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CNAIR Statement on Anti-Blackness and Police Brutality

June 4, 2020

We, the affiliates of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR) at Northwestern University, mourn the murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, and David McAtee. They died at the hands of police, like so many other Black people in the United States, including those, like Laquan McDonald, Rekia Boyd, and many others killed by police here in Chicago. CNAIR supports the important work of the Black Lives Matter movement, which leads the way in organizing against police violence. We, as both a Center and individuals, recognize the crucial importance of not looking away and of taking up our responsibility to actively support Black liberation. We recognize that non-Black Indigenous people benefit from and perpetuate anti-Blackness. Black and Indigenous communities have been looted and plundered for centuries in the name of imperial capitalism, and police forces continue to function as an occupying military, while struggles for freedom and justice are labeled as domestic terrorism. We hear Black Lives Matter’s call to defund the police, and like the return of Indigenous land and resources, achieving this level of commitment to justice is often disregarded as impractical and impossible. A better world is possible. We support the development of fundamentally new, community-led strategies for ensuring true safety and community care.

CNAIR condemns anti-Blackness and is committed to serving as a safe space for Black and Black/Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and community members as kin. We value scholarship in pursuit of collective liberation and believe that visions for decolonization—seven generations into the future and beyond—should always include Black wellness. After all, the development of Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) as a scholarly field has benefitted much from the insights of Black thinkers. We recognize that expressing solidarity with only words is not enough; as such, CNAIR commits to the actions outlined below.

We ask that all CNAIR affiliates commit to donating both now, and in the long-term, to local Black organizations, especially those that are youth-centered. Some of the organizations in Minneapolis, and here in Chicago, include:

●       Black Visions Campaign:
●       Reclaim the Block:
●       Assata’s Daughters:
●       Chicago Freedom School:
●       Brave Space Alliance:
●       Equity and Transformation:
●       Chicago Community Bond Fund:

We also ask our affiliates to join organizing efforts led by:

●       Local chapters of Black Lives Matter,
●       The Movement 4 Black Lives Week of Action,

CNAIR also commits to ongoing conversations and actions, which include the following:

●       Support the student call for Northwestern University to invest in Black Students and divest from law enforcement and ask our affiliates to add their individual signatures to this petition, too.
●       Support Black and Black/Native students and their scholarship. We commit to supporting the work of a Black or Black/Native undergraduate and graduate student each year with at least one CNAIR fellowship.
●       Warmly invite and welcome Black students and faculty members to the CNAIR house in an effort of kinship.
●       Support the work of NU’s Department of African American Studies and work to advance its faculty, students, and initiatives.
●       Revise our Land Acknowledgements to recognize that the United States is built upon both stolen land and stolen labor. We commit to publicly acknowledging the distinct and entangled experiences of Indigenous, Black, and Black/Indigenous people under settler colonialism.
●       #CiteBlackWomen, whose theories, frameworks, and concepts have been instrumental in the conversations around Indigenous sovereignty domestically and globally. We seek to ensure credit is given where due.
●       Engage our own Indigenous nations to commit to supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement through letter writing and demands for meaningful societal transformation. In addition, we will amplify and center the voices of Black Natives.

Black Lives Matter.