Student Insurgent interview with Casey Bryan Corcoran
=I thought an interesting place to start would be, if you had any stories to share about the recent frontline struggles? Stuff that's going on.
-I have not been able to be too involved personally, but various frontline struggles in the bioregion, the biggest one being Mount Polley, mine tailings breach, and that's really brought some good people together and I think they're making their way up to the Tahltan territory where the Red Chris mine is going. I wanna say that what's going on now is very much indigenous-led, there's settler support, but it's not a cascadian movement thing.
-That's something that I would like to be clear about, when we're talking about a bioregional movement, a true bioregionalist is going to support and work with and through indigenous resurgence. Not be the person carrying the flag at the front of the parade, like a traditional lefty type of thing to do. That's definitely been interesting and I know that one of the intersections in the bioregional movement is that some of the people in Secwepemc territory, around Kamloops, they're discussing nationhood and land claims on a very radical level, and those people personally have been down to Bend participating in a bioregional food sovereignty convergence. They're very involved with indigenous food sovereignty, and then personally me and my friends here have gotten involved with the Klamath Nation's indigenous food sovereignty, so there's a lot of crossover between people who are looking at independent living, autonomous living, with and through traditional ways. Also, creative ways, that are not as traditional, some forms of permaculture, so I guess that's the picture I’m interested in painting, there's indigenous people leading the struggles against some serious environmental devastation.
-Within the bioregional movement we let them take the lead, that's sort of our precedent. This last week I was able to be part of a walk, more of like a run, all the way from Portland to Boise. I dunno if you're familiar with it.
-It was a prayer walk for the wolves. It was led by a Lakotah man, bringing attention to the wolf slaughter that's been happening in Idaho and up in BC, and in a lot of the pipeline areas, they've been using cyanide traps to get rid of the wolves. So he went all the way from Portland to the fish and game, the nature headquarters in Boise, where they permit the most wolf hunting. While this was led by a Lakotah man, there were very active cascadian bioregionalists, driving the relay car and doing a lot of the running, and networking and offering support. This particular person, his name is Mato Woksape, he's calling together with other cascadians in an indigenous and cascadian unity circle, coming up in April, which I think will be the official, I mean the first real intentional gathering to bring grassroots indigenous and cascadian bioregional folks together to continue the growing of face to face relationships. The big concern that I’ve had has been forms of invisibilization of indigenous people and forms of cultural appropriation. Looking at modern decolonial theory and how so much of resistance movements, which usually fall under this umbrella called the left...
-...they have historically, and even in America, and especially in settler / colonial contexts, have wanted to tokenize indigenous struggles.
=And forget about history, basically.
-Yup yup and we're here, the white settler, we're here to help you. We really want to turn that on its head completely. Honestly the personal relationships between bioregional activists and indigenous activists has been going on, it takes time- basic stuff, getting to know people, and on my part and a lot of my friends part, learning that we live in a very segregated society.
-There's different legal status, different social circles that don't even interact, so crossing those lines has been, well it’s been good, it’s also been emotional on a lot of people's part. What's coming together is we're realizing that there are stories from the old times that talk about people coming together and living in a transformative way. I feel like I want to resist the urge of like writing that great cascadian manifesto, how we're gonna do it and instead just let it happen organically, and listen to the indigenous stories of this place and just build personal...
=yeah, be receptive, right.
-Right? Through that its been kinda mindblowing- the stories of, what they call these prophecy narratives, in academia, that talk about the transformative time that we're moving through. I feel that we, as very being active in the cascadian bioregional movement, want to listen to these stories and making sure we're falling in line with what needs to occur, been told for generations. That means we have to be always reflecting on what we're doing, and taking a back seat sometimes as settler. Essentially the cascadian identity is a means for settlers to appropriately learn how to respect a place. There'd be no necessary need for an identity shift breaking away from american identity, canadian identity, if the indigenous nations and their languages were still the main stay. Thats cultural creativity going on and looking at ecological identity, and ecological reality, and a weaving together of different threads of human stories into what we need to have happen and that's a way to live in a place. with a intimate relationship with the place. You can go and read all the old bioregional theory from the 70's and it essentially implies that but I think right now, there's really a renaissance of people coming together and building human relationships with a view to the future.
