The women of AF3IRM Los Angeles stand in solidarity with the Tongva people and with indigenous peoples across the globe rising up against the encroachment of settler colonialism and capitalism onto our homelands. As transnational women of color, we have histories rooted in occupation, colonization, and the invasion of our ancestral lands. We have experienced violence against the earth as inextricably linked to violence against women and children, as we are dispossessed of our homes and communities, our own bodies. This is who we are and this is why we are here today.
We see through this country’s malice of settler colonialism that aims to control all aspects of the environment; where the desecration of the land is inherently linked to the control of bodies – specifically the bodies of women and girls. Historically, the block that the Los Angeles City Hall sits on today was an auction block, jail, and public hanging gallows that was systematized by settlers and flourished with the demand from ranchers and vineyard owners of stolen land – one of the largest villages of the Tongva people – Yangna. Right here, Tongva women, children, and men were sold as indentured slaves, at a rate of every week for 20 years.
This history of controlling bodies and land starts with Christopher Columbus coming to the shores of Haiti and the exploitation of the Taino women and children. Writing back to his financers about the commodity of young children, specifically 8 -10-year-olds, and how they were high in demand among the men. Creating a sex trade to pay off his debts and to entertain prospect financers, Christopher Columbus is the first pimp of Turtle Island at the cost of the livelihood of the indigenous women and children of Turtle Island.
Columbus not only introduced the sex trade on Turtle Island, but brought with him the colonial systems that continue to erase Native people and women to this day. The exploitation of land with mining, oil drilling and fracking, and discovery of raw materials around reservations create a demand for the commercial sex industry. What is pitched at “economic opportunity” and “progress and job creation” for local municipalities also means the increase of sex trafficking and prostitution of native women.
These atrocities are not a thing of the past – here in Los Angeles specifically we have the San Gabriel Mission as a reminder of the callous mission system that aimed to wipe out the original caretakers of the area, the Tongva, Chumash and Ajachamen tribes. This pattern continued post mission-system era across Turtle Island with children taken from their mothers and sent to boarding schools. And even here in Los Angeles White Memorial Hospital in Boyle Heights was sterilizing women up until the ’90s involuntarily. We cannot claim this as history when present-day Indigenous women are killed at a rate 10x higher than the average population and 31% of Native children in the US live in poverty. This intergenerational trauma has created a revolving door of physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse, poverty and mental health issues that render the normalization of systemic violence against native women.
So today AF3IRM Los Angeles condemns the genocidal aspirations of Christopher Columbus and other white settler men brought to Turtle Island, whose mission was to exploit not only resources, but also people… women. We salute the women taking up arms globally, combatting the entitlement to women’s bodies – from the women in Iran revolting under the banner of Women, Life, Freedom to the Indigenous women in Brazil on the frontlines against rampant deforestation, we march forward with women’s vision for genuine liberation of all humanity. Join the Feminist Uprising as we works towards dismantling all notions of patriarchal domination.