Earlier today, we lost Lee Maracle, an indigenous warrior, a writer, a poet, an activist and a revolutionary. She was strongly internationalist in her perspective and linked the indigenous struggles in Turtle Island to all oppressed peoples of the world. Her longstanding support for the Palestinian people’s struggle against Zionist settler colonialism was an example for all progressive people to follow.
She was a leading member of the Native Study (NSG) Group, that was also part of the Third World Peoples Coalition (TWPC). NSG issued a position paper on “Why the native people should support national liberation movements in the Third World” for the Vancouver meeting that commemorated the 11th Anniversary of the Palestinian revolution.
On June 5, 1976, Lee introduced the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish at a packed public meeting for the Palestinian delegation to the UN-Habitat Conference. He read several poems, and she presented the English translation of “Write Down, I am an Arab” for the audience. On more than one occasion, she reminisced fondly about this experience.
Some of her more memorable and principled moments in solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle are as follows:
On Oct. 1985, Lee donated a hand-woven Cowichan wool blanket as a raffle prize in support of the Palestine Children’s Hospital in Cairo.
On Jan. 1, 2006, Lee issued a statement criticizing the AFN leadership visit to Israel stating that: “… this is tantamount to laying a wreath at Vorster’s grave in the interest of [honoring apartheid] or traveling to the U.S. to share the values of the Custer Committee celebrating the massacre at Wounded Knee. Just exactly what values is the AFN sharing with the Israeli’s?”
On Jan. 24, 2021, Lee issued a statement after learning of the attempts by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to erase Palestine and the Palestinian national identity.
Lee wrote many poems dedicated to the Palestinian struggle: I am a Palestinian Woman, Songs to a Palestinian Child, Free Palestindians, and Remembering Mahmoud 1976 among others.
Voice of Palestine radio show, based in Vancouver, interviewed Lee several times:
- March 11, 2008, a conversation with Lee honouring International Women’s’ Day. Lee spoke about how she had always felt close to the Palestinian people and their struggle and mentioned past solidarity actions that she and her children had participated in. The interview is 31 minutes into the audio.
- Feb. 7, 2012, an Interview with Lee about the Global Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier; she detailed the complicity of the Canadian courts in his deportation from Vancouver and the solidarity campaign that was waged at that time. There was discussion of indigenous rights, the similarities of settler colonialist projects including Israel and North America. The interview is 24 minutes into the audio.
- Mar. 27, 2012, a conversation and poetry readings with Lee Maracle who joined us over the weekend during a brief visit to Vancouver to talk about the apartheid nature of settler colonialism, both here in Turtle Island and Palestine. She also read several of her moving pieces of poetry, in particular “Remembering Mahmoud” which is dedicated to the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. The interview is 27 minutes into the audio.
Lee’s memory will always live in our hearts, and her tireless work for her people and the victims of settler colonialism will live on forever.
Note: This is just a first step in documenting her indigenous solidarity with the Palestinian people; if you find other solidarity activities for Lee, please let us know and we will add it to this post.
From Turtle Island to Palestine, Colonization is a Crime.