There are so many genres of activism my head spins at the amount of rallies and protests that I have either been apart of, or have been invited to.
I have never been one for either the protests, or the marches. (However when the Oshkimaadziig camp first began, I have to admit that my friend Johnny and I attended many rallies and marches to leaflet people with brochures and pamphlets).
As someone who has been involved with ACTION and Oshkimaadziig going on 3 years now, I have been identified as an “organizer” and “activist” several times. (Heck even when we’ve written press releases, we’ve identified ourselves as “organizers”.)
Long before Idle No More sprang up, I remember listening to Johnny talk to an interviewer, where the question was asked, “Do you see yourself as an ‘activist’?”, and Johnny answered, “What we do, should not be mistaken with the word “activism”, for what we do is more of a way of life. Yes we are very much “active” when we have to do things like the blockades and reclamation sites, but we are not “activists’.”
When Idle No More spread like wild fire, all of a sudden every Native brother and sister were “organizers” in the movement. Academics, Traditional people, Warrior people, and everyone in between. Before Oshkimaadziig, I have never been active in any type of movement, so it was all fairly new to me. (To be truthful, it is all still relatively new to me, but I feel a little more battle hardened). But back to Idle No More, (which btw I think was a very beautiful thing when it began, but not what it later turned out to be) it seemed for every protest and march, there was calls for the Ogitchidaa, the Medicine People, the Sacred Pipe Carriers, the Elders to all be present… which when taken in a ceremonial context is alright. Heck, I’d want all these people at the ceremonies I attend and still do.
But what happens when you ask for all these people to attend a protest or a rally?
I am by no means an expert on anything, but I remember receiving a phone call from a Traditional Sister of mine, who passed on a message to me from her territory. I won’t get into the details of what was said to me, but she told me, that the Spirits were getting angry because of these Pipe Carriers were bringing their Bundles to rallies, where their were then exposed to all types of negative energies, (drunk people, angry people, all kinds of other things too.)
Now don’t get me wrong, colonization is a very f’d up thing, and of course the ramifications of colonization are going to be vast, varied, and very deep. Our people, collectively will have some form of trauma and abuse, and will indeed be very angry. Especially when your sisters/aunties/relatives go missing on a daily basis, or your home territories are being destroyed by industry. But there is a time and place for that.
Ceremonial objects that go in the ceremonial bundle, belong in ceremony. Angry, abused, neglected people who continue to face the onslaught of colonization do need healing, and do need to take action for this ongoing process. But the “activist, political scene, and the ceremonial scene ought to be kept separated.
Protests and Rallies are as colonized as the colonizers themselves. Our Ancestors never protested and rallied, they committed to action. If there was something that needed to be done, someone, or many people would be put on the hill to go fasting. The ancestors would then (or not) provide some direction, and through that direction the people took to action. How many people can safely say that for every protest or rally that has been carried out, where there was a call for all the Ceremonial objects, and Ceremonial people to come out, that they in fact had been instructed by vision to do so?
My take on the whole “activist” or “organizer” thing, is that it’s mostly for ego and photo ops. Our Ancestors took a long time to make decisions, and for good reason. When they made decisions, they made them count. Is that one rally, or that one protest going to be the magical one, that will change everything? (Probably not, and especially if the Ancestors were not asked for direction in the first place either.)
Nowadays, I steer clear of the “activist” scene, and only come when I’m broke and the “honorarium” is good! Ahahaha just kidding (or am I?) I’ve been relatively silent and quiet on the activist scene of late, and for good reason. The last few times that I have gone to speak for an event, was because I truly believed in the people who invited me, or I truly believed in the cause. But in those last few cases, there wasn’t exactly a call for “Pipe Carriers” or “Ceremonial Conductors” to be present either. There were political events, and politics were discussed. The ceremony in both of those last two cases were kept separated, the way that it should be.