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This is a re-post of a diary originally posted on  12/26/2013, concerning threats on the part of Mall of America  to arrest individuals participating in a peaceful, secular manifestation of American Indian religious sentiment/beliefs at the Mall of America  On December 31, 2013.

THIS IS AN ACTION DIARY REQUESTING IMMEDIATE INVOLVEMENT IN WHATEVER WAY FITTING and/or FEASIBLE! Please help spread the word, prepare for a large turnout, help get press coverage, bring cameras, cell phones, be prepared to tape and make it go viral.

Full text of the most recent press release, issued 12.31.13 is available for download and distribution here.

Minnesota area Idle No More organizers to discuss Mall of America’s refusal to cooperate with Round Dance on New Year’s Eve
Who: Patricia Shepard, Idle No More- Minnesota and Reyna Crow, Idle No More Duluth.
What: News conference and Round Dance
When: Tuesday Dec 31, 2013 News conference 3:00 PM, round dance 4:00 PM Where: The Mall of America’s `free speech zone’:
Sidewalk adjacent to 24th Ave at Lindau Lane
Why: To discuss the MOA’s inflammatory mischaracterization of a friendship dance intended to bring a diverse community closer together as a `protest’ and to invite the Mall management to join in a dance of healing and reconciliation.
More below the fold.

  Mall of America - Minnesota area Idle No More organizers to discuss Mall of America’s refusal to cooperate...

The incident has been reported on here by the Northland News Center This report includes a full text of the letter received by event organizers on Dec. 23!  

And here, at

On 12/27, Indian Country Today Media Network ran the story, and on 12/29, the Twin Cities Daily Planetran a report on the Mall of America's denunciation of American Indian Culture.

Already last year, in an article published by the Duluth News Tribune  Idle No More-Duluth founder Reyna Crow clarified in eloquently educational terms the intent and meaning of a “round dances” in the American Indian cultural context as they have found recent expression in flash mob form throughout the country and the world:

A flash mob is a large group of people who gather, ideally in an instant, to perform a unified action in a public place, often a song or dance. In this case, participants are performing a round dance.

“The round dances were a family event,” explains Joe Sutherland, a member of the Duluth Anishinaabeg community, who is from Canada. “In the wintertime, the men in each family would sing songs. ... It was told in the creation stories that the spirits communicate through songs. This is why we carry these traditions; this is why we sing today.”

Crow is co-founder of the Northwoods Wolf Alliance in Northern Minnesota , with a degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin, and is founder of Idle No More Duluth.

Already in January of this year, Crow went on record (see above) clarifying the nature and intent of the round dance flash mobs organized by Idle No More:

The round dance is a wonderful and unifying experience to either observe or participate in, and the planned jingle dress dance is truly a gift from the Anishinaabeg community to all people of Duluth. We should not only embrace this gift of healing, but join in the spirit of hope, for a better future for all of us, in which it is intended.
And points to the mutually beneficial exchange with retailers in the events' ability to generate publicity and stimulate revenue: it's a win-win between the dancers and mall patrons. As Reyna Crow points out:
There have been some reports of flash mobs held with the intent of causing violence or destruction. For the most part, however, those intended as art or political or social statements seem to be enjoyed by passersby, and have been tolerated by the management of the malls or stores where they occasionally take place. They can draw large numbers of people who tend to spend money and, if positive in nature, can bring substantial publicity to the venues.
Idle No More’s Flash Mob Round Dances at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN were some of the most memorable of dances celebrated round the world in celebration of the sacred spirit of peace:

Striking about this video is the resounding response from Mall of America clientele: the roar of support is not coming from the inner circle of participants in the round dance on the lower level, but rather from the crowds gathered to observe and/or participate on all levels of the facility: patrons of the Mall of America erupt in thunders of applause in this video. Participants in the round dance on the ground floor of the mall are merely performing a round dance.

