Solidarity In Gratitude Elsipogtog First Nation

This video is meant to be a source of support for the Mi’kmaq people of Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, Canada as they resist the illegal occupation of their land and contamination/theft of their natural resources. The drawings and expressions of gratitude by my second grade students evolved from weeks of discussions and lessons that revolved around the natural environment, land, water, Indigenous struggles, issues in our communities and around the world that demonstrate a need for justice. My hope is that the ability to act and recognize the dignity of every human being and the land/water is with my 7yr old second graders for their entire lives. May they forever have compassion and be passionate for this beautiful land (which just does not represent land alone but a way of life, a language, a way of being, a people) and those who are willing to sacrifice their freedom and life defending it.

Solidarity in gratitude,


Joyce 12/2013

Joyce 12/2013

This video features the song ‘They Say’ (featuring Wab Kinew) by Leonard Sumner who graciously gave me permission to use it for this purpose.

We Stand With Elsipogtog via Indigenous Nationhood Movement 

The often ignored facts about Elsipogtog by Chelsea Vowel via Toronto Star

After court loss, Elsipogtog braces for SWN’s return by Jorge Barrera via APTN National News

Crisis In Elsipogtog via Submedia tv 

Elsipogtog anti-fracking struggle: Where to go from here? via Warrior Publications


Words of Indigenous Warriors that Empower, Motivate, and Inspire

I take pride in who we are as Indigenous people, as Indigenous Nations and of the places we originate. We are Native and we make a difference in this world. These are words from our great warriors no longer with us, modern warriors that have passed and words from the warriors of today. These are words gathered to provide a spiritual foundation to empower you to take action, to motivate you as you navigate life’s most challenging pathways, and inspire you to get things done, to take action. I realize that these words of Indigenous warriors can empower, motivate and inspire all people and are not exclusively meant for Indigenous people. However, in most developed or developing countries, Indigenous people are still fighting for the same rights as the dominant population and despite the changes in the way our society has begun to work, we, Indigenous people, still face signficant, in some situations life-threatening challenges when it comes to being heard, asserting our identity, reconnecting to who we are, to our communities and land. That is why it’s important for me to highlight and share these words by Indigenous people as fuel for the fire of resurgence and hope their words empower, motivate and inspire all Indigenous people.

I realize that these words typed on a blog won’t change your life, but they can change your perspective. Because even though we have bad days, life is good. I honor and am truly grateful for the words of Indigenous men and women who understand that life is full of great promise.

***By no means is this meant to be a comprehensive list. It is a gathering of words that have created moments inside me, moments that have magnified my connections to others and reminded me of the timeless support I have as an Indigenous woman. Support that ultimately feeds my reservoir of resilience. At different moments in my life these words have been just the right words to hear or read and encourage me as an Indigenous woman to keep moving forward. These are words that ultimately remind me that my connections run deep into the past and radiate into the future. Please feel free to add to this gathering of words in the comments section.***

A Warrior is the one who can use words so that everyone knows they are part of the same family. A Warrior says what is in the people’s hearts, talks about what the land means to them, brings them together to fight for it.

– Bighorse, Diné

The happiest people I’ve ever met, regardless of their profession, their social standing, or their economic status, are people who are fully engaged in the world around them. The most fulfilled people are those who get up every morning and stand for something larger than themselves. People who care about others, who will extend a helping hand to someone in need or who will speak up about an injustice when they see it.

– Wilma Mankiller, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, OK, 2009 commencement address (quote begins @9:33)

The lands of the planet call to humankind for redemption. But it is a redemption of sanity, not a supernatural reclamation project at the end of history. The planet itself calls to the other living species for relief. Religion cannot be kept within the bounds of sermons and scriptures. It is a force in and of itself and it calls for the integration of lands and peoples in harmonious reality. The lands wait for those who can discern their rhythms. The peculiar genius of each continent—each river valley, the rugged mountains, the placid lakes—all call for relief from the constant burden of exploitation.

The future of humankind lies waiting for those who will come to understand their lives and take up responsibilities to all living things. Who will listen to the trees, the animals and birds, the voices of the places of the land? As the long-for- gotten peoples of respective continents rise and begin to re- claim their ancient heritage, they will discover the meaning of the land of their ancestors. That is when the invaders of the North American continent will finally discover that for this land, God is red.

