Stand with Strong Hearts: We Exist. We Resist. We Rise.

More than 5,000 Indigenous People and allies marched from the US Army Corps of Engineer’s National Headquarters to Lafayette Park at the White House, with a powerful reclamation message at Trump International Hotel mid-way.

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Native Nations Rise… a reformation of what used to be the American Indian Movement to fight for American Indian rights long ago, to what is now the rising Indigenous Rights Movement for those on Turtle Island and across the world. Standing Rock awakened many people to what was going on in Indian Country.  For us, nothing has changed, the injustices happening to our people and communities is nothing new, but seemed it in the eyes of non-indigenous people. We have Tribal nations uniting and allies increasing to further increase the awareness of the fight for Indigenous rights, to protect and preserve those rights, to protect all living things, and to ensure we have a voice.

March 7th, the tipi encampment was up and running.  To open up the camp, it started with a water ceremony.  We had opening remarks from Dallas Goldtooth, a welcoming/blessing from Sebi Medina-Tayac of the Piscataway Indian Nation, followed by a water ceremony.jpgwater blessing from Ani of Navajo Nation.  Much preparation took place for this collaborative effort to happen.  The main point of the camp and march was to unite the people, be a reminder to the Administration that we are still here, to remind the Administration of its Treaty laws, and to be a presence in a city that is the epicenter of policy decisions.  Those 5 days, were incredibly beautiful.  For me, I was beyond happy to see familiar faces and meet new ones.  I was happy to have what felt like a little piece of home, and what I felt at Standing Rock during my stay there, here in Washington, DC.  This was a historic and symbolic moment that was more than just Standing Rock and #NoDAPL.  This was about uniting the people, to continue to rise up and fight harder in their own communities and against future pipelines.

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Every morning at camp, there was a water blessing ceremony.  As tipis were being set up, many came to help lend a hand.  Organizers from all over collaborated to ensure this encampment and march meant something.  Workshops, Panels, and Artisan groups were on the schedules to ensure that we were hearing from the local DC community, as well as tipis at nightmore across the Nation and other parts of the world.  This was an opportunity to for the people to be engaged, make more friends, and for voices to be heard. We heard from our elders, the youth, and the women.  Wednesday was International Women’s Day, so there were planned events to occur to unify the women and figure out an agenda of what we need.

 

Our Past Lives Within Us, But We Continue To Thrive:

For far too long, Indigenous peoples, the first peoples have been on the short end of the stick, receiving the bare minimum.  When insulted and mocked that we are only the stereotypes non-Indigenous people think, little do they really know why those stereotypes exist in the first place, where there is some truth, sadly not by choice.  Many of us have been relocated from our original homelands, forced out west, forced to become civilized Casey Camp and Tipiand to forget who we really are as a people.  “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” is a real saying.  Our ancestors were taken from their homes, forced into boarding schools where they were forced to not speak their language, cut their hair and choose a Christian name.  Consequences would follow if not done.  Many of our ancestors tell stories of being beaten, raped, and molested by those in these boarding schools that were supposed to “help us.”  Massacres occurred to wipe us out.  There are elders to this day that can speak to what they witnessed from those massacres as they have a relative that has told their story. This has all resulted in generational trauma.  Many were forced to lands that were not farm-able, placed in food deserts, and put in a fail/fail situation, as a tactic, to get rid of the Indian.  We are not supposed to be here.  We have survived all these attempts to annihilate our culture and genetic thumbprint.  Despite the odds, we have survived.  There are many resilient Indigenous communities from across the world that have faced or are facing the similar battles we have here in the United States. But now, we say no more.  We will not be silent.  We deserve better.  And Standing Rock gave that courage to many and ignited that fire in many to unite.

Strong Voices Emerging:

What came out of Standing Rock was an awareness and momentum. If we truly want change, it’s time for the people to stand up, be a voice, continue organizing, and not be complicit.  Often I hear, “well nothing’s changed, so why bother.”  I get it.  I really do.  It’s hard not to be positive about many injustices happening to Indian Country continually. I say, HELL NO! Let’s rise to the occasion.  Let’s act.  We have many that we can lean on and learn from. That’s what is happening. We have the native youth to thank for that.  They erected the first tipi and camp to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline.  They ran over 2,000 miles from Cannonball, North Dakota to Washington, DC to generate awareness of the opposition to this pipeline. The people, who have inspired me the most, have been the youth. This is the seventh generation that has been talked about for a long time, taking the lead in a prayerful and peaceful way.  It’s also our responsibility to encourage them and help them.  Strong, resilient, and powerful voices are emerging.  I’m so happy, grateful, and excited to see this movement continue.

Strong Hearts To The Front:

Strong hearts have been climbing, marching, running, and walking to the front.  This Native Nation’s Rise March on Washington had just that.  We had the youth at the front.  We had our women to the front.  The women put up the last tipi pole that was erected inside tipiright in front of the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, on the way to the White House.  A strong message was stated to Trump and the Administration of reclamation, at that hotel, with that tipi.  We are reclaiming what once was ours.  We are reminding them that we are still here.  We are reminding them of the promises signed and made, that they have continually have broken.

Despite differences in opinions over what has happened in Standing Rock, all parties involved, what was important that I took away from last week, was that we all came to DC to be a strong, loud, collective voice.  Amidst the cheers and voices from Tribal leaders, youth, and performers, there were voices of opposition towards Standing Rock.  However, a youth of Standing Rock spoke with humility and courage, to remind the people that respect needs to be at the forefront of this movement.  No tolerance for disrespecting others, especially Native’s.  If we continue to have divide within our own, we will never win, we will be holding each other back.  How can we fix that? I don’t have the answer to that.  I do see communication, involvement of everyone, and honesty being what I would want.  Decisions have been made the last few months, which I see people not agreeing with, and that’s okay. We also don’t know the reasoning’s to those decisions made, which, maybe we should. Like I said, I don’t have all the answers.  But I do see the people coming together, to fight for indigenous and human rights. I do know, that disrespect, from non-natives and indigenous people being directed at the women, in the rally, who were trying to diffuse the situation.  I was one of them and standing right in the middle.  I saw a man flip out on an elder woman and yell at her.  Despite differences in opinions, I do not condone that behavior.  This movement has had prayer and peace at the forefront of this fight.  In our culture, you’re taught to respect women and to listen to our elders.  I saw none of that coming from the opposing voices.

We have a wonderful opportunity to strengthen this movement and sustain it. This awareness has moved from being an Indigenous Rights issue to a human rights issue.  We all deserve the best, we all deserve to have access to clean, uncontaminated water.  We all should have a say whether a pipeline goes through Tribal land or city boundaries.

I truly believe that Indigenous people are deeply rooted to our surroundings and have our 6roots deeply into the ground.  Whether we know it or feel it, I believe it’s there.  With adapting to society and going about our lives, we may have lost that connection, but Standing Rock ignited again for many. Many Indigenous people are reclaiming their identity, many who stayed in Standing Rock until the very last day; felt that they were on a new path.  Some have taken the initiative to learn their language.  Some have stopped with their alcohol and substance abuse habits the moment they came to camp.  Standing Rock, the camp life, and the people, saved the lives of many, opened the eyes of many, and changed the paths of many.  It has for me. Some have left camp with new organizations formed, Indigenous Media platforms created, and groups mobilizing to unite the people and fight other injustices happening in other communities.  I am very blessed for what I was able to experience, be part of, and given me the courage to take a more direct leadership role to generate awareness and unite us.

The people are uniting.  The people are rising.  It is beautiful to witness.  Many asked whatmid march will us uniting in DC accomplish, the pipeline is built? My answer was, the fight isn’t over.  This isn’t just about this one pipeline.  We will win, when we have recognition of who we are, and our rights acknowledged and respected. When our voices are heard in the policy decisions or permits approvals, where projects or laws are not implemented, or vice versa, we will have been recognized.  When we have a seat at the table, not to just be a check in the box, with real meaningful dialogue, we can win.

As I mentioned before, we are deeply connected to our surroundings and Unci Maka, Grandmother Earth.  When she is crying out for help, we are the first ones to hear her.  We are protectors of all things, because all things have life and that is worth protecting.  Your fight is our fight, and people are now looking to Indigenous people for guidance, especially when it comes to fighting for our natural resources.

We are still here.  We are resilient.  I am still here.  I have much to learn, but I have many I am inspired by to help me be a voice and take a stand. I am proud of all our protectors.  I am proud of those who are putting the people first over profit and corporate corruption.

I am proud to be a Lakota woman.  I am proud to be Indigenous.

tipis and WH

Orange Is The New Enemy

(views are my own)

When Win-Win?

I have been waiting to blog on the new administration. I was hoping, like others, that some of the bluster, misinformation, and threats were simply election, not governing, tactics. There were, and still are, hints of a moderate stance on certain issues. But, the people he is trading with are predominantly right-wing conservatives. They control the deals. As the DeVos nomination demonstrates, Democrats really can’t stop people who OR: Students Protest Trump's Education Secretary Nominee Betsy DeVoswould rather win than be correct. So, he is either ignoring or demonizing them. The Trump administration and their puppet Congress are doing what Congress does best…stopping things from happening and reversing things that have happened. Such as stripping away consumer protection, pushing pipelines, and removing regulations that keep banks in check. For whom: The rich people, the donors, and the friendly companies. Nothing for the average worker except bluster and taking credit for trends that existed before, and even in spite of, Trump and the Republican-led obstructionist Congress. No new policies yet, no refinement of policies, no progress. Just the taking of things away, from the people.  Congress gives Trump a few things, he gives them a few things. Everyone else is irrelevant.  Everyone else is “the enemy.”

I believe we have a transaction, rather than a principled, President. That can be good or bad, depending upon the mentality. Part of me wants to see someone use common sense and strong negotiation skills rather than ideology to make informed decisions. That part of me, is in mourning.

As I said, though, I was hopeful for good deals. I waited. But, maybe, though, my definition of good is different. They say “Everyone Likes a Winner.”  In fact, this is a major attraction for Trump supporters and a facade he works hard to cultivate. Trump is a winner. Fine. I wonder though, “Is there a way to win without making so many people lose?” The tone of this administration so far is one of a bully, not a protector. Strength with no wisdom. The goal is winning at all costs and punishing opposition, either by word or deed. If the immigration ban is any sign, he acts before thinking of the bigger picture. By the way, he probably could have gotten that, or most of it, if he had waited and did it differently. He threatens those who disagree. He threatened to “ruin the career” of a Senator with who he disagreed in public yesterday and I am sure the trolls hit that Senator’s social media accounts as they do everyone Trump calls out. There is no such thing as “the loyal opposition.” There is no inkling of considering all sides to make the best possible decision.  No sense of even an attempt at balance or fairness. Just winning and increased ratings. No balancing of interests and no attempts to minimize collateral damage, or even consult/consider alternative and less harmful solutions.  Just winning at all costs. Sometimes, they say, winning is losing. This will not end well for anyone.

