Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ryan Bellerose and the Indigenous Question

Michael L.

I recently published an article entitled Israel: The First Modern Indigenous State in which I agreed with Canadian Native-American activist and football player, Ryan Bellerose, that the Jews are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel.  I published that piece at Israel Thrives, Jews Down Under, and at the Times of Israel, where it was subsequently picked up by the Elder of Ziyon blog.

Much to my surprise, shortly thereafter Bellerose dropped into Israel Thrives in order to scream at Empress Trudy and, for some reason, to tell me that humanity, in fact, is not indigenous to Africa.  I have to say, I was a little surprised at Bellerose's bellicosity and failure to mount a coherent argument.  This is perhaps not very surprising.  Bellerose got picked up by some in the media because his father has a small measure of political creds in Canada and because he is a Native-American Zionist and what in the world is more rare than a Native-American Zionist, not to mention a Native-American Zionist football player?

{In fact, I would not be the least bit surprised if Bellerose is the lone, sole Native-American Zionist football player in all of North America.  The very notion of it gives me a smile.}

Every once in awhile, however, I get an email from someone whom I have referenced in an article, but almost always those emails are either positive or seek to offer a simple factual correction, but they are very rarely hostile.  Bellerose represents the exception.  In a childish and highly insulting response to a comment from Empress Trudy, Bellerose writes:
Thats the stupidest most moronic thing I have seen in a long time. first off indigenous status is not "nonsense" and it has nothing to do with "prmimitivism" your assertion is simply wrong. and not slightly wrong but catasrophically wrong. 
sometimes I wonder if some of you people are capable of original thought or if you just spout talking points that you see on youtube. 
First learn how to read, then work at comprehension, then try to come up with a thought that doesnt resemble feces coming out of your lackwit mouth.
My, my.  That is quite some analysis.

What Bellerose apparently objects to, although it is hard to know from what he writes above, is Trudy's suggestion that:
Keeping in mind of course that this whole 'indigenous' nonsense is an outgrowth of two things. 1) the 60's ethos that primitivism is inherently good and anything else is inherently evil. And 2) it's really a racist expression of "The White Man's Burden."
The concept of "indigenous" is relative, not absolute.  Everyone on this planet, with the exception of an unknown percentage of Africans, comes from elsewhere.  For millions of years our ancestors lived in Africa before emigrating throughout the rest of the world.  That means that the vast majority of all of our ancestors were black and lived on that continent.  This is why all of humanity has a common heritage and why Trudy refers to the very concept of "indigenous" as nonsense.

Nonetheless, it is obviously true that just as Native-Americans are the only extant people who can claim the earliest residency on American soil, so Jews are the only extant people who can claim the earliest residency in the Land of Israel, including Gaza, Judaea, and Samaria.

What Trudy suggested, and rightly so, is that the New Left and counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s revered the indigenous, but primarily via a lens of "primitivism."  Trudy is correct.  Anyone who knows anything whatsoever of the New Left and counterculture from that period knows that there was a general disdain for western ways of being (ontology) and western ways of knowing (epistemology), which sometimes are dismissed as "white."  It is for this reason that when Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, and Gary Snyder put together the counterculture / New Left celebration in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park in 1967, the Human Be-In, it was called the Gathering of the Tribes.  It is also for this reason that when the San Francisco Oracle covered the event they featured an old-timey caricature of a Native-American upon horseback, although holding a guitar.

This kind of sensibility, which revered "primitivism," was prevalent throughout the counterculture and the New Left and remains a staple within progressive-left sensibilities to this day.  It is in part for this reason that the Jewish people are denied "indigenous" status by many on the progressive-left.  The Jews, as a group - with the obvious exception of some - are agents of modernity.  We embrace the modern, advance the modern, and are associated with the modern.  We represent the opposite of "primitivism" and are thus not embraced by the romantic imagination of the contemporary left.

And that is precisely what Trudy referred to in that statement concerning "the 60's ethos that primitivism is inherently good" which represents a contemporary form of "White Man's Burden." Yet another way of stating it is the popular reverence for the "Noble Savage."  It is a form of racist condescension toward people of color who are seen to represent more natural, and thus superior, ways of being and ways of knowing.

Trudy, it should be noted, made no claims whatsoever concerning Native-Americans, but simply pointed out that the concept of "indigenous" is about a myth, or a narrative, concerning who is genuine and who is not among contemporary progressives.  This is simply undeniable and Bellerose was wrong in responding with such fierce, and incoherent, contempt for someone challenging his worldview and presumptions.

As with anyone else, I may agree with much of what Bellerose has to say, and I certainly appreciate his advocacy for the Jewish state as the first modern "indigenous" state, but this does not mean that any of us need to agree with every jot and dittle that the man writes.

