Privilege in Activism - Ego is Not a Clan

"The denial of Native womanhood is the reduction of whole people to a sub-human level.  Animals beget animals.  The dictates of patriarchy demand thatbeneath the Native male comes the Native female.  The dictates of racism are that Native man are beneath white women and Nativefemales are not fit to be referred to as women." ~ Lee Maracle, from I Am Woman (1996: p. 17-18)

I've pretty much left much of my former activism behind but I am not saying I am leaving activism behind completely.  I am redefining activism by broadening the definition from sign carrying and so called "front lines," activism.  What I was given and dealt with in the past few years included - lateral violence, bullying, male privilege, counter organizing, favoritism, huge egos, sexism, ageism (from older activists) and more.  It is important to point these things out because we can't create a better world by oppressing others in work that is supposed to be "liberating."  My vision of a matriarchal and non-hierarchical model has been rarely honored.  I am finding that it is honored in small and appreciative spaces from elders, youth or close friends.  I constantly see people uplift others who have been openly abusive to others and in front of people in their community.  We need to stop doing this.  We need to stop uplifting people who bully, ridicule and hurt others.  While toting your pride, toting about how much you do "out there" while oppression reigns on others inside the community.  These activist's are full of pride, full of ego.  And folks, ego is not a clan!

I've been an activist in many ways, shapes and forms since I was 12 years old.  Whether I fought against gentrification in my hometown, worked on various environmental issues, mentored a youth and more.  I don't need to boast about it nor post about it constantly like others on facebook.  Look at me, look at what I am doing.  Activism is not just carting a sign and posting about it on facebook, while your life is completely different behind the screen.  Activism is so much more.  There are many activists who don't even identify as activists.  Then tend and care for the land.  They tend and care for an elder.  They support a youth, in being a positive role model.  They help someone who is in recovery from an addiction heal.  They offer prayers to the land daily.  They make a meal for a friend.  They donate their time quietly to a soup kitchen.  They try to change the dynamics of the family system they were raised in.

Activism is so much more that the limited definitions it has been given.  Survival is resistance.  When someone who is labeled "at-risk" survives and thrives this is a form of activism and should be applauded but rarely is.  Personal healing is also resistance.  Healing intergenerational trauma is resistance.  Additionally, personal healing requires that one looks inside themselves instead of focusing on the problems "out there."  This is the "activism" that gets little to no recognition because of the limited and narrow definition of activism.  As the old saying goes the personal is political.  But I'm saying that one must make a commitment to inner work and outer work in a circle but ah-ha... this is a life long process.  

"Our work towards liberation challenges us to think and rethink our approaches to change.  Revolution requires that we continuously ask ourselves what it would take to stay here, to work toward the liberation of the person across the room, across town, across the globe.  Such revolution does start at home, where our beliefs are formed by the daily practices of our lives.  At times, this work feels overwhelming: how can we transform a violent world, call mighty governments to account, and repair generations of injustice when we are still unable to stop activists committed to liberation movements from abusing their partners, sexually harassing their comrades, or otherwise harming people in our communities?  Accountability, understood as a human skill, offers each of us a path forward when we miss the mark." - The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities (2011: p. 278)

Then there is hierarchy in activism.  This hierarchy can include males who never check their male privilege or boasting that you have a degree from an Ivy League school.  In this hierarchy you may see someone hog the microphone and never allow anyone else up on the stage because of unchecked privilege.  This is not community work nor it is activism at all.  It is self promotion, plain and simple.  True community work is letting everyone speak in their various identities, life experiences and fully hearing them out.  Being a community worker is having a deep understanding of the multiple ways people have been oppressed as well as the privileges they might have.  A community worker sinks their feet down in the soil and is right there.  A community worker doesn't stand on a pedestal and promote, promote, promote!

Let me reiterate that ego is not a clan.  I am disheartened by being sidestepped, trampled and pushed aside.  I am disheartened that I am one of few people who holds onto a non-hierarchical and matriarchal vision of how things could be in the world.  Particularly regarding decolonization in the Native community and how our individual lives, families and communities could look like if we fully commit to decolonization. 

My journey has led me to humbling myself in the eyes of the Creator - Gitchi Manitou.  I will continue on my path as a word warrior through poetry and writing!
 

