Title: Anarchism and Indigeneity
Date: 2019
Source: The Palgrave Handbook of Anarchism (edited by Carl Levy & Matthew S. Adams), chapter 39, pp. 697–714, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-75620-2_39.


      Temporality (Ferguson)

      States (Johnson)

      Law (Johnson)

      Sovereignty (Ferguson)

        Autonomous Communities

        Integral Living

        Prefigurative Politics


The innocent ampersand between ‘anarchism’ and ‘indigeneity’ in our title is actually an invitation to think critically and creatively about the tangled links of these two heterogeneous historical lines of thought. We are looking for resonances across these fields of thinking and acting, without insisting on correspondence or eschewing tensions. We reflect on and pluralise four key concepts: temporalities, states, laws, and sovereignties. Both anarchism and indigeneity are often discarded by dominant ways of thinking and acting because ‘their time has passed’ or ‘their time will never come’. Yet time can be imagined in the plural as competing trajectories rather than a single arc from ‘then’ to ‘now’. We rethink relations among states, nations, laws, and treaties to open possibilities for self-organising communities. We examine radical education, integral living, and prefigurative politics for their contributions to autonomous communities. By exploring a few fertile sites of encounter between anarchy and Indigeneity, we hope that sparks will fly and affinities will develop.

In this chapter, we aim to make connections and stage encounters between anarchism and Indigenous thought. We are looking for resonances across these fields of thinking and acting, without insisting on correspondence or eschewing tensions. Judy Greenway’s preface to Anarchism and Sexuality sets the needed tone: she provokes us to ‘find ways of bringing together different perspectives, analyses, ways of doing things: not answers, but questions; not a single, smooth, impenetrable surface, but rough edges which can spark off one another, provides new points of access’.[1] Our goal is not to collapse the two rich trajectories into a single body of thinking/acting: we are not saying ‘Indigenous people are really anarchists, after all’ or ‘anarchists are not really settlers, after all’.

Instead, we are looking to a few fertile sites of encounter between anarchy and Indigeneity, hoping that sparks will fly and, as Greenway suggests, ‘new points of access’ will emerge. Anarchism grows best when, as anarchist thinkers Ruth Kinna and Alex Prichard suggest in their essay ‘Anarchism: Past, Present, and Utopia’, it eschews ‘an endless celebration of a few de-historicized and de-contextualized principles’ and instead theorises its relation to specific problems and challenges.[2] As Joel Olson argues in his insightful essay, ‘The Problem with Infoshops and Insurrection’, a moral condemnation of all forms of hierarchy is not the same as, and does not substitute for, ‘a political and strategic analysis of how power functions’.[3] Olson stages an encounter between anarchism and critical race theory, using each to put pressure on the other. We invite a similar concurrence between anarchist and Indigenous thinking, focusing specifically on ideas about temporality, states, law, and sovereignty.

Before we go on, a note about co-authoring is in order. We read and talked together for several months before writing without finding pronouns troublesome. Yet when we began to write, differences in authorial voice emerged. For Ferguson, who comes to this work largely as a political theorist, we usually means the two writers at hand. For Johnson, who approaches the project more as a Kanaka Maoli activist and thinker, we primarily means Native Hawaiians. Occasionally we means anarchists and indigenists or issues an invitation to all potential fellow travellers. To preserve and honour Johnson’s situatedness, the two of us have taken some liberties with academic conventions: each of the four main sections of the chapter is signed by their primary author, while the overall direction of the argument and this brief introduction are shared.

Temporality (Ferguson)

Anarchism and Indigenous politics both seek ways of living that embody their goals and resist incorporation into hegemonic arrangements. Among those hegemonic arrangements enacting unwelcome incorporation is history or, more accurately, dominant historiographies of states and empires. State time and settler time bracket anarchism and indigeneity as untimely, albeit in different ways; both are marginal to the accepted historical narratives dictating the ‘common sense’ of the present. Indigenous thinkers are discounted in hegemonic time as hopelessly nostalgic for a pristine but lost past, while anarchists are dismissed as hopelessly optimistic for a perfect but impossible future. Indigenism is impractical for ‘our’ present—it can’t come back. Native people might hope to be incorporated into dominant arrangements as a minority group or romanticised as a defeated people but not recognised as a different kind of nation. Anarchism, similarly, is impractical for ‘our’ future—it can’t come at all. It might be a nice idea in theory, but it would never work in practice. The pervasive dualism of tradition vs. modernity skewers Indigeneity, while the ‘common sense’ dyad of realistic vs. unrealistic disqualifies anarchism.

Yet, for all the violent efforts at erasure, Indigenous people are still here, neither extinct nor frozen. Seneca scholar Mishuana Goeman (Tonawanda band) urges us to think of ‘Native peoples as becoming and belonging in movement rather than as stable and unchanging identities’.[4] Similarly, despite the state’s best efforts to disappear or disdain anarchists, rendering them ‘at best as utopian, at worst, as a dangerous chimera’, anarchism has a stubborn presence, neither dangerously chaotic nor permanently postponed.[5] This being the case, why doesn’t simply pointing out the presence of living Indigenous people and functioning anarchists change the dominant way of thinking about them? The answer appears to be that Indigenous people and anarchists perform similar functions for states and empires: both are necessary Others to the hegemonic system, the constitutive outside confirming the orderly inside. Chickasaw scholar Jodi Byrd explains that Indigenous people are a ‘necessary supplement that continually haunts the edges of any evocation of civilization or Western thought’.[6] Anarchists similarly have been repeatedly recruited to confirm the proper order by their exclusion from it.[7] Bringing Indigenous people and anarchists into the working present as living possibilities requires us to unthink the frame in which radical options are either lost in the past or unavailable in the future.

