The large falling snowflakes had me seriously considering staying inside; Even after I started walking, I turned around once to return back to my sister’s apartment, telling myself, It’s too wet and slick, I didn’t wear the right shoes, No one’s going to be there. Then I thought, The ancestors of this land walked in this snow, lived in this. Out in the elements made them more in tune. Marchers recalled the Trail of Tears to steel themselves again the heavy snow and icy wind.
Turning around felt like turning my back on the ancestors who marched across this land, true soldiers for Mother Nature, Earth Protectors, Water Protectors. Keepers of the Earth. It felt like turning my back on everyone who fought before me, fought to preserve this land and protect the water. Everyone who has to keep fighting every day for their very existence.
And like every one who carries on the in face of adversity, be it weather or ridicule or violence, I was grateful I endured.
Speakers from each generation and gender, including a two-spirit, and from all different life experiences, spoke about the adversities the Native Peoples have faced historically and present day. From the abusive boarding schools and national mantras provoking “Kill the Indian, save the man,” to the diseases and genocides brought upon them, and to the women who have gone missing and the statistics of abduction and assault that are higher than any other demographic in the US, they have endured and endured and endured.
And yet. Each of their messages amplified gratitude and hope. Rather than mourn the smaller crowd or the cold weather, they celebrated the gift of the snow. Mni wiconi. Water is life.
They talked about the importance of being here to fight for everyone: For the elders, for the children, to empower the youth to take action so the elders can rest before their finals days. They reiterated that their fight is for all people: all indigenous people all around the world, those still in their homelands, like their brothers and sisters in South America, in Africa and Asia, and also for those who have fled to new lands, like the Europeans who colonized their land (my words, not theirs).
Those spoke on behalf of the women who were not there to speak for themselves, those who lost their lives and those who lost their spirit through abuse, abductions, and human trafficking. They spoke of the shockingly low number of cases of assault which are reported by the department of Justice, opposed to the true number.
They spoke of how proud they were of all of the young ones who are rising up to use their voices and are making sure to be seen. They encouraged one another to continue to work with the White People who are their allies, and they shared ways they continue to hold onto their culture, despite how many of the tribes have lost so much, including their language. Colorado was home to many indigenous tribes: Utes, Apache, Arapaho, Pueblo, Shoshone, Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Pawnee, and Zuni. Over the generations, people from many more tribes have moved to Denver and other Colorado cities. They spoke of their struggles, and the tone was reverent yet hopeful.
One young lady shared stories of her mother’s experiences in boarding school, of looking back at the yearbooks and noticing how many children who attended, never returned home….beaten or neglected to death. She spoke of the countless attempts throughout history White Man has made to erase them; Their resilience this day was so obvious as they stood before the capital blanketed in snow. They would not be erased. They will not be. They are still here. Their very existence a show of resistance. She acknowledged how speaking up about their past has elicited their haters to call them Snowflakes, and her response was this: “They can go ahead and call us Snowflakes, because snowflakes are beautiful and each one is unique, and when enough snowflakes get together, they change entire landscapes.”
Everything about this event showed time and time again that the wisdom, brilliance, and gentleness of Native Americans must be honored, preserved, and amplified. If we as humans are going to ever truly find a healthy relationship with the planet earth, we must honor the wisdom of these caretakers. They hold deep knowledge of the planet and I am afraid we aren’t going to be able to save our planet unless we listen to the Native Americans and their traditions and their ways of honoring Mother Earth without depleting her resources.
This event also got me thinking that here in the U.S. we have such an awesome and amazing advantage of having people from all over the world here, and people all over the world who continue to want to be here. We have been so immature and insane not to take full advantage of our unique circumstances of diversity in the US !!!!!!! Like the Sikh Americans who are preparing and serving meals to the furloughed government employees who are not being paid. Or the Chinese woman from the motel I stayed at last weekend: There is so much beauty and hospitality and generosity and grace in each culture, and we are depriving ourselves and our children of so much when we close doors or build walls to those opportunities to grow in empathy and grace and gratitude and humility.
Let us breathe together and be grateful for all that we have, and open our arms, not push people away or build walls around the bounty we have.
We are smart enough to solve the problem of illegal immigration while still holding doors and arms open to those who come here to seek a better life for themselves, and ESPECIALLY for those who come to escape fear, persecution, danger, war, etc. etc. We are better than walls. We are bigger than walls. We are a country of well educated and innovative leaders, both in and out of politics (especially thanks to the recent elections which have resulted in more women and more diversity in general in the house and senate than ever before). We have so many amazing and talented people completely capable of making savvy and effective choices if given the opportunity. Mr. President: I am talking to you. Get more people involved in finding solutions that everyone can agree on.
For me, it comes down to taking care….of our self. Each other. The elders. The children. Mother Earth. Our rights. The rights of others. I will never stop writing and never stop fighting until everyone has the same rights and freedoms as I do. I will never stop. And neither will the resilient, brilliant warriors and sisters, Native men and women and two-spirits who are still here fighting every day, come rain or come snow, for a better future.
#mmiw #mmiwg #nomorestolensisters #whyImarch #ipmdenver19 #standwithus