=I really like your term 'cultural creativity', some of the other terms, I mean like 'decolonize', the things that frame it in a negative way, I see the value for that, that scares away a lotta people. They feel attacked. Of course it's not anybody's responsibility to pander to people's guilt complexes, but I mean 'cultural creativity' it's like, creative, oh hey, lets build something new, rather than 'bad! tear it down!' That kinda gets to something I wanted to ask about -framing things as negative, framing things as positive, dealing with settler guilt, not letting settler guilt take center stage, that kinda thing.
-To me, bioregionalism, if we wanna get down to what this word means, its essentially the way traditional peoples have lived on every continent of this planet for thousands of years and it worked. Now, having a big big population, the majority of the population gone through an industrial schooling system, and being conditioned in a way where that's cut off both mentally and psychologically, we look to biregionalism as a construct to undo that, and therefore, bioregional living implies decolonization. You can't just start living bioregionally when the land is being destroyed and the traditional laws aren't being upheld, and the traditional laws encoded in the indigenous languages are being more and more threatened. I know there's movements that want to use the word resistance and tear it all down and smash the system. I think a lot of us grow up though punk rock or hip hop, some of these cultural mediums that you pick up when you're a kid, get you to think like a rebel, and get you to open your eyes to what's going on in the world that's an atrocity, but I really like bioregionalism because it was proactive, it was positive. They talked more about restoration than tearing it down, like if you wanna restore a river, it implies tearing down the dam. It implies getting rid, smashing the system thats exploiting the river, but if you say we wanna restore the river, you're taking that positive energy. Its true in some ways that the mass of people carry a lot of weight, and I believe the true revolutionary is a skilled storyteller, not in a manipulative way, but more in an evocative way. If its all doom and gloom... I don't know if you were familiar with that movement, the Deep Green Resistance?
=That was something I was gonna ask you about actually.
-I had been reading Derrick Jensen's books and really liked them, but over the course of the past few years, I think this has something to do with their rhetoric, and I resonated with their critique very much and I think a lot of other people did, but there was an element of such negativity. I followed their newswire for a while and everything was negative. I know they were using the kind of propaganda method to break your faith in the system and to see how messed up things are, and that's a very important element, but there's this counterbalance to it that the earth can heal, we can help the earth heal, its a process together. There is a way to live, as a human being, that is a good way to live. All these narratives that come through bioregionalism that do indeed imply decolonization, but its more I see, reclaiming a healthy human tradition. The healthy tradition of what it means to be a human being on this planet as opposed to just drifting off into nihilism.
-I've had my nihilistic days, I mean I get it, I totally get it. Nonetheless if you really look at who human beings are generationally and intergenerationally, who our ancestors are and who our relations are, you realize that this struggle has been going on for a long time. It's bigger than ourselves and you know that nihilism is very narcissistic and it doesn't make any sense.
=It's really impatient.
-People don't want to hear patience. I've really got into that phrase "burning patience", Joanna Macy had it in one of her books and she was quoting Pablo Neruda. Its from this Neruda poem where there was an aknowledgement that you're part of an intergenarational struggle and you can't throw a temper tantrum. Sometimes getting angry and throwing rocks at the cops is the most.. it doesn't make sense, they're just gonna put you in jail, you need to think like a guerilla army essentially and not do certain things.
=Right, strategy! Have real goals, and then have real strategies rather than just fetishize tactics.
-Yeah I know, I mean, you live in Eugene, right?
-So you've got the anarchist scene that just won't go away, and it’s all about riot porn and all that, it's been there for decades. I understand getting riled and wanting to listen to Rage Against the Machine, and go on a tirade, there's times for that I suppose, but you burn out so fast, and you realize you're in the same shoes as the other 19-21 year old who was doing the same thing ten years ago and that didn't change it. I think what we're looking at is definitely the intergenerational struggles, the Irish struggle for independence, and even the Scottish referendum that went on, it was a weak little democratic challenge to the British crown but this is two hundred years in the making. A lot of indigenous struggles have been that way. You think about the Zapatistas- it was a full ten years of solid organizing and activity before the world even knew who they were.
