LandBack Weekend

Scott Bentley
3 min readJul 3, 2022
Photograph by Derek Simeone, description: An artist displays their work inside CHAZ / CHOP

New Age Puritanism and LandBack

It’s LandBack weekend so I want to talk about new-age puritanism and LandBack. First, I want to start by giving credit to the person that deserves it, this concept of new-age puritanism was first introduced to me by Kristen Leo in her video “the puritans are back.” In that video, Leo examines a new form of puritanism different from original puritanism, still linked to a concept of purity, but removed from the protestant or Abrahamic religious identity. So while a person may not identify as a member of the protestant church, puritan church, or any Abrahamic religion they still may be concerned with this concept of purity culture and pure versus impure. I’ve talked about a Victorian concept of sexual purity as it relates to the characters Dracula, Mina Harker, and Lucy Westerna in my previous video on Vampires and Dracula. I’ll link to Leo’s video as well, her video focuses on this new age of puritanism concerning veganism, feminism, and social justice movements.

I’ve talked about LandBack before, but I want to talk about it again because tomorrow is the Fourth of July and IllumiNative is using this weekend as LandBack weekend, trying to use this holiday weekend to further their LandBack efforts. I mentioned IllumiNative before in my previous LandBack video but for those that aren’t going to watch my previous video. IllumiNative founder Crystal Echo Hawk created a research project called Reclaiming Native Truth which is “the largest public opinion research and strategy setting initiative ever conducted for, and about, Native Americans.”

Listening to Leo’s video, I was reminded of a scene from the television show Rutherford Falls, in which the character Terry Tarbell tells the character Josh Cogan that while Cogan has read about traditional Indigenous Minishonkan culture he’ll never understand the way Tarbell does because Cogan grew up in an individualist colonial culture which is why Cogan is focused on if Tarbell’s lawsuit for treaty rights to be upheld and tribal casino capitalism passes a purity test.

This reminded me of a PACD live stream regarding LandBack that took place eight months ago. I was so upset by that live stream that I made my own video PACD & LANDBACK in response. I don’t want to repeat myself, to repeat the arguments I made defending LandBack in that video. I have linked to my previous video in case you want to listen.

Since my previous video, I have decided that while I can’t know for certain what PACD’s motivations are in their live stream, I have decided that while PACD has read the entire manifesto of LANDBACK.org, PACD are products of an individualist colonial culture that values the self over the whole society no matter how they dress it up in their politics, which is why PACD is focused on whether LANDBACK passes their purity test rather than what good LANDBACK has achieved. In their test, if LandBack participates in the non-profit industrial complex and private property ownership, then it is impure and does not pass PACD’s purity test.

No organization is beyond criticism for how it operates, but this purity test is invalidating. The purity test invalidates any progress that LANDBACK and the NDN Collective make, such as funding the Fight for Our Lives organization. If the NDN Collective and LANDBACK.org are too neoliberal for your politics there are Indigenous mutual aid organizations you can support instead such as Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment (RISE) or Indigenous Action. Indigenous Action provides funding for:

Táala Hooghan Infoshop

Kinłani Mutual Aid

Indigenous Mutual Aid

Outta Your Backpack Media

Haul No

Protect the Peaks

I have provided the links for all of these organizations.

The same day as Leo published her video, Jesse Foley-Tapia published a news story titled “Repatriation Rising” in Indigenously. Foley-Tapia wrote about the need for items and remains owned by UC Berkley to be repatriated to Indigenous Nations. UC Burkley is on unceded ancestral lands of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people — a territory called xučyun.

I have provided a link to an essay I wrote nine months ago about the need for items on display in the Native American exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum to be repatriated to Indigenous Nations.

If you’ve made it this far, please check out the Indigenous organizations I’ve linked to. There’s also a post on my website with links to even more Indigenous organizations.

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Scott Bentley

Scott received his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington, Bothell.