Settler solidarities with Indigenous communities confronting fossil fuel projects in the Pacific Northwest: Comparing the Shell No! Movement and the Lummi Nation Totem Pole Journey

Authors: Matty Fuller*, Critical Geographies Research Lab
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Cultural and Political Ecology, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Settler Colonial Studies, First Nations, Indigenous Resurgence, Fossil Fuels, Extractivism, Political Ecology, Decolonization, Alliance-Building, Kayaktivism, Social Movements
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Roosevelt 1, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Over the course of several months in 2015, communities in the Pacific Northwest organized to confront the presence of Royal Dutch Shell's Arctic drilling fleet in regional harbors. What would later be called "kayaktivism" involved frontline and eNGO organizers collaborating to confront the localized environmental degradation and climate justice issues resulting from any efforts by Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea. The movement and its direct actions were often fast-moving and connected Indigenous communities at the frontlines of environmental ruination caused by these industries with local settler activists and organizations. The result was often beautiful, often messy and sometimes harmful. This presentation will examine the Shell No! movement through interviews with key figures and seek to understand what worked and what didn't work when it came to building local alliances across the Indigenous/settler divide. Though settler allies appear to increasingly want to center the needs and desires of frontline Indigenous communities, on their own terms, it's important to examine how well solidarity work and intersectional social movements grow not just rhetorically but in the actions and behaviors of settler allies and their organizations. The focus here is on those articulations of solidarity during the Shell No! movement and seeks to explore how these alliances can be seen as expressions of trends in political ecological thought, social movements and the decolonization of relations. The primary research and interviews were conducted in the year following the Shell No! movement with local Indigenous and settler organizers.

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