When a judge does not agree with something, they trash the judiciary. This is harmful to democracy as the constitution codifies 3 co-equal and complementary branches of government and the system of checks and balances envisioned by the framers. When a journalist points out a blatant lie in a Presidential statement, the entire profession of journalism is attacked, again weakening the role of a free press in a healthy democracy. More damage. It’s like a Superman movie, lots of ruble and destroyed buildings. Where is the thought to fly the bomb into space to minimize the damage to innocent lives?

These past few weeks are full of actions clearly done with a belligerent spirit. There were no attempts, as far as I know, by anyone associated with the new administration to consult with various interests and attempt to develop solutions that MINIMIZE damage. Just win and brag. Challenge, misinform, deny, accuse. Very macho. Very single minded. Very destructive. Destroy the city, win the fight.

For someone who claims to represent ALL Americans, Trump sure is hurting a lot of people. Can’t the same things be done with some style and care? I am not a business person. Just a  Political Science major who has dedicated her adult life, so far, to helping my people thrive in a world that often ignores their very existence. But, in a Democracy, shouldn’t we value and protect our fellow citizens? Even if they disagree? It seems that we only value those with whom we agree. The rest are evil and deserve the pain and ridicule heaped on them by a dirty fighter. While I do not agree with many things these wealthy white guys have done, I can see why they might do what they do. What I cannot comprehend is the WAY it is being done…unless the goal is a totalitarian one.

The goal seems more than winning. The goal seems to be to make losers.

When I saw the executive order to push for DAPL, just four days into this new Administration, and to ignore the mandate for an Environmental Impact Statement, I was,wh-rally of course, disheartened. But I was even more saddened at the way it was done. As far as I know, the President’s team did not take the time to understand the opposition, to reach out to the Standing Rock Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, other parties involved, or to attempt to develop options that work for everyone. One side, in its extreme, wants no pipelines, ever. One side wants to do whatever it wants to make money. In the middle is a Tribe trying to protect its primary water source and way of life. There doesn’t have to be absolute losers or absolute winners. That middle goal, protecting a water source, could be accomplished with some creativity. But, the decision was political and impulsive. It was rushed, probably uninformed, and definitely one-sided. The blatant disrespect in the WAY it was done can do nothing but engender hostility and damage any potential for future collaboration. All of these things are damaging the potential for peaceful collaboration. We now know we have an enemy in the White House. This guy prides himself onevil comparisons to President Andrew Jackson, the one who sought to exterminate Native Americans.

From our point of view there can be no other view. From his point of view, however, there is another, more insidious, interpretation. We are less than an enemy. We were treated as though we did not exist. It was more than disrespect. It was as though we weren’t even worthy of a thought and definitely not worthy of negotiation. Simply irrelevant. It is sad and demoralizing. It will not end well.

Humility is a value in our culture. Mistaking humility for weakness is a shallow misinterpretation. My ancestors negotiated treaties with me in mind, not just them. They gave up important things in their life to insure I would be here today. I am more committed than ever to standing up for what is right. I am more committed than ever to making sure we are heard, respected, and relevant. I will not hate the man. He will be gone and we will still be here as we always have. Even Andrew Jackson finally got THAT message.

we-the-resilient

Still Here,

Protector.

Protect The Sacred: Preserving & Improving VAWA 2013

One in three Native women will be raped in their lifetime, and three in five will be physically assaulted. Native women are more than twice as likely to be stalked than other women and, even worse, Native women are being murdered at a rate ten times the national average. Due to under-reporting, the actual numbers are almost certainly higher. While data on violence against Native girls is sorely lacking, a recent national survey found violence against Native girls may be disproportionately high as well.”

These facts are real. Actions need to be taken to protect our women and children. VAWA currently, is very limited with it’s protection.  But there are some amazing women, and men, that are champions of this issue.

So, what is VAWA 2013?

Enabling criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians became legal in March 2015 when Tribes across the country were allowed to implement VAWA 2013, as long as the following statutory requirements were met:

  • Victim must be Indian
  • Crime must take place in Indian Country of participating Tribe
  • Non-Indian defendant must have “sufficient ties to the Indian Tribe,” may include:
    • Residing in Indian Country of participating Tribe
    • Employed in Indian Country of participating Tribe
    • Spouse, intimate partner, dating partner of Tribal member, or an Indian who resides in Indian Country of participating Tribe

What’s happening?

Last Spring, just a reminder update, four U.S. House Representatives sponsored a Congressional briefing on the: Violence Against Women & Implementation of VAWA 2013 Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (SDVCJ).  The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the Indian Law Resource Center, and the National Congress of American Indians co-sponsored the event.  The co-hosts were, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN), Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI), and Congressmen Xavier Beccera (CA).

VAWAPresidentSigning

President Barack Obama signs S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, (VAWA), which reauthorizes several Violence Against Women Act grant programs through FY 2018; and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 through FY 2017, in the Sidney R. Yates Auditorium at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., March 7, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

“No one should have to live in fear of violence, especially in her home, and VAWA affirms that belief.”

Background

The Violence Against Women Act of 2013 affirmed that Tribes have the ability to exercise Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (SDVCJ). As of January 1, 2016, eight Tribes have implemented SDVCJ over non-Indians. This gives Tribes authority to exercise criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of three classifications of crimes: domestic violence, dating violence, and violation of protection orders. Prior to VAWA, non-native/members could commit a domestic violence/dating violence crime on Tribal lands and not be held accountable for their actions due to jurisdictional constraints

Congressional Representatives have recognized the progress made since the initiation of VAWA 2013 and were in agreement that there is still a long way to go for the system to work as intended, be implemented across all Tribal Nations, and to improve the law in the appropriations process.  The development of best practices is also needed in this process.

Congresswoman Gwen Moore, a champion of VAWA, really stressed best practices on implementation, and the need to expand jurisdiction to include the protection of children.

Congressman Xavier Becerra noted that this was “great to apply across the board for women.” He mentioned that there is a lot of accomplish and revise in the law, but stated that “this is just the beginning.” While sitting there, it was great to hear a member of Congress talk about how crazy it is that Tribes are just getting recognized to implement and protect Native women.  It’s 2016 and Native women, have more so, restricted rights.  It’s 2016 and Tribes, Indigenous people across the world, are still fighting for basic human rights, while still standing ground against those who think we don’t matter.

In February 2014, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, as part of the Department of Justice Pilot Project, began exercising SDVCJ.  By September 2015, the Tribe has made 21 SDVCJ arrests and noticed that since implementation of SDVCJ, non-Indians make up roughly, 25% of the Tribe’s domestic violence cases.  Pascua Yaqui Chairman, Peter Yucupicio stated: “It is now clear that the law should be expanded to protect additional victims and Tribes across the Nations should be provided with the proper resources to implement the law.” While the creation and intentions of VAWA 2013 have been good, there are still flaws.  Yucupicio also stressed that “VAWA jurisdiction is still limited to certain crimes, does not protect victims of stranger rape, and does not protect children or other family members.”

The Tulalip Tribes began exercising SDVCJ in February 2014 as part of the DOJ Pilot Project.  Nearly two years later, Tulalip has made 11 SDVCJ arrests, 6 guilty pleas, 1 federal guilty plea, 2 dismissals and 2 pending. Chairman Melvin Sheldon, Jr. of the Tribe noted that “every life is important and every victim’s voice should be heard.” And that couldn’t be truer.  While the issue of rape, sexual and domestic assault on Native women is heartbreaking, it’s a huge issue for women in general, across the world.

Roughly forty Tribes are or have participated in the Inter-Tribal Working Group on SDVCJ and are in the process towards implementation, with about twenty Tribes ready to implement within the next year. Although to me, that is great news, but there are 567 federally recognized Tribes, and assault on Native women is happening everywhere, on and off the reservation.

In June 2016, Indian Law Resource Center took action to address violence on Indigenous women to the Commission on the Status of Women and the Human Rights Council at the United Nations. Also in 2016, the Department of Justice and National Institute of Justice Report release “Violence Against Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men 2010 Findings from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey” (You may have to be on the computer to view this report).

What’s Next?

Currently, significant progress has been made.  However, there are large gaps that are in need of bridging.  As with many other laws, VAWA is very vague with respect to protecting the full range of victims associated with these crimes.  An important need is the protection of the children involved in these crimes that the law doesn’t currently protect.  Four cases from the eight early adopting Tribes included children who were pulled from the home.  Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI), champion of VAWA, stated how important it is to protect the children since the law doesn’t currently.  Meeting with Congressional members is essential to gain support for issues including: 1) a more defined language of the law; 2) jurisdiction expansion; 3) protection of more victims (including children); 4) required documentation of implementation (data collection/reporting); 5) clarification of what a “relationship” is since “dating” can mean a lot of things in today’s society and under this law, it hasn’t protected every “relationship” because it wasn’t exactly what it was intended to mean; 6) access to full appropriated funds; 7) access to Crimes Victim Fund (CVF); 8) support appropriations language to ensure Tribal victims are not left out under the Secure Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment Act (SURVIVAL Act).  Tribes need the additional and proper resources to be able to implement this law to meet the needs of their Tribal victims. Funding of SDVCJ authorized under VAWA 2013 is at $5 million, but Congress has only appropriated $2.5 million for FY 2016.

What are the requests to ensure productive implementation?

  • More defined statutes on protecting children
  • Expansion of jurisdiction to protect additional victims
  • Need reporting or data collection to be covered under the law, as of now, it doesn’t require it, which Congress is always demanding evidence and best practices
  • Broadened definition of “relationship.” As stated by Alfred Urbina (Pascua Yaqui Attorney General) and Oscar Flores (Pascua Yaqui Chief Prosecutor), the definition is old fashioned, outdated, and in today’s society, how do you define a relationship? It’s always changing and could mean a variety of things
  • Costs money to implement law: need access to money. (For Tulalip, they used their own Tribal revenue, while Congress authorized $25 million to implement the law through 2018, they have yet to appropriate the funds)
  • Crime Victims Fund (CVF): Indian Country is left out from programs that are funded through CVF. Supporting legislation or appropriation language that would allocate money to Tribal Nations.
  • Urging Congressional members to support language and efforts to include Tribes in CVF under the SURVIVE Act to Tribal victims are not left out. (Last year, that language didn’t make the final bill through the Senate)
  • Ability to charge perpetrators of other crimes committed
  • Protection for same-sex couples: There was a case that was dismissed due to the jury stating that there wasn’t enough evidence; meanwhile, the defendant had warrants and a lengthy history. The Jury saw them as not a couple as defined by the law.
  • Need to ensure that under this law, it needs to stay non-competitive for when more Tribes begin implementation
  • What can government agencies do?
    • If there are discretionary funds, have the departments shift those funds to CVF.
  • 10% each from Office of Justice Programs and CVF to Tribal governments and to Tribal criminal justice systems

The Stories:

Briefly, I will share my story, as well as provide two more stories, from two Native women, that I love dearly: My Ina (mother) and my best friend, my mitankela/sister, Victoria.

