By Joey Montoya
A week ago, I never would have thought I would be caravanning cross country to Philly.
Towards the end of May, Calina Lawrence, Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, and myself organized a dialogue in San Jose, CA for the #BernieBusTour with Rosario Dawson, Kendrick Sampson, and Shailene Woodley in attendance. Over 20 Native students from local Bay Area Universities attended the event. The dialogue began as a platform for us to share our thoughts and experiences within higher education as Native youth. But soon, it shifted. The conversation turned into a space for us to discuss situations in our communities on and off the reservation.
The day after the event I started to reflect on how powerful our dialogue was. I thought about our ancestors. Those who have fought for us to learn, to educate ourselves, and to survive after years of genocide. In that room were the 7th generation they fought for.
When I began Urban Native Era (UNE) in December of 2012 through the inspiration of Idle No More, I felt there was a new era of Indigenous resistance from centuries of colonization, and a move toward indigenizing ourselves. Our generation is learning and remembering our ancestral and traditional ways, such as various ceremonies, to ensure their survival. Simultaneously, through the educational system from our universities we are utilizing the information learned to help our people and all people in new ways. Beyond the educational system and via technological advances, we’ve also begun to organize ourselves, connect, and reconnect. Social Media, for example, has played a large role in spreading awareness on Native issues in small communities, like the Standing Rock Reservation or Oak Flat, that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. UNE, amongst many other native-run organizations, has become another platform for collective work.
Understanding this, and after our meeting with the #BernieBusTour, I started to think about what I needed to do through UNE for our people, and for future generations. My first thought was not some nuanced idea. I thought of something our ancestors have done before, what people will continue to do, and what we did that evening. We need to create spaces to gather the Nations, our people, and all people for those yet to come. So that they, too, can come together, collaborate, share, continue our traditions and our ways, and teach others to do the same while still moving forward with this rapidly advancing world; together.
This is the reason I am caravanning to the DNC, because it is #UpToUS to gather the Nations. It is up to us to stand together in solidarity with one another and continue to fight for our rights as indigenous peoples and as people of this earth.
I am calling all youth to stand together and join our movement. Knowing that it does not end today or tomorrow, but we will continue to gather the nation and to peacefully fight for what is right.
Join the movement by going to www.UpToUs.net or follow us at @UpToUs