photo by Carol Berry
Ward Churchill was, until moving to Atlanta in 2012, a member of the leadership council of Colorado AIM. A past national spokesperson for the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee and UN delegate for the International Indian Treaty Council, he is a life member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and currently a member of the Council of Elders of the original Rainbow Coalition, founded by Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in 1969. Now retired, Churchill was professor of American Indian Studies and chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies until 2005, when he became the focus of a major academic freedom case. Among his two dozen books are the award-winning Agents of Repression (1988, 2002), Fantasies of the Master Race (1992, 1998), Struggle for the Land (1993, 2002), and On the Justice of Roosting Chickens (2003), as well as The COINTELPRO Papers (1990, 2002), A Little Matter of Genocide (1997), Acts of Rebellion (2003), and Kill the Indian, Save the Man (2004).
Wielding Words like Weapons: Selected Essays in Indigenism, 1995–2005
Author: Ward Churchill • Foreword by Barbara Alice Mann
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 616
Subjects: Indigenous Studies/History-U.S./Politics
Wielding Words like Weapons is a collection of acclaimed American Indian Movement activist-intellectual Ward Churchill’s essays in indigenism, selected from material written during the decade 1995–2005. Beginning with a foreword by Seneca historian Barbara Alice Mann describing sustained efforts by police and intelligence agencies as well as university administrators and other academic adversaries to discredit or otherwise “neutralize” both the man and his work, the book includes material illustrating the range of formats Churchill has adopted in stating his case, from sharply framed book reviews and review essays, to equally pointed polemics and op-eds, to formal essays designed to reach both scholarly and popular audiences.
The items selected, several of them previously unpublished, also reflect the broad range of topics addressed in Churchill’s scholarship, from the fallacies of archeological/anthropological orthodoxy like the Bering Strait migration hypothesis and the insistence of “cannibalogists” that American Indians were traditionally maneaters, to cinematic degradations of native people by Hollywood, the historical and ongoing genocide of North America’s native peoples, questions of American Indian identity, and the systematic distortion of political and legal history by reactionary scholars as a means of denying the realities of U.S.-Indian relations. Also included are both the initial “stream-of-consciousness” version of Churchill’s famous—or notorious—“little Eichmanns” opinion piece analyzing the causes of the attacks on 9/11, as well as the counterpart essay in which his argument was fully developed, which garnered honorable mention for the 2004 Gustavus Myers Award for best writing on human rights.
Less typical of Churchill’s oeuvre is an essay commemorating the passing of Cherokee anthropologist Robert K. Thomas, and another on that of Yankton Sioux legal scholar and theologian Vine Deloria, Jr., to each of whom he acknowledges a deep intellectual debt. More unusual still is his moving and profoundly personal effort to come to grips with the life and death of his late wife, Leah Renae Kelly, thereby illuminating in very human terms the grim and lasting effects of Canada’s residential schools upon the country’s indigenous peoples.
“Compellingly original, with the powerful eloquence and breadth of knowledge we have come to expect from Churchill’s writing.”
“This is insurgent intellectual work—breaking new ground, forging new paths, engaging us in critical resistance.”
“An important contribution that merits careful reflection, and an implicit call to action that should not be ignored.”
“Ward Churchill is important. I mean, Noam Chomsky, Emma Goldman important.”
—Maximum Rock ’n’ Roll
Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America, Third Edition
Author: Ward Churchill and Michael Ryan • Preface: Ed Mead • Foreword: Dylan Rodríguez
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 192
Pacifism as Pathology has long since emerged as a dissident classic. Originally written during the mid-1980s, the seminal essay “Pacifism as Pathology” was prompted by veteran activist Ward Churchill’s frustration with what he diagnosed as a growing—and deliberately self-neutralizing—”hegemony of nonviolence” on the North American left. The essay’s publication unleashed a raging debate among activists in both the U.S. and Canada, a significant result of which was Michael Ryan’s penning of a follow-up essay reinforcing Churchill’s premise that nonviolence, at least as the term is popularly employed by white “progressives,” is inherently counterrevolutionary, adding up to little more than a manifestation of its proponents’ desire to maintain their relatively high degrees of socioeconomic privilege and thereby serving to stabilize rather than transform the prevailing relations of power.
This short book challenges the pacifist movement’s heralded victories—Gandhi in India, 1960s antiwar activists, even Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights movement—suggesting that their success was in spite of, rather than because of, their nonviolent tactics. Churchill also examines the Jewish Holocaust, pointing out that the overwhelming response of Jews was nonviolent, but that when they did use violence they succeeded in inflicting significant damage to the nazi war machine and saving countless lives.
