Monday, February 25, 2013

Idle no more: Exploring indigenous women's organizing.

Hi miners! Whistle while you work! Do you like my new spiked gloves? I bet you're peanut butter and jealous of them.

So this week, I planned on going to an event posted on the excavations list titled "OkCupid,, and EHarmony: Exploring Online Dating." I went to the location posted at the correct time and date, and it wasn't a completely different lecture taking place. One I found extremely boring and uninteresting. I wasn't excited. I don't want to throw the student's name under the bus that posted the wrong information but MOLLY KROHE!!!!!!!! Haha.

So I was stuck in a lecture about Indigenous Women's Organizations. This is the guest panel. Jodi Byrd, Lani Teves, and Christine Delisle (from left to right).

Jodi is part of the Chickasaw Tribe in Oklahoma. She went to the University of Iowa for American Indian Studies where her research interests included Indigenous studies and governance. She also researched Indigenous and postcolonial literatures, cultural studies, film, and theory. She has a new book out that argues the necessity of moving beyond a colonial framework in talking about Indigenous features. Next, Lani is a native born and raised in Hawaii. She received a masters in American Studies there. Her dissertation, "We're All Hawaiians Now: Culture, Indigeneity, Performance, and Politics of Aloha" focuses on the ways in which the representational strategies of Hawaiian performers can gain political and federal recognition. Lastly, Christine was born and raised in Guam. She taught at schools in Guam before moving to teach in Michigan and Illinois. One of her main concerns about Guam today consist of the military buildup and protests there that effect her Chamorro Tribe.

This lecture mainly spoke about the common organization these indigenous women belong to called "Idle No More". This organization explores local efforts to organize in solidarity with undocumented people in the United States. It's a social networking movement that was started by Indigenous women that organized local issues. The group has had much success, including breaking a Canadian Bill protecting Indigenous places. This group was started through Facebook, teach-ins, and Twitter. Then, a hunger strike took place that got nationwide recognition. Many people learn about their organization through social media. Without the social media, they believe that they wouldn't get any recognition as natives. This movement has not yet hit Guam where Christine lives. Christine strongly believes in the colonialism theory: Other tribes bring in people, they bring native things, and the rest of the area becomes accustomed to them and the tribes grow. She wants to use this "contagious" approach to expand the indigenous cultures. "Idle No More" is such a powerful organization because it's non violent in its way of changing the world. 

In the history of organizing their culture, women were always in the forefront of saving indigenous lands and tribes. Lani spoke about how women in Hawaii have to stay strong and be the rock in their community especially when times get rough. One of the hardest times was when the government sent their tribe a "Sorry Letter" for overthrowing their Chief. At times like that, it was hard for the men to not get violent. she stated: "We have an apology letter to build our land and tribes on. What are we supposed to do with that?" The women get together with "Idle No More" in order to keep sanity and tranquility in their tribe. 

Indigenous feminism is an issue too. Any indian man who marries a white settler can move onto the reserve. In contrast, any indian woman who marries into a white settler must leave the reserve and move away with the settler. These three women try to rework what gender means in indigenous culture. This is about women, and there is nothing the men can do to operationalize it. 

The White environmental movements have become an enemy to Hawaii. There is an ongoing reliance on military and food costs due to the white movements. Christine thinks they don't need the white movements, and she wishes they didn't spend money on the U.S. goods that get shipped to them. They can get fish from the ocean and live off the land to lower living prices. With "Idle No More", the tribes need to come together to question the priorities of indigenous living. 

Well, I hope you find this all interesting, because I don't! 

And if you're wondering, this is what I would look like if I were the Chief of my tribe. 

See you next week!!!

Mwuah <3
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