Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations: Week Three!

We are entering week 3 of NABS’s 7 Weeks of Action! We have been receiving positive feedback from your phone calls so please keep making these calls into the Congressional offices. This week we ask you to call into the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to ask them to schedule a markup for S.2907, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools Policies Act.

NABS thanks you for joining us in this advocacy. Together we will get S.2907 /H.R. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act passed!

Please CALL these Senators Today and Request The SCIA hold a markup session for “S. 2907, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act” so the bill may move forward. 

“When we begin to cry, that’s part of the healing process. Our tears are meant to cleanse us, they’re meant to cleanse our spirit, our mind, and our body. When we cried as children, no one was there. We were left to cry alone. But today we have each other.”

SANDY WHITE HAWK (SICANGU LAKOTA), NABS BOARD PRESIDENT

Dear allies of Gidim’ten checkpoint

Dear allies of Gidim’ten checkpoint,

As you will know, we have reached another flashpoint in the Wet’suwet’en’s struggle against the CGL pipeline. Having fought to protect the sacred headwaters of Wedzwin kwa, they are now faced with the possibility of imminent drilling. Today, the hereditary chiefs are holding a press conference and issuing an eviction notice. They are issuing a call to action, which we are relaying to you.

The chiefs are calling for people to take on three targets: BC government, contractors, and the funder, RBC. Decolonial Solidarity members will rally to pressure the latter. For organized groups, we are issuing a call for in-person action. For everyone else, we are inviting you to call the global head of sustainability at RBC.

Click here to access a one-click-to-call action

We have managed to get this man’s personal phone number. It is important that we stay polite and firm in denouncing the actions of the bank. Remember: it can freeze its investment until the hereditary chiefs consent to the project. It can stop the drilling. It is this man’s job to ensure that the bank is sustainable. Let’s remind him there’s a ways to go.

Call the head of sustainability!

Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders have not given up and nor will we. We will continue to build our movement, to show solidarity, to turn up at branches, to talk to our neighbors and to passers by, to mobilize in protest, to confront RBC executives, and to send our love to the admirable Land Defenders whose leadership has inspired us throughout these difficult times.

In solidarity,
The organizing team

(This message from decolonial solidarity on behalf of the Gidimt’en land and water protectors is forwarded with the permission of the Unist’ot’en  in solidarity with their neighboring clan within the Wet’suwet’en Nation.)

Unist’ot’en Solidarity Brigade robertages@telus.net



ecology, culture, and spirituality

Spirituality is rarely spoken of in the tsunami of information and stories found on all types of media, related to the dangerous times we are living in. And the future our children face. The unfolding apocalyptic reality.

As the reality of escalating environmental chaos becomes impossible to ignore, vast numbers of people are demanding immediate solutions. And with the realization there are no quick fixes, panic spreads. Dystopian stories emerge. Hopelessness sets in.

I’m glad to have found Emergence Magazine, which asks the question “what does living in an unfolding apocalyptic reality look like?”

”Emergence is an essential and exquisite addition to our way of seeing and honoring this extraordinary planet.”

-Camille Dungy, editor of B1ack Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry

Launched in Spring 2018, Emergence Magazine is an award-winning quarterly online publication with an annual print edition exploring the threads connecting ecology, culture, and spirituality.

My last blog post was about one of the stories from Emergence Magazine. Joy is the justice we give ourselves.

“If we are to find a new kind of good life amid the catastrophes these myths have spawned, then we need to radically rethink the stories we tell ourselves.”

James Allen

Stories are the way we share our lived experiences, thoughts, and calls for change. And express our views of the present and the future. The stories in Emergence Magazine explore these things.


Some of the ways I’m involved in sharing stories include:


“The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we shall find the hope beyond hope, the paths that lead to the unknown world ahead of us.” Paul Kingsnorth & Dougald Hine

Most of us lack the stories that help imagine a future where we thrive in the midst of unstoppable ecological catastrophe. To borrow a phrase from storyteller Martin Shaw, this is because our imaginations have been colonised by things that don’t always mean us well.

We have been propelled to this point by the myths of progress, limitless growth, our separateness from nature and god-like dominion over it. These myths have shown up in our stories in peculiar ways of late. Since around the turn of the millennium there has been a surge in post-apocalyptic fiction. A steady stream of films, television series and novels have portrayed desolate and barely habitable future landscapes, often roamed by marauding bands of psychopaths, flesh-eating zombies or similar agents of malevolence. The frequent appearance of post-apocalyptic themes undoubtedly reflects our rising collective existential anxiety about our future. But perhaps more telling is the recurring themes of horror, deprivation and dystopian political order that nearly always characterise these depictions of the future. It seems our minds have been so thoroughly colonised by the myths of growth and progress that we cannot imagine how the collapse of the current order could possibly produce a future that resembles anything short of hell.