It is a radical act to refuse to be temporal anomalies, for Indigenous people to insist, ‘We’re still here’ and for anarchists to proclaim, ‘We’re already here’. The key to this insistence may lie in thinking radical times as interconnected with, but not reducible to, state/settler times. Alternative times are not entirely absent from prevailing histories, nor are they captive to it.[8] Time is not an absolute, but is a reckoning of change and continuity that requires a ‘frame of reference’ to be coherent.[9] Frames of reference are grounded in enduring, material, social arrangements of living. As Mark Rifkin explains, ‘Such collective frames comprise the effects on one’s perception and material experience of patterns of individual and collective memory, the legacies of historical events and dynamics, consistent or recursive forms of inhabitance, and the length and character of the timescales in which current events are situated’.[10] Instead of thinking of time as a container holding events, we need to think of time as plural ‘potentially divergent processes of becoming’.[11]

How do Indigenous time and anarchist time work? They enact durations grounded in non-hegemonic life worlds, ‘everyday forms of relationships and struggle’.[12] They do not develop primarily through inclusion in the temporal registers of settlement, states, and capital, patriarchy, and empire. Hegemonic time is mono-time, imagining a single ‘now’ preceded by a universally shared ‘then’. The price of inclusion in hegemonic time is the erasure of specificity. While settlement violence is ubiquitous for Indigenous people, settler governance is not the primary umbrella frame within which Indigenous temporalities emerge. Many Indigenous thinkers are suspicious when settler institutions offer ‘recognition’ to native people; Mohawk scholar Audra Simpson, for example, advocates refusal instead, rejecting the option of being reduced to a ‘different’ participant within the overweening settler frame.[13] Anarchist time also emerges in a counter-history, one marked by events, rituals and rebellions through which anarchist communities organise their activities and tell their stories. States may offer anarchists a kind of inclusion in the dominant temporality by inviting them to issue a set of demands to be taken up by the authorities. Anarchists generally reject or at least are suspicious of these opportunities, because it reduces them to bargaining for a better deal rather than making a better world.

Yet, radical temporalities must negotiate some relationships with hegemonic time because they affect it and are affected by it. Refusal of recognition does not mean that Indigenous people are unimplicated in settler arrangements, but it can mark, as Rifkin claims, ‘an existence not a priori tethered to settler norms and frames’.[14] Anarchists too build their politics on a subordinated knowledge, as British anarchist Colin Ward argues, on ‘informal, transient, self-organizing networks of relationships that in fact make the human community possible’.[15] Free and cooperative relations, for anarchists, operate ‘side by side with, and in spite of, the dominant authoritarian trends of our society’.[16] Self-organising networks persist ‘like a seed beneath the snow, buried under the weight of the state and its bureaucracy, capitalism and its waste, privilege and is injustices, nationalism and its suicidal loyalties, religious differences and their superstitious separatism’.[17] Anarchist and Indigenous temporalities may differ over disparate notions of nation, sovereignty, and religion, but they share an insistence on confounding the dominant historical narrative about what has been and what is possible. ‘Discrepant temporalities’, in Rifkin’s fine phrase, are ‘all open to change, and yet [are] not equivalent or mergeable into a neutral common frame’.[18] Anarchist time and Indigenous time, then, do not dissolve into a single fixed alternative to state and settler time, but inhabit a plurality of non-normative durations grounded in distinct life-worlds.

Radical times are expressed through markers of continuity and change that turn toward some events and away from others. These markers invite ‘collective ways of inhabiting the present’ that orient people to possible pasts, connect some events while bypassing others.[19] Rifkin sketches some of the ways that Indigenous time may diverge from settler time, including:

modes of periodization; the felt presence of ancestors; affectively consequential memories of prior dispossessions; the ongoing material legacies of such dispossessions; knowledges arising from enduring occupancy in a particular homeland, including attunement to animal and climatic periodicities; knowledges arising from present or prior forms of mobility; the employment of generationally iterated stories as a basis for engaging with people, places, and nonhuman entities; the setting of the significance of events within a much longer timeframe (generations, centuries, or millennia); particular ceremonial periodicities; the influence and force of prophecy; and a palpable set of responsibilities to prior generations and future ones.[20]

Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) scholar Noenoe Silva notes the centrality of Hawaiian language newspapers in expressing what she calls mo’okū’auhau consciousness, a genealogical orientation valuing the knowledge of ancestors and anticipating the needs of descendants.[21] Speaking of nineteenth-century writer Joseph Kānepu’u’s work to record knowledge endangered by the state-mandated shift from Hawaiian to English, Silva writes, ‘It was as if Kānepu’u looked directly into the future, into the next century, anticipating my own and younger generations of Hawaiian scholars and our enduring interest in and need for both the literature produced by his generation and the orature from all the generations before him’.[22] These ways of ‘enter[ing] into each other’s sensations and experiences of duration’ produce a specific temporal sensorium.[23]

Anarchist communities have different but also potent markers to achieve cohesion in their timescapes as well as their landscapes. Annual celebrations of births, deaths, and anniversaries of events mark recurrences with which anarchists engage: the execution of anarchist educator Francisco Ferrer on October 13, 1909; the release from prison of anarchist Alexander Berkman on May 18, 1906; and the execution of the Haymarket martyrs on November 11, 1887. Radical labour actions such as Homestead, Pennsylvania (1892); Ludlow, Colorado (1914); and the Battle of Blair Mountain in West Virginia (1921) are markers not because the strikers were defeated but because such strikes could happen again. Anarchist communities create publications, free schools, unions, collective farms, workshops, theatres, picnics, and other repeating activities that create frames of reference in which time accrues and is expressed. These markers are recurrent but not static: they create rhythm and momentum while also changing in relation to current conditions.