At last year’s Idle No More Round Dance at Mall of America , people of all colors, creeds, cultures and commercial orientations joined together in song to experience a secular celebration of (Native American) religious beliefs much in the same way Christmas carolers—often in exquisitely flash mob-form at major shopping centers, transportation hubs and other public places throughout the country, and indeed throughout the world.

Despite the success of last year’s event, Reyna and several of her colleagues found an unexpected lump of coal beneath their trees this year: a letter from the management of the Mall of America threatening the arrest of participants in this year’s planned event.

The planned event was never designated as a protest, or a political statement, but, in the letter from Mall of America  management, the grounds for arrest are predicated on the erroneous characterization of the Round Dance is a political event—a protest even. But it isn’t, it is every much as legitimate a public expression of secular religious celebration not unlike the small sampling of similar events I have posted below from other ethnic groups, nationalities and traditions—just for fun!

Not unlike public Kwanzaa celebrations currently underway in the US, the round dance flash mobs of American Indians have the added benefit of introducing mainstream society to cultural traditions—inviting them to participate and/or simply observe and appreciate.

In response to the threats of arrest, Reyna Crow and Idle No More have invited the management of Mall of America to participate in a press conference on  December 31, 2013, at 3 PM at the Mall of America. In the week since the letter was first received, Idle No More organizers have attempted to reach out to Mall of America's management, but requests for discussion have been denied.

From the most recent press release (12.31.13):

Duluth, MN. Two Minnesota Idle No More organizers threatened with arrest by the Mall of America, joined by their legal counsel Jordan Kushner, will share the Mall’s response to a letter urging the Mall to work with the women to create a welcoming climate for the round dance, a dance of renewed relationships, deeply connected to Mother Earth, Medicine Waters and in the spirit of all people of all walks of life joining in ONE circle of friendship and peace, and certainly not a protest.

The Idle No More New Years Eve Round Dance is in honor of healing and renewal of relationship between our Communities and in honor of the Dakota 38, Wounded Knee, Chief Theresa Spence, and the four founding women of Idle No More: Nina Waste, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah Mclean, and Jes- sica Gordon.
The women reached out to Mall management again Monday, but were refused a meeting with Mall officials, one of whom wrote in response to a local attorney assisting the women that a round dance held last year at the MOA was a “... demonstration [that] caused significant disruption to our cus- tomers, tenants, and employees” and implied the Mall was not “... inhospitable to genuine Native American cultural events...”.

Shepard is undeterred, “The global disconnection and historical pain within our communities and Mother Earth has called for healing, and renewal for the coming New Year, 2014”, she says adding with respect to Mall management, “We will be offering these gifts of tobacco, sage, cedar, sage and water to the MOA management team and invite them to join with us in our dance for healing and reconciliation."

The round dance is planned for 4:00 pm. Legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild will also be present.

As if to add insult to injury, the Mall of America is situated on Indian Land, and the threat of arrest for its use is a breach of treaty rights.  According to Shepard, during the treaty-signing period, the Dakota and Chippewa ceded the territory that is now the site of the Mall of America, but the tribes retained rights to use the land for hunting, fishing and other purposes. Other purposes means to gather at any location, whether that location be private or public. The MOA location is within those treaty territories, and the MOA is in violation treaty obligations to the Dakota and Chippewa by threatening to trespass us on our ceded territories. As Shepard rightly asserts:
“We have a right to gather anywhere within those territories which was agreed upon by the US Government “. Treaties matter.

Post Note (from Grumpelstillchen after a long period of silence):
One unanticipated gift received from composing this article was the opportunity to view many spectacular flash mob events from performances throughout the seasons, the country, and the world.

I spent the afternoon on whirlwind tour of finding flash-mob meaning in madness and post here only a sampling of what I found:

Little Drummer Boy

Wells Fargo NYC Flash Mob in Times Square

Hallelujah Chorus (with drums)

I really enjoyed this performance in Calgary:
Irish group in Calgary mall

H/T to Otteray Scribe for posting to the original diary this spectacular Bagpipes and Drums Flash Mob performance from last Christmas/Solstice/Sacred Season of Peace at the Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks, CA!

