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

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.

Finding Accomplices, Continued

One of the primary reasons I embarked upon this journey about the evolution of my foundational stories was to encourage people who hadn’t been much involved in justice work to change that.

  • Injustices abound. The victims should be supported while working to address the root causes of the injustice.
  • We should search our own lives to see if and how we are contributing to injustice.
  • Spiritual guidance often leads to justice work.
  • If others observe our Spirit guided work, they may join our Quaker communities.

It is discouraging to see attendance of our Quaker meeting diminish as Friends die or move away, and few new people join. Many Friends do justice work, but that is often unseen by people in the community. This is a time of great spiritual poverty, and Quaker meetings for worship could be what some seekers are looking for. For seekers to find us, we need to be seen in our communities. And doing justice work is a way for that to happen.

The reason I’m thinking about all this now is because a group of us will be meeting with Senator Ernst’s staff in Des Moines to talk about the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444).
(See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2022/08/29/practicing-hope/)

There is a web of interrelationships among Native and non-native peoples in the Midwest that presents opportunities to work together to learn and publish the truth about Indian Boardings Schools. There are parts of this that are only appropriate for each community to work on separately. But hopefully these Congressional visits will be the beginning of further work together.

This began with an appeal from Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) for us to ask our Senators to support that legislation (S. 2907). And specifically, to do this during their current recess when they would be in Iowa.

I know my friend Sikowis Nobiss is interested in supporting legislation related to Native Americans, so I contacted her about this. She put me in touch with Jessica Engelking, who is also part of the Great Plains Action Society. Fortunately, I met Jessica when we were attending the Buffalo Rebellion conference recently. Some of the networking that occurred there. Others at that conference included my friends Peter Clay, Sikowis, Mahmud Fitil, Ronnie James, Miriam Kashia and Jake Grobe.

When Jessica asked what Quakers have been doing related to our role in some of the residential schools, I shared FCNL’s decades of advocacy for Native Americans. We began to work together to arrange visits to our Senators about the truth and healing commission act, and included Jessica Bahena, FCNL’s National Organizer, who is FCNL’s contact related to this legislation in our planning.

Over the past several years there have been changes in how I do justice work. What hasn’t changed is the I’ve tried to be obedient to what the Spirit is telling me to do.

Most of my life I did justice work within the framework of Quaker meetings, communities, and organizations, such as FCNL. For about 8 years I was clerk of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee. At our annual sessions a month ago, someone else took over that responsibility.

The Quaker involvement in the Indian Boarding Schools has long been a concern of mine. When I learned about this appeal from FCNL, I wanted to work on that. But no longer being on the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, I wasn’t thinking about working in the context of that committee, although I did contact the clerk of the committee in case they wanted to become involved.


Mutual Aid

For the past two years I’ve been working in the Des Moines Mutual Aid community. This has answered a deep need in my life to find accomplices who are doing justice work in a way that focuses on root causes of injustice and builds community. (See: Mutual Aid PDF)

I’d like to explore the possibility of Native Americans and White people working together on these traumatic problems. At first, I thought the Mutual Aid part would just be an interesting possibility to frame this work, but the more I think about it, the more important I think it could be, for making our work together avoid the problems of hierarchy, who’s in charge.

Mutual Aid

It is common to feel vulnerable when we meet new people, in new organizations and communities. But we need to venture out of our meetinghouses more often. I’ve been blessed to have found numerous communities to work with over the years. What follows are guidelines I’ve discovered that can help you as you begin to work with other communities or cultures.


Reject Learned Helplessness. Be at the IUB tomorrow.

If you’ve been involved in any sort of activism, you know the frustration of the lack of participation by others.

One of my deepest frustrations has been related to the existential threat of environmental collapse. Fifty years ago, I moved to Indianapolis, and was horrified by the foul air, smog you could actually see, and barely breathe. I was led to live without owning a car from that point. And to try to get others to do whatever they could to stop the accelerating environmental devastation. Fifty years later, you can see where we are. In hindsight, we can imagine what might have happened if we had invested in mass transit back then.

