Indigenous Peoples March

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Front of march procession

The Indigenous Peoples March was a demonstration and march on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on January 18, 2019. The event included speeches, prayers, songs, and dance. Its goal was to draw attention to global injustices against indigenous peoples.[1] After prayers outside the Building of Interior Affairs, the marchers proceeded along Constitution Avenue to Henry Bacon Park, north of the Lincoln Memorial.[2] During the day-long event, featured guests, such as Ruth Buffalo, Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, spoke to crowds gathered on the stairs in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the plaza on the edge of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Organizers expected a crowd of about 10,000 people.[3] Simultaneous "solidarity" marches were scheduled in a dozen other locations, such as Gallup, New Mexico, and Bemidji, Minnesota, in the United States and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in Canada.[4][5]

In late afternoon, when the last group of the March participants were still on the Plaza beside the Reflecting Pool, an incident occurred involving a small group of March participants including Omaha tribe member Nathan Phillips, five Black Hebrew Israelites men, and dozens of Covington Catholic High School teenage students on a school trip arriving at their meeting place after attending the pro-life March for Life rally. In the wake of the widespread sharing of more detailed video clips, media analyses of the videos, and statements, public opinion became polarized, with some claiming the students were completely absolved of all wrongdoing and others saying they were disrespectful of a Native American elder on a day that should have been a celebration of the first Indigenous Peoples' March.[6]


The goal of the march was to build on the momentum of the 2016–2017 Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests, which had drawn attention to concerns of indigenous peoples globally.[2][7][Notes 1] The organizers of the "grassroots effort"[8] included indigenous leaders, tribes, and celebrities, many of whom were part of the Indigenous Peoples Movement.[9][10]

The Indigenous Peoples March which took place the day before the third annual Women’s March, was a grassroots effort intended to "unite indigenous groups globally, not just in the United States, according to The Herald Sun.[3]

Event organizers[edit]

The main organizers of the event were Cliff Matias,[11] and Nathalie Farfan[12]

Farfan is an Ecuadorian Indigenous woman who co-hosts the Latina feminist podcast Morado Lens[13] and New Jersey-based La Brujas Club spiritual wellness community.[14]

Matias is a director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council in Brooklyn, New York[15] He had previously organized the Standing Rock Protests and New York City area pow-pows and Indigenous Peoples' Day events,[16] and claims heritage in both the Taíno (Puerto Rican) and Quechua (Peruvian) indigenous traditions. [17]


The march began at the Interior Department, proceeded to the Lincoln Memorial, for an all-day rally, where Indigenous leaders addressed the crowd at the memorial. The evening program consisted of a fundraising concert at the Songbyrd Music House.[18]

Prior to the march procession starting, prayers were held on the steps of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The event began at 8:00 AM outside the Building of Interior Affairs, which runs the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with opening songs, prayers, and smudging with sage, a ceremony for cleansing "our eyes to see clearly, our mouths to speak the truth, and our hearts to spread love."[10] The marchers, who chanted, sang, and drummed, then walked towards the Lincoln Memorial from Constitution Avenue to 17th St. NW and through the National Mall.[10][19] Featured guests who spoke beside the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool included Ruth Buffalo, a North Dakota Representative and member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, and Paulette Jordan, who had served on the Tribal Council, sovereign government of the Coeur d'Alene people, and as a member of the Idaho House of Representatives from 2014 until 2018 when she ran for governor of Idaho.[8][20][21] Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, the first Native American women elected to Congress, spoke at the March.[2] Haaland was a representative for New Mexico and a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe; Davids was a Representative for Kansas, and a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation.[3][22]

Indigenous elders continued to speak, sing, and drum even as a concurrent March for Life rally "began to overlap the Indigenous Peoples Movement among the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial."[10] The day ended with a round dance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, with chants of "We are still here."[23]


The goal of the March was to raise public awareness of issues that affect indigenous people worldwide, such as missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW),[8] climate change, diabetes and obesity in the Pacific and Indigenous communities, the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown,[2] "voter suppression in Indian Country",[8] families divided by walls and borders, human trafficking including sex trafficking, police brutality against Native Americans,[2] "mistreatment of Indigenous peoples at the borders", and the need to protect indigenous lands.[8] Marchers carried signs that said, "Water is Life" (a theme of the Indigenous movement), "There is no O'Odham word for wall",[8] and "We will not be silenced."[24] They also "came to bring awareness of the ill-effects of oil pipelines running through Indian Country."[8]


