Ashanti Alston on changing from the ‘Big R Revolution’ to the ‘small r revolution’

Ashanti Alston Omowali is an anarchist activist, speaker, and writer, and former member of the Black Panther Party.

Favorite quote so far:

Before that, the Civil Rights Movement held sway and it was all about integrating into the Empire….. why do we want to integrate into a capitalist society that is thoroughly racist; killing us? What is this thing about wanting a piece of the pie?

Integration into a capitalist society is exactly what is going on in Indian Country today. This is largely being done via tribal governments, social welfare programs and the implementation of neoliberal economic policies into our traditional lands. These forces are in direct conflict with our traditional political, economic and social structures. Basically, we are being asked to either leave in poverty & remain somewhat traditional, or integrate into the Empire & be even less traditional. I think we ought to choose option 3, remain traditional, re-adopt our traditional social, political and economic structures & give the US Empire a big “fuck you” as we walk away.


It was the idea of a scientific revolution. That if we held to the correct analysis, and organized among specific groups that were designated as the only revolutionary class or group that could do this, that would lead us to this final object of freedom; socialism, communism. Wonderful terms, but all were taking away from these different individual struggles’ own integrity. And what I mean by that is that not all of us was really buying into that it just had to be one way. The Native American & Indigenous people here didn’t want to hear that stuff. Like the indigenous people of Mexico, they had their own ways of understanding the world and they wanted that respected. But I think that one of the mistakes that we made is that we was trying to push everybody… one way revolution, big “R” revolution.

We must learn from this mistake. One thing I have stressed among non Native revolutionaries of all stripes is that we Natives have our own path. We have our own history of freedom and tribal sovereignty to look to. So when a left anarchist tries to label us as communist I say: no, we are indigenous. When a National Anarchist says we are just like them, I say: no, we are indigenous. We don’t need to go along with non Native labels or methods of organizing our affairs. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be making tactical alliances. We should just be suspicious of any non Natives who attempt to come along as the saviors of our race with their preferred method of social or political organization.

Hat tip to RJ at Attack the System


About Vince

I am a Tlingit, born and raised in Tlingit Country, and a proud member of the Tlingit Nation.
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