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FROM THE ZAD TO SACRED STONE FINAL .pdf


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FROM
THEZAD
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SACRED
STONE

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Dear Water Protectors,
I write to you knowing that I have more to learn from your
centuries of resistance to colonization than I could ever offer
you myself. When I talk about land defense, it’s on the scale
of four thousand acres, not the scale of continents. Yet I see
many similarities to a struggle I’ve been involved in and want
to share my reflections in the hope that you can sidestep our
mistakes without having to make them yourselves. I don’t
intend to propose a model, only some thoughts and an
invitation to share the questions they provoke with the people
around you.

next angle of attack. There won’t ever be less repression, less
police and private security, less drones and dogs. I
personally regret not pushing harder before our possibilities
shifted, not taking things to the fullest expression they could
have reached. I hope you won’t have these same regrets.
Your stories and photos have moved me to tears over the past
weeks, and inspired me to struggle harder and in new ways. I
hope these reflections can contribute to your ongoing
discussions of strategy, and I look forward to learning from
you and the new forms of resistance you’ll create.
Mni Wiconi!
In Solidarity,
Camille.

In 2009, the movement I’m a part of started a similar
encampment structure to yours which we renamed the Zad,
(Zone to be Defended), with multiple camps spread out across
a wide area. The impetus was to resist the construction of a
proposed airport, invited by the local people and farmers who
had been opposing the project for 40 years and who were frustrated with the ineffectiveness of their legal battles. The movement is composed of a wide range of groups, from anti-authoritarian squatters to farmers to environmentalists, located

Zad as an concrete example, an idea, an image that would let
them skip a step, to take advantage of the household name of
our struggle and take a shortcut instead of starting
conversations with abstract concepts. Many of these
committees continued to organize horizontally according to
their own local struggles while also preparing to literally shut
down the economy if there was an government attack on the
Zad. This looming threat of widespread economic disruption
has also helped us be stronger in our face-off with the state.
We hope that people acting locally against the same forces in
their own way contributes to breaking the image of our
so-called “democratic” society, and that our struggles continue
to multiply out of their control.

Right now I imagine there are so many strong feelings
amongst people there on the ground – a sense of
euphoric disbelief of how many supporters have flooded in,
and a powerful feeling that anything is possible. It is, for now.
This is the time of minimal repression, a supportive public,
and thousands on site. All the things you dream of: do them
now, while your enemies are reeling, trying to figure out their

near Notre-Dame-des-Landes, France. People there fight to
protect land, and water, against an airport but also against the
world that needs airports as part of a global capitalist
economy based on exploitation. Fighting for community
self-determination, for autonomy, against domination,
hierarchy, and the false choices of who will make our decisions
for us – because the option of collective control over our lives
is never in the public hearing, never on the ballot. We
defended against police eviction in the fall of 2012, and are
gearing up to resist another threatened attack in October.

One of our greatest strengths is unity in diversity – organizing
together towards a common goal while using our different
tactics and abilities, and being able to use the social legitimacy
of the farmers losing their land to eminent domain alongside
the latent threat of violence from unpredictable “riff-raff.” Our
enemies know that when we are standing together we’re
powerful, and they will do whatever they can to pressure the
lines of possible division they find and sow dissent. In the
anti-airport movement, these groups use a range of tactics,
and have informal agreements not to discredit each other in

the media if they use tactics they wouldn’t use themselves. We
strive to discuss our problems internally in general assemblies
and not offer clear examples of division to the government.
The most delicate part of this has been finding a balance
between staying together as a diverse movement with the
strength and trust to have constructive, open, debates, while
not falling prey to those who use the idea of “unity in the face
of imminent threat” to perpetuate internal oppression and
silence dissent. This occurred many times during the evictions
at the Zad, where the concerns of women and queer people
were forever pushed aside for a “later” that never came.
As you’ve surely seen, organizations and politicians
consistently attempt to co-opt, recuperate, and manipulate
any uncontrollable formation of people and use them to their
advantage. I’m sure it’s clear that the Obama administration
didn’t support the restraining order against DAPL out of
“solidarity”, but because of a calculated risk of the threat that
you pose to “order” in this country, to the eternal status quo
of isolation and resignation. I saw that Robert Kennedy Jr.
and Jill Stein came to voice their support. It reminds me of a
politician from the Green Party who’s been coming for years
to speak about how he supports our struggle, saying he’ll be
the first in front of a bulldozer, but the only things he’s first in
front for are TV cameras, speaking his own thoughts in the
name of the movement.
So the court decision was a partial delay, and a vague promise
to meet tribal leaders at some time in the future. For the Zad
it was a 6 month ban on cutting trees for construction and a
“National Commission of Dialogue” intended to distract and
put opponents to sleep. Don’t get comfortable — use that time.
A tactic that they used against us was stalling – promising
reforms and meetings that never came, waiting for us to tire
of the cold and the wet, the daily police harassment, to “go

home,” or turn on each other. Please, use that time with an eye
to the future to meet, to organize, to plan, to act. One of the
things that has ensured the longevity of the struggle in
Notre-Dame-des-Landes is the time we’ve had – with every
legal motion filed, the delay allowed us to deepen our
relationships with each other, the local community, and
like-minded people elsewhere. This has allowed us to build
infrastructure based on our needs, to better understand each
other’s positions and dreams, and to discuss how to move
from defending to being on the offensive, working actively
toward what we want to live with each other.

During the eviction period, with thousands of people
rolling in, many of us decided to work towards decentralizing
the support our struggle was receiving, realizing that being
present everywhere made us stronger and more resilient. We
imagined a rhizome, where this energy could come together,
cross others, and be woken up here to then go on and nourish
struggles elsewhere. The idea was that people who were
fighting in their hometowns against infrastructural projects,
the metropolis, the imposed decisions of others, could use the


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