The regular publication of anarchist journals, whether daily, weekly, or monthly, circulate anarchist texts to homes, workplaces, pubs, libraries, and community houses, where in earlier times they were often read aloud around kitchen tables or on breaks from work. Like Hawaiian language newspapers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, anarchist periodicals of that era serialised materials, with each instalment marking the recurrent engagement of readers with continuing texts. Readers of papers were encouraged to save and share the publications, and anarchists would have joined Native Hawaiians in honouring writers as ‘companion[s] of the pen’.[24] Like anarchists, Hawaiian writers often evinced extraordinary commitment to their newspapers; the papers were not simply places where writers reported on the happenings in their communities but were themselves political expressions of those communities. ‘I will not quit any Hawaiian-language newspaper until the day I die’, declared Kānepu’u.[25] Contemporary versions of these circulating texts include zines, blogs, websites, games, and social media postings, enmeshing readers in a world of shared information, feelings, and judgements.

Radical Indigenous time and radical anarchist time draw upon stories as technologies of life: stories, as Ojibwe scholar Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark remarks, ‘do things, like provoke action, embody sovereignty, or structure social and political institutions’.[26] The narrative and material markers in Indigenous and anarchist timescapes produce ‘multiple modes of production, diversities of belief, contending memories, and competing future visions’.[27] Mapping places converges with mapping times: Hawaiian geographies as collected by Kānepu’u included specific names for ‘capes, waterfalls, fishponds (the native system of aquaculture), streams, kaupapalo’i (wetland kalo gardens)’ and the names for winds and moon nights.[28] Radical timescapes create conditions of possibility authorising the pasts they need and the futures they desire.

States (Johnson)

Analyses of the nation-state and its hierarchies have been a central feature of anarchist writings from Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s Theory of Property to Emma Goldman’s ‘The Individual, Society, and the State’.[29] Contemporary anarchisms continue the commitment to anti-state critique started by their forebearers by tracing how state hierarchies enable ongoing intersectional oppressions across race, class, ability, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, and indigeneity. In his article ‘The Savage Ontology of Insurrection’, Benjamin Noys describes why this approach remains so compelling to present political movements seeking futures beyond current modes of life:

The allure of anarchism lies, in part, in an assertion of autonomy from the state and capital, and from the usual forms of political organization. The suspension of the ‘arche’ licenses a new self-determination, a new autonomy, beyond what are regarded as the stagnant and ineffective political forms of the present.[30]

In addition to anarchist concerns, the nation-state and the ideology of statism have also posed a challenge for Indigenous peoples facing the ongoing effects of settler colonialism. Nation-states are more often than not settler states that function to continue the removal of natives from our lands while also absorbing potential threats from decolonisation efforts, direct-action activism, and Indigenous nation-building. As Mohawk scholar Taiaiake Alfred and Cherokee scholar Jeff Corntassel argue in Being Indigenous: Resurgences Against Contemporary Colonialism, the state is a settler structure that eliminates natives not only by ‘attempting to eradicate the physical signs of Indigenous peoples as human bodies, but by trying to eradicate their existence as peoples through the erasure of the histories and geographies that provide the foundation for Indigenous cultural identities and sense of self’.[31] As natives, we suffer the material, semiotic, and relational consequences of this elimination. At the same time, colonial institutions often use our disadvantaged conditions to conveniently offer handouts via reconciliation processes meant to secure our dependence on the settler state for sustenance. Quoting Maori educator Graham Hingangaroa Smith, Alfred and Corntassel call this ‘politics of distraction’ an impediment to native nation-building ‘that diverts energies away from decolonizing and regenerating communities and frames relationships in state-centric terms’.[32]

For contemporary Kanaka Maoli politics, a turn toward legalist and statist deoccupation strategies in the last decade provides a unique context from which to consider the role of the state in Hawaiian activism. For in contrast to both anarchist critiques and Indigenous resurgence movements, statism is fundamental to Kanaka Maoli arguments seeking to restore the Hawaiian Kingdom, an internationally recognised sovereign nation-state since 1843. Rejecting the myths of American annexation and statehood, deoccupation advocates turn to international law to assert that the Hawaiian Kingdom is a country illegally occupied by the United States from 1896 to the present.[33]

The argument from Hawaiian deoccupation advocates is different from previous frameworks analysing Hawai’i as a colony of the United States. Past paradigms had used the coloniser/colonised binary to position Kanaka Maoli in relation to American Indians and other Indigenous peoples as native nations attempting to achieve independence, self-determination, and sovereignty through decolonisation processes. In a striking departure from the discourses of both decolonisation and indigeneity, David Keanu Sai describes the legal, statist framework of deoccupation in ‘A Slippery Path Toward Hawaiian Indigeneity’:

In the legal and political realm, the fundamental difference between the terms colonization/decolonization and occupation/deoccupation is that the colonized must negotiate with the colonizer in order to acquire state sovereignty (i.e. India from Great Britain, Rwanda from Belgium, and Indonesia from the Dutch). Under the latter, State sovereignty is presumed and not dependent on the will of the occupier (e.g. Soviet occupation of the Baltic States, and the American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq). Colonization/decolonization is a matter that concerns internal laws of the colonizing State and presumes the colony is not sovereign, while occupation/deoccupation is a matter of international law relating to already existing sovereign states.[34]

Arguing that the political status of the Hawaiian Kingdom falls under the legal framework of occupation/deoccupation—and not colonisation/decolonisation—he continues:

Thus, when Hawaiian scholars and sovereignty activists, in particular, consistently employ the terms and theories associated with colonization and indigeneity, they are reinforcing the very control they seek to oppose. Hawaiian State sovereignty and the international laws of occupation, on the other hand, not only presume the continuity of Hawaiian sovereignty, but also provides the legal framework for regulating the occupier, despite a history of non-compliance.[35]

Following Sai, deoccupation frameworks suggest that the Hawaiian Kingdom—a sovereign nation-state recognised through treaties made with Britain, France, and the United States—was created by Kanaka leaders and non-Kanaka counsel to withstand the invasion of Hawai’i by other imperialist states expanding into the Pacific. By asserting the unextinguished sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom as a nation-state, Kanaka Maoli are simultaneously remembering this legal and political history while refusing the ongoing American occupation of our lands and government. In other words, the presumed sovereignty of the American nation-state over Hawai’i is being rejected by Kanaka Maoli who assert the unextinguished sovereignty of our own nation-state, the Hawaiian Kingdom, as rationale for deoccupation.

