Flagstaff Council Unanimously Supports Indigenous Peoples’ Day Proposal
Flagstaff, AZ — More than 100 community members rallied outside Flagstaff City Hall then filled the council chambers to support a proposal for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. After hearing strong testimony regarding injustices Indigenous community members face, city council members discussed and unanimously supported the proposal brought forth by council member Eva Putzova.
The proposal includes; reviewing a 2012 memorandum of understanding on race relations the City signed with the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, public forums to hear concerns and seek solutions on injustices faced by Indigenous community members, reports and an action plan for policies impacting Indigenous community members. When the process is complete the council will vote on a declaration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day to be recognized on the second Monday of every October.
Daisy Purdy, NAU faculty member and student, read a statement signed by more than 230 Flagstaff residents stating, “We… support the proposed process put forth to Flagstaff City council as a necessary and proper beginning by which the City of Flagstaff will work with Indigenous Peoples impacted by Flagstaff City policies to honor Indigenous histories, respect Indigenous contemporary holistic wellbeing, and work intentionally and diligently for the benefit of future generations of Indigenous Peoples. We… insist these changes are systemic, culturally appropriate, transparent, and implemented through policy actions of the Flagstaff City council.” stated Purdy on behalf of the signatories.
“Conversations about race, racism, traditions… are never easy, but that does not mean it should be avoided.” stated councilmember Coral Evans who compared the challenge to Columbus Day to the removal of the Confederate flag in South Carolina, “What do I think about Indigenous Peoples’ Day? Nikki Haley the governor of South Carolina said on June 22 2015, ‘this is a moment in which we can say that that flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.’ I think the same can and should be said of Columbus Day.” stated Evans.
Radmilla Cody, renowned recording artist, advocate against gender abuse and violence, and former Miss Navajo, thanked councilmember Eva Putzova for introducing the Indigenous Peoples’ Day proposal and stated, “Today, we see the reality Columbus helped to create. We see it here in the border-town of Flagstaff and other border-towns where homelessness, racial profiling, discrimination, racism, and the desecration to sacred sites are clear and evident towards Indigenous people, their lives, intelligence, and lands. By voting on this proposal, you will be on the right side of history and it will be a step towards to having critical discussions in addressing a long history of racism, violence, and the marginalization of Indigenous people.” stated Cody.
“Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a step toward acknowledgement, acceptance, and healing within our community.” stated Lyncia Begay, a lifelong resident of Flagstaff and part of Nihígaal bee Iiná, “Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a chance to return and elevate the confidence of Indigenous People living in Flagstaff. Indigenous Peoples’ Day allows us to openly acknowledge that non-Indigenous residents are living on occupied Diné territory which allows us the historical reality that respects and honors our ancestral roots as they continue on and represent the burgeoning of our return in a place where our ancestral relatives were massacred and displaced upon Flagstaff’s colonization. Something has got to give in a world that tells us we are merely Columbus’ fallout.” said Begay.
“The complexities that exist within communities are often amplified when concerns go unheard and solutions go unrecognized.” stated Adrian Manygoats, Flagstaff resident and Program Coordinator for Native American Business Incubator Network, “The designation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a positive action being presented by Native American people to shift a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historic truths about genocide and oppression of Indigenous people in America. I see this as an opportunity to educate, show support, and to unify this community of Flagstaff. ” stated Manygoats.
“After Indigenous Peoples’ Day is implemented we cannot forget the continuing struggles within Flagstaff, and surrounding areas.” stated Belinda Ayze, Flagstaff resident and student at NAU. “If there are to be changes, the work is ahead for all members of the community.”
Flagstaff Police Department’s Annual Report from 2014 shows that out of 7,379 total arrests, 45% or 3,044 of them were Native American. According to 2010 Census there are 7,704 Indigenous People residing in Flagstaff.
Last year nearly a dozen cities across the US including the entire state of Alaska renamed Columbus Day “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” A partial list of cities that currently celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of October:
California: Berkely, Sebastapool, Santa Cruz & San Fernando
Minnesota: Minneapolis, St. Paul & Grand Rapids
New York: Newstead & Akron
Traverse City, MI
Radmilla Cody‘s full statement:
“Thank you to Councilwoman, Eva Putzova, for introducing the “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” proposal to the Flagstaff City Council.