Lakeland PBS news item on the solidarity march in Bemidji, Minnesota

Organizers expected about 10,000 people would attend.[3] Native News Online said that "thousands of American Indians, Alaska Natives, American Samoa, Australia and other indigenous peoples from various parts of the world" attended the march.[8]

A delegation representing eight tribes from Oklahoma included Reverend David Wilson, a member of the Choctaw Nation and the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference superintendent. Wilson said that half of his group were young American Indian Methodists in the group ranging in age from 20 to 32 "who are more inclined to work on issues of social justice, more so than other generations.... Social justice is in their DNA".[25] Women carrying a banner calling attention to missing Indigenous women wore red, and one woman carried a red dress, a symbol of the missing Indigenous women.[10]

American Samoan award winning film director, Queen Mele Le’iato Tuiasosopo Muhammad Ali, shared the health issues faced by American Samoa and Pacific islanders during her speech[26][27].


Organizers raised funds through crowdfunding via Facebook, emails, GoFundMe, and other sites.[10]

Late afternoon incident[edit]

In the late afternoon on January 19, 2019, when two rallies (Indigenous Peoples March and March for Life) taking place that day at the National Mall had ended, an incident occurred at the Lincoln Memorial involving five Black Hebrew Israelites men, Covington Catholic High School teenage students on an annual school trip to attend a pro-life March for Life rally, and Native American marchers. The first short videos of the encounter that were uploaded to Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube received millions of views.[28] A photo of one of the students wearing a MAGA hat standing face-to-face with Nathan Phillips as he beat on a ceremonial drum was published in numerous mass media outlets. The first social media video clips were short and focused on this moment, leading to harsh criticism of the high school students, who some described as mocking and harassing the elder. Some people affiliated with the March described the boys as appearing threatening due to their numbers, actions, and the "Make America Great Again" caps and clothing that some wore.[6] By the next day, January 20, longer videos had been uploaded, revealing how the encounter had unfolded. Phillips clarified that it was he who had approached the crowd of students,[1] in what he said was an attempt to defuse what Phillips perceived to be a brewing conflict between the students and the group of five men, later identified as Black Hebrew Israelites, who had been taunting the students.[29]

Over the next several days, statements from a spokesperson for the March, from an attorney for the Lakota People's Law Project, from Nicholas Sandmann, the student seen in the video standing face to face with Phillips, which was prepared with the help of a publications relations firm hired by his family,[30][31][32] and statements from other officials, each offered different perspectives on the incident. In the wake of the widespread sharing of more detailed video clips, media analyses of the videos, and statements, public opinion became polarized, with some saying the students were completely absolved of all wrongdoing and others saying the students were disrespectful of a Native American elder on a day that should have been a celebration of the first Indigenous Peoples March.[6][33][34]

On the evening of January 19, Phillips led approximately 50 individuals who attempted to gain entrance to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception while chanting and hitting drums while the Catholics inside celebrated Mass.[35]

Media coverage[edit]

The Washington Post described the Indigenous Peoples March as "meaningful", and an example of how Native Americans will not be silenced.[36] The article drew attention to Donald Trump's joking about the Wounded Knee Massacre to mock the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren.[37][38][Notes 2] The Post also wrote in a separate article that the "tense encounter in Washington prompted outrage".[28]

Defamation law suit[edit]

In February 2019, the family of Sandmann sued The Washington Post in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky for $250 million in damages for defamation.[39] Judge William O. Bertelsman ruled to dismiss the case in July 2019, stating that the material published by The Washington Post was opinion protected by the First Amendment. Sandmann's lawyers stated they will appeal this ruling.[40]


  1. ^ The protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline construction, which had been rerouted through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, began in the spring of 2016 and ended in 2017, but supplemental complaints were still being filed in court in October 2018 the most recent in a list of dozens of litigation documents. One of President Trump’s first Presidential Memoranda was signed on January 24, 2017, and authorized the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access, which according to a January 24, 2017 BBC article, "infuriated environmentalists."
  2. ^ Warren has often been criticized for her claim of Native American ancestry. See Beinart's article in The Atlantic.