If we are to find a new kind of good life amid the catastrophes these myths have spawned, then we need to radically rethink the stories we tell ourselves. We need to dig deep into old stories and reveal their wisdom, as well as lovingly nurture the emergence of new stories into being. This will not be easy. The myths of this age are deeply rooted in our culture. The talking heads (even the green ones) echo these myths with the dogmatic fervour of zealots. They talk of “saving the planet” through transitioning to a “sustainable” future, primarily through new renewable energy technologies. They seem only able to conceive of a good life that mirrors our lives more or less as they are now, where the living standard continues to improve and rate of consumption continues to grow, yet somehow decoupled from all the pollution, destruction and guilt.

Pontoon Archipelago or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Collapse by James Allen, originally published by Medium, June 18, 2019


Let this darkness be a bell tower

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29. By Rainer Maria Rilke

Joy is the justice we give ourselves

The following story and poem are from an online magazine I recently discovered, Emergence Magazine.

The title caught my attention because joy is one of the main benefits of Mutual Aid communities. It has been true for my involvement in Des Moines Mutual Aid for the past two years. Especially in these times of growing fear about the baffling breakdown of so many things we took for granted, finding joy is so important. This quote from the book “Rehearsals for Living” by Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson describes this well.

“Rehearsals for Living” by Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Roots anchor and support us. Firmly and deeply established, they can carry us through difficult times. When we do the work of rooting, we find those threads that can nourish us in the face of adversity.

In “Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves,” poet J. Drew Lanham grounds his vision of racial justice in quiet moments of awe in nature. Celebrating radical acts of joy, he lifts up liberation, reparations, and deep connection to ancestors and the living world.

Emergence Magazine

Joy is the justice
we give ourselves.
It is Maya’s caged bird
sung free past the prison bars,
holding spirits bound—
without due process,
without just cause.

Joy is the steady run stream,
rights sprung up
through moss-soft ground—
water seeping sweet,
equality made clear
from sea
to shining sea,
north to south,
west to east.

Joy is the truth,
crooked lies hammered straight,
whitewashed myths
wiped away.
Stone Mountain
—just stone.
Rushmore
—no more.
Give the eagles
their mountains back.

(continues…)

Joy is the justice we give ourselves

CONTRIBUTOR BIOS

POET
J. Drew Lanham is a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist. He is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, which received the Reed Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Southern Book Prize, and was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal. His essays and poetry can be found in Orion, Audubon, Flycatcher, and Wilderness, and in the anthologies The Colors of Nature, State of the Heart, Bartram’s Living Legacy, and Carolina Writers at Home. He is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University.

PHOTOGRAPHER
Sheila Pree Bright is an acclaimed fine-art photographer known for her series Young Americans, Plastic Bodies, and Suburbia. Her documentation of responses to police shootings in cities across the US inspired her book #1960Now: Photographs of Civil Rights Activists and Black Lives Matter Protests.


ALL OUT FOR WEDZIN KWA

There is fatigue with the constant struggle to protect the water and Mother Earth. And yet, there is a true emergency now as Coastal Gaslink is on the brink of drilling under the Wedzin Kwa in the Wet’suwet’en territories in British Columbia.

READY TO TAKE ACTION?

In the long work of elevating Wet’suwet’en hereditary governance, there are many ways that supporters can step into movement through action.

Ways you can help: https://www.yintahaccess.com/take-action-1

Please continue to organize in support of #wetsuwetenstrong. Thank you to everyone who has stood up.

A toolkit can be found here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xenvlytUvfA5OIthZTaCfoUjjtCrcZNy3RCsVzlWGEQ/preview


Urgent Update: Coastal Gaslink Poised to Drill Wet’suwet’en Headwaters

2022-09-18 – Coastal Gaslink equipment is now in position to drill beneath the Wedzin Kwa river, which provides drinking water for Wet’suwet’en villages and has served as a key salmon spawning area for millenia.

Wet’suwet’en territory is unceded, unsurrendered, and sovereign, and Wet’suwet’en people have never provided Free, Prior, and Informed Consent to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline’s destructive construction operations.

