Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
Zachary Running Wolf-Blackfeet
OAKLAND - Occupy Oakland sits right at the Oakland City Center. What is left is trampled grass where some 1,000-plus protesters set up tents in mid-October as the Occupy Wall Street movement swept across the country.
Zachary Running Wolf, Blackfeet, has been at Occupy Oakland since mid-October. He is not there representing American Indians per se, but by virtue of his presence, he has been able to represent indigenous people.
"We have addressed the issue that goes with the word "occupy." Leaders of this group realize indigenous people don't like it. It really is about decolonization,"
states Running Wolf with a slight smile on his face.
"Since the occupation began, some 50 to 75 indigenous people have come and gone." Running Wolf continued. "There are just so many issues we fight for here in the Bay Area, Indians have been protesting elsewhere."
Today he was at the remnant encampment of Occupy Oakland that gained national attention because of the violence that ensued when the local police decided to dismantle the tent city. In tune with the season, there are two banners hanging on City Hall. One reads: "Share Your Holiday Joy." The other simply reads: "Happy Holidays."
The 53 year old Running Wolf has a bachelor's of art degree from San Francisco State. Running Wolf was born in the San Francisco Bay Area. His mother came to the area during the Relocation Period of the 1950s.
"People think we are all homeless people. Actually I have two places I call home. I am here because I want to see change," said Running Wolf.
Running Wolf proudly displays signs at the encampment propped up on structure of a wooden teepee that read: "Free Leonard Peltier" and "Ohlone Land."
The remnant consists of about 25 people. The protesters sleep at the plaza during the night. However, the City of Oakland is now enforcing an ordinance that forbids tents.
"This is now a vigil. People come and go," said Running Wolf. "We will be here as long as it takes to bring change."
posted December 16, 2011 6:30 pm est
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