Poem: Grandmother, Forest

Heart beat,
Mother,
Patriarchy,
Working class,
Solidly,
Excavated painters,
Telephone workers,
Meet on the front steps,
Smoke Winston's,
Drink,

Old glasses worn on her face,
Union blue collar uniform,
Worn down by the worker tread,
Old glasses brown tint,
1980's,

Dark green paint on hands,
Sorrow streaked across the walls,
By a young adolescent girl blasting Alice in Chains,
In anger of what she could not describe of what she saw,

Sorrow painted on the walls,
Dark green forest coming through in a transmission,
The tears hit the floor boards,
Spiraling metamorphosis,
A prayer in a ceremony,
Reaches the shores of Michigami 21 years later,
In healing,
In reclaiming culture,
Gender rolled and silenced,
Catholic Church,
Praying in the closet,
We tried,

Sinking down in the soil,
Your Grandmother was crying,
Can you hear her in your heart?

Article - Idle No More: A sincere challenge to my brothers | rabble.ca

Idle No More: A sincere challenge to my brothers | rabble.ca


Women lead the December 21, 2012 march on Parliament Hill. I was somewhere around Port Arthur, seeing the approaching-edge of a new chapter of Indigenous history we now see unfolding, when the realization began to take hold.

Four women -- Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean, Jess Gordon, and Nina Wilson -- sparked and ignited a revolution, Idle No More, unseen in our time or perhaps any other, across Turtle Island.

More women -- Dr. Pam Palmater, Janice Makokis, Tanya Kappo -- helped fan those very flames now sweeping the globe, by means of social media teach-ins and presentations which helped bring the vision, message and understanding further to countless.

And now, in Ottawa, a woman from Attawapiskat First Nation, Chief Theresa Spence -- aligned with the concerns which Idle No More spearheaded and brought to the public consciousness -- has put her very life on the line to similarly challenge violations to our treaties, sovereignty, and in fact to our coming generations.
Not to mention those equally hardworking, but greatly invisible to the public eye in places reaching from Vancouver to Ottawa.

Do we notice a pattern?

I'm sure many do.

Let us acknowledge such a pattern reflected in the communities and Nations we each call Home.
Who are the pillars of our families that hold us together?

Who are those very sources of strength, heart and vision at the centre of our families?

Who are the subtle protectors and the voices of fire -- when either are crucial and needed?

It doesn't take much time to realize that it is our women.

And if we can all nod, agree and come to terms with the fact that women are the centre of our families, we must acknowledge that women are the centre of our communities, and further -- the centre and pillars of our nations.

Now we find ourselves at a very precarious time in our history and legacy, but equally a time of awakening if we seek to understand (and act to change) the track we are on -- and have been on in fundamental (and often overlooked and unspoken) ways.

My Relations, it's time to level.

Long before the 1969 White Paper and the current myriad of Bills put through by Stephen Harper's Conservative Government of Canada that mirrors the 1969 attempted encroachment, the first of many critical, colonial onslaughts upon our Nations were those which targeted our women.

Because of the strong linkages between the centres of our families, communities, and Nations - "if you collapse the strength of women, you collapse the strength of a Nation" was very much the guiding principle in conscious attempts to off-set such Nation-strength.

Undermining the role, significance, influence and authority was a key step in disempowering our Nations in far-reaching ways.

Stepping back, it doesn't take much to realize there is an undeniable and inarguable link between our women and the strength of our Nations -- most notably, history shows us that when the first has been disempowered, the latter is disempowered. By this very logic, empowering our women will empower our Nations -- and it is so very long overdue.

It is no surprise to me that at a time when our collective lifegiver (Ahki, the Earth - and Turtle Island) is being devalued and violated by industry and the frightening era of neoliberalism, our individual lifegivers (our Indigenous women, the keepers and protectors of our lands) continue to be devalued in importance and significance and violated by abuse, colonial legislations that target them specifically, and in a frightening era of too many missing and murdered indigenous women here in Canada.

Again stepping back, it doesn't take much to realize there is an undeniable and inarguable link between our collective lifegivers and the protectors of her, our individual lifegivers -- but most notably, our conscious decisions and choices to respect each.

