I Don’t Feel Welcome

This video and part of the transcript below are about the event held at the Iowa State Capitol grounds in Des Moines, Iowa, July 4, 2020. This was organized by Seeding Sovereignty and other organizations mentioned below.

My friends Christine Nobiss and Donnielle Wanatee spoke. And then a letter related to the monuments was given to state representative Ako Abdul-Samad.

I was blessed to be able to attend this ceremony. Sometimes things we get involved with don’t seem to impact us directly. But they might in ways we may not be aware of at the time. This July 4th ceremony with the voices of Christine and Donnielle helped me see the effects of these statues in a new way. See these with my heart and not just my mind. That illumination came from the story Christine shared.

This land is stolen land. Where we are standing it’s the land of the Ioway and the Meskwaki and the Dakota.

I am tired as an Indigenous person coming to these spaces and seeing these because it does trigger historical trauma. And it does make me feel unwelcome here. And I should not feel unwelcome here, especially as an indigenous person of Turtle Island.

I think this is hate speech. Iowa doesn’t have any laws per se against hate speech, but it does have laws against discrimination. So I feel discriminated when I come here and I look at this or when I go inside and I have to look at that awful mural of westward expansion that tells the story of bringing proper farming practices to Iowa. Like the people here didn’t know what they were frickin’ doing, And especially the Columbus statue, which is over there somewhere, but it’s being protected right now.

Christine Nobiss, Seeding Sovereignty

ALL THAT WE ARE IS STORY. From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship — we change the world one story at a time.

Richard Wagamese (October 14, 1955-March 10, 2017)
Ojibwe from Wabeseemoong Independent Nations, Canada

On July 4th from 1-3 PM we gathered at the Iowa State Capitol to demand that monuments to white supremacy be removed in Iowa. Organizers presented Iowa State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad with a letter demanding that all racist, misogynistic, homo/transphobic, whitewashed historical depictions be removed from all state grounds and facilities.

About 100 white supremacists/nationalists showed up to protect their sacred monuments with guns and threats of violence beforehand. In response to police brutality and racial injustice, monuments to white supremacy are being removed all over the country but People of the World Majority are being forced to put their safety on the line to carry out this long-overdue purge. Folx have been shot, arrested, and targeted. Now, #45 has signed an executive order to arrest anyone who vandalizes, removes a statue or threatens federal property and jail them for up to 10 years.

This was an Indigenous-led rally, organized by Seeding Sovereignty and co-hosted by Great Plains Action Society, Sage Sisters of Solidarity, Des Moines BLM, Humanize My Hoodie, Vote Mob, Iowa CCI and Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. We are demanding that the state–the colonizers–do the job for us.

All we should need to do is ask, especially when these monuments fall into the realm of hate propaganda and make folx feel unwelcome in public spaces. However, this colonially enforced government is built upon white supremacy and human rights violations and, thus, will not budge unless we make them take action on the issue.

If they won’t protect those that are doing the right thing to create a better society then we demand legislation that removes all monuments, murals, and depictions of white supremacist persons, acts, and ideologies from all Iowa state grounds and state-funded institutions.

To start, we insist that the following statues and mural be removed from the Iowa State Capitol Building and grounds.

The Pioneer, Iowa State Capitol grounds
  • On the West Lawn, there is a 15-foot bronze statue on a large pedestal that stands in front of the Iowa State Capitol Building. According to the Iowa State Government website, the statue depicts “The Pioneer of the former territory, a group consisting of father and son guided by a friendly Indian in search of a home. The pioneer depicted was to be hardy, capable of overcoming the hardships of territorial days to make Iowa his home.” The father and son settler invaders are standing tall and proud, looking west, as the “friendly Indian” sits behind them in a less powerful, dejected position. Inside the capitol is a piece that overwhelmingly encompasses this sentiment called the Westward Mural, which covers a massive wall. The artist writes that “The main idea of the picture is symbolical presentation of the Pioneers led by the spirits of Civilization and Enlightenment to the conquest by cultivation of the Great West.” He also speaks about overcoming the wilderness with plowed fields–as if the current Indigenous inhabitants, such as the Ioway and the Meskwaki, had not already created capable and efficient land management systems.
  • On the South Lawn, there is a Christopher Columbus Monument that was celebrated in 1938 by five thousand people who showed up for the dedication of the statue on Columbus Day. The statue was put up just a couple years after the Columbus Club of Iowa successfully lobbied to have Walker Park renamed to Columbus Park and have a Columbus monument placed there.

[partial transcript from the video]

We are here today to begin talks with this state about removing all monuments to white supremacy.

And yes, we do know that white supremacists are over there. They’ve agreed to leave us alone. This took a lot of guts because we knew that there would be pushback, not just from the police, but from white supremacists, because this is their holy day. And because these are their holy relics.

Because what this statute depicts is a lie. A white settler on his son, looking for a new home with a friendly Indian showing them the way. And as you can see, the Indian is sitting down in a lower position and obviously looking in my opinion, somewhat dejected.

And this is not the story of this state. We did not have friendly Indians showing the way to people. We had settler invaders and colonial militias come into the state and murder their way across this country.

This land is stolen land. Where we are standing it’s the land of the Ioway and the Meskwaki and the Dakota.

I am tired as an Indigenous person coming to these spaces and seeing these because it does trigger historical trauma. And it does make me feel unwelcome here. And I should not feel unwelcome here, especially as an indigenous person of Turtle Island. I think this is hate speech. Iowa doesn’t have any laws per se against hate speech, but it does have laws against discrimination. So I feel discriminated when I come here and I look at this or when I go inside and I have to look at that awful mural of westward expansion that tells the story of bringing proper farming practices to Iowa. Like the people here didn’t know what they were frickin’ doing, And especially the Columbus statue, which is over there somewhere, but it’s being protected right now.

Thank you so much representative Ako Abdul-Samad. I really appreciate you being here today. And I would like to present with you this letter to bring to the legislators of this state. So we can start making change where we all feel welcome and safe.

Christine Nobiss. Transcript from the video above

This violent suppression of resistance at Standing Rock raises an essential question: How can we expect the same colonial government that is partnered with an international mercenary security firm enlisted to brutally halt opposition to a pipeline project to work in the service of climate recovery? We can’t. Our strongest chance of restoring balance on the planet and respecting the interconnectedness of all things, human and other-than-human, is to fervently advocate for justice for Indigenous communities and return to them the power of governance—which was violently apprehended through war, genocide, starvation, disease, abuse, the dispossession of land, and forced repression of Indigenous communities on reservations. The only way to upend this form of sociopolitical and economic ordering, I argue, is through the reinstatement of Indigenous authority and sovereignty.

What Standing Rock Teaches Us About Environmental Justice by Jaskiran Dhillon, Social Science Research Council, Dec 5, 2017

#SeedingSovereignty
#monumentfascism
#whatfreedom
#whatareyoucelebrating
#Iowa
#GreatPlainsActionSociety
#VoteMob
#DesMoinesBLM
#HumanizeMyHoodie
#SageSistersofSolidarity
#iowaCCI
#GCCLP

This entry was posted in decolonize, Indigenous, Native Americans, Seeding Sovereignty, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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