Seven Things to Realize About the Standing Rock Action

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Photo from http://www.nodaplarchive.com/

  1.  This is not an ending to a discrete event, a foregone legal consummation, or a notable protest gone silent. This is another page in a long, horrific saga, a continuation of 500 years of resistance and a strong resurgence of spirit.
  2.  This is not an environmental movement. This is a gathering of Native people uniting around the truths of being indigenous, and asserting those original responsibilities to the Earth and all of our relations.
  3.  This is not an isolated media event in a singular disagreement whose time has now passed. Similar situations are happening, and have been for years, in indigenous homelands everywhere.
  4.  This is not fundamentally a physical or political battle. This is a spiritual struggle between separation and connection, appropriation and reciprocity.
  5.  This was and is not simply a reaction by “Natives and allies” to “Western progress”, because colonialism is not a period in the distant past. Rather, it is an ongoing systemic policy of the United States that has now expanded to include almost all of its own people AND the rest of the world.
  6.   This is not about violence, terrorism, and disrespect. This is about life, love, and caring: for each other, for our Mother, and for all of Creation.
  7.   These understandings, and the people who hold them, are not a thing of the past or irrelevant in today’s world. They are more significant and needful now than ever, and that, my friend, is the source of Native resilience. They are still here and still speaking.

Vermont Senate, House Bills Introduced for Statewide Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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The move in Vermont to permanently change the observance of Columbus Day to the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day (IPD) on the second Tuesday in October – statewide – has made great advances this week. Bills have just been introduced in both branches of the State Legislature to that end. S.83 has been introduced by Chittenden Senator Debbie Ingram, with the support of Sens. Baruth, Brooks, McCormack, and Pollina. H.488 has been introduced by Chittenden 6-4 Representative Brian Cina, with co-sponsors Reps. Buckholz, Chesnut-Tangerman, Colburn, Gonzalez, McCormack, Murphy, O’Sullivan, Rachelson, and Weed.

Both bills are entitled “An act relating to Indigenous Peoples’ Day”, and draw their language from the 2016 Executive Proclamation made by Governor Peter Shumlin last October. A link to the draft House bill itself is here – H.488, and a link to the Senate bill is here – S.83. Rep. Cina visited the February 8th meeting of the VT Commission on Native American Affairs to present his draft IPD language, along with other Native-centric bills he is sponsoring. The Commission passed, by consensus, a motion to support his work to this end and thanked him for the initiative to move this act forward, one that has been on their action list for awhile.

Gill Riverside Historic District Awaits State Decision

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After about two years of work by local residents and the Gill Historical Commission, the fate of a possible National Historic District in the Riverside area of town is in the hands of the state. The commission, with support from town government and area residents, recently submitted its nomination to the state Historical Commission. If the state panel approves, the nomination advances to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., for final approval.

Town officials held a public hearing about a historic district in conjunction with the state Historical Society on Tuesday night at the Riverside Municipal Building.

The district encompass much of the Riverside neighborhood, with Riverview Drive, Oak Street, Walnut Street, Myrtle Street, Pine Street and Grove Street included within the boundaries as well as some properties on the other side of French King Highway.

See the full article by Miranda Davis in the Greenfield Recorder.

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This area at the southern edge of Sokwakik is highly significant for Native heritage and among other things is a subject of the ongoing Falls Fight Battlefield Study Grant. This incredibly productive fishing location drew indigenous people from many different communities for thousands of years. Here and nearby, they would harvest and process the anadromous fish that paused to surmount the falls of Peskeompskut, traded and celebrated, met and married, and shared the Kwanitekw’s gifts in peace. This place still has great power and strong spirit, despite the ravages of industrial exploitation and the ongoing genocidal mindset of settler colonialism. Any action to recognize and support this reality is a welcome beginning.

Don’t Settle – Watch This One

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Montana, like Vermont, has one Representative in the U.S. House. His name is Ryan Kinke. A single termer, he happens to be President Trump’s nomination for Secretary of the Interior, which entails supervision of a great deal of “public” lands, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (for what that is worth). Although nominated in mid-December, well before Trump was inaugurated, his confirmation has been held up during this troubling transition, along with many others. The word is that the final hearings won’t be held until late February or early March.