I recently learned the term Learned helplessness from “The Vicious Cycle of American Collapse. How Social Collapse Happens-And Why Americans Feel So Powerless to Stop It” by umair haque, Eudaimonia, July 6, 2022

Tomorrow is a chance to reject learned helplessness. Instead, you can show up at the Iowa Utilities Board at 8:30 am. to object to the construction of carbon (CO2) pipelines. (Details below)


My years in Indianapolis were blessed by connections with wonderful people and organizations fighting for climate justice. I moved to Iowa July 1, 2017, and wondered how I could build new relationships here. By researching using social media, I learn about the work of Ed Fallon and Bold Iowa. I learned of an event to be held at the Iowa State Capitol to petition for the removal Richard W. Lozier, Jr. from the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) because of his conflicts of interest. This photo of that event illustrates what a small number of people show up.

Although Ed wasn’t there, Sikowis Nobiss did attend. I reminded her we met when she spoke at Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) a few months earlier. We have since worked on many projects together and I consider her a good friend of mine.

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) has been the site of a number of environmental protests because one of their functions is to approve pipeline projects.

Two people protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline were arrested Wednesday in Des Moines after demanding a meeting at the Iowa Utilities Board.

Jessica Reznicek, who was arrested on a trespassing charge, had been fasting for 10 days with Travis O’Brennan, urging the board to revoke permits for construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline in Iowa.

Two pipeline protesters arrested at Iowa Utilities Board by Charly Haley, and Linh Ta, Des Moines Register, Nov. 20, 2016

In July, 2017, Ruby Montoya, then a 27-year-old former preschool teacher, and Jessica Reznicek, then a 35-year-old activist, were arrested for damaging the sign at the Iowa Utilities Board.

Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, right, stand in front of the Iowa Utilities Board in July of 2017 and read statements taking credit for acts of sabotage against the Dakota Access pipeline. Courtesy of Des Moines Catholic Worker Archives

“Some may view these actions as violent, but be not mistaken. We acted from our hearts and never threatened human life nor personal property,” Montoya said. “What we did do was fight a private corporation that has run rampant across our country, seizing land and polluting our nation’s water supply. You may not agree with our tactics, but you can clearly see their necessity in light of the broken federal government and the corporations they represent.”

As a result of this admission, Montoya and Reznicek were indicted on nine felony charges of intentionally damaging energy infrastructure — a designation that can render a private, commercial company’s enterprise a matter of federal concern. 

‘You Strike a Match’ Why two women sacrificed everything to stop the Dakota Access pipeline by Julia Shipley, Grist, May 26, 2021

We were at the Iowa Utilities Board September 1, 2018, to start our sacred journey, the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. A small group of us walked and camped along the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline, from our beginning here in Des Moines, to Fort Dodge, a distance of 94 miles, over eight days.

Regina Tsosie sings a song at the press conference at the Iowa Utilities Board regarding the improper use of eminent domain for the Dakota Access Pipeline. And the beginning of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March.


Regina Tsosie sings a song at the press conference at the Iowa Utilities Board regarding the improper use of eminent domain for the Dakota Access Pipeline

Tomorrow, July 12, we will again gather at the Iowa Utilities Board, this time to object to the construction of carbon (CO2) pipelines in Iowa.

https://www.facebook.com/events/509509047578832

Please join us July 12th, 8:30 am at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) monthly board meeting. The board is preparing to handle permit requests for three hazardous carbon pipelines in Iowa.

There are many reasons why carbon pipelines should not be built, including:

  • these are unproven processes
  • even though the main argument for carbon pipelines is removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some of the captured carbon is actually used for more oil fracking
  • the abuse of eminent domain
  • and significant, long-term impacts on farmland.
  • In addition, these are hazardous material pipelines

When a carbon pipeline explodes, huge amounts of carbon dioxide escape into the air, replacing oxygen, and potentially killing people and animals. Such an explosion and some of those consequences actually happened in Satartia, Mississippi. See: CO2 Pipeline Dangers.

No CO2 Pipelines in Iowa


Join the Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition for a rally at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) monthly board meeting. We won’t stand by as corporations endanger our land, our communities, and our climate by abusing eminent domain. CO2 pipelines pose a multitude of threats to all Iowans. From destroying farmland to the threat of asphyxiation if a pipeline leaks, Iowans are carrying all the risks, while Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry make off with the reward.