– Vine Deloria, Jr in God is Red p. 300-301

“At about 5:15 that’s when the tilten trucks rolled in and the S.W.A.T. team came out. There was three of us that just looked at each other… and one of the women said ‘Holy shit they’re here.’ Our instincts kicked in and we said the women have to go to the front, because it’s our obligation to do that, to protect the land, to protect our Mother. And I can remember looking at the faces of the S.W.A.T. team and they were all scared. They were like young babies who had never met something so strong; who had never met a spirit, because we were fighting something without a spirit. There was no thought to it; they were like robots.”

– Ellen Gabriel, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (quote begins @ 2:33)

The reason why we are here gathered around here is to gain consensus, to find out is our traditional way, to find out what each individual wants to do. The reason why we are here, we are all here for each other, we are all here for the water, we are all here for the injustices done against all of our people. What has been happening here hasn’t been right and we’re here to correct this wrong. We’re here to unite as a people. Doesn’t matter where you’re from. We are all treaty people. Our treaties are to protect the settlers and that’s what we’re doing here, we’re protecting them because they are asking for our protection. We’re helping them and they’re helping us. We’re coming together and we’re uniting. This is a beautiful day. It’s a great day to be Indigenous. Look around, it’s a great day to be human. You know. You look at what we accomplished today. We did a lot. Because we united together and we did not separate. The moment the separation started is when we have to come back together and decide what are we going to do as a collective. Because we can’t be running around all over the place. We need to decide together what we want to do. 

-Mi’kmaq Warrior Suzanne Patles via – It’s a Great Day To Be Indigenous

“…We are free, we are independent of the dominating foreign force. We can exist independent of that force if we so chose. We can exercise our creator given inherent sovereignty…”

-Chase Iron Eyes on Last Real Indians (LRI) tribute to Russel Means (quote begins at 3:47)

Think of the woman, how she goes from a child into a woman who is naturally purified and she goes through this life rearing children, teaching men how to nurture and being balanced and then reaches the change of life. She becomes the elder that lives longer than men and has this full woman power. Until you know a woman, you will never know life. So our ceremonies here on this earth are to celebrate womanhood.

– Russel Means on women/matriarchy via Steven Lewis Simpson (quote begins at 3:58)

What is happening to the Blacks in South Africa today has already happened and continues to happen to us here in the Americas. The America holocaust has claimed all but perhaps six million of us in what is now called Canada and the United States. But from Central, south to South America we number all the way from 80 to 100 million. So in building this United Indian Liberation Front we are working realistically toward our liberation and I want to emphasize we have every right to carry on that liberation struggle.

– Vernon Bellecourt, November 23, 1988 (quote begins at 42:03)

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,even a stranger, when in a lonely place.Show respect to all people and grovel to none.When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

– Chief Tecumseh

It does not take many words to tell the truth.

– Chief Sitting Bull

The recovery of the people is tied to the recovery of food, since food itself is medicine; not only for the body, but for the soul, it is the spiritual connection to history, ancestors and the land.

– Winona LaDuke 

This is our land here. This picture you see is our traditional art form, which describes our land and our people that are here. It’s very important to us, because what I want to talk about is our opportunity to be omaa akiing, here on this land — our opportunity to do the right thing. We are the people that can keep our mother from baking. We are the people that can stop them from knocking off the top of big mountains. We are the people that can stop them from rebooting the nuclear industry. We are the people that can do the right thing, and what a great spiritual opportunity that is. So let us be those people. Let us be courageous.

– Winona LaDuke, Ware Lecture, 2010 

Our bodies should be on the land so that our grandchildren have something left to stand upon.

– Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Elsipogtog Everywhere 

The reasons why we have Land (not in an in ownership sense but in a Sovereign Nation sense), Treaties, and that we are even alive is because our ancestors refused to “get with the times”.  What does “get with the times” really mean, anyway?  Does it mean to ignore the Consciousness of our bloodlines that is connected to our land and to identify ourselves with modern day colonial borders?  Does it mean to participate with the abuse of the land by the extraction of resources and adopt same values as the colonist?  Does it simply mean ignoring our indigenous values all together?  Quite honestly, “getting with the times” never made sense to me when it’s used in a counter argument against those who are defending the land and following through in the inherit qualities and values of indigenous consciousness.