He is being touted by many, even those across the aisle, as “not so bad” – this in comparison, it would seem, to the balance of the Administration’s inner cadre. He is a devoted sportsman, a “Teddy Roosevelt” conservationist, a westerner among westerners. He has sworn up and down that he does not believe in privatizing public lands, or ceding Federal responsibility for the same to State or local oversight. Yet at the beginning of the 2017 Congressional session in January, on one of his first and only floor votes, he seemingly reversed his publicly stated position, and voted to approve a measure which would have removed Federal budgetary accountability from the transfer of public lands. Having shown his hand and been called out on it, he was (it would seem) quietly asked to refrain by the Administration. Immediately thereafter, he stopped participating in House actions and has not voted since – for a month and a half – lest he incur further less-than-positive reaction before confirmation.

This speaks volumes. Yes, his abstention or absence leaves Montana without its sole voice in the House, an effect that has drawn complaint from its constituents. True, he has drawn cautious praise from several local tribes because of his support of their causes. But having been chosen by the current administration, and already demonstrated his willingness to toe the ideological line, notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary, it would be well to beware. The League of Conservation Voters, whose mission it is to pay attention, gives him a 3% career approval rating on votes that matter. Just because this fellow likes to go hunting with Donald Trump’s sons does not make him a friend of the Land. Or anyone, by extension. This will become clear, after he is approved by those who are convinced, by juxtaposition, that “he is not so bad.” The current reality will manifest and it will not be kind. Or caring. Or respectful. To our Mother, and by extension, to her Children.

 

The Ancient One Returns Home

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Uytpama Natitayt — Kennewick Man, or the Ancient One, an ancestor of the First People of the Columbia Plateau — is finally home.

More than 200 of his relatives came together at an undisclosed location on the Columbia Plateau early February 18 to lay him to rest. They came from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, from the Nez Perce Tribe, from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and the Wanapum Tribe and the Yakama Nation.

Religious leaders from each of the Native Nations jointly conducted a ceremony. And then Kennewick Man’s remains were returned to the earth, just as loved ones first laid him to rest some 9,000 years ago. The ceremony was private.

See the full article in Indian Country Today.

Nova Scotia Pardons Mi’kmaq Chief 60 Years Later

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Gabriel Sylliboy died feeling like he failed his Mi’kmaq people. The grand chief launched a fight for aboriginal rights after being charged with illegal hunting in the 1920s, but the courts of the era dismissed the notion that a 1752 treaty gave Sylliboy any rights. It would take another six decades before those rights were recognized by the courts.

“Our grand chief was really quite sad about the fact that he was charged and wasn’t able to be successful in obtaining Mi’kmaq rights for his people,” said Jaime Battiste, the province’s treaty education lead. “He went to his deathbed thinking he let the Mi’kmaq people down.”

On Thursday, nearly 90 years after his conviction, the Nova Scotia government pardoned and honoured Sylliboy, who was born in 1874 in Whycocomagh, N.S., and became the first elected Mi’kmaq grand chief.

Read the full story in the Herald News.

Abenaki Storytellers at Brattleboro’s Retreat Farm

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As part of  this year’s Brattleboro Winter Carnival celebration, the newly-minted non-profit Retreat Farm‘s Open Barn schedule includes two sessions with Abenaki storytellers. Stop in to join Willow Greene on Friday and Roger Longtoe Sheehan on Saturday for the winter tradition of storytelling, along with other opportunities hosted by the Farm.

Friday, February 24
Noon – 4:00
Open Barn Preview
Bonfire (with food!*)
Children’s activities & animals
2:00 Abenaki storyteller Willow Greene

Saturday, February 25
Noon – 4:00
Open Barn Preview
Bonfire (with food!*)
Children’s activities & familiar animals
2:00 Abenaki storyteller Roger Longtoe Sheehan, Chief of the ELNU Abenaki tribe