An interesting set of differences, similarities, and tensions are thus created between anarchist, Indigenous, and Hawaiian deoccupation strategies. Anarchists critical of statism might dismiss state forms—settler or native-led—as hierarchical, violent, and imperialistic structures responsible for the oppression of Indigenous communities. Native American and First Nations might rebuff settler state authority over their people as part of a resurgent ‘politics of refusal’.[36] Kanaka Maoli deoccupation advocates who assert that the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom nation-state has already been recognised under international law may, consequentially, reject American pretences to jurisdiction and governance over Hawai’i. The difference for each argument lies in the approach and relation to statism: the first is a refusal against the state, the second a resurgence from within settler states, the last a remembrance of a pre-existing state in contestation with an occupying one.

The problem becomes increasingly cacophonous as these tensions are brought to bear upon one another. Anarchist critiques of Hawaiian deoccupation’s reliance on the nation-state can end up undermining Kanaka Maoli articulations of sovereignty as a counter-strategy against American imperialism in the Pacific. Indigenous resurgences insensitive to Hawaiian Kingdom legal historiographies may fail to recognise the political agency of past Kanaka leadership who attempted to indigenise the nation-state as a means of protecting their people from foreign invasion. At the same time, Hawaiian deoccupation research can fail to recognise and problematise the historiography of statism, including the violence and intersectional oppressions created by state hierarchies organised around race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, coloniality, and so on. Furthermore, a dogmatic fixation on issues of law, sovereignty, and the nation-state can diminish the capacity for deoccupation discourses to envision resurgent, Indigenous futures based on kinships beyond those violent relations offered by state forms.

So far, the tensions between anarchism, Indigenous resurgence, and Hawaiian deoccupation have continued to emphasise the authority of statism and statehood: resisted, recognised, refused, or remembered, the state remains a central feature of the conversation. While an answer to the debate is beyond any single encounter, we might want to (re)consider a political concept constantly overshadowed by state dominance: the nation. Furthermore, we may want to stage an encounter with the nation concept as a way to shift the discussion between anarchism, indigenism, and Hawaiian deoccupation from state-based discourses toward resurged ideas of nationalism and nationhood.

Drawing upon native feminist and queer Indigenous theorisations of kinship, I want to think about the concepts of the state and the nation from a relational standpoint. How might anarcha-Indigenous approaches to Hawaiian deoccupation theorise resurged concepts of the nation, nationalism, and nationhood? Although nations are often conjoined in nuptial union with a state counterpart, their hyphenated status is by no means permanent or even desirable, especially considering the violent and oppressive history of the partnered term. Thinking relationally, can a nation imagine futures divorced from statism as part of an ex-colonial resurgence? Is the prospect of a nation living promiscuously or in open relation with other nations a recognisable possibility? Do statists need to know the details of extra-legal international trysts? Is keeping them a secret a sovereign act of refusal?

Law (Johnson)

Following the practice of prefigurative politics, I would like us to consider our engagement with these inquiries as part of a resurgence from within the discussion between anarchists, Indigenous resurgents, and Hawaiian deoccupation advocates. Such a conversation can begin to enrich the formation of anarcha-Indigenous liaisons by encouraging participants to think beyond the limitations of critique and analysis and toward affinities informed by place-based research and direct-action struggle. Nevertheless, we should also turn to institutional complements of the state—the discourses, practices, and frameworks of law—to broaden the range and scope of our approach to the train of inquiries. In the following section, I discuss the place of law in conversations between anarchism, Indigenous resurgence, and Hawaiian deoccupation, pointing to the practice of treaty-making as a potential site for collaboration.

Supporting the predominance of statist ideologies in Hawaiian deoccupation movements are the concepts, practices, and frameworks of law and jurisdiction. Law and legal structures provide Kanaka deoccupation discourses with the tools, tactics, and strategies for recognising the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom, often referring to national constitutions, civil and penal codes, court proceedings, international treaties, and an archive of land titles for evidence. The grammar of law, together with the practice of legal documentation, has been an important means of substantiating the injustice of a historical and ongoing American occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Thus, in addition to the nation-state model, the framework of law is essential to Hawaiian deoccupation efforts to recognise the sovereignty and continued existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom. In particular, the practice of treaty-making is considered a crucial marker of sovereign expression: the historiography described by Sai in his dissertation The American Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom cites the myriad treaties between Kingdom diplomats and foreign governments as a legal record of sovereign recognition between nation-states. Furthermore, deoccupation discourse points to the lack of a legal treaty annexing the Hawaiian Kingdom to the United States as evidence of the former’s continued existence under international law.[37]

As with the nation-state, anarchists might be quick to problematise the reliance of Kanaka Maoli on the framework and discourse of law as a strategy to restore the Hawaiian Kingdom. After all, isn’t law largely responsible for maintaining the violent hierarchies of patriarchy, statism, capitalism, racism, and settler colonialism that oppress Kanaka Maoli? Considering the co-articulation of legal structures with these systems of oppression, Hawaiian faith in law may appear naïve, especially given the contrasting experiences of other native nations facing the oppression of settler state legal regimes.