Yes, respect.

But I truly feel that it must go beyond merely showing respect, life must be breathed into empowering -- empowering our collective lifegiver through our best efforts, but also giving our very best efforts to empowering (re-empowering) our individual life-givers, our women.

But how often do we hear about the "Old Boys Club"?

How often have we seen initiatives and progress brought to the forefront by our women, only to be ignored as one of our men (be it a Chief, a Council member, a representative, or a speaker) taking credit, showing disrespect, or simply not acknowledging their central role in such change?

Or how often have our women's voices been silenced by being spoken over -- or even ignored -- by our male leaders?

This is not to generalize that we do not have solid and integral male leaders who support our women at every turn and who have been standing strong and supportive to the movement -- also quite integral to the growth and impact on our times -- but this matter being challenged here is common enough to examine today to envision (a different) tomorrow.

I believe that the attacks upon Ahki (our collective lifegiver) and Turtle Island, as well as the consciously-targeted viciousness toward our coming generations and the very foundations of our Nations, are such matters where the solutions will be charted by our women and birthed of connections to each -- connections that outshine any matter of election, intention, or entitlement.

It is not only appropriate -- but critical and necessary -- that we begin to listen to our women in how we chart our course upon these harsh waters if we wish that unprecedented times of challenge are to become times of envisioned opportunity and integrity so overdue.

To our men…

I write this to you today and I truly hope what I've written above has framed my sincere challenge to you in a way that is crystal-clear in not only the reason, but the need for such a fundamental change to come occur.
My Brothers, it is time to do what we can, with good hearts and good minds, to re-empower our true leaders -- our women.

My Brothers, it is time to forever fracture the legacy that undermines the role, significance, influence, and authority of our women in our families, communities and Nations.

My Brothers, it is time to break apart the "Old Boys Club," step aside and create space for the direction, the role, the significance, the influence and the authority of our individual lifegivers to take root into the protection of our collective lifegiver, our coming generations and our Nations -- our women have a connection and central keystone to each that we can only hope to understand.

My Brothers, it is time to begin listening to and hearing our women, respecting our women and their direction in every capacity, from the frontlines of leadership to within our own homes, and to directly challenge where such things are undermined.

My Brothers, it is time to take our cues from our lifegivers and pick up our traditional responsibilities -- and if we are unaware what they may be, take the time to ask and adhere.

My Brothers, it is time to acknowledge the Clan Mothers and our women who hold inherent jurisdiction over the land, to support why they are standing up to lead this movement because the land and water is under assault, and to respect and support the sacred duties to protect each.

My Brothers, it is time -- and that time is long-overdue.

By standing beside our women as supportive sons, supportive partners, supportive brothers, supportive cousins, supportive nephews, supportive grandsons, supportive relatives, supportive co-workers, supportive leaders, and supportive friends -- come what(ever) may -- we walk beside our ancestors and stand beside our unborn, as well.

By standing beside our women, we walk true to the Native Pride of which we speak.

To my Brothers: today I implore you, I beseech you, and in fact I challenge you that in these times so unprecedented -- 'et's support, love, respect, and help re-empower our women in an unprecedented way, as lifegivers, as our direction and as our leaders.

To my Brothers: it is not only sharing in the consequence that will bind us together in an indivisible and unbroken community, but sharing in the common source to us all. Meaning; it is not only in the prevention of negative impacts upon Ahki and our Nations that will bind us together, but by the simple acknowledgement that no matter our age, our Nation, our community, our heritage, our political compass, or where we call home -- we have all come from a womb.

In this way, firmly standing beside our women and restoring that respect and reverence has a very genuine and great potential to heal our past divides, prevent future division of unity, and finally bind us together in unbreakable community upon not only a common and shared threat, but the common beginning we share which we all can (and must) respect.

The writing is on the wall and the road is very clear.

What have we witnessed in times of unprecedented change?

Four women ignited the spark that is illuminating our world.

More fanned the flames which continued to spread its warmth.

Another now puts her life on the line to protect the life pulsing within our Nations, our Treaties, and our coming generations -- following the central vision of Idle No More.

