From its inception, I’m certain there were Indigenous people in our community who were skeptical of the Idle No More grassroots Peoples movement. It almost seems natural that we have those in our community who will stand by and watched with skepticism while others join in a movement for the People.
I thought I would state in this long over due 2013 blog, today is Day 41 of Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike. Not only is she protesting peacefully, she is strong with our creator. Within the Indigenous community we are taught, when one is fasting, one is also strong with the creator. Chief Spence is in a prayerful place conducting interviews, reading current affairs, and has awakened a sleeping giant. Since the first day she declared her hunger strike, Idle No More has become something more for First Nations people in the Canadian provinces, but also Natives across reservations in the US.
As members of the Indigenous community began to read more on the subject and realize it is more than a First Nation gathering event of flash mob round dances, road blocks, and protests, in fact, Idle No More has reminded US Natives what the government has failed to uphold in its trust responsibilities, including federal appropriations. Idle No More is indeed a movement, it is our movement, a movement of our People. Quoting the great Bob Marley, “We know where we’re going and we know where we’re from.” [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QclBQtSSS30] We are of this land and by any means necessary protect our Mother Earth.
To the many who have fought the good fight before I was born, Idle No More is the hope they’ve been waiting for and the dream that has come true. We have people who’ve been in the fight for our lands, resisting the impeding colonized forms of assimilation. When I seek them out, I see more of these good people and in the subtle ways they resisted with dignity and Indigenous truth, I find peace. The resistance exists in places like Tonatierra holding their ground waiting for this time and in the old AIM’sters. It’s time to stand together and rebuild our communities through resistance and education awareness using culturally land based knowledge.
As I think about what I’ve done (and honestly) my resistance is new. I only started writing about decolonization and realizing Indigenous Nationhood formally since I took a Colonization, Globalization, Decolonization class last spring 2012 and through the LastRealIndians. Although I was introduced to “colonialism” in 1999 through a professor’s suggestion, I was not ready to process, acknowledge, or embrace it. What’s poignant to me in my recollection is when a friend’s father talked to me about decolonization in 1992 at a NAC meeting while living and working on Indigenous Ah’ki’mel Oo’dhaam pii’posh land.
Today I look back and think our creator calls us each differently and when we are ready, that is when “it” will happen. Prior to my realization I was idle. Yes, I stood by idly when acts of racism against my people occurred. Being idle also included the choice of drugs and alcohol. Years later, when I chose marriage and motherhood, I knew that life would not suit that family lifestyle. Having married an alcoholic I realize that did not help matters either, yet somehow I believed it would change. Young and naïve, I learned we can’t change anyone, they have to be willing to change themselves on their time and that time is between them and the creator. Similarly, Idle No More has the same cause and effect. One has to be willing to change their life, the way they think, behave, respond, and interact in a society that does not celebrate difference or Indigenous Nationhood.
Recently, I talked with my kids and a couple of my nieces and after hearing their thoughts I looked at them with awe. They had ideas and thoughts that were as equally important about Idle No More and sadly, I’m embarrassed to say that prior to Idle No More, I had not made a sincere concerted effort to listen to them. Today, I’m looking at them and more younger people to become involved with Idle No More. Not only do our youth see the world through different eyes, our youth have a fight in them that colonization has not quite tainted the way some of our adults have been as a result of government policies. As I look to our youth, I’m also looking at those adults who are willing to make a change to be Idle No More and ask of them, how are we mobilizing our young people and giving them responsibilities to give them ownership to their future? After all, we are not going to be here, they will be our next generation of leaders who are going to pass this torch of fighting the good fight.
In our communities, throughout Turtle Island, we have good people who are out there for the good fight. With an organized effort and a willingness to set aside egos, it’s very possible to work through pressing issues related to our treaty rights. Today, a treaty is all a tribe has when it comes to encroaching white settlers who want to exploit what remains of our pristine Indigenous lands. It is for our youth and unborn future that we must educate ourselves and fight the good fight. Our ancestors had us in mind, the Seventh Generation, 150+ plus years ago when treaty negotiations were made.
We have so much to lose if we stand by idly. On my home reserve, we live near a border town that reaps financial gains from our enterprise weekly. Every week, tribal operations pays a significant population of Indigenous and non Indigenous employees. Imagine how much of that revenue goes back into that border town, yet that city governance has not once acknowledged our financial support in the continued development of an illegally settled township. Further, ignoring our tribal sponsorships to charities. And still, our contributions are ignored by white settler citizens of this town who believe we need to “get over it” or “go back to the Rez.” Their ignorance is incredulous and perpetual. Unfortunately, that is how generational racism is taught, through ignorance. I believe it’s a time of reckoning. As the original land owners, we have never forgotten our ancestors and what they died fighting for. We as Indigenous people of this land are here to say, we will continue to fight and protect what is our responsibility. If you can not understand that, we do not apologize.
In closing, I ask readers, how many of you are ready? Ready to stand up and speak on that Indigenous truth? How many are ready to stand up for what our ancestors fought and died for? How many are going to choose To Be or Not To Be Idle No More?