerned. We don't have every single occupant here. We cannot, because we agreed, represent them because they cannot be here for whatever reason. If we're to change name, should consider at a time when people can be here.
        • response from proposer: Reason PoC Caucus thinks name needs to be added is that when people say Occupy Seattle, they think, "It already is occupied." This would let people around the world know this movement includes them.
      • White Eagle: Does not support this. Honors effort that went into it. Takes us off course, dilutes us. Big message is important. Don't need to be this sensitive.
      • Does not appreciate people telling her she doesn't belong here. Helped build the occupation. Nobody has right to tell her to get out. United States thrives on imperialism that oppresses 99% of the world. If you're serious about this movement, need to let people in Iraq, Afghanistan, parts of Africa know we do not stand with colonization of U.S. Government. Best way to do so is implementing this name change.
      • Apologizes for emotional outburst. The PoC of San Diego got up and walked out in solidarity during a GA about this same discussion. No one knows if they've rejoined the GA. People here, including he, make comments without thinking three times. This is a highly-emotional topic, especially in this area where gentrification is very, very, rampant.
      • Recognizes that word "occupy" has serious negative connotations among many people here and abroad. He stands in solidarity with those people and their struggles, but doesn't feel that changing our name is the best way to further that cause.
      • Has spent lots of time on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It's the poorest county in the United States of America. Most people, even the homeless in this encampment, cannot fathom the conditions in which people of Pine Ridge live. Is unbelievably sympathetic with Native American causes. Is part Jewish, and resents being called a white supremacist by someone trying to pose emotion as unity. We're all here because we're all marginalized. He works in a cubicle for the 1%. If his bosses knew he was here, speaking and being engaged. He resent being marginalized by people who think that because he work in a cubical all day, he has great life. Our name makes that clear.
      • Don't frame this as division of the movement. Suggests we set precedent with the forward movement in other cities.
      • We shouldn't do something just because other cities are doing it. Sympathizes with first nations but wants to understand if once we decolonize, will we still be working under patriarchal system? How does changing the race part solve the sex part that oppresses 50 percent of our community.
      • Need to take this one step at a time. Agrees with comment about sexism. With Occupation movement across the county, has been lots of bad politics. Have groups such as Neo-Nazis of America endorsing us. Must show by adding this name that we're being progressive and that it's bigger than just the banks.
      • Last proposal we passed spoke specifically to the issues of the taking of Native American land. This supports that as well as supporting idea that all people have been colonized, including the majority white workers who are the 99 percent. We've all been colonized.
      • Native women have been sterilized for the past 500 years, don't identify with Western feminism for that reason. Please don't misidentify women. Decolonization is a process. This represents decolonization of our movement. Wall Street was founded on colonization and slavery. To get to the root of this movement, let's call it from the beginning, decolonization, which acknowledges that history.
      • Casey: With respect to the People of Color Caucus, all indigenous people, and all people here tonight: he loves us. Doesn't believe this is needed now. Worded like we're trying to break down our colony at the mayor's office, trying to break down every little colony we have. Should keep things the way they are now and think about a good one.
      • Burning Man: Not his native name. Is of South American decent. This is street name. Is homeless. Doesn't matter what we identify as. We are human. Everyone here is human. Why don't we act like it and recognize that we're human? The word 99 percent includes every human in this group. Doesn't matter who you are for any reason. 99 percent occupy of any city: Occupy means to stay somewhere under force or peaceful. Occupy Seattle is a part of Occupy Wall Street. To Occupy Wall Street means to stay where we are. WS has occupied every city in economic ways. Every single human here is starting to sound like children on the playground. Stay together and get along.
      • Marlin: Supports name change. Heard lots of good points, lots of emotional points. Unity must be our primary concern. Has great love for everyone here. Have inspired him and millions around the world. Is a white man. Is not the best person to speak about issues of marginalization of people of color in first nations. It is his responsibility to do what he can, and to show people around the world, that we, as white colonial people, own responsibility for what we have done. By changing our name, we give credence to this, show the world that we acknowledge the responsibility. This can allow us to truly set a precedent. Can show that we can evolve and bring forth new understandings. Supports symbolic name change.
      • Akila: Is black. Is female. Is part of Information Work Group. Going to New York tomorrow morning. When goes to Liberty Plaza, wants to be representing Occupy Seattle. It's important to keep name as we're one of more than 1251 occupies around the world. Let's not change name, but vote and go home.
    • vote: 22:25
      • 43 favor, 60 oppose
  • point of process: (not a point of process) important political discussion. People need space to caucus with each other to process what just happened. We should adjourn and go home (or stay here) not because we're dissolving the movement or the general assembly, just because people need to support each other.
  • More discussion of proposal just passed
  • break for approximately 40 minutes