To date, Wet’suwet’en resistance to drilling beneath Wedzin Kwa has delayed the destruction of Wet’suwet’en waters for approximately two years. In the fall of 2021, Wet’suwet’en and allies sustained a two-month long blockade of this drill site called Coyote camp, until a series of militarized RCMP attacks on Wet’suwet’en community members and supporters resulted in dozens of arrests.

In advance of CGL’s drilling operations, Wet’suwet’en community members have faced increased surveillance and harassment from RCMP’s C-IRG unit (a police unit created to facilitate pipeline construction) and a series of private security contractors. Wet’suwet’en village sites remain under 24 hour surveillance, while police have made several arbitrary violent arrests, including with pepper spray.

RCMP and CGL’s private security contractor Forsythe were served a lawsuit by Wet’suwet’en community members who have been subject to this continuous surveillance and harassment.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and community members recently hosted a week of ceremony to protect and honour Wedzin Kwa, included rafting tours of a historic Wet’suwet’en village site within the headwaters area.

We will never stop defending our yintah the way our ancestors have done for thousands of years. The pipeline will never be put into service.

Urgent Update: Coastal Gaslink Poised to Drill Wet’suwet’en Headwaters


RCMP Refuses to Respond to Gidimt’en Lawsuit, Continue Surveillance and Harassment of Land Defenders as Coastal GasLink Poised to Drill Headwaters


A detailed account of much of what has been done, and ways you can help, can be found here: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2022/05/27/wetsuweten-emergency/

Radio interview this June with Ed Fallon about the Wet’suwet’en.

Ed Fallon and I discuss the Wet’suwet’en struggles on the Fallon Forum

January, 2020, Bear Creek Friends (Quaker) meeting sent the following letter to British Columbia Premier, John Horgan.

John Horgan.
PO BOX 9041 STN PROV GOVT
VICTORIA, BC V8W 9E1.
Email premier@gov.bc.ca

John Horgan,

We’re concerned that you are not honoring the tribal rights and unceded Wet’suwet’en territories and are threatening a raid instead.
We ask you to de-escalate the militarized police presence, meet with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, and hear their demands:
That the province cease construction of the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline project and suspend permits.
That the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and tribal rights to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are respected by the state and RCMP.
That the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and associated security and policing services be withdrawn from Wet’suwet’en lands, in agreement with the most recent letter provided by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimiation’s (CERD) request.
That the provincial and federal government, RCMP and private industry employed by Coastal GasLink (CGL) respect Wet’suwet’en laws and governance system, and refrain from using any force to access tribal lands or remove people.

Bear Creek Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
19186 Bear Creek Road, Earlham, Iowa, 50072



#RCMPOffTheYinta #KillTheDrill #WetsuwetenStrong #AllOutForWedzinKwa

Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations: Week Two!

This is week 2 of Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations.
[See week 1 information here]

A fundamental principle of working with those experiencing injustice is to wait for that community to ask you for help. This Seven Weeks campaign is what Indigenous peoples are asking us to do.

https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=411792764439084&set=a.317125480572480

National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Join NABS in Week 2 of 7 Weeks of Action for 7 Generations, highlighting the need to pass H.R. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act in the U.S.

Please CALL the Congressional Members listed today and request they bring “H.R. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act” to the floor for a vote in House and Pass H.R. 5444

 #NABS #Time4Justice

NOTE: Please include calls to those who don’t represent your Congressional district. They are making decisions that affect us all.


All of this may be news to you, but for Indigenous people, this report simply confirms painful truths their families have long known. Survivors left these institutions abused, in poor health and without the language and cultural knowledge to connect with the homes they returned to. The way these children were raised in boarding schools — with fear, shame, violence and servitude — was in complete conflict with the way their tribal communities would have raised them; with love, identity and purpose.  

In short, the pain of these survivors is the foundation of modern Indigenous life.  

This federal policy created generations of trauma that tribes continue to navigate as they reclaim everything these institutions tried to destroy. For every language learner, for every heirloom seed planted, for every newborn receiving a traditional name instead of an English one, there are people struggling with trauma, battling addiction and trying desperately to survive a world that doesn’t fit or understand them.  

Guest column: Pain of boarding school survivors is foundation of modern Indigenous life by Portia K. Skenandore-Wheelock, The Oklahoman, July 8, 2022
(FCNL Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program)


This is a video my friend Rodger Routh made when he joined a few of us when we spoke to Senator Ernst’s staff recently. Besides making the phone calls listed above, you can request a meeting with the local staff of your representatives.