-I think a lotta people wanna call together a meeting, then take the next election and throw a revolution and if it doesn't happen they're gonna get bored and go do something else. I think that's the first world attention span, unfortunately. Which needs to be broken down.
=Right or it gets on its specific... oil shipments or gas terminals, it crystallizes only on an oppositional manifestation rather than a positive vision. That's a lot of the activism I see in our region, very focused on specific infrastructural things which is are great things to focus on, but right, if you don't have that kinda long-term mentality of the protracted struggle, you're just setting yourself up for burnout. If you lose this, if you fail in this struggle, what? You're gonna drop out and not continue to struggle? That kinda flaw.
-Yeah and I think that there is a need for that kind of frontline resistance, bodies on the ground, in every way shape and form, but some of the deep green thinkers would bring up the fact that only three percent of the Irish republican movement was active in some kind of confrontation. In some form of guerrilla style, be it, well, you know what they did, they had a military campaign going on. Ninety seven percent of them were backup and infrastructure and communities and... given that was essentially an indigenous culture. They had their language, they had the songs. I mean I'm Irish, I've been to Ireland and I have family there, I have some of the language, I'd like to be fluent someday, I'm so inspired by, you can sing songs that are three hundred years old, that are about the same resistance struggle that you're a part of. In some ways, cascadians, or great basin bioregionalists, great plains bioregionalists, anywhere in the world where the majority of the population is new, they're newcomers, we don't have those resources. That's one of the things bioregionalism tries to deal with, cultural creativity, which means we need to start singing these songs that our grandchildren will be singing. Even if the dams are down by then they'll be singing them in celebration, that's a huge part of it. I have a veteran friend, in fact I have a lot of veteran friends who were over in Iraq, when they were just kids and they did a lot of horrible things over there and they came back with a lotta guilt, and a lotta animosity toward the US state. They have been welcomed by the bioregional community, and have been part of a permaculture group, and they kinda had to learn that they went through the warrior spirit, the warrior training thing the absolute backwards way. I have a friend who tells a story about these traditional African warriors who were not given a spear until they could sing and until they could dance, until they could know what their place in their culture was. If they were ever to go fight they knew exactly who and what they were fighting for. We have a cheap form of patriotism in America. It's hollow, it's empty, no one believes in it. I think that there's basically two options, either settlers clear off the continent and go back to Europe, which is never going to happen. Many indigenous people are the ones telling me that's never going to happen, so don't delude yourself. There needs to be a way that the people who live here live according to indigenous laws, which tell human beings how to live in a place, and that's a different scenario, it means taking time. I understand that global warming is a threat, in so many ways we're out of time, but I guess there's just 24 hours in a day. You need culture, you can't just be singleminded about this- you can be multifaceted, as a human being, as part of a community. That's why I embrace the biregional model- it's very clear and concise for people who feel it in their hearts but don't have the words for it, and feel utterly cut off from their traditions. I'm privileged to have a clear connection to my ancestors. I've had a lotta people come up and say, I don't know who I am, I'm a mutt, I'm half this half this and everything, I don't have an identity. In some ways there's an element of, they relate more to this place, I just feel like I'm a cascadian... I don't have any other identity. I think that's almost a beautiful thing, those who have been almost erased can say, well I have a relationship to this place. I don't need to be validated by any type of... if I've lost it all I've got this place. That's another beautiful aspect of bioregionalism- it gives people a home that may have lost their home, and all gone down the memory hole.
=Yeah and it's not a constructed ideological home, it's a real physical home.
-Absolutely and that's the key. That's why I watch what's going on in any kind of cascadian politic. There's the secessionists, people that wanna make a party. They want to impose their own personal political ideology on this idea that they saw on a beer bottle, and I think my work and that of a lot of other bioregionalists has been pushing and saying that no, this is this place, it's not a political construct. There is a cascadia with or without politics- it’s one way of describing a very ancient, hundreds of thousands of years of the movement of the Earth. Every place on the Earth can be seen for what it is without colonial borders. It’s a helpful reminder to realize that you can't see how fast bioregional descriptions of a place and bioregional identity gets recuperated back into that ideological construct. It's a good constant reminder to get out and have that existential moment, time and again, almost like a mindfulness practice- a lot of people have been getting into that. It's very helpful to break down your own mind and your own thought processes and just see what's in front of you. It’s amazing how alive the world is when you do that, it’s amazing how the animals and the rivers definitely have their own sentience going on, they're aware of us, and we're not the ones in control. We're not even the ones who're gonna be making the ultimate decisions as human beings. We can live in line with the ecology of our place or we can suffer the consequences, which are overdue at this point for industrial civilization.
