Occupy Movement Here to Stay

Chase Iron Eyes

I recently participated in Occupy Oakland. I was in the Bay area on other business and could not resist the chance to take part in history in the making. Since I first wrote about Occupy Wall Street, the Occupy Movement has produced a firestorm of protests across the nation and globe. Nobody seems able to pinpoint the source, the catalyst for this movement. But that may not be as important as effectively gauging the direction these protests are taking us. The movement has taken such a stronghold that occupiers the world over are vowing to stay through the winter. Police are confiscating generators and heating devices from tents in New York, the stronghold of the movement which is going through periodic protestor arrests, evictions and Court victories giving Zucotti Park occupiers the right to move back. Occupiers are back in Wall Street without the right to erect sleeping shelters and subject to a few borders, violations of which will result in arrest.

Wall Street was chosen, no doubt, because of its historic and ongoing legacy as a symbol of global corporate dominance but the movement has definitely spread all over. The movement is huge! However, it seems the mainstream is attempting to belittle the movement. The Economist, in its October 22-28, 2011 edition, stated the following as a possible reason many are engaging the occupy movement: "for many the main aim may be to have fun." Whoever wrote that has not slept outdoors in a tent on a cold night or been pepper-sprayed or attacked by the cops. This movement is anything but fun, although it sparks a sense of life inside of us much the same as “having fun” does; it makes us feel alive, like we matter.

The Occupy Movement may be weaving itself into the fabric of the American society for generations to come, unless it is absorbed in the cyclic mainstream media barrage that has us worrying about things like the Kardashians, the NBA lockout, or whether Congress is going to make the right decision by classifying pizza as a vegetable for school lunch funding. The Occupy Movement has definitely changed the socio-political-economic conversations of the day, and for this we should all be grateful.

Nobody knows what to do with the Occupy Movement. The Economist, among other news-sources, attempts to politicize the movement by framing the inquiry and asking whether or not the left or right in America, benefits from the Occupy Movement. I chose The Economist to cite as it seems the appropriate sounding board for global-corporatist dominance. At this time the Occupy Movement seems to lean left because of the list of demands that highlight inequalities of wealth distribution and taxes. The Occupy Movement has not proclaimed any allegiances and it would do well not to, so as to avoid a coopting. Occupiers should stand strong for however long it takes to gain meaningful change. We know how long meaningful change will take: the corporatists would sooner die than see their brilliant and destructive system change to the detriment of their profit. Thus, I am comfortable saying that the occupy movement is here to stay.

The Occupy Movement may very well lack in a coordinated leadership, goals, and other hierarchic organization that mainstream is calling for; as if to say the movement is illegitimate until then. How many times have we heard a reporter ask “What are the protesters demands? When will the protesters demands be met? When will they go home? When will everything go back to normal?” I have news for you: the movement is legit and it is already changing the world. Will we change with it?

As I watch livestream of the November 17 “Day of Action” in New York, with all the makings of violent conflict, I must say I do not believe in violence, as that would give the corporatists the excuse they need to fully eradicate the movement. As an Indigenous person I wished the movement was about more than improving Americans lot within the confines of the corporate western artificial existence. By this I mean Indigenous people want true sustainable civilization—true cost economies that value mother earth, not more carbon-economy jobs for everyone; but that definitely doesn’t mean I do not support movement. I genuinely support each and every occupier that is making this movement live.

Many Indians have sounded off about not joining the 99 percent, pointing out the fact that Indians have always been poor, that Indians should sit back and not engage the movement. I do not see it the same way. I believe the best way to make our voices heard is to include them with the 99 percent, there is a great energy that we should be a part of. I understand the “go to” response that the government isn’t honoring the treaties, that the Occupiers are Occupying Occupied land –valid points. However, that doesn’t really get us anywhere. There is plenty we have in common with the 99 percent, including equitable tax burdens for the rich, less consumption/excess for everyone, Let us find ways to join energies, not conflict energies.

Hecegla. (That is enough.)

