39: Yellow Vests; Red Nation’s Melanie Yazzie and Nick Estes

December 20, 2018

Great show this week! We talk with Melanie Yazzie and Nick Estes of The Red Nation, an important new revolutionary organization fighting for Indigenous liberation.

Melanie is a Diné scholar and activist who is the 2018-19 chair of the Central Governing Council for The Red Nation. She’s also co-author with Nick of a forthcoming book about border town violence and Indigenous resistance, and next year will join the faculty at the University of New Mexico as an assistant professor of Native American Studies and American Studies. Nick is Kul Wicasa from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, a co-founder of The Red Nation, an assistant professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico, and the author of two forthcoming books: Our History is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance and Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement.

To do this interview, we invited our fellow ISO members Ragina Johnson and Brian Ward, who have worked with The Red Nation over the past few years, to take over the pod, and we think you’ll agree it was a great decision. Melanie, Nick, Ragina and Brian got into a deep discussion about a range of topics, including the creation and development of The Red Nation, how Indigenous and colonized people can and should use the tools of Marxism, the concept of settler colonialism and how it continues today, the necessity of solidarity between Indigenous people and other working-class people and the need for Indigenous land claims to be at the center of those fights.

In our opener, Jen, Danny and Eric talk about the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) movement in France, which began as rowdy protests against a proposed fuel tax and have evolved to encompass a broad cry of anger at the growing inequality of French society. We also talk about how the protests have confused and divided some in the environmental movement and why we urgently need climate change demands that start from a working-class perspective.

Links for our interview:

The Red Nation (TRN) website (http://bit.ly/TheRedNation)

Read TRN’s recent newsletter including a report on their “No Thanks, No Giving” teach-in (http://bit.ly/RedNation3)

Nick’s forthcoming book Our History is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (http://bit.ly/OurHistoryFuture)

Links for intro:

On the dynamic nature and changing consciousness of the Yellow Vest protests, check out French novelist Édouard Louis’ moving piece in Jacobin “Can the Yellow Vests Speak?” (http://bit.ly/YellowVestsSpeak) and longtime French socialist Léon Crémieux’s more recent analysis in Socialist Worker of the shifting dynamics (http://bit.ly/CremieuxSW)

For more on the need for working-class environmental policies as opposed to fuel taxes, check out Jonathan Neale’s “Why Carbon Taxes Burn Workers” (http://bit.ly/CarbonTaxes) and Zachary Alexis’s piece about the importance of the growing support for a Green New Deal (http://bit.ly/GreenNewDealSW)

Music and audio for this episode:

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)
A Tribe Called Red, “We Are The Halluci Nation” Ft. John Trudell & Northern Voice
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, “Under Your Always Light”
Excerpt of speech by Radmilla Cody at The Red Nation’s Indigenous Peoples Day March and Rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2015
Ryan Dennison, “HT”
Son Of Hwéeldi, “Me & The 99”