Trudy was correct to point out the significance of a "1960s ethos of primitivism," with its implications of authenticity, and how that ethos often elides with notions of the "indigenous" and Bellerose was entirely wrong to spit so much hatred toward a person expressing a concept that he is entirely uneducated about.

Ignorance is regrettable, but malicious ignorance of the type that Bellerose spewed is simply unacceptable.

For more on the general topic of the New Left, and how the notion of authenticity related to that political movement, I recommend Doug Rossinow's The Politics of Authenticity: Liberalism, Christianity, and the New Left in America, Columbia University Press, 1998.


  1. Though the comments were rather juvenile and even offensive, the indigenous "nonsense" actually existed before the 1960s, and not as a matter of primitivism, but as a way to improve the lot of peoples to better realize a good life .

    The ILO Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957 (No. 107)

    Like many other things, some may have converted it based on their own projections, including the humanitarian racists.

    1. Oh, well certainly notions of the indigenous long preceded the 1960s.

      What I would argue, tho, and what Trudy implies, is that it was the 1960s ethos of primitivism which subsequently underscored and further validated indigenous status in the imaginations of many westerners.

    2. In fact, as Trudy implied with reference to White Man's Burden, the romanticization of the indigenous go back to the Age of Imperialism, during the 19th century.

      Nonetheless, it was within 1960s youth culture that the contemporary form of condescension emerged.

    3. That does not mean the movement for indigenous rights, though misplaced by some, is grounded in primitivism or romanticism, or even the white man's burden, as contrasted to human rights itself, to which the indigenous were too often deprived.

    4. Well, I would assume that indigenous peoples involved in the movement for indigenous rights, do not hold romantic notions concerning their own people. However, the western left, more generally, tends to romanticize indigenous peoples, with the obvious exception of Jews.

    5. People do romanticize about the life and values of the indigenous, no question, and often just for show. Rich people get such luxuries.

      That said, indigenous rights were not established because they were primitive or to civilize, but due to the discrimination such people suffered at the hands of the majority in a state, which meant less rights. Indigenous rights are good rights.

      Not everyone qualifies, though self-identification is to be respected. Jews are indigenous to Israel, but already dominant and do not need indigenous rights. There are no indigenous rights against the international community, but sovereignty and self-determination.

      Overall, the matter is easily hijacked like most everything else by activists promoting ideologies, and leftists generally bring their bias that the West is always the culprit, always excusing the oppressed, and that Western life would be better if indigenous values that they romanticize were emulated. It is a just another theoretical construct that does not meet the test of reality.

  2. I think both are right. Trudy's argument certainly has merit. Bellerose could have attempted to better understand the context of her statement, but calling the concept of "indigenous" people "nonsense" was dismissive to Bellerose's frame of reference. I don't think the two frames are necessarily mutually exclusive.

    Bellerose does, however, in his analysis, conveniently skip one of the requirements in Martinez Cobo's definition of indigenous people.

    •Common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands.

    It's hard to argue that Jews in the middle east were the original occupants that can be differentiated from any other original occupants. But I think that goes for every other "indigenous people". Absent that requirement, Cajuns are indigenous to Louisiana. And Palestinians are also indigenous to the same lands as the Jews, irrespective of the fact that they coalesced as a people, distinct from other Arab populations, some time between 50 and 100 years ago. And then we get into the silly argument of who has been there longer.

    I think in the context of the middle east, it IS nonsense, regardless of who is making the argument. In the context of native americans, not so much.

    1. Hey, look what the cat drug in.

      Nice to see ya, man, and very sorry to hear about Ria, of course.

      Bellerose could have attempted to better understand the context of her statement, but calling the concept of "indigenous" people "nonsense" was dismissive to Bellerose's frame of reference.

      I agree, although how it is that Native-Americans are deserving of "indigenous status" while you think the indigenous Jews are not is beyond me.

    2. Using Martinez Cobo's definition, I can think that because there's pretty limited evidence (maybe none?) that Native Americans were preceded on this continent by anyone else. Jews can't say that about the middle east. Though Jews are most likely the oldest surviving people of that part of the world.

    3. I know of no serious evidence to suggest that anyone preceded native Americans on American soil.

      Of course, I know of no serious evidence to suggest that anyone preceded Africans on African soil, either.

      But we agree that there is also no nation in the world today who can claim previous residency on historically Jewish land.

      We have 3,500 years of Jewish history, or thereabouts, in Judaea and Samaria, or what the Jordanians dubbed the "West Bank" for the purpose of erasing our history on that land.

      There is no question that from an ethical, historical, or political perspective that this little part of the world is the Jewish homeland. This is where we came from. It is our home.

