My husband and I were honored to attend a dinner titled Toward a FutureLand: Ceremony To Honor the Land and Welcome the FutureBuilders hosted by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College. The Center brought together an astonishing collection of people from around the world who are engaged in global struggles for land, examining the commodities and consumption of space as well as the reach and watch of colonial and corporate power. They welcomed conference participants and representatives from:
- Associacion National De Afrocolombianos Desplazados (AFRODES)– Bogota Columbia
- Black Oaks Center for Sustainable and Renewable Living– Chicago, IL
- Consejo Nacional Urbano y Campesino (CNUC)– Chicago, IL
- Dalia Association– Palestine
- Defend Boyle Heights– Los Angeles, CA
- Detroit Black Food Security Network- Detroit, MI
- Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW)- Toronto, CANADA
- La Colmena Cimarrona- Finca Conceiencia Vieques, Puerta Rico
- Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda– South Africa
- Pacific Climate Warriors Council of Elders– Fiji, Kiribati and Portland OR
- South African Food Sovereignty Campaign-South Africa
- Tewa Women United– New Mexico
The conference theme, Toward a FutureLand (which I did not attend) facilitated discussions exploring land as essential to indigenous sovereignty, strength and nurturance. It is these types of educational experiences that make Kalamazoo College award winning, and I am proud to be an alumni.
The dinner’s food dancing and music were provided three bands of the Potowatami Indians (Gun Lake Band, Nottawaseppi Band and the Pokagon Band.)
It was especially nice for us to be able to meet the Tewa women from New Mexico because we lived in Santa Fe, NM for 12 years and we were happy to have lived and worked among many Pueblo Indians.
The dinner was a powerful combination of people and ideas that focused on the impact of colonialism and the ways that native people continue to be marginalized, most notably seen in the shocking pattern of missing native women in the US and Canada.
The event included a Water Ceremony, reminding us all that however far away each groups individual missions are, we are all joined by our shared need to protect our land and water. This was made more personal highlighting how locally, the Kalamazoo River and more broadly the Great Lakes, are threatened by corporate agendas that put the movement and sales of oil ahead of the protection of our water. Andrew DeGraw with Kalamazoo Remembers helped close the ceremony and shared some shocking information about Enbridge Energy’s behavior in our community even after being responsible for the second largest inland oil spill in U.S. history in July 2010. According to Wikipedia the largest was the 1991 spill near Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Most days I take it for granted that clean water will run out of my taps. However, in Michigan it is becoming more and more clear that we can no longer assume corporations share our interest in protecting our water. Between the Flint Water Crisis and our current concerns regarding PFAS chemicals in Parchment Michigan’s water it is clear something needs to change.
I encourage you to click on one or more of the links I have provided, once you have been made aware, you begin to change; just like you can not separate out each drop of water from the ocean.