Likewise, Indigenous peoples from Turtle Island (North America) may also urge caution when observing the weight Kanaka Maoli place on treaty-making with the United States and other foreign countries as evidence of sovereign recognition. For Native Americans in particular, the practice of US treaty-breaking—itself providing historical and ongoing evidence of settler colonialism and American occupation—might seem a more appropriate reason to question the entire enterprise of legal recognition as an assimilation process. Indeed, Glen Coulthard of Yellowknives Dene First Nation warns against such reliances on state forms in Red Skin White Masks when he says:

What our present condition does demand … is that we begin to approach our engagements with the settler-state legal apparatus with a degree of critical self-reflection, skepticism, and caution that has to date been largely absent in our efforts. It also demands that we begin to shift our attention away from the largely rights-based/recognition orientation that has emerged as hegemonic over the last four decades, to a resurgent politics of recognition that seeks to practice decolonial, gender emancipatory, and economically nonexploitative alternative structures of law and sovereign authority grounded on a critical refashioning of the best of Indigenous legal and political traditions.[38]

Again, we should acknowledge the cacophony generated by our encounter with anarchism, Indigenous resurgence, and Hawaiian deoccupation. Anarchist distrust of legal processes and institutions is well-warranted given the hierarchies of powerlaw creates which eliminate, assimilate, police, and incarcerate Indigenous peoples, including Kanaka Maoli. Native American experiences with United States treaty-breaking predates the recognition of the Hawaiian Kingdom, enhancing the sense of hollowness that attends treaty-making with imperialistic, settler governments.

Yet, there is a possibility that Kanaka Maoli ancestors and leaders of the past who helped to establish the Hawaiian Kingdom as a nation-state may have been engaging in a resurgent politics of their own. As Kamana Beamer argues in No Makou Ka Mana: Liberating the Nation, the creation of the Hawaiian Kingdom did not necessitate the complete erasure and replacement of pre-existing Kanaka Maoli governance systems with the legal frameworks of Euro-American states; that scenario is too simplistic, too neglecting of Hawaiian agency and capacity for resistance. Instead, Beamer argues that Kanaka leadership found methods to adopt the introduced practices in ways that still managed to empower Hawaiian modes of governance based on kinship with land and people.[39] The result was a Hawaiian Kingdom that was neither fully Kanaka nor entirely non-Kanaka in body and form. Rather, Hawaiian leaders, together with non-Hawaiian counsel, ‘selectively appropriated Euro-American tools of governance while modifying existing Indigenous structures to create a hybrid nation-state as a means to resist colonialism and to protect Native Hawaiian and national interests’.[40]

I want to seriously engage with Beamer’s argument which suggests that the Hawaiian Kingdom may have been more ‘nation’ than ‘state’, that is, Indigenous in foundation while selectively Euro-American in appearance. For what Beamer’s research permits is the partitioning of the hyphen joining the Hawaiian nation to the Hawaiian state, in essence, identifying two distinct but related political movements, each with their own set of obligations, accountabilities, responsibilities, and so on. Such a division and sharing of tools, tactics, and strategies could allow law-based deoccupation discourses to take their course without sacrificing the possibility for exploring what imaginaries and possibilities Kanaka Maoli scholar Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua says lie ‘beyond or perhaps beneath the surface of state sovereignty’ and law.[41]

Continuing with the trail of inquiries made previously with regard to resurging concepts of nation, nationalism, and nationhood, I want to ask: how might an anarcha-Indigenous resurgent move from critiquing the dominance of the state and law in Hawaiian deoccupation discourses toward forming relations between native nations through resurged, sovereign acts of treaty-making? Thinking relationally again, the pursuit of this question can allow Indigenous peoples to redefine nation-to-nation relations—a process currently used by the United States to hierarchically position Native Americans as domestic wards of the state—in ways that refuse the settler-occupier and the geopolitical boundaries which separate native nations from engaging with each other on our terms. Furthermore, the refusal could lead to a resurged politics of recognition where Indigenous concepts of sovereignty and kinship become the basis for imagining and prefiguring a decolonising alternative to the settler nation-state: the native nation-nation.

A nation-nation created across and between Indigenous communities could radically transform the way Kanaka Maoli approach futures of law and treaty-making. Treaties and treaty-making could become more than just documents or records symbolising agreements made between states: we would be able to bring our ancestors, our queered kinships, our unborn futures, indeed all of our human and more-than-human relations to the table…or the awa bowl…or the ceremonial pipe…. We would be able to compare our shared history of broken international treaties made and unmade with Euro-American states, we could weave, braid, bead, paint, pound, sing, dance, chant, and rap those failed documents into creative materials for our own treaty-making processes. Or, perhaps, we could just burn them. Nation-nation relations should remain dangerously outlawed.

Sovereignty (Ferguson)

Reflecting on the temporalities of resistance expressed in anarchist and Indigenous politics has provided insight into the multiplicities of time: there is no stable entity called ‘time itself’. Similarly, our thinking about native nations suggests that nations can be uncoupled from states, pluralising possibilities for thinking nations and laws. Lastly, we suggest that there is no stable entity called ‘sovereignty itself’.

Anarchists are generally uninterested in the language of sovereignty, seeing it as irrevocably married to hierarchies and states. Indigenous thinkers and activists who claim sovereignty for their communities thus alarm anarchists, who fear yet another power grab in the name of yet another hierarchy. Yet, anarchists deal directly with questions of authority and identity, all of which are elements of sovereignty: Who should make decisions? How should decisions be made? What relationships most closely define us? To whom should we be loyal? Anarchists have generally seen sovereignty as a bad answer to those questions, one that enshrines authority in states, owners of property, and patriarchy, while embracing ‘suicidal loyalties’ in nationalism, and reserving watered-down forms of representation for everyone else.[42] We suggest that encounters with Indigenous struggles for sovereignty could provoke anarchists to rethink sovereignty as a plural and contested set of possibilities rather than always and only an alibi for the state.

