Citizens of the six nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and their non-Native supporters joined hands in a flash mob Round Dance of solidarity with the Idle No More movement on Saturday, December 29, bringing drums and songs to the lover level of the Destiny USA mall in Syracuse, New York.
The Haudenosaunee Confederacy, also known by its French name, the Iroquois Confederacy, includes the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora nations. They have lived in the area known as northern New York state and on both sides of the imposed international border between Canada and the United States since time immemorial.
The Round Dance event was organized by members of the Onondaga Nation and drew upwards of 300 people from all of the nations and the surrounding communities. The Syracuse gathering was one of hundreds of Round Dance events and other actions that have spread across Canada, the United States and even beyond to Europe and the Middle East since four First Nations women – Sheelah McLean, Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, and Jessica Gordon – launched the Idle No More movement in mid-December. The movement originally protested the passage by the Canadian legislature of a draconian law that violates treaties and makes it easier for multinational corporations to purchase, exploit and degrade indigenous lands without any consultation, let alone the “free, prior and informed consent” and other requirements of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. But since then it has grown into a peaceful grassroots social justice movement that aims to raise consciousness and understanding of indigenous sovereignty and the urgent need to protect the environment. The movement ultimately seeks to bring about profound social, political and economic change locally and globally.
Idle No More is symbolized by Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence who is on a hunger strike she began on December 10 and has pledged to continue until Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees to meet with her and other indigenous leaders. The Idle No More website reports that Harper posted a tweet saying “mmm. . . bacon” on December 21 when Spence was on the 11th day of her hunger strike.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media are playing a crucial role in spreading the word about Idle No More just as they did in sparking the Arab Spring across certain Middle East countries.
“We are looking for a resolution, not a revolution,” Rob Benedict, a member of the Turtle Clan of the Mohawk Nation who attended the Syracuse Round Dance, told the Post-Standard “The Natives in Canada have laid low and have been kicked around for too long,” Benedict said. ”This movement has lit a fire. We are standing up and saying no more.”