August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Resistance Gathering on the Oglala Homeland

Resistance Gathering On The Oglala Homeland

by Lakota Media Project with a partial reprint from Lakota Country Times article by Natalie Hand
Censored News

The “Gathering on the Homeland: Solidarity, Decolonization and Celebrating Acts of Resistance” is a two-day event being held in the heart of native resistance in Indian Country, the Oglala Lakota Nation on February 24 and 25, 2018 at the Wounded Knee School in Manderson, South Dakota.
"Along with the beauty and power of 10,000 people coming together in 2016-17 along the riverbanks at Cannon Ball, North Dakota, we experienced the chaos that emerged, as it became apparent that the understanding of MOVEMENT was as diverse as the people gathered there. We have brought together folks from many Red Nations and allies from the four directions who have led, founded, and/or participated in movements in order to examine, explore, and discuss how their experience can teach young emerging social change makers, community leaders, students, families, and our youth,” stated Wioweya Najin Win (Debra White Plume), event Co-Organizer and Director of Owe Aku.
What does the frontline of Non-Violent Direct Action at Cannon Ball, North Dakota have in common with hip hop music? or Resistance Art for Youth? or the formation of an Indigenous Resistance Media Network? or Idle No More? or serving as Medic or Legal Observer?
"Many paradigm-shifting experiences along the river banks felt by thousands of people from all walks of life have resonated throughout the world since the camps were closed and the structures burned. There was such an awesome and truly special fire ignited from that spark of energy inside all of us on the frontline, that many people have expressed an urgent need to gather, pray, discuss, debrief, and learn together from our experiences there. We decided to pull together people who have past experiences that not only fuel and inspire their current ongoing work, but whose historical presence merges into today's organizing and change-making work to help provide a framework for young organizers and change-makers to learn from. They will present a panel discussion entitled "What Is Movement?" on Sunday beginning at noon. Some of the presenters gained their first and only experience at the river, some have been at this work for years, some for decades. We have been working at great risk to empower and shape a generation in this racist and punitive country, but we are willing to continue to take that risk. We have put together this two-day event to provide a forum for such teachings through art, music, dialogue, brainstorming, and prayer with the best energy we have for our younger generations," continued White Plume. Nina Waste, co-founder of Idle No More is the keynote speaker for this panel discussion.
Native Artists In Action, an indigenous collective from New Mexico and Arizona will host a youth workshop Saturday afternoon to create art that teaches not only art skills, but the philosophy of art and the preservation of ancient lifeways. There are also a number of native musicians coming to perform a free youth concert on Saturday night, who promote an alcohol/drug-free lifestyle as well as using music to inspire youth to reclaim their ancestral identities. Native musicians will debut recent single and CD releases at the concert, including Nataanii Means and Tracy Bone.
"Our youth need to know that there is music in the world created by Indigenous people that carries the truth of their message of overcoming the genocide of the big world, the alcohol, drugs, and violence to women. It is a voice of resistance and of proudly and loudly reclaiming native identity and celebrating that decolonization," said Olowan Martinez, co-organizer of the event. "The artists coming here to work with our youth have been doing this for a long time, and bring a special talent to working with youth."
The "GurREALla Media, Do's and Don'ts on the Frontline" film forum and training beginning at noon on Saturday is extremely necessary in today's world of social media and the immediate internet that connects people around the world. When do you put your camera down? What do you do when arrested and film is conficasted? What does guerrilla media really mean? Filmmakers will show their video shorts and feature-length films and discuss their work, and their risks, and be available for Q and A with workshop participants.
Organizers state that the event is being held in conjunction with the 45th Anniversary of the 1973 Liberation of Wounded Knee. Through the past 45 years the annual celebration has enjoyed pow-wows and feasts, but very little has been done in terms of educational experiences and/or solidarity building for the long term work ahead of Red Nations, so this event is designed for the Oglala Oyate and their nearby sister nations on the Rosebud, Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, and Standing Rock Homelands but all of the Oceti Sakowin are encouraged to attend and participate. Organizers have stated that all people from all walks of life are encouraged to attend, especially past and current allies and accomplices. The event poster states "No Feds, Informers, Infiltrators, or TigerSwan" as part of the security culture the organizers observe.
Beverages during breaks, and evening meals will be provided as part of the Lakota way of life, and security will be present throughout the event. People are encouraged to bring their own eating utensils if possible, in order to minimize the amount of trash that will need to be hauled out of the Wounded Knee School in Manderson, which has so graciously provided space for the event.
The "Gathering On The Homeland" two-day event is hosted by Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way) and the Red Robin Hood Fund. Please contact Olowan Martinez at 605-407-138. Please visit to learn more about the work of Owe Aku.

