August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, October 18, 2019

Clayton Thomas-Muller's new film: ' Life in the City of Dirty Water'

The blood is on the ground and Cree Clayton Thomas-Muller has transcended it

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Bioneers Conference Schedule

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- Now at Bioneers: Clayton Thomas Muller, Cree from Canada, introduces his new film, 'Life in the City of Dirty Water.'
Clayton is speaking on intergenerational trauma and describing how his parents were abused in residential schools. He said he wanted to do a project to confront what he deals with, including white patriarchy.
Speaking before the film began, Clayton shared a memory from grade school. His teacher made him stand in the garbage can. The teacher made the class chant and respond when she asked, "Why is Clayton in the garbage can?"
"Because he is trash," the children would respond.
Clayton said there was just one more Indian child at the school.
"The only way to confront trauma is to go through it," Clayton told the crowd at Bioneers.
The film drew loud applause tonight.
This is not one of those politically correct films. It is about childhood trauma and rising above it to reclaim one's true self. There is blood on the ground in the snow, and there is also Clayton, in today's world, speaking out against climate change and the tar sands and confronting Trudeau on television.
It's a very well made film. It is not what you would expect. It's better. 

Watching and listening to this childhood abuse, and his survival and reclamation of who he is, I can not help but also think of how he was targeted in recent years because of his ability to reach the masses in an articulate way with the message of climate change and specifically the impact of what is happening as a result of the dirty crude oil tar sands on Cree homelands in Alberta.

Clayton rose from that abuse to become one of the corporate spies' most sought-after climate justice organizers. 

Desmog blog writes, "State surveillance of Thomas-Muller falls into a growing net of secret spying on Indigenous groups, leaders, and organizers who seek to uphold Indigenous peoples’ internationally recognized rights of free, prior, and informed consent on their territories."

Bioneers writes:
Clayton Thomas-Muller is a member of the Treaty #6 based Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, also known as Pukatawagan, located in in Northern Manitoba, Canada. Based in the prairie city of Winnipeg, Clayton is the ‘Stop It At The Source’ Campaigner with as well as a founder and organizer with Defenders of the Land. Clayton is involved in many initiatives to support the building of an inclusive movement globally for energy and climate justice. He serves on the boards of Black Mesa Water Coalition, the Global Justice Ecology Project and the Bioneers. He is also a steering committee member of the Tar Sands Solutions Network.

Clayton has been recognized by Utne Magazine as one of the top 30 under 30 activists in the United States and as a “Climate Hero 2009” by Yes Magazine. For the last twelve years he has campaigned across Canada, Alaska and the lower 48 states organizing in hundreds of First Nations, Alaska Native and Native American communities in support of grassroots Indigenous Peoples to defend against the encroachment of the fossil fuel industry. This has included a special focus on the sprawling infrastructure of pipelines, refineries and extraction associated with the Canadian tar sands. Clayton is an organizer, facilitator, public speaker and writer on environmental and economic justice.

Bioneers celebrates healing, regeneration and democracy

Tara Trudell, daughter of John Trudell, with Ashara Ekundayo, Independent curator, author of the upcoming Artist As First Responder; and Angela Wellman, trombonist, scholar, educator, founder, Oakland Public Conservatory of Music. 

Celebrating truth and beauty at Bioneers

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- The Bioneers Conference celebrated 30 years today, with speakers sharing powerful talks on healing, democracy and the state of the news, with a large group of Indigenous presenters and youths present.
Cara Romero, Chemehuevi, said there are 51 Indigenous presenters here, and 250 Natives attending from 99 different Nations at Bioneers.  Romero is the program director of the Bioneers Indigeneity program.
Julian Noisecat, Indigenous Resistance youth presenter, described the Canoe Journey to Alcatraz. and how Alcatraz has been a vision of resistance.

Facebook, Google and the News
The inspiring speakers include Monika Bauerlein, CEO of Mother Jones speaking on the oppression of journalists, especially in Turkey. She described how Facebook makes money "by catering to anger and fear."
In 2017, Facebook began decreasing news appearing in feeds.
"Journalists are losing their jobs faster than coal miners," she told the crowd. At the same time, propaganda and disinformation are on the rise. This is not a coincidence.
Bauerlein said there is hope. There are now 2,000 people working in non-profit newsrooms. She points out that non-profits like Mother Jones have the freedom to write what others, like the New York Times, do not have the freedom to write or publish.
Earlier, Eve Ensler, author of Vagina Monologues, spoke on the sincere apologies necessary from those carrying out sexual and physical violence to their victims.
Other powerful speakers described healing, democracy and regeneration.
Cara thanked San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for sponsoring Native youths.

