Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
LANSING, MICHIGAN With Michigan lawmakers and their staffs making their way into the Michigan State Capitol late yesterday afternoon to hear Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder make his annual State of the State address, some 500 Michigan Indians brought an "Idle No More" peace movement round dance flash mob to the grounds of the Capitol.
Idle No More Supporters Approach the Capital in Lansing 500 Strong
They brought their culture in drumming, singing and dancing. Tribal Chairmen Alvin Pedwaydon, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and Dexter McNamara, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, proudly carried their tribal flags during the event.
Idle No More is about supporting treaty rights
They were there to capitalize on the media frenzy associated with such annual events. On the outside were also hundreds of members of organized labor who were there to protest the "Right to Work" legislation approved by the lame duck Michigan legislature and signed by the governor.
Idle No More is a movement to bring attention to the sweeping legislation of the Harper government, most notably the omnibus Bill C-45 that was passed in the Canadian Parliament without consulting First Nations peoples.
“It was great to see our Native crowd that came to show their support,”
said Derek Bailey, the former tribal chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and one of the event's organizers.
“One thing people should realize about our round dance flash mobs that separate us from others who go to protest is we have a spiritual component to it. When our drums beat, they represent the heart beat of Mother Earth. Our message is strong.”
Some labor protesters expressed how they had never experienced the sound of American Indians drums and thought they were used in a powerful way to demonstrate the cause of Idle No More.
"Invisible Borders - Indigenous Brothers and Sisters."
“I came today to show my support for the Native people in Canada,”
commented Julia Martel, 17, who is a tribal citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. She was there holding a sign that read, "Anishinaabe Youth 4 Idle No More!!"
“We are here to defend our Native rights. Idle No More is about supporting treaty rights,”
stated seventeen year old, Emma Schwander, who is also a member of the Grand Traverse Tribe. She carried a sign that simply read: "Idle No More" with a drawing of a clenched right fist holding a feather.
One sign in the crowd spoke to the unity Michigan Indians - the People of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Ottawa and Potawatomi - feel to their Canadian First Nations peoples read: "Invisible Borders - Indigenous Brothers and Sisters."
Javier Foster, a member of Wapole Island Potawatomi First Nation and who lives in Toronto, was in the crowd. He said:
“'Idle No More' is about being here to preserve our rights. It is a good movement. It is not about all people. It is really not just about a Native people. We all are the keepers of the Earth. of American Indians who were there to show their support for First Nations.”
One member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians even brought fry bread which she sold in among the crowd for only $1 each.
posted January 17, 2013 3:20 pm est