Thursday, May 1, 2014

Reject and Protect

When I realized my family was going to be in DC for this event, I jumped up and down in excitement. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance (CIA!) is a a group of ranchers, farmers, and tribal communities from along the Keystone XL pipeline route. They have joined together in such a meaningful way to protest the pipeline. Over a multi-day event, filled with ceremonies, art and learning about each other, a tipi with fingerprints from hundreds (thousands?) of people was created and donated to the president (nominally), but delivered to the Museum of the American Indian for their use in the future.
Now we've been home for a few days and I still can barely put into words how much it meant to me to participate in this amazing show of unity, respect and hope for the future. 
I will try to walk you through a few pictures, for a tiny glimpse.

On Friday, we arrived at the tipi space set up right on the National Mall. 

We walked to the tent where the tipi was being painted, and the artist, Steve Tamayo, allowed us to help him paint a part of the giant canvas. He explained to us some of the significance of the motifs, and I'll try to paraphrase without too much distortion. The turtle in the center represents respect for the female. The turtle's longevity is something we hope for all women, and its 13 panels on the shell represent 13 lunar cycles in a year.  There are 28 horses, one for each day of each lunar cycle. The big dipper is shown in its spring configuration, which represents the rejuvenation of the earth in spring. The dipper is pouring out blessings. More info on the meanings of the motifs are found at the end of this really great article.

We explored the tipis and the space in general. My children were interested to learn that Native Americans don't wear their traditional clothing on an everyday basis! We looked at the tipis, left our fingerprints on the tipi liner, and then headed to the National Museum of the American Indian and continued to learn about the lives of the first nations today, in the US and other countries.

On Saturday, there was energy in the air! I found groups from Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, besides our own rather sizeable crowd from MA.

The tipi was front and center while prayers from several faith traditions were said. There was music, and inspiring speeches, as the crowd was gearing up to march down to the Museum.

Then the group lined up to walk. Today it was more clear who the Native Americans were ... fascinating to see! The march itself was peaceful, as the whole event had been. It wasn't as much of a rally as it was a ceremonial event. We didn't follow all the way to the museum because the troops were very tired and hungry. Still, I have a feeling I will recall being a part of this for a very long time.



  1. Looks like you had a very meaningful time full of learning. And beautiful sun. Not only a great cause, but a great opportunity for the kiddos. Thanks for sharing!