On Jan. 18, indigenous people from all over the world traveled to Washington, D.C. to make their voices heard and their presence
The march shed light on what it meant to be indigenous. Organizers said that being indigenous doesn’t just include Native Americans and Indian Country, but it also encompasses those native to South America, Australia, New Zealand, and other places around the world.
Kelly Holmes, founder of Native Max Magazine, told The Final Call Newspaper, “We all go through the same issues, and yet we all share the same passions, traditions, lifestyles … our cultures are so similar. We’re able to really connect with each other. It will bring the focus that hey, there are different indigenous people. We’re all from different groups and tribes and territories and nations.”
The Indigenous Peoples March was organized by the Indigenous Peoples Movement coalition, which is comprised of members of several indigenous tribes, nations and groups from around the world. Some of the main issues the march focused on was indigenous land, water, poverty, health disparities and other pressing issues that many indigenous communities face.
One big issue that was addressed was the alarming rate at which Native women and children are going missing. According to the Associated Press, “at the end of 2017, Native Americans and Alaska Natives made up 1.8 percent of ongoing missing cases in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database, even though they represent 0.8 percent of the U.S. population.”
One part of the march that was covered by the news was an incident that took place, where White male students, some of whom were wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ caps, allegedly harassed an older indigenous man who was beating an instrument and singing.
In fact, an opinion writer for CBC News asserted that the core purpose for the march was overshadowed by the “display of White privilege.”
“The boys from Covington Catholic High School were there to take part in the March for Life anti-abortion protest,” wrote Doug Cuthand. “They ran into a small fringe group calling themselves the ‘Black Hebrew Israelites’ who hurled insults at passersby, including both the Covington boys and participants in the Indigenous Peoples March. Rather than ignore them, the Covington boys confronted them. Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and a former Marine veteran, positioned himself between the two groups and sang the American Indian Movement honour song. Phillips’ action was in response to the developing confrontation and the need to defuse it. He drew the attention of the Covington students to himself and the resulting display of white privilege was the result.”
Social media quickly blew up due to the incident, and many people had much to say concerning it.
Despite the incident, march organizers didn’t allowed it to deter them from their purpose for being there, or the causes that they’re standing for.
Just like a few other marches, this march wasn’t just about the day, but it was also about the efforts that will be put into place to end violence, systemic racism and other issues in the future.