Preserving Subpoena Power

One September 1, I had a Skype meeting with Reid Willis in Senator Grassley’s Washington, DC, office. Reid was familiar with the history of Indian Boarding Schools. He told me Senator Grassley agreed with intent of S 2907 with two exceptions. Or, as a friend says, he doesn’t support it.

  • He feels the commission would duplicate work already being done by the Department of Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative.
  • And particularly because he is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he doesn’t think that such a commission should have subpoena power.

The Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative lays the groundwork for continued work of the Interior Department.

Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative

In June 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, a comprehensive effort to recognize the troubled legacy of federal Indian boarding school policies with the goal of addressing their intergenerational impact and to shed light on the traumas of the past.

The announcement directed the Department, under the leadership of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, to prepare a report detailing available historical records relating to federal Indian boarding schools and to develop the first official list of sites. On May 11, 2022, Secretary Haaland and Assistant Secretary Newland released Volume 1 of the investigative report. This report lays the groundwork for the continued work of the Interior Department to address the intergenerational trauma created by historical federal Indian boarding school policies. It reflects an extensive and first-ever inventory of federally operated schools, including profiles and maps.

Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative

I am pleased to release the first volume of the report, which represents the first attempt to produce a historical list of all Federal Indian boarding schools, to collect information about known and possible student burial sites, and to lay out a critical historical overview that sheds light on the damaging consequences of these policies and marks a path toward redressing their lasting consequences. A second volume will follow and will serve as a roadmap for continuing the compilation of records, in order to further efforts to heal the intergenerational trauma and associated economic, health, social, spiritual, and political impacts created by these failed policies.

Deb Halland,
Secretary of the Interior



https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.187/ee8.a33.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/2022-Truth-and-Healing-Commission-on-Indian-Boarding-School-Policies-Act-FINAL.pdf

Preserving Subpoena Power

One area of particular concern is whether the Truth and Healing Commission would have subpoena power. The bill, in its current form, allows for the commission to subpoena organizations involved in the operation of Native boarding schools. Some lawmakers have expressed concern that this would grant too much power to the investigation, outside of what is legally necessary.

Supporters of the bill, however, argue that without subpoena powers, the ability of the commission to conduct its investigation would be severely hindered.

“I do believe there needs to be some requirement that any entity, including state governments and churches, who operated boarding schools and received Federal funding or support must make any relevant documentation available to the Commission,” said Kirk Francis, chief of the Penobscot Nation, during the Senate hearing.

“I do believe there needs to be some requirement that any entity, including state governments and churches, who operated boarding schools and received Federal funding or support must make any relevant documentation available to the Commission,” said Kirk Francis, chief of the Penobscot Nation, during the Senate hearing.

The House Education and Labor Committee will consider the Truth and Healing bill next before it can go to the House floor for vote. This is a critical time for faith communities, Quaker meetings, and lawmakers in Congress to support the commission and uphold support for subpoena powers. Without access to records and documents, the commission cannot effectively bring justice to the countless victims and their families.

Lawmakers Make Progress on Native Boarding School Legislation by Seneca Ransom, Friends Committee on National Legislation, July 12, 2022


Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends

The Great Plains Action Society has published an “Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends”, which includes information about using FCNL’s letter writing templates for supporters of the bill to use to contact their representatives in Congress about this legislation.

Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends, Great Plains Action Society


National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Week One of Seven: Help us bring justice, accountability, awareness, and healing by telling the unvarnished truth about America’s history and genocide committed against Indigenous Peoples by way of Federal Indian boarding school policies. NABS asks that you please call the U.S. House leadership and request “they bring forward HR. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission to the floor to vote on during November which is Native American Heritage Month.” #NABS#Time4Justice


Lobbying Senator Ernst’s staff about S. 2907

Running and activism

Yesterday I was moved by the stories of survivors of the Indian Boarding Schools. The stories were shared by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) during a two hour Zoom online seminar titled Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations, Week One! The purpose is to support the passage of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444)

I really related to the story told by Ku Stevens.

Kutoven “Ku” Stevens and his family organized a 50-mile run honoring the survivors and victims of the Stewart Indian School in Carson City over the weekend. He recently spoke to KUNR’s Gustavo Sagrero about the ultramarathon at his family’s home on the Yerington Paiute Reservation.

