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There are many groups of activists and heroes who are utterly ignored and willfully shut out of dominant society's cultural, economic, and political news. One such group is Indigenous women. In North America, there is a corporate media policy of not reporting news from an Indigenist perspective, or that is produced by Indigenous people. Anti-Indigenist white male supremacy works very hard to leave all of us with the idea that if Indigenous people exist and are activist, they must be men.
Leave it to Brenda Norrell at the very appropriately named "Censored News" website to publicly honor and make more widely visible the centuries-long reality of Indigenous women's activism. What follows is copied and re-posted with permissions granted by Brenda. She states:
Please feel free to repost this article and photo, with author and Censored News credits appearing at top of the article. Media, for contact info for interviews of the heroes: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to all the named and unnamed, recognised and unrecognised Indigenous women activists who fight battles unseen by most non-Indigenous people. And thank you, once again, to Brenda Norrell. Love and justice to you in 2012.
You may link back to the original site by clicking on the title just below. There are many more honored Indigenous activists named in that post beyond what I have re-posted here. I also provide at link back to the original site and article at the bottom of this post.
Censored News Person of the Year: The Indigenous Woman
By Brenda Norrell
The Indigenous Person of the Year, selected by readers of Censored News, is the Indigenous Woman.
Debra White Plume, Morning Star Gali, Waziyata Win, Tantoo Cardinal, Kahentinetha Horn and her daughter Dr. Ojistoh Horn, Corrina Gould, Kandi Mossett, Louise Benally, Buffy St Marie, Rigoberta Menchu, Hacha C Norris, Cheyenne Bellecourt Eagleman and many more were selected by readers as the Person of the Year. Censored News focuses on Indigenous Peoples and human rights.
Debra White Plume, Lakota grandmother and longtime activist from Pine Ridge, S.D., received the most nominations. Shown in the top left photo, White Plume, grandmother and voice against uranium mining on Lakota lands, was among those arrested this year at the White House during the action to halt the Tarsands and Keystone XL dirty oil pipeline during September.
Gwen Caldwell said that Debra White Plume was her top choice. "I selected Debra, because she sets an excellent example of what we as women should be doing and how we should be living. She is humble courageous, speaks her truth with honor and integrity!"
CJ Christian said, "Debra White Plume has made herself visible before the UN, fighting to save the Black Hills and to stop the Keystone pipeline. She works tirelessly for the First Nations People with sincere devotion, dedication, spirituality and integrity."
Roxann Karonhiarokwas selected Kahentinetha Horn, publisher of Mohawk Nation News, and her daughter, Dr. Ojistoh Horn, the first female Mohawk medical doctor from Kahnawake. Roxann described the mother and daughter as, “An amazing duet and strong women."
Roxann said, “I nominated Ojistoh because she delivers our babies. Being a matrilineal society she is responsible and takes a hands on role in the delivery of the mothers of our nation." She added, "That woman does not sleep. She does house calls and even looks after people during family events on her time off! I love that beautiful woman. She’s an inspiration and deserves it!”
"Kahentinetha is a woman who always worked for our people! I am honored to say I know these lovely ladies personally.”
Ben Manuel selected four dynamic, tireless human rights warriors: "Waziyata Win, Jessica Yee, Morning Star Gali and Debra White Plume." Richard Flittie added another voice of recognition for Morning Star Gali and Corrina Gould, both longtime activists struggling to save sacred places and reclaim Indigenous lands in California.
Manuel was among many who selected Dakota activist Waziyata Win for her work to bring Indigenous perspectives to the Decolonize/Occupy movement. (Shown in top right photo. Click for Oakland video.)
Among the dynamic Native American youths honored was Kandi Mossett, who hosted the Indigenous Environmental Network annual gathering in her homeland this summer, was arrested at the White House protesting the Tarsands Keystone XL pipeline in September, and was featured as a voice to protect Mother Earth at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, in December.
Hahana Bear selected Kandi, shown in lower left photo at top of page. Kandi was compelled to speak out after the deaths of friends and family from the oil and gas trucks, and devastating pollution, on her homeland, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations in North Dakota, also known as Three Affiliated Tribes and Fort Berthold.
Indigenous Women Honored
Ruth Nolan honored Cahuilla Indian Elder and Tribal Leader Dr. Katherine Siva Sauvel, Morongo/Cahuilla, who passed away this past November.
Nolan said, “I selected Dr. Katherine Siva Sauvel, Cahuilla elder. elder, teacher and Cahuilla culture bearer (1920-2011) because she has been instrumental in saving the endangered Cahuilla language and way of life, and dedicated her life to passing along the oral histories and language and culture of the Cahuilla into the modern world. She was the first American Indian inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame, and is a co-founder of the Malki Museum, the first American Indian museum in the United States.
“I had the incredible honor and good fortune to have met and learned much from Dr. Sauvel through my California desert Indian scholarship and position at College of the Desert, and was and remain incredibly touched, professionally and personally, by her extreme generosity and gentle yet strong touch in all matters related to sharing with so many others her native culture, to which she dedicated her passion and life's work. She is deeply appreciated by people across the country and globe, and truly missed.”
Toni Reynolds selected Cheyenne Bellecourt Eagleman. “She tells it like it is. She doesn't care if people get upset with her or not. She fights for Native rights, works with young people, raises her own children as a single parent, and works with numerous other issues. She is very respected and well known.”
Richard Flittie honored Pte San Win. "She is a young Lakota woman who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation and works hard to take care of all the people there who need help. She is raising money for propane and for firewood and continues in her fathers footsteps on the political front for the Lakota people.Things like the Keystone XL pipeline. And she is always supporting and encouraging the carrying on of tradition and ceremony for her people."Please click *here* for the rest of the post.
Jeanne Combo selected Wangari Muta Maathai, who passed away in September of this year. She started the Green Belt Movement in Africa in 1977. She was honored for working with women to improve their livelihoods by increasing their access to resources like firewood for cooking and clean water. "She became a great advocate for better management of natural resources and for sustainability, equity, and justice."
Becka Nan Amos selected Hacha C. Norris. “Hacha is a strong and fearless woman who has taken her own education seriously -- and by this I mean learning truths and concepts the overculture has tried to hide and/or eradicate. She understands deeply the wrongness of the overculture and speaks out about it regularly with her actions as well as her words. I have learned so much from her, especially concerning my own white privilege -- and that's what I respect the most about her -- she's not afraid to call out people on the ways of thinking that we so badly need to change but often cannot even see. She's got guts, and not the greedy kind.”
Hacha C Norris, said, “Debra White Plume, Bertha Gutierrez, Buffy St. Marie, Tom BK Goldtooth, Alex White Plume, Kris Barney, Evo Morales, Subcomandante Marcos, Rigoberta Menchú, and yes all the 'Protestors' (whose names are many) who fight for Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination, truth, justice and an end to capitalist exploitation and plunder of Mother Earth, and those who fight for food, heat, housing, education, jobs, health care and a voice.”
Bertha Gutierrez thanked Hacha C. Norris for selecting her. "I am humbled. All the people you have mentioned are people who inspire me and in no way shape or form do I feel I could fit in their shoes. Thank you for also inspiring me. Mi respeto para ti."
The women of the Blood Reserve are honored who faced off with oil and gas trucks this year in Alberta, Canada. On the southern border, O'odham Ofelia Rivas, and O'odham struggling against border agents and repression are honored. Northern Paiute traditional gatherer Wesley Dick, Kwassuh, is honored for refusing to accept the charges of Nevada Fish and Wildlife, and demanding justice. The longstanding efforts of Western Shoshone Carrie and Mary Dann are also recognized for their decades of struggle for the land and people. Lakotas Kent Lebsock, Debra White Plume and Alex White Plume, are honored for the Owe Aku International Justice Project.
The Navajo and Hopi of Black Mesa are honored who work together in their struggle to protect the land, air and water. Navajo Louise Benally and Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, are honored for speaking out at protests in December against the corporate profiteers, now coopting Arizona legislators, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Phoenix.