Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 17, 2018

Revolutionary Native Women Writers -- Twelve Years of Original Energies at Censored News

Ofelia Rivas, Kahentinetha Horn, Sandra Rambler, Debra White Plume, Michelle Cook, Buffy Sainte Marie, Louise Benally.

Revolutionary Native Women Writers -- Twelve Years of Original Energies at Censored News

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Censored News begins its 13th year of publishing in late September. Today we honor the Native women who were the first to share their voices and work with us. In the beginning, Censored News was a humble effort to reveal what had been censored when I was a staff writer at Indian Country Today. Through the years, it emerged, growing organically, as a platform for Indigenous Peoples and global human rights.

Kahentinetha Horn, long known for her defense of Oka, was among the first to generously share her work with Censored News. When Mohawks came to the southern border in 2006 and 2007, a powerful solidarity began between the north and the south, including the Zapatistas when Marcos and the Comandantes came to Sonora in 2007. Living in her homeland at Kahnawake, Kahentinetha publishes Mohawk Nation News, sharing guidance and words from the traditional teachings and the Mohawk Warrior Society. Kahentinetha writes the history that she lives.
Debra White Plume, revolutionary thinker and writer, living on her Lakota homeland on Pine Ridge, has shared her writings since the beginning. As the founder of Owe Aku International Justice Project, Debra has fought for the land, water and people, fighting against uranium mining and corruption, and fighting for truth and in defense of the land and water. When the Lewis and Clark re-enactors arrived in South Dakota, Debra gave them a symbolic "blanket of small pox." Censored News honored Debra twice previously as our 'Woman of Year' for her resistance.
Ofelia Rivas, O'odham lives on the Tohono O'odham Nation, at the so-called border that divides her family's homelands in what is now Sonora, Mexico, and Arizona. Ofelia exposed the construction crew on the border barrier digging up the remains of O'odham ancestors. The ancestors were later returned to their resting place with ceremony. She also exposed the Israeli spy towers now threatening O'odham communities. She has led the resistance to abuses by the U.S. Border Patrol in her homelands, and now delivers food and supplies to O'odham south of the border who are cut off from grocery stores by new border crossing  restrictions and closures of traditional routes. When the current US government halted migrants at the border, Ofelia welcomed them.
Michelle Cook, Dine' lawyer, has been a voice at Censored News since the beginning, sharing her experiences as a university student, first at the border, then in Iran, and later as she traveled from New Zealand, where she was a Fulbright scholar sharing with Maori, to the Mother Earth Conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia. At Standing Rock, she founded the Water Protector Legal Collective, and co-produced with Govinda Dalton, Standing Rock Spirit Resistance Radio, live from Oceti Sakowin. Michelle organized the bank divestment teams of Native women to Europe, hosted by WECAN International, in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The long censored words of Louise Benally of Big Mountain, and Cree singer Buffy Sainte Marie, finally became known when I was terminated at Indian Country Today in 2006.
Earlier, Louise Benally spoke out against the bombing of Iraq on the day it was bombed by the United States, comparing it to the atrocities of the Dine' walking, suffering and dying on the Longest Walk to imprisonment. Louise remembered her ancestors at Fort Sumner, Bosque Redondo.
Indian Country Today censored Louise's voice and refused to publish a retraction. Louise continues to resist relocation at Big Mountain, orchestrated by Peabody Coal, energy barons and politicians.
Buffy Sainte Marie was at Dine' College on the Navajo Nation in 1999, joining John Trudell and other great Native musicians in concert. It was here that Buffy described how she was censored out of the music business by two U.S. Presidents -- Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. The US Presidents disappeared her shipments of records and told radio stations not to play her songs. Buffy's stance against the Vietnam War, and her song "Universal Soldier," made her a target for the war machine. 
Buffy's words at Dine' College were censored for seven years by Indian Country Today, Even when some of those words were published in 2006, the portion about uranium mining on Pine Ridge was censored by Indian Country Today. Buffy has generously shared her work with Censored News since the beginning.
Sandra Rambler, San Carlos Apache writer and photographer, was among those censored by Indian Country Today, in the struggle of Apaches to protect their land and water from politicians and corporations. Sandra shared the voices of San Carlos Apache elders -- the force behind protecting the land and water, sacred Mount Graham and Oak Flat -- before the elders made their journey to the Spirit World.
These revolutionary Native women writers and thinkers share the same love, tenacity and freedom of spirit shown by Che in South America. It is their willingness to sacrifice and arise that inspires new generations and generates hope.
There are no words adequate to express gratitude to these revolutionary writers, thinkers and organizers who were the first to share their words, photos, travels and clear thoughts  with Censored News.
Today, their voices are joined with Indigenous women from around the Earth, and their words of resistance, dignity, autonomy and self-reliance, without compromise, are translated into languages worldwide.
We say 'thank you' for your original energies. Your love, passion and clarity has steadily exploded into inspiration and movements in the homelands and around the world.

In memory of the children, Dine' and Apache imprisoned at Bosque Redondo,
during the Longest Walk.

Dedicated to my friends, Cate Gilles, journalist on Navajo and Hopi lands, and Leroy Jackson, cofounder
of Dine' Citizens against Ruining the Environment, who were both found dead.
Without their running ahead, and showing the way, this ongoing work would not be possible.
Thank you.

Mohawk Nation News

Owe Aku International Justice Project

Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, founder of O'odham Voice against the Wall

Louise Benally, uncensored on bombing of Iraq and the Longest Walk to imprisonment

The Blacklisting of Buffy Sainte Marie, by Censored News

Michelle Cook, divestment team in Europe. Read more at WECAN, International

Sandra Ramber, Apache, The Gift of Water and the Apache Burden Basket


At Censored News, everyone is a volunteer. Censored News has published for 12 years with no salaries, grants, or revenues. Please donate to these powerful writers. Contact Censored News for contact information for writers, Brenda Norrell, publisher: 

Indian Country Today was created in the mid 1990s by Tim Giago, Lakota, who never censored my articles. After ICT was sold to the Oneida Nation in New York in the late 1990s, the censorship began. ICT was recently acquired by the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C.

Copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News

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