=Right. One thing that I wanted to ask about was, it's not on the same line that we've been going on but... I am working for a magazine, and I know you have made a film, and I was just listening to several audio interviews, that you were doing. What are your thoughts about the role of the different media, the various media pitfalls, successes?
-There's that immortal technique song called fourth branch of the government- I think we need to see how powerful media is. If you look at like the recent Scottish referendum, how the BBC ran basically a massive... their entire infrastructure was set to take down that campaign, that's what's being fed into people's heads every day. Here's my take on it. These early bioregionalists, back in the 70's and 80's, in BC, they went and got off the grid, they set up their own printing press, they wrote their own books and printed them and distributed them through their network, and basically went into oblivion. It was very impressive that they had a completely autonomous media system, but they don't even know what's going on with the movement anymore because they were that successful in getting out of the system. I think our take on it now is that activists and revolutionaries, and decolonial anybody, is going to have to engage with the narrative. Actually step in. To me, that means writing is one thing, but you need to recognize that people are overwhelmed with information, and you can write a blog but you're one in a thousand blogs. I've been involved with Cascadia Matters, Place Based Media, and what we're looking at is essentially having to create small short films, things that are digestible easily enough, and play that gross internet-facebook-too much information-media game. And also, I think there's a need for that slow media to kind of be reborn, to have maybe an annual journal, and I've been working on that Autonomy Cascadia project, involving other people makes it take a really long time, I'm kind of doing too much, I have too many irons in the fire.
=It's hard not to, right?
-I personally think that any tool we can get our hands on we need to use it and we need to wield it. There was just in Portland a gathering of, they called it the cascade media convergence, and my friend Paul Roland of KBOO, he's a dedicated bioregional activist, he's been doing it for years, there's a desire and a movement going on to get an internet radio podcast network, to have short films. I would tend to prefer, if there's gonna be writing, that it comes out much more periodically, than an everyday blog. I know that Mel Sweet and Devon Hess just started Cascadia Matters, wanted to turn cascadiamatters.org into a daily, bioregional focused kinda like truthdig's pretty popular, they have a hundred different writers and they'll have many new well written blogs every day, but I think that that's almost too much information at this point, there needs to be a slow and steady stream of reporting, what’s going on with the Tahltan and the Secwepemc needs to be front-page news to every bioregionalist here and in some ways it’s not yet. What's going on in the Klamath, there is a decent grassroots media, I know West Coast Native News, Klamath Riverkeeper, and strangely enough, getting on the facebook feeds of some of these organizations is the best way to get, its essentially the new AP, right, the new associated press wire, get it through there, but to see that translated into something, gosh I hate to say it but something a little more spectacularly accessible, is something that I don't see happening yet but there's a handful of friends that are involved with trying to create that, but you look at any resistance movement the world over, and they have their own media, they have their own pirate radio to start out with and they have the rebel radio, be it Africa, be it Cuba, be it anywhere. I don't know if you know the history of Radio Free Cascadia, back in Eugene.
=Yeah, I've actually, one of the big projects that I was working on was a pirate radio station here in Eugene, and we had it going for about a year and a half, but one of the problems that we never really solved was, the desire to act as a forum and involve a lotta people and create some kind of commons of ideas but the counterpart is, we're doing something illegal, the people that we feel comfortable telling about it don't feel comfortable contributing, that thing, so there was that kinda condundrum. My new project is a low power FM station that we got a license and we're starting up here in Eugene, and what you mentioned about the Cascade Media Convergence, how they wanna have a network of stations, that's something that I'm excited about. How we could focus on extremely local, just Eugene, Springfield, southern Willamette valley area stuff and also be syndicating regional stuff. There's way too much syndicated national stuff. Syndicated regional stuff is definitely what I'd be interested in so I'm on the edge of something that I really hope will become.