"I have my books,
And my poetry to protect me,
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, 

Safe within my womb..."

 ~ Simon & Garfunkle, I Am a Rock

 

Resources

This link explains historical trauma, historical unresolved grief, disenfranchised grief, internalized oppression, survivor syndrome and more.

A Letter to Male Activists

Aboriginal Communities Are Breaking Down

Bullying and Lateral Violence

Lateral Violence in First Nations Communities

Lateral Violence on the rez

Wawatay News - Ending the cycle of bullying

Sacred Jingle Dress Dance for Chief Theresa Spence


Facebook event page 

SACRED JINGLE DRESS DANCE FOR CHIEF THERESA SPENCE

Saturday, December 15, 12:00pm

Ottawa – Victoria Island


By Saturday, December 15, Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat will be on her fifth day of a hunger strike she undertook as a protest to ask that the rights of First Nations peoples and the Treaties be respected. Her hunger strike is for all of us.

Jingle Dress Dancer Rhonda White, family member of the late Maggie White from the community of Naotkamegwanning (Whitefish Bay) will be travelling to Ottawa on Friday to dance the sacred Jingle Dress dance gifted to them. She will be accompanied by Joyce White and Kathleen Skead.

The Sacred Jingle Dress Dance at Victoria Island will be an expression of the true meaning of the jingle dress, by dancing for healing for Ogimaa-kaan Spence and the healing of all Indigenous people at this time.

Concerned community members Tanya Kappo and Christi Belcourt are asking for your support to help bring the White family members to Ottawa for this sacred dance.

WE NEED TO RAISE AS MUCH MONEY FOR THIS AS WE CAN BY SATURDAY.

As you know, time is of the essence for Chief Spence and her efforts. We will work to raise $10,000.00 to pay for travel and costs associated with this event. If there are any leftover funds, they will be given to Chief Spence for whatever her needs are during her time at Victoria Island.

No amount is too small. Please donate by :
http://www.gofundme.com/1o8je0?utm_campaign=Emails&utm_source=sendgrid.com&utm_medium=email

The lead drum: Lynx Clan of Whitefish Bay

ALL JINGLE DRESS DANCERS are invited to participate in this sacred jingle dress dance for Chief Spence in Ottawa this Saturday. However, as this is a sacred ceremonial jingle dress dance, protocols must be strictly followed and adhered to.

This is NOT a powwow demonstration.

Please see the wall of this event for information on protocol.

This effort is endorsed by Chief Joyce White of Naotkamegwanning (Whitefish Bay) and Treaty 3 Ogitchitaa, Warren White.

Tribal Mining Forum at Keweenaw Bay

The KBIC Mining Outreach & Education Initiative is hosting its first ever Tribal Mining Forum on Friday, May 11th – Saturday, May 12th.

The Mining Forum will take place at the Niiwin Akeaa Center (Ojibwa Community College) Gymnasium starting at 1pm on Friday and 9am on Saturday. On Friday, a Community Potluck Dinner will also take place at 6pm.

The purpose of this forum is to educate the community on mining in order to increase awareness of its historical and contemporary impacts within the Lake Superior basin and Ojibwa ceded territory.
An informed community will have more capacity for protecting the environment and envisioning sustainable solutions for our future.

The Keynote Speaker will be Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr., whose community recently succeeded in preventing rollbacks to Wisconsin mining law that would have permitted a large taconite mine upstream from their community.

The event will also include guest speakers from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa Community, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority, National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Department of Interior.

Anyone who is curious or concerned about the new wave of mining interest throughout much of the western U.P. and the Lake Superior watershed should definitely come to this event to learn more.

Interested in kick-starting the Mining Forum? You can also catch the next “Mining Impacts on Native Lands” Film Screening of Tar Creek on Wednesday, May 9th, 6pm at the Ojibwa Casino Chippewa Room. Tar Creek is a must see highlighting significant environmental devastation from one of the world’s largest lead and zinc mines in northeastern Oklahoma.


For more information, contact Jessica Koski, KBIC Mining Technical Assistant, at 524-5757 ext. 25. 