Sacred Rage and Love
During the afternoon session, Eve Ensler, author of Vagina Monologues, said, everyone needs a crew, a posse, someone who has your back.
"Who do you have in your corner, who do you have that has your back?" She said each person needs people who celebrate them and make them feel safe. Ensler is speaking the panel presentation, "Grief, Sacred Rage, Reckoning and Revolutionary Love."
Bioneers says: "These are the most extraordinary writers, activists and thought leaders of our era: Terry Tempest Williams, Eve Ensler, and Valarie Kaur." 
Bioneers writes, "For too long women in general and women of color even more pointedly have been told to suppress their grief and rage 
in the name of love and forgiveness. No more. How do we reclaim our emotions in the labor of loving others? What might authentic reckoning, apology, and transformation look like, personally and politically, and where would they ultimately lead us?"
Williams is an award-winning nature author from Utah, who has been arrested for civil disobedience. She spoke earlier on protecting Bears Ears, and the destruction of the oil and gas industry in the Aneth oilfields and elsewhere.
Ensler is the author of Vagina Monologues. She was sexually abused by her father from the age of five to the time she was ten years old. She described the process of healing and how there is a need for a sincere apology from those carrying out sexual and domestic violence. She described her journey to forgive her father.
During the afternoon session, Ensler said, "The most dangerous thing we can do is to be truly loving."
Ensler said, that she once had a pattern of giving all her friends a gift if she felt jealous of them and their success. She said there were lots of people getting gifts that year.
Valarie Kaur is speaking now on love and sacred rage. Kaur is an American civil rights activist, documentary filmmaker, lawyer, educator and faith leader. She was born and raised in Clovis, California, where her family settled as Sikh farmers in 1913.
"You are enough!" Kaur said, at the conclusion of the session attended by hundreds.

Grandmother's Blessings
An incredible keynote speaker today at the Bioneers Conference is Jerry Tello. Tello spoke of his grandmother and her blessings and how she woke at 4 a.m. to talk with the plants. Of course, as a child, he thought she was crazy. But later as a teen, with Fs in high school history and algebra, he considered taking his own life. But then, there on the streets of Compton, he smelled the scent of his grandmother, he felt her presence, and once again she brought him the blessing.
With great humor, Tello shared his life stories today, and added after this blessing as a teen, that he walked around the tree and found a 20 dollar bill. He encouraged everyone to bless everyone you meet.
Tello also remembered his mother and the life lessons she shared. He grew up with no thought of being poor, but then there were always the beans every day at meals. Now, he realized those beans, picking out the rocks from the dry beans with his mother, was a life lesson, about taking out what is not good for you in life. And yes, he would love to taste again his mother's beans.
Jerry Tello of Mexican, Texan and Coahuiltecan ancestry, raised in South Central Los Angeles, has worked for 40+ years as a leading expert in transformational healing for men and boys of color; racial justice; peaceful community mobilization; and providing domestic violence awareness, healing and support services to war veterans and their spouses. He currently works with the Sacred Circles Center in Whittier, California and is a member of its performance group.

Climbing Poetree! Great performance, hip hop spoken word.
Artists respond at the edges of birth and death

Bioneers writes, "This multimedia storytelling circle centers the embodied experiences of artists rescuing, making, and stewarding creative pursuits on the frontline edges of catastrophe and celebration—as in hurricane, as in border patrol, as in right to choose, as in ring shout! Join four 'culture-doulas' who will share strategies and tactics for survival and regeneration through images, songs and words."

Tara Trudell, daughter of John Trudell, is with Ashara Ekundayo, Independent curator, author of the upcoming Artist As First Responder; Tara Trudell, multimedia artist, photographer, poet, organizer; Angela Wellman, trombonist, scholar, educator, founder, Oakland Public Conservatory of Music. Tara Trudell is a socially and environmentally “engaged” multimedia artist who weaves poetry, photography, film, and audio components into her work. Recently she has tackled issues such as the crisis at the USA/Mexico border. One of her techniques consists of writing poems about topics, then rolling the poems into paper beads that become prayers that transport each poem’s purpose and energy into the world.

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Photo Cara by Brenda, publisher Censored News.

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