Words from my Ina:

“My story.  I was going to nursing school & met this guy.  We clicked & had a great time.  The more time we spent, the less time I spent with my friends.  The name calling started, the monitoring of my calls, & the constant stalking, keeping me away from my family.  One of the many horrific times in my life was when I was on my way back to school from home.  This truck side swiped me so I stopped to trade insurance information.  Instead, I was raped by a drunk man.  I was able to get away after he had finished & drove back to school.  I got to my apartment & he was upset that I was late & I told him that I was raped.  He said I deserved it.  And he proceeded to take me upstairs and have sex with me to get the other guy’s scent off of me.  The next day I reported it, but nothing ever came from it.

Another story:  I was a freshman in high school & became great friends with this guy!  We had great times, playing jokes on people.  I was invited to his party that he was throwing inathat Friday night.  I was excited because everyone that I knew from high school was going to be at this party.  I went against my parent’s wishes (I actually snuck out).  Everyone was having a great time.  I had too much to drink & passed out in one of the rooms.  I wake up to some pain & see my best friend raping me.  I through him off & couldn’t find my clothes, so I grabbed a sheet to cover myself.  I walked down stairs and he was standing there with a grin on his face.  I went home and told my Mom.  She took me to the doctor where I was checked out.  We filed a report on him.  He was picked up.  In juvenile court, he denied everything, and was never punished.  I had to deal with him my freshman year.  I ended up leaving school for another because of the humiliation.  It was at my new school where I attempted to kill myself.  My dorm mates found me and I was rushed to the hospital. There really hasn’t been an act to protect women from any assault.  VAWA would’ve been so helpful to my recovery from these horrid events.”- Ina

  • My Ina is my superhero. I was very little when I saw my mom get beat up, and I was helpless in the situation, hiding under a table or in a room, and felt absolutely horrible for not knowing how to use a telephone to dial 911.  Despite seeing this, I have seen the trauma it has caused her.  I understand more, now that I am older.  And it breaks my heart.  BUT, she’s a rockstar and despite what has happened to her, she became a pediatric nurse, graduated from undergrad and graduate school, all with a baby Jordan at her hip and being a pain in the butt perhaps.  This woman, who has faced a lot, is part of these statistics that Native women encounter.  She’s more than a number, she is my mother, and seeing her push herself, and her strength, has definitely been something I’ve been trying to emulate since I was little.

My sister’s story:

“I remember the day VAWA13 passed. It was an emotional day full of rejoicing with those close to me. I remembered the multiple emails and letters we sent to our congressional members urging them to pass it, the many calls and the many stories we heard from victims in Indian Country. It was a great day.

Growing up on and off the reservation, domestic and sexual violence is almost second nature. Going to school with bruises on my body would be a chance to test my acting skills. My brothers and I became experts at hiding when we were told to run. We became veryvictoria protective over our mother and each other. When you grow up living in fear, living in pain, it makes it really easy to create a persona that the world sees that isn’t true. That internal pain that a child has to live with and somehow still grow from, it’s detrimental.

So what does VAWA mean to me? It is optimism. VAWA means strength. It is hope that one day my strong native brothers and sisters no longer have to live in fear. VAWA is a chance to grow without pain and to know that my children won’t have to suffer like many of us have.”

  • This girl, my homefry, my bae, my bestie, my sister, my wonderful best friend, is truly amazing. When we first met and started talking, it was these stories that brought us together. We not only shared the hardships we’ve faced, the accomplishments we’ve had, but we shared our dreams of what we want for Indian Country.  This girl amazes me and she is doing so well in life.  It breaks my heart that she went through this because I can see how it has affected her, even to this day.  She’s killing it though here in DC, and this Gila River girl is about to graduate Georgetown University with her Master’s Degree.  Can’t wait to take on the world with my mitankela (sister).

My Story:

When VAWA passed, it was a day to remember. Watching President Obama sign S. 47, the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, was emotional. I teared up. Me being the type of person always wanting to help but always feeling helpless, I finally felt like this law will help protect those I can’t.  Albeit, there is much more to improve upon and accomplish, but it’s a step in the right direction. We as native women, have a story to tell. Mine, I kept silent for years, and this happened during my senior year of high school.  And from a jordanprevious blog that I wrote on eating disorders, my problem with eating came from this one toxic relationship. I didn’t have bruises to show. I had shame, low self-esteem, and severe trust issues.  And I thought, “how could someone I care about, who is supposed to care about me, treat me like this?” But I justified it with, “he’s having a hard time himself, I must deserve this, I must help him get better.” I suffered through verbal, mental, and physical abuse.  It wasn’t a daily or weekly occurrence, but it happened more than the “this happened just once, he was drunk.”  It’s amazing to see how we justify and rationalize things, especially other people’s actions.  Even today I have my issues.  Granted, I just started sharing my story, but until 2 years ago, I couldn’t even talk/think about it without feeling sick to my stomach. All of our stories are different; they are things that should not have happened. But this is no competition; this is an issue of protecting Native women.  Who, in our culture, are sacred.  Yeah that’s right, we are lady bosses! However, it’s our duty, women AND men, to fight for our rights and protect the sacred, and to advocate for legislation that will hold those offenders, accountable.

In Conclusion:

I have seen horrible violence happen as a young kid, I have heard the stories from family and friends, and I have seen the evidence on the person who was hurt.  I have felt it.  Being assaulted, being a victim of rape, is something that you carry with you. There is also other kinds of violence a woman may face, a child may face. However, with VAWA 2013, it only covers a portion of that. It can ruin a woman’s life. But, it doesn’t have to.  You can take the control back. You can build yourself up. You may be a little wounded, but being that statistic doesn’t have to define you.  It can empower you, and you can be a voice to help put a stop to it.  Your trust in men can carry on from man to man that you decide to date.  The pain, the anger, and the emotional instability may reside in you for a lifetime.  But, I have seen these victims grow stronger.  My family and friends have grown stronger.  I have grown stronger.  The most important thing that we can all do, in regards to ending violence against women, is sticking together, speaking up, and honoring our sacred.  I wish I could take the pain away or made sure this never happened but I can help be a voice for you, along with many other inspirational women and men, who are here in DC, and all over the country, speaking up about this issue. I really wish, and hope that one day, we aren’t just seen as a separate group when legislation is created.  People of Indian Country are often left out of the conversation, put on the back burner, and given the scraps.  I truly believe things are changing for once, and as long as we stick together and keep moving forward with our voices, we can continue to create change for us, and for our future generations. That is what Chief Sitting Bull wanted, and that is what we are here today, to do.

The Native Women’s voice is crucial. VAWA is under attack in the federal courts and specifically the Supreme Court. There was great victory in 2013 to restore tribal jurisdiction but it only covered a small portion.  During the Dollar General case, Justice Kennedy thinks tribal jurisdiction over nonnatives is unconstitutional. When it comes to pipelines, our Indigenous women are suffering and being assaulted by workers that reside in the “man-camps.” So us fighting to stop the pipelines, not only shows our love of the earth, and our resources that we need to protect, but we need to protect our women.  Click here for Honor The Earth “fact sheet.” However, Tribal courts are exercising jurisdiction of non-natives and the protection of our women, has begun.

Greater efforts by our men are happening, they are part of the solutions too.  The women are taking the lead and maintaining these efforts to protect our Tribal Sovereignty. Now, we must prepare, and help, to advocate for VAWA 2018, re-authorization. Day 1 of this “new presidency,” it was made clear that potential cuts to the Department of Justice, as well as many other programs, includes all 25 grants/pilot projects that aim to protect women and end the violence, in the Office on Violence Against Women.  While the numbers in dollar amounts seems small, it will have a significant impact on our women. The fight to resist this new regime….. continues. Be sure to check out Indian Law Resource Center and National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center for more updates and information. So let’s do this.

I’ll end with this: you’re awesome, you’re beautiful, you deserve the best, you deserve to be heard, and I love you. Mitakuye Oyasin!

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Strong Hearts To The Front: Resistance in DC

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 round-dance-5disrupting 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 round-dance-4environmental 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.

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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 inaug-1President 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, inaug-3blocking 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.”

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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.

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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

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My Ina ❤

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

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Beautiful. Strong. Fierce. Sister.

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 wmow-9right 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 wmow-14done 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.

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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.

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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.

 

LET’S STOODIS.

Public Speaking: I’m shy and awkward. But here’s why I became a voice among many!

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Standing Rock and Beyond Rally and March

First things first, you may not know it or believe it, but I am an incredibly shy person.  I enjoy my comfort bubble, I love my small groups of very close friends I have, but once I feel like I can trust you, which everyone has a clean slate until they give me a reason not to, I will be as goofy as can be.  My quietness and shyness, has been commonly misunderstood for being “stuck up” or “rude.”  That’s not the case.  I guess you could call it my “buckiness.” Which many from back home, in South Dakota, will understand.  It’s not that I don’t want to converse or be your friend; I am just shy and cautious.  So, don’t take it personally, and something I continue to work on.  I got called out for it in high school.  My dad and I quickly responded back with an article written on Native Americans, and some hypotheses stemmed from cultural differences and practices. In the article, it noted the differences in making eye contact, and how speaking up can be seen as confrontational instead of advocating, from the study that was done. Not to say I deserve special treatment or should be the only one in class to never speak, and not get penalized for it but there are things that just are, for everyone, not just Native Americans. I’m just an awkward person to begin with, and I love it.

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Awkward since 1988

So, I had a hard time with public speaking.  It wasn’t until college, that I applied for the Maine New Leadership Program for women, that only a handful are selected, to spend time on campus during the summer, partaking in seminars, classes, networking events, public speaking, and visiting the Maine State Legislature and some state representatives.  This was way beyond my comfort zone but I applied because I knew I wanted to move to DC. My only comfort I found was in my running, where nothing mattered, it was a race against me.  This program, pushed me outside my comfort zone, and gave me my first taste of public speaking.  I was horrible at the networking event for the first half of it but luckily I found myself comfortable with it, and it was tolerable. Then, imagine that, I am contacted by the organizers and staff for this program, to be a speaker on the panel for June 2016, where in 2010,  I saw a Native American woman, sit on that panel, talking about her advocacy and her seat in the Maine State Legislature. I was shocked.  As an alum of this program, I really didn’t think I was worthy of this, but honored to have accepted. Sadly, I had some work conflicts come up, but luckily found another amazing Native woman, from Maine to be on the panel.

Now I am in DC, and doing things I never expected to see myself do.  Not to say that I won’t speak up for what I think is right, and fight for the people, but I saw myself being in that supportive role, assisting those that were organizing. And I did just that. I supported the fight to stop the Keystone Pipeline, Child Nutrition Re-Authorization, Violence Against Women, Human Rights: Leonard Peltier, and to #ChangeTheName/#NotYourMascot with the Washington Football team here in DC. I attended whatever event I could, handed out fact sheets and spoke to Congressional members/staff, and went to marches/rallies. Through that, I met so many amazing people.