The reality is it is time to become the best we can possibly be and follow through with the certainty that we are Nations within a Nation.  Part of that is denouncing the imposed identity that we are Canadian.  My friend Jodi Kechego articulated it well when he stated “My bloodline is inherently separate from Canada in that my ancestors have been here for literally thousands and thousands of years– as opposed three or four generations”.  I support this statement and also add that the Consciousness of who we are has been within our lands since the beginning of time.  We can not forget this.  Our young people have a political responsibility that is very likely to involve the rebelling against a strategic regime and continued agenda of oppression.  Often times this rebelling evokes fear of various flavors.  Fear of what ifs, what others will think, fear of being abandoned, ostracized, fear of repercussions, scolding, and oddly fear of upsetting the oppressor.  In fact, it’s interesting how the oppressed always seem to apologize to the oppressor.  We can connect the dots a million times within our brains and reflect on the reasons our current circumstance is the way it is.  With great honor and respect to our moshums and kokums that are champions of life as they over came the genocide of residential schools– we have to step beyond the confines of our fears cross that line of comfort within ourselves.

– Colby Tootoosis, Canadian Flag Hung Upside Down in a Powwow Grand Entry via Last Real Indians

…It is not simply a matter of dealing with the effects of colonization, which we all agree need to be dealt with. You can’t let people suffer in that regard. We have to look at the fundamentals and we have to recognize that the disconnection from the land is more than just an economic deprivation. The disconnection from the land is more than just a political injustice. The disconnection from the land when Native people are in that situation, they can not be Indigenous. They are prevented from living out the basic responsibilities of their Nation in terms of their original teachings. In terms of what it is to speak as an Indigenous person. What it is to do the things, what it is to be spiritually, culturally connected and to feel like you are actually a human being as Onkwehonwe in our language as a Native person. Unless you are able to live out your culture and have the connection in your own homeland and to relate to that in a meaningful way there’s really no justice in the relationship at all. There really is no justice in that person’s life. 

Taiaiake Alfred on the psychological effects of disposition, 2013 Narrm Oration, The University of Melbourne (quote begins at 23:53)

…education starts with the Native community.  Teaching them “belonging” and “purpose”—our communities used to do that (and still can, if one looks hard enough). See, historically, in order to be considered a member of a Native community, one had to participate in that community.  There weren’t many “non-practicing” tribal members—you had to belong.  If a person did not serve and/or participate in the community’s activities—whether those activities were hunts, religious ceremonies or observing community values—that person would not be a member of the Native community long. How could they?  With very small, very interdependent communities, everyone had to pull their own weight.

If you didn’t, someone else had to carry that weight which put a strain on the entire community.  The community’s survival required everyone to participate. Participation and service equaled “belonging.”

That was part of the value of being a member of a community—that you had protection, many hands with which to make light work, and common values.  But in exchange, you had to offer protection, hands to help make that work light, and common values.  The reciprocal to the “belonging,” was the “purpose” piece.

Our purpose was to contribute to the community. Everyone had an obligation, a duty.  Along with that obligation and duty camepurpose—people knew that the community depended on them and that their work was crucial and vital to the community’s survival.

-Gyasi Ross, Using Tradition to Teach Our Kids Purpose: Mentorship Matters, Part II via ICTMN

You see, it was crucial for European colonialists to paint Natives as aggressors to justify their own violence against the original inhabitants of this land.  While Natives fought against settlers, these battles were waged primarily in self-defense.  America invented the “savage Indian” to subjugate Natives, abrogate Tribe’s sovereign rights, and so they could freely initiate war against them for any reason whatsoever.  As long as Indigenous peoples are consigned to the post of savage, we are the “other,” and those in power can argue that they do not need to follow their own laws when it comes to us.  We are still being forced to deal with the consequences of this “savage” invention.

This column isn’t about whether I took offense to a statement made on a television show.  This is about equality.  To truly benefit from a diverse global society, we must raise public discourse above antiquated race-based language couched in manifest destiny.  Ignorance is no excuse, because Natives are not silent- you’ve only to hear us. 

