We noted in August that the Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural, a public art installation inspired by the life of Rachel Corrie, had been recently vandalized. The defacement targeted one of the leaves that makes up the mural’s central olive tree, a leaf designed by artist Gail Tremblay of the Onondaga and Mi’kmaq nations in collaboration with geographer Zoltán Grossman. The leaf depicts four maps comparing the settler colonization of Native American nations by the United States to the settler colonization of Palestinian land by Israel. This image exhibits the importance of global solidarity in acknowledging and resisting settler colonial annexation of Indigenous lands. The targeted defacement of this leaf was an egregious act intended to silence and disrupt Indigenous solidarities.
But this intent to silence solidarities instead emboldened our community, who rallied to reverse the effect of this erasure. Last weekend, in preparation for celebrating today as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the mural was repaired and the images depicting ongoing settler colonial violence in the United States and Palestine were restored. Olympia based artist Carrie Ziegler, along with representatives from the Rachel Corrie Foundation, Art Forces, and the Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural Project, relished the early autumn sunshine as they labored to repair the mural.
While it is impossible to know who is responsible for this defacement, we do know that other acts of settler violence continue every day in our communities. This violence is, in fact, the foundation of every settler state. For those of us who are settlers, while we rightfully commemorate and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we must also think about the concrete steps we will take to progress from acknowledging settler structures to ensuring their dismantlement. One vision of this process is outlined in the Red Nation’s 10 point program, a resource that should profoundly inform individual and collective commitments to ending settler violence. Additionally, the Indigenous Environmental Network has developed A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy, a detailed vision of a political-economic future in which Indigenous sovereignty and values are front and center in the fight for a collectively sustainable future. We strongly urge you to support these organizations, to learn, and to engage with these platforms moving forward.
In Continued Dedication to Indigenous Futures,
The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice