They Tried To Bury Us but They Didn’t Know We Were Seeds
2017 will prove to be an interesting one. It will be an important year to ensure no voice is silenced. With the elections, we have a person who is unfit for this position, and tends to be against a lot of initiatives and policies, that many people are for and who have worked very hard to ensure that we are protected. I will try to be open as possible and give him the chance to prove many of us wrong. So far, just 8 days in, he hasn’t. Although, within his first day, he went right to work and has said that the media are liars, took rights away to tweet for National Parks Services who were calculating the numbers in attendance for his Inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington. The Native American Affairs site went down and was no longer available. The Administration plans to make cuts to Department of Justice, and programs, such as Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction pilot program that was created for Tribes, who are participating in it, the jurisdiction to prosecute on Tribal lands, under the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 that former President Obama, signed into law. VAWA will be up for re-authorization soon. So, we as women, have some work to do. But this blog isn’t to bash this person. Already, I am hesitant, nervous, scared, but, ready to be a constant and consistent voice. This is our time to rise up. And what better way to start that, than having peaceful, non-violent actions in Washington DC during Inauguration.
January 19th, 2017: Round Dance
I was honored and very excited to hear from a role model of mine, Dallas Goldtooth, who asked for my advice and help with some actions they were planning. Of course, I jumped on board. One thing being planned, last minute, but, something meaningful and disrupting the city, was a round dance. I found some drummers and singers. I ventured through the city to meet up with the group from Indigenous Environmental Network, at the National Portrait Gallery and supporters. Why? Since it is Inauguration week, galas were happening. Where people from all over, from non-profits to corporate, to state and federal congressional members, to lawyers and teachers, and everywhere in between were celebrating this event. At this specific site, the Oklahoma State Society was having their Inauguration Ball, where the two sponsors were Koch Industries and Phillips 66. We were there to stand with our relatives in Oklahoma who are facing many, dangerous, man-made earthquakes and a fracking boom among their ancestral lands. Standing Rock brought many people together, from all walks of life and backgrounds. But, it has awakened the People. It has made us aware and we, or at least for me, want to be a voice for other Tribal nations and areas that are experiencing environmental injustices. A new pipeline will always be proposed. It’s up to us to stop it. It’s up to us to end fracking. It’s up to us to start something new, and get renewable energy to be first thing we go to.
So, we walked to the spot that we were able to occupy for an hour. We stopped traffic and held our ground at F Street NW and between 7th and 8th street. We heard from members of the International Indigenous Youth Council, Dallas, Kandi, and a few others. But, the best part, was the people yelling and hearing the drums echo through the city. We had people taking pictures of us, peeking through the windows at these Galas, and some shouted in solidarity with us as they walked by. It was truly beautiful. It was a great way to start these direct action events.
January 20, 2017: Inauguration Day
The day I have been dreading. I’ve tried to keep an open mind and be as positive as I can be. Nothing I can do to change the outcome, but, there is much I can do to be a voice and make change happen with family, friends, and supporters.
As I was on my way into the City, it was surreal. Just seeing all the red hats, “Make America Great Again,” and hearing people speaking in admiration of this incoming President just left me feeling sick to my stomach. It left me scared. It left me motivated. First, met up with Dallas and part of the group at the Department of Energy for a morning rally, to resist who will be appointed as Secretary of DOE. Indigenous Environmental Network, It Takes Roots, Iraq Veterans Against The War, and other various groups and supporters were there in attendance. We heard from people representing these groups. It was clear that we are for the earth and we are not going to remain silent with this new administration.
Once this was over, Dallas, Bobby, few others, and myself, made our way to the other side of the National Mall to meet up with Kevin Gilbertt and others who were at an entrance site. We didn’t make it, but through live feeds, people were sitting in the entrance, blocking people from going in, and the police being forceful against our friends and supporters. We stopped for bathroom breaks and for a quick bite, before the two marches that our groups were participating in. As we were walking between the Red and Green Zone… it was eerie. Streets were empty, and quiet. Once we were done, and I had my first ever District Taco experience, our group split up: Dallas and I went to Meridian Hill to join the OccupyInauguration March, led by our youth, International Indigenous Youth Council, and the others went to Union Station for the Disrupt J20 march. Both marches planned to meet up, and combine into one big march, to McPherson Square, by the White House.
These marches carried our prayers, our will to fight back, and to show those, that we are not going anywhere. I can’t re-iterate this enough, but what started out as an Indigenous Rights movement, became a Human Rights movement. Standing Rock happened at the right time, and I truly am a believer in, timing is everything. Unified people. The people woke up, they are seeing the injustices that are happening to our Indigenous people (and longstanding injustices), but seeing the potential or pending injustices that will reach them. The people are rising up. The youth are leading the way for our future generations for everyone. The women are on the frontlines, they are reclaiming their role, our people are de-colonizing in a world that seeks to continuously dehumanize us. People are rising up and saying “enough is enough.”