Now, Standing Rock. Since the end of July, I have been very involved in the Standing Rock movement.  Many have asked how I got involved, and became a common question when I

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Besties Being Awkward and Weird

found myself public speaking and on panel forums. The fact that I just wrote that, still shocks me, because I never saw myself doing that.  I am more of a, behind the scenes player, love to help and support people I believe in, and help ensure they are heard, that the message is heard. My role models coming to DC, were Native women and men in high level positions in the government or non-profit organizations.  To help with that homesick feeling, and the need to be around people like me, indigenous brothers and sisters, I found happy hours to attend, holiday parties and receptions to attend, briefings, hearings, and rallies/marches.  Then I found more role models, like Tara Houska who was very involved in DC with organizing and being a strong voice; Gregg Deal, who spoke with sincerity and through his art; Dallas Goldtooth, who organized all across Turtle Island; Amanda Blackhorse, who is in court with the Washington football team to change the

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Sarain Fox

name; Suzan Harjo, who is an amazing activist and involved in #ChangeTheName heavily; Sarain Fox, of VICE; Greg Grey Cloud, founder of Wica Agli, and who sang in the Senate Chambers when Keystone got voted down and was arrested.  There are many more to name during my 3 years here but these people were all in the first year.

July 2016: I received a message, to help organize an event for the arrival of the Standing Rock youth, who were running to Washington, DC from Cannonball, North Dakota to raise awareness and protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. They were using their voices to raise awareness, they were taking a stand, and said enough is enough, no more! That was inspiring to see when they arrived.  I had been keeping up with the pipeline for a while, but at that point, it was in the consultation process (or lack thereof) and permitting process.  This pipeline not only would pose a serious threat to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s primary water source, as it was proven to be a threat for the city of Bismarck, but it would contaminate the Missouri River, which my Tribe, resides right on it and for all those along the water.  An important thing to me is to always advocate and support our youth.  It’s something I help volunteer with in DC, and I truly believe, they are our future, our future leaders, and their voices have been on the rise with this generation. So, I said yes,

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Standing Rock Youth, August 5th, 2016

and being the runner that I am, I figured, I’d organize a run, “Run for Water” event for them, and a protest at US Army Corps of Engineers National Headquarters with my sister. That was my first organized event that I was part of, and it was a headache to be honest. And once it was over, I said to myself, “I am never doing that again, mad props to Tara and others who did this all the time.” This was the first week of August. Sadly, I lost my grandfather about a week after, so I was back home in South Dakota for a few weeks, but watched closely as the court hearings were occurring in DC with Standing Rock and Dakota Access. I was witnessing the camp growing, and seeing some of those youth at camp, and being some of the first to get arrested.  Then September 3rd happened.

1963 was the last time dogs were used on humans, during the Civil Rights movement.  Well, it was 2016 and I saw it happen.  I saw some of those same youth, get maced and saw dogs with blood in their mouth, bite people, and being amped up by their unlicensed handlers. This made me sick to my stomach.  I knew that I couldn’t have all the time I’d want to be up on the front-lines with my relatives, but I figured I could help in a different

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Lance, Sebi, Me, Tomas: Standing Rock Panel Discussion

way, by advocating in the nation’s capital.  So when I came back to DC, I made sure I was at every rally possible, every panel possible.  I even took time off to drive 28 hours straight to Standing Rock with my nephew and friend, to support and bring supplies.  Up until that point, I was only supporting those I looked up to.  When I came back from Standing Rock, I came back with a sense of purpose, I felt different, and I felt a fire. As time progressed, more inhumane occurrences were happening on our protectors and found myself angry with the government, who was just idling by, watching this go down from a distance.  There were congressional members that went to Standing Rock, and have been huge catalysts in helping to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. The day after the great news of “no easement,” I was lucky enough to schedule and introduce Congressman

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Introducing Congressman Grijalva

Grijalva at a Veterans Stand with Standing Rock day of action at the US Capitol Building. Never in a million years did I see myself speaking, let alone introducing a congressional member.  Did I see myself reaching out to Grijalva’s office and confirming him as a speaker? Yes, sure.

When I came back from Standing Rock, after a short stay, but long enough to know what I was fighting for, what we all were fighting for, to understand the fight for water for everyone, and to see the beauty at camp, not just the support on the front-lines,  I was ready to do something.  Since the beginning of October, I have been helping organize rallies and marches, and was participating in some sort of event for #NoDAPL at least 2 times a week.  Then November happened, and I was organizing or participating by speaking, or leading, 3-5 times a week. Organizing and participating in these events, is a full time job in and of itself. I had a full time job already.  I was still training.  My sleep was very little and for about three months, I had been wondering if I would ever get sick, I did right when I came back from Standing Rock, but didn’t after that. Many nights I got home around 10 or 11pm when I had left early that morning, sometimes I literally forgot to eat dinner, but I am definitely not forgetting, as I want to save everyone from experiencing a hangry Jordan. Did I ever imagine myself holding a bullhorn and speaking to whoever was

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First time speaking at AFL-CIO HQ’s

there to listen? Nope. Some indigenous relatives reached out to me, and asked me to speak, which, this was my first time ever speaking publicly, on the streets, in the beginning of October, and then, it didn’t stop.  Then the coalition was formed. I was incredibly nervous, shaky, felt like I wanted to throw up, but over time, it got better, and it was easier to speak from the heart.  Speaking from heart, that’s when it truly hits home for many to understand. A couple times I cried. I cried because the most amazing thing about all of this is seeing the amount of people coming together, to support Native Americans. To see beyond that, a fight for water. That is what we all share, and should value.  But it wasn’t just me.  My best friends Ariel and Victoria were voices with me.  Ariel, a hilarious, awkward, smart girl who supported me, had her first time speaking at a #NoDAPL/Standing Rock event, with the help of my pushiness, and she rocked it.  Victoria, has been speaking since she was in college with Idle No More.  My other sister, Ani, spoke with such fire, humility, and passion on #NoDAPL because she had her kids to think of and all children.  My sister, Heather, and my nephews, have been a voice in the DC area for years on many issues, and inspired me big time. My best friends were by my side, family was there to support and there, physically, if I needed them, and I worked with other organizers (who definitely had more experience)! So wopila tanka to everyone I was able to help and who let me help and be part of the process!

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Coalition and Organizers

At a rally in September, right before we left for Standing Rock, Bernie Sanders said it perfectly, that one day; we’d be fighting for water, when there are no more wars or other resources to be fighting for. The protectors have come together to fight: on the front-lines or across the world to raise awareness.  Seeing what our youth were doing and risking, willing to die, was a message I’d ensure to bring up, and it’s emotional to talk about.  It was emotional to provide updates about Standing Rock, especially the traumatic events we all witnessed from the Facebook live feeds. People like Amy Goodman, Lawrence O’Donnell, Van Jones, Chairman Dave Archambault, Dallas Goldtooth, Simon Moya-Smith, Winona LaDuke, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, The Young Turks, Environmental Indigenous Network, and Unicorn Riot, have all been a consistent voice in telling the truths of what was happening in Standing Rock.  Our press, were upholding the constitution, and were there as checks and balances on what was happening.  The media during the civil rights movement did just that, and made sure to broadcast that right to your couch from your television.  But now, our media were having their rights violated.

We all have our part.  We all are meant for something in this world.  Not saying that you have to do what I did but if there is something you’re passionate about, go for it. One of the rewards during all of this, was speaking to the Georgetown Day High School in DC, a couple hundred youth, 9-12th graders, with my sister, on the Standing Rock movement.  The main point of the presentation was that this was started by the youth.  After the presentation, we had youth coming down to introduce themselves, give hugs, and asked many questions.  Then, at the rally and march right after Thanksgiving, there was a group of youth standing in front of me, saying how they were hoping to see “Native in DC.”  I chuckled and tapped them on their shoulders, and said, “I’m Native in DC.”  They laughed, smiled, and said they were so excited to be there, to help, and that this was their first rally and march ever. I honestly, was so proud of them, excited for them, and ensured me that the purpose of Native in DC, was being accomplished.

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Now, with the no easement  on the final permit, and everything in court, or pending the new Administration, the strategy has changed.  The fight for my relatives continues, and now I have that courage to keep being a voice and organizing.  I still have a panic attack before I speak, and I still would rather have other people speak instead of me, and if I can get them to, I will! I still speak out on other social and personal issues, because it is healing for me, but to also let other people know that may be struggling with issues like I did or am, that they aren’t the only one. I want to be a voice for those who no longer have one.

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December 4, 2016: Celebrations at Oceti Sakowin, NO EASEMENT!

I want to continue to honor our ancestors. We are on a rise, an awakening has happened, where solidarity and unity has played a pivotal part and I truly hope, that this beautiful movement we’ve witnessed, continues. Now, the time is to keep being a voice, organize, remain vigilant, and continue in prayer and peace. It’s very easy to be discouraged and negative, especially now and in the next 17 days, but I see this as our opportunity to shine and come together.  Let’s embrace the challenge and strive forward!

That’s my story. However, I am definitely not the only one.  There are so many more humans doing great work and being a strong voice.  Be bold. Be beautiful. Be resilient. Much love to you all, always and in all ways. Mitakuye Oyasin.

Happy New Year!

Update: No Easement…But The Fight Isn’t Over.

What’s going on?

Well, December 4th, great news, NO EASEMENT!!! The last permit needed to cross the waterway, and it was DENIED.  BUT, the fight isn’t over.  It will be all tied up in courts.  This is what the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe wanted.  They wanted this rejection and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  However, this decision has come so late in this fight to stop the pipeline, which makes me think, it was definitely a calculated decision.  I think having over 2 thousand veterans arrive at camp too had something to do with it, and the government didn’t want a possible bad situation on their hands. Now, a day after this news, the Chairman called for the Water Protectors to return home.  Many did not like this announcement, as many felt like they were just a pawn.  But it’s more than that.  They got the decision they needed.  His words were taken out of context. And he is looking out for the Tribe, so I completely understand his decision and reasoning. The weather is brutal in North Dakota and depleting resources.  But in my opinion, the decision to leave should be up to them.  Many have been there for months or since April 3rd, when camp began with just a few. Oceti Sakowin camp has disbanded and now, with the help of LastRealIndians, Chase Iron Eyes organization, has kept the sacred fire burning, by establishing the Oceti Oyate camp, the All Nations camp.  He feels that the people should stay, until those drill pads are gone.  I believe in this decision.  He and the organization have taken on the responsibility to provide.  I commend you all for this effort since so many feel like the have to stay, because, as I’ve said before, the fight isn’t over.

The new administration poses a huge threat to this decision.  President Elect has stock in ETP. He openly supports big oil.  And his aides, have voiced his approval of this project once he is in office, to happen, as soon as possible.  With him have the authority to select his cabinet and appoint people that align with his agenda, he could sway the people who are conducting the EIS to his way, opposite of Standing Rock and protectors. All momentum gained, can be overturned, in a heartbeat.

The fight isn’t over.  If anything, the real fight begins now.  Especially since we are going to have people in office who favor fossil fuels, dollar signs, and are climate change deniers. We have our work cut out for us.  So we must continue to protect and defend. We must continue to organize, build, and strengthen the collective voice to stop this pipeline. The solidarity has continued, and it’s beautiful to witness!