But you don’t have to travel the world to find flash-mob beauty blessing the halls of malls: in nearby Burnsville, MN, 200 singers joined in this mall Food Court Flash Mob.


This Kwanzaa celebration in front of Macy’s was among my favorite stations on the tour:

Now, if the Mall of America needs a stunning example of using cultural tradition to express a POLITICAL statement or “protest” in the form of a flashmob—My hats go off to this group of talented, truthful and inspiring ...

Steppers at Walmart


The spirit of the round dance, and many other public expressions of American Indian and other indigenous traditions is to assert our dedication to the protection of the planet that is now imperative not only to the survival of indigenous people/s, but to all peoples—and to any prospect of peace in our lifetimes, or anyone else’s.

This is why we celebrate a sacred season of peace.

Judging from the video posted at the outset: a majority of patrons of the Mall of America were visibly enthralled by last year’s celebration. This calls into question Mall of America’s claims that celebrations of Native American culture are anything but a benefit to the patrons, retailers and visitors to the mall.

2:48 PM PT: UPDATE: Leaders of this event have been arrested; here is video footage of the arrest of Reyna Crow.

IdleNoMore MOA from Sarah LittleRedfeather on Vimeo.

Fortunately, Reyna has already been released; I do not know what Patricia Shepard's status is.

Interesting to note: at the end of this video, security forbidding someone from bringing a drum into the mall. Since when have DRUMS of any kind been declared illegal and/or banned?  

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've never been there (5+ / 0-)

    but is "Mall of America" privately owned?

    If so, I would take this up with the owners. If they say no, it's their property and their decision should prevail.  

    Are there no alternate places in Minnesota that might be more welcoming?

    •  Please send them to Detroit, a place in (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grumpelstillchen, Amber6541, rebel ga

      need of all the positive vibes it can get.  The private owners would rather some spontaneous joy than, say, a bomb or well armed lone gunman or just a mass of frazzled shoppers.  Which would you want for your business, private owner, whose private ownership relies on tax abatements from the rest of us?

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 06:39:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Earnest, Thank you for your comment. (6+ / 0-)

      The "privately owned" argument is not one I am prepared to engage in, and it's not the point of this diary. (Been there, done that on the original post).

      The point is that Mall of America and other similar privately owned shopping centers REGULARLY allow and welcome events of this nature. The Round Dance was never considered or characterized as a "protest"--Mall of America is the one that called it that and misinterpreted it as such, and that's where the problems began.

      Come to think of it: Has any other group ever been threatened with arrest for bringing a flash mob to a mall? For gathering to celebrate, sing and dance?

      I don't know of any. And in fact, in this diary, have provided multiple examples of other groups' flash mobs being welcomed and celebrated at malls throughout the country.

      Theoretically, I could keep googling all day and provide examples from the world over.

      The point of this diary is to help spread the word, not to argue about whether there might be some more welcoming venue, whether Mall of America's private property rights trump American Indians' exercise of the same rights and privileges afforded every other ethnic group on said private property.

      I am simply asking those who feel compelled to do so to help spread the word and support this event. Thanks again for your comment.

    •  Not if this is factual (6+ / 0-)
      According to Shepard, during the treaty-signing period, the Dakota and Chippewa ceded the territory that is now the site of the Mall of America, but the tribes retained rights to use the land for hunting, fishing and other purposes. Other purposes means to gather at any location, whether that location be private or public. The MOA location is within those treaty territories, and the MOA is in violation treaty obligations to the Dakota and Chippewa by threatening to trespass us on our ceded territories.