As far as debate is concerned, read Sun Tzu.  Throw away your race-based terminology and discover the true nature of your adversary, or ally.  Learn about Native history and who we are.  To get respect, you must give it.  This is how you invite us in as intellectual, physical, and spiritual equals.  This is how you might win an argument against me, based on merit alone.  But be warned, I count coup with keystrokes and my arrows are dipped in ink.  Now, who’s the scalp?

– Ruth Hopkins, Of Scalps and Savages: How Colonial Language Enforces Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples via Truthout

To me, Indigenous resurgence means filling Indigenous spaces with the exercise of our socio-political orders from the smallest individual unit to the largest communal grouping. These spaces will not become full with things, but with actions.

Resurgence means building capacity in the most authentic sense: beginning with the individual and spreading out to encompass all of our peoples within a web of interrelated relationships. It is the work of generations, and short-term advances that sacrifice these relationships for economic gain often leak out of our spaces of nationhood. I do not believe that our spaces must be completely filled before we are able to engage in Indigenous nationhood. In fact, unless we engage in action, we will never have hope of filling them. Nationhood is not a final destination it is a process of strengthening relationships—and claiming space.

âpihtawikosisân, Nationhood is a Verb

The current state of global environmental affairs calls for the children of earth to rise to the task of protecting for the health and well being of current and future generations. Regardless of where we live, we all have a roll and responsibility towards seeing to the protection of our first Mother and all her children. The front lines are in fact everywhere. 

– Matt Remle, LRI Call to Action: The Front Lines are Everywhere via Last Real Indians

An awakening of forgiveness and heart talk opened my mind and released years of anguish and frustration. I have learned in order for me to have an understanding of forgiveness, I needed to learn about betrayal. In that process of forgiveness I also found love.

– Renee Holt, The journey to healing begins with the first step via 4 the love of the People

“When we get past these barriers and fences that divide us, we have a lot in common. and so with story telling i believe we can break down the barriers and break down the fences and say walk a mile in my moccassins.” 

Wab Kinew, on Getting Attention for Native Stories via George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight

Viewing this case through a gendered, decolonizing lens shows the historical process by which the Diné were incorporated into the white heteronormative patriarchal American nation. By the 1950s, their transformation as U.S. citizens was also indicated by the adoption of American systems of governance, economics, and social organization. My analysis of the uprising and its aftermath speaks to, first, the erasure of the amount of violence and coercion used to turn Natives into colonial subjects. Secondly, it raises questions about the nature of technologies of surveillance and the institutions used to transform Natives into their own version of heteronormative nations and community. It also gives us pause as Diné and Indigenous peoples about the possibilities for decolonization—in a time when tribal nations and leaders face issues and problems that have a foundation in the legacy of U.S. colonialism, we should take stock and articulate visions about the realization of true sovereignty and what that means for all of our tribal citizens.

Jennifer Denetadale, Indigenous Feminisms, Queer Indigenous Critique, and Settler Colonialism in the Uprising at Beautiful Mountain via First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies

Before this world existed, the holy people made themselves visible
by becoming clouds, sun, moon, trees, bodies of water, thunder
rain, snow, and other aspects of this world we live in. That way,
they said, we would never be alone. So it is possible to talk to them
and pray, no matter where we are and how we feel. Biyázhí daniidlí,
we are their little ones.

Lucy Tapahonso, Remember the Things They Told Us

Being Indigenous today means struggling to reclaim and regenerate one’s relational, place-based existence by challenging the ongoing, destructive forces of colonization. Whether through ceremony or through other ways that Indigenous peoples (re)connect to the natural world, processes of resurgence are often contentious and reflect the spiritual, cultural, economic, social and political scope of the struggle.

Jeff Corntassel, Re-envisioning resurgence: Indigenous pathways to decolonization and sustainable self-determination via Decolonization Indigeneity, Education & Society

“…Allegiance to ‘America’ or ‘Canada’ legitimizes the genocide and colonization of Native peoples upon which these nation-states are founded. By making anti-colonial struggle central to feminist politics, Native women place in question the appropriate form of governance for the world in general.” 

