January 23, 2018
On Sunday January 21, Portland’s streets were filled by Indigenous women, men, and two-spirited people marching with their allies to honor Indigenous Womxn Warriors, to remember and demand justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, girls and transgender people(#MMIW), to honor the earth and the Water Protectors, and to protest the oppression of Indigenous women throughout the globe, including jailed DAPL activist Red Fawn Fallis and Berta Caceres, environmental justice leader murdered by the Honduran regime.
A year ago, the Portland Women’s March organized many thousands. This year, the Portland Women’s March did not take place. As organizers of the Indigenous Womxn’s March explained on their facebook page,
“Portland’s Woman’s March has NOT been cancelled, it has stepped aside to support in solidarity and to create space for Indigenous Womxn to be seen and heard. Come March with us in SOLIDARITY for the Womxn Warriors who were before us and who are still her paving the path for us to march forward!!! The matriarch will continue taking the streets on our Indigenous lands wearing red.”
In response to this call, more than 700 people, many wearing red, braved a rainy day (which turned sunny as the event began), to engage in an afternoon of ceremony, prayers, dancing and speeches.
Candi Brings Plenty, a two-spirited Portlander who is Oglala Lakota, took the initiative to call for the march and worked with a small committee of Indigenous women to make it happen. The purpose of the event, she said, is to empower all women who are warriors because they lead in their everyday walks of life.
Marchers walked to the Columbia River where a ceremony highlighted the connection between assaults on the earth and on the women water protectors, who have put their bodies on the line.
Jacqueline Keeler, a Native-American journalist and writer, spoke about assaults visited upon Indigenous women in the US who are 2.5 times more likely than white women to be victims. In comparison to other women of color, whose assailants are most likely to be their same race/ethnicity, seventy-five per cent of perpetrators of violence against Native American women are white.
Candi Brings Plenty also called upon the crowd to write Oregon Senators to demand they come out in support of ending all U.S. funding to the Honduran military.
Several speakers addressed the oppression and marginalization of two-spirited people within their Tribal communities and called on allies to support their struggles for change.
Indigenous women played leading parts in some of the marches and rallies held around the country on Saturday. In Seattle, Indigenous Women lead the march. In Chico, CA and Phoenix, AZ marchers also wore red to signal their solidarity with Indigenous Womxn Warriors.
Johanna Brenner is a member of Solidarity in Portland, OR.