      "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." T. Roosevelt

      by Lowgun on Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 06:52:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Did you read the whole diary, or just respond? (6+ / 0-)

      the diary states that the MOA is on land ceded by the tribes with the proviso that they retained the right to gather on the land as they saw fit.

      Presumably the tribes would have to assert these rights as a response to any legal action presented by MOA or the local government, nevertheless, treaties between Native Americans and the US Government have the force of law, just like all the other treaties the US Government has signed.

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 06:58:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I skimmed it but didn't read every word. (0+ / 0-)

        If they have the right to be there, then they should assert that right in court. If not, then look elsewhere.

        I find references to spirituality and misty-eyed references to "mother earth" more than a little tiresome. Obviously, I'm in a minority here, so I'll check out. Hope you can find a venue that welcomes your event, and I would think, if the event is truly supposed to be one grounded in sharing a gift of friendship, holding it at a more welcoming place would seem to be consistent with that objective.  

      •  See my comment immediately above. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster, kharma, erush1345

        If that treaty provision applies to private property within the ceded territory, on what basis could a homeowner decline to permit the tribes to come into their home for the same purpose?  

        It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

        by Rich in PA on Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 07:16:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's incorrect. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leftykook, rebel ga, erush1345

        They can fish, hunt, and gather rice.  That's the extent of the retained rights in the treaty.

  •  It's amazing that everyone that covered (5+ / 0-)

    the event as well as many of the participants thought it was a political event.

    The protest was held in support of Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation of Canada, who has been fasting for 17 days and is currently camping in a teepee outside of Parliament in Ottawa.
    Shoppers at the Mall of America on Saturday evening got more entertainment than they bargained for, as the mall's eastern rotunda was packed with more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of Native Americans, for an Idle No More protest flash dance.
    One of the protesters at the Idle No More Action was Allene Ross, a Dakota who is from Minnesota. Ross said she heard about Idle No More through “the moccasin wire.” Ross and several of her friends were wearing Idle No More T-shirts. She feels it is important “for all tribes to stand united,” she said. “We need to defend our sovereignty rights world wide.”
    "Flash mob" protests with traditional dancing and drumming have erupted in dozens of shopping malls across North America
    Recently, hundreds of Native people and their supporters held a flash mob round dance, with hand drum singing, at the Mall of America, again as a part of the Idle No More protest movement.
    Hundreds of supporters of the Idle No More movement performed a Round Dance flash mob, just one of many similar actions around the world to fight for indigenous land rights.
    It also spread internationally when a similar protest at the Mall of America in Minnesota.

    Looks like the organizers even got confused:

    Tomorrow, SATURDAY, 12/29, 5 pm, there will be an Idle No More Flash Round Dance at Mall of America. Come to the EAST door of MOA before 5pm. If you come late, listen for drums on all floors. Come to defend the earth and clean water.
    Show our support and help to create awareness about what is happening in Canada. We are here to protect our children and thier children.. our land is sacred, our water is sacred...we are coming togather to sing and let the world hear the heartbeat of all that is . we are all related... There are so many issues that go hand n hand with what is happening to our Northern brothers n sisters we all need to come togather n show the world we are Idle No More...
  •  For the record: It's new year's eve day (6+ / 0-)

    I've been through a helluva year (let's just start with the deaths of 5 members of family and/or close friends, and leave it at that).

    I'm not in here to debate or to fight with anyone about anything.

    I have posted this diary as an informational reference, and for those who support this event to share with others.

    Anyone who's interested in nitpicking or anything else....have at it, but count me OUT!

    In light of this clarification, methinks anyone who persists in poking, prodding and picking is in violation of DKos' "DBAD"-rule, no?

    Sorry, but I don't have time for dicking around today, I really DO NOT, so for anyone who's looking for a fight: I'm sure there are any number of other diaries you can visit to knock yourselves out!.

  •  Not spending much time here anymore (4+ / 0-)

    mostly because thread warfare seems to be the norm.  Thanks for the diary, loved the links, cried during the Hallelujah Chorus!  