Our youth, led this OccupyInauguration march. With peace, prayer, and love… we occupied the streets. It was truly astonishing to witness and be part of. I loved seeing the people who were there to support us. Seeing the youth take charge, leading the chants, and talking to anyone that had questions, was truly heartwarming. The understanding and love that was there left me speechless. During the last several months, I had this feeling of sadness at times, witnessing so much hate that came about in this election because of Trump. I felt hated by people I didn’t know or haven’t met. I felt that our people would be alienated and exploited for our land, would happen more. We have allies now. We have something new happening.
After these marches, my sister and I headed over to National Indian Gaming Association for the Indigenous Women Rise meet and greet, debrief for the Women’s March on Washington that was happening the next morning. When we arrived, a smile came over me, and I felt like I was home. It was great to see familiar faces and meet new people. Women were coming from all over Turtle Island to be here, in Washington DC. We sang the Women’s Warrior Song, spoke of hope, and just, spent the time allotted, to talk. There was no negativity, but passion and love. After this, and being up late Thursday night, and early Friday, I was happy to head home, run, and meet up with my parents.
Saturday, January 21, 2017: Women’s March on Washington; Indigenous Women’s Bloc
I have been very active with this movement since I organized a run and rally for when the youth arrived in DC after their 2,000 + mile run to raise awareness and hand deliver a 140k+ signatures to President Obama. So this meant something to me. This march, with our Indigenous women and allies, meant that we are rising up. We are idle no more. I was
so excited to have my mom, my Ina, by my side for the first time since we marched for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and #FreeLeonardPeltier in November 2015. Until October 2016, she was living in South Dakota, taking care of my grandfather, who passed away in August. She was marching for her mother, my Unci, marched for my grandfather who had significant impact on our people; she marched for our missing and murdered Indigenous women, the ones who have no voice. I marched to be with our women. I marched for our missing and murdered Indigenous women, whose voice has been silenced, and for our future generations. Our prayer skirts reflected our passion and reason why we were there. My sister was there to march in solidarity of our Indigenous people, and her skirt reflected our culture, our way of life, her adoption into our family, and as an ally to fight for social justice. It was a beginning in making her first skirt, and to get better with it over time.
This march turned out to be larger than I had envisioned. It was absolutely chaotic and crowded. However, seeing all the women there, and men, was so amazing! Not only was
this march happening in DC, but it was happening all over the world, even Antarctica. Approximately 673 marches across the world; 4,814,00 global participants; and 500k+ in DC alone. Many of these marches surpassed capacity. But these women were passionate, feisty, motivated, and standing strong, to unify and be a voice against a person that has distastefully shown his superiority and “no fu**s” given attitude towards women. We are more than just a look, we are more than just our physical appearance, we are more than just a command, we are more than a vessel for sexual pleasure, and we are more than arm candy. We are powerful, strong, fierce, smart, talented, funny, and passionate, soulful women.
So the morning started with hearing from indigenous women from across the nation. They all spoke with humility. You felt empowered by them. We occupied the front entrance of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), which happened to be right along the front of the Women’s March on Washington Rally. It wasn’t until after the march, that we realized people like Ashley Judd, Madonna, Chelsea Handler, and Alicia Keys were there. It was so crazy that all you heard were the people. There were supposed to be two Indigenous women speaking on the main stage, but somehow got bumped…. which really infuriated me, since we are on our relatives land, of the Piscataway Nation. To me, was disrespectful. I understand that the planning for this march was insane, and luckily we have 5 amazing women who organized the Indigenous Women’s Blog contingent, to ensure we had a place. Native American’s in Philanthropy sponsored the event, as well as Bethany Yellowtail who made the beautiful, turquoise scarfs for the women to have, and supporters like NMAI and National Indian Gaming Association providing us space to meet!
After the 4 hours of singing, dancing, praying, speaking, and socializing, we were ready to lead with the main banners, and part the crowd like the red sea. It was so crowded, it made it hard to stay together, but we had the scarves to identify and the drumming and singing to follow. We made our way to the Humphrey Building where we had a round dance, and people were so supportive and accommodating, that some even joined in! Once we were done there, we made our way around, to get to 7th and Independence, and again, we were singing the Women’s Warrior Song, and the drums led us. People were yelling, “We stand with you… Water is Life, We stand with the Indigenous Peoples…. You’re awesome…. We stand with Standing Rock….!” As I mentioned, it was hard to stay together once it was getting more congested, so what was a large group, broke into several mini groups. But we made our way through, eventually made to Constitution Ave, where the women, led with the “Indigenous People’s, EXIST, RESIST, RISE” banner to the Washington Monument.
From what I saw and experienced, no violence, no anger, no negativity, just witnessed so many pink hats, laughs and smiles. I was very honored and blessed to lead the banner with my new friends, my best friends, and most of all, my mother with me. Despite the negativity and political corruptness that surrounded us, it was a good day. Momentum is growing and rapidly spreading across the nation.
A new movement has been born, a new liberal tea party perhaps. Who will lead it? The people. It’s our time to rise up. It’s our time to say enough is enough and will not sit idly by as policies and executive orders are signed and implemented to violate human rights. I will not stand for it. I stand with my people. I stand for all people. I stand with you.