  1. ^ a b Massimo, Rick (January 16, 2019). "The Indigenous People's March: What you need to know". WTOP. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e Braine, Theresa (January 18, 2019). "Indigenous People's March highlights environmental decline, violence against Native women, amid optimism". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Cai, Kenrick (January 17, 2019). "NC Native American couple to speak at national Indigenous Peoples March on Friday". The Herald Sun. Retrieved January 19, 2019. Happening a day before the third annual Women’s March, the march is billed as a grassroots event to unite indigenous groups not just in the United States, but across the world.
  4. ^ Bowen, Joe (January 18, 2019). "'Our voice that we have': Bemidji march highlights Indigenous challenges". Bemidji Pioneer. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  5. ^ "Indigenous Peoples March". Navajo Times. January 9, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Mervosh, Sarah; Rueb, Emily S. (January 20, 2019). "Fuller Picture Emerges of Viral Video Between Native American Man and Catholic Students". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  7. ^ "Trump backs controversial oil pipelines". BBC News. January 24, 2017. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Charles, Mark; Thompson, Darren (January 19, 2019). Rickert, Levi (ed.). "Photographs of Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C." Native News Online. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  9. ^ Reinstein, Julia; Baer, Stephanie K. (January 20, 2019). "The MAGA Hat–Wearing Teens Who Taunted A Native American Elder Could Be Expelled". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved January 21, 2019. What we saw yesterday, the display surrounding Mr. Phillips, is emblematic of the state of our discourse in Trump’s America. It clearly demonstrates the validity of our concerns about the marginalization and disrespect of Indigenous peoples, and it shows that traditional knowledge is being ignored by those who should listen most closely.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Lee, Danielle (January 18, 2019). "First Indigenous Peoples March takes place in Washington DC". The Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  11. ^ Lee, Danielle (2019-01-18). "First Indigenous Peoples March takes place in Washington DC". The Free Lance Star. Fredericksburg News. Retrieved 25 January 2019. Cliff Matias from New York City is part of the Kichwa/Taino tribe and a main organizer of the event. He directed the crowd at the first-ever Indigenous Peoples Movement in Washington D.C. through a red bullhorn, the same one he used during the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
  12. ^ Bolaños, Christine (2019-01-15). "This March Will Unite Indigenous Communities From Around the World in DC". remezcla . com. Retrieved 25 January 2019. Nathalie Farfan, an Ecuadorian Indigenous woman and event organizer.
  13. ^ Rodriguez, Cindy. "Why I chose to do a podcast". www .therealurbanclassy .com. Retrieved 25 January 2019. I, along with a childhood friend, set out to create a podcast for women just like us, Latinas who live in the U.S. seeking to see themselves in a medium that wasn’t already producing relatable content. We called it Morado Lens,... The second half of Morado Lens, Nathalie Farfan, has been building a community of #fellowbrujas focused on empowerment and mystical journeys, all in the name of Latina feminism.
  14. ^ Martinez, Janel. "Nathalie Farfan Encourages Latinas Worldwide to Embrace Their Inner Bruja". Hip LAtina. Retrieved 25 January 2019. Founded by New Jersey-based ecuatoriana Nathalie Farfan, La Brujas Club, a spiritual wellness community
  15. ^ Jackson Connor (2015-07-07). "Mayor of Whitesboro, N.Y., Insists This Village Seal Is Not Racist". The Village Voice. Retrieved 25 January 2019. The first thought that anyone has of this image is, ‘There’s some white guy killing an Indian, strangling an Indian,’?” Cliff Matias, director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council in Brooklyn,
  16. ^ Licea, Melkorka (2016-10-02). "Native American tribes maintaining anti-Columbus Day tradition". New York Post. Retrieved 25 January 2019. Members of 200 Native American tribes, who consider the Italian explorer more criminal than conqueror, will skip the Manhattan parade on Oct. 10 and instead descend on Randall’s Island for the second annual Indigenous People’s Day celebration. “I thought it was important to have a free day for people to come and learn about what Columbus Day really means. It’s a blemish on our history that we choose to fabricate and reinvent,” said Cliff Matias, 40, who is a Taino Indian, the director of the Red Hawk Native American Arts Council and the festival founder.
  17. ^ Frazier, Ian (2014-06-24). "Poll". New Yorker Magazine. Retrieved 25 January 2019. Matias is part Taíno and part Quechua; the first is a large Puerto Rican tribe, the second is Peruvian.
  18. ^ "Indigenous Peoples March: We are all Related Concert & Fundraiser". Retrieved 25 January 2019. Featured entertainers included Hobawea Nahish Demaray, Saylove, Terrance Jade, Clara Kent, Alex Brittany, Doc & Spencer Battiest, Reve Kalell
