A lot has transpired in the last few months relating to the Idle No More movement. My opinions and views have changed so much, just like the faces of those who try to strangle hold the movement have changed. It seems every single person within the political system has tried to take the reins and steer the movement with their own agenda.
There are so many factions among our people in what we call “leadership roles”. I will state this very openly and clearly. I do not view the Indian Act Band Councils, the Ontario Union of Indians, or the Assembly of First Nations as my “leaders”. Every single one of those political bodies are essentially a branch of the government, working on behalf of the government. Their job is designed specifically to keep the people under control, and divided, to maintain the status quo, so that corporate Canada can continue to rape and plunder the earth for capital profit. (In fact the entire political bodies of North America, and anywhere else where “democracy” is forced by the U.S. or U.N. military, is a complete fallacy. It is a system of control) I will not go into a deep critical analysis of the Indian Act Band Council System or their parent AFN system. Instead read what Zig Zag has already published.
I don’t agree with the title of “Idle No More”. It gives off the impression that we have always been stagnant or even inferior to the oppressors. There are many who would argue that the Haudenosaunee of the Grand River Territory have never been “idle” or “inferior”, and who have in fact been defending their land forever and have also given the O.P.P. their single greatest defeat in history. (Watch here) One thing that I do agree with and am very excited about, is the vast mobilization of our people.
I had the chance to speak with a man from 6 Nations who has been a land defender all his life. He had this to say about Idle No More. “You could see it coming for years. This isn’t just something that happened overnight. We could easily look at Kanesetake (Oka), or Ipperwash. Our people (all Native peoples) have been pushed for too long. Everyone has finally said enough is enough.”
To quote the Idle No More official website “Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damage to the land and water. We must repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship, work towards justice in action, and protect Mother Earth.”
On the Idle No More website, there is no specific outline on how to end colonization, or what specifically is “Indigenous Sovereignty”, but there is references to treaties, rights to lands/resources, outstanding land claims, and the inequality of funding for education and housing in regards to Indigenous peoples.
I imagine that every Indigenous/Native Nation on Turtle Island would agree, that some (if not all) of these issues are a problem they contend with. When I first started with ACTION and the Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp, I was very green (I still am quite green) and was unsure why I was doing anything, (other than not wanting to sign anything that said “absolutely surrender”). Coldwater Narrow Land Claim Settlement
As a man living in a patriarchal society who has grown up on violence, guns, fighting, Maxim magazines, sunshine girls, hockey etc…I had a very colonized view of what “treaties” or “Indigenous Sovereignty” meant. I have a much clearer understanding of what it means now. It has only come through this biskaabiiyaang or “returning”process (decolonization).
Firstly, when I hear the word treaty, I think of the the first treaty that I ever made. That first Treaty I ever made with the Creator, was to know that Creator created everything out of love. Creator put me, an Anishinabe on Mother Earth to honor her, and protect her. To live in a sacred way, to abide by the Seven Sacred Teachings and to keep the life cycles in balance. That is the first Treaty, and the only treaty I will ever truly abide by. With the exception of the Two Row Wampum, The 24 Nations Wampum and the 1764 Silver Chain Covenant Wampum, all other treaties that relate to the Canadian State, are what THEY (the government) deem as our rights. Furthermore, most of those numbered treaties were done with guns pointed at our Chiefs heads (in some cases killing them), starvation of the people, or military intimidation, with a “sign or else” ultimatum. One must ever be reminded, that we have an inherent right to our way of life, and that way of life is to live in balance and harmony with Creation.
To many, this means self governance. More specifically, the equal opportunity to resource sharing, and the ability to manage its own money and run a government much like Band Councils or the Parliamentary system in Ottawa.
I have a completely different vision on Indigenous Sovereignty. It is basically viewed upon a few different aspects but mostly decolonization. I have even come up with an idea and a rough model of what it would look like, if you’ve heard me speak or talk about it, I might have shared it with you. The basic premise of my decolonization, and Indigenous Sovereignty is the right for my people to decolonize, without the threat of military or police invasion. Of course this model does not work with capitalism functioning beside us. For it is capitalist corporations that seek to exploit and plunder the earth to provide capital economy…So the model that I have in my head does not happen without some kind of a revolution.
