Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations: Week Three!

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

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

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

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

SANDY WHITE HAWK (SICANGU LAKOTA), NABS BOARD PRESIDENT

Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations: Week Two!

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

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

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

National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

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

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

 #NABS #Time4Justice

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


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

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

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

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


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

Preserving Subpoena Power

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

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

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

Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative

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

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

Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative

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

Deb Halland,
Secretary of the Interior



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

Preserving Subpoena Power

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

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

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

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

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

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


Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends

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

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


National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

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


Lobbying Senator Ernst’s staff about S. 2907

Running and activism

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

I really related to the story told by Ku Stevens.

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

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

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

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

Ku Stevens

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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.

Court: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Iowa Supreme Court September 12, 2018

September 12, 2018 was the day Iowa landowners and the Sierra Club’s oral arguments in the case against the Iowa Public Utilities Board (IUB) were heard before the Iowa Supreme Court. The landowners and Sierra Club contend that the Public Utilities Board improperly allowed Energy Transfer Partners to use eminent domain to force Iowa landowners to let the Dakota Access Pipeline be constructed on their land.

One of the main objectives of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March was to call attention to this court case.  We had a large banner saying Stop Eminent Domain Abuse with us on the March. A similar sign was painted on our portable rest room/shower.


I didn’t enter the Court that day because I had my camera with me, and photos weren’t allowed inside. As my friends left the Court, they told me the justices seemed pretty well informed about the issues. The Court’s decision may not come for weeks or months. It is unclear what will happen if the Court decides for the landowners.

The other primary purpose of the March was to build a community of activists who began to know each other so we could work together. This court date was the first opportunity for that to happen, and I was very glad to see quite a few of my fellow Marchers at the Court this morning.

The decision several months later was against the landowners and for the pipeline.



Back at the Iowa Utilities Board

We’re back at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) these days, this time to object to proposed carbon pipelines.


Another pipeline and the courts

In a decisive victory for Native American rights, a federal judge just ordered an energy company to completely remove a natural gas pipeline.

Seventeen years after the expiration of an easement, a federal judge has ordered an energy company to completely remove its pipeline from the properties of 38 Native American landowners — none of whom have been compensated for the company’s use of their land since the year 2000.

Now, the pipeline company will have just six months to dismantle and completely remove the structure.

“Having carefully reviewed the parties’ submissions, and in light of the facts and circumstances in this case,” Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange wrote in the 10-page decision for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, “the court finds that a permanent injunction should be entered in this case. Specifically, it is plaintiffs’ interests in the exclusive possession of their land which has been invaded by the presence of the pipeline and defendants’ continued use of the pipeline.

JUDGE ORDERS REMOVAL OF GAS PIPELINE FROM NATIVE AMERICAN PROPERTY By Staff, nativefire.blogspot.com, November 25, 2017

I’m having trouble finding much more information beyond this article saying the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the permanent injunction of the case cited above.

While Enable Midstream Partners LP recently lost a U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling regarding its pipeline operation near Anadarko, the company will not be forced to rip up 1,300 feet of the pipeline.

It came out of the Tenth Circuit court this week in a case involving a group of tribal landowners who filed suit a few years ago and accused the company of trespassing.

The Tenth Circuit ruling this week stayed a permanent injunction handed down earlier by Oklahoma City U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange in which the company had been ordered to remove the pipeline by May 5.

Enable Won’t Be Forced to Remove Pipeline After Losing Lawsuit, OK Energy Today, April 26, 2018

Day 8: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Eighth and final day.  September 8, 2018.  Walk 12.4 miles from Otho to the end of the march at Fort Dodge, Iowa.

It was cold when we awoke this morning at 6:00 a.m. and broke camp in the dark. I didn’t want to get out of the sleeping bag. But this was the big day, one we were both looking forward to, and not. Fortunately, hot coffee was ready. Last night we talked about the need to get going early, because people would be expecting us to arrive in Fort Dodge by 1:30 pm. Many of us were skeptical that we could leave early enough to walk the 12.4 miles to get there in time, but we managed to do so.

One way this will be an interesting day for me is because my camera battery finally died. I thought it would last and hadn’t brought my battery charger. So, the photos of this final day of the march were taken with my cell phone camera.

Before we started walking, we had a nice ceremony where we gave the money we had collected to Alton and Foxy as a gift for their upcoming wedding. Fintan decorated the envelope.


Alton and Foxy didn’t know about the money we collected for their upcoming wedding

Many times I heard people talking about how sad they will be when the March is finished. Many friendships had been made, as you can see from all the smiles in the photos.



Among my many new friends were Matt and Alton, so I was glad to have the selfie Alton took of us, and the photo Miriam took of Matt and I. Matt and I talked much of this final day of the March. Since the end of the March we have chatted via Messenger. I’m glad we’re keeping in touch. He is editing more of the video he took during the March and I look forward to seeing them.


Alton and I
Matt and I

We had a police escort through downtown Fort Dodge. At the City Square Park the tipi had been set up.

Foxy and Donnielle

Arriving at park in Fort Dodge

I was amazed by the huge mural that hung on the side of the gear truck. Several people had been working on this all during the week.



Sikowis (Christine) Nobiss

Donnielle EWanatee

Drummers played and sang the “Mni Wiconi Song.” According to The Messenger newspaper, the English translation of the lyrics is:

“Grandmother earth gives life
The water is sacred
The water that gives life is sacred
DAPL is very bad
The Nation needs to take heart and be brave.”


The Messenger published a nice summary of the March and celebration, with photos, including one of my bandaged foot and shoes. “Many steps. One journey”, September 10, 2018.

http://www.messengernews.net/news/local-news/2018/09/many-steps-one-journey/

The band Brutal Republic performed. All of their equipment was being powered by the solar system that had accompanied us all week. My brother Randy, who was there to give me a ride home, thought they sounded really good and would have like to stay for a while. But I was way too tired to enjoy it.

During the week we came to understand how much work was involved in planning and guiding this March, and are very grateful. So many people contributed in so many ways.

I hope we can be together again soon. As our environmental chaos gets worse, I think a combination of the knowledge and wisdom of Indigenous people and progressive farmers, thinkers and activists will be crucial.


Two-eyed seeing “recognizes the benefits of seeing from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, from the other eye the strengths of the Western ways of knowing, and using both of these eyes together to create new forms of understanding and insight.” 

Elder Albert Marshall (Mi’kmaq, Eskasoni First Nation) from Urban Tribes, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends

I am very happy that my friends of the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS) are asking their supporters to use the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s (FCNL) letter writing tool to send letters to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444) to their congressional representatives.


Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends

Support the Establishment of a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools: Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

As children are returning to school, we are reminded that school has not always been a safe place for Native children. For many years, Native children were taken from their homes and placed in government and religious run institutions with the aim of stripping away their Native language, culture, and identity. We are only now beginning the painful process of bringing home the children left in unmarked graves at the boarding schools they were sent to (U.S. report identifies burial sites linked to boarding schools for Native Americans). We are still working on healing the damage of boarding school and intergenerational trauma (American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many : NPR). Healing from the damage caused by the boarding school system will require effort by not just those harmed, but the institutions that did the harming. There is great work being done by our comrades at the Friends Committee On National Legislation (Native Americans | Friends Committee On National Legislation). For this edition of our Open Letter Campaign, we are directing you to a letter from our friends at FCNL to help you in urging your representatives to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444).

The following is courtesy our much appreciated Quaker friends (esp Jeff!):

Day 6: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Day 6 Sept 6, 2018 Pilot Mound – Dayton 9.0 miles


Day 6 of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March began with another awesome breakfast by Lyssa Wade. As we were waiting to start walking we saw one of the March tee-shirts hanging in the window across the street.

Matthew Lone Bear and Sikowis see the March tee shirt

Foxy Onefeather continued to carry the large poster calling attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Foxy Onefeather

I was again reminded of my reliance on cell phone and Internet access when I couldn’t check the weather, news or email that morning. I hoped my family wasn’t worried that I hadn’t been able to connect with them while we were in Pilot Mound.

Rather than getting more difficult with each passing day, it is getting easier to cover the miles (fortunately!), even now that I’m walking on a blistered foot and my backup shoes.

This was another day of sharing stories and getting to know each other better. I’ll let the photos tell today’s story.

After setting up my tent once we arrived at Oak Park in Dayton, I spent most of the rest of the day at the public golf course’s country club, which was adjacent to the park. I had two days of photos and writing to catch up on. Unfortunately I missed the evening presentation.

The folks at the country club were very nice, allowing us to sit in the club where there was internet service available (which didn’t extend as far as the campground). They also invited those who wanted to use their showers.

We actually had a night outside with no storms.

Day 5: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Day 5. September 5, 2018.  14 miles from the Boone County Fairgrounds to Pilot Mound, Iowa.

Once again I was pleasantly surprised to awaken feeling fairly refreshed, despite being pretty tired at the end of yesterday’s 15 miles, and staying up late to write. Since we were all sleeping in the same large room, the lights went out a little after 10 p.m. There were no windows so it was pretty dark. Several others and I were in a smaller ‘media’ room writing. I didn’t get to bed until 11:30. It was a little tricky finding my way through the large darkened room to my sleeping bag

When we arrived yesterday I discovered I had worn a hole into the sole of my shoes, and developed a blister. I would have been more concerned but I had seen Miriam work on a number of other people’s blisters. She cut a piece of adhesive foam larger than the blister, then cut a hole in the middle of that the size of the blister, to help keep pressure off it. Then the ever useful duct tape was wrapped around the foot to hold things in place. And it worked pretty well. A photo of my bandaged foot was included in the article about the March in the Fort Dodge Messenger, Many Steps, One Journey.

Miriam Kashia foot doctor extraordinaire

It was raining harder than ever when we started out that morning. But again, I didn’t hear any complaints. We were warned to be more aware of traffic because we started out going through town. Before we started burning sage was brought to each of us. And Alton made a raincoat for his dog Oceti.


Being outside all day, and sometimes sleeping outside (sometimes in some strong thunderstorms) has made me more and more aware of the natural world. I’ve mentioned before how I enjoyed being outside as I trained for this March. Walking has been much more interesting now that I am aware, as Indigenous people have always been, that everything: trees, water, plants, rocks, wind, etc. has the Spirit in them. I found myself focusing on talking to the trees, squirrels and birds as I walked.

At one rest stop a police officer stopped to see what we were doing. Manape spoke to him. We were careful to use a system to announce when a car was approaching from the front (“car up”) or back (“car back”). Everyone then immediately formed a single file and got as far off the road as possible. Even so, the police often seemed to have heard about us marching, though none of the policemen caused us any trouble.

There wasn’t quite as much talking today since there wasn’t much of a shoulder on the road, so we had to walk in single file.

Before crossing the river just before reaching our destination of Pilot Mound, we came to another pipeline crossing. We could see the area where trees had been removed to build the pipeline on the hill on the other side of the river.

As always, we stopped for prayers. This time I was asked to lead them. I was very happy to have this opportunity to share some about Quakers and the Spirit. As we stood in a circle holding hands, I mentioned that Peter Clay, Lee Tesdell, and I were Quakers. And that I hoped they would meet my brother Randy, also a Quaker, when he comes to Fort Dodge at the end of the March, for the celebration and give me a ride home. I’ve been trying to share about Quakers as opportunities come up for several reasons. I think there are many parts of Quakerism that are common with the spirituality of Indigenous people.

And as Manape has said, the reason we are marching together is to make it possible for us to continue to work together in the future. For that to happen, we need to trust each other. And for trust to be established, we need to understand each other. That was why I shared about Quakerism when it seemed appropriate.

As we stood in the circle I said that Quakers do not believe spirituality is just a matter of Sunday morning services. We try to be attentive to the spirit all the time, though we often get distracted. We do also gather together Sunday morning to worship in silence. That sometimes someone is given a spiritual message that they speak into the silence. During the March someone had asked if I was a minister and before I could answer, Miriam said, “he’s a Quaker and all Quakers are ministers.”

During the ceremony at this pipeline crossing I asked the circle of my friends to listen together to the Spirit (saying we wouldn’t do so for a whole hour). But in the time we spent worshiping together, I felt the presence of the spirit among us. Afterward several people gave me hugs and thanked me. As I think about it now, I have felt the spirit among us all week.

Once we arrived in Pilot Mound some of us noticed we were being followed by a car for a while. We learned the driver was Manape’s father, Frank, and he was just enjoying watching us march together. Frank has been a very active activist.

One of the most moving parts of this journey occurred as Frank spoke to us before we ate dinner. He began by saying he was honored to be with us and how blessed he felt as he watched us marching. He said it made his “heart soar like a hawk.” He spoke of the many issues he has worked on in his life. And how it takes many, many years to see results (40, more). That it is not the number of people involved that is important. It is their persistence in raising up the truth. Once a certain concern starts to see a shift toward what is right, others remember the people or person who never went away during all those years.

We found there was no cell phone or internet service available in Pilot Mound. In a way that seemed to symbolize that we were cut off from civilization. The whole marching and camping experience felt like we were back in a simpler time. We felt more in touch with nature. We also knew things like the severe storms and flooding we experienced were related to climate change, and to what we were trying to call attention to by marching.