Yesterday I wrote Building the Future We Want describing concepts to transition from current systems that are rapidly collapsing. What umair haque describes below as a Theocratic-Fascist Revolution.
At the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) Day dedicated to Reproductive Justice there were signs that had variations of “**** all white supremacist fundamentalist Christians for this attack on abortion.”
And the title of this post from the Great Plains Action Society is “End the White Christian Problem and Keep Abortion Legal.”
End the White Christian Problem and Keep Abortion Legal
Great Plains Action Society
Our MMIR Day dedicated to Reproductive Justice and solidarity with BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and the Disabled communities went well. The draft to end Roe and Casey was leaked just two days before the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Relatives (aka, Missing and Murdered Women and Girls). We honored this day by uplifting radical solidarity within all communities affected by colonial violence when body sovereignty is stolen from us.
We would like to thank the speakers, drummers, ASL interpreters, singer, drone operators, light board artists, projection artists, photographers, organizers, and the crowd!
This was a coalition event organized by: – Iowa Coalition for Collective Change – Great Plains Action Society – The Disability Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party – Iowa CCI – Des Moines BLM – Sierra Club Beyond Coal – Deaf Dome – The Progressive Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party – Iowa Abortion Access Fund – One Iowa
What’s happening in America is a revolution. But it’s not a good one.
Remember the Irani Revolution? The mullahs suddenly seized power from the Shah, backed by a militant faction of religious lunatics. And the next day, Iranis began to live under theocracy. What’s happening in America is a lot like that. A revolution, but not a forward moving one. Sometimes the wheel moves backwards — and crushes everyone under its path. This is such a time. America is having a totalitarian revolution, which combines all the flavours of social collapse, where theocrats, fascists, supremacist, and authoritarians have all made common cause, to slit democracy’s throat.
Revolutions are strange things. Americans are taught to lionise them, because of course their country was born in one. But every revolution has two sides. America’s revolution was the worst thing that ever happened to Native Americans or a whole lot of Africans.
And revolutions are, above all, shocking, surprising things — to the ones being revolted against. The French nobility could scarcely believe they were under the guillotine even as the blade fell.
This is where America is. It is in the midst of a revolution — and it doesn’t yet understand that. History will, because when so many lunatics take this much power this fast, and things change, suddenly, overnight, the only word to describe it is “revolution.” Americans are in shock precisely because, like so many before them, they are now facing the guillotines of revolution, and don’t understand how or why this happened. And yet the blade is falling — on a modern, democratic America.
What’s Happening to America? A Theocratic-Fascist Revolution. When a Fanatical 30% Suddenly Seizes Control of Your Society, It’s Called a Revolution by umair haque, Eudaimonia and Co, May 10, 2022
I wrote about the Rally for Reproductive Justice at the Iowa Women of Achievement bridge in downtown Des Moines last Friday. The event was a case study of how I hope and pray we find our way toward the goal of Beloved community. This is urgent now as the systems we have depended on continue to collapse around us.
White Christian problem
I’m always uncomfortable talking about myself but being asked to take photos at this event represents one principle of how we can work together. White males represent/perpetuate the systems of dominance that we must get rid of. Being a white male, I work to avoid those attributes in what I do.
White people need to wait to be invited into this work. So, I was honored that one of my friends, Sikowis Nobiss, of the Great Plains Action Society asked me to take photos at the rally. It takes a long time for this trust to develop. I’ve been working with the Great Plains Action Society for five years.
There were several signs at the gathering like the one below that say “end the white Christian problem and keep abortions legal”. White supremacy is at the root of systems of dominance and oppression. White Christians should work to liberate themselves from their systems of dominance and oppression. In the process, helping liberate those oppressed by those systems.
I’m going to try to explain how the principles of the Red/Green New Deal in the diagram above were represented at the Reproductive Justice event. The Green New Deal (GND) represents the idea of modeling bold initiatives to address environmental disaster on the New Deal of the 1930’s.
The Red New Deal stands for Indigenous led Green New Deal. This is represented in the diagram above as LANDBACK.
The Reproductive Justice rally was supported by the many justice organizations in Iowa listed in this graphic. My friend Sikowis Nobiss of the Great Plains Action Society was one of the main organizers (and who asked me to take photos). Other Indigenous friends included Mahmud Fitil who took video via a drone, Donnielle Wanatee, who gave prayers, and Ronnie James of Des Moines Mutual Aid who setup the Wells Fargo Kills Communities banner. Our gathering was just across the street from the Wells Fargo Arena.