Columbus set a course for the rape of our mother, The Earth. The rape of our land and women are one and the same. Columbus was the first european male on this continent with the backing of state and religious authority to ignore and even encourage the murder and kidnapping of indigenous women, a terribly prolonged legacy that exists to this day as over 3000 missing and murdered indigenous women cases remain unsolved.
Columbus charted a course of hetero-patriarchy sustained and enforced by violence, an illness that we have sadly inherited.
Today, we see the reality Columbus helped to create. We see it here in the border-town of Flagstaff and other border-towns where homelessness, racial profiling, discrimination, racism, and the desecration to sacred sites (to name a few) are clear and evident towards Indigenous people, their lives, intelligence, and lands.
I see it in my work as an advocate against gender abuse and violence on and off our homelands. The generational and psychological trauma continues to poison healthy relationships between each other and the universe.
For Diné people, we have a system of hope and resilience called Siihasin. Siihasin is enforced by the truth, and that truth is we all have love and compassion for each other. We all desire a life to be lived on our terms and with dignity. We must return to this truth because it exists within all of us.
To the councilors of the City Council of Flagstaff, we believe that you will stand with your indigenous friends and neighbors by voting this proposal through to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. By voting on this proposal, you will be on the right side of history and it will be a step towards to having critical discussions in addressing a long history of racism, violence, and the marginalization of Indigenous people.”
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Indigenous Peoples’ Day of Rage 2022
This is a call for an Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage Against Colonialism on Sunday, October 9, 2022, everywhere.
We heard that mass actions are a bit out of fashion this season & lone wolfs or affinity groups are all the rage.
Counter the spectacle of the “good, respectable Indian” and their mundane celebrations of assimilation. Your ancestors invite you to embrace the veracious criminality of anti-colonial struggle and be smart (don’t get caught).
A banner drop? An attack on colonial symbols, monuments, etc. Spray paint? A broken window here, a burning xxxxxxx there? Be fierce and fabulously unpredictable and strike in the darkest part of the night (points if you use glitter). Even the smallest Indigenous dreams of liberation are greater than the settler nightmares we live everyday.
We won’t be making any lists or asking for emails this year due to a heightened sense for the need of greater security culture. Though we will post any securely and anonymously sent reports and pics in the aftermath.
In the spirit of Jane’s Revenge, abort colonialism. Colonizer (c)laws off our bodies!
– The insurrectionary anti-colonial invisible council of IPDR.
Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage 2021: Action Report
Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage 2021: Action Report
(More pics and info to be added as reports come in)
From up north in so-called Edmonton, AB down to “Tampa, Florida” and spanning Turtle Island from Sacramento, CA to Washington D.C. – resisters everywhere threw down on Sunday, Oct. 10th, 2021 (plus few days before and after) for Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage (Against Colonialism) – Round Two.
We saw banner drops, militant marches, paint attacks on settler institutions, and a lot of discomfort on colonizers faces before the day even began. Apparently, the politicians including mayors of cities hit hard by last year’s IPDoR actions penciled in overtime for their thinning blue lines while members of the clergy peeked out of windows with trepidation as they sat in round-the-clock vigils anticipating their comeuppance. It was indeed a good day to be Indigenous – not so great of a day to be a colonial relic, as evidenced by Washington DC’s statue of the infamous genocidal maniac Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park which had “EXPECT US” spray painted on its base in reference to the classic slogan of Indigenous resistance, “Respect us or expect us.”
As monuments to colonizers around the globe have been vandalized, smashed, and/or ceremoniously thrown into rivers over the past couple years – it was great to see Andrew Jackson inducted into the club! Along with the Columbus statue in Tampa, FL and Abraham Lincoln’s statue in so-called Bennington, Vermont (not pictured).
The rubble that is the 3rd Precinct, burned to the ground in last years George Floyd protests, was decorated with an “Avenge Indigenous Children” banner to acknowledge the thousands of lives lost in boarding schools and residential schools across the continent during late 1800’s through mid-1900’s.