Mojave Steve Lopez: Ward Valley Direct Action Halted Nuclear Genocide, Poisoning of Colorado River


Fort Mojave tribal member Steve Lopez (seated) leads sunrise ceremony with Spirit Runners to Ward Valley. | Photo: Greenaction.

Faced with nuclear genocide, the poisoning of the Colorado River, and the destruction of the homeland of the remaining Desert Tortoises, Native Nations stood in Ceremony on the frontline to halt forced removal from Ward Valley.

Article by Brenda Norrell
Transcript from Trespassing
Courtesy Director Carlos Menezes
Censored News

The Occupation of Ward Valley halted a nuclear waste dump on sacred land, home to the Desert Tortoise. This week, we celebrate the 20-Year Anniversary of the Occupation.
  The widely-censored film Trespassing will be shown during the commemoration.
  The strong words of Steve Lopez, Mojave and coordinator of the Colorado River Native Nations Alliance, describe the Occupation as a foundation for all Indian Nations to carry out direct action, in prayer and unity.
  Faced with the nuclear genocide of the poisoning of the Colorado River, and the destruction of the homeland of the remaining Desert Tortoises, Five Native Nations -- Mojave, Chemehuevi, Cocopah, Quechan and Colorado River Indian Tribes -- stood in Ceremony, with the Birdsongs, on the frontline to halt forced removal from Ward Valley.
  "Our people care about our children, and that's why we're here. Our forethought is to look seven generations ahead, to the unborn," Lopez said.
Steve Lopez' words in Trespassing:
"We have a tie spiritually, culturally, and traditionally in the fact that our songs from the time that we were put here, even before any man was here, that our Creator put us here from the center of existence of Avi Kwa Me. You may know it as the Newberry Mountain . And, you know, just for your, educational purposes, we did not migrate over the Bering Strait. Our people came from right there.
And we, and we were sent out from that point. So that disputes that claim anyway. But, my point being here is that we've been here forever, since day one, since time immemorial. And,the Desert Torres, at one time, was a Mojave also. Now that may be hard for you to understand, but even in the fact that you do not believe this, it still doesn't mean that doesn't exist, with significant value to us.
A Foundation for all Indian Tribes
The things that we did out in Ward Valley, have laid down a foundation for all the other Indian tribes across the country to look at this and, and learn from. We used some mechanisms that were never used before such as the abominable justice. We stood strong, under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
Birdsingers, One of our Biggest Weapons
And what you see today of these Birdsingers, this was one of our biggest weapons. The Bureau Of Land Management were going to come in and remove us, remove our elders. You see some of the girls out here dancing. And, the children. These young, these young children, and along with Amy and her group, the ones that we dedicated this performance to, they stood out there in front.
The thing that we really wanted to stress was that it was a direct action that we needed to get the attention of the White House. And, we did. We didn't break any laws. As a matter of fact, we used the very laws that they gave us, and we told them that if you guys cross us then, then you're not any better than you were when you were breaking the treaties.
And these things carried on as, as Wally was there, we had many other seniors there, standing with us. We had 75, 80 year old ladies there with us. Our elders they were all there, standing around the, the secret staffs and the fire. And they stood strong. And all through that time, the weather was pressing us, but we stayed strong and, and with support of all these other people.
Efforts included attempts to reach President Clinton and Congressmen
Yet because of that non-commitment, uh, from the financial standpoint, it's very difficult for them to respond on our behalf. I believe that one thing that we are doing there is we are making these people accountable and responsible that they do have the trust responsibility. They do have a fiduciary responsibility that obligates them to protect us, to provide us with those things that will prevent projects such as nuclear waste to have all this negative impact on us.
By our health and the environment. And protect us as a historical natural resource of the United States government. One thing that we did learn that a consistently made effort on behalf of these political people to find loopholes. To get us so frustrated that we wanna throw our hands up and just, like they say, give up the fight. But also, we've learned that we've got to deal with these people with the understanding that our concerns have to be pushed right in their face.
And I believe that by making allies of these people, they address our positions and our issues with a little bit more concern. And we have to get all the support of their contemporaries and their colleagues. And that's the way that we gotta get this done.
