We Are Literally Right Here

By Jim Bear Jacobs, re-posted from social media with permission (a reflection from 2019)

Brief moment of stepping up on my soapbox for some real talk. To my beautiful friends fighting for immigrant justice. There is a popular trope in these circles. Something along the lines of “We are all immigrants” This idea just needs to stop. We are not all immigrants. This is endemic of Indigenous erasure. I have encountered it in many social justice actions over the years. Once after we had opened an event with a drum circle, the first speaker called for immigrant justice by saying “in this country we have all come from somewhere else!” And I was like there are literally 15 Native people in the same room with you.

Today I was part of a beautiful vigil at the ICE headquarters to call for a stop of injustices committed against our immigrant neighbors. I and another Native clergyman were part of the leadership of this vigil. We opened by acknowledging that we were on Dakota land. We led a prayer to the directions. We sang a song in the Dakota language. I saw one sign that said Americans are all immigrants, and one of the speakers echoed the same sentiment. I know that it might seem overused for Native people to proclaim We Are Still Here, but in this case we were literally right here. There are three of us standing two feet behind you. The smoke from our sage is literally filling your nostrils as you speak.

My social justice friends, you are beautiful. I wholeheartedly love you. I am so grateful for your passion, your energy, your devotion to the cause. We do great work, it would take only a minimal effort to make it better. When you craft your words, when you make your signs, take a moment to make sure that your shouting does not contribute to the erasure of your indigenous hosts. We Are Still Here. We Are Literally Right Here.

Collective Memory

From Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, re-posted from Facebook (9/10/2021).

Before you post that #neverforget sentiment tomorrow, ask yourself; in the last 20 years have I told any Black or Indigenous person that they need to “get over it” “move on” “forgive and forget” when they posted about historical trauma? I know for a fact that some of you have. You no longer get to choose what is preserved as collective memory.

Our Most Sacred Relative

Jim BearAn excerpt from Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs’ powerful Thursday morning sermon at the February 2019 Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute on Chumash land (“Oak View, CA”). Listen to all 40 minutes of challenge and inspiration here.

The principle of non-Indigenous environmental justice work could be summarized like this:

The earth is our greatest natural resource and it is incumbent upon us to protect it.

Sounds good, but it is wrong. Because when viewed from an Indigenous perspective, we would state it like this:

The earth is our most sacred relative and it is incumbent upon us to protect her.

The Earth has an identity. The Earth lives. She breathes. She moves. She thunders. She nourishes.