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Photo by Nadya Kwandibens of Red Works Studio, redworks.ca
Mista Wasis addresses the crowd at the Idle No More rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on December 21. Photo by Nadya Kwandibens of Red Works Studio, redworks.ca

Isolated No More: Idle No More and the United States

Robert Chanate
12/28/12

How different would life be for Native Peoples if more of our Nations had stood together in defense of our homelands in the past?  That’s a question I think many of us Natives have pondered alone or discussed with one another. What compels one to re-imagine a different Native past is the modern consequences of the divide and conquer legacy.

Look at a map of Indigenous Cultures in North America and you will see that some of the cultures on the map are grouped as Plains, Plateau, Northwest Coastal, Great Lakes, Woodlands and others.  If the Cultures are broken down you will find Native Nations and Confederacies like the Blackfoot, Ojibwa, Iroquois, and Cree, to name a few and others.

What the map does not show is the history of those areas. One cannot see the songs that were sung nor the dances which were held. The winter stories told are not on the map. The annual visits between Nations of those areas are invisible as are the ceremonies that renewed the People. Not shown are the relationships between our Peoples in which we shared knowledge and support. The cycles of life, continuous and connected, do not appear on the map images.

Cutting right through all of the Cultures, Confederacies and Nations is an invisible but sharp line. This borderline is known as the International Boundary and its origins lie with the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The separation created by the line was not so great in the beginning because it could not divide people who had lived with one another for as far back as their collective memory stretched. We were still relatives. Over time, that separation grew as Native People on both sides grew more accustomed to the division.  Many of us became strangers to one another.

On both sides of the line, our Native Nations fought the tyrannical forces of colonialism. Though the degrees differed, we all experienced massacres and victorious battles, the theft of our lands, broken promises, boarding/residential schools, language destruction, etc. These policies were not just of the past, and they continue to be issues for Native Peoples in Canada and the United States.

Over the past month, we in the south have witnessed a mass mobilization by the First Nations to the North. The tipping point came in the form of Canadian legislation that poses numerous threats to the First Nations. On December 10, thousands of First Nations Citizens took to the streets and launched a movement that has continued to grow. The well known name of this movement is of course Idle No More. The initial concern over the legislation is still paramount, but  more deeply rooted issues are fast becoming focal points for Idle No More.

One way the movement  has spread is through the Round Dance. Round Dances are being held in public spaces far and wide and are uniting people who attend them. These Dances have crossed that invisible line and are now being done in the lower 48.

Those of us in the lower 48 are moved by an awareness that we are still related to those in the north. We recognize the policies they are fighting are similar in aim to the ones that imposed the Allotment Act on us. We can see that the environmental destruction of their lands will put them in a state of dependency that many of our nations are fighting to overcome. We hear their languages and wish for them to remain strong, even if some of us have lost ours. We feel the power of their songs and witness how they are moving the young ones and elders alike and we are inspired to do the same for our people. Just as we did in the past, we are learning new lessons and creating networks of support.

If you look at the dividing line on the map, try to see the developing circles of native unity and instead of asking what would have happened if we had united more in the past, ask what will happen if we unite in the present to be idle no more.

Robert Chanate is a member of the Kiowa Nation and can be reached at rckiowa@gmail.com and twitter.com/rckiowa. He is from Carnegie, OK and currently lives in Denver, CO.

The photograph above was taken by and is copyright Nadya Kwandibens of Red Works Studio; to see more of her Idle No More photography visit the galleries on her Facebook page.

 

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Great article Robert, I would also include Mexico and all of South America. Native Nations of North and South America suffered and still do..... Thank you for all you do!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Wonderful call to action, Chanate! Good to see a call for Arab Spring and Occupy in the American Indian style. As a mixed race caucasian, I cheer you on.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Great article, May I add, First Nations are uniting not only Indigenous people but all people for all walks of life, from all races, all nations. This is a call to arms and many non-natives are looking towards Natives to find their way back to sanity, peace and relationship with each other and the earth. Thank you for all you have suffered and endured. It is time for a change in our world and Creator is using First Nations and Indigenous people everywhere to bring the people back to the Earth.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
WHERE'S THE LINKS TO THE MAPS? LOVE TO SEE SOME MAPS SHOWING THE CULTURAL MOSIAC OF NORTH AMERICA. IF YOU CAN SEND ME SOME LINKS I'D APPRECIATE THAT LOTS! KBOYINC@HOTMAIL.COM