As the Iowa Utilities Board prepares to handle permit requests for three hazardous carbon pipelines, it’s crucial that they know 80% of Iowans oppose using eminent domain for carbon pipelines. It’s time Iowa’s decision-makers learn that we will not accept greedy corporate interests being put before their needs.

Let’s show the Iowa Utilities Board how powerful we are when we stand together!

https://www.facebook.com/events/509509047578832/


Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition

https://www.facebook.com/NoCCSIowa


Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is not the answer to the climate emergency. CCS is unproven, dangerous and delays real solutions to the climate crisis such as energy conservation, regenerative agriculture and renewable energy.
https://www.facebook.com/NoCCSIowa


Great Plains Action Society

https://www.facebook.com/GreatPlainsActionSociety

Great Plains Action Society. An indigenous collective working to resist and indigenize colonial institutions, ideologies, and behaviors. https://www.facebook.com/GreatPlainsActionSociety


Buffalo Rebellion

https://www.facebook.com/IowaBuffaloRebellion

Buffalo Rebellion is a coalition of Iowa grassroots organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice!

Formed in 2021, Buffalo Rebellion is comprised of seven Iowa organizations: Great Plains Action Society, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement, SEIU Local 199, and Iowa CCI
https://www.facebook.com/IowaBuffaloRebellion


Iowa Sierra Club

https://www.facebook.com/IowaSierraClub/


Ní Btháska Stand

https://www.facebook.com/NiBthaskaStandCollective

Ní Btháska Stand

Direct Action Collaboration between Great Plains Action SocietNí Btháska Stand Collective at Iowa State Capitol sending a strong message to policymakers:

#NoCarbonPipelines
#StopNavigator
#StopSummit
#NoCCS
https://www.facebook.com/NiBthaskaStandCollective


https://www.facebook.com/iowacci

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
With thousands of members from all walks of life, we get things done on critical issues
https://www.facebook.com/iowacci


No CO2 Pipelines in Iowa

Iowa Utilities Board (IUB)! See Our Power!

https://www.facebook.com/events/509509047578832/

You can download a copy of this poster here. https://1drv.ms/b/s!Avb9bFhezZpPjNEeBqI19Hk2DVMAkw

Please join us July 12th, 8:30 am at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) monthly board meeting. The board is preparing to handle permit requests for three hazardous carbon pipelines in Iowa.

There are many reasons why carbon pipelines should not be built, including:

  • these are unproven processes
  • even though the main argument for carbon pipelines is removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some of the captured carbon is actually used for more oil fracking
  • the abuse of eminent domain
  • and significant, long-term impacts on farmland.
  • In addition, these are hazardous material pipelines

When a carbon pipeline explodes, huge amounts of carbon dioxide escape into the air, replacing oxygen, and potentially killing people and animals. Such an explosion and some of those consequences actually happened in Satartia, Mississippi. See: CO2 Pipeline Dangers.

Here are some other posts I’ve written about carbon pipelines.

Carbon pipeline opposition
Eminent domain abuse again
Survivors of Carbon pipeline explosion tell their stories
Iowa carbon pipeline resistance

Join the Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition for a rally at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) monthly board meeting. We won’t stand by as corporations endanger our land, our communities, and our climate by abusing eminent domain. CO2 pipelines pose a multitude of threats to all Iowans. From destroying farmland to the threat of asphyxiation if a pipeline leaks, Iowans are carrying all the risks, while Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry make off with the reward.

As the Iowa Utilities Board prepares to handle permit requests for three hazardous carbon pipelines, it’s crucial that they know 80% of Iowans oppose using eminent domain for carbon pipelines. It’s time Iowa’s decision-makers learn that we will not accept greedy corporate interests being put before their needs.

Let’s show the Iowa Utilities Board how powerful we are when we stand together!

https://www.facebook.com/events/509509047578832/


Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition

https://www.facebook.com/NoCCSIowa


Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is not the answer to the climate emergency. CCS is unproven, dangerous and delays real solutions to the climate crisis such as energy conservation, regenerative agriculture and renewable energy.
https://www.facebook.com/NoCCSIowa


Great Plains Action Society

Great Plains Action Society. An indigenous collective working to resist and indigenize colonial institutions, ideologies, and behaviors. https://www.facebook.com/GreatPlainsActionSociety


Buffalo Rebellion

Buffalo Rebellion is a coalition of Iowa grassroots organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice!

