Indigenous Heroes 2012
Indigenous Heroes 2012 with Tribute to Russell Means
By Brenda Norrell
Photo Idle No More Mohawks Tyendinaga Rail Blockade
The Indigenous heroes for 2012 selected by Censored News readers are Debra and Alex White Plume, Lakotas, Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota, Anna Rondon, Dine’, Lehman Brightman, Lakota, Wanbli Gleska Tokahe, Lakota, Shannon Francis, Hopi-Dine’, Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabe, Klee Benally, Dine’, and Dine’ fighting the Confluence tourism development and theft of water rights on Navajoland.
Russell Means, Lakota, was honored as Warrior of the Year, for his lifetime of fighting for the people. Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O’odham on the US/Mexico border, and Louise Benally, Dine’ from Big Mountain, are honored for their lifetimes of fighting the good fights.
The Native writers and publishers of the year are Kahentinetha at Mohawk Nation News and Klee Benally and the Native youth media team at Indigenous Action Media. Simon Ortiz, Acoma Pueblo poet, author and professor, was honored for his encouragement to Native American youths and battle against banned books. Monique Verdin, Houma Indian, is filmmaker of the year for "Louisiana Love," about returning home, Hurricane Katrina, and survival. Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Lakota from Cheyenne River, host of First Voices Indigenous Radio is honored as radio host of the year.
Grassroots journalists were celebrated globally and the rise of the Idle No More movement, which was originated by First Nation women in Canada. The struggle of Yaquis in Vicam Pueblo, Sonora, Mexico, protecting their water rights was recognized in the forefront of actions. Indigenous Peoples tortured and assassinated by mining companies in Guatemala and globally were remembered. Mapuche fighting for Indigenous rights in Chile were honored.
The Zapatistas were honored as they marched out of the mountains in silence as one cycle of the Mayan calendar ended and another began.
Cristala Mussato-Allen honored Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota of Last Real Indians, and Anna Rondon, Dine’ fighting for green energy. “Chase Iron Eyes for starting the movement to buy back Pe'Sla! Anna Rondon! She works so hard and kudos to her. She never promotes herself.”
Dine' honored fellow Navajos fighting to protect land, water and sacred places. Nae Yellowhorse honored the women of the Confluence, fighting the Escalade tourism development on the Navajo Nation at the Grand Canyon. Ed Becenti, Dine’, honored the Navajo grassroots people who halted the theft of Navajo water rights and S. 2109. Dine' honored fellow Dine' whose continual protests by the grassroots movements halted the theft of Navajo rights to the Little Colorado River, and schemes by Arizona Congressmen Jon Kyl and John McCain, US Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and corrupt tribal politicians and non-Indian attorneys.
Quanah Parker Brightman honored his father Lehman Brightman, the founder of United Native Americans, as hero of the year, who has been ill this year. Wanbli Gleska Tokahe, Lakota of Rosebud, S.D, and Shannon Francis, Hopi-Dine’who lives in Denver, were recognized for their efforts for the people. Winona LaDuke's Honor the Earth was honored as it continues the celebration of Indigenous women, sustainable agriculture and Indigenous rights. Kris Barney, Dine', was honored for walking for the people and promoting Native farming.
Kandi Mossett, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara in North Dakota, was recognized as a voice for Indigenous youths fighting fracking and oil and gas drilling on Indian lands. The Tarsands Blockade blockaders in east Texas was honored for blockading, and going to jail, to fight the southern route of the Keystone XL tarsands pipeline. Readers appreciated the efforts of Govinda at Earthcycles for his live broadcasts, and creation of grassroots Native radio stations in the US and BC. Special thanks went to French translator Chris Prat. Jackson Browne is recognized for headlining a concert for Leonard Peltier. Daryl Hannah is honored for her arrest and support of Lakotas, and east Texas farmers, against the tarsands pipeline.
Debra and Alex White Plume, Lakota of Owe Aku International, are honored for their work maintaining the traditions of the people and their efforts with Lakota youths. They were arrested this year blocking the tarsands trucks on Pine Ridge in South Dakota. Debra White Plume was also Censored News Indigenous Woman of the Year 2011. At the United Nations, Alex White Plume, one of the organizers of the Bigfoot Ride, voiced the necessity of UN representatives that speak their own language and truly represent their grassroots people.
Writing on sacred water, Debra White Plume said, “The precious drinking water supply of the Oglala Lakota people will be overlapped more than a few times if TransCanada gets its way and the US State Department approves its second attempt to get a permit to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.” http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/10/video-lakota-sacred-water-teach-in...
Musician Sixto Rodriguez, and the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, are honored for revealing truth about the music industry.
Honoring Russell Means
It is impossible to summarize the life of Russell Means in a few words. During the 30 years that I knew Russell, he was always fair and was a compass for what really mattered. Those memorable moments included his tackling the BIA superintendent on Navajoland during a citizen’s arrest in Window Rock, Ariz. and his arrests at the Denver Columbus Day protests. Another is when he stood on the banks of the Missouri River in South Dakota with other Lakota and Ponca and told the Lewis and Clark Expedition to halt and turn around.
From the occupation of Wounded Knee to his clear-sighted support for Palestine, Russell cut a singular path. With his vision of the future for Indigenous Peoples, and the knowledge of the US mandated agenda of genocide, Russell was never immobilized by criticism, and instead instilled courage, boldness and fearlessness in Indian people around the world.
Cutting that singular path where few fear to tread, Russell promoted the Lakotah Republic, and in the end, efforts that surely rattled the US government with the move toward sovereign control of Lakota territory and Indian owned banks.
Here are some of Russell’s final e-mails.
Russell asked to share these words, from “Counting Coup, Lakota citizens stop US helicopters from landing at Wounded Knee.”
Russell said, “We the Lakotah People, do not want our massacred dead bodies of Men, Women and Children at the mass grave at Wounded Knee used for publicity by the United States Government nor their colonial corporation, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Government. On May 1, 2010, two young men, the Camp brothers counted coup on the first 7th Cavalry helicopter and Debbie White Plume, an elder and grandmother who charged the second helicopter preventing it from landing. By running under the blades and touching them without harming the enemy and getting away is how the Lakotah counted coup on this eventful day.”
Pointing out their importance of halting the ruin from mining, power plants and destructive development, Russell asked to share these articles on the Protection of Mother Earth and Climate Change, and support for the efforts of Bolivian President Evo Morales.
“This is what Tribal Councils should be doing as well,” Russell said of this article in the Guardian: "'Indigenous thinking can solve climate crises,' says Bolivia's foreign minister."
Russell also asked to share this article: “UN document would give Mother Earth same rights as humans.”
Proving that criticism from within or without would not rankle him, Russell defended the rights of Palestinians and drew the parallel with American Indians.
“Every policy the Palestinians are now enduring was practiced on the American Indian,” Means said.
“What the American Indian Movement says is that the American Indians are the Palestinians of the United States, and the Palestinians are the American Indians of the Middle East." Further, he points out that the Zionists who control Israel now control the United States. “The power of the US in world politics diminishes every day.”
During one of his final global interviews, Russell was on Aljazeera. Listen to his words:
Russell lives on in his writings, his lifetime of actions, in his family and the people whose lives he touched around the world.
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