-That sounds great, I know one of the things we were talking about was having essentially an internet live stream, and or syndicated shows, and you realize how corporate radio works these days, it's all done that way. Everything just comes off the line, and they broadcast it. As long as that infrastructure is there, it makes sense that there could be a bioregionally focused, crossing-the-border media resource that every [one] could just set up a low power, and cause we're not capitalist oriented we wouldn't have to buy a license, it would be a free feed, you could set up a hundred different low power FMs throughout an area, and create that decentralized media network, it's more resilient that way, it's not like it can be taken out. There's ways to do things legally that are pretty darn revolutionary when it comes down to it, and you're not having to run from the cops all the time, which is valuable.
-It's cool to be a total rebel and do everything illegally, but is that the most sustainable? Think tactically about it is what I would say. As long as you can not have heat on you, then do it. If it just takes a permit or a little fee, then keep the heat off of you. Build culture that way, get people to express it, that this is normal, normal to have an independent radio where people can say whatever the heck they want. It needs to be normalized instead of sensationalized as so rebellious.
=That makes me think about what you were saying, using the already existing channels but normalizing the bioregional content, decolonization content. Normalizing.
-Definitely. I mean we have a low power community radio station here in Bend, they're in a classic building and they're always looking for content, so, one of the best advice I'd ever been given when I was younger is, don't look at what you can start, look at what's already been going on that you can join and support. You don't always have to reinvent the wheel, there's usually infrastructure somewhere that's being neglected, the mainstream torrent of culture really takes energy away from the grassroots thing, and a lotta times there's a lotta grassroots infrastructure there to be revived, and utilized, and that can be anything from a radio station looking for content, to even small-scale democratic processes. I'm split on electoral politics but more and more there's areas, rural areas or city government where people can run for a place and make changes on a small level. I know there's this story about anarchist abstentionist thing that is pretty common in our culture out here, but I mean I'm really interested in a multiplicity of tactics, and thinking big-term, thinking strategically, and looking at what you can go use, and honestly, like, be in communication with other bioregional activists. Avoid the drama. Look at the people who've been in it for years, and what they've got going on, and how you can network, and how you can support other people, cause we do have an amazing, long term culture of resistance out here on the west coast, and it really doesn't exist in a lotta other places. And it’s a resource that I think too many people take for granted.
=I think one of the reasons is, what you mentioned about the bioregionalist people who have their own thing going in BC and have their own presses, it fades into a sort of inconspicuous history, that's a phrase I like to use, like its history, its real, it happened, its connected to this place but you wouldn't even know it if you didn't look for it.
=It's right around the corner and if you don't turn your head or whatever... I think a lotta young people just never happen upon that history before they get real impatient or want to jump into something.
-That brings up, I was interested, one of the things I would like to see happen is a cascadian history series, in a book or anything like that, just to tell all the stories. Who knows about the first bioregional gathering in cascadia was in 1979, in the round valley, where Covelo california is on the map, and it was a gathering of the native folks, there was 11 different nations put on the same reservation. I have a friend who's from there, it’s a rough place, but the first bioregional gathering in cascadia was a coming together of settlers and indigenous folk. They said there was a massive thunderstorm like they hadn't seen in a hundred years, it was quite the story.
-Who knows that? That should be, everybody in Ireland knows the story of Wolf Tone's uprising and Robert Emmet, the '48 uprising and the Fenians, there's all these songs, and what I'm interested in is to see like, the continued growth of a memory, it’s almost like, memory against forgetting. There's some really awesome quote that I'm losing here but like I think its Milan Kundera, I wish I had it, something about memory against forgetting. There's some many amazing things that happen, so many acts of resistance, so many beautiful moments of people coming together, it just gets washed away. I think the best way to not lose that is to interweave it with your culture, so it's being remembered and sung about and stories are told. Putting it in a book, the history of the cascadian bioregional movement, would be mindblowing, I don't even know it, if I had the time to do the research I'm sure my jaw would drop every day. Longevity, making the path part of your daily culture is an important part of a culture of resistance.
