In the summer of 1996, a benefit for the Ts'peten Defenders was held at La Quena Coffeehouse, in Vancouver, BC (Canada). The following is a transcription of a speech made by DACAJEWIAH at that event. Other speakers included:
Percy Rosette, Shuswap Faithkeeper
Mary Pena, Ts'peten Defender
I'm going to pull this off here, because I don't like to stay in any one place too long and look down to a mic -- or anything. I don't even know if I need this mic, but I'll use it a little bit.
I'd like to thank the drummers, all the drummers, all the nations very much the women of the nation, the warriors of the nation and the children of the nations, I'd like to thank you for the drum is our heartbeat, and our relatives and our ancestors have always told us that the drum is, the drum, it's the beat of the heart. It's the sound that moves all of creation --it's the very first thing that a child is conceived with in the womb. And as that child develops, all it hears is its own, our own heartbeat. It is the beat of life; it's what keeps creation alive. When the drum which is the heartbeat of a nation no longer beats, the people's will to survive dies with it. So the drummers of the nation, they sing the social songs, they sing the ceremonial songs, and these songs are what keep the people alive. When the non-native peoples came to this country and gave us violins and other kinds of instruments, and destroyed our drum, or attempted to destroy our drum, they knew that they were attempting to destroy the heart, the spirit and the willpower of our people. But we're not going to let those drums die! Because we must also remember that within the traditional nations, it is that drum, and various songs that calls upon the people to do specific duties and things and their commitment to the people and to the nation and to the continuum of life. One song, the songs that they wished to take from our ceremonies and our way of life was the way of the warrior. Because if you kill that drum and you kill those war songs that are necessary for all nations to be a nation to defend themselves against ruthless exploitaters and ruthless deceivers and thieves and corrupt politicians and nothing less than executioners, when you kill the drum, you kill the people. (applause and drums)
So when my elder Percy Rosette over here tells you that the sundance was the grandfather of all ceremonies, and the sundance belongs to the tradition of the warrior, and that that ceremony allowed us through ritual, through fasting, through prayer, through abstaining from food, water, and giving thanks to our eldest brother the sun and our mother the earth, that connection in ceremony allowed us through the sacrifice, allowed us to begin to start to see through the veil between this world and the next world. And have we accomplished seeing and peeping through that veil, we will see those ancestors that my brother was just speaking about, on the other side. And when we look on the other side, and we see that glorious realm, and are reminded by the ancestors on the other side that they spilled their blood by the billions of gallons so that you and I can sit here today to perpetuate and carry on our people and our right to live within our territories, our lands, our resources and our way of life. And they look at us and they tell us we've got the same obligation to carry it on for these little ones right here. And when we peek through that veil, and experience the vision of how glorious a life the afterworld truly is, we do not have to wait until we're dead to find out what's on the other side, but in the here and now, through a degree of commitment, sacrifice, and a humble heart and a loving heart, a dedicated heart and a caring heart to the children, for the mothers, for the brothers, and for the people, and for creation, this caring heart is all one needs to enter, to look on the other side. And the ancestors will not ask you to pass the bucket, to give some money to god. But the ancestors will remind you that there is absolutely no reason to fear death. Because there is no such thing as death, it's only a continuum of one level of existence and when we have fulfilled our duties and our obligation that has been entrusted to us by the great spirit of life.
But our reason for being here -- there is a job that is done, then you go on to the next world, and then, as my brother said, you pray and assist those behind. And I submit to you this evening that that has been systematically taken from us -- the ability to understand our connection from this world to the next.
And I say to you that we have sundanced for many years; this was our ritual, this was our giving, this was our form of prayer. And that's all we were doing at the lake. That's all we went to do. We did not go to the lake to wage war with anyone. We did not go up to the lake to create trouble for anyone. We went up to the lake to pray.