An old bromide about anarchism runs that anarchism is great in theory, but it would never work in practice. However, the history of anarchism suggests the opposite: anarchist theory has been somewhat underdeveloped, but anarchists are practiced at the organisation of self-governing, self-creating activities. Anarchist politics stresses the creation of spaces in which anarchist ways of living can take root: autonomous communities, integral living, and prefigurative politics are three central aspects of these spaces. Each resonates to some degree with Indigenous sovereignty practices. By sketching points of connection between anarchist and Indigenous practices, we are thinking toward a kind of immanent sovereignty, emergent out of histories and practices that build on living threads to pull us toward a better future. Our aim is not to reduce indigenous sovereignty to anarchist communities, nor to ‘indigenise’ anarchism to defend it in decolonisation struggles. More modestly, we are exploring points of contact in which meaningful and contentious conversations could emerge through the development of resonant relationships.

Autonomous Communities

Autonomous communities in which individual freedom develops through relationships of self-determination and mutual aid are cornerstones of the alternative societies anarchists work to build.[43] Anarchists insist that people are capable of self-organisation through spontaneous action, trial-and-error, and on-going adjustments to one another. Autogestión, or workers’ self-management, is its economic expression as ‘a processual movement of self-creation, self-conception, and self-definition’.[44] Workers’ self-management is far more than participation in co-managing a capitalist enterprise; it is production based on direct democratic decision-making by those who do the work, in solidarity and with respect for each other. Autonomous communities, by their existence, can weaken state, capitalist, patriarchal and colonial structures: they foster, as Ward argues, ‘the strengthening of other loyalties, of alternative foci of power, of different modes of human behavior’.[45]

Native Hawaiian thinkers include in these ‘other loyalties’ their ‘āina (land) and lāhui, understood as ‘a great number of people, sharing a common connection and a collective identity’.[46] As Adam Barker and Jenny Pickerill make clear, the Indigenous development of relational geographies is not an invitation to others to appropriate or replicate those practices; it could, however, be an opportunity for non-Indigenous anarchists to ‘find their own new way of looking at—and being in—place’.[47] Aloha ‘āina is not identical, as Goodyear-Ka’ōpua explains, to either nationalism or patriotism because it exalts neither a government nor a race but land and people as connected with ‘interrelated living systems’.[48] This form of sovereignty suggests Colin Ward’s encouragement toward other loyalties and other powers. In the Hawaiian charter school Goodyear-Ka’ōpua helped to build and run, she finds robust forms of self-determination, including ‘intergenerational efforts to strengthen Kanaka Maoli health and well-being, to increase literacy in Hawaiian language and history, and to regain recognition of Hawaiian political sovereignty’.[49]

Goodyear-Ka’ōpua turns to the concept of ‘kuleana, a Hawaiian notion intertwining authority and responsibility’.[50] Noenoe Silva further specifies that ‘kuleana encompasses right, authority, and responsibility, and it suggests a familial relationship’.[51] Goodyear-Ka’ōpua hears a resonance with Mikhail Bakunin’s notion of mutual, shifting, temporary, and voluntary authority. She suggests that Kanaka Maoli ‘might consider blending this voluntary and mutual authority with older Hawaiian practices of governance and decision-making about our natural resources and relations’, so that those with the most ‘intimate and in-depth knowledge of particular resources’ would have greater kuleana in decision-making about those activities and resources.[52] Suggested here is not the triumphant sovereignty of states but relational sovereignty with its own genealogies to ancestors, land, water, animals, and other peoples.

Integral Living

Writing in the late 1880s, anarchist geographer Peter Kropotkin identified specialisation, isolation, and stasis as oppressive conditions that interfere with people ‘exercising all [their] capacities’.[53] Instead, he called for

integration … a society of integrated combined labour. A society where each individual is a producer of both manual and intellectual work; where each able-bodied human being is a worker, and where each worker works both in the field and the industrial workshop; where every aggregation of individuals, large enough to dispose of a certain variety of natural resources—it may be a nation, or rather a region—produces and itself consumes most of its own agricultural and manufactured produce.[54]

He further praised work that brings people into ‘free intercourse with nature, make[s] of [them] a conscious part of the grand whole, a partner in the highest enjoyments of science and art, of free work and creation’.[55] Support for integral education is broadly shared by anarchists, including Charles Fourier, Proudhon, Bakunin, and Louise Michel. It provided the pedagogical basis of the Modern School movement initiated by Spanish educator Francisco Ferrer. As Kropotkin explains, integral living is built on links of ‘head’ and ‘hands’ in labour, intellectual and manual learning in education, and rural and urban links in housing and in ‘the two sister arts of agriculture and industry’.[56] Writing to Ferrer, Kropotkin developed the sensory dimension of integral instruction: ‘teaching which, by the practice of hand on wood, stone, metal, will speak to the brain and develop it’.[57]

Indigenous thinking and living could expand the capacious concept of integral living to include linking place to identity through practices that, in Goodyear-Ka’ōpua’s words, ‘put the interdependence of land and people at the center’.[58] Silva explores Hawaiian connections to aloha ‘āina as ‘recognizing that we are an integral part of the ‘āina and the ‘āina is an integral part of us’.[59] Barker and Pickerill urge anarchists to ‘alter their basic practices of solidarity and affinity with respect to Indigenous communities’ by ‘pursuing deep understandings of place-based relationships’.[60] We agree with this advice, and add that it does little good to embrace a place-based philosophy in the abstract; by definition, such thinking builds on specific, located, intimacies. Place-based living could mean many things—it could mean historically felt connections with land, water, wind, plants, animals, rocks, and sky. It could also refer to other expressions of situatedness—in urban areas, or on the road, or in music, or in the digital universe. As Mohawk Scholar Dan Roronhiakewen reflects, ‘imagination is a place’.[61]

