The Dominant Culture Fears the Idle No More Movement

Donna Ennis,

Much of the current resistance to Idle No More movement is rooted in fear, from the dominant culture, that Indigenous people want social change, are feeling agitated and seem determined to make this change a reality.

 Agitation occurs when people outside of the normal decision-making establishment advocate significant social change and encounter a degree of resistance within the establishment such as to require more than the normal discursive means of persuasion. History shows when indigenous people, who are “outside” the normal decision making establishment, push for change the dominant culture establishment will resist and use force if necessary. W.E.B. Du Bois once wrote, "Agitation is a necessary evil to tell the ills of the suffering.

Dr. King called it “Creative Tension.” Creative tension is essentially a structure that helps to facilitate creativity and change. You form creative tension when you clearly articulate your vision and your current reality and the gap between your vision and your current reality becomes apparent. This creates an emotional and energetic tension that seeks to be resolved. Through a comparison of violent tension, which is undesired, and nonviolent tension, which is constructive, Dr King established the concept that the "constructive, nonviolent tension" will "help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood."

The official website for Idle No More states that the vision of the movement “revolves around Indigenous ways of knowing rooted in Indigenous sovereignty to protect water, air, land and all creation for future generations. The current reality of the indigenous people then is that the Conservative (Canadian) government bills beginning with Bill C-45 threaten treaties and this Indigenous vision of sovereignty. This gap is what has agitated us into action.

Historically efforts to take back our ways of life have been met with fierce resistance, genocide even. When the Lakota people began practicing the Ghost Dance spiritual movement, the belief that Lakota people had been defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the Gods by no longer practicing their Native ways, many believed that if they rejected the white man ways that the world would be recreated and all non believers would be destroyed. (This is my understanding of the Ghost Dance as an Ojibwe woman). The U.S. government took notice and worried about the increase in number of the Ghost Dancers, especially at Pine Ridge. On December 29, 1890 a band of ghost dancers were surrounded by the Calvary and ordered to surrender their weapons. A brutal massacre followed and subsequently an estimated 300 Lakota were killed, mostly women and children. Whatever the motives, the massacre ended the Ghost Dance movement.

The Idle No More founders, organizers and Elder advisors issued the following press release emphasizing their call for peaceful non-violent action:

Idle No More has a responsibility to resist current government policies in a Peaceful and Respectful way. It can be done. It can be done without aggression or violence. This is an energetic, exciting and transformative time.

This movement has been guided by Spiritual Elders, dreams, visions, and from peoples’ core values. We are here to ensure the land, the waters, the air, and the creatures and indeed each of us, return to balance and discontinue harming each other and the earth.

To keep us on this good path, we ask that you, as organizers create space for Elders or Knowledge/Ceremonial Keepers to assist in guiding decisions as we move forward. It is up to each of us to see that this movement respects all people, the environment, and our communities and neighbors.

So even as the Idle No More effort strives to make our voices heard in a peaceful and constructive way through non violent tension aka Dr King, the fear of the dominant culture is that, as in the Ghost Dance, the indigenous people are trying to recreate the world and they as non believers will be destroyed.

In her book, Holding Our World Together, Brenda J. Child details the ways in which women have shaped Native American life and the influence that they have had. Women and their rituals served as ballast for an Indian nation long buffeted on the waves of depression, forced removal, and ethnic cleansing. It is time, once again, for the wisdom of our female elders to lead and sustain our nation.

Donna Ennis is currently the chair of the Minnesota Indian Child Welfare Advisory Council, as well as the eastern regional director and cultural director for North Homes Children and Family Services, a professional foster care agency.




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Anonymous's picture
The Indigenous held the lands with minerals and natural resources the colonial powers coveted, so were removed, enslaved and murdered. Today there are still minerals and resources to be plundered and stolen. A vicious circle which profits the global entities who profit off wares of destruction for invasions and propping up despot dictators, the weapons, munitions, military supply and hardware corporations. When they are successful, the oil, energy and mining conglomerates rake in the profits off stolen resources. The terrorist attacks are from people incensed at seeing their people subjugated and profits off their stolen resources going to foreign conglomerates and the despot dictators and their henchmen and military. The military supplies and hardware and funding go toward suppressing the general population so all they are able to utilize are IEDs, suicide bombers, boxcutters and ill aimed rockets.
Anonymous's picture
I have difficulty believing that those who truly hold the reins of power in the U.S. are afraid of Indians who have done little other than sing and dance at the mall and go out for Tacos when the roundie is over! :) Although; it is good to see Indians finally expressing themselves openly...whether it will effect any change remains to be seen!
Anonymous's picture
What a joke. Look at your chiefs and ask them to stop idling funds for personal gain then I will listen. I work for my escalade.
Two Bears Growling's picture
Now to ride on the wave of this movement! Keep it going, keep it civil, but, get our message out loud & clear for all the world to know the truth as it happens to our First Nations people near & far. Stand up & be counted & tell the truth always. We are all tired of the abuses our many people have had thrown on us, both in the present & the past of our ancestors. Goverments from Europe & the USA diseased, robbed & murdered our peoples by the untold millions. To this day our peoples here & there are being harmed in different way. I say no more! To this day even the washichu lawmen abuse our people. To this day our peoples are not waited on in some places of business by the white invaders. I say, let the world know it! Share our testimonies far & wide & expose these crimes against our many people! Hoa! Stand strong, stand proud of who we are as a people First nations brothers & sisters. The movement is just beginning, but the needs of the people are many my friends. Let's stand together as one people & regain our rights, freedoms & power back as we once had. It can happen it we believe. It can happen if we put aside our petty diffrences from ages ago. We as NativeAmerican Indian people have to stand together as one if we are to be strong as in the times of the ancestors. Pray for strength from the Great Spirit to press on, near & far brothers & sisters. Pray that out warriors stay safe & encouraged by those of us who are not able to be there any way we can. Press on! Hoa!
Two Bears Growling
Anonymous's picture
How can you be quiet my husband is doing all he can to protect his land fighting for inrollment for all these yeas before the casinos were built his o own family are leaders of his tribe in pala but won't release papers to other family members yet they built a water tower that goes to the casino on his property that goes to the city also B.I.A. Riverside and cal trans shame on you.F.b.i. good luck on the investigation in Riverside ca.
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous's picture
This was way too Kool thank you for putting it up.