I’m able to represent my people, and one of the best ways I know how, which is through running. So to be able to combine two things that I’m very passionate about, which is running and activism for my people, I’m able to really make a difference and an impact in a way that I could see, in a way that other people can understand, and in a way that I feel like is reaching a lot of people’s hearts, which is ultimately what the goal is.

Yerington teen and family organized run to remember survivors, victims of Indian boarding schools By Gustavo Sagrero, KUNR Public Radio, August 17, 2022

You were almost like … you were sent there to die.

Ku Stevens

Sagrero: The trauma of Indian boarding schools is just starting to get the national attention it deserves. What do you wish people understood more about this history?

Stevens: You were almost like … you were sent there to die. You know, the Native American in you was supposed to be killed or yourself; if you couldn’t conform to modern society, then you would die. These schools were built with graveyards in mind. They were built with the thought of having a cemetery on campus because they knew that kids would die. That’s not a school; that’s like a camp.

Sagrero: When you say camp, what do you mean?

Stevens: Like Nazi Germany, man. The roads and the building blocks that it took to make America what it is today are filled with the blood and bones of my people. And people need to understand that.

Yerington teen and family organized run to remember survivors, victims of Indian boarding schools By Gustavo Sagrero, KUNR Public Radio, August 17, 2022


I relate to this story for several reasons. I, too, have always been a runner. I was on the track team in Junior High School, with one school record (OK, it was for the 440 yd relay). And at the Quaker boarding high school I attended, Scattergood Friends School, a few of us ran instead of playing soccer. We ran a path of gravel roads for five miles. I apologize for the description of Scattergood as a boarding school. Much different from the Indian boarding schools.

The reason running was activism for me is because that was one of my main modes of transportation, because I refused to own a car for environmental and spiritual reasons.

Most of these photos were taken during the Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon. Mini means half-marathon, which is 13.1 miles. Which didn’t seem very “mini” to me. The Mini was part of the festivities each May related to the running of the Indianapolis 500 (auto) race. I ran the race every year for twenty-three years. I realize the irony of running being related to race cars.


Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations: Week 1

This afternoon the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) provided a two hour Zoom online seminar titled Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations, Week One! The purpose is for support and passage of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444)

As is nearly universally true for every American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian each of the speakers were affected by the residential schools. Nearly every speaker had times when they were so overcome with emotion that they had to pause what they were saying.

Each week for the next seven weeks a list of Congressional Representatives or Senators will be targeted for phone calls from us, asking the legislation to be brought out of committee for votes before the House and Senate.

National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Week One of Seven: Help us bring justice, accountability, awareness, and healing by telling the unvarnished truth about America’s history and genocide committed against Indigenous Peoples by way of Federal Indian boarding school policies. NABS asks that you please call the U.S. House leadership and request “they bring forward HR. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission to the floor to vote on during November which is Native American Heritage Month.” #NABS#Time4Justice


I recently wrote about my friends at the Great Plains Action Society’s (GPAS) Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends. That describes how people can use the Friends Committee on Legislation’s (FCNL) online tools to help people write messages and send them to their representatives.

Reflections on Reflections

The First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March involved a group of about thirty native and non-native people walking, eating, and camping together for 8 days. We walked ninety-four miles from Des Moines to Fort Dodge Iowa, along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline during the first week of September 2018.

It was a bit amazing when I read the following as I’m reflecting on my experiences and friendships from the March.

Roughly a year later, in 2019, as part of my work at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in Denendeh, I helped organize a solidarity gathering that took place in March, in the territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN). Our idea was simple—to invite a small group of Black, Brown and Indigenous activists, thinkers, writers, and organizers to spend time with us, in the spring, on an island in what the Yellowknives Dene known as Tindeè, or “big lake.” Together we fished nets under the ice, travelled by snowmobile and sleigh across the frozen lake, shared moose ribs cooked over the fire, stories from YKDFN Elders, our own ideas, and time with each other.

We wanted to invest in our relationship with each other and our affinities, outside of the institution, the internet, and crises, because we believed that the land would pull out a different set of conversations and gift us with a different way of relating. We wanted to sit together on the land, immersed in a Dene world, engage in a practice of Dene hospitality to see if we related to each other in a different way. This is exactly what happened. The land nurtured a set of conversations and way of relating to each other outside of the institution and its formations.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 35). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

In many ways the March was transformative for me. I wrote a long blog post of reflections on the March in early 2020. See: Reflections on the March.

The world, and I, have changed a lot in just the two years since those reflections were written. These two images represent the time span between the March and work we are doing today.


