Lately, Native people have taken to the streets malls in demonstrations of Public Indian-ness (“PI”) that surpasses the sheer volume of activism of even Alcatraz and the Longest Walk. There’s a heapum big amount of PI going on right now! Many people, non-Native and Native alike, are wondering what the heck is going with their local Native population and how this so-called #IdleNoMore Movement managed to get the usually muffled Natives restless enough to be Indian in public. I mean, like Chris Rock said, he hasn’t ever even met two Indians at the same time. He’s seen “polar bears riding a tricycle” but he’s “never seen an Indian family just chillin’ out at Red Lobster.”
Now, people can’t seem to get away from us.
And that’s cool, but isn’t that what pow-wows and November is for? People (non-Native and Native alike) can only take so much PI, right? Is that what the Idle No More movement is? An extended Native American Heritage Month, where non-Natives have to act like they’re fascinated by Native culture?
In a word, no. It is much more. Please consider this a fairly exhaustive explanation of the Movement, what it is not and what it is. If for some reason you cannot read the next 1000 or so brilliant words, I can be summed up thusly: Idle No More is not new. Instead, it is the latest incarnation of the sustained Indigenous Resistance to the rape, pillage, and exploitation of this continent and its women that has existed since 1492. It is not the Occupy Movement, although there are some similarities. It is not only about Canada and it is not only about Native people.
Finally, and probably most importantly, it (and we) are not going away anytime soon. So get used to it (and us).
On December 14, Two-Spirit leaders from 12 different states called upon the two principle negotiators of the reauthorization the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Vice-President Biden and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), to include Native women. This action was taken in light of news reports that Cantor was supportive of this bill as along as one key provision was removed: the protection for Native American women.
The Two-Spirit leadership asked for tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders who commit acts of domestic violence or violate protection orders against our Native women; clarifying tribal civil authority to issue and enforce protection orders regardless of the nationality, race or sex of the offender; and for Federal criminal offenses to be made consistent with model domestic violence laws.
Within hours of sending their letter, Lynn Rosenthal, a White House Advisor to Vice-President Biden, responded, “The Vice President is working hard to get an agreement on VAWA that includes criminal jurisdiction and protects all victims.”
Later that day, the same group of Two-Spirit leaders called on the members of congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American, Native American, and Progressive Caucuses to stand with our Native women.
Native women experience domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking at crisis levels.
According to United States Justice Department, rates of domestic violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women are among the highest in the United States when compared to other ethnicities. Nearly half of all Native American women—46 percent—have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. One in three Indian women will, at some point in her life, experience the violence and trauma of rape.
On some reservations Native American women are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average.
“We must do everything in our power to protect our Native women; enabling them to feel safe and for them to hold their heads high as valued, proud and strong Native women,” said Harlan Pruden of the NorthEast Two-Spirit Society.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would like to call on the international community to participate in the 7th annual Sisters In Spirit Vigils on October 4th 2012 by hosting a moment of silence to honour the lives of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.Sisters In Spirit Vigils are a movement for social change. October 4th is day where we honour the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and support families who have been tragically touched by the loss of a loved one.In Canada on October 4th, tens of thousands of concerned citizens will be attending vigils from coast-to coast-to coast. Vigils take many forms, from a rally, to a candle-light vigil, to a workshop, to a moment of silence.We invite the international community, to stand with us on October 4th, not only to remember our loved ones and support families but to also remember that violence impacts all Indigenous women globally.“In this era of increased recognition of Indigenous rights outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Native Women’s Association of Canada is calling for unity,” declares NWAC President Jeanette Corbiere Lavell. “By taking the time out of our busy lives to mark October 4th and gather together,” she adds, “we can call on all levels of government to be accountable for the promises they make to Indigenous peoples.”Please visit us online for up-to-date information on the Sisters In Spirit Vigil movement. Registration forms for registering a moment of silence on October 4th are also available at http://www.nwac.ca/programs/2012-vigil-registration. For additional registration information contact: Jennifer Rankin, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 613-722-3033 x 234 Toll free: 1-800-461-4043Fax: 613-722-7687