Idle No More: The awakening of a people

By Davi Trusty -Guest Columnist- | Last updated: May 22, 2013 - 8:55:40 AM

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Within Indian Country any movement seems to begin and revolve around the women first. This makes sense seeing as how we come from a matriarchal society.

Idle No More, (INM), was begun by Nina Wilson, Sheelah Mclean, Sylvia McAdam and Jessica Gordon in Canada to protest the bill C-45, a large omnibus bill implementing numerous measures, many of which activists claim weaken environmental protection laws. In particular, laws protecting all of the country’s navigable waterways were limited in scope to protect only a few waterways of practical importance for navigation. Many of the affected waterways pass through land reserved to First Nations. The sovereignty and ecosystem of reserves are at stake.

INM is NOT just a “Canadian Thing” because those of us who are members understand that we did not have anything to do with the borders and imaginary lines that were enforced by the colonial mindset. An Indigenous person from Canada is as much an Indigenous person from Brazil.

We are Original people. We are the original inhabitants of Turtle Island which to those who do not know is North and South America. From the North to the South pole we were given this land as our home. The Creator never meant for us to be viewed as separate from the land or each other. We were taught this line of thinking in order to be conquered.

Here is where Idle No More stands out in its strength and meaning. INM is bringing into Indian Country, much like the American Indian Movement, a sense of self and kind that has been lacking much to our detriment. The vision of ONE people and ONE land is the crux of the movement.

Protection of the Earth is not a issue of the week for us. As I stated, we are the Original inhabitants of Turtle Island, this does not make us better, it does not make us more spiritual or more righteous or more anything. This makes us more responsible. More responsible to Earth as a living and sentient being, more responsible to our children from whom we are borrowing the Earth, and more responsible to each other as we are in divine order to take care of each other. Keystone pipeline, the uranium mining, the illegal occupation by corporations and the breaking of treaties for and on our land is why this movement has come about.

As far as protests go INM does in fact have it’s members carry signs and march, where we are different is in our approach. When we gather for these demonstrations we bring our hand drums and we round dance. We gather our natural forces as Original people and demonstrate OUR way. We sing in OUR language, we dance in OUR way. We make our mighty voices heard as we stand united. We have some grave concerns within our communities and reservations and we need these issues addressed. This is not a “protest” as done by our open enemy. This is not Occupy Wall Street which did not have a solid agenda in place but seemed to be an arena in which disenfranchised Whites could make a statement. We are not White and we as a people are the original disenfranchised members of America.

Where some view reservations and our sacred areas as places to be exploited, think of the New Age maniacs who invade our territory looking for spiritual enlightenment, or those who believe that we sit in our homes on the reservations collecting big money “casino checks”. Allow me to enlighten you as to what Reservation in America are like.

There are 334 reservations in the United States today. Currently, almost a third of American Indians in the United States live on reservations, totaling approximately 700,000 individuals. About half of all American Indians living on reservations are concentrated on the ten largest reservations. The official poverty rate on reservations is 28.4 percent, compared with 15.3 nationally. Thirty-six percent of families with children are below the poverty line on reservations, compared with 9.2 percent of families nationally.

I will give you an example of life on The Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota which is where our beloved sister Yonasda Lonewolf Hill’s mother Wauneta is from. As of TODAY:

An average life expectancy of a 44-years-old.

The Lakota infant mortality rate is 300% more than the U.S. Average.

Teenage suicide rate is 150% higher than the U.S national average for this group.

Alcoholism affects 8 in 10 families.

Indian children incarceration rate is 40 percent higher than whites.

Death due to heart disease is twice the national average.

The tuberculosis rate on Lakota reservations is approximately 800% higher than the U.S average.

The rate of cervical cancer in women is 500% higher than the national average.

97 percent of the Lakota people live below the poverty line.

1/3 of the homes lack basic clean water and sewage while 40% lack electricity.

60 percent  of all homes on Pine Ridge are substandard.

Unemployment rates on the reservations is 95 percent or higher.

This is really indicative of life on reservations here in America. Collectively INM can address these issues. Protection of the Earth and uplift of our people is not just a “Indian” issue.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught about the “17 million with the 2 million Indians” In keeping with the theme of with 2 million Indians Minister Farrakhan has addressed that over and over and over in many of his lectures. I believe these two men chose the word “with” because it’s meaning is belonging or belonging together. I do not believe that the word with was used unintentionally. Both of these men are far too smart for that. We need members of the Nation of Islam, we need brothers and sisters of African descent to stand with us. To join in making our voices heard about the conditions within our communities, we share the same plight and we also share the same cure. We can make our voices heard OUR way, we can speak truth to power and let them know that we have the ability to fix all of the ailments within our ghettos, Reservations and barrios. We can  fix our collective ailments OUR way. There is a set plan already, we just need to set aside learned and perceived differences and recognize ourselves as real genetic family. We can stop being afraid of what an outside force has told us about ourselves and set aside all prejudicial thought that we have been taught. We can unite as concerned Original People, under a spiritual energy and not the thought of, “We got the same oppressor.” That thought process will never bring about true unity. So, this summer when you see on any social media site or a flier that there will be an Idle No More event, I urge you to please inquire about how you may join. Come and gather with your family on behalf of an Earth that is hurting and a people that very desperately need to learn love of self and kind.

As always I am you brother and I love you.

(Davi Trusty can be reached via email at