Goodyear-Ka’ōpua finds pedagogical expression of aloha ‘āina in land-based literacies cultivated by Hālau Kū Mána, a secondary school in Honolulu grounded in Native Hawaiian practices. She defines these pedagogies as ‘critically engaged observational, interpretive, and expressive practices that put land and natural environment at the center’, in which working with print is accompanied by ‘reading patterns of winds or the balance of water in a stream’ as well as study of ‘historical and contemporary relations of power’.[62] Hawaiian educators integrate reading stars for navigation, building and sailing voyaging canoes, drawing water to a lo’i kalo [taro patch] through an irrigation ditch and then taking it back to the stream, chanting, dancing, and many other practices to develop students’ voices, minds, and bodies within sustainable, self-determining communities.[63] Students learn to cultivate kalo, but not because all students are expected to become full-time farmers, just as students at the Modern Schools learned to set type but not because they were all destined to be printers. Rather, students flourish in the creative expression, the merger of head and hands, and the meaningful connection to their communities through their respective histories of Hawaiian sustainable farmers and of anarchist printers.[64] Integral education enacted by anarchists in the Modern Schools is akin to the sovereign pedagogies in Native Hawaiian education, built, in Goodyear-Ka’ōpua’s words, on ‘ongoing collective struggle to support’ Ōiwi [native to that place] survivance and to end colonial relations of ‘power and knowledge’ by enacting a different relation to ‘power and knowledge within the school itself’.[65]

Prefigurative Politics

Prefigurative politics builds on organising strategies of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) to create a new society inside the shell of the old. Anarchists prefigure the future they seek by drawing out elements of anarchism in the society at hand and enacting it in the present. The resources to make anarchism happen are visible, Ward explains, ‘in the interstices of the dominant power structure. If you want to build a free society, the parts are all at hand’.[66] Anthropologist Marianne Maeckelbergh characterises prefiguration as ‘a direct theory … that theorizes through action, through doing’ by engaging, experimenting, and reflecting within networked structures.[67] Anarchist sociologist Howard Ehrlich sees prefiguration in the process of building ‘transfer culture’—‘a set of institutions and intergroup and interpersonal processes that are consistent with our image of a good society, though it is not that society itself’.[68] Prefigurative politics incorporates the strong anarchist demand for consistency between the means of creating change and the desired ends. Anarchist philosopher Todd May notes, ‘How we struggle and resist reflects our vision of what a society should look like. We cannot resist now and create equality later’.[69]

As with autonomous communities and integral living, we see resonance between anarchism’s prefigurative politics and Indigenous sovereignty struggles. Silva and Goodyear-Ka’ōpua both call on the work of Osage scholar Robert Warrior regarding native intellectual sovereignty, which he defines as a process that emerges through the building of it: ‘The path of sovereignty’, Warrior argues, in turn building on Vine Deloria’s earlier work, ‘is the path to freedom’.[70] Turning to the neglected and nearly lost writings of earlier Native Hawaiian writers, Silva explores claims to knowledge in their histories, stories, and literature and in the process makes her own contribution to Kanaka intellectual sovereignty.[71] Goodyear-Ka’ōpua sees Indigenous sovereignty not as a plan that is first made, then put into action, but as ‘enact[ed] on the ground through political organizing’.[72] She examines the organising practices of Native Hawaiian movements to occupy land stolen by colonial authorities and in the process to confront state power. Drawing on the stories of kupuna (respected elders) in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, she finds a lāhui (people) ‘constituted through direct action for aloha ‘āina [love of the land] and collective decision-making’.[73] Engagements with the US Navy over land use and access by fishermen, farmers, and ‘welfare warriors’ enabled political emergence, ‘made them a lāhui’ grounded in decentralised decision-making and collective action.[74] Making change by building the capacity to live differently emerges through struggle, she concludes: ‘It is in the process of these mobilizations, rather than in the final positions enunciated, that revolutionary potential is located’.[75]

* * *

Anarchy and Indigeneity share the exhilarating practice of emerging from within the very struggles for change they generate. Other political possibilities for this contact zone could bring in sexualities and spiritualities, which also invite pluralisation and trigger different lines of flight. Marcelo Vieta’s description of anarchism could be offered to Indigenous activists as well: ‘driven by the possibilities of another kind of life … from within their moments of struggletheir hope grows from their responses to their difficulties’ rather than from the directives of leaders or permission of authorities.[76] Their resonances invite us to take up Byrd’s invitation to ‘imagine cacophonously’ what could be done, what we could do, together.[77]

[1] Judy Greenway, ‘Sexual anarchy, anarchophobia and dangerous desires’, in Jamie Heckert and Richard Cleminson (Eds) Anarchism and Sexuality: Ethics, Relationships and Power (New York: Routledge, 2011), xvii.

[2] Ruth Kinna and Alex Prichard, ‘Past, present, and utopia,’ in Randall Amster, Abraham DeLeon, Luis A. Fernandez, Anthony J. Nocella II, and Deric Shannon (Eds) Contemporary Anarchist Studies (New York: Routledge, 2009), 271.

[3] J. Olson, ‘The problem with infoshops and insurrection: US anarchism, movement building, and the racial order,’ in Amster, DeLeon, Fernandez, Nocella II, and Shannon (Eds), 37.

[4] Mishuana R. Goeman, ‘Ongoing Storms and Struggles: Gendered Violence and Resource Exploitation’, in Joanne Barker (Ed) Critically Sovereign: Indigenous Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 105.

[5] Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 1993), ix.

[6] Jodi Byrd, The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2011), 9.

[7] The sliding signifier of the constitutive Other can also make its appearance as female, homosexual, Muslim, Jew, and so on. See Kathy E. Ferguson, ‘Is it an anarchist act to call oneself an anarchist? Judith Butler, John Turner, and insurrectionary speech’, Contemporary Political Theory 13: 4 (2014), 339–357.

[8] For a useful discussion of the captive/absent relation, see Teresa De Lauretis, Alice Doesn’t: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1984).