Formed in 2021, Buffalo Rebellion is comprised of seven Iowa organizations: Great Plains Action Society, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement, SEIU Local 199, and Iowa CCI
https://www.facebook.com/IowaBuffaloRebellion




Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
With thousands of members from all walks of life, we get things done on critical issues
https://www.facebook.com/iowacci




#NoCarbonPipelines
#StopNavigator
#StopSummit
#NoCCS

To my white friends

I especially hope many of my white friends, especially Quakers, might attend the Fourth of He Lies community potluck. If you are a white person, like me, try to imagine how black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) feel about all the celebrations and speeches going on now related to the 4th of July.

You can find out how some BIPOC folks feel by attending the Fourth of He Lies community potluck Sunday, July 3rd at Cheatom Park, 1100 Day Street, Des Moines, from 4 – 7 pm. Children welcome.

In 2017 I retired to Iowa after my career at Indiana University Medical Center. It was difficult to leave the many friends I have in numerous justice communities in Indianapolis.

I am blessed to have made so many new friends in the Midwest and work with their/our organizations today. That includes working, directly or indirectly with all of the organizations below that are sponsoring the community potluck, with the exception of Satanic Iowa. I made an assumption that didn’t turn out to be true, i.e., that they were related to what I thought Satanic was. All I know is what I found on Wikipedia this morning. “The Satanic Temple, often abbreviated TST, is a nontheistic religious and human rights organization that is primarily based in the United States,[1][2][3][4] I hope I can make it to the potluck and learn more.

Before I learned what The Satanic Temple really was about, I had no doubt my friends in the other organizations below approved of them being included as sponsors of the potluck.

This also brings to mind the term “fusion politics” that I learned from Rev. William Barber. The concept is to unite disparate organizations around the issues they agree on and can work on together.

Finally, I’m working to get Quaker communities to embrace the concepts of Mutual Aid. An important part of Mutual Aid is to work with all of the justice organizations in the vicinity of the Mutual Aid community. This potluck is an opportunity for Friends to learn about organizations doing great work in our communities. Organizations they might become involved with in their own Mutual Aid communities.


Join us for a community potluck hosted by Iowa organizations while we speak truths about July 4th. Plenty of food, music, and fun will be provided as local leaders uplift issues they are facing in their communities.

Bring chairs, blankets, and fun stuff!
Children are welcome!

Hosted by Great Plains Action Society, Iowa CCI, Cedar Rapids Sunrise. Other organizations are welcome to join–to bring some food, to table and speak! Please contact Sikowis at sikowis@greatplainsaction.org for more information.
https://www.facebook.com/events/369803928574457

The colonists obsessed about British regulations on immigration and trade and what they considered an excessive number of British officials present in the colonies. They ignored the injustices they inflicted on others. They rose up against figurative enslavement by the Crown while literally enslaving people in America.

What we get wrong about the Fourth of July. If our deepest values are democracy and equality, then why do we celebrate a slaveholders’ rebellion as the birth of our nation? By Kermit Roosevelt III, The Boston Globe, June 30, 2022

Sponsors of the Fourth of He Lies

Great Plains Action Society. An indigenous collective working to resist and indigenize colonial institutions, ideologies, and behaviors. https://www.facebook.com/GreatPlainsActionSociety


Buffalo Rebellion is a coalition of Iowa grassroots organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice!

Formed in 2021, Buffalo Rebellion is comprised of seven Iowa organizations: Great Plains Action Society, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement, SEIU Local 199, and Iowa CCI
https://www.facebook.com/IowaBuffaloRebellion


Iowa Coalition for Collective Change. Uniting communities. Promoting equality. Transforming organizations.
https://www.facebook.com/ICCCdsm


We are the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement. #DSMBLM
https://www.facebook.com/desmoinesblm


Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
With thousands of members from all walks of life, we get things done on critical issues https://www.facebook.com/iowacci


We are Sunrise Cedar Rapids, a group dedicated to fight climate change. https://www.facebook.com/sunrisemvmtCR


Not to be confused with the Church of Satan.

