Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

October Indigenous Peoples Gathering on Alcatraz Island


Lonny Shavelson and Jan Sturmann

The annual Indigenous Peoples Day sunrise gathering was held on October 10, 2011, on Alcatraz Island and had over 850 attendees braving the cold weather. This year’s theme was “Commemorating 519 years of Indigenous Resistance and Honoring Struggles to Protect our Sacred Places”. An Ohlone prayer song led by Wicahpiluta Candelaria greeted the rising sun.

Standing by the famous Alcatraz wall graffiti, “Welcome to Indian Land”, Bill Means (IITC Board member, Oglala Lakota Nation) provided the welcome and shared thoughts about the arrival of Columbus and the following 519 years of Indigenous Peoples’ survival and resistance, including the significance of the 1969 occupation of Alcatraz lead by Native America students. “Alcatraz represents the spark that relight the flame of Indigenous Peoples resistance….in the 60’s came a tremendous movement that has now expanded to 375 million Indigenous Peoples from around the world”. He also stated that these efforts cumulated in the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007, and that the struggle continues for its implementation by the United States and other countries.

Ron Lameman (IITC Board member, Beaver Lake Cree Nation) presented on the struggle of his community against the Tar Sands development in Treaty 6 Territory (Alberta, Canada). The proposed Keystone XL pipeline project would run from northeastern Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the United States on the Gulf Coast. This pipeline would carry tar sands, one of the world’s dirtiest fuels. The project violates Treaty Rights, free prior and informed consent and threatens ecosystems, water sources and community. Approximately thirty percent of the project is in the ancestral lands of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation. The XL pipeline would also impact numerous Tribal Nations in the United States.

The gathering featured a special honoring for the Oholone and other defenders of Sogorea Te, the sacred site at Glen Cove : , who recently won the battle to protect one of the last intact shellmound sites in the Bay Area. The 109-day spiritual occupation to halt proposed bulldozing of the site by the city of Vallejo was a show of strength and unity by the Bay Area Native American community on a scale not seen in decades. Special recognition was also given to the Yocha Dehe Wintun and Cortina Band of Wintun Nations for their successful negotiation of a cultural easement providing permanent legal protection and tribal jurisdiction over this sacred area, the first such agreement in the history of California.

Lonny Shavelson and Jan Sturmann

During the event, a blessing and recognition of the PathStar : Swimmers was held. Pathstar is a youth organization “committed to inspiring and revitalizing sustainable health and well-being practices within Native American communities”. All Nations singers and the Red Voice Drum, Aztec and Pomo dancers and for the first time, the Oceania Coalition of Northern California (OCNC) offered prayer, chants, drumming and dance.

The Annual Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Sunrise Gathering will be held Thursday, November 24, 2011, at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. Click here for more information : .


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