[9] Mark Rifkin, Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), ix.

[10] Ibid., ix.

[11] Ibid., 2.

[12] Ibid., xiii.

[13] Audra Simpson, Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life across the Borders of Settler States (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 158.

[14] Rifkin, Beyond Settler Time, 14.

[15] Colin Ward, Anarchy in Action (London: Aldgate Press, 1973), 8.

[16] Ibid., 18.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Rifkin, Beyond Settler Time, 3.

[19] Ibid., 18.

[20] Ibid., 19.

[21] Noenoe Silva, The Power of the Steel-Tipped Pen: Reconstructing Native Hawaiian Intellectual History (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 6.

[22] Ibid., 22.

[23] Rifkin, Beyond Settler Time, 23.

[24] Silva, The Power, 174, 127.

[25] Ibid., 23.

[26] Heidi Stark, quoted in Rifkin, Beyond Settler Time, 46.

[27] Ibid., 15.

[28] Silva, The Power, 88, 89, 25.

[29] Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, ‘The Theory of Property,’ Working Translations http://workingtranslations.blogspot.com/p/the-theory-of-property-noticethe-reader.html; Emma Goldman, ‘The Individual, Society, and the State,’ in Alex Kates Shulman (Ed), Red Emma Speaks (New York: Vintage Books, 1972), 86–100.

[30] Benjamin Noys, ‘The Savage Ontology of Insurrection: Negativity, Life, and Anarchy’, in Federico Luisetti (Ed) The Anomie of the Earth: Philosophy, Politics, and Autonomy in Europe and the Americas (Chicago, IL: Duke University Press, 2015), 174.

[31] Taiaiake Alfred and J. Corntassel, Being Indigenous: Resurgences Against Contemporary Colonialism (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005), 598.

[32] Smith, quoted in Ibid., 600.

[33] David Keanu Sai, ‘The American Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom: Beginning the Transition From Occupied to Restored State’. PhD. Dissertation, Department of Political Science, University of Hawai’i, 2008.

[34] Sai, ‘A Slippery Path Toward Hawaiian Indigeneity’, Journal of Law and Social Challenges 10 (2008), 113.

[35] Ibid., 113.

[36] Simpson, Mohawk Interrupts, 240.

[37] Sai, ‘The American Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom,’ 136.

[38] Glen Coulthard, Red Skin White Masks: Rejecting the Politics of Recognition. Kindle Edition (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), 3772.

[39] Kamanamaikalani Beamer, No Makou Ka Mana: Liberating the Nation. Kindle Edition (Honolulu, HI: Kamehameha Publishing, 2014), 444.

[40] Ibid., 203.

[41] Noelani Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, ‘Kuleana Lahui: Collective Responsibility for Hawaiian Nationhood in Activists’ Praxis’, in Glen Coulthard, Jacqueline Lasky, Adam Lewis, and Vanessa Watts (Eds) Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action 5:1 (2011), 133 (inc. 130–163).

[42] Ward, Anarchy in Action, 18.

[43] Marcello Vieta, ‘The stream of self-determination and autogestión: Prefiguring alternative economic realities,’ ephemera: theory and politics in organization 14: 4 (2014), 781.

[44] Ibid., 783.

[45] Ward, Anarchy in Action, 25.

[46] Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, ‘Kuleana Lahui’, 139.

[47] Adam J. Barker and Jenny Pickerill, ‘Radicalizing Relationships To and Through Shared Geographies: Why Anarchists Need to Understand Indigenous Connections to Land and Place,’ Antipode 44: 5 (2012), 15.

[48] Noelani Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, The Seeds We Planted: Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter School (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), 32.

[49] Ibid., 120.

[50] Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, ‘Kuleana Lahui’, 147.

[51] Silva, The Power, 4.

[52] Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, ‘Kuleana Lahui’, 154–155.

[53] Peter Kropotkin, in Colin Ward (Ed) Fields, Factories and Workshops Tomorrow (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), 25.

[54] Ibid., 26 (italics in original).

[55] Ibid., 25.

[56] Ibid., 121.

[57] Kropotkin, quoted in Paul Avrich, The Modern School Movement: Anarchism and Education in the United States (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2006), 16.

[58] Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, ‘Kuleana Lahui’, 147.

[59] Silva, The Power, 4.

[60] Barker and Pickerill, ‘Radicalizing’, 14.

[61] Quoted in Melissa K. Nelson, ‘Getting Dirty: The Eco-Eroticism of Women in Indigenous Oral Literatures,’ in Joanne Barker (Ed) Critically Sovereign: Indigenous Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 255.

[62] Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, The Seeds We Planted, xvi.

[63] Ibid., 29.

[64] Ibid., 140; Kathy E. Ferguson, ‘Anarchist Printers and Presses: Material Circuits of Politics,’ Political Theory 42: 4 (2014): 391–414.

[65] Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, The Seeds We Planted, 6.

[66] Ward, Anarchy in Action, 20.

[67] Marianne Maeckelbergh, ‘Doing is Believing: Prefiguration as Strategic Practice in the Alterglobalization Movement,’ Social Movement Studies 10: 1 (2011), 37.

[68] Howard Ehrlich, ‘Reinventing Anarchist Tactics,’ in Ehrlich (Ed) Reinventing Anarchy, Again (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 1996), 329.

[69] Todd May, ‘Anarchism from Foucault to Rancière,’ in Amster, DeLeon, Fernandez, Nocella II, and Shannon (Eds), 16.

[70] Robert Allen Warrior, Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1995), 91.

[71] Silva, The Power, 17.

[72] Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, ‘Kuleana Lahui’, 133.

[73] Ibid., 138.

[74] Ibid., 139, 140.

[75] Ibid., 133.

[76] Vieta, ‘Self-determination’, 13. Italics in original.

[77] Byrd, Transit of Empire, xxixx.