It is the reclamation of everything stolen from the original Peoples.
It is a relationship with Mother Earth that is symbiotic and just, where we have reclaimed stewardship. It is bringing our People with us as we move towards liberation and embodied sovereignty through an organizing, political and narrative framework. It is a catalyst for current generation organizers and centers the voices of those who represent our future. It is recognizing that our struggle is interconnected with the struggles of all oppressed Peoples. It is a future where Black reparations and Indigenous LANDBACK co-exist. Where BIPOC collective liberation is at the core. It is acknowledging that only when Mother Earth is well, can we, her children, be well. It is our belonging to the land – because – we are the land. We are LANDBACK!
BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. White supremacy is the attempt of White people to dominate those who are not white, i.e. BIOPC people. Much of what I’ve been writing about regarding Indigenous peoples applies to black and other people of color. The obvious differences relate to the history of enslavement and continued injustices related to skin color.
From the LANDBACK Manifesto (above): “It is a future where Black reparations and Indigenous LANDBACK co-exist. Where BIPOC collective liberation is at the core.” This is represented by Black Liberation in the diagram above.
One of the main organizations involved in the Rally for Reproductive Justice was Des Moines Black Liberation. The concept of black liberation represents moving beyond the concept of Black Lives Matter.
Today abolition commonly refers to abolition of police and prisons. The public lynching of so many unarmed Black and other people of color appear relentlessly because of news and bystander videos. There are incredible inequities of prison populations and long sentences of BIPOC people compared to white people. Prisons are abused to keep BIPOC people off the streets.
There are numerous examples of the success of dispatching mental health personnel instead of police where appropriate.
Mutual Aid has been my focus for justice work for the past several years. While Des Moines Mutual Aid is not listed in the organizations supporting the Rally for Reproductive Justice, several of us were at the Rally. One thing they did while I was taking photos was set up this banner calling attention to missing and murdered Indigenous relatives (MMIR).
The Rally for Reproductive Justice was in solidarity with the annual day of awareness about MMIR that is observed at this time. The Wells Fargo banner calls attention to the bank’s financing fossil fuel projects. Pipelines are often intentionally built near native communities. Violence against native peoples occurs from the men in the camps at the construction sites. The Wells Fargo Arena is just across the street from where the rally was held.
The color red is associated with MMIR. Many in the crowd at the rally wore red, and the Women of Achievement bridge was lit in red for the same reason.
As shown in the graphic above, Mutual Aid is about getting rid of vertical hierarchies, which is fundamental for building Beloved communities. There won’t be power structures of superiority, dominance, and oppression if we commit to the framework of Mutual Aid.
For healing for Mother Earth to occur, it is essential to dramatically reduce extraction and consumption of resources. We must act in a manner that will be best for the next seven generations.
My friend Donnielle Wanatee offered prayers during the Rally.
That briefly covers what is included in the graphic above (Red/Green New Deal).
I wanted to mention there were people at the rally to sign for those with hearing impairments.
One of the other organizations supporting the Rally was Iowa CCI (Citizens for Community Improvement) that I’ve just begun to become involved with. One of my friends is Jake Grobe, who is the Climate Justice Organizer for Iowa CCI. Jake and I often see each other at the Des Moines Mutual Aid food giveaway each Saturday morning.
Jake and Sikowis are two of the people who did a great deal of work creating a new coalition, the Buffalo Rebellion. This coalition will do much to help us build the future we want. The Buffalo Rebellion recently held an intense Climate Summit that I was blessed to attend, to build a network of climate and justice advocates.
As my Mutual Aid friends and I left the Rally we said, “I’ll see you in the morning” where we’ll be at our food giveaway.
Last night we gathered at the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge in downtown Des Moines. This was a solidarity rally for Reproductive Justice and awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous relatives (MMIR). The bridge was lit with red, the color associated with MMIR.
I learned two friends were connected to two of the women honored by the bridge.
I was glad to see so many of my friends, from Great Plains Action Society, Des Moines Mutual Aid, Des Moines Black Liberation, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Sierra Club Beyond Coal.
This sign was erected, with the Wells Fargo Arena in the background. Wells Fargo is one of the banks that fund pipelines. Many Indigenous women are taken and/or killed by pipeline construction workers because, as another example of environmental racism, the pipelines are often built near Indigenous communities. I was going to say near Indigenous lands, but it is all Indigenous land.
Saturday, May 7, 2022 3:00 PM Central Public · Anyone on or off Facebook Come and gather with others in response to the leaked SCOTUS draft opinion on Roe v. Wade. Join us on the west side of the Capitol.
Sponsors of the event include: Great Plains Action Society Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Iowa Abortion Access Fund Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault Iowa Coalition for Collective Change League of Women Voters of Iowa New Frontier No Justice No Peace One Iowa Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa Progress Iowa The Urban Impact Show Young Women’s Resource Center
The National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice was initiated by Radical Women last year. It has been organizing in several states and gearing up for “day of decision” demonstrations for when the Supreme Court ruling is released. We stand together around a strong set of demands that reflect the whole spectrum of reproductive justice, from ending forced sterilization and overturning the Hyde Amendment, to guaranteed affordable childcare and accurate sex education. Mobilization participants including feminists, unionists, people of color and LGBTQ+ activists.
National and local activities, the full set of demands and endorsers, and information about the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice are posted at www.ReproJusticeNow.org.
What we call for:
Protect & expand Roe v. Wade; safe, legal abortion on demand without apology
Repeal the Hyde Amendment
Overturn state barriers to reproductive choices
Stop forced sterilization
No to caged kids, forced assimilation, & child welfare abuses
End medical & environmental racism; for universal healthcare
Defend queer & trans families
Guarantee medically sound sex education & affordable childcare
Sexual self-determination for people with disabilities
Uphold social progress with expanded voting rights & strong unions
A trailblazing socialist feminist organization, Radical Women is the revolutionary wing of the women’s movement and a strong feminist voice within the Left. Immersed in the daily fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-trans bigotry, and labor exploitation, Radical Women believes in multi-issue organizing around the needs of the most marginalized. We view the leadership of gender-oppressed people, especially those who are of color, as decisive to social change and we train women to take their place in the forefront of the struggle. Radical Women is an autonomous group of ciswomen, transwomen and non-binary people, united on the basis of shared socialist feminist ideals expressed in The Radical Women Manifesto.
Get involved if you want to change the world and collaborate with a dynamic bunch of feminist rebels of all colors, sexualities and ages. Everyone has something to learn, teach and contribute!
700 Robert D Ray Dr, Des Moines, IA 50316, United States May 6, 2022 6:45 – 8:30 pm Public · Anyone on or off Facebook
Wear red and join us on the east side of the Women of Achievement Bridge (which will be lit red for MMIR day) in the Muto Recreation Area in Des Moines to demand reproductive justice!
The draft to end Roe and Casey was leaked just two days before the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Relatives (aka, Missing and Murdered Women and Girls). We are honoring this day by uplifting radical solidarity within all communities affected by colonial violence when body sovereignty is stolen from us.
Join our coalition of organizations and grassroots activists for a rally to demand abortion access, which plays a huge role in ending the MMIR crisis. Lack of access increases violence and health disparities in BIPOC, Disabled, LGBTQIA+, and Two-Sprit communities. Learn more from speakers and crowd testimony on how this affects these communities and take action on a wider scope than just abortion. We must abolish white supremacist and christian institutions that perpetuate colonial harm to oppress those that don’t fall into their manifest destiny paradigm.
Thank you to the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence for lighting the bridge and amphitheater red on May 5th in honor of MMIR Day of Awareness! The bridge will also be lit red on May 6th for our event!
ASL provided. LiveStreamed to this page.
This event was organized by: – Iowa Coalition for Collective Change – Great Plains Action Society – The Disability Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party – Iowa CCI – Des Moines BLM – Sierra Club Beyond Coal – Deaf Dome – The Progressive Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party – Iowa Abortion Access Fund – One Iowa
The leaked draft Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. posits not only the total evisceration of constitutional protection for abortion but of an entire line of substantive due-process cases. Alito’s draft includes a disclaimer that “nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,” but in ridiculing “appeals to a broader right to autonomy,” he implicitly casts doubt on precedent prohibiting prosecution of gay sexual relations and of same-sex marriage.
Over the past 50 years, Americans (and for that matter, citizens of other Western democracies) have become accustomed to a legal system that draws a line between permissible and impermissible government actions. We have become accustomed to a culture in which we are entitled to a degree of personal autonomy, to control of the most meaningful, personal aspects of our own lives. In the U.S., polling repeatedly shows that large majorities believe that a woman should be able to control her own body and make her own reproductive decisions, that people of the same sex or different races should have the right to marry, that decisions to use or forgo contraception is none of government’s business.
A minority of paternalistic religious critics have worked tirelessly to turn back the clock– to return to a time when these decisions were made by the White Christian Males in charge, those Rubin properly characterized as a “fading racial, religious and political minority.” Alito’s draft represents a massive victory for that minority. If it is seen accurately for what it promises–a steady stream of decisions depriving citizens of hard-won rights to live their “intimate” lives as they see fit– I believe furious Americans will launch a civil revolution of massive proportions.
The Sunrise Movement was launched as a national campaign for a Green New Deal (GND) in 2017. From the beginning I heard my native friends talk about the importance of a GND to be Indigenous led. In 2019 Sunrise’s Green New Deal tour began with a stop in Des Moines. There my friends Trisha Cax-Sep-Gu-Wiga Etringer and Lakasha Yooxot Likipt spoke about Indigenous leadership as a requirement for a GND. https://landbackfriends.com/2021/09/01/indigenous-led-green-new-deal/
Last weekend’s Climate Summit of the newly formed Buffalo Rebellion provided an opportunity for organizations and people to come together to share what is being done to address the climate crisis. And lay the groundwork for working together, focusing on action related to the racial and economic consequences of environmental devastation. That requires taking on entrenched white supremacy, systemic racism and rapacious capitalism.
… what if the question all water protectors and land defenders asked was, why don’t we just overturn the system that makes development a threat in the first place? This system, again, is capitalism. Rather than taking an explicitly conservationist approach, the Red Deal instead proposes a comprehensive, full-scale assault on capitalism, using Indigenous knowledge and tried-and-true methods of mass mobilization as its ammunition. In this way, it addresses what are commonly thought of as single issues like the protection of sacred sites—which often manifest in specific uprisings or insurrections—as structural in nature, which therefore require a structural (i.e., non-reformist reform) response that has the abolition of capitalism via revolution as its central goal. We must be straightforward about what is necessary. If we want to survive, there are no incremental or “non-disruptive” ways to reduce emissions. Reconciliation with the ruling classes is out of the question. Market-based solutions must be abandoned. We have until 2050 to reach net-zero carbon emissions. That’s it. Thirty years. The struggle for a carbon-free future can either lead to revolutionary transformation or much worse than what Marx and Engels imagined in 1848, when they forewarned that “the common ruin of the contending classes” was a likely scenario if the capitalist class was not overthrown. The common ruin of entire peoples, species, landscapes, grasslands, waterways, oceans, and forests—which has been well underway for centuries—has intensified more in the last three decades than in all of human existence.
The Red Nation, The Red Deal (pp. 21-22). Common Notions. Kindle Edition.
My Mutual Aid community models many Green/Red New Deal concepts.
I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.
So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”
Ronnie James, Des Moines Mutual Aid, Great Plains Action Society
I am grateful for many things this morning. For the waters falling from the sky. For my Mutual Aid friends who demonstrate what a Beloved community is. For the Buffalo Rebellion, growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. Thankful for my Quaker communities. I give thanks to the Spirit.
I am grateful for my Indigenous friends. Humbled by the grace they have shown me and other white people as we seek ways to heal from the horrendous history of white supremacy and forced assimilation, abuse, and death of thousands of Native children. As we search for ways to deal with the present, ongoing injustices. The intergenerational trauma. Ripping open deep wounds as the remains of children are located. As the title of this new documentary says, “They Found Us”.
Growing up I heard references to Quakers who worked in the residential schools. I was told they were helping the Native children adjust to living in white society. I didn’t have the awareness to question why that was not a good thing.
I’ve had a life-long concern about environmental devastation. I grew up on farms. When I moved to Indianapolis in 1970, I was horrified by the dense, noxious fumes from every tailpipe, making it difficult to even see. This was before catalytic converters hid the damage being done. I was led to refuse to own a car.
It was obvious Indigenous peoples lived in sustainable ways.