In the face of forced eviction, Ceremony
They're actually going to try to close us down now at 12:01 tonight. Um, we collectively made a determination by the tribal leadership, and the elders over there, that they, they have agreed are going to start a ceremony that's going to, that, that, again, is going to require now your backing because the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) are going to try to come in.
Alright I'll explain now, again, what kind of situation we're, we're in. Where, like, this closure notice, or, or this camp right here, ground zero. Tonight at eleven-thirty we're going to begin a ceremony that is, under what we believe is our right, we're under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act . Now this, in itself is going to, is going to actually blockade the road coming in, to access to come and get here with, with our people there.
Um, with the, with the coalition members, and I'm asking you to do this now if it's agreeable, to, to put a buffer zone around our people during the ceremony. That way, for those who want to, want to exercise their right for civil disobedience, with whatever kind of toys they got, you know, you guys want to be arrested? Now's your time. 
They don't want confrontation, it's not a good media thing.
Waiting out the threats of removal
Yeah, the easier way is to, to just let you stay here and ignore you until your food and water supplies run out. They exercise the close-down, which means nobody comes in, they just don't remove you. You know, so the question is, this could go on for two, three, four weeks.
Nuclear Genocide
Steve Lopez speaking. Ward Valley Press Conference. Washington , D.C. No press showed up.
And I believe firmly that, that the United States has not fulfilled its obligation of a trust, and they are putting us in, in a position that it's time in memorial tried, which means the tribes that have lived on the Colorado River forever, are really impacted and they are threatened for their lives and existence. And this in, in some senses may be a form of genocide, a nuclear genocide.
Because of the, of the fact that the Indian tribes on the Colorado River have, uh, uh, are, are and could be directly affected if contamination from here gets into the Colorado River. We'll be directly affected in that way. We've asked that this Five River Alliance be one cooperative agency which will allow us now to not only have the, the traditional and heritage part and the cultural part of the four Mojaves and all the other tribes, to be able to have this input which makes a greater statement about our cultural relationship to this land out here.
United, We Stood
These are the things that, that unite us together, that under, under one cause, we gained strength. And this strength carried us through. This gave us the stamina to stop all these people from coming in and continuing to do what they've been doing to all of us. Desecrating our lands, polluting us, destroying our, our tradition.
You know, our people being damaged. It's tough sometimes for all of us because we get, we get frustrated. But this is what we call life. We meet the challenge, and every day is a challenge, a new challenge. And when we think that we can't carry on no more, it's like Wally said, you have to go to somebody else and, and, and have, have them help you.
They will pick you up. They may not even know why you're there. But it takes all of us, again, together. 'Cause no one person can do all this. Believe me, I know. I've been a one-man army for five years. And we never gave up. And we never gave up hope. Think about these songs here, think about what Wally was telling about, how they continue on and on.
Because they have been with us from time immemorial, everything that you know, and your tradition and your language and whatever. You remember that and, and realize how important it is, and never let it die
Understand this position. You don't have to have science to know that. Our people care about our children, and that's why we're here. Our forethought is to look seven generations ahead, to the unborn. Cause the things we do today will affect, affect that later down the road.

The series at Censored News
The Rhythmic Journey Home: Birdsingers ensured victory at Ward Valley
Mojave Steve Lopez: Ward Valley halted Nuclear Genocide, Poisoning of Colorado River
The Desert Tortoise on Sacred Land, Celebrating the 20 Year Victory at Ward Valley
Celebrating Victory at Ward Valley: Corbin Harney 'Sing to the Water'
Laguna Pueblo Dorothy Purley Exposed Nuclear Holocaust on Native Lands. Featured in widely-censored Trespassing film to be shown at Ward Valley Celebration, Feb. 23-24, 2018.

Copyright Steve Lopez
Transcript copyright Carlos Menezes, Trespassing
Article copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News

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