The Satanic Temple, often abbreviated TST, is a nontheistic religious and human rights organization that is primarily based in the United States,[1][2][3][4] with additional congregations in CanadaAustralia, and the United Kingdom.[5][6] Co-founded by Lucien Greaves, the organization’s spokesperson, and Malcolm Jarry,[7][8] the organization uses Satanic imagery to promote egalitarianismsocial justice, and the separation of church and state, supporting their mission “to encourage benevolence and empathy [among all people].”[9] The Satanic Temple has utilized satire, theatrical ploys, humor, and legal action in their public campaigns to “generate attention and prompt people to reevaluate fears and perceptions”,[10] and to “highlight religious hypocrisy and encroachment on religious freedom.”[7][11][12][13]

The Satanic Temple does not believe in a supernatural Satan; instead it employs the literary Satan as a metaphor to promote pragmatic skepticism, rational reciprocity, personal autonomy, and curiosity.[8] Satan is thus used as a symbol representing “the eternal rebel” against arbitrary authority and social norms.[14][15] Adherents generally refer to their religion as “Satanism” or “Modern Satanism“,[16] while others refer to TST’s religion as Compassionate Satanism or Seven Tenet Satanism.[17][18]

The organization’s participation in public affairs includes political actions as well as lobbying efforts,[19][20] with a focus on exposing Christian privilege when it interferes with personal religious freedom. It considers marriage a religious sacrament that should be governed under the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty which should prevail over state laws.[21] Because the group regards inviolability of the body as a key doctrine, it also views all restrictions on abortion, including mandatory waiting periods, as an infringement on the rights of Satanists to practice their religion.[22]

Wikipedia – The Satanic Temple

Satanic Iowa
https://www.facebook.com/SatanicIowa


The crown and the colonists were both determined to seize lands from native peoples and to continue enslavement. But their interests were also hostile to one another and war was the inevitable result. White settlers wanted full independence for themselves and no control over their actions at all.

The indigenous populations were nearly eradicated in the decades long quest for conquest. Expanding slavery was an integral part of those efforts against native peoples. Genocide could not be carried out completely nor could any accommodation be made with European nations in the quest to control land from sea to shining sea. That is why the settlers declared their independence. 

The process of decolonizing ourselves is a difficult one. We have been cut off from our history and we don’t know where or how our people played a part. As we try to educate ourselves we may find it difficult to give up traditions that we have claimed as our own. Regardless of personal choices made on July 4th, the causes of the Declaration of Independence must be known and acknowledged. That is the beginning of true independence for Black people.

THE TERRIBLE ORIGINS OF JULY 4TH By Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report.
July 3, 2021

A Love Letter to Y’all

I’m looking forward to being with my Des Moines Mutual Aid (DMMA) friends this morning, for our weekly free grocery store, described below.

As a Quaker, I find it particularly interesting that the first public action of DMMA was participation in a peace march.

Originally tweeted by Des Moines Mutual Aid (@dsm_mutual_aid) on January 6, 2021.

A Love Letter to Y’all (a thread)

One year ago yesterday Des Moines Mutual Aid participated in a march protesting the potential for war or increased hostilities with Iran that followed the fallout of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani by drone strike in Baghdad.

This was our first “public” event since adopting the name Des Moines Mutual Aid, a name we gave our crew during our growing work with our relatives at the houseless camps throughout the city and our help with coordinating a weekly free grocery store that has a 50 year history, founded by the Des Moines Chapter of The Black Panther Party For Self Defense.

A year ago we started laying the foundation for work we had no idea what was coming.

As we were adjusting our work with the camps and grocery re-distribution in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, both that continued to grow in need and importance, the police continued their jobs and legacy of brutality and murder.

This nation exploded in righteous rage in response to the pig murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

DMMA realized we were in a position to organize a bail fund to keep our fighters out of jail, both to keep the streets alive as a new phase of The Movement was being born, and because jails are a hotspot of Covid-19 spread.

Not to mention the racial and economic oppression that is the cash bail system.

In the past year DMMA has expanded it’s work in multiple directions and gained many partners and allies.

