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Monday, January 23, 2017

Boston Women's March

Here's the missing introduction that is "clipped" off in this video:  "Claudia Fox Tree and Savannah Fox Tree - McGrath are First Nations persons of Arawak descent. Claudia Fox Tree is a professional educator and leads conversations on Native American identity, culture, and history. She is affiliated with the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) and the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP).  Her daughter, Savannah Fox Tree, will sing in Cherokee. Savannah is a student at Roger Williams University, majoring in architecture."

Thanks to my friend, Jan Shaw, who took the video of Savannah Fox Tree-McGrath and me with my camera from the side of the stage at today's Boston Women's March as we stood before over 150 THOUSAND people.  We were the first speakers after the 11am program began - America the Beautiful by the Boston Children’s Chorus, the Pledge of Allegiance by Commissioner Giselle Sterling, the emcee Mariama White-Hammond, and then us.  This is one of the most meaningful moments of our lives - representing our people, and all people, for equity and social justice!

Click for VIDEO
Bo Matum (thank you) to the Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Narragansett who originally inhabited this land we now know as Massachusetts.  “Welcome” to everyone else.
All summer and fall, I and others have been standing in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota.  Without water, we have no life. Today, I stand in solidarity with my sisters from Boston, and around the world in places, such as, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Nairobi, Athens, Cape Town, Rio De Janeiro, San Jose, and Vancouver.  With solidarity, we have hope.   
We are the few who have the privilege to be here because we can afford not to be working on a Saturday, we can walk out of our homes, we are healthy, and we have help for children who may have been left at home.  We stand beside those who fight for equal pay, disability awareness, healthcare, and childcare.

As an indigenous first nations person of Arawak descent, my ancestors greeted Christopher Columbus.  We have been fighting attempted genocide, intolerance, hate, lies about our people, lack of recognition for our achievements and contributions, racist mascot representations in media, schools, and sports, and acts of violence for over 500 years. We are the original “survivors.”  “Standing up” is in our blood!

Today, we are reminded that our struggle is not over, it is part of what makes us women, humans, and survivors.  We are stronger when we stand together as allies, activists, agitators, and accomplices. As our ally James Baldwin once said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”  Today is the next chance to face the challenge of keeping our hard-won rights and creating more equity for those who are still fighting!
In our indigenous communities, women are often the ones who keep the culture alive.  We pass on traditions to our daughters AND to our sons, as well as through our unique community ties.  We lead by example.  We “stand up” for the environment, humanity, and the other sentient beings with whom we share this Turtle Island. 
Two of my three daughters could not be here. My oldest, Cheyenne, has devoted her career to doing social justice work and activism.  She is completing a Master’s Degree in Social Work at Salem State University, though she is right now at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. 

My youngest, who is a twin, Indigo, is at Framingham State University where she does activism through student leadership on campus and in her artwork.  I, myself, am a product of the University of Massachusetts (Boston) and Fitchburg State College.  Massachusetts is fortunate to have a free K-12 public education system and fabulous state universities that need to remain open, accessible, and affordable to all!

I’m elated to have the other twin, my daughter, Savannah, standing by my side now.  She is going to sing a song that represents the ability to change, even in the darkest of times, Amazing Grace.  First in Cherokee, and then in English, at which point all are asked to join in and sing the first verse with her.

* Two words have been added, since speaking on 1/21/17.  They are "schools" and "affordable."