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Indian Times: "Idle No More" Explained (Jan 26, 2013)

What is the Idle No More movement?  Local activist and co-founder of S.P.I.R.I.T. (Society for the Preservation of Indigenous Rights and Indigenous Treaties),  Brenda Golden (Muscogee Creek), talks about this movement started by four women in Canada in response to laws passed they say have bypassed treaties, endangered water ways and streams, and demonstrated a disregard for future generations. This movement has found its way into the U.S., including Oklahoma.

SUSAN SHANNON, HOST: There has been Idle No More peaceful demonstrations in a Tulsa shopping mall and Oklahoma City’s Bricktown this past month, and another one will be happening Monday (1/28/13)  at the Capital.   Brenda Golden, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation and a local activist, talked about how it all began.

BRENDA GOLDEN:  Well actually what happened to spark the movement was four ladies…they began the activity to bring awareness to the fact that Prime Minister Harper and the elite system of theirs was slowly stripping away their rights to their lands and resources.   And in this last year was attempting to pass a bill called C45 that took away all kinds of protection of the river ways and streams in Canada, without consulting the First Nations people there.   And so they started this Idle No More movement to educate others and to try to attempt to build coalitions and relationships and when C45 did get passed, that’s when Chief Theresa Spence went on her hunger strike in solidarity with the Idle No more movement.   And it’s our protests, if you will, rallies, flash mobs, a whole new aspect of public , I don’t know what you want to call it…demonstrations…exactly… demonstrations, in solidarity with the Idle No More movement  across the United States and the world actually.

SHANNON:  From what I see on Facebook and the native news coverage,  would anybody have dreamed it would take over like this…I mean it’s in here in Oklahoma…Albuquerque… what do you think about that?  Did it fill a need?

GOLDEN:  I think what happened with that, we have the Tar Sands XL issue that’s already gotten a  lot of indigenous people, American Indians, natives…involved in  land and resource fights which,  we have been protectors of our mother earth for as long as we’ve been born.. but that started…then there was the Honor The Treaties movement that started early along with the Special Rapporteur,  that James Anaya,  that came through and had all the public hearings on the United Nations Declaration of Rights of the Indigenous People.  So we had a lot of things happen in this last year that I think coalesced when the First Nations in Canada came together and Chief Theresa Spence started her hunger strike and it just builds with… we’re all in this same situation of having broken treaties by the colonizers and oppressors that continue to take away our land and resources so that they can get wealthier while we live in poverty.

SHANNON: Do you think its imperative that American Native Americans or United States Native Americans stand in solidarity with the Canadian indigenous people?

GOLDEN: I think it is imperative that all people of all races not just Native American but all people were together on this issue of protecting our lands and our resources.  One thing that Idle No More has done is the international…I’ve seen reports from Puerto Rico, from South America, the indigenous people in New Zealand.  It has really taken off and it sparks something in all of us, a solidarity because Chief Theresa Spence’s not the only chief hunger striking…I believe there are two or three more that have joined her.  What’s great about this in Oklahoma and when I think in other places, that young people are coming to this movement and the ideas of flash mob in the malls, that’s something they can relate to.  I don’t know if you saw the pictures, they call it a flash mob in the Mall of America, it’s more of a sit-in or a drum-in.  There’s a whole different mindset because the creativity that’s going along with this…there was thousands of Indians there in Minnesota.

SHANNON:  An Idle No More event scheduled for Penn Square Mall was stopped before it began, & so it was moved to Bricktown.  But some still felt that the Mall should get a taste of what goes on, Golden was there to support  the small group and heard a mall guard talk about them very loudly.

GOLDEN:  “This is a disgrace to our nation”, that we were there doing a round dance and uh…you know, the whole thing is, this isn’t your nation.  If you mean our nation that includes us too and our rights to express ourselves with displeasure over how we’ve been treated.   We have lands here in Oklahoma like Ft.  Reno, and a lot of these old forts,  that were supposed to be given back to the tribes that had occupied the land, or their homelands, after their use was done.  And we still haven’t got them back.  And then we have the water rights issue, the Chickasaws and the Choctaws, who because the State Water Board wouldn’t sit at the table with them equally.  People say “they just want all the water!” No we just wanted to be treated as equals.

SHANNON:  That was Brenda Golden.  Idle No More Global Call To Action rally will take place on Monday  (1/28/13) at the Tribal Nations Plaza, north of the Capital at 11:30 am.  A walk leading up to the Plaza will start at 11am at NW 16th & Lincoln.  Golden will be receiving her law degree this spring.


I’m Susan Shannon for Indian Times.  The views and opinions expressed in this broadcast do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of KGOU or the University of Oklahoma.

Copyright © 2013 KGOU Radio. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to KGOU Radio. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only. Any other use requires KGOU's prior permission.

KGOU transcripts are created on a rush deadline by our staff, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of KGOU's programming is the audio.

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