this land

this land

Is this land your land starts as a reminder to the original lyrics in Woody Guthrie’s song, This Land is Your Land:

Was a high wall there that tried to stop me,
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the backside it didn’t say nothing—this land is made for you and me.

The song has been covered and taught for the past 70 years lacking the true authenticity and meaning as a peace activist song with the missing lyric below. Beneath the surface of Guthrie’s song is a deeper meaning about the genocide and colonization that happened on the land in which we currently inhabit. Before the cleansing, first nations people did not practice or understand western ideas of property. Colonizers actually believed that the land was being wasted and that through the acquisition and development of land they were making productive which was wasted—this land.

In the enclosure acts as written by Neal Wood, John Locke referred to first nations people as “dispossessed, masterless men”. (1)

It was the function of government to protect property from the indignation of the poor…Money and commerce are the motivation for improvement; and an acre of land in unimproved America, which may be as naturally fertile as an acre in England, is not worth 1/1000 of the English acre (II.43)…Locke’s point, which not coincidentally drips with colonialist contempt, is that unimproved land is Waster, so that any man who takes it out of common ownership and appropriates it to himself—he who removes land from the common and encloses it – in order to improve it has given something to humanity, not taken it away. (1)

The sad and unacceptable reality is this severely narcissistic ideology and action has shown the true devastation and violent treatment and abuse caused by our current civilization (if you can call it that). Since colonization resources have depleted, with toxicity spread across the land culture has been massacred at an alarming rate resulting in the jeopardy of any possible sustainable, healthy or reciprocal habitation between human and environment. The inhumane action of colonizers and resulting habitation practices have caused an environmental act of terrorism and wound to humanity that can never be healed, corrected or forgiven.

1. Neal Wood, John Locke and Agrarian Capitalism (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984).