On January 11, 2013, millions upon millions of people- from Canada to Aoteorea, Chile to Finland, Nigeria to Sri Lanka [and countless other locations]-, united in a worldwide demonstration for Mother Earth and Indigenous sovereignty. In support of the Idle No More movement and Chief Theresa Spence, over 250 different rallies, prayers, meetings, or personal events took place as a part of #J11 Global Action.
While the news and bustling blogs are sure to be filled with pictures of people marching, drumming, singing, and dancing [such as the one above, by Arnell Tailfeathers], one small event took place in the backyard of Covington, Kentucky…..
A Small Event
It had rained the day before and was still raining when we awoke the morning of January 11th, which- albeit being a purifying weather – made things look bleak for the log fire vigil planned for that evening. Not only that, the logs had been sitting outside getting wet, so we were thinking we’d have to abandon the fire for an indoor candle.
Before noontime however, we were pleasantly surprised when a turn of good winds brought clear evaporative skies to the tristate. I remember looking up to eagerly take in the partly cloudy view when I noticed more unusual clouds. Along with the normal white cloud forms, there were clumps of brown, and hazy blue. In the pic to the left you can see one little grey-blue clump passing underneath the natural white clouds. Someone is dumping waste into our skies. This was a timely reminder of why Idle No More is necessary.
Despite worrisome clouds, the day progressed in happy anticipation for the evening’s event. Sooner than later the sun was dipping back behind the horizon leaving in his trail a cool, comfortably breezy night. The sky was mostly clear, a deep blue, and the Dragonfly/Orion constellation shone brightly, high up in the south-eastern sky. It was a good night for a fire.
We brought the wet logs over to the pit, arranged some dry tender and lit it up. It went on for awhile, but the wet logs weren’t burning and the fire dwindled. Now, anyone with good enough sense might have abandoned the pit altogether to save wood, but a thought came to me:
“This fire represents Idle No More, and we are sure to have a good run in with unfavorable conditions; our duty is to keep INM going, no matter what obstacles befall us.”
In this way, I prayed for the fire spirits to come despite wet logs, because it was decided that I would keep it going- if for nothing more than the opportunity to practice persistance. It paid off; we had a raging fire going before long.
We kept the fire burning for 3 hours, using all of our small stock of “wet” logs. This entire time was spent in prayer, with sage (a sacred herb) burning alongside the pit.
The act of keeping a fire going is a symbolic prayer. As mentioned, it turned out to be a good opportunity to practice persistance. But it also envelops a prayer to keep the fire of Idle No More going, and the fire of Chief Theresa Spence going; as well as the fire of all the solidarity hunger strikers and INM demonstrators. It is also a prayer to keep the fire of Mother Earth going. And of utmost importance, it is a plea to keep the fire of all OUR hearts strong, united, aware, persistant, and peaceful.
Finally, the night consumed the fire, and the sage was finished too. We sat for a long time watching the embers burn down, reflecting on what is to come ahead. Whatever is to come, we are determined to be Forever, Idle No More.