The first time I attended Quaker meeting after the March (2018), Russ Leckband gave me this piece of pottery, which was still warm from the kiln. The graphic on the right is about the Buffalo Rebellion, a climate justice summit, that I attended earlier this year.
(See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/?s=Buffalo+rebellion )

I suppose this blog post is more reflections on the prior reflections.
(As a photographer, I envision what that might look like)

Indy Art Jeff Kisling

Changes since the March in 2018

Environmental devastation and chaos are occurring much more rapidly than expected. In some ways not anticipated. The havoc from increasingly ferocious and frequent wildfires, violent storms, floods, and development of large areas of drought are overwhelming our social, economic, and political systems. Continued wars ruin or prevent the transport of vast quantities of agricultural products.

So many of the systems we used to depend on, we no longer can. Municipal services such as water, power, sewage, and trash processing will fail, are failing.  Food will no longer be available in grocery stores. Medical services will collapse. What will happen to those in prisons and long-term care facilities? Financial failures will wreck the economy and end social safety nets.

There are other compelling reasons to design and build new communities. Our economic system has not adapted to the loss of jobs overseas and to automation. There are simply not enough jobs for millions of people, and many of those who do have work are paid at poverty levels. Forced to depend upon increasingly diminishing social safety nets.

The judicial and law enforcement systems work with extreme bias against people of color. What will the response of militarized police, armed forces, armed militias be as social unrest escalates?


How do we respond? Some lessons learned from and since the March.

It is one thing to talk about change, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the reality of the changes described above. So, this is not an intellectual exercise.

Almost none of the White people I know, or have observed, are thinking of the radical changes necessary to deal with this evolving chaos. They are trapped in these failing systems and ways of being. Even those who recognize the many injustices of those systems.

For many reasons I believe our responses will be a return toward Indigenous ways and the sustainable ways of our ancestors.

White settler colonists must learn the true history, which was not taught to us. We can’t begin repair if we don’t know the underlying sources of injustice. We must stop treating the symptoms and instead focus on the causes, the underlying disease.

I FEEL THAT I NEED TO go backward in order to go forward. If we are going to find a way to make livable lives in these times, it is necessary to move beyond “human-related activities”: the climate crisis is tethered to its origins in slavery and colonialism, genocide and capitalism.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 25). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

I’ve been learning about the #LANDBACK movement, but I hadn’t consciously made the connection to the land we walked and slept upon during the March. We were deeply affected when we crossed the pipeline. And were aware of how different it was to spend hours outside and away from the busy-ness of technology. Many more hours than usual for many of us. And yet time had that elastic property that made hours seem like minutes and vice versa as we traveled through space together. Hearing stories of the past that can help us face the future.

Most of my White friends are horrified as they are learning more about the atrocities committed at the Indian boarding schools. Can hardly believe thousands of children died there. But they are being forced to as the remains of the children are being located.

White people cannot process these things and begin healing as long as they remain in the their White spaces and thinking. And deny any responsibility for what was done in the past.

My hope and prayer is a mass movement of us build Mutual Aid networks.

As William Shakespeare wrote, “what’s past is prolog”. Native children are still being taken from their families in the guise of child welfare. Native children are still forcefully assimilated when they are forced to read the White settler colonist view of history.

My involvement in Mutual Aid for the past two years has resulted in significant changes in my life. Changes that can be done now and help us move into the future. Another quote from the book Rehearsals for Living eloquently describes Mutual Aid.

My hope and prayer is a mass movement of us build Mutual Aid networks.

You and your relations, my friend, are (still) busy building a different world at the end of this one. This is something I’ve emphasized over and over again in my own work. I cherish the belief and practice that it is never enough to just critique the system and name our oppression. We also have to create the alternative, on the ground and in real time. In part, for me, because Nishnaabeg ethics and theory demand no less. In part because in Nishnaabeg thinking, knowledge is mobilized, generated, and shared by collectively doing. It’s more than that, though. There is an aspect of self-determination and ethical engagement in organizing to meet our peoples’ material needs. There is a collective emotional lift in doing something worthwhile for our peoples’ benefit, however short-lived that benefit might be. These spaces become intergenerational, diverse places of Indigenous joy, care and conversation, and these conversations can be affirming, naming, critiquing, as well as rejecting and pushing back against the current systems of oppression. This for me seems like the practice of movement-building that our respective radical practices have been engaged with for centuries.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 39). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

Following is the latest version of a diagram I’ve been working on to visualize some of what I’ve expressed above.