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Idle No More Supporters Round Dance at Azteca Mexica New Year Celebration in San Jose
Supporters of the Idle No More movement participated in a round dance during the final day of the Azteca Mexica New Year Ceremony and Celebration on March 17 at Emma Prusch Park in San Jose. "We have been using these round dances to call attention to our Earth, and to the call for fighting the corporations, fighting our government, and to protect this Earth as Indigenous people," Lakota Harden said to the group before the round dance began.
The celebration is hosted by Calpulli Tonalehqueh, and according to their website it is the largest Azteca Mexica New Year Ceremony held nationally.
The ceremonial area was outlined with vendors, and the public advocacy tables represented very serious topics. Many of the crafts booths featured politically themed items for sale. One booth was dedicated to the freeing of Leonard Peltier, and the Latino Labor Caucus was present.
The San Jose Black Berets, who helped with some of the logistics of the celebration, had a table. Wounded Knee DeOcampo was also present, tabling for SSP&RIT, an organization dedicated to the protection of sacred sites and the rights of Indigenous tribes. Wounded Knee also spoke at one of the many conferences held outside of the ceremonial area.
Idle No More supporter Lakota Harden described many aspects of the round dance that hold significance for Indigenous peoples, and how the songs they sing were tied to resistance efforts when Native Americans were first encountering calvaries of settlers.
The songs also serve as a way to honor the Earth, she said.
"These songs, we use them we say thank you with these songs," Harden explained.
"I want to thank all the dancers before, all day, the last two days, praying for that water, praying for this Earth."
Approximately 200 people joined in the round dance, with many more looking on. The ceremonial area of the Azteca Mexica New Year celebration was opened up to everyone who wanted to participate in what Lakota Harden described as also being a friendship dance.
"That energy from Grandmother Earth comes up through our feet and to our heart, and it is our way of saying thank you to her as well. So you are welcome to join us. This is a friendship dance, it has become universal, where you just come and dance to the beat," Harden said.
In Canada, where the Idle No More movement began, the significance of the round dance is also framed by it's context in history. Not so long ago the dance was outlawed by the Canadian government, and as members of First Nations hold Idle No More round dances in Canada, for many it is in their recent memory that they were once prohibited to do so.
Supporters of the Idle No More movement advocate for the application of Indigenous knowledge to contemporary legislation that governs the environment, as well as legislation that affects Indigenous sovereignty and land rights issues.
"There is another way. We have lived another way for thousands of years, in harmony with our Mother Earth and all living things, and we do not need to destroy them to survive," speaker Paul Flores said before the round dance began.
"That's what we are doing here today. We are showing you our beautiful culture, our way of life. Our life is scared, and it is in prayer, and so today we send out prayers to all of those who know about Idle No More. It started in Canada but it is not just a Canadian movement, it is an Earth movement, a movement for humanity," Flores said.
The theme of this year's Azteca Mexica New Year Celebration of Ce Calli, or "One House," and organizers of the Idle No More round dance noted in their event announcement that, "The Prophecy of the 'Eagle and Condor' is only becoming stronger."
The prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor has been recalled by Indigenous elders in North, South, and Central America, and the different expressions of it all for-tell the spiritual unification of Indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere.
The Condor corresponds to a Southern geography and represents the heart, the intuitive and the mystical, while the Eagle corresponds to the North and represents the brain, the rational, and the material. Many Indigenous activists interpret the prophecy in terms of today's modern, corporate world where the material nature of corporatism has taken precedent over the mystical in society. Supporters of Idle No More note that the movement has united Indigenous people politically and spiritually across the globe.
Idle No More, Flores said, "is a movement that has spread across the world, across the entire Earth. People are coming together and standing up to say enough is enough," He went on to point to specific environmental issues that are uniting Indigenous people globally.
"Right now they are trying to damn the Amazon River. They are cutting down the rain forest. They are mining in Canada, leaving toxic lakes so big that you can see it from satellite. These toxic lakes are so chemically diverse that there is no chemical known to man that can neutralize these toxins. So that entire plot of land is now waste, toxic waste, and they are doing this for oil. That oil is going to be transfered all the way through Canada by the Keystone XL pipeline," Flores said.
"They are doing this right through our native territory, through Indian land. They are doing it through Mexica land, and it's not for us, it's for the corporate leaders who are sucking this Earth dry for money, and Idle No More is about all native people from all over the world, from the Maori people of New Zealand, to our Hawaiian brothers and sisters, to the Mexica, from Spain, to Italy, to Europe, we have supporters for Idle No More, and what we are saying is enough is enough.
For more information about Idle No More, see the official website:
For further reading about the Idle No More movement, see:
Lakota Harden and Paul Flores speak before the round dance in support of Idle No More.
After the round dance, Idle No More supporters sing the American Indian Movement anthem.
Wounded Knee DeOcampo at the SSP&RIT Table.
Wounded Knee DeOcampo at the SSP&RIT Table
Henry Dominguez in front of the San Jose Black Beret table.
Spiritual Walks - San Jose Black Beret Table
San Jose Black Beret Table
Free Leonard Peltier Table
Founding Fathers - Homeland Security
Warrior - Insurgente - You Are On Indian Land
Veggielution Community Farm is located at the park.
National Hispanic University
Portraits by David Mejia
Azteca Mexica New Year - Vending