The Struggle for National Liberation

In recent years, as the Diné nation has developed and its interests have come into increasing conflict with U.S. imperialism, national consciousness has grown. This has been reflected in the rise of national demands and of the national political movement.

The late 1960's saw the beginning of a great upsurge of the national movement in the Diné nation, and among all the Native peoples. This upsurge drew inspiration from the revolutionary national movements among the Afro-American, Chicano, Puerto Rican and the other oppressed peoples within the United States. In 1974, workers at the Fairchild Semi-Conductor plant in Shiprock, led by members of the American Indian Movement, occupied the plant to protest massive layoffs that were taking place. During the same period there were militant protests by Diné construction workers against hiring discrimination by construction companies and the AFL-CIO building trades unions. Also in 1974, demonstrators were organized in Farmington, New Mexico, an important border town, to protest the murder of three young Diné men by white racists. Similar demonstrations were held in both Gallup, New Mexico and Farmington to protest police brutality against the Diné. Other protests were organized in the border towns against racist, profiteering Anglo merchants and politicians.25

Demands were raised for education in the Diné language and culture. The BIA schools and public schools had been notorious for their determination to wipe out all traces of the Diné language and culture, punishing children for even speaking their own language in school. Determined to put an end to this system, the people have waged an ongoing and militant struggle for education in their own language and culture, organizing mass protests, recalling many school board members and forcing the dismissal of a number of school superintendents. In the 1970's, a number of reforms were won including bi-lingual, bi-cultural programs in the public schools and the establishment of a particular Diné curriculum at the Navajo Community College.26

The Diné national movement has also involved an ongoing struggle against the energy monopolies' plunder of the Diné people's land and resources. In 1978, over 1,000 people led by the Coalition for Navajo Liberation occupied and closed down all oil operations in Aneth, the main center of oil drilling in the Diné nation. They occupied the oil fields for 17 days until the four oil companies – Texaco, Superior, Continental, and Phillips – agreed to 18 demands to curb the companies' abuse and disrespect of the Diné people, their livestock and their land. (The companies, however, refused to agree to the main demand: renegotiation of the leases.)

The oilfield occupation was the most dramatic of a series of protests that have taken place throughout the Diné nation. Major resistance has developed against the destruction of Black Mesa by the coal companies, the proposal to build two huge coal gasification plants that would intensify the destruction, and the uranium mining in the Dalton Pass area. This resistance has taken the form of lawsuits, mass meetings of the local chapters* to vote down and condemn these projects, the occupation of the Tribal Council chambers, and mass demonstrations.27

* Chapters are local political divisions of the Diné nation. Chapter meetings have been important organizing centers against the comprador policies of the Tribal government since the 1930's.

The Diné people are also waging a struggle to prevent the federal government from removing 14,000 Diné from a large region known as the Hopi-Navajo Joint Use Area. In 1974, the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring the division of this region into separate Moqui (Hopi) and Diné districts. The law further required that all 14,000 Diné residents living in the territory designated as Moqui be removed by 1986. The law was promoted by the energy monopolies in collusion with a number of the Moqui bourgeoisie who have close ties with the Anglo-American capitalists. The energy monopolies want to facilitate the exploitation of large coal and uranium reserves in the area by establishing definite title to the land by one tribe (and not both), and by removing the population of the area. Since most of the people living in the area are Diné, the region would be essentially depopulated if the capitalists' plans are realized. The Moqui bourgeoisie have schemes to use the region to greatly expand their own large cattle operations. Over 10,000 Diné have refused to leave. They have won the support of many of the Moqui who recognize the law as a maneuver intended to spur division between the Moqui and Diné people for the benefit of the Moqui bourgeoisie and the Anglo-American imperialists. Already BIA agents are attempting to enforce the reduction of Diné livestock in preparation for the final eviction, and have arrested a number of people resisting those actions. The federal government has threatened to bring in the National Guard if the Diné remain in the area in 1986.28 The Diné residents, on the other hand, have stated that, as a sovereign people, they will resist all actions of the U.S. government to remove them.

We the people of Big Mountain, Diné Nation, do hereby declare total resistance to any effort or influence to be removed from our homes, ancestral lands, and to be relocated from the land of Big Mountain. We further declare our right to live in peace and harmony with our Moqui neighbors and cooperation between us will remain unchanged.29

The Diné bourgeoisie are terrified of revolution and they will never venture beyond reformism. The bourgeoisie played an important role in developing the Diné national consciousness. But they are essentially a comprador bourgeoisie, bound to U.S. imperialism by a thousand strings. The Diné people's revolutionary resistance against imperialism has been carried out by the laboring classes – the proletariat, the semi-proletariat, the peasantry, and the revolutionary intelligentsia. Unlike the bourgeoisie, these classes have no great privileges to defend and no reason to maintain the status quo. It is these laboring people who have marched in the streets, who seized the Fairchild plant and the Aneth oilfields, and who joined the armed fighters at Wounded Knee. Of these classes, the proletariat is the strongest, the most politically consistent and the most revolutionary. The proletariat is the only class that can carry the national liberation struggle through to the end, breaking completely with imperialism and establishing genuine socialism.