Adjourned 23:07

11 Responses to General Assembly notes 10/20


    Saturday’s anti-police brutality protest:
    anarchists are planning to smash-and-grab
    please pay attention
    let’s be prepared to retreat if anything goes wrong

    so basically, me and my group of people should bring our gas masks and goggles Saturday just in case…that kind of sucks. so much for a positive day of action. :/ as soon as this turns violent on our end it gives the city an excuse to shut everything down permanently, through as many loopholes as they wanna find.

  • Red Fox says:

    When will the statement from the POC Caucus be posted on the site? I’m eager to share it.

  • Phil Andrews says:

    I am removing my support from Occupy Seattle until the Anarchists are removed from leadership positions in the GA and work groups and the “boss” at CH is removed from his position. I am recommending that we all do the same until changes are made.

    • pmocek says:

      There are no leadership positions in the GA. Meetings are facilitated by a rotating group of volunteers from the Process and Facilitation Working Group. That group meets daily at 4:30pm under the Romax sign on the east side of the park, and they’ve repeatedly requested additional participation.

      Please stop spreading disinformation.

    • MCFADDEN_LIVES says:

      Agreed. “Leadership” or “No Leadership” the wrong people are “running” the show now.

      • pmocek says:

        The show is run by the will of the group. If you would like to help guide it, please come participate.

    • Edward Murray says:

      I hope people come to the GA tonight. We can discuss this.

  • afriend says:

    I think OS needs to solidify and publish its goals. Some people are saying they’re too broad. Some people are saying they’re not broad enough. Some people say they’re not aggressive enough; some the opposite.

    OS needs to decide whether it’s anti-banks, or it’s against the way banks have behaved; whether it’s anti-wealth, or it’s anti-corruption; whether it’s anti-police, pro-police, or indifferent; whether occupying public spaces is an end, or whether it’s a means to an end; whether issues of discrimination and colonization are part of its agenda, or whether they’re not; whether it wants to work within the existing system of government, or whether it wants to overthrow the government and start fresh; whether issues of education, environment, public transit, war criminals, drugs etc. are part of the platform, or whether they are not.

    Make the platform as broad or as narrow as you want. Each carries benefits and drawbacks.

    But people that support OS can’t be afraid that if they miss a GA meeting then they’re going to wake up the next day to find out that OS isn’t what they thought it was. It will be very hard to maintain support for the movement if they don’t know what it stands for, or that it’s not what they thought it stood for. And the general public will continue to be confused about what OS’s platform is, which will make it hard to attract new support.

    I suggest calling for a series of super-meetings that would start 3-4 weeks from now where the goals and methods of action for OS are voted on, solidified, and published. That gives time for everyone who’s interested to discuss it and make any arrangements necessary to attend. After that, any changes to the platform can only be done in meetings that are announced at least 2 weeks in advance and have a quorum of at least x number of people; any changes to the platform require a 2/3 majority vote.

    Flexibility and inclusiveness are good, but if the movement is allowed to morph from one day to the next, it will have transient and thin support.

  • occupationist says:

    Hey folks,

    This is about the heated discussion that happened around the proposed name change from “Occupy Seattle” to “Decolonize/Occupy Seattle.” I just wanted to post some articles and thoughts to you all based on how the discussion of a name change happened last night at the GA. First, I think we should be happy that the (anticolonial)statement , at least, passed (can anyone reading this who has access to the actual statement please post the statement here, or link to it? That should also be immediately made available and highly visible on this website, since it passed through GA last night and is very important for people wondering what Occupy Seattle is about…). Second, I wish that the name change would have passed, but it didn’t and I think that is reflective of a lack of community building, learning, and decolonization of our fellow “occupiers.” It could also be that folks are really attached to keeping the same “brand name” (which I think is shit, and it was certainly mostly white folks). Personally I think the name change would send a wonderfully powerful message from the Northwest to the rest of this movement that an explicitly anticolonial approach is absolutely necessary for this movement to really be about “the 99%.” After googling “Occupy Wall Street” and Colonialism, I found the following:
    Saturday, September 24, 2011
    An Open Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Activists
    Thank you for your courage. Thank you for making an attempt to improve the situation in what is now called the United States. Thank you for your commitment to peace and non-violence. Thank you for the sacrifices you are making. Thank you.

