Professional protestors from the American indigenous moral theatrics industry are a dying breed. Even radical chest-pounder extraordinaire Ward Churchill begged off from the annual anti-Columbus Day protest this year.
While getting arrested photo ops remain a priority for some indigenous NGOs on the foundation gravy train, the future of the indigenous movement is with political and intellectual leaders like Fawn Sharp and Taiaiake Alfred. While some radicals, like Churchill, were able to parley moral theatrics into affirmative action careers, that era is over.
The indigenous non-profit industrial complex, like its non-indigenous counterpart, is experiencing growing pains; both the corporate PR puppets, and the radical pious poseurs. While the puppets might be able to continue feeding at the corporate trough for a while, the toy Che brigades are going to find it tough going.
While indigenous leaders involved in exercising indigenous jurisdiction as governing authorities are increasingly at the forefront of the conflict between indigenous nations and modern states, there is still a place for authentic protest, but in support of indigenous political leaders–not in opposition to them. While indigenous tribes and nations still need to sort out differences over their visions for the future, harmonizing constitutional and customary governance through constructive, engaged self-determination will eventually obviate the need for pious poseurs.
Ironically, paving the way for the exercise of indigenous governmental jurisdiction was ostensibly what the radical chest-pounders were seeking. Unfortunately, some of them got stuck in that role.