The Struggle for Genuine Self-Determination

U.S. imperialist domination over the Native peoples has always been officially packaged in hollow, meaningless declarations about "sovereign rights" and "self-determination." Even Ronald Reagan, the representative of the most chauvinist reaction, cloaks his policies in platitudes about Native rights. "I endorse 'Indian self-determination' as a national policy," says Reagan. He adds, "The traditional 'government-to-government' relationship between the Federal government and Indian governments should be continued." Putting the words "self-determination" and "government-to-government" in quotation marks seems to express sarcasm. He later explains that, for him, "self-determination" means "consulting with tribes and their leaders in the development of Federal Indian policy."30

The U.S. government's declarations about the "self-determination" of the Native peoples are lies soaked in blood. How can a people enjoy sovereign rights when their land is "held in trust" by the Department of the Interior, and they are officially "wards" of the Bureau of Indian Affairs? How can the Native peoples carry out government-to-government relations based on equality when the decisions of their governments can be vetoed by the U.S. government? How can they determine their own destiny when they live under the guns of the U.S. Army, the National Guard, the F.B.I., and the state police forces?

Genuine self-determination means the right to secede from the United States and form a completely sovereign national state. Only when the oppressed nations have the right to secede can they freely determine their relationship with all other nations. Short of this right, any talk of "self-determination" is a farce. It is clear that the Native peoples do not have this right today, nor can they have this right as long as the BIA exists and the U.S. police and military forces continue to occupy their national territories and prevent them from organizing their own independent states.

The demand for the right of secession by the oppressed nations within the borders of the United States is a revolutionary demand, and it cannot be otherwise because it raises the question of a new state power for the Diné nation. To realize self-determination, the state power of the Anglo-American imperialists must be destroyed within the territory of the Diné nation. And this state power must be replaced with the state power of the Diné people. To bring this about a revolution is necessary.

For the Anglo-American bourgeoisie the borders of the United States, which were established through wars of aggression against numerous nations and peoples, are "immutable" and the bourgeoisie will never surrender peacefully the right to secede to any subject nation. They conquered by armed force, they suppress every movement for national liberation by armed force, and they will only be defeated by armed force.

The proletariat of the United States must support the right of the Diné nation to secede and determine its own destiny. Only on this basis can genuine unity be built between the proletariat of all nationalities within the United States. Revisionists of all hues, including the Communist Party U.S.A., the Communist Labor Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Communist Workers' Party, the League of Revolutionary Struggle, and the Socialist Workers' Party, all deny the Diné people their national rights. They all accept the basic premise of the Anglo-American bourgeoisie that the Diné people must live under the rule of the Anglo-American state. Their programs in relation to the Diné and other Native peoples consist of platitudes about "equal rights" and "greater autonomy" (within the U.S. state). But the Diné people can never have genuine equal rights until they achieve the most basic right of all nations – the right to establish an independent state. Lenin denounced the thinly disguised social-chauvinism of the German revisionist Kautsky on precisely this point:

The most plausible formulation of the social-chauvinist lie, the one that is therefore the most dangerous to the proletariat, is provided by Kautsky. In word, he is in favor of the self-determination of nations... In deed, however, he has adapted the national programme to the prevailing social-chauvinism, distorted and docked it; he gives no precise definition of the duties of the socialists of the oppressor nations and patently falsifies the democratic principle itself when he says that to demand 'state independence'... for every nation would mean demanding 'too much'… 'National autonomy,' if you please, is enough! The principal question, the one the imperialist bourgeoisie will not permit discussion of, namely, the question of the boundaries of a state that is built upon the oppression of nations, is evaded by Kautsky, who, to please the bourgeoisie, has thrown out of the programme what is most essential. The bourgeoisie are ready to promise all the 'national equality' and '.national autonomy' you please so long as the proletariat remain within the framework of legality and 'peacefully' submit to them on the question of state boundaries! Kautsky has formulated the national programme of Social-Democracy in a reformist, not a revolutionary manner.31

On the question of state boundaries, of the right to secede, of the right to organize a sovereign state, the revisionists are either silent or they break into chauvinist refrains about how this right supposedly "divides the proletariat in the struggle for socialism." This chauvinist stand on the part of the revisionists, which places them on the side of the Anglo-American bourgeoisie in denying the Diné people their national rights, can only inspire righteous indignation on the part of the Diné proletariat and the Diné people as a whole. How can there be proletarian unity in the fight for socialism when the proletariat of the oppressor nation sides with its "own" bourgeoisie in denying the just national rights of the people of the oppressed nations?

The U.S. proletariat must support and fight for the treaty rights assured to the Diné and the other Native peoples when they were conquered by the U.S. government. These rights, including the protection of Native peoples' land, resources, and limited political autonomy, are under severe attack today. The proletariat must go even further than simply defending the treaty rights. The treaties between the Native peoples and the U.S. government are annexationist treaties, forced upon the Native people with a gun at their heads. They legally encode the subjugation of the Native peoples and the inequality of nations within the U.S. multinational state. These colonialist treaties must be replaced with new treaties between free and sovereign peoples. In order for a treaty to be based on genuine self-determination it must:

1. Recognize the right of the Diné to secede from the United States.

2. Remove all U.S. military and police forces from the territory of the Diné nation.

3. Recognize the right of the Diné to establish their own sovereign government. This means the dissolution of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the entire colonial state apparatus of U.S. imperialism within the Diné nation.

4. Democratically establish the boundaries of the Diné nation based on social and economic conditions and the will of the people. On this basis, areas on the border of the reservation, including border towns such as Gallup and Farmington, must be considered integral parts of the Diné nation.

5. Recognize Diné sovereignty over their land and natural resources. This means the abrogation of the existing mineral leases with the Anglo-American capitalists.

6. Establish reparations for over a century of plunder by U.S. imperialism.

As part of the continuing struggle against national oppression, the Diné people of the Big Mountain area are resisting U.S. government's attempts to remove them from their homeland.

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