What Standing Rock Has Created:

Solidarity around the world for #NoDAPL and for Standing Rock has been beautiful.  For me, it gives me hope, and restores some of the faith I’ve lost. For me, I hope this solidarity is continued, sustained past #NoDAPL, where we are all still there for each other, or do we go back to how things were? I believe there is a great understanding of indigenous people, and for protecting the environment.  We have always stressed that we must take care of our earth. And as Jane Fonda mentioned to Indian Country Today Media Network, “First Nations people have been telling us from the very very very beginning, for what had to happen for our species to survive.  We never listened, or not enough of us listened. And it’s almost too late now, we have to start listening, before it’s too late.”  Standing Rock has put what environmental genocide looks like on the map, where people are trickling in, realizing what threats may pose on our Unci Maka. This has been a peaceful, unarmed, non-violent resistance. It is youth led. That’s how it is being successful right now, it’s not turning into a Bundy fiasco.  It doesn’t need to.  If the pipeline does succeed in 100% completion, which, I pray every day that it doesn’t, that a re-route is possible, or better yet, extract the whole pipeline all together, but that this sets the bar, in terms of how we move forward in protecting the environment.  Standing Rock has brought many Tribal nations together, but has also brought so many others together as well.  The pressure is on Dakota Access, LLC to be pumping oil by January 1st, 2017. That is just a little over a month away.  If they don’t, the investors have the option to pull out or re-negotiate their contracts.  DAPL has also voiced continuing to build regardless of decision and just pay the legal fines. Let’s continue to keep the peace and remain in prayer, because it is working!

TAKE ACTION:

The pressure is on.  Call your state representatives.  Call the White House.  Mail letters to your state representatives and to President Barack Obama.  He needs something tangible in his hand to read.  Divest your funds from the 17 banks funding this project. Three huge actions at Wells Fargo, CitiBank and JP Morgan direct action happened in NYC yesterday.  If we can bankrupt them, they can’t fund DAPL.  I know it’s easier said than done, but if you’re able to, I urge you to find a local credit union.  Film yourself telling the bank you want to divest your funds, that you won’t support a bank that supports DAPL, and hashtag with #BankExit. We need to be a collective, strong voice.  Organize. Help Standing Rock. You have the power to do so. We can do this!

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Timeline of Events (More recent, see previous #NoDAPL blogs for all events):

    • April 4, 2016: camps are created, youth asked LaDonna Brave Bull Allard if there was land to use, and she had some.  Now, life at camp, that started with a handful then, to now, with upwards 10k people being there, depending on time.
    • July 15th: the Standing Rock youth began the run to DC to deliver signatures to President Obama and to be a voice in the Nation’s capital opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline.
    • August 5th: Run for Water rally and protest that my sister and I put together for them.
    • August 6th: rally and protest in front of the White House to tell the President, even though he wasn’t there, to oppose DAPL.
kyle-thompson

DAPL Contractor

    • October 28th: day 2, protectors still on frontlines. Tensions are high, as most were occupying the bridge throughout the night.
  • November 2, 2016: Police and DAPL desecrate sacred burial grounds of two indigenous women, Alma Parkin and Matilda Galpin, who once owned Cannonball Ranch, that now DAPL owns. US Army Corps of Engineers ordered Morton County to  tear down man made bridge that protectors made to cross, and pray on the hill. They were met with tear gas, rubber bullets, mace, and excessive force with batons. Some had hypothermia, one person was coughing up blood, many had welts.
  • November 3, 2016: hundreds of clergy members came to camp, and the frontlines, to offer prayer, and negotiate with the police. They honored and sang a Dakota hymn, in English and in Dakota (to honor the Dakota 38+2, who were taken, and hung in the clergy.jpglargest mass execution).
  • November 5, 2016: Youth arrive from Arizona, have completed their 1,000+ mile run to Standing Rock!
  • November 9, 2016: DAP has stated they will continue pipeline without 408 Permit, which is the last permit that is needed.
  • November 10, 2016: #NoDAPL Solidarity lockdown action at TD Bank in Boston, MA (One of the banks funding the pipeline).
  • November 11, 2016: DAPL and Morton County, are rounding up wild buffalo, trapping them in fenced areas, and then have been transporting them to undisclosed locations.  Report of them being slaughtered have been buffalo fenced in.jpgmade.
  • November 12, 2016: Man in truck, drives through protectors, and fires 7 shots into the air.  Man works for Four Square Concrete out of ND.
  • November 12, 2016: NoDAPL/Stand with Standing Rock solidarity action in Annapolis, MD!
  • November 14, 2016: US Army Corps of Engineers release statement that construction cannon occur on or under Army  Corps lands. Further review and discussions are needed.
  • November 15, 2016: United Nations denounce ‘inhumane’ treatment of Native American protectors. Send legal observers to camps and frontlines, as well as Amnesty International.
  • November 15th, 2016: National Call to Solidarity Action: All 50 states participated, over 300+ actions. Indigenous Youth Council member, Eryn Wise, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, and Shailene Woodley came to DC, to lead march to US Army Corp of Engineers, and then to White House. Senator Bernie Sanders made an appearance to stand in solidarity, and to motivate the people. He also mentioned to declare Standing Rock a federal monument.
  • November 15, 2016: DC Stands and FORCE, team up, for morning rush hour direct action, “We Are Still Here” at Union Station in DC. Focused on #NoDAPL,we-are-still-here-1 standing with Standing Rock, the injustices on Indigenous people, as well as honoring and remembering our missing, murdered indigenous women across Turtle Island.
  • November 16, 2016: ETP CEO Kelcey Warren states that they wished SRST had engaged in conversations previously to the pipeline being built, SRST came with audio recordings of their opposition back in 2014.
  • November 16th, 2016: George Washington University, Native American Political Leadership Program, hosted Water is Life panel that included Eryn Wise, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, SR Councilman Robert Taken Alive, and Jacqueline Pata of NCAI.
  • November 18th, 2016: Largest bank in Norway pulls its assets in Dakota Access Pipeline. last-night
  • November 20, 2016: Protectors go to remove cars and put out fires, open blockade, to let people drive through and witness first hand what is going on. Authorities fire back with water cannons, tear gars and concussion grenades on the protectors, when it’s 25 degrees out.
  • November 20, 2016: One youth, of the Indigenous Youth Council suffered a seizure from the flash grenades.
  • November 20, 2016: Sophia Wilansky is hit with concussion grenade on her arm,sophia faces up to 20 surgeries, may face amputation still. Two men speak out on what they witnessed as they tried to help Sophia. If you would like to donate to her medical expenses, here is the link: https://www.gofundme.com/30aezxs
  • November 21, 2016: Congressman Raul Grijalva releases statement on the inhumane and hostile treatment on the water protectors.  Congressman Grijalva has been a huge voice in opposition to the pipeline, has visited Standing Rock, the camps, and has voiced the need for a bi-partisan hearing on this issue.
  • November 25, 2016: ND Governor suspends Morton County Sheriff.
  • November 25, 2016: Colonel John Henderson issues demand for protectors to vacate Oceti Sakowin camp by midnight, December 5th.
  •  November 27th: US ACE states that they will not forcibly remove Protectors. They cannot evict Protectors from Treaty lands.May be subjected to tickets and will be considered “trespassers”
    • November 27th: LastRealIndians, Standing Rock, and Organizers, host WATER IS march-7LIFE march and rally in Washington DC, from Department of Justice to the Sylvan Theater at the Washington Monument. Later that night, Dave Matthews host’s benefit concert for Standing Rock at DAR Constitution Hall in DC.
    • November 28th: 17 members, formally worked in the Obama Administration, state their support for Standing Rock and their opposition to the pipeline.  They also stress the urgency for the President to take immediate action.  Former boss was on the list!
    • November 28th: ND Governor files executive order for mandatory evacuation of Oceti Sakowin camp. (see Native in DC facebook page for press conference videos.
    • November 30th: ND Governor states they will not block supplies, http://nativenewsonline.net/currents/north-dakota-governor-will-not-block-people-taking-supplies-camps/
  • December 1st: Veterans arrive to Oceti Sakowin.  Click here to view footage.
  • December 4th: Celebrations. Power of Prayer wins. But it isn’t over. Department of Army grants NO EASEMENT for DAPL to continue construction. Here are remarks from SRST Chairman Dave Archambault regarding the decision: http://standwithstandingrock.net/standing-rock-sioux-tribes-statement-u-s-army-corps-engineers-decision-not-grant-easement/
  • December 5th: Electronic monitoring equipment fails, pipeline leaks 176,000 gallons of crude oil, in North Dakota, into creek, about 150 miles away from Standing Rock. Discovered by land owner.
  • December 5th: Veterans Stand with Standing Rock  at the US Capitol building. Congressman Raul Grijalva spoke to Veterans and supporters on the US ACE decision to deny the final easement needed to continue with construction, what Standing Rock has created, what to expect, and how Solidarity has changed everything. It was a great morning, great speakers!

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  • December 5th: Veterans have arrived in Standing Rock, approximately 2 thousand, from all over, have come to serve as human shields between law enforcement and the Protectors. From Our Revolution:
    • “An incredible moment of healing at Standing Rock: Hundreds of veterans ask Native elders for forgiveness.“We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain… We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.” -Wes Clark, Jr.
  • December 5th: SRST Chairman Dave Archambault calls for Water Protectors to return home.
  • December 6th: Panel Discussion in DC with Indigenous relatives who shared their
    panel-dec-6

    Lance, Sebi, Jordan, Tomas.

    experience at Standing Rock and how to help SR from afar. ORGANIZE! It starts with the people!

  • December 9th: Paul Peltier (Leonard Peltier’s youngest son), passes away in
    peltier

    Paul (left) and Chauncey Peltier.

    Washington DC.  The family comes every year to advocate in DC and raise awareness about their father, to ask the President to grant clemency. Prayers and Love to the family! #FreeLeonardPeltier

  • December 9th: Court date: ETP vs USACE. Judge James Boarsberg, pushes hearing back into new administration, may require Federal government to approve project. Filings to be in January 9th, DAPL to respond by January 30th, the Tribe has 10 days to respond, new hearing in February.
  • December 10th: Washington DC, Joanne, Carolyn and Rachel, along with our DC Stands with Standing Rock Coalition hosts rally and march at US Capitol to the EPA! It was an awesome, beautiful day. It all came together perfectly!

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  • December 11th: The Spirit Riders, begin journey from Crow Creek SD to Mankato MN to honor the Dakota 38+2.  Largest mass hanging in US under President Abe Lincoln. These men were taken.  Horse Nation! Some travel by horse, by running, and the weather is usually brutal during these journeys, but people have come together for them, all along the route to honor the ancestors and the riders.

    spirit-riders

    Spirit Riders, Dakota 38+2 ride to Mankato MN

  • December 12th: LastRealIndians keep the sacred fire going, by establishing the “Oceti Oyate” camp, the All Nations camp, after Oceti Sakowin camp dismantled. Chase Iron Eyes believes that the people should be able to stay if they want to, once those drill pads are gone, the Protectors can then, go home.  Thanks, Chase! You all are awesome!
  • December 15th: oil dependent city, Corpus Christi, TX, received noticed to not drink tap water.  The oil refinery had a chemical leak.  Issued notice to residents to buy bottled water. More and more… leaks. I see a domino effect occurring.