We partnered with the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement (@DesMoinesBLM) to create the DSM BLM Rent Relief initiative to help keep families in their homes in the midst of a pandemic and the winter.

The camp work has grown exponentially, but is being managed with our collaboration with Edna Griffin Mutual Aid (@egma_dsm), DSM Black Liberation Movement (@DesMoinesBLM), and The Great Plains Action Society (@PlainsAction).

The bail fund remains successful because of desire from the public and a partnership with Prairielands Freedom Fund (@prairielandsff) (formerly The Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project).

The weekly free food store has maintained itself, carrying on the legacy it inherited.

Every one of our accomplishments are directly tied to the support of so many people donating time, talent, and funds to the work. We are overwhelmed with all of your support and hope you feel we are honoring what we promised.

All of these Mutual Aid projects are just a few of many that this city has created in the last year in response to the many crises we face, not only confronting the problems and fulfilling the needs directly in front of us, but creating a sustainable movement that will be capable of responding to what’s next and shaping our collective futures as we replace the systems that fail us.

These last 12 months have been wild and a real test of all of our capabilities to collectively organize.

But it is clear that we as a city have what it takes to do what is needed in 2021, no matter what crisis is next.

Much gratitude to you all.

In love and rage,
Des Moines Mutual Aid

Originally tweeted by Des Moines Mutual Aid (@dsm_mutual_aid) on January 6, 2021.

Dangerous disconnect

I’m heeding the suggestion that it isn’t good for young people to continuously hear proclamations of near-term extinction. And nobody really knows what will happen as we move further into environmental devastation and chaos.

But there are many things we do know about our evolving environmental disaster.

Daily breaking high temperature records for large areas of the world is directly linked to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As are the increasingly frequent and severity of storms. And the increasing severity of drought conditions over larger areas of land. All of which will increasingly stress, or cause failures of power, water, and waste management infrastructure.

And yet, the Biden administration is aggressively pressuring oil companies to increase oil and natural gas production and releasing millions of barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. A dangerous, disastrous disconnect.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) today announced an additional Notice of Sale of up to 40.1 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). This Notice of Sale is part of President Biden’s announcement on March 31, 2022, to release one million barrels of crude oil a day for six months to address the significant global supply disruption caused by Putin’s war on Ukraine and help stabilize volatile energy costs for American families. 

DOE Announces Additional Notice of Sale of Crude Oil From The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, May 24, 2022

New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is delusional.

U.N. Secretary−General António Guterres

U.N. Secretary−General António Guterres warned Tuesday of a “dangerous disconnect” between what scientists and citizens are demanding to curb climate change, and what governments are actually doing about it.

Guterres said global greenhouse gas emissions need to drop by 45% this decade, but are currently forecast to increase by 14%.

“We are witnessing a historic and dangerous disconnect: science and citizens are demanding ambitious and transformative climate action,” he said at a climate conference in Austria. “Meanwhile many governments are dragging their feet. This inaction has grave consequences.”

New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is delusional,” he said in a video message to the Austrian World Summit, initiated by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “It will only further feed the scourge of war, pollution and climate catastrophe.”

Guterres urged countries to instead end all coal use by 2040, with rich nations doing so by 2030, and focus on replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power.

“Renewables are the peace plan of the 21st century,” he said.

Inaction on climate is ‘dangerous’, warns U.N.’s Guterres, By Associated Press | News | June 14th 2022



https://www.facebook.com/IowaBuffaloRebellion

Native Americans, Quakers and Mutual Aid

The Department of the Interior has released the first volume of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Report. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland first announced the creation of the Initiative last June, with a primary goal of investigating the loss of human life and the lasting consequences of these schools.

This report, and ongoing news of locating the remains of Native children on the grounds of numerous Indian residential schools has brought attention to Quakers’ role in these institutions in North America.

There are calls for Friends to respond in many ways. To educate ourselves about this history. To seek ways for healing and reparations. To research and publish our own meeting’s history.

But I’m concerned that Friends will follow a common pattern of only working within their meetings. When this is a time we need to reach out to Native peoples.

