AIM Protest Shuts Down Senate

imageJust before 3 PM Monday, as the Senate resumed normal business on  second reading calendar, a group of 5 to 6 people who had patiently waited for the right moment, broke into shouts and unfurled banners and signs bearing symbols of the American Indian Movement, (AIM) condemning what they termed as the genocide of America’s native peoples.

The demonstration stemmed from the previous Senate defeat of SB 170 – Indigenous Peoples Day, sponsored by Senator Jim Dabakis (Democrat -Salt Lake City).

Angry shouts of “You’re on stolen land!,” and “Stop treating us like we’re dead! We’re still here, you know ?!” reverberated along the marbled walls normally reserved for polite and ordered discussion.

There was nothing polite or ordered about this demonstration that lasted several minutes before the disruptors could be led from the chamber gallery and into the hall on the fourth floor of Utah’s capitol building. From there, the noisy procession moved down a flight of stairs and to the same level as the Senate floor itself.

On hand to ensure public safety were several of the Sergeant-at-Arms staff and troopers with the Utah Highway Patrol,

The UHP has powers to police the capitol campus’ uniquely state-maintained jurisdiction.

imageSenate leadership quickly invited the protesters inside the Senate lounge for a closed-door meeting that lasted more than 90 minutes by some accounts and because the media were kept from the private discussions, none of the protesters’ names were obtained or released. Senate business quickly resumed with Senator Ralph Okerlund (Republican – Monroe) taking the President’s gavel. No arrests were made.

Some of the dissidents’ leaders specifically called-out Senator Todd Weiler (Republican – Woods Cross) who spoke and voted against Dabakis’ bill when it was presented last week. That became the basis for the disruption, seemingly a retaliatory move against Weiler and any of the other senators who voted to defeat the measure attempting to honor Utah’s Indigenous People.

During the Senate debate on March 1, it was noted that Utah already did have an “Indigenous People’s Day” on the books, designated as the Monday before Thanksgiving weekend in each November. Senator Dabakis had dismissed the supposed equality of the prior designation by describing the November date as “lesser than a national holiday” when compared to Columbus Day, a holiday observed by schools, banks, and state and federal government. In the ensuing discussion on the bill’s merits, Senator Weiler, speaking in opposition, said that referring to Christopher Columbus as anything but a hero would be “rewriting history.”

In the ensuing discussion on the bill’s merits, Senator Weiler, speaking in opposition, said that referring to Christopher Columbus as anything but a hero would be “rewriting history.”

imageIndigenous peoples in modern-day America have become more politically active and assertive in public policy discussions that have traditionally been the purview of white and male decision makers.

Their activism actually has roots in the protests of the 1960s and 70s at a time when Alcatraz Island was occupied for several weeks. Last October, a tribal coalition sought President Obama’s assistance to designate hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands near “Bears Ears” in South Eastern Utah declared a national monument.

Native American activism comes at a time when Utah’s congressional delegation has introduced their “Public Lands Initiative,” led by Utah Congressman Rob Bishop (Republican) and summarily denounced as “wholly inadequate and insensitive,” patently insufficient to allow for honoring native people’s ancestors by Native American leaders.

8 comments for “AIM Protest Shuts Down Senate

  1. Joy
    March 8, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    How else are the Native American people to be heard? We are a minority and no voice to be heard. Even in the history books of America our tribal stories and tribal history is not written. Senator Weiler and Congressman Bishop choose to turn their eyes and ears to the past history and injustice of the Native American, and specifically of the true Native People of Utah… This land of America was land of the Utes, Navajo, Piutes, Lakotas, Kiowas, Pawnee, Shoshone, and other Native American tribes. Invaded by Christopher Columbus, who thought he was on India, brought the non-indigenious people to this land. And then the whiteman stole and took our lands from us through homestead and other acts of Congress.

    Today the Ute Indian Tribe is fighting to keep our Uncompahgre Reservation .. and Congressman Bishop is spearheading to take our lands from us.. He has chosen to treat us unfair and on terms as less than human, as he has demonstrated in meetings with our Tribal Council and Tribal Attorney’s. Bishop ignorance is shameful and if that is representation of Utah, people had better read the history and treatment of the Native American. We are the ” Proud Utes”…

  2. Donna
    March 8, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    It is time to write the TRUE history, not the fiction that the liars and thieves have shoved down every non questioning American throat since Columbus discovered he had no idea where he really was as history. Why is it when people stand up for what is rightfully theirs it’s called activism and not TRUTH!!

  3. Henri
    March 9, 2016 at 8:43 am

    It is not rewriting history. It is correcting his-story.

  4. Earth-Feather
    March 9, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    In Utah only 60% of the State are Mormons/LDS members. I am a member of the LDS Church. I believe there is one Creator. I have faith in God, who is our Heavenly Father,who is also our Creator and our Brother, Jesus Christ, who is our advocate, and also our mentor. I am the first of my family to become a member of the LDS Church. I believe there are corrupt people in all religions. I am not there to share the negative behaviors of the people of my faith. I am here to help uplift others. Before my mother’s death she had visited the spirit realm. I have also visited the spirit realm. This world is not what it seems to be. There is an unseen fight to be won. Still we are all connected. I believe it is in my destiny to help and advocate for my Indigenous people.

    What brought me to the LDS faith is they believe in the Lamanites, Nephites, Jeridites, and Mulekites People. These are people, like the Lamanite people who came to the Americas before Columbus, and were ordained by God, they are the chosen people, like the descendants of Abraham. Most Mormons believe the Native Americans are from these people, and are blessed by God to bring people closer to God. I also understand that allot of Tribes have been here since the beginning. I believe we are an advanced spiritual nation.

