|Loren Red Star from the Ocean Man Reserve listened as his brother Cecil took the lead in a traditional song during an "Idle No More" event at the International Peace Gardens north of Dunseith, North Dakota. The Saskatchewan Native's brother -- along with tribal members from several states and reservations from the U.S. -- pounded and sang several songs in a circle as a "round dance" was being performed at the same time.
The event took place on a cold wintery day but that didn't prevent attendees from showing support for a Native leader from Canada. Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is on a hunger strike until Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with her. Meanwhile, the "Idle No More" movement is spreading across the globe.
The movement has been tackling a particular issue -- Bill C-45. Native advocates claim the bill threatens their treaty rights and many say it would make way for oil companies, nuclear and gas industries to tear up lands already reserved. The movement was started by four women who wanted to find ways to protect the earth, water and the people.
The event that took place on Saturday at North Dakota's northern border crossing came after the coordination of two women who are members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Denise Lajimodiere and Carol Davis created a social media page on Facebook and "Turtle Mt. Peace Garden Round Dance" quickly got responses from a number of tribal communities.
Richard "Braids" Lafrombois, a Turtle Mountain tribal member and spiritual adviser, lead a 300-yard march to the location where the round dance was to be performed. Lafrombois held a eagle staff while others held tribal flags and posters. As the group marched, a half dozen traditional singers sang with hand drums.
The march didn't last long and as the group moved forward it was evident the cold blistery wind stung the faces and ears of many. The group moved past an idling highway patrol car and several parked U.S Custom vehicles parked near border security buildings. At their destination, the group was met by a few other tribal members who joined in the singing and drumming.
Event co-organizer Lajimodere discussed some of the issues being addressed by the movement. She stated: "Everyone support our Canadian relatives."
Carol Davis, another co-organizer, offered tobacco and a prayer to the group. Soon after, participants created a circle and performed a round dance as several traditional songs echoed throughout border crossing area.
The event was peaceful. Traffic was at a minimum. Border staff were nice, supportive and they waved while the group took the 300-yard march back to the starting point of the event. One staff member said: "Thanks! Drive safe now!"
Prime Minister Harper announced last week he would meet with First Nations leaders on Friday, January 11. Chief Spence, who has been pushing for a meeting since last summer, said she will continue her hunger strike until the meeting takes place.
Delvin Cree is a freelance journalist and member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. He is a commentator/contributor to indianz.com and Indian Country Today Media Network. Both national news sources for Indian Country.