=One thing I think you have strong ideas about and I do too is academia and how this interfaces with the interesting ideas of decolonization, and the hidden histories. The easiest way to find this stuff for me has been the university libraries, and inter-library loan. Definitely through a very academic lens. Which is awesome that I can get it and disgusting that that's how I have to get it, and oftentimes the language it is presented in is disgusting. So, like, love/hate relationship, right?
-I'm very appreciative of academia. There are people who go through that route who do contribute a whole heck of a lot, a lot of the indigenous governance and indigenous studies professors in the canadian university systems have really had to fight to get to where they are, and I'm really impressed. I pay a lot of attention to the indigenous governance program at U Vic, and I know that U of O is building up an indigenous-centric, I was at the alternative sovereignties conference back in april, and saw what was going on there, So there's elements of academia that contribute to the people and the struggle, but I think there needs to be a healthy, non-academic holding of space for people outside of academia. There's an internal politics. Some really famous indigenous studies professors in Canada that write really awesome books and are really rebellious and are part of the indigenous nationhood movement and I have a lot of respect for them, but you talk to some of the front-line warriors and they just make jokes about them. I think there's a healthy balance there. Academia has its pitfalls and we can all recognize it, I think it’s just another resource to be utilized and not taken to be the end all be all. Academia is not our lives, it’s not our stories, it’s not the true history, it's a resource and you have to essentially learn their language to decipher what really happened or what it really means. I definitely would like to participate in creating a non-academic bioregional dialogue. Look at the way marxists over the past 150 years have essentially created their own language that's completely inaccessible to working people.
-It's ridiculous. It's absurd and it gives you a headache to try and read it. I mean if you can understand some of it, some of its actually insightful. I don't consider myself a marxist, I have a big critique of capitalism, and I think Marx has contributed to that critique, yes. Essentially, a real movement of the people where we speak our own language. If you can't describe to your grandmother what you're doing, then what are you really doing? If you can't describe it to some guy off the street, if we can't speak in language that’s accessible to normal people, about who we are, what we're doing, what we're fighting for, the how's and the why's, it's nonsense, it becomes this exclusive property of academia. Notice that most long-term marxists just got a career in academia and disappeared. They still get paid money to publish incomprehensible books. I don't want to see this movement, which needs theory, it does, I do think that theory is a powerful tool, I don't want to see it turn into this exclusive property of academia. There has been a very decent literature, published academically, I know Routledge just published a Peterberg volume. Look up books on bioregionalism and 9 out of 10 came out of academia somewhere,
-and they're good, but I don't like that it makes it look like, well, this is the property of white men in the ivory tower, just because they're the only ones who are given the privilege of this ability. I definitely want to see more theory and writing and dialogue happening outside of academia, and of course, we'll reference academia, they'll have to reference us at some point.
=Yeah, okay, so like a linking idea is, one could say that the enemy of theory, and we need theory, is dogma, where you just accept things and you don't question it. Everybody loves to gang up on dogma and say how dogma is bad,
=but, in my perception, there's sometimes an over-emphasis on questioning, and not as much of a search for, or a holding up of, positive value, one could even call it moral value.
=and if that telling stories and cultural creativity is a part of it, well, we obviously have to have certainties. We obviously have to have positive values. And there's a blurry line between that, like when you get down to talking to your grandmother or talking to the man on the street, and when I'm trying to assert a positive value that I'm certain of, blurry line with dogma. Which is to say, can dogma ever be good?
-I think that, if our ideas and our morals do not exist in relationship to our lived reality, then you're always gonna be in trouble and it's essentially dogma. Morality is one of those hot-button words, I know some of the anarchist theorists are really into amoralism, and I remember reading somewhere I think it was in Endgame, and Jensen starts calling things immoral and all the anarchists got upset and like, how can anything be moral? But the word moral means that there is a value that is outside of you and above you, to me that amounts to dogma. However, there are values that are embedded within our bodies, within ecology, within our social reality, when it comes to respect and the energetic interactions that humans go through every day that are either exploitative or live affirming. I do see that there are essentially these absolutes. The absolutes are always in relationship to life, lived reality, and even in relationship to death, I don't want to leave death out. I agree that, I thought it was interesting that, I don't know if you've read Endgame, Jensen's book but, someone had challenged him that there's no such thing as a pure good. Nothing is purely good, everything is a little grey, a little black and white, very postmodern thinking. And he just said, clean water. Clean water is an absolute moral good. Right, there are no ideologies or abstract ideas that are an absolute moral good, but the main physical necessity, and the lifeblood of this planet, is a moral good. I think that's a good description of where bioregional philosophy goes; it's amoral to dam a river.