Revolution or Evolution?
The revolution idea that I had in my head until a few days ago, was a violent, blood shedding overthrow of the capitalist industry. Then a few things altered my mind, and opened up some ideas in my head. The first being that I saw this video here. This one soldier speaks out vehemently about war, the blood hungry government and the need to end violence, racism and wars everywhere. This soldier states, that, “weapons are useless if there is no one there to pull the trigger.” What he is talking about is world peace. Hmmm…intriguing, military men, actually refusing to fire weapons, revolutionary indeed.
This idea seems like a far shot in the dark and seems almost unrealistic, but then I recieved a teaching from one of my elders (as well as from many women). I have been reminded that the time of patriarchy is over. That there is a universal shift in the cosmos, and that the female energy is being restored. (This is what I have come to understand about the Mayan Calendar. The end of patriarchy). I was told by a woman “To trust in the teachings of our Ancestors and what has been taught about the Grandmothers we speak of. I had to lose my distrust of everything and believe in the concept of Love.” I wrestled with this idea over and over in my head. Can this concept really work?
I have had many visions in my life. Some of which, are the reasons behind why I do the work I do with ACTION and Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp. My most recent vision I had was in broad daylight while completely awake in Kingston, Ontario. A group of us were speaking about decolonization, first at Queens University, and then at the AKA (Autonomous Social Centre) and during a group discussion, I was listening to this Haudenosaunee women from Akwesasne speak about her Idle No More organizing. It was then that I had a vision. I was told to keep my visions secret, but in this case, I will share this one with you, as I had shared it with the group immediately after I had it.
I started to think of how the people can come together in peace and what it is going to take. Then I thought about what one of the Idle No More’s mandate was, in relation to water. It was then that I saw, Native peoples going to the water to protect it. What I saw next was ALL peoples coming together to do the same. Everyone was coming together to protect the water. I saw people building unity and friendship while doing this. And in that instant, I understood what I have be struggled with for so long. Unity, in protecting the water. When I shared this vision, I saw a non native sister swell with tears, and it was next to impossible to continue to look at her without choking up myself.
To further comment on what I had experienced, I will also share an experience that some of us had. A group of us were visiting a Haudenosaunee women who is highly respected for her knowledge and insight. A question was asked to her, “How do settlers and Indigenous peoples link our struggles?” Her answer was so simplistic that it was “revolutionary” to me. She said “We all have an inherent right to the earth.” For all those land defenders out there including, Oshkimaadziig, Six Nations and Unist’ot’en who are defending our territories…this was a revolutionary concept. (Revolutionary in a sense that as we protect our territories…it must mean that we have to learn to share….wait, isn’t that what the whole premise of the Two Row Wampum is?)
When regarding the Idle No More movement, from now on. I’m not going to allow myself to get caught up with all the political “treaty rights” and legislation bills and what not. I will simplify it to one fact. All women, of all nations are water carriers and the givers of life. We are all borne of a woman who carries us in water for nine months.. In Anishinabek culture, it is the women who are charged with protecting the water. Men are charged with protecting the women.
In my own biskaabiiyaang/decolonization process, I have found belief. I believe, in the teachings of our Ancestors. I believe in our natural ways with Mother Earth and all of Creation. I believe in the Thirteen Grandmother Moons and the connection she has with all life and water.
I’m not fully convinced that every military or police personnel in the world will refuse to fire weapons, but perhaps I’m not believing enough.
What I do believe is that the way out of this mess, is to believe in our women with traditional values, and who place love, peace, unity and water above all else. As our women rise up to defend the water, I believe that everyone will understand that we share this world equally… and understanding that we all equally die with out water, all nations will find unity in protecting water.
In the chaotic disorder that the male dominant tyrants have created, I believe that it will be the women who will lead us out of this mess.