Indigenous Peoples, Grassroots Groups, Environmental Justice Activists Mobilized an Action to Respond to Border and Immigration Issues Impacting Families Across the Nation.
Tacoma, WA – Early Saturday Morning, Indigenous and Grassroots Groups held a prayer action at the Tacoma Detention Center, which is operated by the Geo Group on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Geo Group is the one of the main companies that the U.S. government contracts for migrant detention.
This action took place during the Protecting Mother Earth Conference (PME), which is being held on traditional Nisqually lands, just 10 miles south of Tacoma. The purpose of the PME is to gather Indigenous Peoples from across the world to share lessons, celebrate victories, and build unity and stronger alliances to defend and protect, land, water, the climate and Indigenous Rights.
For Indigenous Peoples, the atrocities that we are witnessing throughout the country and on the borders today is merely history repeating itself. The forced separation of families, the abduction of children, and the detainment of innocent people, has been occurring for hundreds of years, namely with the boarding school and foster care systems implemented in Indigenous communities to assimilate and colonize children.
Following the action in Tacoma, organizers and participants returned to the Protecting Mother Earth Conference to lead a water ceremony at the Nisqually River.
The following is a statement drafted by Indigenous Elders and Youth of Turtle Island and Beyond:
“We are gathered here to recognize the continued entrapment and invasions of the Indigenous Peoples. We are here for your freedom. You have every right to be with your family. Your family is good. Your family loves you. Your families deserve to be together and free. These colonial settler states should not be doing this to you and this is not your fault. You did nothing wrong by arriving here to survive. Your families also belong here and we recognize you as our relatives. We relate and empathize with you. This colonial government continues to do to you what the’ve done to our native nations, through brutal separation, torture in boarding schools, and displacement. The fear that you feel and the uncertainty you feel now, we have felt before. We will create space for your healing.
You are now in our territories and we welcome you in a good way, because you belong with us and we belong with you. As original peoples of the this continent you are not immigrants, you are inside your own continental homeland. We do not recognize colonial borders created to subjugate us and to sustain White Supremacy. We will break this cycle of trauma that is continuing with your experience.
Our authority is in breaking circles of trauma based on colonialism. All of our ancestors are with you, our spirits are with you. We invoke the spirit of self-determination of the Indigenous People of Abya Yala (Turtle Island) and we commit to the continued liberation of all our relatives, of yours and our families and our territories. When we are done with our work fulfilling the Eagle and Condor prophecy, our children will be free to roam this land safe from violence and exploitation. As Indigenous Peoples, we are not immigrants in this continent.”
Signatories of this letter include:
Nisqually Indian Tribe
Indigenous Environmental Network
Climate Justice Alliance
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Indigenous Climate Action
Right to the City
L’eau Est La Vie Camp
Immigrant Task Force of North Bay Organizing Project
Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island
Southwest Organizing Project
Chinese Progressive Organization
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Witness for Peace
Rainforest Action Network