And I am concerned that many Quakers are not aware of attitudes we could be bringing to this work. In the same the way so many white Quakers have trouble understanding white supremacy and privilege related to racial justice, many are also unaware of how deeply we are immersed in this colonized society. Colonization and white supremacy are the foundation of forced assimilation of native children. And the ideas behind the land theft and genocide of native peoples.

We need to decolonize ourselves. If not, we risk doing more harm than good.

My spiritual vision is of Quakers building personal relationships with native peoples when we are invited to do so. I have been blessed to experience this for the past couple of years while working with my local Mutual Aid community. This diverse community includes a number of native people. It was a Spirit led opportunity that connected me with an Indigenous organizer who is involved in Mutual Aid. We got to know each other over several months of email exchanges (this during the COVID crisis). When I thought we knew each other well enough, I asked if it would be appropriate for me to join this Mutual Aid work, and he said yes. But it wasn’t until I’d been involved for several months that he said, “welcome to the community”. Although I had invited myself to join this work, I wasn’t really part of the community until that moment.

I was blessed to find this community was not only another way to build friendships with native people, but also taught me what a Mutual Aid community is. Based on these experiences, I believe Mutual Aid is a model for how Friends can be involved in work outside the meetinghouse. Mutual Aid is a way we can decolonize ourselves.

What I think is needed in this moment is to show up at events and causes being led by Indigenous peoples near us

Mutual Aid is all about replacing vertical hierarchies with a flat, or horizontal hierarchy. This removes the power structures among members of the community and nearly eliminates friction, in my experience.

An essential part of the truth and healing process should be doing this work together as a Mutual Aid community, with its emphasis on inclusivity and rejecting dominant relationships. It is important that attitudes and practices of superiority not be brought to the work of healing from policies that are based on dominance and colonization.

“We sought to show the power our communities possess when we come together unified under the belief and knowledge that what we do today is both work to heal past generations and lift the spirits of our future generations.”

Matt Remle on the efforts to pass the Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution

Mutual Aid focuses on meeting community needs now, in the moment. The food project I’m involved with distributes food to those in need every week. Those working with the houseless camps take food and propane tanks there. It is the experience of meeting needs in the present that brings us joy and attracts new members. That also affects our interactions with those who come for the food. We realize it is the failure of capitalism that leaves them hungry. We all know we ourselves might need such help in the future.

There are many suggestions of things Quakers might do related to the Indian Boarding Schools.

What I think is needed in this moment is to show up at events and causes being led by Indigenous peoples near us. Most Quaker meetings and many individuals have such relationships to build upon.

It would be good to have a place to share such information. The following are a few examples that I’m aware of:

There are two general guidelines for interacting with communities.

  1. Don’t expect oppressed peoples to educate you. We shouldn’t add to their burden. I kept this in mind when I was getting to know the native person who was teaching me about Mutual Aid. But he encouraged me to learn from him. He was training me.
  2. The idea behind the two row wampum is two groups, such as Native people and white people, agree to travel together but separately. Neither interfering in the affairs of the other.

One interesting campaign of the Great Plains Action Society that specifically asks for our support is open letters. These letters express Indigenous people’s views on various topics and are meant to help supporters contact people who have the power to make decisions related to the topic. For example:

Recently, four Iowa Democrats have introduced a bill to phase out the use of Native American mascots in Iowa schools by 2024. Great Plains Action Society’s Director of Operations, Trisha Etringer, was quoted in an article in which she expressed her support for this proposed legislation, which reflects our organization as a whole. This letter is to celebrate this step in the right direction, and to provide more information about the issue at hand. With this Open Letter Campaign, we will be calling upon you to join us in communicating to the people in power that we need to be working toward a New Iowa. Unfortunately, that will often mean calling people out for failing to act, or for acting in harmful ways. Fortunately, in this case, it means asking you to send your support and encouragement to those that are fighting the difficult battles on behalf of our children.

https://www.greatplainsaction.org/single-post/open-letter-regarding-hf2224

There are many things Quakers should be doing in our own meetings related to the Indian Boarding Schools. But I think it is most important to support things native people are asking of us now.


Advocating for climate sanity

I recently discovered papers written by Zhiwa Woodbury, so I don’t yet know how much I will agree with him as I read more. But I agree with the following excerpt. This paragraph strikes a chord in me now, as I am trying to make sense of what is going on in the world today. I recently returned to the concept of sensemaking in Where are we now?

We have a stark choice between our own eventual extermination or a near term transformation. Such a transformation of human culture and the global economy will not come about without a simultaneous shift in collective consciousness. Trauma always raises questions of identity, whether considered at the scale of the individual, a culture, or now with the climate crisis, at the scale of an entire species. The choices we humans are making now – and will continue to make – in response to this spiritual emergency will determine whether we engender spiritual emergence, the messy rebirth of our species, or instead we repeat the kind of Great Dying that once wiped out 95% of all life on the planet, and took 10 million years for the biosphere to recover. My purpose in writing this book is to offer guidance and succor to all who those natural healers and existential professionals in the world, all those who hear the cries of the Earth, and all those advocating for climate sanity in every arena of life, so that we may attend Gaia’s bedside and serve as her spiritual midwives in planetary hospice. Whether Gaia is now dying, just ill, or about to give birth is largely dependent on how we, as a species, respond to her signals and attend to her needs

Climate Trauma, Reconciliation and Recovery by Zhiwa Woodbury

I do believe we are in a spiritual emergency and need a shift in collective consciousness. I often write about spiritual poverty. We spoke about this, too, last night during our weekly (Quaker) Spiritual Sharing Small Group.

We need to be advocating for climate sanity in every arena of life.

I always hesitate to bring this up, but I think we need to speak from our own experience. When I moved to Indianapolis in 1971, I was so horrified by the clouds of smog (before catalytic converters) I decided to live without a car. I know others have done so. But the point is, that was one way of advocating for climate sanity. It is heart wrenching to think of what a different world we would be living in today if fifty years ago we had decided to prioritize mass transit systems. And worked to build our cities and towns as walkable communities.

That was then. What do we do, advocate for, now? Our society clearly continues to refuse to think, let alone do anything about our deepening environmental catastrophe.

Rather than close coal burning plants, more are being built. Rather than stop further fossil fuel pipelines and other infrastructure, more is being built. Crazy schemes like carbon capture are being built. Some of what is captured is used to frack more oil from the ground.

Militaries are the worst polluters. The war in Ukraine and military operations globally need to be stopped immediately. The war in Ukraine is war against Mother Earth.

CLIMATEWIRE | Greenhouse gases trapped 49 percent more heat in 2021 than in 1990, as emissions continued to rise rapidly, according to NOAA.

“Our data show that global emissions continue to move in the wrong direction at a rapid pace,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad.

NOAA found that carbon dioxide, the most plentiful and long-lived gas, expanded at the most rapid rate over the last 10 years. But the most potent global warmer also broke records: methane increased more than it has since at least the early 1980s, when NOAA began its current measuring record. The methane emitted in 2021 was 15 percent greater than in the 1984-2006 period, and 162 percent greater than preindustrial levels, NOAA found.”

Record Methane Spike Boosts Heat Trapped by Greenhouse Gases. NOAA’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index finds that greenhouse gases trapped nearly 50 percent more head last year than they did in 1990 by John Fialka, Scientific American, June 1, 2022

We have a stark choice between our own eventual extermination or a near term transformation. Such a transformation of human culture and the global economy will not come about without a simultaneous shift in collective consciousness.”

We are continuing to make this choice now and it’s for our eventual extermination.

What will it take to make the other choice, for a near term transformation? What would this shift in collective consciousness to transform human culture and the global economy be?

This shift in collective consciousness requires a response to our spiritual emergency. Returning to Indigenous ways, the idea of LANDBACK, would be part of a response. For Quakers, fortifying our Spiritual awareness, and acting on what that reveals, could be part of a response. The radical reimagining of our lives, our culture by the concepts of Mutual Aid could also be part of a response.

I was a little surprised when I wrote:

The reason I have been led to experiences with Native people and my Mutual Aid community is because the stories, the value structures I find there are closer to my values than those of White people in general in this country.

And most radical is to change, or return to how we look for and interpret our stories. To embrace spirituality in ourselves and our communities.

Although we rarely speak of it, our shared spirituality is what I have found to be the deepest connection with my Native American and Mutual Aid friends.

Where are we now?