Andrea Smith,  Indigenous Feminism Without Apology via New Socialist, 2006

In the process of struggling against racism white people will discover that there own lives have not been filled with joy or freedom. If they don’t struggle with racism they will never be able to chart their own path to freedom. Their humanity will always be tainted, imprisoned by the horrific lie that “at least my life is not as tragic as ‘others’.I have bent my back to this plough for some decades now. It is Canada’s turn. Look for your complicit silence, look for inequity between yourself and others. Search out the meaning of colonial robbery and figure out how you are going to undo it all. Don’t come to us saying “What can we do to help?” and expect us not to laugh heartily. You need help. You need each and every white person in this country to commend those lone people of colour sticking their necks out and opposing racism where it rears its ugly head. You need to challenge your friends, your family whenever they utter inhuman sentiments about some other race of people.We — I — We will take on the struggle for self-determination and lay the foundation… But so long as your own home needs cleaning, don’t come to mine, broom in hand. Don’t wait for me to jump up, put my back to the plough, whenever racism shows itself. You need to get out there and object, all by yourself.We have worked hard enough for you.

Lee Maracle, Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel

With love and deep respect,


Joyce Ann 12-13-2013

Joyce Ann 12-13-2013


Stories as Weapons of Resurgence & a 2nd Grade Classrooms Act of Solidarity & Support for Elsipogtog First Nation

Our youth must always be free, discussing and exchanging ideas concerned with what is happening throughout the entire world.” – Che Guevara

My second grade students cannot tell you stories about the disorienting, frightening, and utterly devastating aftermath of bombs being dropped in their neighborhoods. They cannot tell you about the sudden disappearance or massacre of entire families. But they can tell you story after story about the sound of a gun being fired in the middle of the night. They can tell you what happens when a bullet is shot through your window and lodges itself in the wall. My second grade students can tell you about the fear they have of being caught in gang crossfire when playing in their neighborhood. They can tell you about the time their dad was sent back to Mexico. They can tell you why they have to live with grandma while their mom or dad works to get clean from drugs. They can tell you how to hang your food in plastic bags on ropes to keep it away from mice and cockroaches. They can tell you about the times they had to run a power cord from the neighbor’s house into their house because they had no electricity.

Every day twenty-one students come to my class and each seven-year-old life is filled with truly powerful stories, heartbreakingly sad stories, and laugh out loud, hilarious stories. Some of their stories may be common and occur in other parts of the world with some variation.

Dad and mom pack up the kids. They want a better life for their children. They move to a new country or to the city. They leave their extended family behind. They struggle to learn English. Dad has to work more than one job so the family can afford a place to live and food. The kids are told that the way to succeed is to learn English and get good grades in school. Mom and dad do all they can to provide a better future for their children encouraging them to assimilate, to be American even in the face of the oppressive and dehumanizing laws of the Western Empire. They do not ever return to their place, their village or their clan. Their human spirits are broken, reshaped, and their ability to question and think for themselves is reduced generation after generation until all memories and dreams no longer exist, wiping away their true identity.

As an Indigenous educator how do I begin to keep the fires of genuine optimism, kindness and what is pure in children lit and safe from the force of imperialism? How do I fuel the fire so the ability to think, create, heal, empower, connect and act is fierce and burns hot?  I don’t want to feed my students the same doctrine I consumed; it only made me uninformed, unimaginative, accepting of the Empire and a consumer of what I was told to consume – dominant ideologies. How do I help my students cling to their stories and their storytellers so that one day they too have the foundation to take a stand, to question and to not just demand the change of the system but destroy the system?

Indigenous grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters organize to protect the land and water in Canada and the United States and across the globe everyday. They have attended teach-ins and lectures, organized and attended rallies and events. They have made multiple posts to Facebook and Tweeted the heck out of Twitter with news of actions, and injustices, in hopes of educating others, bringing global awareness to the struggle of Indigenous Nations and to build solidarity. They are living life as activist. They are activist in their own way. They are living, breathing, transforming, educating, and standing everyday acts of resurgence. They are on the front lines exposed to tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, police batons, police K-9’s, racist trolls, hate, and vile contempt.

I have sat feeling helpless as I’ve watched the struggle at Elsipogtog First Nation unfold. I felt helpless because I was so close yet so far away as grandmothers and grandfathers protested the theft of Diné water and later as Navajo communities organized & continue to organize to save sacred sites. I felt helpless while a Cherokee man’s biological daughter was stolen from him. I’ve felt helpless as Native brothers and sisters stood their ground against white supremacist in North Dakota.