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 08:04:56 AM PST

  •  Wish I could be there. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Last year looks marvelous.

    "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." --Townes Van Zandt

    by Bisbonian on Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 08:41:18 AM PST

  •  Can't agree with you - MOA has had problems with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    mobs of kids for years and they've had to try various means to keep it under control.

    Just this week they were making the news when a prominent good guy Democratic politician was assaulted at Starbucks by a group of kids.  Bleeding customers don't make good PR.  

    They can't encourage mobs.  They have far too many people there shopping and way too many opportunities for crimes of all types to not place some controls on the environment there.  

    I'm not saying that the group in question would cause trouble but it certainly could be used as a cover for those who would, and there are those who would.

  •  wow. I guess I was wrong about (0+ / 0-)

    the arrest records at MOA:here's a story about a guy who got arrested there for throwing money.

    How dare he demonstrate such disregard for the almighty dollar by throwing money around like that! And at the MALL of all places. Sheesh.

    Wishin' I had a pile of Jacksons to shower on the people!

  •  can you hear me now? (0+ / 0-)

    Word from on the ground.....via FB

    They arrested the leading women ... time to call all nations to gather outside and do a song, and dance for prayer. They purposely profiled the women in charge, and from what I am understanding they are blocking the entrances to deny anyone with drums.
  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

    A problem with the "flash" mobs that you see posted on the internet (ie YouTube) is that a vast majority of them had the permission of the owners of the properties to do their performances.

    The orchestras that have performed in train stations in Europe, show police or rent-a-cop types surveying the whole situation.  If those police didn't have an idea that the performance was about to get going, there's no way they'd allow the large cases and/or instruments in large numbers be moved around the stations for safety concerns (Europe has had numerous train bombings in the past few decades and are much higher on security there than here in the US).

    Overall point is flash mobs are quite rarely just impromptu gatherings, most are well coordinated and working with their host sites to ensure public safety.  As for this event, if the owners say that the group cannot gather, the group should honor that.  People do not have rights to gather in non-public spaces and turning this into another OWS-like event where the whole meaning of what the group is about/stands for to push the occupation of a space won't win much support IMHO.

    How about the group find somewhere that's actually public to gather?  Why is the Mall so imporant?

    In any case, I hope that everyone comes out of this no worse for wear.

    "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - Ronald Reagan

    by erush1345 on Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 02:20:21 PM PST

  •  and finally.... (0+ / 0-)

    the only thing more maddening than the stupidity, sense of entitlement, hubris, and flagrant racism on the part of these "security forces" is the indifference and lack of outrage on the part of so-called "liberals" and "progressives" in this country.

    Now, I think I'll go watch the ball drop on TV.

    Nothing to see here. :(

  •  I was harassed for mere picture taking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I showed up for the opportunity to see and take pictures. I was harassed. 1) Spooky cop voice from behind 2) friendly undercop checking out 3) obvious cop following 4) cops in mass with handfuls of plastic cuffs 5) cop management in huddles

    Wow, people dancing the round dance must be real scary. Wonder why? Why not Xmas carolers, or mall walkers or flash mobs, or groups of visitors. Hmmm, wonder why?

    I am writing experience up on the blog. I will post a link later.

    •  I look forward to reading. (0+ / 0-)

      Course, I've got my own ideas about the "Whys".

      The bit about the DRUMS is not insignificant: but it's bigger than that. It's one reason I posted sufficient evidence in these videos to demonstrate that the DRUMS alone are not the problem.

      Funny. When you start talking about Indians, Treaty Rights, and Private Property....seems like even the most liberal/progressive of scrotums start shrinking, doesn't it?

      We certainly have enough evidence to support that argument in this diary!!!! lol

      But thanks and group hugs to the handful of folks who clearly understood this diary, what it was about, what was/is at stake....

      Happy New Year! And remember, you are (still) on Indian Land.

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