Indigenous People's March 2019

On January 18th, over 1,000 people gathered in Washington DC including those who represented over 100 tribal nations to initiate the first ever Indigenous People’s March. The march called for more policies to recognise and strengthen Native sovereignty as well as raise awareness of the “injustices affecting Indigenous men, women, and children,” according to the Indigenous People’s Movement. Campaigners called attention to four fundamental issues that affected the sovereignty and safety of Native communities:

  • Environmental Injustices - such as reclaiming land rights against governments, loggers and mining and agricultural companies

  • Voter Suppression - voting laws disproportionately impact those living on reservations, especially those who often use a PO box because they live in rural homes and lack a residential address (or are transient) and consequently are unable to participate

  • Police Abuse - it has been found that Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a much higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group

  • Trafficking against indigenous women - there are shocking disparities that Native women face in public safety, health and justice services; statistics  reveal that ONE in THREE Native women will be raped in her lifetime

Numerous speakers at the march highlighted these issues, inspiring unity and resistance against their mistreatment at all levels in society. Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, the first Native American women elected to Congress, spoke at the march. Haaland is a representative for New Mexico and a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe; Davids is a representative for Kansas and a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Reverend David Wilson who represented the Choctaw Nation said that half of his group were

“young American Indian Methodists in the group ranging in age from 20 to 32 who are more inclined to work on issues of social justice, more so than other generations.... Social justice is in their DNA".

With speeches, group prayers and dances, #IPM2019 was a day that was as much about strengthening future coalitions as healing from past trauma. After centuries of forced assimilation, genocide, and erasure, the Indigenous movement shows tremendous resilience — as signs held by those on the ground read, “we are still here,” “we are unafraid,” and “we are rising up.”

What Can You Do?

As always, one of the best things you can do is donate to some amazing charities that help preserve and empower these indigenous communities. Check them out below:

“Partnership With Native Americans is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to championing hope for a brighter future for Native Americans living on remote, isolated and impoverished reservations…Much of our work centers around material aid, educational support and community-based services. PWNA also connects outside resources directly to reservations through its distribution network and reservation partnerships.”

“Currently only 14% of American Indians have a college degree – less than half the national average. Every year, we empower more than 4,000 American Indian students to start and stay in school, complete their degrees and launch careers that benefit us all. We have provided more than 131,000 scholarships and $201 million to support American Indian communities.”

“Since 1971, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has provided legal assistance to Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide who might otherwise have gone without adequate representation.”

“The mission of NICOA is to advocate for improved comprehensive health, social services, and economic wellbeing for American Indian and Alaska Native Elders.”

Article by Yaz Omran