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I am a grandson of Italian . This is a question that has always been in my mind. And a thing that I have always wished would have happened, ever since I started learning about how awful things were for the original citizens of this land. It never even dawned on me that a bad thing had happened till the movie LIttle Big Man. That movie started me thinking about these things. I guess technology still would have come, but what if the Nations had gathered together and held the settlers to honour the treaties, and to make fair treaties in the first place. (I am assuming the settlers schwangled the treaties a lot).

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
For those below the medicine, it's time to be aware of the Mixed blood nations like the Metis in different forms in Canada and the U S , Look for our infinity flags Most are white on Blue, we are there in support of Chief Spence and our first Nations Cousins, In our history is the two (so called Rebellions) or resistance wars against Colonial Canada. We have to take the same crap as First Nations, so we know what is really going on, Most of us will be out in the Streets with placards , drums and our Flags, most of us will be there for whatever it takes.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
i am a CHIRICAHUA APACHE, MY NAME IS TULAC COCHISE, AM OF THE 38 CLAN MEMBERS OF TAHZA COCHISE...MY PEOPLE ARE FROM PAY-GOTZIN-KAY OUR STRONGHOLD AT THE SIERRA MADRE IN MEXICO. I WAS BORN AT RIO GRANDE CITY, TEXAS.I HAVE SAID FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS WITH NEED TO UNITED..LIKE MY GRANDPA-UNCLE GERONIMO ''WE WILL NEVER SERENDER; TO NO ONE.WHITE EYES DO NOT HAVE LEGAL RIGHTS ON THE LAND. LOOK AT THE TREATIES ; THEY DON'T SPEAK OF WAR THEY HAVE WON ON A NATIVE TRIBE,THEY SPEAK OF PEACE ONLY... IN CANADA... AND IN THE ..UNITED STATES. BUT LET'S REMEMBER ONE THING AS VERY OTHER CITIZEN SERVED IN THE ARM FORCES WE NATIVES DID AND DO SERVE,SO THE U S CONSTITUTION BELONG TO ALL OF US.WE EARNED WITH SERVICE OUR BLOOD; & OUR FALLEN NATIVE... WE NEED TO UNITY AS ONE. AHO... EDICHO...

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Awesome artical Mr. Chanate!!! I am a Cree woman from the Canadian plains but have ALWAYS felt a strong connection to all my Aboriginal brothers and sisters, near or far..I thank you all for your support and hope we can all unite as the proud, amazing, resilient and beautiful people we are!

andre's picture
andre
Submitted by andre on
The idea of unity is and was a nice one. However, all throughout the Indian Wars there was always a group who would "sell out" others become scouts for the invaders sacrificing their people. Unity like we see today with the Idle No More movement were uncommon with nomadic tribes back in the day of conquest. The invaders proved then and now, he is practiced at the art of division of people. Then as now, the song remains the same.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Wado.

Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
Had we stopped our age old rivalries, greed of some of our own peoples from all over Turtle Island & evil ones among our own, the Invaders would have NEVER got a foothold to begin with. Sadly we see where this all got us once the Spanish landed & destroyed our brethern in the Carribean, what is now the SE & SW USA, Mexico & Peru. We see what happened once those from England set foot on the East Coast of the USA. They destroyed our many, many peoples with diseases, enslavement, murder, rape, killing our sacred buffalo, etc. Had we united with our brethern everywhere & moved as one people, I truly believe we could have driven ALL the Invaders from the face of our world in North America. Our Commanche brethern were so fierce & skilled in battle that they drove the Spanish back to Mexico & completely out of what was once called Commancheria. Our Apache brethern were so stealthy in battle that they held out with few in number till the late 1800's. We had a short victory once many former enemies joined forces in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, but by then it was just too late for a complete removal of these evil ones from our lands. Our peoples, whether CDIB card holders, non-card holders, mixed breeds, from other countries, etc. MUST become as one if our power is to ever be returned to us from the Great Spirit. There was a vision in times gone by that saw the return of our peoples as one people. Something I also see in my many journeys is that sometimes our brothers & sisters whose ancestors were removed & forced to walk to Indian Territory in the 1830's - 1840's are treated as washichu by some of our peoples in the North. This is not right & has to stop. These ones cannot help that they are so light skinned through decades of mixing. Some of them have what I call a high blooded spirit. That is to say, though they appear light skinned, their spirit is still very much native of a high degree. Some of our peoples who appear as high-blooded & darker colored though I have found have so taken to the white culture in it's music, its clothing, talk, etc. It's as though they are only Native American Indian in appearance only. So many of our young ones know nothing or so very little of our cultures that it's as though they have a washichu spirit. This is a very sad thing to be seeing. Brothers & sisters far & wide we have much to talk about, much to correct among our very own peoples, much to pray about & much to accomplish if the vision from the times of the ancestors is ever to come about to any degree at all. We ALL need to pray to our Creator to heal our many peoples far & wide from all the pain & wrongs of the past & present. I ask those of Idle No More to start prayer chains everywhere they go. I ask all our peoples far & wide to pray for healing of our spirits, our minds & hearts. Pray for the return of hope to our peoples who feel hopeless at this time. Pray for our many peoples who are being attacked & for protection for our elders, our children & young people. Pray for our elders & council members to make wise choices for our peoples. Smoke the pipes of peace & healing, lift up the sacred smoke of tobacco & cedar towards the Great Spirit. Pray in the old ways & drive the evil from your homes. Seek the cleansing of the sweat lodges. Hoa. Two Bears Growling Buffalo's Thunder

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Fantastic to be a small part of this movement and witness the healing of the Native people. What does not kill you will make you stronger.......this I have witnessed in my own life.....

Michele Yellow Robe's picture
Michele Yellow Robe
Submitted by Michele Yellow Robe on
My heart hurts for humans all over. From what I gather, we are not the first that the Europeans have don't this to! In my heart I have fight left, especially after being put through a ALL WHITE SCHOOLS. ALL WHITE COMMUNITY, fighting EVERYDAY to be treated in a half, it should be all but hey, way decent way. Don't get me wrong I have a lot of different nationality friends and I love them all in certain way. It's the hidden attitude that gets me. Dont

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
halito i wish i had written this, because it has certainly crossed my mind more than once, and, brings to mind another point i would like to put this idea out into a public forum why dont reservation-ed, 'carded', 'enrolled' tribes realize the political clout they would have if they would welcome back all of we 'un-carded', un-enrolled, held- at- bay by BIA rules for 'certified' degree of indian blood/enrollment...i know i am totally rocking the boat with this statement, but to be welcomed back and made a viable part of ones tribe without all the pre requisites would be great...that was the way it was for almost 500 years before the great 'enrollments'...would love to hear other opinions

Warren's picture
Warren
Submitted by Warren on
I hardly drop comments, however i did some searching and wound up here Isolated No More: Idle No More and the United States. And I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you don't mind. Is it simply me or does it look like a few of these responses look as if they are left by brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are posting at other online social sites, I would like to follow anything fresh you have to post. Could you list of the complete urls of all your public pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

Lashonda's picture
Lashonda
Submitted by Lashonda on
Thanks for finally writing about >Isolated No More: Idle No More and the United States <Liked it!

DSH's picture
DSH
Submitted by DSH on
Two Bears growling has spoken to my spirit. My family carries native blood, Souix I have been told but that is all I know. My ancestry was lost with my great grandfathers death, all we have is his last name Thetge. My family is a product of the integration. I have always wanted to embrace my native roots but I cant trace it. I am light skinned does that make me non-native? I have felt the pain and sadness of the injustices done to all native peoples and have shame for the humans who can treat others that way even now. The woman who married my great great grandfather (which is where my native heritage comes from) was from Europe. I can not change my skin but I would remedy my ignorance of language and culture if I could.
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