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Peacekeeping for Indigenous Women at the Women’s March

At the Women’s March this January I was part of a contingent of “peacekeepers” for the “Indigenous Women’s March for Missing and Murdered Women,” which led the entire Women’s March in Seattle (Washington, USA). The “peacekeepers” were organized by the Frontline Allies group of 350 Seattle. [350 Seattle is part of the international movement 350.org that works to stop climate change.]

I joined 350 Seattle more than four years ago as part of a United to End Racism project to take what we know in RC, especially about racism and other oppressions, into predominantly white environmental groups. I chose 350 Seattle because I had a lot of respect for their work. For four years I have tried different things to introduce our work on racism.

About two years ago some of us in 350 Seattle formed a “workgroup” called “Frontline Allies,” to address racism within 350 and improve our allyship with groups of People of the Global Majority and Indigenous people. Our workgroup takes ten minutes at each monthly 350 Seattle meeting to address racism and being allies. We have also done trainings, consulted with other 350 Seattle workgroups, asked People of the Global Majority and Indigenous groups how we can support their work, and more.

Because of relationships we have built, the organizer of the Indigenous Women’s March asked 350 Seattle to provide security for them at the Women’s March. (In 350 we have lots of experience with direct action.)

About thirty-five of us, mostly women, became “peacekeepers” who “held space” for the Indigenous women at the rally and during the march. We made sure that no one moved in front of them as they led us through the streets of Seattle. We also formed a line at the back of their contingent to prevent people from pushing into it (about two hundred and fifty Indigenous people marched). By telling people, over and over, that the Indigenous women were leading, and asking them to step out of their space and join the march behind them, we were able to hold the space for the duration of the march.

The Indigenous women were powerful. They sang, chanted, and drummed as we marched. Every time the march stopped, they spoke loudly to the crowds about the murdered and missing Indigenous women. (Indigenous women are missing and murdered at a rate ten times that of the general population.) It was perfect that they were leading all women of Seattle, the historic land of many tribes—Duwamish and other coastal Salish people—represented in the march.

Diane Shisk

Seattle, Washington, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women

(Present Time 191, April 2018)


Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00