We made a specific prayer at the lake, and that specific prayer was this: we dedicated our sundance to the White Buffalo Calf Woman. We dedicated our dance to the power of the feminine spirit in its purest form. We shed tears -- we shed tears for the abuse the women suffer day in and day out. We cried, and prayed for those babies, those children that are so lost that they are killing themselves. And they're killing themselves because they're being sexually abused! They're killing themselves because they're being raped! They're killing themselves because many of our sick brothers who have been raped and brutalized are doing it to their own.
We only prayed that the healing would begin. We prayed for the powers of creation to begin to honour in a sacred way, in a good way to stop the brutal repression of women, of children, and the repression of our brothers by a system bent on destroying us to control us. Because if they can have us drinking, drugging and abusing, they can destroy the family unit, they can destroy the love between human beings, they can then divide you and conquer you, and they, themselves, don't have to put their armies, and their law-enforcement agencies and their gun-slingers in your community to kill you with a bullet; they can do it day in and day out to oppress you and destroy you. They can steal from you, all the time calling it democracy. (applause and drums)
This is what they did to every single nation, what they're trying to do with every single nation. It's a continuum of five hundred years. It's just like a woman, or a man, or a child who has been brutalized, who has been ripped off and raped with violence, battered -- there comes a time when they say: no more. (applause and drums)
And at that point when you warn that abuser, "No more", you've given him warning. "No more." we have been, and still are, a battered people. And we will not bite our lip about this truthful reality. We said at the lake, when cowhands came in there with guns and threatened to kill our spiritual leaders, our women and children, if they didn't vacate land that was never willingly ceded to the crown, that was illegally sold and could never be a valid sale, but was stolen from the people with the assistance of educated sell-outs, collaborators called the band council system in that area of Hundred Mile House and Williams Lake. Because they won't be able to destroy us unless they get infiltrators, agitators and collaborators to help them do the job for them. Our own within our own communities. So we called them to order.
The elective system was thrown on the people. It's a system used to control the people. It's a system of collaborators that are systematically put in a position of power. A handful of people to dictate policy that affects all of the people. The Indian Act was designed to destroy the traditional system of the hereditary title holders.
One man and his wife had the nerve to challenge that system. When the cowhands came in and tried to threaten a forced eviction in lands which were not theirs to forcibly evict somebody from. They produced guns, they threatened to kill the occupants, the legal occupants within the land. They jumped out of a truck and took a bull-whip, cracked the bull-whip and said that this was a good day to string up some red niggers. while the people who had no guns, who were only there with a sign in front of the sundance grounds: "On these premises there will be no drugs, no alcohol, no weapons". We erected a fence around the sundance grounds to keep the cows from coming in and defecating on our sacred sites. When that fence went up, they took it as a sign as reestablishing territorial rights. When they tried to charge the people and threaten the people with executions, there was just a few young people trying to get the grounds cleaned up for ceremony.
The band council allied with this Lyle James, this illegal occupant, this squatter on native land that was never ceded, they allied together, they called in the R.C.M.P., the R.C.M.P. knew that they had no jurisdiction there, because the R.C.M.P. asked us from the very beginning. When they called in for outside help, when the family called me, called Wolverine and called the others, we responded, because when they asked the R.C.M.P. to intervene, to stop the potential for assassinations against these spiritual people, the R.C.M.P. said, "We do not have jurisdiction there, and because we do not have jurisdiction that is between you and Lyle James and his cowhands. Go for what you can do." That's when they called for outside assistance, and that's when we, as part of extended families responded to the call. Just as we would respond to any of our families sitting in this audience right here, to a call against any act of violence and aggression against you.
We have a duty to protect one another, when in reality the military, which was at the lake when it escalated, the R.C.M.P. -- the largest R.C.M.P. operation in this country, over 400 R.C.M.P. militants, terrorists and nothing less than blatant hired guns and executioners were sent into Gustafsen Lake to do nothing but attempt to kill the truth of land that was never ceded, in violation of the 1763 Royal Proclamation Act, which says and states, to all native peoples that no native land will ever be sold unless it is first willfully ceded by the hereditary title holders to the crown and then and only then can the crown, or Canada assume the right to put that land up for sale, and/or to lease it, that was never done.