As relevant today as when they first appeared, Churchill’s and Ryan’s trailblazing efforts were first published together in book form in 1998. Now, along with the preface to that volume by former participant in armed struggle/political prisoner Ed Mead, postscripts by both Churchill and Ryan, and a powerful new foreword by leading oppositionist intellectual Dylan Rodríguez, these vitally important essays are being released in a fresh edition.
“This extraordinarily important book cuts to the heart of the central reasons movements to bring about social and environmental justice always fail. The fundamental question here is: is violence ever an acceptable tool to bring about social change? This is probably the most important question of our time, yet so often discussions around it fall into clichés and magical thinking: that somehow if we are merely good and nice enough people, the state will stop using its violence to exploit us all. Would that this were true.”
—Derrick Jensen, author of Endgame
“Although Churchill couches his psychological analysis in much more polite terms than I would, he believes that some white upper-middle-class activists are deeply conflicted about whether they really want to dismantle capitalism and give up their position of privilege.”
“The book’s main thrust is to analyze and tear apart the ideology of pacifism, explaining how it is, in many ways, a counter-revolutionary ideology.”
—Irish Republican News
From a Native Son: Selected Essays in Indigenism, 1985–1995, Second Edition
Author: Ward Churchill • Introduction by Howard Zinn
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 616
Subjects: History-U.S./Native American Studies
From a Native Son was the first volume of acclaimed American Indian Movement activist-intellectual Ward Churchill’s essays in indigenism, selected from material written during the decade 1985–1995. Presented here in a new revised edition that includes four additional pieces, three of them previously unpublished, the book illuminates Churchill’s early development of the themes with which he has, in the words of Noam Chomsky, “carved out a special place for himself in defending the rights of oppressed people, and exposing the dark side of past and current history, often forgotten, marginalized, or suppressed.”
Topics addressed include the European conquest and colonization of the Americas, including the genocidal record of Christopher Columbus, the systematic “clearing” and resettlement of American Indian territories by the United States and its antecedents, academic subterfuges designed to deny or disguise the extent of Indian land rights, radioactive contamination of Indian reservations by energy corporations, government-sponsored death squads used to “neutralize” the native struggle on the Pine Ridge Reservation during the mid-1970s, the ongoing dehumanization of American Indians in literature, cinema, and by their portrayal as sports team mascots, issues of Indian identity and the expropriation of indigenous spiritual traditions, the negative effects of “postmodernism” upon understandings of contemporary circumstances of native people, the false promise of marxism in terms of indigenous liberation, and what, from an indigenist standpoint, the genuine decolonization of North America might look like. Of particular interest is Churchill’s inclusion in the new edition of his 1986 “Statement of Position and Principle” concerning the Indian/Sandinista conflict along the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua, an item which should go far in dispelling recent confusion about his thinking and actions in that regard.
“Ward Churchill points out the traditional Indian views more than anyone else.”
—John Ross, Jr., Former Principle Chief United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
“Wielding his intellect like a stiletto. Churchill lays bare the evil that is Western culture.”
—Haunani-Kay Trask, author From a Native Daughter
“Challenging the fundamental constructions of America through the lens of ‘indigenism,’ Churchill’s astute examination of the U.S. cultural and political spectacle is a winning combination of scholarship and keen perception.”
—Elena Featherstone, editor of Skin Deep: Women Writing on Color, Culture and Identity
“A meticulous scholar, Churchill goes toe-to-toe on their own ground with individuals, institutions, and ideologies that undermine human dignity and assault the path of Native liberation.”
—Janice Command, Counterpoise
“There’s no better writer on indigenous issues than my brother, Ward Churchill.”
—Russell Means, American Indian Movement
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Wielding Words like Weapons: Selected Essays in Indigenism, 1995–2005: A Review
by D. M. Cobb
This volume collects 16 essays published between 1995 and 2005 by Ward Churchill, a controversial activist-intellectual and former faculty member in American Indian studies at the University of Colorado. Featured are original and extended versions of his most well-known pieces, here entitled “The Ghosts of 9-1-1” and “Some People Push Back,” but recognized foremost as “the little Eichmanns” essays. While the inclusion of four book reviews might be questioned, Churchill’s pieces on Cherokee anthropologist Robert K. Thomas, Standing Rock Sioux luminary Vine Deloria, Jr., and the tragic passing of his wife, Leah Renae Kelly, reward careful rumination. So, too, do his incisive evaluations of the Indian Claims Commission, U.S. violations of the very laws of war it drafted, colonialism, international law, and genocide. “In the Spirit of Gunga Din” provides readers with Churchill’s rebuttal to the grounds on which the integrity of his scholarship was called into question and that ultimately led to his dismissal from the University of Colorado in 2007. When confronted with polemicists around whom such fiery debate has raged, it is always best to read them in their own words. Such is the case with Ward Churchill.
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