Multiple events in the daily lives of my Indigenous brothers and sisters and I did nothing to show my solidarity. I failed to stand with them. I failed to take ACTION. I am angry. I feel a mix of immense rage and an overwhelming sense of pride as I see the grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, women, men, children willing to sacrifice their lives for their land, water, and ways of being because I know as a Diné woman I need to be making those same sacrifices. I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and quit making excuses. I need to get off my a$$ and put to good use the skills and opportunities I have and ACT, as a Diné woman should, with dignity, honor, strength and wisdom.

As an Indigenous woman, mother and educator I am in a unique position to fuel the fire of resurgence for generations to come. Some of the ways I am trying to serve my students is by expecting them to not be so complacent and unconditionally accepting of the conditions of their own existence. We are constantly talking about the importance of knowing yourself, where you come from and what stories your place holds for you. I share with them stories about the importance of protecting the natural world and the importance of assuming more responsibility in the classroom, in their families and in their communities. I share stories with them. I integrate stories of major issues such as poverty, human rights, and the environment across the curriculum. It helps that my students are asking questions befitting an adult perspective of what is presently occurring in the news, politically, socially, economically and environmentally. I know I have the intellectual capacity to explain to my students with complete honesty the current state of affairs in terms they can understand.

One such story I shared was that of the Mi’kmaq warriors of Elsipogtog and their current stand against destruction of their homeland. The discussion has been ongoing for several weeks, as I have kept up with current affairs through Warrior Publications consistent blog post on the resistance of the Elsipogtog anti-fracking struggle.

What moved me to act with my students was a piece I read written by Dr. Taiaiake Alfred titled – What Does the Land Mean to Us? and the quote he used at the beginning of the piece –

A Warrior is the one who can use words so that everyone knows they are part of the same family. A Warrior says what is in the people’s hearts, talks about what the land means to them, brings them together to fight for it. – Bighorse, Diné

I read Dr. Alfred’s words and wanted to know what connections my students have to the land. We had already spent several weeks discussing struggles occurring for land and water- Belo Monte Dam, Defending the Rivers of the Amazon , Umatilla, Utah Tar Sands Resistance, Tavaputs Plateau, Elsipogtog Frack Off via MsNativeWarrior, Navajo Nation & struggle with Uranium Mining, etc.

So after the discussions we used a Circle Map (Thinking Maps) to brainstorm ideas on – What the land means to us. I asked each student the question and they had to respond in a complete sentence what the land meant to them and record one word onto the circle map. We went around the room as each student responded, explained their reasoning and recorded their word. The next several days we discussed the ways in which people are standing to protect the land and water and actions that we could take. We discussed what it means to stand in solidarity and we discussed the sacrifices that people are making to protect the land and water. I then asked each of my students to draw what the land means to them, write about it and also send words of gratitude to those standing to protect land and water.

As an Indigenous woman, mother, sister, auntie and educator I am at the frontlines fighting for the survival of real stories. Everyday I look down the barrel of the Empires compassion killing, dream killing, hope killing and love killing educational system that advocates and implements imperial policies. I want my second grade students to know that they can help shape the future- and that there is no action too small to show solidarity and stand against corporatist and governments that oppress those at the margins. As an Indigenous woman, mother and educator I want to arm my students with the ability to take constructive action. I want them to be armed with the knowledge that there are other ways of knowing. I want them to know that their words and their stories are powerful weapons of resurgence and are very much apart of who they are. I want them to know there is no time for feeling helpless or sorry for yourself. We have to act.