  19. ^ Elena Piechundefined (Director) (January 18, 2019). 360 Video: Indigenous Peoples' March 2019, Washington D.C. Event occurs at 243 seconds. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  20. ^ Astor, Maggie. "Meet the Native American Woman Who Beat the Sponsor of North Dakota's ID Law". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  21. ^ Spence, William L. (February 14, 2018). "Governor candidate may still resign her legislative seat". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  22. ^ Hignett, Katherine (November 7, 2018). "Who is Sharice Davids? Kansas Democrat becomes first openly LGBT Native American woman elected to House". Newsweek. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  23. ^ Nelson, Daniel Paul (January 20, 2019). "Marchers for Life Harass Indigenous Elder at Indigenous Peoples March" (PDF). Lakota People’s Law Project. Press Statements. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  24. ^ Ryan, Lisa (January 18, 2019). "Mob of MAGA Hat-Wearing Teen Boys Caught on Video Harassing Native Elder". The Cut. Retrieved January 19, 2019. The Cut quoted an Instagram post, "As we tried to move through the crowd, they closed in tighter around us, and wouldn’t allow anyone to pass. It was obvious that they wanted any excuse for the day to turn violent. They repeatedly ‘bumped’ into us, trying to agitate people into confrontation. But instead, the very few of us left stood quietly, trying to remain calm. I was seething with anger and rage and disappointment. I was so confused about why these boys would go out of their way to harass such a small, vulnerable group."
  25. ^ Hinton, Carla (January 19, 2019). "Oklahoma Methodists participate in Indigenous People's March". News OK. Oklahoma City. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  26. ^ "Queen Muhammad Ali". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-08-18.
  27. ^ "American Samoan woman takes local health issues to the nation's capital". 2019-01-30. Retrieved 2019-08-18.
  28. ^ a b Olivo, Antonio; Wootson Jr, Cleve R.; Heim, Joe (January 19, 2019). "'It was getting ugly': Native American drummer on the MAGA-hat wearing teens who surrounded him". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  29. ^ Politi, Daniel (January 20, 2019). "Native American Elder Says He Approached MAGA-Clad Teens to Defuse Argument With Black Protesters". Slate Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  30. ^ Schneider, Grace (January 23, 2019). "Louisville PR firm played a key role in Covington Catholic controversy". Louisville Courier-Journal. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  31. ^ Seleh, Pardes (January 22, 2019). "CNN Commentator Scott Jennings Reportedly Operates the PR Firm Hired By Covington Student Nick Sandmann". mediaite. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  32. ^ Stewart, Emily (January 23, 2019). "The MAGA hat-wearing teen at the center of a viral video firestorm isn't sorry". Vox. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  33. ^ Wagner, Laura (January 21, 2019). "Don't Doubt What You Saw With Your Own Eyes". The Concourse. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  34. ^ "1 of 4 - Indigenous Peoples March #MAGAyouth, Nathan Phillips and others". Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  35. ^ Condon, Ed. "Basilica confirms Nathan Phillips protest attempted Mass disruption". Retrieved 25 January 2019. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has confirmed that protesters led by the Native American activist Nathan Phillips attempted to disrupt the celebration of Mass on the evening of Jan. 19... The statement said that while Mass was being celebrated, “a group of approximately 50 individuals attempted to gain entrance to the basilica while chanting and hitting drums” ... A California seminarian present at the shrine during the demonstration told CNA that protesters could be heard “banging on the doors” of the basilica after they were locked out.
  36. ^ Vargas, Theresa (January 18, 2019). "A meaningful march days after Trump joked about a Native American massacre". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  37. ^ Caron, Christina (January 14, 2019). "Trump's Use of Wounded Knee to Mock Elizabeth Warren Angers Native Americans". The New York Times. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  38. ^ Beinart, Peter (January 2, 2019). "There's a Reason Many Voters Have Negative Views of Warren—But the Press Won't Tell You Why". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 3, 2019. The better explanation for why Warren attracts disproportionate conservative criticism, and has disproportionately high disapproval ratings, has nothing to do with her progressive economic views or her dalliance with DNA testing. It's that she's a woman.
  39. ^ Farhi, Paul (February 19, 2019). "The Washington Post sued by family of Covington Catholic teenager". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  40. ^ Lewis, Sophie (July 27, 2019). "Covington student's $250 million defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post dismissed". CBS News. Retrieved July 27, 2019.

External links[edit]