Thanks to every who is continuing to be a voice and help Standing Rock! Despite some of the traumatic and horrific actions that have happened in Standing Rock, it has brought people together.  I have been able to meet so many people, some who I have been wanting to meet for a long time, people that I look up to, and hearing everyone’s story, motivates me to keep fighting for our future generations! So here is a virtual *hug*! You rock.

 

sarain

Blessed to finally meet Sarain! Check our her new documentary, RISE on VICE, January 27th!

My Superhero: Nyal Brings

78 years.  78 years was how long my lala Nyal had on this earth, physically.  As I write this, his body hasn’t been laid to rest yet with Unci Maka,  but it’s a day that I am heavily dreading.  A part of me, as a coping mechanism wants to write about his life, because it was truly amazing and the impact he had on me, is something I will carry with me, forever.  Talking about him in the past tense is something I can’t get used to.  I’m sitting here in his house, on his couch, under his blanket, knowing he is not there in his chair, walking through the door in his Nike Structures I got him, or walking down the hallway into the kitchen saying “hey girl” or “hey jordie.” It feels wrong and empty to be here.  My Ina has given up almost two years of her life to live in South Dakota and take care of him

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After one of his treatments in 2015.

(he had cancer  9 years). I am so happy that she was able

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Frybread teeth

to do that, it was very hard being away from her for so long, hard on my Ate too.  Seeing her happy with my lala, and seeing him smile, extended his life even more on this earth. I miss him. I miss the texts. I miss his voice. I miss his hugs. I miss his wisdom and advice when things got hard for me.  He was my motivation.  I want to write something for him, about him, for my family and friends to see how much he meant to me and how much my family means to me. But the pain is so fresh and unbearable.

It’s now December  1st. It’s been months that I’ve been staring at this post from time to time, telling myself to finish it. The reminders on Facebook memories of photos with us pop up often.  Any news I had, I always sent him a text or called. That urge to do so is still there.  Thanksgiving was hard.  Christmas will be harder as I have been lucky to spend the last few with him. This year of mourning is excruciating, but we have to be ready to say 5goodbye at the memorial.  He is traveling on the red road, and I know he is with family. I know my Unci Darlene is happy to see him.  I know he is going to endless mud races or track races.  But the selfish part of me, wants him here.

My lala passed away August 11th.  Seeing that text message from my Ate at 3:30am, was heartbreaking.  Before I swiped my phone to open the message, I knew, I felt emptiness.  The last two nights of my lala’s life, I was able to FaceTime with him as he was in the hospital.  Seeing him in that condition was just painful, I have always seen him so healthy, and active.  He had a hard time speaking.  His words were mumbled.  But, I was talking to him, and I told him I loved him, and that I will be home in a couple days. And he used all his strength, to say “I love you too.” Reliving this is hard.  I’m in tears as I write this, because those words are just as fresh as when I first heard them. My lala passed away late Thursday night, August 11th.  As my mom and I said we love you, and I went to bed and she went back home, I think he felt like he didn’t have to hold on anymore, that he was at 4peace to leave. And that’s all we wanted for him. He was a fighter, and had been fighting this cancer for a long time. He was a fighter, not a quitter.  He left on his own terms.

Nyal Brings left a legacy.  He left me with hope and motivation.  He left our family but our family has gotten closer. He was an amazing man.  An accomplished man that overcame so much in his life.  He didn’t start school until he was 9.  Growing up in White River, SD, he knew family, and he knew his language.  He enjoyed his family.  But, with the threat of arresting his family, he chose to go to the boarding school.  At age 9, he was way behind, and unable to speak his own language.  Which was a way set by the Government, to “kill the indian, save the man.” He excelled in school.  He found his love of running.  He graduated from the University of South Dakota, where he was a Hall of Famer for running

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Lala Nyal and my Ina.  He was being recognized for his running at the Howard Dakota Relays (May 2015)

and basketball.  He was great friends with Lala Billy Mills, and recently found out from Lala Billy, that my grampy beat him at the Drake Relays.  This is something that my Lala never spoke of to my Ina and I, which truly shows how humble he was. My Lala was credited with a 4:10 mile and took many wins.

He was a teacher, a grant writer, he was a coach and he was the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe’s Tribal Health Director for as long as I have been alive and more.  He was a culture and language preservationist. He loved people.  He had his fancy cars he liked to restore.  He was super healthy.  He ran all his life until he couldn’t anymore.  He had the best smile. He had the best giggle.  He dressed extremely well all the time, with his different shades of blue button ups, v-neck sweaters, slim fit pants, and his loafers. He had the best sense of humor. We loved watching Cars and the Fast and Furious movies. My mom and I loved everything we were able to do with him.  He loved to make people smile.  He truly cared about our people.  He truly cared about our youth.  He kept track of their accomplishments, cut out newspaper clippings, went to all the local track meets and basketball games. He spoke with youth, he motivated them and he empowered them.  He was so generous, and in my opinion too generous, but, that was him.  He wanted to help people, at their best, and their worst. He took me on my first run.  He took my mom on her

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Three Generations

first run.  We are three generations of runners.  Every time I run, I run for him.  They both had dreams to make the Olympic Trials, and that is my dream too, in the marathon.  I still run, with workouts and look to 2020 but work has become a focus right now. He introduced me to something that connected us and something that we shared together. For that, I am eternally grateful.

His birthday is December 6th, today, as I finish writing this before I head to work, I can’t begin to express how much I miss him.  I am so proud of him.  And I hope I become at least half the person he was.  I made promises to him as I said goodbye: I will learn to speak Lakota and I will never stop trying.  I hope to continue his legacy of helping people. I hope to make people’s day better by empowering them just as he did. My life has been insanely busy since I came back from South Dakota. I don’t talk about my personal struggles that easily, such as losing him, losing my Unci, or any other major thing, but I do wear my emotions on my sleeve.  I try to deny I am feeling something, because I don’t want to remind myself of the truth that lies right there.  While I am doing everything I can to help amplify the message and voices of Standing Rock, to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, it’s been something I’ve poured my heart and energy into.  It’s because of him. I know he would be so proud of our Protectors.  Is it because I am trying not to deal with what I’m actually feeling? Sure.  I wouldn’t be surprised.  And in those moments where I have nothing planned for a few hours, the pain surfaces, and the tears come rolling in.  But then I remember that he worked for the people, and I am doing the same, I am trying to help in any way I can.

Last night, I was exhausted.  It’s been a very busy several months, especially the last two months, with panels, discussions, hearings, rallies, marches, blogging, and community organizing multiple events a week. And in the back of my head, I see my Unci Darlene and Lala Nyal. They were two amazing people, who did so much for our people.  As I sat on my couch with my igmu MJ (cat), the minutes were counting down to his birthday.  I received a reminder in my phone, as well as on Facebook.  I burned some sage and said a prayer.  As I mentioned before, it’s hard to speak of him in past tense.  It’s still just as painful.  With all that’s happened, so many things to report on, I just want to tell him. So I did.  I know he is in a good place. I know this won’t be easy.  So, waited until the clock struck midnight, and I sang him happy birthday. I cried myself to sleep but awoke to a sense of warmth surrounding me, like a hug, at 3:30am.

Today is his birthday.  He is 79 years old.  As hard as it is, I will celebrate him.  We all should.  He lived a wonderful life.  And I am so lucky, and blessed to have been his granddaughter. He gave me the best Ina.  And he brought together our family during a hard time.  All I can say, is I miss you.  I miss you so much. I love you.  I love you so incredibly much.  But today, I celebrate you and will see that smile.  Doksa, Lala Nyal.

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Eviction Notice for Oceti Sakowin Camp, set for December 5th: #NoDAPL Update

LATEST UPDATE (as of 7:03pm EST):

The acts of inhumane treatment and violence on peaceful Protectors on November 20th escalated. Protectors were peacefully trying to remove debris on the bridge. Authorities engaged in violence by shooting at the Protectors with tear gas, water cannons (in 25 degree weather), concussion grenades and rubber bullets. Sophia Wilansky, 21, fell victim to their tactics,  faces up to 20 surgeries, shrapnel was pulled from her arm, bone and muscles exposed.  A vein was taken from her leg. She was handing out water to the people, and she was hit in the groin and hit with a concussion grenade on her arm.  She was taken to a hospital in Minneapolis, MN. Here is an interview with her father, with Democracy Now!. The world waited to see what actions would be taken by the Administration after this…..

 

The Day After:

A day after Thanksgiving.  A time long ago where the first peoples helped the pilgrim’s survive. Two things happened this evening that make me wonder about next week’s developments at Oceti Sakowin.

First, the Bismarck Times reports that the Morton County Sheriff who oversaw most of the dirty tactics, misinformation, and abuse by the Police directed at the Protectors was removed from his post. This event was accompanied by the Morton County Sheriff’s Facebook page going dark. Tactics may be changing.

The second development is that the Army Corp of Engineers has announced the eviction of the protestors from Corp lands as of December 5, a day after the arrival of a large group of Veterans that plan to join the protectors on the frontlines. While I would not put it past Colonel John W. Henderson, author of the letter announcing the eviction, to recklessly act on his own, I believe that a smart bureaucrat would have consulted with the White House, which has announced that it is working on a compromise, as well as the Department of Justice, who will likely have to oversee or closely monitor such an eviction, before issuing the declaration the day after Thanksgiving. No one in their right mind would fan the flames of a dedicated and growing protest movement in this way, knowing that a forced eviction will lead to confrontation the likes we haven’t seen in over a century. With that said, Morton County will need help to clear the camp out, National Guard may be requested, which Governor Dalrymple has reluctantly done so before. National Guard will be there to ensure no one new comes to camp, which if people stay and occupy it, supplies may have a hard time being delivered  If that’s the case, they need to start hoarding supplies now, and figuring out ways to get them, much like the activists did at Wounded Knee of 1973. But, we shall see how this plays out.  I pray for a good outcome, despite the negative and horrific things we’ve all witnessed, we must remain hopeful.

Here is Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Chairman Dave Archambault’s ending statement, click here for full statement on Colonel Henderson’s demand:

“Again, we ask that the United States stop the pipeline and move it outside our ancestral and treaty lands. It is both unfortunate and disrespectful that this announcement comes the day after this country celebrates Thanksgiving—a historic exchange of goodwill between Native Americans and the first immigrants from Europe. Although the news is saddening, it is not at all surprising given the last 500 years of the mistreatment of our people. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stands united with more than 300 tribal nations and the water protectors who are here peacefully protesting the Dakota access pipeline to bolster indigenous people’s rights. We continue to fight for these rights, which continue to be eroded. Although we have suffered much, we still have hope that the President will act on his commitment to close the chapter of broken promises to our people and especially our children.”

The Sheriff is suspended, a date is set for confrontation. Pay attention next week for potential offers to compromise and re-route the pipeline. Let’s hope this is part of a programmatic de-escalation plan that works for everyone.

