By Nikki Sanchez
The streets of downtown Washington, DC were filled with medicine this weekend. On Friday morning, the fragrant smells of sage, copal and palo santo filled the air of the Nation’s Capital. The medicines were lit early in the morning on the steps of the Department of Interior Affairs, as a prayer service started off the inaugural Indigenous Peoples March; the largest inter-tribal gathering of Indigenous Nations in over 50 years. The march and rally warranted the attention of 10,000 attendees, including representatives from Australia, Samoa, Hawaii, Canada, Aotearoa, the Caribbean, the Congo, Papua New Guinea, Central, and South American tribes and even included the Buddhist community.
As the prayers and songs set the tone for the day, dozens of caravans, buses, and motorcycle convoys continued to arrive from various tribes as far as Arizona, North and South Dakota, Texas, and everywhere in between. Non-Indigenous allies and multi-faith representatives were also in attendance. Following an hour of prayer, the march toward the Lincoln Memorial began, marshaled by the Red Rum Motorcycle club, who stood formidable and proud in their American Indian Movement (AIM) style black and red leather jackets. I was invited to be there as one of nearly 100 speakers, performers and ceremonial practitioners who guided the day. Indigenous elders, community leaders, and activists shared the platform with well known-Indigenous and social justice leaders; including newly elected congresswoman Deb Haaland and Idaho House of Representatives Paulette Jordan (two of the first Native American women to be elected to their posts), National co-chairs of the Women’s March Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour, former Miss Universe Ashley Callingbull and Standing Rock water protector father-daughter duo, Chase and Tokata Iron Eyes among others.
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