What the Land Means to Me

What the Land Means to Me

Take a look at my students’ drawings and words of thanks to Elsipogtog First Nation here ->  WhatTheLandMeansToMe_My2ndGradeClass

Student Work

Student Work


Student Work

Scholarship worthy of your time and read:

Preparing teachers of young children to be social justice-oriented educators by Celia Oyler

Indigenizing the academy: Insurgent education and the roles of Indigenous intellectuals by Jeff Corntassel

Contesting the curriculum in the schooling of indigenous children in Australia and the USA: from Eurocentrism to culturally powerful pedagogies by Anne Hickling-Hudson & Robert Ahlquist

Early Childhood Eduction Programs For Indigenous  Children In Canada, Australia and New Zealand: An historical review by Larry Prochner

Indigenous Struggle for Transformation of Education and Schooling by Graham Hingangaroa Smith

Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy in First Nations Education: A Literature Review with Recommendations

Excuse me: who are the first peoples of Canada? A historical analysis of Aboriginal education in Canada then and now by Erica Neegan

Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Alaska Native Ways of Knowing by Ray Barnhardt

Understanding the Earth Systems of Malawi: Ecological Sustainability, Culture, and Place-Based Education by George E. Glasson, Jeffrey A. Frykholm, Ndalapa A. Mhango, & Absalom D. Phiri

A Study on the Role of Native Culture in the Teaching Experiences of American Indian Educational Professionals by

Power and Place: Indian Education in America by Vine Deloria, Jr. and Daniel R. Wildcat

Power and Place: Indian Education in America

Power and Place: Indian Education in America

With love and deep respect,


Joyce 12/2013

Joyce 12/2013

I Was Born Between the Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo Nation…

I was born between the four sacred mountains of the Navajo Nation. When I give thanks, I am forever grateful for being born Diné. There is no one on this earth that can take that from me. Like my ancestors, like my grandmothers before me I will die a Navajo woman. They will RECOGNIZE me and for that I am FOREVER thankful. The earth between the four sacred mountains is my life. It is where I get my strength and ability to live. From a young age I was taught to respect the land and care for it, always. I was taught to live by our Navajo ways and those Navajo ways are higher than any other law. The Navajo way of being for me has always been and is the natural way of being, a natural law. As I get older I better understand the environmental impacts of development on my homeland, and the health impacts on/in my body. With this understanding and knowledge I have come to realize it is my responsibility as a Navajo woman to engage and protect my place, my homeland and my family. As a Navajo woman I am responsible for not only my children but my entire family, my clan, my community, the land, the water, and our ways of being. As an act of resurgence I am learning of the struggles being fought on the ground by Navajos (daily) to reclaim, regenerate our relationships with the land and with each other. I am positioning myself to be better acquainted with the knowledge and needs of my community.  I have begun to make the critical reconnections  to intimately know the needs of my community and of the land and water. I am taking the steps needed to stay tied to my family, my clan, my community so tha I am present, truly present.  So that I am on the land, on Dinétah until the end of my life.  So lest we forget these Navajo struggles & sacrifices (There are many more. I will update this post as time permits):

Addressing Uranium Contamination on the Navajo Nation (Photo Courtesy of )

Addressing Uranium Contamination on the Navajo Nation (Photo Courtesy of )

Studying the effects of Uranium on the Navajo People - Photo courtesy of Four Corners Free Press

Studying the effects of Uranium on the Navajo People – Photo courtesy of Four Corners Free Press –


There are Navajo families that continue to lack piped water and must haul their own water from other sources, most of which are unregulated wells. Many of the water sources have been significantly compromised by chemical, bacteriological and uranium contamination. The contamination of our water sources has been an issue for decades. There have been unprecedented instances of death, cancer, birth defects, and other health related problems due to decades of hap hazard mining (Addressing Uranium Contamination  also see ) Even after the mining boom of 1948 the Navajo people live on as Indigenous people of Dinétah. We continue live by the stories told by our ancestors. We continue to obey the signs shown to us by the land and stories given to us by the land. Navajo like many other Indigenous people have a legacy of resistance. We continue to survive attempts at annihilation and just as the Niłchʼi Diyin  (holy wind) we are a people that is ALIVE and we will prevail even after the celebrations of the colonial government.

Snowbowl pipeline desecration.

Snowbowl pipeline desecration. Photo courtesy of

San Francisco Peaks

San Francisco Peaks


As Navajo people our relationship to land is intimately reflected in the countless stories and majestic landscape of Dinétah. The land itself can summarize our long and rich experience. It is wholly capable of expressing a viewpoint, emphasizing relationable (family & community) cohesion and offers wisdom. The colonial mindset of some of our very own tribal leaders and that of the colonial government is one which continues to attempt to dismember the land from the Navajo people. Their hope is that our seperation from our homeland will result in a breakdown of spiritual values and Navajo ways of being. However, despite political, social, economic and environmental catastrophes the land and our ways of being continue to survive.

