Indigenous Leaders to Washington: Your Borders Cross Our People
David Detmold and Wesley Blixt – LNS, Friday, January 19th – 8:00 a.m.
The Indigenous People’s March comes to Washington today, and the snow-clad streets of the citadel of the American Empire are going Native.
It might be mistaken for any other day. The slushy sidewalks are half full of sleepy eyed company men and Trump Administration apparatchiks, sliding to and fro. Those, that is, who are still showing up for their jobs.
And then, the sound of drums in the distance, the steady beat of moccasined feet approaching. They’re about to do a stomp dance that’s gonna rock this country coast to coast.
Friday, January 18th, 2019 is just a day like any other day. It is a day for the true Native Nations of this continent to Stand Up for the Earth. A day to stand together for the People.
So say Native leaders gathering for today’s march: “Our People didn’t cross your border. Your border crossed our People.”
I didn’t ask their names.
Identifying Indigenous activists in print can lead to the kind of trouble few members of the white elite in America will ever experience.
After all, Native Nations on Turtle Island have been on the front lines of the corporate war on Mother Earth – from Church Rock to Standing Rock. They have been on the front lines of Colonialist conquest on Turtle Island since that grim, sleety day when the Pilgrims first rowed ashore at Meeshawn (Provincetown) in 1620, confused about their destination but convinced of their divine right to carve out a piece of god’s heaven on earth using the sword of white supremacy.
Today, no imaginary border wall will stand in the way of the Native People of South and Central America, Oceania, the Caribbean and Asia joining together with their North American sisters and brothers. The United States of America cannot keep them out, for they are the original People of the Land. They come from here. Here they will remain.
Even here, in the snow- clad streets of Nacotchtank (Washington, DC), the capital city of the American empire.
And although I didn’t ask their names, still they gave them to me.
Amy Juan told me she is from the Tohono O’odham Nation, working with the International Indian Treaty Council out of their new office in Ts-iuk-shan (Tucson). She is here to represent the movement for international recognition of the Sovereignty and Treaty Rights of Native Nations. Her organization is working to highlight the disproportionate use of force along the increasingly militarized southwest border and the ongoing separation of migrating parents from their children by the cruel policies of the United States, and to assist those people caught between the murderous regimes in Central America and the hardening US stance in opposition to the norms and principles of providing safety and asylum for people fleeing violence.
The Tohono O’odham Nation is divided by the Unites States – Mexican border in south central Arizona and northern Sonora. When the border first came through, the Tohono O’odham lived in equal numbers on both sides of the imaginary line, and traveled freely back and forth for ceremonies, family gathering, work and school. Now Mexican ranchers, who have snapped up the Tohono O’odha’s communally held land in Mexico, where the legal status of their land does not enjoy the offensive “land in trust” status America provides their relatives to the north have welded shut the once easily opened private gates through which the Tohono O’odham used to travel.
Their lands along the Mexican side of the border are now desolate of people, as more and more of the Tohono O’odham from the southern side moved north.
“There are communities on that side that have sacred sites, where heritage seeds from the old crops our people once grew there are now at risk of dying out. I’m really concerned about that,” said Amy. “No one lives there right now. We used to have support in Mexico. But not any more.” She said the ceremonial yearly prayer run between the southern and northern sides of the reservation has now been cut off.
Chase Iron Eyes, attorney with the Lakota Law Project, traveled to Washington from his Native North Dakota, where he was a prominent spokesperson for pure water at Standing Rock in 2016, the same year ran an inspirational campaign for North Dakota’s at large seat in Congress. He ran on a platform of defiance to the oil and gas companies. The companies polluting the sacred lands of Turtle Island through their greed driven extractive resource mining operations. Now, Standing Rock is Everywhere.
Chase will be on the march today, along with members of Indigenous Nations from throughout the hemisphere who are Standing Up! for pure water, clean air, and the defense of Mother Earth.
Gia Sereni is also here. Gia lives in the area once known as Shackamaxon, (now Philadelphia). But her heart is in her homeland, in Ecuador, where the oil and gas industry continues to lay waste to the land and water of Indigenous People, her family members and friends.
Last year, Indigenous women from Ecuador camped out in front of president Lenin Moreno’s palace in Quito for five days, before he would even allow them to deliver their demands to halt the unrestricted drilling for oil and gas on Native lands. They will be back.
Gia is bringing their demands to the palaces of Washington DC today, with the same message:
No pipeline. No uranium mine. Get your border off our People. Honor the Earth. Work to heal Her wounds. Stand Up!