Editors' Note: The Two-Spirit First Nations Collective is comprised of Indigenous peoples who identify as two-spirit, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender-non-conforming, queer and allies. They came together out of a shared commitment to social justice work with an intersectional approach that honors our full selves through education, bearing witness to each others' lives, and personal and spiritual sustainability in the larger social justice and LGBTQ movement.
We, the Two-Spirit First Nations Collective, condemn and denounce the signing into law SB 1070 on April 23rd, 2010, as an attempt to create legitimacy for white nativism--the erroneous belief that white people are native to this land and are the sole race with a claim to be here. In a state that is 30% Latino (self-identified) and has 22 indigenous groups of people compromising at least 12% of the population, this law is a direct attack on our communities. Any brown person becomes susceptible to "reasonable suspicion". It effectively legalizes racial profiling within Arizona and makes any brown person subject to interrogation and possible detention if they cannot prove they are a citizen.
As queer indigenous people and allies, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Arizona and throughout the United States who are experiencing racism, interrogation, detention, and deportation. We do not believe that a body can be illegal, that a whole people's identity should be criminalized. We know from history that dehumanizing bodies leads to increased violence, isolation, and death.
Neo-Liberalism, which we define as the extreme de-regulation of capitalism, has led to depressed/collapsed economies and structural adjustment via the IMF and World Bank throughout various indigenous communities of the Americas. We know immigration is often the result of forced migration due to economic manipulation of Third World countries. Immigration cannot be addressed without broadening the conversation to include factors that create a class of people who are forced to flee their countries of origin to survive and help the families they leave behind survive.
As Indigenous-identified Two-Spirit people and allies, we have made an active and political choice not to enforce the borders of the Americas because we believe they are arbitrary and were never decided with our communities in mind. They separated generations of families that crossed the modern-day border on a seasonal basis or lived in different parts of traditional lands. We also hold strongly to the belief that our Mother Earth cannot be divided by borders. As Indigenous people we uphold the value and sanctity of land--for it is our very tie to land that is at the center of our identities.
Our responsibility as people living within the borders of the United States is to take an active role in fighting this racist and xenophobic legislation. We also need to engage our communities as First Nations people in discussion about a larger Indigenous identity that helps us to bridge the barriers we perceive between us and our brothers and sisters to the South. We can no longer afford to believe the lies that separate us or enforce a border created without us.
As queer indigenous people, we wish to raise the alarm within the larger queer community. We, who belong to this collective, doing work within larger queer community, could be detained in Arizona tomorrow. Some of our comrades, colleagues, people who have worked on behalf of LGBTQ issues for years, could be detained in Arizona tomorrow. The issue of immigration is complex and hard to follow but the reality is that people who belong to our LGBTQ community are at risk, every day, every time they have any interaction with the police. A significant portion of the queer community is at risk, right now. This is a queer issue. In the words of James Baldwin, "If they take you in the morning, they will come for us that night."
As queer Indigenous people and allies, we bring forth memory of a time before capitalism, before colonization. We remember a time when our communities were whole, self-sustaining, and thriving. Our survival was rooted in our belief in community and communal values. Our respect for land meant we did not try to control it or exploit it for profit. We did not divide it or pillage it. If you can divorce yourself from the land and the Earth, you can divorce yourself from each other. Once we stop believing in community and communal values, we are all at jeopardy and our ability to survive is compromised. As Indigenous queer people and allies, we condemn this because we remember a world in which this would never happen.
We are angered by what Arizona has done. We will act, organize, and support our allies as they continue to fight this unjust law. While we mourn the fact that the law was signed, we welcome the struggle and conversation that will follow. This is a moment, when again, we will define the values of our community. It is an incredible organizing opportunity for justice, not only for the Latino community which is directly targeted, but for all communities who are committed to justice and liberation.
In resistance and revolution,
The Two-Spirit First Nations Collective
Robert John Hinojosa