The 99 percent movement that’s swept the country has reached Albuquerque, New Mexico. But organizers there have decided to alter the “Occupy” name out of respect for area’s indigenous communities, which have been forcibly occupied by the United States for centuries. Instead, organizers are calling their protests “(Un)occupy Albuquerque” to connect corporate greed with the ongoing fight for indigenous land rights.
A sit-in participant in Albuquerque calling himself evergreen2 wrote a story on the DailyKos.com explaining how the term “Occupy” is not problematic terminology for indigenous communities.
“For many indigenous people, the term ‘Occupy’ is deeply problematic. For New Mexico’s indigenous people, ‘Occupy’ means five-hundred years of forced occupation of their lands, resources, cultures, power, and voices by the imperial powers of both Spain and the United States. A big chunk of the 99 percent has been served pretty well by that arrangement. A smaller chunk hasn’t.”
On the DailyKos.com, evergreen2 writes about how they came to the decision:
As the American Independent notes:
Sunday afternoon, OccupyBurque spent a long, long time debating whether or not to change its name. Interestingly enough, the issue was not introduced by an indigenous New Mexican. Rather it was introduced by an international person, who said that the term “Occupy” was problematic for indigenous people of other countries who had also been “Occupied” by imperial powers.
Then a number of indigenous people of New Mexico spoke. They spoke with passion of how stung and hurt they were every time they hear the word “Occupy.” They spoke of how other indigenous people around the country also object to this term. They said over and over and over again that they want the term changed to “Decolonize.” New Mexico’s indigenous people want New Mexico and Albuquerque to be “Decolonized” and not “Occupied.” For them, their lands and people have already been Occupied, and thus what they want is for it all to be Decolonized.
According to the U.S. Census, 4.8 percent of Bernalillo County and 9.4 percent of New Mexicans identify as American Indian. Most likely that underestimates the proportion of New Mexicans with some connection to the Native American community: 3.7 percent of New Mexicans are of more than one race, and 47.9 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic, and both of those categories are likely to contain many people who are of at least some Native American descent.