I was blessed to attend a beautiful, yet solemn Indigenous People’s Day celebration at the State Capitol in Des Moines. The main organizer was the Great Plains Action Society: greatplainsaction.org
There was an undercurrent of sadness as many were reminded of the past, and ongoing oppression and violence against native peoples, against themselves.
One example was many who would like to have attended could not, because of past arrests during gatherings at the Iowa Capitol. Ronnie James read powerful messages from several of them.
Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz told us the following. You can read his entire statement here: https://www.afsc.org/story/remarks-indigenous-peoples-day-2020-des-moines
Mexico, the USA, and Canada in many ways represent forced assimilation, forced migration, history erasure and stolen lands. And all of that is of course still happening today.
Sometimes it’s trade deals written by mega corporations forcefully taking Indigenous lands and forcing my parents and many others to leave their families in order to find a job in the US so they can send money home. Other times, it’s climate change caused by corporate greed that is pushing communities from lands they’ve inhabited for centuries. Or maybe it’s imperialist military coups creating instability across the globe. What these colonists are saying is that you have to leave your lands, you just can’t come here. If you do come here, you have to act and sound like us and we can kick you out when we want.
That mentality lives in our communities. It lives in our laws. Immigration laws that tell Indigenous communities that they are not free to roam the land that belongs to them. English only laws like the one in Iowa that say that in order to survive and succeed you must assimilate. A police state that incarcerates and enslaves BIPOC. And economic laws that say that our communities can never be equal.Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Use this link to sign today to demand that Iowa legislators do the right thing and pass a bill that will remove all white supremacist, misogynistic and, homo/transphobic historical depictions, names, and holidays from all Iowa state grounds and facilities.
Moving on to another Indigenous People’s Day story, this video shows about a dozen land and water protectors who were arrested after Border Patrol and Arizona State Troopers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a Native American ceremony on Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 12, 2020.
The O’odham Anti Border Collective—a group of Akimel O’odham, Tohono O’odham, and Hia Ced O’odham tribal members that seeks to promote the cultural practices and protect the homelands of all O’odham nations “through the dismantling of colonial borders”—organized an Indigenous prayer ceremony to voice opposition to the cultural and ecological destruction caused by the construction of President Donald Trump’s border wall.
According to a statement released by the group, O’odham families “sang traditional songs, prayed, and attempted to discuss the Freedom of Religion Act that decriminalized Native American religions and opened the path towards the protection of sacred sites.”
According to the group, the police “grabbed children who had been in vehicles and abducted them from their parents—stealing children from Indigenous parents for practicing their religion is a clear violation of the Freedom of Religion Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act.”
“It’s obscene and offensive to us that local and state governments move to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day while the federal government blows up our sacred sites, steals our kids, militarily occupies our communities, and shoots at Native Americans praying to protect our land and ancestors from desecration,” said one O’odham tribal member who was present at the ceremony Monday morning.
The O’odham Anti Border Collective made the following demands:
- Immediate release of all who were arrested Monday;
- Immediate release of all minors abducted by the state Monday;
- Information about and reparations for all who were injured Monday;
- End the checkpoints and remove all Customs and Border Protection agencies from O’odham lands;
- Immediate and indefinite discontinuation of border wall construction at Quitobaquito Springs and throughout O’odham territories;
- Immediate removal of the white supremacist border wall and restoration of the land;
- Immediate demilitarization of O’odham lands;
- Remove the Integrated Fixed Towers;
- End racial profiling and harassment of Indigenous peoples;
- End incarceration and deportation of O’odham people from O’odham homelands by border patrol;
- End sexual and gender violence by border patrol;
- End white supremacist attacks, incarceration, and deportation of refugees and migrants on Indigenous lands; and
- Support Indigenous autonomy against colonial borders.
NATIVE AMERICANS TEAR GASSED, ARRESTED ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY By Kenny Stancil, Commondreams, October 13, 2020