=Right. And the salmon runs is a moral good. There's no way you can argue that is grey, or bad, when it’s just bounty.
-Yeah. What's interesting to me is that the indigenous laws, which are still alive, and the languages of indigenous folks here which are still alive, they're upholding these laws and keeping them alive, they are very clear and concise, about what is moral and what is not. What is right and wrong. and it’s based off of the human relationship with the animals and the natural world. That then extrapolates into human relationships between each other. Human beings learn from animals, human beings learn from the natural world, and that's the human position in every indigenous worldview. I think what broke so-called 'western civilization' away from the human traditions was that abstraction into abstract morality and you can go back to Aristotelian logic might be the first turn. Plato himself hadn't even lost that,
=Right, yeah, reality is behind the object we see, it’s above.
-In some ways, if you really wanna pick apart the western mind, you go back to the greeks, it's boring as heck. It doesn't matter where it went wrong. It’s obvious that the answer to it is that the human being needs to fit in. The human being is not separate. If anything we are more problematic than other animals, but no better and no higher up. There's a relationship between the humans and the animals, there's a relationship in the law of this place that we live between salmon and humans, between all these other beings that we share this place with. Following those laws allowed people to live sustainably here for tens of thousands of years. One of the interesting things, taking it back to academia, is seeing some of the indigenous scholars trying to bring traditional indigenous law into laws that govern modern society. I don't think those laws could be put into place without some form of revolution. I don't think that indigenous law is compatible with the British crown, and crown law and English common law, which is what's up in Canada, and essentially what we inherited our republican law from down in the states. So when we're talking about decolonization, it's not just even land repatriation, or the removal of ecologically destructive infrastructure. It's the restoration of law, culture, that is a living law and a living culture, and will adapt itself to the reality that we find ourselves in today, which is settler majority with a massive industrial infrastructure, metropolitan areas around over 3 million people. There's some ways where the rubber won't meet the road. Some things are just downright unsustainable, and therefore will not exist in the future. But that's where I am really curious as to how this indigenous law can be interpreted to be upheld in a place where we're destined to have a settler majority for years to come at least. I don't know if you've read any of the works of Jeanette Armstrong, she's been very influential on me, but that is some of the work that she's doing within academia, there's a handful of other indigenous law scholars, at UBC and U Vic. I'm picking up on some folks who are doing this work down here in the states. Eventually that's my hope for having clear and concise demands of the bioregional movement, working with and through indigenous people and the laws that they uphold. I was literally told by an Okanagan friend, he said, you guys need to piggyback on us. He used the word piggyback. We have the way to live here. That bioregional theory that you're trying to theorize, talk about, open-source new constitution for a free cascadia, well, we have all this stuff already.
=Don't reinvent the wheel, yeah.
-I think Jeanette Armstrong stuck her head out a little bit. In some of the decolonial theory, there's a lot of hostility toward settler nativism and cultural appropriation and settlers claiming any type of indigeneity or indigenousness, and she told me point blank that the only way we're going to survive as a species is that if the settler population learns to be more indigenous to this place. Separate indigenous, the racial construct, from indigeneity.
-So it’s the trees, it’s the animals, humans are just one part of it. And it’s very arrogant to say that human beings, though they are from another place, that don't carry these laws, can't live in respect to these laws, which would make their existence more indigenous to this place. Don't anthropocentrize it. That's one of the tenets of bioregionalism is to resist anthropocentrism and look at biocentrism. From a biocentric standpoint, you may have a massive settler population that have their heads disconnected from the rest of their bodies, but you can put the heads back on and you can give them very concrete ways of how to live here, that exist in story form, which are laws to be upheld. At some point it just clicks and you think, oh, we don't have to theorize a way to live here. There are preexisting ways that are, they need a cultural creative activity, which I think at some point, if we are to have a bioregional movement, that's going to challenge two imperialist colonial states, which I do advocate, I'm not just playing games here, and a lotta people on the front line aren't just playing games, we do have firm ground to stand on that is moral. I think a lot of western resistance got lost in postmodernism, just that philosophical conundrum, where theory turns into something that can only deconstruct, and it couldn't put Legos together to save its life at this point, I think. It needs to be positive, it needs to be able to build something back up.