    There is a scripture in the LDS faith, as to the end times. D&C 49:24- “the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.” For this prophecy from the Mormon church to become true, members of the church need to be compassionate towards the Indigenous People. I believe the church may also need to make an amends to our Native American People. To make this Amends, Christopher Columbus Day needs to be Abolished! Also, the Doctrine of Discovery needs to be Rescinded! We are Rising, we are the 7th and 8th fire!

    Christopher Columbus voyage is prophecies in the Book of Mormon. Even so, his ungodly behaviors were not condoned by God. The acts of rap, torture, and enslavement of an Indigenous Tribe where they are brought to extinction, is not okay! Continued oppression of my people, is not okay! We must recognize the past mistakes, make amends, so we will know not to behave, condone, or accept this type of behavior ever again, by any race or nation!

    “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so” (Thomas Jefferson).

  5. Mike Hakes
    March 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    In the Interest of Humanity in this Americas,

    The first world war started in the 1600s when the Pilgrims began the process of murdering woman, children and elder grandparents of the Pequot peoples. This was my gramma’s people (dad’s mom) who I was never told about. Why, to this day is this sacrilegious holiday known as Thanksgiving not shown in the light of the murderous psychopathic (anger, hate, racism… ) that it is.

    You see, the Pilgrims celebrated in the murder of a whole village “while they slept”. Imagine 300 people in your town or city 4 or 5 block neighborhood being killed in their sleep until ALL were dead. You now claim ownership of their homes, cars, bank accounts and everything else and you are not responsible for this act. There is no one to hold you accountable.

    This first incident, that created the Thanksgiving holiday was the reason the europeans then held the belief that the “easiest” thing to do was kill the natives and claim the land. And they called themselves “men of God”. What mental illness aside from being a pure psychopath allows a person to murder and hold it as a “calling of God”.

    Many of our original contracts drawn up by the Early American leaders borrowed immensely (excepting the world where woman had equal rights and all people had equal voice which was in the Native American cultures) from the principles of a Federation as described by the Iroquois people who still Iive here in upstate New York.

    I have (2) two grandmothers that would be considered full blood Native woman. Both have strengths that I do not see in some other cultures living here now. One thing that I do know now after having my DNA tested for markers is that even though I am a strong representative of European ancestry, over 12% of me has markers from Mayan peoples, NW Mexican peoples, Colombian peoples and two separate sections of Brasilian peoples, none of which are european anything.

    If you want a further reference, when I was learning to speak and understand the cherokee that is of my own mother’s peoples, I was writing the syllabary one day while waiting for Taiji to start while working in Canada. I was asked by me teacher what I was doing… I showed her and a few of the other students came over to see what we were discussing and to my amazement, the Cherokee language had MANY words that sound the same as some modern words, some with different meanings, but most with the same or similar implied meanings. And I now have friends who are Cherokee who go to China and can speak Mandarin fairly quickly. NONE of you in this Assembly would understand the importance of this as a direct link to ancient heritage from Asia, some more than 15,000 years ago.

    When you come here and express a “belief” about the history of this place that is called America, you may need to take Moses OUT of the references to WHO actually is the source for your own National Constitution.

    There’s much more to this story, but I hope in today’s world you have the Heart (which is how Natives will judge you) to speak the truth and learn a truth that will open your eyes, minds and souls to a much more fuller expression of what it is to be a Human Being.

    adanvdo
    mch (aka gogv unega)…

  6. John OBrien
    April 18, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Today, 16 states, including Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon, don’t recognize Columbus Day as a public holiday. South Dakota has celebrated Native American Day since 1990.

    Talking about calling into question the honesty of history; when it comes to Christopher Columbus, I have to start by saying “I love you Seattle!”

    Now with that being said I should begin with Christopher Columbus like the written history we were taught in grade school with our little pilgrim hats on reciting “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 14 hundred and 92…. stopping there lets begin with Christopher Columbus was not his real name; it was Cristoforo Colombo.

    Why the United States celebrates this man as “discovering” America and just putting aside the paradox of “discovering” a land that already had a population I am supposing it still all comes down to ones definition of “America”.

    Lets look at his accomplishments for just a minute.. On his 1492 voyage, Chris landed on a number of islands including some in the Bahamas very close to mainland Florida, but as far as I know, no U.S. landfall. On his second voyage, he landed at Hispaniola, Cuba, and Jamaica among others. All great islands; but no mainland U.S. On his third, he named Trinidad and landed in present-day Venezuela. Then, on his fourth, final voyage, he landed at present-day Panama. So, yes, in 1498 and 1502, he did reach the Americas, South and Central America to be exact, but by then he was hardly the first… Even if you discount the fact that people lived in these places all along.

    So what exactly are we celebrating? Sure, Columbus was addicted to opium, but a lot of people were at the time. And, sure he was directly responsible for the enslavement, torture, mutilation and murder of thousands of indigenous people in the Caribbean islands during his quest for riches. And he could be credited for marking the establishment of institutionalized slavery in the West Indies, which, of course, led to a demand for more slaves and eventually hundreds of years of African slave trade… but… I suppose that was par for the course with explorers at the time, so I’ll leave labels up to you. (You may want to add this into the equation.) None of this rhymed with “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 14 hundred and 92…” so of course it was all omitted.

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