The Southwest saw militant marches demanding No More Stolen Sisters on behalf of the MMIWG2ST campaign and a rally calling out the mascotization of Native images used by a long-time racist ass business in Durango, CO. In occupied Kinłani (“Flagstaff, Arizona”), a rally and march led to the shutting down of major intersections for a radical round dance that ensnarled traffic. A colonial statue was vandalized and smoke devices were set off throughout the downtown for some anti-colonial mayhem.
Meanwhile, over on the West Coast, freeway overpasses hosted banner drops from occupied California and up through KKKanada. Folx in occupied San Rafael demanded that the city drop the charges of Protectors/Defenders (check out https://ip5solidarity.org/) while roadways in Sacramento declared “Columbus Was Lost,” “Indigenous Sovereignty NOW!” and, “No Justice on Stolen Land!” Our relatives to the north, in Amiskwaciwaskahikan (“Edmonton, Alberta”) reminded drivers that there is “No Pride in Genocide.”
Speaking of stolen land, this year seemed to hold one very resounding cry. Whether it was splashed across barriers in public spaces of so-called Las Vegas, Nevada, or etched brazenly on a wall under the gaze of the ever-present eyeball surveilling “Asheville, North Carolina’s” city hall, done in the colorful handstyle in a more urban setting as submitted by anonymous, or dressed up with the good ol’ circle A in flat black out on Diné Bikeyah (“The Navajo Nation”) – the writing on the wall is clear: LAND BACK.
Signage at colonial institutions were not spared. In Portland, OR, Lewis & Clark College had “CHANGE NAME” not so subtly suggested. And the recently opened Tesla dealership and service station in Nambe Pueblo, NM didn’t escape the rage at the betrayal of the Pueblo’s decision to climb in bed with Elon Musk and become green capitalists.
Understandably, there were many other actions that went down that couldn’t or wouldn’t be documented, such as sabotaged rail lines in the so-called Pacific NorthWest, excavators threatening sacred lands in the “Midwest” that were rendered useless, the Catholic Church in “Denver, Colorado” that allegedly had their truths displayed for the world to see with bright red paint on their walls, and the relatives up in “Portland, Oregon” who struck like ghosts in the night, leaving only the footage of clean up crews sweeping up glass and colonial tears the following day in their wake. Some of the strongest statements are made quietly, as some of our actions have become a silent warcry–an ever present threat–making colonizers clutch their pearls and pocketbooks, in recognition of an Indigenous resistance that is alive, untamed claws-out, rabid and growing. It cannot be neatly confined to one designated calendar day, our anti-colonial agitation is year-round and we celebrate that ANY WAY we damn well please.
This year the justifications for our rage felt more acute, particularly in the so-called US with the colonial authority proclaiming “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” We’ve seen the farce of this politics of recognition for what it is and this is why we rage; to undermine their co-optation and white/redwashing. We emphasized that arrests weren’t the point this year especially considering how performative Non-Violent Direct Actions have fed so many of our people into the hands of the police state. We don’t want our people and accomplices locked up ever, especially during a pandemic. We’re not out to beg politicians, negotiate treaties, and we will not make concessions – we fight for total liberation. To radicalize, inspire, empower and attack – this is what anti-colonial struggle looks like and we are everywhere.
With Love & Rage –
May the bridges we burn together light our way.
Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage Round Two – Kinłani Report Back
Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage Round Two – Kinłani Report Back
As the sun set on Sunday, Oct. 11 a crowd of Indigenous folx and accomplices gathered outside Flagstaff City Hall and pitched three tents for unsheltered relatives. The cops came to intimidate but no-one from what we could see was listening to whatever it was they were attempting to convey.
A contingent of a liberal Indigenous group called “Indigenous Circle of Flagstaff” attempted to communicate what the police could not. Something about “change coming from policy,” about not wanting something “bad” to happen to the demonstrators. There was some sort of debate but we weren’t close enough to hear what was happening and decided to ignore the clear attempt at movement policing. After all, the night was emerging and we weren’t there to debate hang-around-the-fort Natives.
A jail support number was shared with the message that “We’re not here because we want any more of our people locked up in the system. Our plan is not to get arrested and if they try, to make sure we don’t let that happen.” Some words were said on a megaphone but we’ve learned to tune that frequency out after years of marching, somehow the megaphone ends up in the same hands and our ears are tired of the cheer-leading.
A bright orange banner led the way with the words “Avenge Indigenous Children” referencing the brutal legacy of boarding school violence that has resurfaced with powerful calls for accountability throughout the so-called US and KKKanada. The crowd started a quick march on the sidewalk. Cops on bikes tried to heard us but we were swift. We pushed passed them and quickly with a chant of “Whose streets? Our streets. Whose land? Native land” took the intersection of Route 66 and San Francisco St., which is the busiest intersection in the downtown area. Cop cars rushed around. Traffic downtown was fully stopped. The drummer started a round dance song, and at first it seemed some of us weren’t sure do dance or stand there with banners. But we took our time. The beat was steady and echoed off the walls of this colonial settlement that our great grandparents are older than. Banners reading, “Colonialism is a Plague,” “Indigenous Resistance,” “Land Back,” and many others were carried in the dance that was held for about 20 minutes or so. At some point the crowd gathered around an obnoxious and controversial statue of a white railroad worker (which obscures the reality of forced Chinese labor and the advancement of waves of colonial invaders via the rail system).
The statue was enhanced with red paint. Some in the crowd used banners to provide tactical cover then moved on. Cops followed and tried to get ahead of the crowd. A series of massive smoke devices were set off by someone. The streets of downtown “Flagstaff” looked overrun by angry ancestors emerging from the smoke chanting “Fuck Columbus, fuck the police!” It felt like the nightmares of colonizers coming to haunt the futures they have stolen. By pumping millions of gallons of recycled shit water on the sacred San Francisco Peaks. By attacking Indigenous unsheltered relatives and leaving them to freeze in the winter months. By arresting what amounts to half the Indigenous population every year. By doing absolutely nothing when Indigenous womxn have gone missing or were murdered, Vanessa Lee. Ariel Bryant. Nicole Joe. We screamed their names and asserted our rage. We weren’t there to debate, plead, or negotiate as the pacified Natives who tried to make rooms in their chains for us. We were there to celebrate our dignified rage (as the Zapatistas have so beautifully named this anger that is a powerful component of the centuries of resistance against colonialism). Another busy intersection was taken and a round dance ensued. Some colonizers yelled something and we’re quickly told to “Fuck off.” There was a moment when the marching stopped in a central part of downtown, a relative who had been there every fierce step of the way spoke, (pieces of her words from memory here): “Ariel Bryant was my best friend. She went missing and the cops told me not to look for her. She was found dead and nothing has been done. I’m here for all missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans, and two-spirit relatives.” Another relative who said they were from Tsé Bit’ a’í spoke about a Diné elder named Ella Mae Begay who has been missing for months now. “No one is taking this seriously except her family and some community members.” They said stepping out into the streets to rage for missing relatives was a powerful experience. Last year there were more numbers out (less people due to protest burnout? Fuck activists anyways). But this year the spirit and fire was just as fierce. We had friends not come out ‘cause they got cases. We had other friends who just are done with protesting and focus on direct underground actions. (Which we were inspired to see the colorful redecorating occurring in other spaces throughout the town).
Overall the politicians, cops, settlers, and sellouts were all afraid of how fragile the facade of their colonial structures really are. The officially recognized and formal Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamations and “celebrations” lets them off the hook for accountability and the reckoning that is long overdue. Sometimes its the alchemy of catharsis that keeps us going through the despair of colonially induced trauma and the spiritual and physical brutality we (and the land which also hold trauma) face everyday. What we felt was healing. What we felt was anti-colonial struggle. When monuments (and the systems of violence that uphold them) fall, our people can only come up. Let’s tear them all fucking down. Fuck movement police and “Indian scouts.” Fuck Biden’s proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
– An anonymous hashké Diné
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