And in Ottawa, women led the way in the march to the Parliament -- just as it should be.

"And strong women will re-create strong Nations…"

It doesn't get any more truthful than that.

May we know, may we acknowledge, and may we fully understand…

Our lifegivers give life to leadership.

Robert Animikii Horton, "Bebaamweyaazh", an Anishinaabe member of Rainy River First Nations of Manitou Rapids (Treaty #3 Territory) and from the Marten Clan, has built a reputation as a progressive and outspoken activist, contrarian writer, and a respected orator on an international scale speaking. He is a sociologist, social and political activist, spoken-word poet, and a supporter and organizer of Idle No More in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

This written work on the topic was prepared and written at the recent request of the Idle No More founders.

Article - Indigenous Sovereignty and Human Rights: Idle No More as a Decolonizing Force

Last week I was compelled into a leadership role with the Prince Albert Idle No More rally. Prince Albert is a growing city in central Saskatchewan, with a population of about 35,000. The traditional Nehithaw place name is kistahpinanihk, which means “meeting place”. Prince Albert has a high Indigenous population and is surrounded by key sites in the history of Treaty 6. It would be ideal to say that Indigenous-Settler relations here have been harmonious, a peaceful meeting place of sorts, but the presence of colonialism is heavy. Surrounded by medium and maximum security prisons, housed disproportionately with Indigenous inmates, oppression can be felt strongly. Racism and racialised violence are pervasive. But there is also a strong regional history of Indigenous resurgence and resistance to colonialism; key sites of the Riel Rebellion are within a 30 minute drive from city limits, and Indigenous languages, ceremonies, and land-based teachings thrive despite centuries of genocidal policies.

In solidarity with the wider movement, myself and a small group of committed people organized a teach-in, march and round dance in Prince Albert’s downtown core for December 21. I phoned city planners out of respect to advise them of our routes and to possibly have some cooperation with local police officials. I was told by a city employee that the route requested would probably be denied. I thought nothing of this possibility until the mayor phoned me on my cell phone and left me a message. He stated that he would “not allow” the route down busy streets, and that our rally could not be “permitted”.

To be sure, I did not call for their permission. Asserting Indigenous sovereignty does not require permission. Protecting treaty rights and fundamental human rights does not require permission. However, the reality of my communication with the mayor begged the question: was he implying that force would be used upon my people to prevent the protest? Since we were not breaking laws, what basis did he have to assert jurisdiction over our rights to freedom of assembly and free speech? Should Idle No More Prince Albert back down from asserting Indigenous sovereignty and use the dusty backroads suggested by the mayor? Upon consulting with Idle No More Prince Albert, the answer to this last question was an overwhelming “NO!”

One cannot fully comprehend the true nature of the colonial relationship until being forced to ask yourself whether or not 500 people are being led into a potentially violent confrontation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. One cannot fully comprehend the true nature of colonialism until the right to life, liberty, and security of 500 people, including children, youth, and Elders, is at risk.

Regardless of the unwelcoming political climate, the rally went ahead as planned. Idle No More Prince Albert was very much a success. Nobody was hurt and nobody was arrested, although there were a handful of irate drivers. In Prince Albert, we fought for our right to fight for our rights, and we won. The sound of drumming had not rang so freely in the city for hundreds of years. The spirit of Idle No More makes it possible to decolonize times and places, and to live out the freedom that guided the lives of our ancestors. For Prince Albert, the movement has meant a reconfiguration of Indigenous and Settler relationships; we asserted Indigenous sovereignty by re-establishing the justness of our presence in the city.

Idle No More presents a challenge to the old colonial order that forms the basis of Canadian society. This movement has been about challenging oppression in very real and very meaningful ways. It has meant questioning the legitimacy and authority of colonial laws by pushing the limits of these laws. Idle No More means not only speaking of Indigenous sovereignty, but living out our inherent sovereignty as nations. This is especially important in the case of Omnibus Bill C-45, where our fundamental human rights to clean water, lands and foods are at risk. Essentially, Harper and the Conservative government of Canada are legislating the extinguishment of our Indigenous nationhood.  Our response has been two-fold: to re-situate ourselves as nations, and to rejuvenate the commitment of our people and Settler society to the Treaty relationship.

