Area group backs Canadian Indian-rights action
BY LENZY KREHBIEL-BURTON World Correspondent
Friday, January 04, 2013
1/04/13 at 4:56 AM
An international indigenous rights movement has made its way to Oklahoma as area residents show their support for Canadian First Nations groups.
"This isn't about gaming or receiving special privileges," Osage Nation member Louis Gray said. "This is just about standing up for ourselves and our basic human rights."
Gray was among the participants in two recent local flash mobs affiliated with Idle No More, a grass roots group that started last month in Saskatchewan by four women to protest an omnibus bill that they claim would violate the treaty and constitutional rights of First Nations groups while weakening environmental protection laws and land removal policies.
To draw attention to issues facing Canada's First Nations groups, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has been on a liquids-only hunger strike since Dec. 11. Camped out on an island in the Ottawa River near the Canadian Parliament building, she is demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston to discuss the bill and its implications.
With word spreading via social media, more than 100 demonstrations have been staged in Canada, and solidarity protests have been held in cities around the world.
In the United States, more than 30 Idle No More events have been staged, including two in Tulsa during December and a third scheduled for Jan. 20 in Utica Square.
"I saw the Facebook posts and event pages from other Idle No More events around the country and was surprised Oklahoma hadn't had one already," Otoe-Missouri tribal member Rene Hare said.
A resident of Pawnee, Hare co-organized an Idle No More event Saturday in Oklahoma City's Bricktown district that had more than 200 attendees.
"Our goal was to be as peaceful as possible and let as many people as possible know not only about what's going on in Canada, but what impact it could have here in the United States," she said.
Although the events in Canada have escalated to highway and railroad blockades, local residents are showing their support through impromptu round dances, a traditional social dance performed at powwows and other gatherings.
"None of the (round dance) songs are about war," Gray said. "It's not meant to offend or confront in an aggressive manner. We're just stating in a peaceful manner that we are opposed to what's going on."
Original Print Headline: Indians in Canada get support in area, U.S.