      The Arab homeland is, of course, Saudi Arabia. That is where the Arab peoples ultimately came from and it is the birthplace of Islam. They conquered the entire Middle East over the course of a very brief period of time and continue to hold somewhere between 99.5 and 99.9 percent of that entire landmass and are currently driving out the Christians who preceded them. The Jews were held in submission for thirteen centuries and as soon we gained our freedom, with the fall of the Ottoman empire, the great Arab-Muslim majority launched a war against the Jewish people that continues to this very day.

      Now, you tell me what part of that is wrong, Stuart.

      Anyway, I am pleased that you elected to drop back in. I appreciate it very much and regret previous tensions. We have principled disagreements, I believe, but it is not personal.

      Please give my very best to Puzz.

    4. No part of that paragraph is wrong Michael. But it has nothing to do with whether Jews are indigenous, unless you're redefining the word. Of course the same would go for any claim that Palestinians are indigenous. I particularly like Ryan's argument that Palestinians claiming indigenous status "allow(s) a conqueror to claim that they can become indigenous THROUGH conquest". I think it's a better argument that "we were here first".

    5. Well, thankfully, Stuart, it is not merely about 'we were here first."

      Israel is a tiny, little country under enormous pressure. The Jewish people of the Middle East are the target of Koranically-based genocidal hatred by a much larger hostile majority, some of whom have no compunction about chopping the heads off of 3 month old baby girls in their cradles.

      And, yes, the Jews are the indigenous population in that small part of the world precisely because no other people can claim earlier possession. It is, in fact, little different from Native-American claims which I do not believe for one moment that you would reduce to "we were here first."

  3. Of course if you ask someone who is from there you get a completely different answer to the western liberal's noting of what indigenous is. There are no "Syrians" or "Libyans". There is no coherent knowledge or understanding of what a nation 'is'. A city-state perhaps but clan-tribe based societies don't worry about what a 'nation' is. It's unimportant. The next tribe or clan is no more part of your identity than Finland.

    Libya is 80% Beduin not Arab. Saudi Arabia is ruled by Jordanians. Jordan is ruled by Saudis. Iraq doesn't recognize the Kuwait exists. The GCC states are ruled by tiny Shiia minorities in a sea of Sunni. Some Egyptians consider themselves no more Arabs that Turks do. And they don't. The current supreme leader of Iran isn't Persian, he's Azeri. Khomeni's family was from India.

    This is why it's convenient for the 'palestinians' to make up their own history. Not only is it false, it's unimportant. Without a strong clan-tribe identify already in place, calling yourself a part of a 'nation' is as false to them as it is to us.


    1. Recent arguments by people like Caroline Glick are suggesting that the "Arab Spring" represents the death of Arab nationalism.

      What you are suggesting, Trudy, takes it to the next step. It's not just the death of Arab nationalism - the death of the dream of a unified Arab world - but a serious erosion of Arab identification with western created countries after WWI.

      We are definitely not the first to notice that, perhaps, the Arab peoples of the Middle East are reverting back to social and political arrangements more characteristic of the Arab world prior to significant European contact.

      One question to ask, I suppose, is just what was the "Arab Spring"?

      Part of the reason that I broke with the left is because they kept telling me that the rise of political Islam under the misnomer "Arab Spring" was actually the great up-welling of Arab democracy.

      It was not.

      They were wrong, but they will never admit it.

  4. A few things
    Being indigenous isnt just about where you are physically from, its about the Genesis of culture and ancestral ties to the land as well. Thats why Jews and Metis are absolutely indigenous peoples to our respective regions. the " we all came from africa" argument is used by ignorant people to counter indigenous rights, because after all if we all came from the same place the nobody is indigenous. if you cant see how damaging that is, then I am not the one who needs to study.

    I refute the Paestinians claim to be indigenous because it harms our rights, to allow a conqueror to claim that they can become indigenous THROUGH conquest, means my people have to accept the same for those who conquered north america.

    You are relatively new with this, so let me explain something, most people dont know this stuff, lots of them thing the middle easy is where arabs are from, they think jews are white because some of you have pale skin, they dont understand what white privilege is. They have no idea that assimilation is like death to an indigenous person because it results in the loss of who we are.

    I don't know empress trudy and maybe she isnt the asshat she appeared to be, but her first post started off stupid and it didnt get any better from there.
    she wrote
    "Keeping in mind of course that this whole 'indigenous' nonsense" is an outgrowth of two things. 1) the 60's ethos that primitivism is inherently good and anything else is inherently evil. And 2) it's really a racist expression of "The White Man's Burden."

    Im not sure how you could possibly think an indigenous rights activist who has been fighting for his peoples rights for 2 decades wouldnt get offended at such a moronic statement " indigenous nonsense"? really?

    secondly indigenous rights have nothing to do with primitivism, we want to maintain our culture and our traditions and have self determination on our ancestral lands. sound familiar? a little bit like zionism maybe? we arent advocating wearing loincloths and living in teepees again ffs.

