International Human Rights Day was December 10 and marked the beginning of what has since become a stand of solidarity between Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island and allies known as Idle No More.
Idle No More is a movement to assert indigenous sovereignty, and to work towards sustainable, renewable development. The movement began in response to Canadian Bill C-45, the government’s omnibus budget implementation bill, that includes changes to land management on reservations which critics feel would enable Canada to control reserves. Along with other areas limiting the control of First Nations in their own territories.
Since the movement began on December 10 as reported by Indian Country Today Media Network, flash mobs and Round Dances continue to take place in Canada but have also sprouted up in Seattle, Washington; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Minneapolis, Minnesota; and even internationally in Europe, New Zealand and the Ukraine.
As flash mobs and support continue to grow around the world, back where it all began, Attawapiskat First Nation chief Theresa Spence continues her hunger strike protest now reaching 16 days. In the United States, Mishkomekinaak Ikwe began a journey from International Falls, Minnesota on her way to Washington, D.C. today. Ikwe is leading a car caravan to D.C. to urge President Barack Obama to call on Stephen Harper to meet with chief Spence and end her hunger strike.
The caravan began with Ikwe exchanging staffs with First Nations people in International Falls.
“Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty and which protects the land and water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damage to the land and water, which affects all people,” an Idle No More press release states. “Idle No More calls on all of us to repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship, work towards justice in action, protect Mother Earth, and create sustainable, healthy communities.”
As the caravan is getting underway, other protests are in the works. A flash mob and Round Dance is planned for tomorrow, December 28, at Washington Square Park in New York City at 3 p.m. Another event tomorrow, is a flash mob in Sacramento, California, on the West Steps of the State Capitol at noon and again in downtown Sacramento at 2 p.m. Then on Saturday, December 29, at Cherry Creek Mall in Denver, Colorado another Round Dance is planned for 1:30 p.m. One of the most recent flash mobs was Wednesday, December 26 at the Southern Hills Mall in Sioux City, Iowa. Watch the video of the event from Vernon Miller below:
“There have always been individuals and groups who have been working towards these goals – Idle No More seeks to create solidarity and further support these goals, and particularly encourages youth to become engaged in this movement, as the leaders of our future,” the press release states. “[Idle No More] also recognize that there may be backlash, and encourage people to stay strong and united in spirit.”
The group, in an effort to unify its fronts, have released a plan of action:
— Support and encourage grassroots to create their own forums to learn more about Indigenous rights and responsibilities to Native nationhood via teach-ins, rallies and social media.
— Build relationships and create understanding with allies across Canada.
— Take steps to contribute to building relationships with international agencies such as the United Nations to raise awareness to the conditions indigenous people have been subjected to and assert sovereignty in the international arena.
— Acknowledge and honor the hard work of all grassroots people who have worked, and continue to work towards these goals and are the true inspiration.
To see if a flash mob or Round Dance is happening near you, or if interested in starting one and showing support visit the Idle No More website; also follow its blog and use hashtag #idlenomore on Twitter. For other details follow the Occupy Canada Facebook page, which has a Google Map of all the Idle No More events that have happened or are planned.
“Our generation deserves a secure life and a life of freedom. Not a life of pain and fear, what we went through in our generation. It’s really hard to see our youth carrying the pain of what we’ve been carrying for so many years,” Chief Spence says in a video interview (can be seen below). “…We feel like we are more like a slave to the minister not a partner.”
Listen to Chief Theresa Spence’s message below: