Six Sacred Considerations in Solidarity with Idle No More
Crossposted on Tikkun Daily
by Claire Bohman
I first heard of the horrific attacks on First Nations people by the Canadian government from Clyde Hall, a Shoshone elder. I had seen a few things on Facebook but I did not understand the potential to strip Canadian First Nations people of their sovereignty until Clyde laid it out in plain English. As he explained in detail the implications of the law that was on its way to passing in Canada, the danger of this legislation began to sink into my body. If this legislation passes, the Canadian government will cease to recognize First Nations treaty rights. The potential of which is that Canadian First Nations potentially could lose the rights to their land, among other things. Furthermore, ceasing to recognize the treaty rights of the First Nations is a move towards an erasure of indigenous identity and another attempt at genocide. If this legislation passes in Canada, it’s just a matter of time before this kind of legislation comes to the United States.
Native people across North America have been organizing a peaceful movement of resistance called “Idle No More”. A lot of my friends have been asking me, what is this movement about? Idle No More was founded by First Nations women and has gained significant momentum through the leadership of Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskit First Nation, who has been on a hunger strike since December 11, 2012. Her demand is that the Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov David Johnston meet with First Nations leaders to discuss treaty rights. The resistance is spreading like wildfire and I recently had the honor of joining with hundreds of First Nations people and their allies in Oakland for a Round Dance in solidarity with Chief Spence and Idle No More.
As a descendent of colonizers of this land, I have often struggled with the knowledge that my ancestors played a role in the genocidal attacks on first nations people of this land. As a descendent of settlers and a person with white skin privilege, what is my place in First Nations struggles for liberation? As a non-Native person who feels deeply connected with the land, how do I honor that connection? How can we as non-native people who love this earth be supportive of the movement in a way that does not reproduce systems of inequality and the generations of colonization that runs through our blood?
I struggle regularly with these questions. I do not propose to have the answers. But, in this time of great change as waves of resistance spread across the land, I would like to share with you some things that I have have learned through the resistance that I have have been honored to be a part of over the years.
1) We must learn to follow the leadership of first nations people. This is a movement led by First Nations people. Those who are most directly impacted by decisions made by people in power must be leading this movement. Part of how colonization and white supremacy works is by instilling in white people the belief that their opinions and voices are more important than others. Too often, I have seen white people get involved with justice struggles led by people of color and quickly begin speaking loudly and often in meetings and decision making processes. Part of being an ally is learning how to be a follower. This is not our movement to lead, this is a movement in which we are to follow. This is not to say that our voices are not important or that we should be silent. Just check yourself as you get involved and keep checking yourself. We must be humble, connect with the earth, and listen to our brothers and sisters.