What Standing Rock Has Created:

Solidarity around the world for #NoDAPL and for Standing Rock has been beautiful.  For me, it gives me hope, and restores some of the faith I’ve lost. For me, I hope this solidarity is continued, sustained past #NoDAPL, where we are all still there for each other, or do we go back to how things were? I believe there is a great understanding of indigenous people, and for protecting the environment.  We have always stressed that we must take care of our earth. And as Jane Fonda mentioned to Indian Country Today Media Network, “First Nations people have been telling us from the very very very beginning, for what had to happen for our species to survive.  We never listened, or not enough of us listened. And it’s almost too late now, we have to start listening, before it’s too late.”  Standing Rock has put what environmental genocide looks like on the map, where people are trickling in, realizing what threats may pose on our Unci Maka. This has been a peaceful, unarmed, non-violent resistance. It is youth led. That’s how it is being successful right now, it’s not turning into a Bundy fiasco.  It doesn’t need to.  If the pipeline does succeed in 100% completion, which, I pray every day that it doesn’t, that a re-route is possible, or better yet, extract the whole pipeline all together, but that this sets the bar, in terms of how we move forward in protecting the environment.  Standing Rock has brought many Tribal nations together, but has also brought so many others together as well.  The pressure is on Dakota Access, LLC to be pumping oil by January 1st, 2017. That is just a little over a month away.  If they don’t, Dakota Access will lose their contracts.

TAKE ACTION:

The pressure is on.  Call your state representatives.  Call the White House.  Mail letters to your state representatives and to President Barack Obama.  He needs something tangible in his hand to read.  And as much as I don’t want this to ever happen or come to this, I ask myself, would a death certificate be the only thing to make him assert himself into this mess and do the right thing? I pray every day that it doesn’t happen and that a repeat of the 1973 Wounded Knee Siege doesn’t arise.  We need to be a collective, strong voice.  Organize. Help Standing Rock. You have the power to do so.

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Timeline of Events (missed some, but hopefully got the most important):

    • April 4, 2016: camps are created, youth asked LaDonna Brave Bull Allard if there was land to use, and she had some.  Now, life at camp, that started with a handful then, to now, with upwards 10k people being there, depending on time.
    • July 15th: the Standing Rock youth began the run to DC to deliver signatures to President Obama and to be a voice in the Nation’s capital opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline.
    • August 5th: Run for Water rally and protest that my sister and I put together for them.
    • August 6th: rally and protest in front of the White House to tell the President, even though he wasn’t there, to oppose DAPL.
    • September 3rd: attack dogs and mace are used on water protectors, including a child and a pregnant woman. Attack dogs and mace being used on people hasn’t happened like this, to this magnitude, since 1963, during the civil rights movement, fight for equality.girl-and-attack-dog
    • September 6th:emergency hearing scheduled by the court, after the attack dogs and mace incident. Temporary halt on construction granted.
    • September 8th: arrest warrant for Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! issued.
    • September 8th: Governor James Dalrymple of ND, calls upon the National Guard for assistance.
    • September 9th: US District Court denies injunction.
    • September 9th: Joint Statement from Department of Justice, Department of the Army and the Department of Interior, step in.
    • September 22nd: Congressmen Grijalva and Ruiz, Natural Resources Committee, hold forum on “Taking a Stand: Protecting Water and Native American Sacred Sites Cultural Resources at Standing Rock” with panel witnesses that included SRST Chairman, Dave Archambault II. Both Congressmen have come to SRST, have seen the camp, the pipeline, and stand with them on this issue.
    • September 23rd: the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland called upon the U.S. to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline because of the threat it poses to the aboriginal community.
    • September 26th: White House Tribal Nations Conference is held, DAPL is lightly discussed and mentioned as footnote by the President. He states when talking about the movement that has come from Standing Rock, and all who are supporting them and opposing DAPL/pipelines, “You’re making your voices heard.”
    • September 29th: armored MRAPs, rifles, shotguns, snipers, and tear gas are used on the protectors, on peaceful, UNARMED protectors. 21 arrests that day, after they were told by the police to leave. An elder, an unci, and older woman, stated that she had never seen a gun before and had one pointed at her face.
    • September 30: Tribe denied request for state emergency aid.
    • October 9th: just before the Presidential Debate, the U.S. Appeals Court releases decision to lift injunction, denying Tribe’s request to stop the 1,178 mile pipeline.
    • October 10th: Shailene Woodley was targeted by the Police, she was live streaming the event for just over 2 hours, and when they were all told to leave, she came back to her RV, with her mom, to find that it was surrounded by police in riot gear, guns shai-arresteddrawn, and armored vehicle. She was arrested and was one of 27 that day. Ironically, arrested, and mistreated on a day that celebrates the man who discovered America and committed an act of genocide on the Native Americans already living there.
    • October 10th: protectors and protestors in Reno, NV, were having a rally to stand with Standing Rock but also to protest Columbus Day, which many feel it should be abolished, and changed to Indigenous Peoples Day, some noticed someone in a white truck lingering around, and then when they started to walk in the streets to raise awareness, and this white truck came, and ended up plowing through the crowd. 5 were injured.  The driver was never arrested and no charges as of yet.  An elderly woman was hit and taken to the hospital.
    • October 11th: Ken Ward and four others shut off the valves to the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Pipeline in Anacortes, WA, to avert climate catastrophe and to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. As well as 5 others in MT, MN and ND, along Canadian borders.
    • October 12th: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Tribal Chairman, Dave Archambault says, “Mr President, Please stand with us,” in a
    • October 12th: DC Standing Rock Coalition hold rally in front of AFL-CIO Headquarters where President Trumka has voiced support for DAPL and discounted Native American claims.
    • October 17th: first baby born on the banks of the Cannonball River! Hoka Hey!

      new baby.jpg

      Welcome to the world!

    • October 17th: District Court Judge Grinsteiner REJECTS the “riot” charges on Democracy Now! Amy Goodman.
    • October 17th: brothers and sisters in New Brunswick Canada are arrested for protecting their land and water…. You see and hear, of their arrests, especially when they were told to leave, and back up, they did, then you see the phone put in the clothing, and only hear audio.
    • October 22nd: brothers and sisters on the frontlines are arrested, some youth, a girl got her wrist broken protecting a little boy that was separated from his grandma from a baton. Roughly 141 arrests. Legal observers and journalists targeted first. Four protectors locked themselves to disabled car, halting DAPL construction for several hours.
    • October 22nd: Stand Rock Sioux Tribe has cited 1851 Treaty, establishing new frontline camp, and roadblocks, on the proposed pipeline path. Oceti Sakowin has enacted eminent domain ion DAPL lands by claiming 1851 Treaty Rights, on unceded lands.
    • October 24th: my sisters and I host rally in front of White House, urging the sistersPresident to step in: no easement, conduct a full environmental impact study, and for DOJ AG Loretta Lynch to inquire about the unlawful, illegal, arrests on protectors. CNN commentator, Van Jones, supported us, and spoke as a concerned citizen and as a father, DC United #18, Chris Rolfe attended and showed his support.
    • October 26th: Mark Ruffalo and Reverend Jesse Jackson come to Standing Rock, showing their support.  Mark, a climate advocate, and against fracking, brought solar panels to power the camp.
    • October 27th: 3 bus loads of law enforcement officers show up to new blockade, over 300, in riot gear, arresting women who are praying, apprehending our protectors praying in sweatlodge, youth getting maced multiple times, the girl who broke her wrist was targeted and re-broke it, 140+ arrests, including elders and youth, all spread throughout ND in jails, manyshot-in-facegrandmas (Uncis) sitting in their maced clothes, and feeling the burn from it.  The screams of our protectors are haunting in all the live feeds you see. Authorities have successfully taken over the new Treaty 1851 camp and blockades.  Our protectors are there resisting.
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DAPL Contractor

    • October 28th: day 2, protectors still on frontlines. Tensions are high, as most were occupying the bridge throughout the night.
  • November 2, 2016: Police and DAPL desecrate sacred burial grounds of two indigenous women, Alma Parkin and Matilda Galpin, who once owned Cannonball Ranch, that now DAPL owns. US Army Corps of Engineers ordered Morton County to  tear down man made bridge that protectors made to cross, and pray on the hill. They were met with tear gas, rubber bullets, mace, and excessive force with batons. Some had hypothermia, one person was coughing up blood, many had welts.
  • November 3, 2016: hundreds of clergy members came to camp, and the frontlines, to offer prayer, and negotiate with the police. They honored and sang a Dakota hymn, in English and in Dakota (to honor the Dakota 38+2, who were taken, and hung in the clergy.jpglargest mass execution).
  • November 5, 2016: Youth arrive from Arizona, have completed their 1,000+ mile run to Standing Rock!
  • November 9, 2016: DAP has stated they will continue pipeline without 408 Permit, which is the last permit that is needed.
  • November 10, 2016: #NoDAPL Solidarity lockdown action at TD Bank in Boston, MA (One of the banks funding the pipeline).
  • November 11, 2016: DAPL and Morton County, are rounding up wild buffalo, trapping them in fenced areas, and then have been transporting them to undisclosed locations.  Report of them being slaughtered have been buffalo fenced in.jpgmade.
  • November 12, 2016: Man in truck, drives through protectors, and fires 7 shots into the air.  Man works for Four Square Concrete out of ND.
  • November 12, 2016: NoDAPL/Stand with Standing Rock solidarity action in Annapolis, MD!
  • November 14, 2016: US Army Corps of Engineers release statement that construction cannon occur on or under Army  Corps lands. Further review and discussions are needed.
  • November 15, 2016: United Nations denounce ‘inhumane’ treatment of Native American protectors. Send legal observers to camps and frontlines, as well as Amnesty International.
  • November 15th, 2016: National Call to Solidarity Action: All 50 states participated, over 300+ actions. Indigenous Youth Council member, Eryn Wise, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, and Shailene Woodley came to DC, to lead march to US Army Corp of Engineers, and then to White House. Senator Bernie Sanders made an appearance to stand in solidarity, and to motivate the people. He also mentioned to declare Standing Rock a federal monument.
  • November 15, 2016: DC Stands and FORCE, team up, for morning rush hour direct action, “We Are Still Here” at Union Station in DC. Focused on #NoDAPL,we-are-still-here-1 standing with Standing Rock, the injustices on Indigenous people, as well as honoring and remembering our missing, murdered indigenous women across Turtle Island.
  • November 16, 2016: ETP CEO Kelcey Warren states that they wished SRST had engaged in conversations previously to the pipeline being built, SRST came with audio recordings of their opposition back in 2014.
  • November 16th, 2016: George Washington University, Native American Political Leadership Program, hosted Water is Life panel that included Eryn Wise, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, SR Councilman Robert Taken Alive, and Jacqueline Pata of NCAI.
  • November 18th, 2016: Largest bank in Norway pulls its assets in Dakota Access Pipeline. last-night
  • November 20, 2016: Protectors go to remove cars and put out fires, open blockade, to let people drive through and witness first hand what is going on. Authorities fire back with water cannons, tear gars and concussion grenades on the protectors, when it’s 25 degrees out.
  • November 20, 2016: One youth, of the Indigenous Youth Council suffered a seizure from the flash grenades.
  • November 20, 2016: Sophia Wilansky is hit with concussion grenade on her arm,sophia faces up to 20 surgeries, may face amputation still. Two men speak out on what they witnessed as they tried to help Sophia. If you would like to donate to her medical expenses, here is the link: https://www.gofundme.com/30aezxs
  • November 21, 2016: Congressman Raul Grijalva releases statement on the inhumane and hostile treatment on the water protectors.  Congressman Grijalva has been a huge voice in opposition to the pipeline, has visited Standing Rock, the camps, and has voiced the need for a bi-partisan hearing on this issue.
  • November 25, 2016: ND Governor suspends Morton County Sheriff.
  • November 25, 2016: Colonel John Henderson issues demand for protectors to vacate Oceti Sakowin camp by midnight, December 5th.
  •  November 27th: US ACE states that they will not forcibly remove Protectors. They cannot evict Protectors from Treaty lands.May be subjected to tickets and will be considered “trespassers”
  • November 27th: LastRealIndians, Standing Rock, and Organizers, host WATER IS march-7LIFE march and rally in Washington DC, from Department of Justice to the Sylvan Theater at the Washington Monument. Later that night, Dave Matthews host’s benefit concert for Standing Rock at DAR Constitution Hall in DC.
  • November 28th: 17 members, formally worked in the Obama Administration, state their support for Standing Rock and their opposition to the pipeline.  They also stress the urgency for the President to take immediate action.  Former boss was on the list!