Chase Iron Eyes is an attorney, writer and speaker. Connect with him on twitter @thelastrealndn or contact him at chaseironeyes@lastrealindians.com

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lemmingeater's picture
Brother, we are not fighting for division or redistribution of wealth, they can keep their stinking empty money. We are fighting to eliminate wealth from politics. First nations people do indeed have a stake in this fight. The movement includes everyone but the 400-500 white men and their issue who have run this country since it was founded. Most people I talk to in the movement would be more than happy to follow a First Nations leadership and to honor all treaties and live under whatever rule the First Nations came up with but, the power has to be wrested from the elite first, no?
thomasmac's picture
I think you have the right perspective about Occupy Wall St. I agree with you that it would be a good idea for the indigenous people to join the movement. It seems that Indian voices are rarely heard. I believe there is a segment of Occupy Wall St. that wants "true sustainable civilization—true cost economies that value mother earth". I know that I do although I live too far away to participate in the Occupy Movement. It would be great if your voice could heard by the Movement and the country.
unique's picture
I agree with you, Mr. Chase Iron Eyes. I am not "officially" involved with Occupy, although I support them vocally and with my entire being. Occupy is more than a movement - it is a state of mind. I "Occupy" on behalf of my NA and 1st Nations brothers and sisters. It isn't "the" way - but it is "a" way. It is a beginning. It is useful and the beauty of the Occupy Movement is that is an platform, a staging point for your issues, no matter what your issue happens to be. As long as it isn't trivial. If it's trivial, people can expect to be laughed at and ridiculed for a very long time. Case in point - the cop who peppersprayed the students in Cali. He is now a world wide laughingstock. Images appear daily to great amusement of everyone (but him) Great words, sir. Wopila.
swrussel's picture
While "we are the 99%!" is an agreeable slogan, the truth of the matter is that it's more the 99.9%, since it's the .01% of investment bankers that ran us into the ditch and demanded to be paid extra for the service. That said, I am flabbergasted at the voices among us who say this has nothing to do with Indians. I can name all the rich Indians I know by reputation (I know none personally) without taking off my shoes. Look at the austerity plans that the banksters are demanding in Europe and ask yourself what appropriations to the programs on which thousands of Indians depend would survive that kind of penury. Our neck is on the block...with the rest of the 99.9%. I guess some people with their neck on the block choose a blindfold.
m8lsem's picture
The fact that corporate America and government budget stinginess* combined over a hundred years ago in some cases, and as much as five hundred years ago in other cases, to exploit, enslave, expel, divest and generally screw Indians as a class, should encourage us to embrace Occupy who are complaining about the exact same behavior on the part of corporate America and government to exploit, 'enslave', and generally screw workers and the middle class. *By budget stinginess I refer to various political influencers from corporate America trying to remove government's ability to get in the way of corporate America. Not too long before the Nez Perce War, there is correspondence from a general in Washington state to the Department of the Army complaining he didn't have enough force to keep trespassers off the Rez or to evict them after they trespassed, and saying either send him more troops or renegotiate the treaty so he didn't have so big a place to defend. Washington elected to renegotiate as they didn't have the troops to send. Budget. Occupy are allies. By experiencing what they realize they are experiencing, they have acquired the ability to see common cause with us. Just saying. yox? kiwayl ..
ellyfaden's picture
In honor of Mr. Iron Eyes, I respectfully request that Indigenous Peoples take a very active role in OWS. We have lost our way in this country, and your wisdom is needed now more than ever. There are many groups to participate in in the nycga.net. Thank you!
rezzdog's picture
All good comments and I like the dialogue. My perspective is this. The OWS movement is not our movement. The wealth the Americans are fighting over right now are not theirs, it comes from our resources. To join the movement, just like joining its opposition are the same, we join their....again....their....problem about the distribution of what they perceive as their wealth, which really comes from our resources. The OWS fight, is not our fight. If we decided not to share our resources, what do the OWS and their opponents have to fight over? Absolutely nothing.
zelbe1's picture
To my fellow OCCUPY BOWEL MOVEMENT protesters: I think its great that occupiers lay the problems and issues of "taxation without representation" and in your face protests at the establishment, Indians occupied Alcatraz, the BIA in DC and Wounded Knee decades ago. We all know that Indians have always been the first and easiest targets for persecution all over America, and still today, but, I think this movement is a little too late, too far passed anyones care to make real changes. The only weapon Americans hold is to boycott consumer products, pharmecueticals, hold taxation accountable and keep the elite in check through public exposure and scrutiny, but that is too much work for your average, apathetic, fear driven and drugged American. If the occupiers were all Indians, nobody would care to the point of denying the killing fields, but since the "occupiers" are from all walks of life, it appears noble and "we understand" hype type? Americans were sidetracked with the wars and hatred for the "evildoers" that the real, "evildoers" were laughing and walking all the way away from the banks? This makes the "occupy movement" look staged because the original "source" of the movement is, like the direction of the protests, nowhere to be found?