Tsoodził (Mt. Taylor) is facing threat of uranium mining by companies such as Roca Honda Resources.

Dook’o’oosłííd (San Francisco Peaks)
 is being desecrated by Arizona Snowbowl’s expansion and treated
sewage snowmaking.

Dibé Ntsaa (Mount Hesperus)
 is threatened by Wildcat Mine which is planning to mine gold, silver, and tellurium.

Dził ná’oodiłii (Huerfano Mesa)
 faces oil and gas drilling including fracking.

Ch’óol’í’í (Governador Knob)
 faces oil and gas drilling including fracking.

: Holy Lands, place of Diné emergence into this world and where, today, multitudes of oil and gas wells extract fossil fuels from the land.

Dził yíjiin (Black Mesa)
 has been desecrated by Peabody since 1960s. Wells and springs have run dry due to mining related pumping of the N Aquifer.

Ch’óóshgai (Chuska Mountains)
 survived more than a century of unsustainable forestry practices, and near deforestation that resulted in the disappearing of springs, medicinal herbs and erosion. It is still in need
of reforestation.

Tsé’naa Na’ní’áhí (Rainbow Bridge )
 Prayer offering sites have been covered by the waters of Lake Powell.

Bidaa (Grand Canyon Confluence)
 is threatened by the Grand Canyon Escalade which plans on building a large scale resort where the Little Colorado & Colorado
rivers meet.
The Colorado River and San Juan River have faced toxic contamination and over use.

(Navajo names of sacred sites and the way in which they are being threatened courtesy of Indigenous Action Media – )


Hwééldi (Navajo Long Walk) - Navajo concentration camp called Bosque Redondo 1863-1868

Hwééldi (Navajo Long Walk) – Navajo concentration camp called Bosque Redondo 1863-1868

Hwééldi (Navajo Long Walk) - Bosque Redondo (Fort Sumner)

Hwééldi (Navajo Long Walk) – Bosque Redondo (Fort Sumner)

Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee provides accounts of the ruthlessness, greed and murderous policies of the United States at Bosque Redondo.

During the autumn, Navahos who had escaped from the Bosque Redondo began returning to their homeland with frightening accounts of what was happening to the people there. It was a wretched land, they said. The soldiers prodded them with bayonets and herded them into adobe-walled compounds where the soldier chiefs were always counting them and putting numbers down in little books. The soldier chiefs promised them clothing and blankets and better food, but their promises were never kept. All the cottonwood and mesquite had been cut down, so that only roots were left for firewood. To shelter themselves from rain and sun they had to dig holes in the sandy ground, and cover and line them with mats of woven grass. They lived like prairie dogs in burrows. With a few tools the soldiers gave them they broke the soil of the Pecos bottomlands and planted grain, but floods and droughts and insects killed the crops, and now everyone was on half-rations. Crowded together as they were, disease had begun to take a toll of the weaker ones. It was a bad place, and although escape was difficult and dangerous under the watchful eyes of the soldiers, many were risking their lives to get away.

And no advocate of Manifest Destiny ever phrased his support of that philosophy more unctuously than he: “The exodus of this whole people from the land of their fathers is not only an interesting but a touching sight. They have fought us gallantly for years on years; they have defended their mountains and their stupendous canyons with a heroism which any people might be proud to emulate; but when, at length, they found it was their destiny, too, as it had been that of their brethren, tribe after tribe, away back toward the rising of the sun, to give way to the insatiable progress of our race, they threw down their arms, and, as brave men entitled to our admiration and respect, have come to us with confidence in our magnanimity, and feeling that we are too powerful and too just a people to repay that confidence with meanness or neglect—feeling that having sacrificed to us their beautiful country, their homes, the associations of their lives, the scenes rendered classic in their traditions, we will not dole out to them a miser’s pittance in return for what they know to be and what we know to be a princely realm.”

When the Bosque’s grain crops failed again in the autumn of 1865, the Army issued the Navahos meal, flour, and bacon which had been condemned as unfit for soldiers to eat. Deaths began to rise again, and so did the number of attempted escapes.