To pull this all together, here is the link to a recent blog post, Midwest Quakers and Native Peoples, which describes how I was blessed to become friends with Indigenous folks in the Midwest and the history of some of the work we’ve done together. It also talks about the Indian Residential Schools and includes a letter from Curt Young, member of George Gordon First Nation, describing the documentary he created, “They Found Us”. Sikowis is also a member of George Gordan First Nation.
“I thought it would be important to document these searches and capture some of the stories told by members that were forced to go to these institutions. It’s a first hand look into some of the experiences survived in residential school.”
Curt Sipihko Paskwawimostos, creator of “They Found Us”.
Sikowis (Christine) Nobiss is one of my close Indigenous friends. We’ve discussed the residential schools, briefly, a few times. I was glad she felt she could ask me if Quakers would help pay for expenses to travel with the film for viewing in a number of communities. She later told me it was difficult for her to ask for funds.
I am clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). Our committee has a budget of $1,100 to support justice work. In the past we sent $50 or $100 to a number of such organizations. Someone suggested instead sending a larger amount for one or two projects. We decided to do that but didn’t have a project in mind when we were meeting last summer.
I believed the Spirit would show us the way. The request for “They Found Us” seemed to be what we were waiting for. Our committee met to discuss and unanimously approve this. I’m grateful and humbled for that, as well.
I’m reflecting and praying about what happened this past weekend during the Climate Summit of the newly formed Buffalo Rebellion, a new coalition of Iowa organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice.
Buffalo Rebellion is a new coalition of Iowa organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. The Earth Day Rally will be an afternoon of honoring Mother Earth through sharing stories and visions for climate justice and taking action together for a world that puts people and the planet before profits for a few.
Following the Earth Day Rally, Buffalo Rebellion will be holding two days of immersive training to develop 100 grassroots leaders who will build local teams to take on climate justice issues in their community and come together to create a thriving state-wide movement.
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.
Extremely thankful for this community we built this weekend. Looking forward to fighting for the future alongside all of you. Thank you to the organizers, and big love to the participants. Keep an eye out for Buffalo Rebellions next move.
How do you build a coalition? You bring together organizations and people who have demonstrated they are effective at building community and organizing for change. And who are aligned in their purpose.
My experience is there are a small number of people and organizations who shoulder justice work in a city or geographical area. Which means they are acquainted with each other. A given individual often belongs to multiple organizations.
But these groups often don’t work together. Building a coalition is how to remedy that. The organizations listed above are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice. That is our common purpose. Rapidly evolving environmental chaos is an existential threat that requires radical action now.
Centering on racial and economic justice is crucial for many reasons. Blatant environmental racism is seen over and over again by the location of hazardous infrastructure in Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) communities. Conversely, solar panels are not often seen there.
There are many aspects of economic injustice as well. Those economically disadvantaged also tend to live in areas of environmental hazards. And supply the labor for jobs such as coal, oil, and tar sands mining, while white capitalists receive (steal) the profits.
Building a coalition requires us to know and trust each other. And to learn about each other’s work. Tools that we can bring to our organizations. Or know who has expertise we can turn to for help.
This past weekend of Buffalo Rebellion meetings and action went a long way in beginning to accomplish these goals. It was important to have the action of marching to the offices of MidAmerican Energy. Demonstrating how direct actions work.
The many excellent presentations shared the tools and knowledge of experts in our coalition. The following table of presentations gives an idea of what was done.
Community Building & Storytelling
Cedar Rapids Sunrise
End-Stage Iowa, Indigenous Land Stewardship & the Green (Red) New Deal
Great Plains Action Society (GPAS), Iowa Citizens Community Improvement (ICCI)
NoDAPL Reunion Panel
Fundamentals of Organizing (Starting an Issue Based Campaign and Fundraising 101)
DSM Black Liberation, ICCI, Sierra Club Beyond Coal
Police, Prison, & Military Abolition for Climate Justice
DSM Black Liberation Movement
Lobbying: Get Your Local Green New Deal Passed into Law
Cedar Rapids Sunrise
Migration in Iowa and Big-Ag
Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice
Art and Activism
Say Poetry, DSM Black Liberation Movement
Frontline Tactical Methods to Protect the Land: From Direct Actions and Resistance Camps
Landscapes: The Kinship of Climate, Wildness, and Community
Mutual Aid: Bail Funds, Court Solidarity, and Incarceration Support in Resistance Movements
GPAS, DSM Mutual Aid
Linking the Origins of Iowa’s Contemporary Environmental Problems to the Extractive Nature of White Settlement
Ending White Supremacy in Climate Organizing
CPAS, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Sierra Club Beyond Coal
Launching the Movement: Strategic Applications of Drones for Grassroots Actions
Building Power with Public Narrative
Cedar Rapids Sunrise, ICCI, DSM People’s Town Hall
Damn Lies and C02 pipelines
Science and Environmental Health Network
ICCI, DSM People’s Town Hall
Urban Farming and Community Fridges
Sweet Tooth Farms
Cedar Rapids Sunrise, ICCI, DSM Black Liberation Movement
For example, this is the presentation by my friend Ronnie James of Des Moines Mutual Aid and Great Plains Action Society.
Mutual Aid: Bail Funds, Court Solidarity, and Incarceration Support in Resistance Movements
– Ronnie James, DSM Mutual Aid & Great Plains Action Society
An introduction to the how and why of supporting frontliners that suffer arrest during Movement activities. Instruction will cover the reason for, creation of, and implementation of a Bail Fund. We will also touch on the main phases of the arrest and court process: Arrest, Pre-Trial, Trial, Post-Trial, Sentencing, and Incarceration, and some of the avenues of support the defendant will require during these phases. We will discuss the role of the Defense Committee, and how they compare and contrast with the Legal Defense Team. Finally, there will be a brief summary of how this works in Des Moines, Iowa in the present moment.
The goal of this weekend of immersive training was to develop grassroots leaders who will build local teams to take on climate justice issues in their community and come together to create a thriving state-wide movement. I think that was accomplished.
I was searching for a way to describe what WE experienced during OUR Buffalo Rebellion Climate Summit this weekend. A moment reminiscent of the times of the civil rights and anti-war movements which brought together thousands of people and created change. This weekend a coalition of people and organizations came together to rise to the challenges of rapidly evolving environmental devastation and collapse of the systems of capitalism and white supremacy.
As I wondered whether to write “what WE experienced” versus “what I experienced” I realized this was emblematic of what the Buffalo Rebellion is about. Dare WE hope? In its simplest expression, we need to change from “I” to “We” in all we do.
Those of us who have been working to protect Mother Earth are more aware than the general public of the breadth and depth of damage being done. More alarmed, more discouraged after years of work with little apparent progress.
The COVID pandemic made us more isolated and made it difficult to safely do our organizing work. Although our Des Moines Mutual Aid community never stopped distributing free food every week. We strictly enforced wearing masks and gloves and attempted to maintain social distancing by limiting the number of volunteers.
As an example of how long some of us have been working to protect our environment, fifty years ago I was led to refuse to own a car. I’m not aware of that changing other people’s lives.
In 2013 the Keystone XL pipeline struggles began to bring some people and organizations together. One group was known as the Cowboy-Indian Alliance.
What little I learned about native cultures showed peoples who lived with far more integrity than I was able to. When I first became engaged with fossil fuel and pipeline resistance in 2013, I began to hear stories of Indigenous peoples working to protect the water. The Cowboy-Indian Alliance came together to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. I was honored to be given this poster from the 2014 Harvest the Hope concert. [See: The Cowboy and Indian Alliance.]
It was clear to me and others that nonnative folks needed not only to join with Indigenous peoples but be led by them. How to make that happen?
Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa organized the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March in 2018, with the intent of providing a small group of native and nonnative people the time to get to know each other, so we could begin to work on issues of common interest and concern. We walked and camped for eight days along the path of the Dakota Access pipeline from Des Moines to Fort Dodge, Iowa, ninety-four miles. [see stories and photos from that sacred journey here: First Nation Famer Climate Unity March]
A number of us worked on various projects together since, strengthening our friendships. A number of those on that March are involved in the new coalition, the Buffalo Rebellion. That includes Sikowis Nobiss, Mahmud Fitil, Trisha Entringer, Donnielle Wanatee, Miriam Kashia, Peter Clay and me.
I plan to write a lot about the Buffalo Rebellion but wanted to begin with this introduction.
I believe the answer to the question posed by this post, Dare WE hope? is yes.
As we chanted outside the building the security guard called the police. Several Des Moines police cars arrived, but then left when they saw we were peaceful and exercising our right of free speech. At least I assume that’s why they left. Then we returned to Cowles Commons.