Video of Three Special Talks from the Red Nation Native Liberation Conference

Roxanne and I attended the Red Nation Native Liberation Conference last week in Gallup and the ever-present Andy Fertal videotaped the opening statement of Jennifer Marley and three closing speeches by Brandon Benallie, Nick Estes, and Melanie Yazzie. They were extraordinarily moving. Pour a cup of coffee and spend 30 minutes on these compelling talks on the day before Indigenous People’s Day.

We Need Financial Support.  Before we turn to four remarkable videos that closed the Red Nation’s Native Liberation Conference, I need to ask for your financial support. For almost one-year Retake Our Democracy has continued to produce information and organize events with donations provided at Town Halls and one extremely generous donation. But our monthly costs for the use of 1420 Cerrillos ($125/mo), our website ($225/mo.) and printing costs (about $50/mo.), plus periodic facility rentals, foods and beverage, and equipment like screens, projector, and even clipboards, pens and flip charts, have all piled up and we now are operating at a deficit, with essentially no funds in our Retake bank account. We are asking you to send us a check for whatever you can afford. No, it is not tax-deductible. We remain a 501-c-4 so that we can lobby and so that during elections we can endorse and actively support progressive candidates. That seems a freedom worth the cost of a tax deduction. I hope you agree. Please make checks out to Retake Our Democracy and mail to: Retake Our Democracy, P.O. Box 32464, Santa Fe, 87594. Thanks so much.

Screenshot 2017-10-07 07.49.48Santa Fe Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day on October 9 — A Celebration of Culture and Community.  This year, there will be a free day-long event on Monday, October 9, 2017, at the historic Santa Fe Plaza commemorating and celebrating Santa Fe’s Native American community members, friends and neighbors. The schedule of dances, singing, drumming, and sharing of culture and information on the Plaza for Santa Fe Indigenous Peoples Day 2017 was created with input and recommendations of Tribal Leaders and Tribal Tourism partners. Click here to get to our Events & Opportunities page to find more information on this event including the schedule of dances, presentations, prayers and speakers. You will also find information on other events, actions and opportunities over the next very busy two weeks.

Red Nation Native Liberation Closing Remarks–Brought to You the Day Before Indigenous Peoples Day

A half-dozen Retake activists attended the Red Nation Native Liberation in Gallup last week. Each session was a combination of moving, informative, and infuriating. To hear the stories of these remarkable, articulate and passionate Indigenous leaders was to inspire hope for our future. There is simply no way that I could convey what transpired within those walls, but fortunately we have video that can convey a fraction of what we experienced. The first video is less than a minute and is Jennifer Marley (the woman arrested for battery at the Entrada protest). While short, you will instantly feel the emotional intensity that permeated the entire conference. After Jennifer’s opening, we have two videos of ten minutes each, with the final one the final one by Melanie Yazzie going fifteen minutes. Each is so very worth the time. You weren’t there, but I hope this inspires you as it inspired Roxanne and I.

Jennifer Marley

Brandon Benallie spoke about the history of broken treaties and exploitation that has characterized the history of US-indigenous relations and the courage and dignity with which the Native population has resisted oppression and insisted on justice. Brandon speaks about the importance of leadership in the struggle against capitalism and his willingness to give his life to this movement. It left many in the audience and the panel in tears.

Nick Estes explained the importance of their struggle being independent of the shackles imposed by funders and NGOs and answering to a foundation board and not the people you are seeking to liberate. He makes the case that the funds ‘contributed’ by foundations are largely derived from white profits with stolen land being the source of those profits.  He concludes by placing the indigenous revolution with other international struggles in Palestine, in Africa and in other struggles for liberation. Nick will be in conversation with Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, author of the Indigenous People’s History of the United States, at the Lensic this Wednesday night. Don’t miss it.

Melanie Yazzie got very emotional as she began her talk, but when she got going she laid out quite clearly what transformational movements entail. I hope her words leave you feeling as I felt having heard her say: “You can’t turn back. The struggle claims you as you claim it….The struggle with other people for liberation, it becomes this wholeness within you that lives inside of you, and so your spirit changes.” She ends on such a high, talking about the fierce energy that was ever-present throughout this conference and draws the connection between climate change and indigenous liberation.

Pretty remarkable stuff. I hope you enjoyed hearing from these young, articulate leaders. We owe them much more than we can ever repay.

In solidarity,

Roxanne and Paul


Categories: Indigenous Rights, Social & Racial Justice & Immigration Reform, Uncategorized

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2 replies

  1. At least for me, from where I stood and stand now, as a ‘jew’ who grew up with antisemitism. And for us, ‘white’ people (although Jews are not seen by the ‘real’ (?) whites as white). And as I see myself closer to the original Hebrews/Canaanites, while I recognize that what I really am first is a spec of life and then Human, and then… I believe that, again, as whites who grew up within the euro-American culture, need to first recognize that, for 200+ years, here in the Americas, just like the indigenous peoples, we were also continuously conquered and colonized which is the only reason the highest plutocrats of this nation, and the symbols and institutions created to serve them and thus to enable our continuous colonization, have received and continue to receive our support. Then, by merely being one more set of tools serving the main machine, empire, we continue to enable the imperialistic consciousness to continue to prevail over the democratic one.
    It is time we begin our personal liberation from colonization by learning from what the Red Nation people are doing for themselves and for their brothers and sisters.

  2. Thanks for sharing these with your readers….
    I found the conference incredibly inspiring, especially the youth involvement. It was also very welcoming to all “five-fingered beings”, an intriguing phrase that was used quite often.
    Today, we published two additional videos from the conference. Actually, they are two parts of a presentation made by the Dine/Pueblo Youth Alliance on the impact of fracking in the Eastern Navajo territory. Here are the links:

    This presentation is very timely, and we join Tewa Women United and the San Juan Citizens Alliance in encouraging everyone to post comments to encourage halting the sale of oil and gas leases in the Chaco area. The deadline for comments about the 2018 lease sale is October 20th. For additional information, visit the San Juan Citizen’s Alliance at:;jsessionid=60EA12CB470CFA8789109EEB298C24D9-n4?action_KEY=23335&okay=true

    Andy Fertal

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