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 EveMore below the fold.
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.
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 NativeNewsOnline.net
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.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.
“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.”
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.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:
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.
“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.
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?