By Brenda Norrell
Photos by Brenda Norrell: Big Mountain Sundance grounds destroyed; Marcos and Comandantes in Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico; Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham, at his humanitarian water station on O'odham land near border.
Indigenous Peoples made history throughout this decade, struggling to protect Mother Earth, resisting colonization and exposing genocide. In the movements to resist oppression and protect the sacred, Native people carved out their place in history. Here are ten of those events:
--Five Navajo women were arrested as they brought the Sundance Tree in at Big Mountain on Navajoland. Then, the Sundance grounds were destroyed at Big Mountain by BIA, Hopi Rangers and Apache County officers, who put the Sundance Tree through a wood chipper. Navajos resisting relocation at Big Mountain also joined Hopi and Lakota in New York and addressed stockholders of Lehman Brothers, demanding a halt to Peabody Coal's mining on Black Mesa.
--Lakota protected the remains of the Ghost Dancers from excavations at the Stronghold. The Ghost Dancers fled there from the Massacre of Wounded Knee, to the Stronghold in the Badlands on Pine Ridge, S.D. It was also here that the US seized Lakota lands and displaced families for a bombing range during WW II. Also in this decade, Lakotas faced off with the Lewis and Clark Expedition in Chamberlain, S.D., demanding the Expedition halt, because Lewis and Clark were harbingers of genocide for American Indians.
--Kahentinetha Horn and Katenies, publisher and editor of Mohawk Nation News, Mohawk grandmothers beaten by Canadian border guards. Kahentinetha suffered a heart attack, induced by border agents in a stresshold and is now recovering. Katenies is now in jail, resisting the colonizers court system in Canada.
--Solidarity between Native Americans in the United States and the Zapatistas Subcomandante Marcos and the Comandantes, solidified when the Zapatistas came to Sonora, Mexico, near the Arizona border, and were hosted by the O'odham, Yaqui, Kumeyaay and other Indian Nations along the northern border of Mexico.
--The Indigenous Border Summits of the Americas, 2006 and 2007, brought together Indigenous Peoples from the northern and southern borders to document human rights abuses for the United Nations. Mohawk Warriors led the resistance by speaking out against the arrest of Indigenous Peoples, a federal spy tower and construction of the border wall, all on Tohono O'odham land.
--The struggle to protect American Indian sacred places: From gold mining on Mount Tenabo on Western Shoshone land, coal-fired power plants on Navajoland and snow made from sewage water on San Francisco Peaks, to biker bars at Bear Butte, Native Americans struggled throughout the decade to protect Mother Earth. Havasupai and Acoma Pueblo hosted forums to halt uranium mining in the Southwest.
--The passing of great Native American leaders and pathmakers, including Floyd Westerman and Roberta Blackgoat, and the rise of the mediums of video, music and the Internet to tell stories and document the facts. During the collapse of the mainstream media, these mediums exposed atrocities, including the assassinations of Indigenous mining activists, and inspired action, including the Indigenous Environmental Network's actions for climate change in Copenhagen.
--Indigenous women rising to the forefront to speak out against border oppression, US colonization, oppression by elected tribal governments and the truth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. From Big Mountain on Navajoland to the O'odham on the border in the south to the Mohawks on the border at the north, Indigenous women's words were flames of truth.
--Humanitarian aid at the border: Even now when faced with arrest and prosecution, volunteers continue to put out water for the dying and rescue migrants dying in the Sonoran Desert.
--The sovereign self: The rise in resistance to oppression, based on personal sovereignty, in the collective movement for justice, dignity and autonomy.
Quotes of the Decade: Lakota, Ponca and Kiowa to Lewis and Clark Genocide Re-enactors: