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.


Ideological commitment to destroying life on Earth

The recent article by George Monbiot (excerpts below) explains that the multitude of recent government policies and judicial capitulations that are dismantling any efforts to protect Mother Earth are not based on financial interests. The ideology of the ultra-rich is one committed to destroying life on Earth. “It’s no longer about money for them. It’s about brute power: about watching the world bow down before them. For this rush of power, they would forfeit the Earth.”

As Monbiot writes below, the changes needed to protect Mother Earth and all our relations cannot happen until we change our political systems.

Indigenous peoples have always known how to protect our environment. Which makes the policies of forced assimilation of native children and peoples all the more ignorant and reprehensible. We would not be in this catastrophic situation now if settler colonists had learned from native peoples. Can you imagine what that would have looked like?

What would be the political system that would allow us to honor the earth and each other? One alternative would be to build communities based on the concepts of mutual aid. (see: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/mutual-aid/ )

The following is from my mutual aid community, Des Moines Mutual Aid (DMMA).



But the final straw for me was a smaller decision. After two decades of disastrous policies that turned its rivers into open sewers, Herefordshire county council, following a shift from Tory to independent control, finally did the right thing. It applied to the government to create a water protection zone, defending the River Wye against the pollution pushing it towards complete ecological collapse. But in a letter published last week, the UK’s environment minister, Rebecca Pow, refused permission, claiming it “would impose new and distinct regulatory obligations on the farmers and businesses within the catchment”. This is, of course, the point.

When I began work as an environmental journalist in 1985, I knew I would struggle against people with a financial interest in destructive practices. But I never imagined that we would one day confront what appears to be an ideological commitment to destroying life on Earth. The UK government and the US supreme court look as if they are willing the destruction of our life support systems.

But even financial interests fail fully to explain what’s going on. The oligarchs seeking to stamp out US democracy have gone way beyond the point of attending only to their net worth. It’s no longer about money for them. It’s about brute power: about watching the world bow down before them. For this rush of power, they would forfeit the Earth.

Since 1985, I’ve been told we don’t have time to change the system: we should concentrate only on single issues. But we’ve never had time not to change the system. In fact, because of the way in which social attitudes can suddenly tip, system change can happen much faster than incrementalism. Until we change our political systems, making it impossible for the rich to buy the decisions they want, we will lose not only individual cases. We will lose everything.

It’s democracy v plutocracy – this is the endgame for our planet by George Monbiot, the Guardian, July 6, 2022


The Worker’s Summit of the Americas

As often as I think about why we need to move toward Mutual Aid communities and know that Mutual Aid is far from a new idea, I haven’t spent much time learning about the many cultures and countries that live this way, that are not based on capitalism.

Even though there has been little mainstream media coverage in this country, the Summit of the Americas was a dismal failure because so many countries boycotted it when the Biden administration refused to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

The alternative summit, the Summit of the Americas of the Working Men and Women Workers declares they will, “take concrete action to combat the labor and social violence applied to our peoples by the U.S. and Canadian governments.” I don’t yet know what the power of this group is.

More leaders of Latin American countries have announced they will not attend the Summit of the Americas, which is taking place in Los Angeles. The summit has been mired in controversy after the Biden administration refused to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. On Monday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced he would boycott the talks over Biden’s decision. The presidents of Bolivia, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have also said they will not attend the summit.

Latin American Leaders Boycott Summit of the Americas, Democracy Now, June 8, 2022

Here is the final declaration of the alternative to the Summit of the Americas, the Summit of the Americas of the Working Men and Women Workers.

We, representatives of Trade Union, Peasant, Political and Social organizations, gathered in Tijuana – Mexico, June 10-12, 2022, on the occasion of the realization of the Summit of the Americas of the Working Men and Women Workers, in immediate response to the exclusion of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua imposed by the Government of the United States.

There is a systemic and structural crisis of capitalism in its imperialist phase. It is in itself a civilizational crisis. The capitalist economic model and its political arm neoliberalism, as well as its modern cultural foundation, have put the planet’s life in crisis. If not eliminated, imperialism’s necropolitics leads us to the planetary collective suicide, which is more lacerating in the sectors less favored by the current world system. Our position is a bet for life, and the empire offers us death: it is either life or death!

We are witnessing a process of recolonization over the people. This is expressed in the excessive growth of racism, poverty, unemployment, job insecurity, environmental deterioration of territories, criminalization of migration, and gender and cultural violence. For this reason, we call upon the programmatic unity of the American continent’s workers, peasants, and progressive and popular forces to reflect, debate, and take concrete action to combat the labor and social violence applied to our peoples by the U.S. and Canadian governments.

We consider that the working class of the 21st century will only be able to play an independent and central role if – in addition to fighting for the most heartfelt demands of the labor movement – it assumes the struggle against patriarchy together with the feminist movement, the struggle of the native peoples against climate change and the defense of the biosphere together with the youth and the broad spectrum of professionals and scientists.

We must build articulations and alliances in which we structure our common forces for a unique and global struggle. Globalize the struggles. Build new organic forms of the working class from the political-cultural to the socio-productive to overcome capitalism and build socialism.

A robust internationalism is needed to pay adequate and immediate attention to the dangers of extinction: extinction by nuclear war, climate catastrophe, and social collapse.

In this regard, we agree:

  • To promote active solidarity with the peoples and sovereign nations (Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela) and the other peoples of the world “sanctioned” and attacked by economic blockades and unilateral coercive measures imposed by the U.S. and its allies.
  • To hold an annual meeting in Tijuana, Mexico, with the workers and social movements of the Americas to express solidarity with the peoples of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua and their revolutions to repudiate unilateral coercive measures against sovereign governments.
  • To constitute a Committee for the organization of the Meetings to be held annually in the North and South of Mexico, integrated by: Unión del Barrio of the USA, Movimiento Social Por la Tierra de México (MST), Sindicato Mexicano Electricista (SME), Alianza por la Justicia Global of the USA, Central Bolivariana Socialista de Trabajadores de Venezuela, Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo de Nicaragua (ATC), Movimiento Magisterial Popular de Veracruz Mexico, Fire This Time of Canada, Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) of the USA, International Action Center (IAC) of the USA, Task Force on the Americas of the USA and the Plataforma de la Clase Obrera Antimperialista (PCOA).
  • Demand the immediate release of Alex Saab. He is a Venezuelan diplomat kidnapped by the U.S. and illegally detained in its territory since October 16, 2021. Saab’s arrest is an action that attacks diplomatic immunity, a right guaranteed by international law to any diplomatic official in the exercise of his duties.
  • Reaffirm the resolutions agreed upon at the Meeting of the Peoples of the Americas, held June 7-8, 2022, in Chiapas, Mexico.
  • To ratify our unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian and Saharawi peoples.
  • Demand that the U.S. Congress immediately cut off military aid funds to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, and Haiti.
  • Promote a campaign to hold an international day of action in solidarity with Cuba to be held when the U.N. General Assembly meets to condemn the blockade against the Caribbean island.
  • Expand the “Bridges of Love” program to other countries and international coordinate days on the last Sunday of each month in the form of caravans or other activities.
  • Demand the immediate release of comrades Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Iman Jamil Abdullah al-Amin and Julian Assange.
  • Demand the immediate release of the social fighter Simón Trinidad from Colombia, who is deprived of liberty in prison in the USA.
  • To promote the regional integration of the anti-imperialist working class of Our America and the participation in the strengthening of ALBA TCP, CELAC, and UNASUR. In this sense, the Bolivarian Socialist Workers Central of Venezuela will call a meeting for the 3rd quarter of 2022.
  • To promote a campaign against the U.S., NATO, and Colombia’s policies of interference and expansionism and to ratify the declaration of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace promoted by CELAC.
  • We reaffirm the Mexican Electricians Union workers’ demands for their reinstatement in the Federal Electricity Commission.
  • We stand in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people and their dignified struggle for independence and sovereignty.

ONLY THE WORKERS’ STRUGGLE WILL SAVE HUMANITY, NATURE, AND THE PLANET!!!!

FINAL DECLARATION OF THE WORKERS’ SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS By Fight Back News, June 16, 2022