I usually don’t know what I will be led to write each morning. Lately I’ve been so distressed by the destruction of our (White people’s) political norms, the rise of authoritarianism by the president and Republican party, militarized police, the disregard for civil rights, the catastrophic failure to control COVID-19. The list goes on.
This seems all the worse when compared to the memorials to John Lewis, whose life was rooted in nonviolence. I have studied, taught, and tried to practice nonviolence in my life. One way I learned was by studying how John Lewis and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) did such an effective job of training hundreds of people to participate in nonviolent direct actions during the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. I taught about nonviolence during training for people who were going to participate in nonviolent civil disobedience in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, which worked to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. And did so, until the current president tried to rejuvenate Keystone by Executive Order. Construction had not been completed because of violations of environmental law.
And then I remind myself that Black and Indigenous peoples, all people of color, have suffered in this country for over 400 years.
My spirits were lifted when I was blessed to come across a beautiful mural that has just been painted in Colorado Springs titled ‘Take Back the Power’ @HaseyaProgram, #MMIWG2S. The person in the mural is Sage Deal, daughter of Indigenous artist and activist Gregg Deal. In the mural Sage has a red handprint on her face which is a reference to the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ) individuals.
Sage hopes the mural will bring more attention to Indigenous peoples. She asks how people can be allies if they don’t see Indigenous peoples as contemporary?
Monycka Snowbird, of the Haseya Advocacy Program that is a partner in the mural project, says many of the White people who come to the mural are unaware of the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women. She calls that privilege. Every Native American knows about, and most have been affected by the missing.
I, too, was ignorant about MMIW until I had the opportunity to participate in the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, September, 2018. A small group of about 15 Native and 15 nonnative people walked and camped together for eight days along the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The goal was to create a group of people who began to know and trust each other, so they could work together on issues of common concern thereafter. That goal was realized as we shared our stories with each other as we walked, and walked, and walked. (The path was 94 miles long). https://firstnationfarmer.com/
I thought the March was going to be about the environment and climate change. And it was. But I also heard a lot about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. I remember thinking, what does that have to do with our environment? I quickly learned there was a direct connection. Most of the missing and murdered women were attacked by White men who live in the “man camps”, housing the pipeline construction workers. I heard a number of terrible stories from my new friends who had direct, personal experiences related to these kidnappings and murders.
As we heal ourselves, we heal our ancestors, and transform the future of our children.Dr. Corrine Sanchez
More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice Research Report. Gregg Deal, an Indigenous artist and activist, has partnered with Art of the Streets to create a 60-foot mural titled ‘Take Back the Power’. The mural shows Deal’s daughter, 14-year-old Sage Deal, wearing a mix of contemporary clothing and traditional Indigenous accessories. She is depicted with a red handprint painted on the lower half of her face, a reference to the national Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womxn, Girls, and Two Spirit campaign bringing awareness to the high rate at which Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ) individuals go missing or are murdered. (Video by Katie Klann)VIDEO | Take Back the Power by Katie Klann, the Gazette, Jul 22, 2020