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#IdleNoMore for Dummies

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What The Heck Are All These Indians Acting All Indian About, Ey?

By Gyasi Ross, Attorney/Activist/Author, Blackfeet Nation, 

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.” 

Yet, 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 #IdleNoMore 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 #IdleNoMore 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: the #IdleNoMore Movement is not a new movement. 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 isnot 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).   

#IDLENOMORE Movement: What it is about

"The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the blood of our ancestors."

Chief Plenty Coups, Apsaalooke

“…you have come here; you are taking my land from me; you are killing off our game, so it is hard for us to live.”

Tasunke Witko (Crazy Horse), Oglala Lakota

 As the above quotes display, the Indigenous Resistance to the raping and pillaging of the Earth is not new. Likewise, Indigenous peoples’ efforts to protect the mothers of our Nations—the women—are not new either. The #IdleNoMore Movement is simply the latest chapter in that resistance. 

It’s About: PROTECTING THE EARTH.  First and foremost, the #IdleNoMore Movement is about protecting the Earth for all people from the carnivorous and capitalistic spirit that wants to exploit and extract every last bit of resources from the land. Therefore, anybody that cares about this Earth should be interested in the #IdleNoMore Movement. The engineers were Nina Wilson, Sheelah Mclean, Sylvia McAdam and Jessica Gordon. It was a response to  Canada’s Bill C-45, which overhauled the Navigable Waters Protection Act and removed protections for many waters that go through First Nations. Changing the Act literally moves the emphasis of the protection—it morphs from protecting the waterways to protecting the navigation on those waterways. Now, instead of 30-some thousand lakes being protected under the old Act, only 97 lakes will be protected. As Canadian Parliament Member Kirsty Duncan eloquently states,  “The days when Canadians take an endless abundance of fresh water for granted are numbered…”

These mobilized Native people wanted to ensure that children two, three and twelve generations from now would have clean water. The children that will benefit from the Native mobilization are not just Native children it’s for all children. Lakes and rivers tend to be either clean or dirty for Native and non-Native children alike.