The success of the indigenous movement in forcing modern states to acknowledge the legitimacy of self-determination by indigenous peoples — especially within the context of the international human rights regime — is the initial 21st Century step toward institutionalizing the political legal status of indigenous nations. Having nominally achieved that status, indigenous nations can now begin negotiating with modern states the implementation of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as it best suits their unique socioeconomic needs and cultural requirements.
Some of the mainstream confusion over the Idle No More campaign and its locus within the world indigenous peoples movement is due to media awkwardness with the liberation lexicon.
Idle No More is also a slogan used by indigenous intellectuals to mobilize resistance to colonialism in Canada. Indigenous resistance in Canada has a long history, and was key to the development of the world indigenous peoples movement. The network of indigenous activists and scholars essential to the movement’s success is international, and is reflected in the visible support for the Idle No More campaign emanating from such indigenous movement notables as the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico.
Basically, I wanted to make the distinction between movements and campaigns. Movements are of longer duration than campaigns and the many battles fought.
Pointing this out encourages participants to think about their short term tactics within the context of long term strategies. By thinking about and discussing this with others, they are better able to appreciate the research, education and organizing that goes into preparing for effective action.
While mainstream media focuses on the fleeting moments of tactical spectacle, it is ill-prepared or motivated to enlighten audiences about the role of networks that bring researchers, analysts and activists together in support of movements. Seeing how this is what makes movements successful, I felt I shouldn’t let a teachable moment pass without making the point.
Movements often require decades to achieve their goals. Campaigns are generally waged over a period of years. Battles are frequently limited to months or weeks. Knowing all this helps to keep things in perspective.