Women March on Whiteclay August 26, Offer Guidelines for Indigenous Allies

MADVILLE TIMES / August 17, 2012

Lakota activists and allies from Deep Green Resistance and Occupy organizations blockaded Whiteclay, Nebraska on June 9. They are following up that action with a Women’s March on Sunday, August 26, to further protest beer sellers’ exploitation of the neighboring Pine Ridge Reservation.

From the organizers’ press release:

“For over 100 years the women of the Oglala Lakota nation have been dealing with an attack on the mind body and spirit of their relatives”, says Olowan Martinez who is a main organizer of the event and resident of Pine Ridge. “The Oglala have been silenced through chemical warfare waged by the corporations who are out to exploit and make a profit off of the suffering and misery of our people. The time has come to end this suffering by any means necessary.”

The organizers of this women’s march have point people throughout the region, in the Southwest, and on the West Coast. They plan to gather at Wounded Knee on Friday, August 24, spend the 25th conducting social meetings, women’s and men’s circles and training, then assemble at noon on the 26th at the Billy Mills Hall in Pine Ridge, whence they will march two miles south down 407 across the reservation and state border to Whiteclay.

Now before you pack your headbands in the Kia and drive out to Indian Country to do right by your Lakota neighbors, Deep Green Resistance offers some “Indigenous Solidarity Guidelines” that warrant your consideration:

  1. First and foremost we must recognize that non-indigenous people are occupying stolen land in an ongoing genocide that has lasted for centuries. We must affirm our responsibility to stand with indigenous communities who want support and give everything we can to protect their land and culture from further devastation; they have been on the frontlines of biocide and genocide for centuries, and as allies, we need to step up and join them.
  2. You are doing Indigenous solidarity work not out of guilt, but out of a fierce desire to confront oppressive colonial systems of power.
  3. You are not helping Indigenous people, you are there to: join with, struggle with, and fight with indigenous peoples against these systems of power. You must be willing to put your body on the line.
  4. Recognize your privilege as a member of settler culture.
  5. You are not here to engage in any type of cultural, spiritual or religious needs you think you might have, you are here to engage in political action. Also, remember your political message is secondary to the cause at hand.
  6. Never use drugs or alcohol when engaging in Indigenous solidarity work. Never.
  7. Do more listening than talking, you will be surprised what you can learn.
  8. Recognize that there will be Indigenous people that will not want you to participate in ceremonies. Humbly refrain from participating in ceremonies.
  9. Recognize that you and your Indigenous allies may be in the minority on a cause that is worth fighting for.
  10. Work with integrity and respect, be trustworthy and do what you say you are going to do.

I read those rules and wonder if “do right by” could be read as negatively and imperialistically as “help.” And of course, I’m saying those words as I myself occupy stolen land at the foothills of the Paha Sapa.

As we discuss language, good intentions, and white man’s guilt, you can learn more about joining the Life Givers of the Nation in their call for no more alcohol in Whiteclay at BattleForWhiteclay.org.

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