Oakland “Flashmob Dance” in Solidarity with Native Rights

On Saturday afternoon, supporters from around Bay Area gathered for a “Flashmob Round Dance” in solidarity with Idle No More at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall in Oakland. Photos by Laura M. Wong.

Round dance participants holding flag of Blackfoot Nation.

The Idle No More movement for indigenous civil rights and environmental protection is quickly spreading across Canada, gaining support from groups in Oakland and across the U.S. and around the world. Last Saturday afternoon, supporters from around the Bay Area gathered for a “Flashmob Round Dance” in solidarity with Idle No More at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall in Oakland. “Please come with your drums, regalia, and songs in honor and prayerful support of Chief Spence and First Nation peoples,” said an announcement for the action on Facebook. “We humbly request that you turn to your elders and ask for their blessing and prayers for the round dance,” the Facebook message said. On Friday, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally agreed under pressure to meet with First Nations’ leaders this week, one month after the nation-wide rallies started. For a movement only several weeks old, Idle No More has tapped into a groundswell of concern across Canada and around the world. The most visible face of indigenous activism is Chief Theresa Spence who has been fasting for the past month in a teepee on a traditional Algonquin island, just across the river from the Canadian Parliament. Chief Spence is continuing her hunger strike until the meeting takes place and all parties commit to substantive change, and Idle No More has likewise stated that they expect actions, not just words. Idle No More is a grassroots movement started by four indigenous women in Saskatchewan to organize teach-ins about the Conservative government’s pending legislation. In early December the Harper government passed a sweeping omnibus budget bill C-45.  which included numerous changes to existing Canadian laws. Most notable is erosion of First Nations’ treaty rights without the full consultation and consent required by the Canadian Constitution and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The bill also changed the Navigable Waters Protection Act, weakening environmental oversight for over a million lakes and rivers and paving the way for pipelines and rapid resource exploitation. .
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