    "Both of them are racist patronizing expressions that brown people or what we call brown people this moment (and that can change) are not the genuine stewards of their own destiny and they have to be protected from De Evul White Mon on their little reservations and ghettos; like Potemkin villages where the rich white liberals gawk at them like zoo animals. It's about how WE feel about US. Not them."

    people who dont live in ghettos or reserves should probably not talk about them, that little paragraph is exceptionally offensive. Maybe she was being sarcastic, but the rest of the post makes me wonder if thats the case.

    then she wrote "Because be clear 'indigenous' has nothing to do with point of origin. It's about a myth or who's genuine and who's not."

    Indigenous rights are not a myth, there is nothing arbitrary about them, they come from a very specific set of guidelines, you wonder why I become bellicose so easily, try making this argument for 2 decades with no support and see how patient you are when people say something stupid.

    1. "people who dont live in ghettos or reserves should probably not talk about them, that little paragraph is exceptionally offensive. Maybe she was being sarcastic, but the rest of the post makes me wonder if thats the case."


      If you were consistent with that line of thinking, you wouldn't comment on Israel since you do not live there, or the US, or any other place outside of Canada.

  5. I did chuckle at the zionist metis football line btw, that was witty, but the reason my articles were picked up had less to do with the fact that my father was a fairly well known Metis leader in the 80's and 90's and more to do with the fact that I am fairly well known for my work in exposing corrupt chiefs and advocacy work with Idle No More. just a slight correction, but a valid one I think.

  6. Ryan,

    I want to thank you for your considered response.

    I do appreciate it.

    I am finding this conversation very interesting and, please be assured, my intention is sympathetic.

    In truth, throughout the recent years as I have explored my sense of the Jewish people - the Jewish nation - I have not explored the concept of "indigenous" in a systematic manner.

    The reason that I wrote my initial piece, in response to your excellent argument that I came across at Israelycool, is because it sparked my imagination.

    My intention going forward is to pursue this conversation, if you are willing to do so.

    I am going to front page your comment above and try to open a discussion concerning the pertinent issues.

    You have my thanks.

  7. By the by a casual check of Wiki will uncover something like 17 different countries who all have an ingathering law similar to Israel's - even those seemingly hyper fascist bastions of Zionism like Greece and Ireland. But somehow you never hear the left and the 'activists' pout and scream about those.

  8. Everyone is all worried about this yidiot's this and that and no one speaks of the total idiocy of the concept that the Jews are comparable to Native Americans.

    Wanna buy into the victim myth much? This kid bought that cruddy line hook, line and sinker. He has been talmudicized, poor boy.

    Anyone who knows the true story of the creation of Israel and the reason for its existence, recognizes a flaw in the fact that this discussion is even taking place.

    It is a diversion from the truth of the matter. The Jews of Israel and their supporters around the world are committing genocide and being allowed to get away with it. THAT is the crux of the matter, not some silly young deluded athlete of limited education and abilities who thinks he "understands" .... someone twanged his "fellow victim" sensibilities and set him loose... meanwhile he should learn REAL history, not what he might have been told in school.

    1. Palestinian population is rising, not falling. Some genocide!

      You lying piece of offal.

    2. Be nice.

      Be truthful, but be nice.

    3. Hey, I changed out a 4-letter word for a kinder, gentler 5-letter one. How classy d'ya want me to be? ;)

    4. I'm always a little surprised when hostile individuals stumble across old pieces like this one and feel it necessary to comment.

      I think that I may front page a response.

      And you're right.

      To heck with this niceness nonsense!

      Y'know, when I was on dkos there was a gentleman there who went under the moniker "Armando."

      Armando, as it turned out, is a Puerto Rican attorney and an exceedingly intelligent and imperious individual and a pretty famous guy in certain quarters of the left blogosphere.

      On dkos at the time there was debate over the question of civility in conversation on the blog. Armando argued that demands for civility, ultimately, were a distraction and a means by which to stifle the free expression of thought... or something quite along those lines.

      I do not know if the guy was right - I know that he was obnoxious - but I don't know if he was right.

    5. In 1967 both the Arab populations in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), and Gaza, stood at 1, 261, 000. By 2010 this number had more than trebled to 4, 547, 431. [1]

      Ms, obviously, you don't know the meaning of genocide. May I recommend you invest in a dictionary.

      [1] Central Intelligence Agency (2014) The World Fact Book

  9. Bob, dictionaries can't help propagandistic Jew haters.


    Here's a good link to explain REALITY versus pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel propaganda. I suggest everyone read it; there are some real nuggets there.

  11. Speaking of reality, here's why it's so hard to rationally conduct peace with Arabs:

    Crazy don't reason well.