Historically, there is no ethnic group in North America more victimized by big business and bad government than its indigenous peoples. Their plight, mostly tucked away and out of sight on reservations, has gone unnoticed by a general population that isn't even sure that Native Americans exist anymore.
It is only now, after the onset of the "Great Recession" in which you and I are getting a taste of what Indigenous peoples have had to bear for literally hundreds of years, that everyone can find good reason to begin to care for each other -- and even fight for each other.
It's Taken Long Enough
Given my experience with the Occupy Movement over time, and before that in working with Native Americans to bring economic development to what is called "Indian Country," that these two would one day have to join forces.
For the Native American, it will be because they are answering the call to be the compelling "Idle No More" movement among indigenous activists against the Keystone XL pipeline. For the rest of us in North America, it will be because we finally heard the call to "Wake the hell up!"
I am not the only person who sees Native Americans as natural allies to join in fighting for economic and social justice. Edward "Ted" Hall's experience in both worlds eclipses mine, and I was fortunate to interview him for my "15 Minutes of Fact" show on WGRNradio.com recently.
Although a non-native, Ted has family members who are Laguna and Hopi and his godfather was Plains Indian. He has worked with tribal nations and participated in their activist projects and worked with Chief Standing Bear, a chief of the intertribal nations since the start of Occupy.
Ted is a supporting organizer of a three-day series of "Lakota Grandmother's" meetings, teach-in's, and a march to the U.N. to take place in NYC April 8-10, 2013.
As for Occupy credentials, he can honestly claim pre-Zuccotti Park experience, having worked earlier with activist groups such as the Free Network Foundation to provide internet, translations and organizing efforts with the Ancampadas leadership of Madrid. Ted facilitated and led the first General Assembly in NYC, helped to draft key documents for Occupy at its inception and led the march dubbed "The Battle of Wall Street."
Ted finds his Occupier and Native American friends to be only now growing in mutual appreciation. As is true in any alliance, there are shared values as well as differences.
Differences Are Subordinated to Shared Values
Both Occupiers and Native Americans honor nature and the sanctity of the land. Occupy shows this is in its fierce opposition to fracking, and Native Americans in their even-more-fierce opposition to both the XL Pipeline and uranium mining. Native Americans claim that both defile their lands and often desecrate sacred spaces. Occupiers feel a similar outrage against fracking and Monsanto for its genetically-modified products.
However this union has come about, its purposes and goals intertwine in this warp-and-woof of activism. In the future this period will be looked back upon as significant for our realization of the need for and power of native and non-native alliances.