    There’s just one thing. I am not one of the 99 percent that you refer to. And, that saddens me. Please don’t misunderstand me. I would like to be one of the 99 percent… but you’ve chosen to exclude me. Perhaps it was unintentional, but, I’ve been excluded by you. In fact, there are millions of us indigenous people who have been excluded from the Occupy Wall Street protest. Please know that I suspect that it was an unintentional exclusion on your part. That is why I’m writing to you. I believe that you can make this right. (I hope you’re still smiling.)

    It seems that ever since we indigenous people have discovered Europeans and invited them to visit with us here on our land, we’ve had to endure countless ‘-isms’ and religions and programs and social engineering that would “fix” us. Protestantism, Socialism, Communism, American Democracy, Christianity, Boarding Schools, Residential Schools,… well, you get the idea. And, it seems that these so-called enlightened strategies were nearly always enacted and implemented and pushed upon us without our consent. And, I’ll assume that you’re aware of how it turned out for us. Yes. Terribly.

    Which brings me back to your mostly-inspiring Occupy Wall Street activities. On September 22nd, with great excitement, I eagerly read your “one demand” statement. Hoping and believing that you enlightened folks fighting for justice and equality and an end to imperialism, etc., etc., would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you – that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. I had hoped mention would be made of the indigenous nation whose land that is. I had hoped that you would address the centuries-long history that we indigenous peoples of this continent have endured being subject to the countless ‘-isms’ of do-gooders claiming to be building a “more just society,” a “better world,” a “land of freedom” on top of our indigenous societies, on our indigenous lands, while destroying and/or ignoring our ways of life. I had hoped that you would acknowledge that, since you are settlers on indigenous land, you need and want our indigenous consent to your building anything on our land – never mind an entire society. See where I’m going with this? I hope you’re still smiling. We’re still friends, so don’t sweat it. I believe your hearts are in the right place. I know that this whole genocide and colonization thing causes all of us lots of confusion sometimes. It just seems to me that you’re unknowingly doing the same thing to us that all the colonizers before you have done: you want to do stuff on our land without asking our permission.

    But, fear not my friends. We indigenous people have a sense of humor. So, I thought I might make a few friendly suggestions which may help to “fix” the pro-colonialism position in which you now (hopefully, unintentionally) find yourselves. (Please note my use of the word “fix” in the previous sentence. That’s an attempt at a joke. You can refer to the third paragraph if you’d like an explanation.)

    By the way, I’m just one indigenous person. I represent no one except myself. I’m acting alone in writing this letter. Perhaps none of my own Nishnaabe people will support me in having written this. Perhaps some will. I respect their opinions either way. I love my Nishnaabe people always. I am simply trying to do something good – same as all of you at the Occupy Wall Street protest in what is now called New York.

    So, here goes. (You’re still smiling, right?)

    1) Acknowledge that the United States of America is a colonial country, a country of settlers, built upon the land of indigenous nations; and/or…

    2) Demand immediate freedom for indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier; and/or…

    3) Demand that the colonial government of the United States of America honor all treaties signed with all indigenous nations whose lands are now collectively referred to as the “United States of America”; and/or…

    4) Make some kind of mention that you are indeed aware that you are settlers and that you are not intending to repeat the mistakes of all of the settler do-gooders that have come before you. In other words, that you are willing to obtain the consent of indigenous people before you do anything on indigenous land.

    I hope you find this list useful. I eagerly await your response, my friends.

    Miigwech! ( ~”Thank you!” )

    JohnPaul Montano


    Personally, I think following the points mentioned here would be a wonderful start to decolonizing the Occupy movement//the world. I think the best way to really get the word out about this would be to actually change our name, and then refer to the anticolonial statement that was passed last night and this letter as the reasons for doing so. Using the name change in this way, with reference to these pieces, would be very effective in making certain that all other occupies paying attention to Occupy Seattle would not be able to ignore this most fundamental piece to our global movement. Whether enough folks get behind the name change or not, I am pretty certain that a “Decolonize/Occupy Seattle” movement will (//has already) begin on its own, with that name. Now it is only a matter of finding out whether people who were opposed to the name change last night will get behind that or if they will continue to be attached to a “name brand” that does not do anything to address and only reinforces colonialism.

    I will post some more links below. Please print and disseminate the above letter widely. Share it. Talk about it. Decolonize the Occupation.

    Also see:

    Occupy Wall Street: The Game of Colonialism and Further Nationalism to be Decolonized From the “Left” :

    “Recommended Reading: On colonialism and ‘Occupy Wall Street”: