I must admit, the first time I heard there was a rising up of Native Tribes that was called Idle No More, I cringed. But it was for selfish reasons, you see, I’m currently writing a book concerning Native Americans that’s titled No More.
But then I started to think about it, and in a way, there really isn’t any type of movement, book, movie or anything else that would concern our Indigenous populations of this world that wouldn’t have the words No More attached to it in some way. That’s the type of world we’ve created for them…one where the only way they will ever be able to improve things, for themselves and for this earth, is to say ENOUGH!
It started last Fall, when Canada’s right-wing government (some have called them Canada’s version of the Bush Administration), started attacking Native American sovereignty in an attempt to free up land and water for corporations, environmental protections be damned.
This sparked Idle No More, a movement of marches, sit-ins, blockades, education and hunger strikes, eventually attracting world-wide attention. One group of young Native Americans made a 1,000-mile trek across Canada, to Ottawa, to bring attention to what was happening to their land. The movement slowly, province to province, began to unite the tribes.
They now are combining forces with groups like Greenpeace International and non-Tribe members to create a coalition to fight for the land they love.
And the movement grows. After Canada, Idle No More groups popped up in Alaska then in the lower 48. News reports started coming in that the Aborigines in Australia, the Māori in New Zealand and the various tribes in Mexico also started brandishing the name Idle No More. Within a few weeks, this movement became a world-wide phenomenon of First Nations people standing up for a land, for rights and for respect – those things that have been taken from for much too long.
At the time I was living in a small town in Arizona. We’re just a few miles from the Apache Reservation, a sad and desperate place with massive poverty, horrible drug use and a suicide rate that is 3 times the national average. I would never hold it against this small group of people for not standing up against Big Government and Big Corporations when it seems just surviving day-to-day must be using all the energy they can muster.
But, one night I was walking downtown and I heard drums. I followed the beat to a group of 30 or so people, mostly high school age, gathered in front of the Old Courthouse. They were Apaches, from the Reservation down the road, and they were holding a big sign that said Idle No More.
They were protesting a big Copper producer who has been trying to move their operations onto tribal land, making the usual promises of obeying the rules of the EPA and getting the support of Senators like McCain(R) and Kyl(R). Though we all know that like every other Copper Mine in the last 100 years, they are going to destroy the land, make billions and our towns will be none the better for it.
It’s a scenario that plays over and over in mining communities all over America. The promise of employment and a quick buck, with little to show a few years down the road besides a chewed up landscape, contaminated water and generations of higher-than-normal cancer.
Another portion of the group was protesting the Phoenix area looking into tapping into the tribal water tables up North, taking water from land that was promised to the Tribes, in order to sustain a too-big population built-in an area that isn’t sustainable for much of any population.
They sang, danced, speeches were made and they waved to cars that drove by. Then, as it grew later, they said a prayer. It wasn’t a prayer to a specific god or deity, it was more of a shout out to the Universe and to Mother Earth, that they just hold on long enough for the good people of the earth to find a way to stop the madness.
I’ve read some opinions, by American historians, who say that when the settlers started moving across the land, they came upon tribes who were warring with one another. Many of those tribes were used against each other to move the White Man further and further West. Some think, if somehow those tribes had been able to find a common ground against this common enemy, and join forces, they would have been a formidable force to be reckoned with.
Two hundred years later, as Idle No More picks up momentum, I suppose we will see if that is true.
Vince is the author of Einstein’s Shutter and other works that can be found HERE.