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TENTATIVE AGENDA

Friday, May 11th
1pm Welcome and Opening Prayer
Keynote by Mike Wiggins Jr., Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Lessons from the Crandon Mine by Tina VanZile of the Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa Community
Historical Environmental Impacts of Mining in the Lake Superior Basin by Mike Ripley of the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority
4:30pm Sand Point Stamp Sands Restoration Tour (optional)
6:00pm Community Potluck Dinner & Drumming

Saturday, May 12th
Sunrise Water Ceremony
Light Breakfast
9am Opening Remarks
Lake Superior Basin Mining Overview by the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission
U.P. Mining Updates & Issues by Chuck Brumleve, Environmental Mining Specialist for the KBIC
Student & Community Presentations
12-1pm Lunch
Sulfide Mining Policy & Regulation by Michelle Halley of the National Wildlife Federation
Tribal Natural Resource Damages by Mark Barash with the U.S. Department of Interior
Implications to Treaty Rights by George Newago & Brian Goodwin from the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
4:30pm Closing Remarks

Interviewed by Ankhesen Mié

I'm back!  I was recently interviewed by Ankhesen Mié on her blog At the Bar!

Check out the interview...

Readers may recognize Cecelia LaPointe as blogger Anishinaabekwe and fellow bar patron, know for her soulful, haunting writing style and up-to-date posts on Native American news. It was a great honor to complete this interview with her.

You’ve commented at the bar a few times, and some of the readers know who you are and visit your blog.  But we get new patrons all the time, so tell us a few things about yourself.

I am a proud Anishinaabekwe of mixed heritage and I strongly identify with my Ojibway/Anishinaabe roots.  As an Anishinaabekwe I have a huge responsibility to the Great Lakes, water and land as a “keeper of the water.”  I am a jingle dress dancer which is a healing dance.  I identify as gender non-conforming and Two Spirit.

I am an author, poet, writer, and healer.  I am a lifelong activist.  Prior generations paved the path of activism in my family and this includes a union organizer, civil rights activist, and being raised in a union blue collar home.  My activism started at age twelve when I spoke out against gentrification in my hometown at city commission meetings.  Currently my activism spans Native American rights, preserving Anishinaabemowin (the Ojibway language), women’s rights (specifically Native American women’s rights), and GLBTQ rights.  I have participated in peace walks, take back the night walks and mobilized others in get out the vote in the 2008 Presidential election on reservations in rural South Dakota.  Personally I believe that there is always a way to “take action” whether it is advocating for yourself, attending a rally, signing petitions or calling your representatives.

In my leisure I enjoy running, hiking in the Michigan forests, writing poetry, reading, and drinking tea.

Article: UPDATE: Please Donate to Bad River Ojibwe (in their fight against) Bad Mining Laws!

UPDATE: The folks from Bad River incurred $7,000 expenses to get from Superior to Madison. Kossacks, I rarely ask for help. Please donate! All funds go directly  to support Bad River's trip to Madison and their activism to protect the water. (Write "For Bad River Ojibwe" on the check).

Donate Here! (note: as of now, the Paypal link at their campaign website isn't accepting donations. However, the regular mail address works for sending checks.)

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa live way up north in Wisconsin, in a pristine and preserved section of the state. This mining bill "fast tracks" permits for an out of state corporation, Gogebic Taconite, to develop a vast open pit iron mine on land that abuts Ojibwe land. The proposed site is on the upland side of a significant watershed. Mining operations will degrade downslope water quality. Wild rice, a staple of Chippewa food, culture and religion, is very sensitive to pollution and acid-balance. So far, our Republican Legislators in the House of Reprehensibles couldn't care less about Native American life, culture or federally granted treaty rights.

Read the rest of the article here.  

kemble02

"We entered the 7th fire about 30 years ago. The first steps taken on earth were done with love, honor and respect... What is our meaning and purpose as humans? It's simple: we were put here to live in harmony with all of creation and to never take more than what we need. It's complex: We are caught in the web of life with ecosystems and interrelationships with other living things.  We are undergoing a paradigm shift from values based on money and political power to the new times where wealth is measured in clean water, fresh air and pristine wilderness. Anishinaabe have been given the responsibility to share the knowledge of how to live in harmony with creation." - Joe Rose - Bad River Elder