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Red Nations at GP Tar Sands Resistance Camp
I haven't had much time to keep up with blogging... I spent almost a week in Oklahoma, camping near Ponca City with the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance Camp - no electricity in my tent (although one tent did have a windmill and solar panels - I kid you not!). Although the action that we were training for all week didn't come off as planned, the overall experience came together as one of the most valuable I've had so far in a totally unexpected way.
On this journey, I've met many people whom I consider to be nothing less than heroic in the stands they take and actions they perform on a daily basis in mostly thankless efforts to bring about a cleaner, more just and equitable world for us all. Over and over as I watch the videos I've been collecting, I find myself chocked up in awe and gratitude just to be in the company of these unsung heroes who tirelessly fight mountaintop removal, uranium mining, home foreclosures, militarism, corporatism, drones, racism, homophobia and xenophobia, student debt, low wages... and on and on and on...
Of all the experiences I've had and all the people I've met, none have impressed me more than the people of the Red Nations who have been present in so many of the places I've visited. Most recently, when I listened to Casey Camp-Horinek, Dwayne Camp and Carter Camp, brothers and sister from the Ponca Nation, at the the opening ceremony of the Oklahoma camp, something that had been unclear up to now fell into place for me. My mission began to take on a definition it had been lacking and I got an inkling that I was on the cusp of finding what I've been searching for.
I believe the theme emerging from my travels is that our Indigenous brothers and sisters have been in this fight for a very long time. They understand without equivocation the absolute necessity of caring for the land, our environment, through our daily attention to our Mother Earth while, at the same time, engaging in the most vital war of all time, the war against the Earth's oppressors and destroyers. These actions are not mutually exclusive. They go together. The Red Nations exemplify the importance of community and identification with family and tribe. When Casey and Carter spoke to us, they talked about how, at one time, as they fought for sovereignty and preservation of their culture and race, white people were their enemy. Over and over again, throughout the week, I heard Carter, Casey and other Indigenous voices repeating that that time is past. Now, we have a common enemy, the governments and the multi-national corporations. Now, we have to join together, red, white, black, brown and yellow, to fight this common enemy.
Ultimately, what fell into place for me was a humbling realization that in all these big battles we are waging against Wall Street and Big Banks and corporatism and militarism and the devastation of our environment, the Indigenous people from whom my ancestors have been robbing and pillaging for generations have long known the way to survival. Yes, they have Tribal governments and their own problems within, which they openly acknowledged, but as a People they have been waging a war for the land, for sovereignty and for their culture for generations. And now, in spite of all that has been taken from them, they have opened their arms and invited us to join them in a fight for the survival of the planet.
I believe that to succeed, we need to join them. We need to learn from them. As I travel, I'm finding that the Occupy movement awakened a lot of people, a LOT of people, mostly white people, many of them unlikely allies only a year and a half ago. For those of us who have been activists for a long time, the Occupy movement gave us the support and forward momentum we had been lacking. Now, Idle No More brings us back to the root causes and offers us a place to 'begin'.
Our corporate indentured government continues raping and pillaging across the globe exactly as it did to the Red Nations, and I believe that we need to respectfully address the original harm done if we are ever to succeed in stopping the devastation our country wreaks at home and across the globe. It will require humility and a willingness to take a backseat more than we are accustomed to or comfortable with. But, I believe, for any change to come, we need to listen, learn and partner with the Red Nations who were here first. At least today, at least for me, I believe it is not only what is necessary, it is what is right.