=The only thing remaining that I'd like to touch on or hear your thoughts about, is the potential for a massive amount of people who, I mean it seems like the trickle is already started, climate refugees coming to cascadia because relatively it's not as densely populated, its more stable, it has more capability to sustain life than other regions so, it seems to me like that is gonna grow. There's gonna be more and more refugees. It certainly doesn't make things easier from a perspective of... or maybe it does make things easier, cultural creativity easier, I dunno. So, climate refugees.
-I definitely have a take on that, so I’ll start out positively and say that I do think people who are newcomers here, especially when they don't come with large amounts of money, which has been the case with the californian dot com boom where everybody moved up here and gentrified the heck out of everywhere from Bend, Oregon to Seattle, I think that people, I think that their hearts will be opened by the majesty of this place. I think that those people, when they're looking for a refuge, will not want to destroy that refuge. Now, the flip side of the coin is, gosh golly I think we're already a little overpopulated, at least in some places, and the potential for crony capitalism which will amount to essentially gangster economic warlordism, by claiming resources, is a very serious threat. And I don't think that building a wall around cascadia is an option.
-I also think its slightly immoral, and therefore I am very interested in what the community rights movement has been doing- Thomas Lindsey, he's friends with Derrick Jensen and that kind of movement, Paul Cienfuegos is a very active member, I'm gonna forget the guy's name outta Spokane, but... they're essentially the ones who are writing these community bill of rights which protect the land and protect the community in contravention of state and federal law, which is now currently being written by corporations directly. I think that if we are facing a massive amount of climate refugees, the only hope is to have a really strong law that protects the land. Because the problem with overpopulation is overconsumption. One drives the other, vice-versa, we can debate that. But there needs to be limits on what resources are extracted. There can only be a percentage of a river which is taken for municipal and agricultural use, and they're doing that by using laws to make the land into a rights bearing entity. So there's a measure in Spokane looking at turning the Spokane river into a rights bearing entity, it's been going on in Bolivia and Ecuador through the same group, oh darnit, can't remember the name. Thomas Linzey's group. I could send you the name, you probably know. So that, I see that if the land, one of the aspects, the prong coming from settler society is the community rights movement, and the other prong is traditional indigenous law. There was a panel on this recently in the springtime, trying to get these two movements to find common ground, and I know that's been happening, some of the community rights people have been going to indigenous nationhood gatherings. So my picture I want to paint here is that, human beings can come and go, populations can increase and decrease, but the land needs to be protected, through law that is upheld popularly, against powers that are outside it, be it the EU, be it the US, be it China, be it the WTO, the international bank... we need law that is rooted in the land. That is where the indigenous nationhood movement and the community rights movement are overlapping. It's a lot of work, you're going up against crony capitalists who don't want to see that happen, but I think that we need to be revolutionaries on that level. And I'll tell you, I've actually been able to talk to some of the biggest millionaires in Bend, Oregon, the heads of the big development companies, they go to meetings with Kitzhaber, the big guys. They all get together after hours to drink.
-They've officially gotten together. Bend, Oregon, I was born here in 1982, there was a population of about fifteen thousand people, we now have over a hundred thousand people. These meetings that they're holding are with a view to reinforcing the infrastructure, because they expect Bend Oregon to have over a quarter million people in the next ten to twenty years, all from climate refugees.
-That is massive. That is terrifying. But they don't see it in the way, well we need to say no to this to protect the land, they just need to be ready for it, and get more tax revenue. They're that crazy. So I hear you loud and clear, this is a reality we're gonna have to face. Our best bet is to have uncompromising laws that protect the land, upheld at the community level, not at the federal level, not even necessarily at the state level. And that means major grassroots organizing in every community.