At first I was skeptical about the Idle No More movement. I didn’t want to lead my people to the government and beg for rights and responsibilities that the Creator gave to us. But I became involved with Idle No More because I could feel the energy of the youth rising and I did not want this energy to go to waste. I wanted to show them that the energy which we as peoples often internalize in negative ways is better directed to challenging the colonial framework that operates in all our lives. As the movement grows, the challenge of Idle No More is to continue moving beyond rhetoric and towards a fundamental reconfiguration of the colonial structure of Canada. Above and beyond, it must always be more than an emotionally frothy appeal to the Canadian government for justice and morality. We must be strategic, yet we must also act on the nation-to-nation spirit and intent of Treaty. The message of love, peace, and non-violent protest is essential to the movement. With this spirit at the forefront, we must seek to educate Settler populations and heal our Indigenous nations from the processes of genocide which we have experienced. Idle No More means re-establishing ourselves as sovereign nations, and empowering Settler people to fulfill their responsibilities as partners in sacred relationships of Treaty.

It is my belief that through all we have suffered as peoples, the ancestors kept the spirits in our hearts on embers until the time came to rise again. That time is now, and Idle No More ignites the fires in the souls of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.
________________________________________________________

Kirstin Scansen is a Nehithaw woman, from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in Treaty 6 territory, Saskatchewan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with a minor in Political Science, and is currently an MA candidate in Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria.

Original post on - Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society

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.

Article - Contaminated culture: Native people struggle with tainted resources, lost identity

Toban Black/flickr. The Anishinaabe people from Aamjiwnaang First Nation are surrounded by heavy industry.
For the Anishinaabe people at the southernmost tip of Lake Huron, cedar is not just a tree – it is sacred. Used in medicines and teas, the tree’s roots, bark and sap have been central to their physical, mental and cultural wellbeing for centuries. “We smudge with it, as singers we inhale it, as a medicine we bathe in it,” said Ron Plain, an Anishinaabe tribe member. But the tribe has abandoned its generations-old tradition. The cedar is tainted with cadmium, a metal linked to cancer and learning disabilities. In this region of Ontario, dubbed “Chemical Valley,” the contamination is part of everyday life for the Anishinaabe. For decades, indigenous people in the United States and Canada have been burdened with health problems linked to environmental pollutants. But that isn’t their only sacrifice: Pollution is crippling some tribes’ culture. Their native foods, water, medicines, language and ceremonies, as well as their traditional techniques of farming, hunting and fishing, have been jeopardized by contaminants and development. And as indigenous people lose these vital aspects of their lives, their identity is lost, too.

By Brian Bienkowski
Staff Writer
Environmental Health News
October 25, 2012

For the Anishinaabe people at the southernmost tip of Lake Huron, cedar is not just a tree – it is sacred. Used in medicines and teas, the tree’s roots, bark and sap have been central to their physical, mental and cultural wellbeing for centuries.

“We smudge with it, as singers we inhale it, as a medicine we bathe in it,” said Ron Plain, an Anishinaabe tribe member and environmental policy analyst at the Southern First Nation Secretariat.

But the tribe has abandoned its generations-old tradition. The cedar is tainted with cadmium, a metal linked to cancer and learning disabilities. In this region of Ontario, dubbed “Chemical Valley,” the contamination is part of everyday life for the Anishinaabe.

For decades, indigenous people in the United States and Canada have been burdened with health problems linked to environmental pollutants. But that isn’t their only sacrifice: Pollution is crippling some tribes’ culture, too.

Their native foods, water, medicines, language and ceremonies, as well as their traditional techniques of farming, hunting and fishing, have been jeopardized by contaminants and development. And as indigenous people lose these vital aspects of their lives, their identity is lost, too.

“Animals have died off or left, the water is no good. This is not the world that we know and rely on,” said Kathy Sanchez, a member of the Tewa Pueblo, a tribe in New Mexico that is living with a legacy of pollution from uranium mining.

“It’s contaminated our culture.”

Continue reading the rest of the article on Intercontinental Cry

Also posted on Keepers of the Water