So, when we talk about defending aboriginal rights, the Constitution of Canada of 1982 validates that all aboriginal rights under section 35 will be protected. In this case, it wasn't protected. We had opened up a can of worms exposing that the government was illegally selling Indian lands and leasing lands in violation of international covenants, agreements and protocol. This is was they didn't want, and this is why the Attorney General of this province, as well as Ron Irwin from the Department of Indian Affairs as well as Mike Harcourt, bingo-scammer, the one that likes to rip off old people and charities to fatten up and stuff up his pocket, John Cashore , the R.C.M.P. and the Ministry of Indian Affairs were throwing that hot potato back and forth to each other. I've got an article from the Vancouver Sun right there, "Do we have jurisdiction? No, No. Yeah. Do we? No. I don't know. Hey! Here!"
We were opening up a can of worms, and I assert to you, without fear of any form of reprisals, that the attorney general, as well as every other bureaucrat, both federally and provincially knew very well that we were getting ready to open up a can of worms that was going to expose this whole racist, fascist, genocidal policies against the aboriginal peoples of this continent. Subsequently, when they said, "R.C.M.P., go in there and do what you want to do", was telling them, "Go in there and kill the troupe." And I say: we have got to bring the real criminals to trial! (applause and drums)
But instead, what do we have? We have a handful of beautiful people, everyday people like yourselves, everyday people like yourselves, making the stand: women, young men, old men, children, elders. They made a stand for your rights. They made a stand for your integrity. They made a stand for you, out of a sense of selfless love for the human family, they made it for all of us. (applause and drums)
They faced the onslaught of thousands of bullets being shot at them, and it was the ancestors that put up a field of protection to stop them bullets -- and don't ever underestimate the power of the spirit, when the spirit acknowledges that your intent and that your heart is pure, it's good and it's giving. Believe me, it cannot stop the power, that power that's in each and every one of us if and when only we decide to tap in and truly re-empower ourselves as a people, as a nation as an individual and as a human being. That obligation that we have to transfer that power back into these young, beautiful people right here. That's our obligation. (applause and drums)
Come on, let me hear it! For the children! What was our cry up at the lake, what became our rally cry at the lake? It became Freedom. Do you want freedom? Do you want to be free from enslavement? Do you want to be free from repression, oppression? Do you want to be free from someone controlling and dominating you day in and day out? Do you want to be free? Do you? (applause and drums)
Get up and say freedom! Get up! Get up! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!
Doesn't that feel good inside? Did you get a taste of your own power? Don't you feel like, Jesus Christ, I got that whatever it was out me. Huh? Of course you feel good. We're supposed to feel good, but we've been told we're not supposed to feel nothing. Just go on, business as usual. But we gotta change that. And we will change it. We'll change it, and we're asking you to defend and support every single Ts'peten Defender in our fight against the power of the state.
They have millions, to prosecute and persecute us and perpetuate the lie and the scandals and the thievery. But what do we have? We have the freedom power. We have the determination to stand up united, all nations, men, women, children, black, white, yellow, red, to unite ourselves against the common enemy. Our enemy is corrupt politicians, our enemy is government that not longer serves the people but serves itself. Our enemy is corporations that can't stop, that can't stop the greed, the greed train. Our enemy is those who pollute and destroy the environment. Our enemy are the ones that destroy your right to evolve naturally. Our enemy is anyone that puts you in bondage, and tries to make you subservient to a master class. Our enemy is all abusers. Our enemy, our enemy according to our prophesies has very little time. (applause and drums)
Because the Creator said, the ancestors said, "We are going to win!" We are going to win and we will be free. We love you, we need you, you need us, let's get together, let's fight the system, let's unite. Be in front of that courthouse when we need you. All power to the people!