Protecting Mother Earth: A Prayer for The Divine Masculine
It’s no news that Indigenous Peoples are under attack. In fact, I know you know that our people have been experiencing attacks for the last 500 years. However, at this point in time, there is a much stronger sense of urgency, namely, because our Earth Mother is burning and day by day capitalism and colonization are making her warmer, more toxic, and less livable. Business as usual is rapidly killing eco-systems, changing the climate, and displacing Indigenous Peoples or prohibiting us from stewarding the lands and waters that we, not only have inherent rights to protect, but also a sacred duty to do so.
It is because of this urgency that in just a matter of days, hundreds of Indigenous Peoples from across the world will gather at the 17th Protecting Mother Earth Conference at the historic Frank’s Landing, within the Nisqually (LSqualli-Absch) Indian Tribe.
Last weekend, I set out on a journey to these Coast Salish lands from Bemidji, MN, where the headquarters of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) are. On this journey, I was accompanied or rather guided by Tom Goldtooth, the Executive Director of IEN, who I have the honor of calling my mentor and elderm (and if we want to be techinical, my boss).
Tom and I travelled across the country with a motley crew: my twenty-something friend, Dylan, a photographer from Dine lands, Chaz, an Oneida man who works with IEN as a tribal liaison, and Govinda, who really needs no introduction but for the sake of it, is a pirate radio expert who’s been standing with Indigenous Peoples as an ally for decades and hosts “Spirit Resistance Radio”, which you may recall from the cold days of Oceti Sakowin.
Together we traversed through various territories; Beginning in Anishinabek lands, then passing through the Dakotas, land to the Lakota, the Hidatsa, the Mandan and Arikara. Then through through Crow, Cheyenne, and Nez Perce lands, until we got to the Puget Sound, land of the Duwamish, Nisqually, and Puyallup to name a few.
As we drove these beautiful yet colonized lands, Tom would guide us and give us the historical context to these territories. Every hundred miles or so, we’d wait eagerly for his voice to come over our walkie-talkie app with rich knowledge of the land and people’s he’s known over the years.
In addition to all these stories of the lands we passed through, Tom also told us stories of where we were going, our destination, Nisqually. He spoke of his dear friend, the late Billy Frank Jr. and what it means for us to be driving to the legendary land where Billy led one of the most significant treaty fights of our time, known as the Fish Wars.
After years of being jailed and criminalized for exercising his inherent rights as a Nisqually person, Billy Frank Jr. and the people of Nisqually took their fight to federal court and after three years of defending the Medicine Creek Treaty, they regained their rights to the Nisqually River and to the salmon. The New York Times refers to this battle as “one of the most far-reaching court decisions in the modern history of (Native) relations”.
The spirit of Billy Frank Jr, the spirit of these Fish Wars, is what Tom, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigenous Climate Action, (the 2nd co-sponsor of PME) and the Nisqually People are evoking for the 17th Protecting Mother Earth Conference. One of Tom’s prayers for this gathering, which has now become my prayer, is that we gather here to honor the work of our ancestors, to learn about these critical treaty fights because at the end of the day, all of our fights are treaty fights: Standing Rock, Bears Ears, the right to protect our sacred places, and the water, the land, and the air, that we need to survive.
The other prayer for this gathering is that, we come here, to the land of the LSqualli-Absch (Nisqually), to the river formed by the glaciers of təqʷuʔɱaʔ (Tahoma), also known as “Mount Rainier”, to heal our spirits, our trauma, our anger, our wars, so that we, as Indigenous Peoples, can work better for our collective survival. We gather here to put our minds together, to become one mind to stand up against the forces that continue to oppress our people, that destroy the ecosystems that we are interdependent with, and the very essence of creation and spirit. We come here, for unity. It’s in this way, that we honor the life of Billy Frank Jr., who was known as the Martin Luther King Jr. of Native activists, for his unwavering empathy and forgiveness, even to those that once jailed him for practicing his fundamental right to hunt, fish, and gather.
Reading this, one may wonder, IGG is supposed to highlight Indigenous womxn, femmes, girls, queer folks. So, what is Jade doing talking about all these men? Well, to answer that, I talk about these men, because we need more men like them. We need men who are committed to protect the land and water. Not in a colonial-territorial way, but in the way that they know, that if they fail to protect and defend Mother Earth, if they don’t stand for the water, if they don’t push against false solutions to climate change, then there will be no salmon, no families, no womxn to led us, no children and so on.
They say the divine masculine is on the rise, that warriors are coming to be, to stand with and for womxn, not over or on. And as I work with Tom and as I hear stories of Billy, I understand this prophecy to be true. So with that in mind, my personal prayer for the Protecting Mother Earth conference, is that toxic masculinity be transformed into harmonious protection, that the demon to conquer and rape be abolished from our souls, and that the illness of othering and disconnecting be forever healed.
To learn more about the Protecting Mother Earth Conference or to attend click here.