Nanette Bradley Deetz in Native Challenges. Discussion »
SACRAMENTO Northern California American Indians have been busy this month showing their support for the "Idle No More" peace movement and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who spent 44 days on a hunger strike to bring attention to the deplorable living conditions of First Nations peoples and legislation that diminishes treaty rights.
Lakota Hardin gave an impassioned plea at the State Capitol in Sacramento
On January 5, a round dance flash dance event was held at the City Hall in Oakland attended by approximately 300 people. Many brought hand drums, painted signs, and even the flag of the Cherokee Nation. The event was organized by a coalition of native activists, AIM-West members, and many speakers including Corrina Gould of the Ohlone nation. Even as the temperatures dropped lower and the rain fell, dances and songs continued while everyone sang the AIM song and vowed to meet again.
On January 12, another round dance event was held at Civic Center Plaza in Richmond, California. This round dance was organized by Courtney Cummings and Jose Lopez, and attended by some 200 people. Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant's uncle, also welcomed the crowd, as did his wife, who is Choctaw and African American.
400 Natives from all tribes including
California native dancers, Danza Azteca
“Thank you so much for bringing this movement to Richmond. Our struggles are so similar. Please don't let anyone divide us,”
This sentiment was echoed by Mayor Gayle McLauglin as she said
“We are so happy to have you with us today. The city of Richmond needs your prayers, dances and songs at this time more than ever before.”
Wounded Knee DeOcampo, who led the struggle for Sogorea Te in Vallejo, gave a blessing. Wichapiluta Candelaria (Rumsen Ohlone) sang a warrior song, and members of All Nations Drum provided Northern songs. The Woman"s Warrior song closed the event. A professional puppeteer from San Francisco provided a very large puppet of a Grandmother to represent the struggle for passage of the Violence Against Native Women Act that wasn"t passed by Congress. After the round dance, attendees were invited to the Richmond Art Gallery and Studio complex to view a current art event.
On January 19 a large round dance event was also held in San Jose, California at the Westfield Valley Mall. This event was organized by the San Jose community and attended by 350 people. Idle No More was also invited to participate in the annual Martin Luther King Day march that began at Sacramento Community College and continued to the State Capitol building in downtown Sacramento. This was a five mile distance, and one of the largest and longest rallies in California.
On January 27, Luta Candelaria and others organized a "Bigtime" (Yelamu) round dance in the heart of San Francisco at the Westfield Shopping Mall. This round dance event focused on California's tribal nations, many of whom are not federally recognized and are fighting for fishing rights, land and religious rights, protection of sacred sites, dignity and sovereignty.
Alison Ehara-Brown (l to r), Pennie Plant-Horse,
Gathering Tribes Art Gallery; Mary Jean Robertson, KPOO radio,
native radio host; Nanette Bradley Deetz, Poet, Journalist
Saturday, January 26, the California State Rally for Idle No More was held at the Capitol building in Sacramento. The title for this rally was "Unified and Standing Together for Indigenous Sovereignty; One Peaceful, Respectful, Traditional, Informative In Solidarity and Unity Heartbeat," which proved to be a very poetic title for a meaningful day of speeches, dances and songs.
The event was attended by some 400 Natives from all tribes, with prayers and dances by California native dancers, Danza Azteca, a northern drum group, and people dancing jingle dress, fancy shawl, and grass dance. The day became a mini Pow Wow on the steps of the Capitol. The Wakini Singers presented several songs, including the Women"s Warrior song. Lakota Hardin gave an impassioned plea asking men to respect women and asking all of us to see the beauty in our diversity as tribal people despite the difference in our languages or backgrounds.
Chief Theresa Spence and her heroic sacrifices for her nation and all tribal nations in Canada have been heard here in northern California.
The Northern California Native community stands in solidarity and unity for our mother earth and the generations yet to come.
posted January 28, 2013 9:20 am est