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For our protectors on the frontlines, we are with you.  We support you and Standing Rock.  Be strong.  Be resilient.  Keep the peace. And keep the love. Love you all, always and in all ways!  Mitakuye Oyasin! ❤

 

Follow me on: Twitter: @_NativeInDC and Facebook: www.facebook.com/NativeInDC

 

Native America: An Opportunity for Trump?

Sadly, one of the nice things about being Native American is that we seldom have the luxury of high hopes when it comes to politicians pursuing policies that are favorable to our people.  So, we don’t have far to fall after an election is over. Our issues are neglected in DC just as they are ignored by the media. Some administrations are hostile to our interests (preferring business interests over integrity or humanity) and others simply put competing interests in front of those in Indian Country (note the inclusion of the Indian

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Health Services in the Sequester that inadvertently slashed our health system during the Obama administration). Our elders have seen these things come and go as little has changed for the better. However, we don’t have the luxury of standing on the side and letting the games of politicians drift by over the years. It is important to note that the resources we rely upon were fought for by our ancestors and have to be fought for in each generation: They are the result of a relatively small pie with fierce competition amongst many under-served populations (populations, by the way, with better lobbying and media access but no treaties with the government and statistically less need than in Indian Country).

Donald J. Trump ran against the status quo. He is promising to “Drain the Swamp” and to create a government that serves the true needs of the people rather than rewarding those with the best lobbyists or the loudest voices. I watch the pundits and they are trying to decide if Trump’s rhetoric during the election was simply a tool to win the presidency or a genuine reflection of what his true intentions are.  I think such talk is simply that: talk (or, occasionally, Tweets). I prefer to watch. Actions are best for those who have real need. Talk is only good for people who want attention. (insert Shout out to Kanye here).

A true test, a real test, and a genuine opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to doing the right thing would be to direct attention and resources toward where the need TRULY exists.  Native America has the highest poverty rates (roughly double) in the country. Our unemployment rate is nearly 4 times the national average and more than double that of African-Americans and Hispanics. We have the worst general health outcomes. Of all racial groups, Native Americans are statistically most likely to be killed by police. Pick a statistic. Statistics aside, if you are being guided by a true moral sense of serving those in need, Native America should top the list. The sad, sad fact is that, we rise to the top for intervention on at least three fronts Statistically, Morality, and Potential. We are, in the final analysis, a great people who have survived extreme efforts to eradicate, de-moralize, and neglect our very existence.

Note to President-Elect Trump:

So, President-Elect Trump, Step up and really show the system that doing the right thing we-are-still-here-1is a top priority. This is your chance to align the rigged system you rallied against with the reality of doing the right thing, even if it isn’t popular. Don’t be swayed by lobbyists, pundits, or self-interested politicians trying to assuage their constituents. Don’t be influenced by concerns over voter demographics, campaign contributors, or the typical DC political correctness that decides issues upon who might be angry as opposed to what is the best thing to do. Don’t fall into stereotypes that Native Americans all have casino money or live off of un-earned government checks.  Instead, rely upon what is right (morality), where the need is (statistics), and where the promises are (treaties). It would be out of left (or, in this case, right) field and the press would be blind-sided. Everyone wins. Ignore the loud voices and show the country, in a big way, that this country is finally ready to do what is just, fair, and difficult. This is a tremendous opportunity for you.

We, as always, are watching. Indian Country can only win if the system is no longer rigged. A perfect proof of concept for your first 100 days if you ask me! I dare you, to do the right thing.  Prove us wrong.

Team Running Strong and the 41st Annual Marine Corps Marathon

The 41st Annual Marine Corps Marathon:

The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) has become the 4th largest marathon in the US and 9th in the world. This marathon doesn’t off prize money and is considered “The People’s Marathon.” Colonel Jim Fowler had an idea. While the popularity of military services was on a decline after the Vietnam War, distance running was gaining popularity and positive attention. Fowler wrote a memo to his superior in 1975, detailing his ideas and image of having a “Marine Corps Reserve Marathon” to promote community goodwill, highlight the Marine Corps, serve as recruiting tool and to give local Marines a chance to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

The name marathon evokes military history and is the kind of event which the public finds in consonance with the image of Marines,” Fowler stated in his memo to General Michael Ryan. This idea was taken very well and was approved. “The Peoples Marathon” has gained a lot of attention since its birth and with that popularity; it has attracted celebrities such as politicians, local public figures, and even Oprah Winfrey, who finished with a time of 4:29:15 in her first marathon. Who would’ve thought that O ran a marathon, and more

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Mile 17, between National Mall and the National Museum of the American Indian

shockingly, ran it so well?! She sparked a movement and challenged those out there, to run and beat her time. Tons of charity organizations have participated in this event series as well, raising awareness and fundraising for their causes.

This event has evolved into a premier running organization with 30 full-time staff, and thousands of volunteers that consist of Marines, Sailors, and civilians to ensure the MCM mission is carried out with the founders intentions: “To promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill, and showcase the organizational skills of the United States Marine Corps”—is reflected in each MCM, Historic Half, and MCM Event Series race.

Running Strong for American Indian Youth:

28 minutes, 24.4 seconds and the will to win is all it took for the Oglala Lakota underdog to win the 1964 Olympic 10k Gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Billy Mills, Oglala Lakota, member for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and only American to win the gold, is the National Spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indian Youth. Billy shocked the world when he came from behind to pass Mohamed Gammoudi and Ron Clarke on the outside, strides before the finish line to grab the Gold. A humble, sweet, funny, and kind man was left with the feeling of appreciation, gratitude, and wanting to give back to his people. He healed his broken soul, with a dream, a dream to win, and with that dream, came a gold medal…. and now that dream has transpired into empowering our Native youth.

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Billy wanted to give back to his community and pave a better path for our American Indian youth to be successful, filled with opportunities. Running Strong was founded under the Christian Relief Services in 1986 and joined forces with Eugene Krizek, to bring basic resources and hope to some of the most impoverished Tribal communities in the United States. Running Strong was created and took off; making long lasting impacts on the people and communities that Billy and Running Strong serve.

How is Running Strong for American Indian Youth connected to the Marine Corps Marathon?

Billy earned a track scholarship from the University of Kansas where he set numerous records and then served as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps. It wasn’t until 2004, that the Marine Corps Marathon chose Billy Mills, as the official starter and Team Running Strong was born. runners-1

Team Running Strong for the MCM is the official organized charity team. Team members are able to participate and take advantage of the activities throughout the weekend, while raising money of $722 (Billy’s bib number). Team members come from all over to support a great cause, to help Running Strong and native youth, and to accomplish a great, personal triumph!

A Spectator’s Remarks:

My experience over the MCM and Team Running Strong events was an amazing and unforgettable one. New friendships, new stories, tons of pictures, tons of laughs, and tons of smiles were all created from the weekend’s events. This was my third year volunteering at the Honoring Ceremony and race day events that Running Strong hosts. After meeting with all the runners and listening to guest speakers, it leaves you motivated. A common issue brought up, was the events that have happened in Standing Rock and #NoDAPL.  We gave prayer for our protectors.  The recent escalation of events and inhumane treatment no-dapl-team-running-strongon Native people and our supporters, have left us all, at a loss for words.  But, we stand with Standing Rock, we prayed for them, and I made sure #NoDAPL was seen, even on race day!

It was so exciting to see roughly 30 thousand runners, and despite the 80 degree weather, it was beautiful day.  That temperature is definitely not ideal at all for a marathon, but all of Team Running Strong, 15 runners, and participants powered through it. It was incredible to catch up with some of the runners post-race, and hear their stories and how they were feeling.  They were all upbeat. A couple runners, Navajo, found us at the tent and spoke with Billy, navajocodetalkerswho I thought were so kind and happy.  They were representing the Navajo Code Talkers and even had some on his shirt, and he was also a Marine.   Before we said our goodbyes, he asked to take a picture with Billy, with a penguin stuffed animal, which what his child’s, who has passed on.  As I stood afar, I was in tears.  This was a penguinprecious moment.  Aside from Billy’s status and all of his accomplishments, he is humble and he is human.  He said “of course” and continued to tell him that he was his hero.  Many people idolize Billy, but one thing I have seen, is that Billy, idolizes all of us, and he makes sure he says that to whomever he is speaking with.

Not only did the runners blow me away, but the Running Strong staff, and volunteers who came, inspired me and I felt internally grateful to them. The work that is being accomplished by Running Strong is truly remarkable and to be able to read or watch what they are doing in these Tribal communities, and knowing it’s making a difference, brings so much joy in my heart. The hours they put in and the dedication is the backbone that makes Running Strong successful. Billy’s influence and personal story he tells when he travels (more than 3/4 of the year), is changing our American Indian youths lives as well as the people in general. Billy used his success as his platform to create change and to shed light on some of these impoverished communities in the nation. He is an innovator, a leader, a friend, and my Oglala lala. Billy, his wife Pat (Unci), Running Strong, Team Running Strong, the volunteers and those who came to support and cheer, are family to me, my tiospaye.

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So to end this, I just want to say CONGRATULATIONS to all 15 Team Running Strong runners and hope you are able to walk without pain by now, especially down the stairs! You all have inspired me and I look forward to our paths crossing again. I also want to thank (wopila tanka): Billy Mills, Patricia Mills, Running Strong staff, volunteers, and Team Running Strong! Keep up the great work! Mitakuye Oyasin!

For more information on Running Strong for American Indian Youth, click here.

For more information on the Marine Corps Marathon, click here.