American Indian Movement Conference live from San Francisco

American Indian Movement's annual conference live now from San Francisco

 

By Brenda Norrell

Nov. 21, 2015

Photo AIM West 2014 by Brenda Norrell

 

SAN FRANCISCO -- The annual AIM West Conference began today with a memorial for Darrell Standing Elk, Lakota. Standing Elk was honored by his family and friends.

Standing Elk was remembered for his spiritual guidance, his humor, and the warmth of his love that he blanketed on others.

Russell Means, Lakota, was also recognized for his life, one which was like none other.

Standing Elk's daughter Sue also pointed out the missing and murdered Indigenous women. Currently, AIM confounder Dennis Banks' granddaughter Rose Downwind of Minnesota is missing.

The American Indian Movement's West Coast Conference is being livestreamed by Govinda of Earthcycles, today and Sunday, from the conference site on Mission Street in San Francisco.

During the afternoon session on Saturday, Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham, described documenting abuse by the US Border Patrol and the increase in violence by US Border Patrol agents toward Tohono O'odham.

"The Tohono O'odham tribal government has completely surrendered to the US Homeland Security." Wilson said people ask why, if the Tohono O’odham is sovereign, is the US Border Patrol on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

"In Indian country, we are not sovereign nations, we are not even sovereign people,” Wilson said.

Wilson joined the AIM West Conference by telephone from Arizona, along with Meldon Fulwilder, O'otham of Salt River Pima, and David Garcia, Tohono O'odham. They described abuse by the US Border Patrol agents and how new spy towers, surveillance towers of the US government, are under construction across the Tohono O'odham Nation. (Read more of their comments on Censored News at link below.)

During the opening of the two-day conference, AIM West coordinator Tony Gonzales described how Leonard Peltier's artwork was removed in Washington State. Gonzales urged everyone to call the Governor of Washington for the return of Peltier's view to display.

Gonzales also described how FBI agents put pressure on President Clinton not to sign executive clemency for Peltier. Gonzales also pointed out that President Obama is the only one currently who can free Leonard Peltier.

Read more about the removal of Peltier artwork: http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2015/11/fbi-interferes-with-peltier-art-display.html

Rigo 23 of Portugal, whose art installation in San Francisco was a tribute to the imprisoned Lakota activist Leonard Peltier, spoke of Peltier's life and art. Rigo pointed out Hollywood always gets other nationalities to portray American Indians in films.

Rigo described Peltier's love of art and remembered the sacrifice he made when he went to Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in the 1970s.

"Leonard gave up everything he was doing to protect his people from the GOON Squad."

Rigo 23 pointed out that art is a means of maintaining one's sanity.

Michael Flynn of the National Lawyer's Guild read the letter from the Guild urging freedom for Peltier, based on flawed evidence and the lack of a fair trial for Peltier. Peltier is now 71 years old and has spent his life in prison.

Jean Whitehorse, Dine', spoke on the trauma of boarding school and the US sterilization of American Indians, which she was a victim of. She told of the termination and relocation that the US targeted Native Americans with in the ongoing genocide of Native Americans.

Whitehorse spoke of the contaminated water from the recent gold mine spill and the coal fired power plants.

She said Navajo ancestors didn't read or write. They put their "X" on documents hoping for a better life. 

"But it is not."

Whitehorse said she hopes for a better life for the children today on the Navajo Nation, where she encourages culturally relevant children's books. She focuses on the chiefs and those Dine' who made a difference.

Whitehorse said Navajos were only allowed to become citizens because the United States wanted to use the young men to fight the US wars. 

Whitehorse said she came to share the struggle. 

"That's why we are still here."

Speakers shared information on the upcoming UN COP 21, and ways to use social media for justice.

Pennie Opal Plant spoke on the battle against fossil fuels and plans for the upcoming Paris COP 21 summit. Opal Plant described the Indigenous Women's Treaty of North and South, signed in September. Indigenous women said it "marked a historic milestone in the movement for environmental justice and indigenous rights. Indigenous women leaders of the North and South Americas signed a first ever treaty agreement declaring solidarity in the movement to protect Mother Earth from extractive industries."

Watch the AIM West Conference live again on Sunday. Read more from Saturday's speakers:

http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2015/11/live-aim-west-conference-nov-21-22-2015.html

About Brenda Norrell

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 34 years. She is publisher of Censored News, focusing on Indigenous Peoples, human rights and the US border. Censored News was created after Norrell was censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today after serving as a longtime staff reporter. Now censored by the mainstream media, she previously was a staff reporter at numerous American Indian newspapers and a stringer for AP, USA Today and others. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, and then traveled with the Zapatistas. She covered the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

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About Brenda Norrell

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http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Biography

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 34 years. She is publisher of Censored News, focusing on Indigenous Peoples, human rights and the US border. Censored News was created after Norrell was censored, then terminated, by Indian Country Today after serving as a longtime staff reporter. Now censored by the mainstream media, she previously was a staff reporter at numerous American Indian newspapers and a stringer for AP, USA Today and others. She lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, and then traveled with the Zapatistas. She covered the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.