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Submitted by warrior on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 09:07
J. Kehaulani Kauanui
Alice Te Punga Somerville
May 2, 2009
Statement of Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Officers on the Annual Meeting in Tucson:
Since the Governor of Arizona signed bill SB 1070 into law on April 23, many in our Association and all of us on this Council have been in serious deliberation about the implications of the bill’s passage and our possible responses to it as an organization. We are grateful for the immediate action and powerful voices of NAISA members and want to thank all of the people who have been reaching out to the Council and to other members to foster dialogue and offer constructive suggestions for how we might collectively address this issue.
As a council, we are unanimous in our opposition to the legislation and in our desire to organize publicly, to join with other organizations, nations, and institutions in confronting this racist law and its impacts on all people of color, including Indigenous peoples from both sides of this violently imposed and militarized border.
It is, however, vital for all of us to consider the fact that our Association is not an outside entity that is planning to visit Arizona only for the duration of a single meeting. We are incorporated as a non-profit organization in the state of Arizona. Subsequently, each of us as members has a stake and a voice in this place whose rules and laws, along with those of the US, we have used to formally organize ourselves. Furthermore, we have not simply reserved a space to meet in the state of Arizona; we are being hosted by another organization with deeper roots there—American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona. There are other organizations reaching out, who are looking for people to stand on the ground with them. As individuals and as a collective, from our perspective as NAISA’s elected leaders, we have a responsibility to join them.
After much deliberation, the NAISA Council is writing to say clearly and definitively that we will hold the Association’s 2010 annual meeting as planned at the Westin La Paloma Hotel in Tucson May 20-22 in conjunction with our hosts from American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona. As a Council, we have taken a clear stand against Arizona SB 1070 and we are confident that our meeting will provide NAISA members and other meeting participants an opportunity to work collectively to participate in efforts to repeal the law, stand in solidarity with those it targets, and discuss scholarly and activist responses to it.
Many of our members have written to us in support of this position, while many others have urged us to cancel the meeting or change venues. We appreciate the range of opinions expressed regarding what it means to hold our meeting in Arizona at this moment. As such, we request your support of our commitment to make this meeting a site of sincere and serious coalition-building and collective action. This desire to act responsibly as an organization within the state drives our decision. However, members also should be aware that cancelling our meeting in Tucson or changing venues would have immediate and dire consequences for the Association that so many have worked so hard to build: near-certain bankruptcy, a probable lawsuit from the hotel with which we have a signed contract, and as a result, disbandment. We are also mindful that, while some NAISA members are financially and organizationally in a position to change or cancel their bookings for travel to Arizona, and are certainly at liberty to do so, many members are not in a position to make such changes so close to the meeting without incurring tremendous personal expense.
As is clear from its statement, the NAISA 2010 Executive Host Committee has been working closely with tribal nations in the region since the planning process for the meeting began. This includes the Tohono O’odham, on whose homelands the Westin La Paloma sits, and whose elected leader Ned Norris, a staunch opponent of SB 1070, is scheduled to welcome us at the meeting’s opening.
During NAISA’s business meeting (Saturday, May 22 at 4 PM), we are scheduled to consider an organization-wide resolution on SB 1070. That resolution includes a call for NAISA to join in the economic boycott of Arizona, and we look forward to lively discussion and debate of how we as an association might best choose to exercise our economic power. Likewise, we have reserved a spot from 9:00 – 11:00 AM earlier that day for an open hearing on the resolution, currently on this website in draft form and which will be included, in an updated form, in conference packets. The business meeting will also include a report from our treasurer and finance committee, which will provide an opportunity for members to ask questions about the current financial situation of the association. Additionally, those with concerns about the process NAISA leaders have used to choose sites for NAISA meetings may raise them at that time.
We believe that our presence in Tucson provides an excellent opportunity to address SB 1070 and its possible reverberations throughout the Indigenous world. We encourage all members to think of ways to use our meeting as a platform for collective action. Members of the council are working individually, as a group, and with others on ideas for such actions, including increasing media attention to our meeting and opportunities to take collective action during plenary gatherings.
NAISA’s website’s traffic has increased dramatically in recent days and we are pleased at the seriousness with which our members are responding to this situation. The NAISA Council welcomes the suggestions, critiques, support, and perspectives of our membership, and the blog feature continues to provide a central and easily accessible location where we may all communicate on these important issues. We welcome you to join us here, and to join us in Tucson May 20-22.
J. Kehaulani Kauanui
Alice Te Punga Somerville