Statement on Palestine, Genocide, and Repression

The following statement represents the views of members of the Department of American Indian Studies (Prof. Christine DeLisle, Nicholas DeShaw, Prof. Vicente M. Diaz, Prof. Nick Estes, Prof. Jessica Garcia Fritz, Prof. Kat Hayes, Prof. Brendan Kishketon, Nora Livesay, C̣aƞtemaza Neil McKay, Prof. Meixi, Prof. Jean O’Brien, Prof. Gabriela Spears-Rico, Prof. Melanie K. Yazzie) and as such does not represent the position of the University of Minnesota, or any others who are not included in that group.

We the undersigned faculty and staff in American Indian and Indigenous studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN) understand our accountability to the peoples, lands, waters, and skies of Dakota Oyate. We are employed by a land grab university built from stolen Dakota, Anishinaabeg, and Ho-Chunk wealth, land, and blood. Invaded and then claimed by Euro-American settlers, “Minnesota” has, for more than one hundred years, maligned and demonized Dakota patriots who resisted genocide. Their descendants continue to be denied return or land back. Streets and university halls proudly bear the names of the architects of genocide while Dakota calls for justice are ignored, silenced, or shuffled into empty gestures of reconciliation, land acknowledgement, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

It is from this place and position of advancing justice for the crimes of genocide in “Minnesota” that we proclaim unequivocal solidarity with the Palestinian people who presently suffer and resist genocide halfway across the world.

No nation-state should exist through the genocide of another people, particularly when that existence also involves, as it does in Palestine, a longer and ongoing history of colonial and military occupation and apartheid of the other’s homelands and peoples. 

Recently, some of us have helped the Palestinian community at UMN publicly say the names of Palestinian relatives and friends killed in this obscene and criminal campaign. For this act, we have also been criticized for being anti-Semitic and for “supporting Hamas.” But we will continue to say their names like those of so many other victims of hate and war fueled by imperial and colonial violence. We say their names to witness and resist genocide and injustice everywhere. 

Of the more than nineteen thousand Palestinians killed, almost 70% are women and children, the direct result of the state of Israel’s indiscriminate revenge for the deaths of more than a thousand foreign nationals, Israeli soldiers, and Israeli civilians and the capture of more than 200 Israeli soldiers and civilians after Palestinian fighters and civilians broke through the Gaza border on October 7, 2023.

In no way is the “conflict” an equal one: we see in the staggering incongruity of the tally–and in the rubble in Palestine–the grotesquely disproportionate demands of, on the one hand, Palestinian national defense and right of return, and, on the other, the Israeli state’s genocidal expression of its right to exist.

Also unequal, unjust and obscene is how the Israeli state acts with such remarkable impunity, a pass made possible by the monstrosities of financial, military, technical and cultural imperialism of the United States and the Western world powers.

Like other universities in nation-states whose existence is procured through the genocide and removal of Indigenous peoples, UMN risks functioning as a proxy for mounting state repression of resistance and justice. Like the recent measure by the U.S. Congress to criminalize outspoken Palestinian students, political figures, and allied organizations, University leaders across the country have also capitulated to external lobbying and financial pressure to crack down on freedom of speech and critical expression by outspoken faculty, staff and students. Such campaigns of repression on campuses silence critical perspectives that undergird vital principles of academic freedom, governance, and excellence. These campaigns of repression, too, are complicit with genocide and injustice. They, too, should be loudly condemned and resisted. We applaud, therefore, those few University Presidents and University leaders who have courageously spoken up in this milieu to affirm the rights of faculty and students to speak out  and to condemn retaliatory action against them.

We will not be silent. We will not be silenced. We will resist. We welcome you to join us.

Our statement, by we who constitute a large majority of the members of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, does not reflect the views of the College of Liberal Arts nor should be taken as the official view of the University of Minnesota.

signed (alphabetical order):

Prof. Christine DeLisle
Nicholas DeShaw
Prof. Vicente M. Diaz
Prof. Nick Estes
Prof. Jessica Garcia Fritz
Prof. Kat Hayes
Prof. Brendan Kishketon
Nora Livesay
C̣aƞtemaza Neil McKay
Prof. Meixi
Prof. Jean O’Brien
Prof. Gabriela Spears-Rico
Prof. Melanie K. Yazzie

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