August 18, 2011

Blackfire embodies social change

Indigenous Rights And A New Wave of Social Change

By Blair HickmanBlackfire's music represents the resurgence of social protest that's dominated the news since early this year. Its context is a vital new wave of social change.

"We started our band because the issues impacting our community as DinĂ© people and as indigenous people here in the U.S. were being completely ignored, from coal mining to forced relocation and further environmental degradation," says one Blackfire member. "The corporate media wasn’t telling that story, so we took up arms through music. That’s been our main way of communicating the need for change, the need for dignity, and the need for respect.”

We've seen this same need in the Arab Spring, in the unrest in London, in Israel, in the Philippines and in America on Twitter and even, somewhat, in the Tea Party. Though few condone the violence of the London riots, the unemployed youth that comprise the bulk of rioters have even bluntly stated that one of their motivations is to get people to listen to them.

Perhaps this video isn't social entrepreneurship, according to typical definitions. And perhaps it's not a particularly innovative model.

But the frequency and significance of protests over the last few months indicates a fundamental power shift that social entrepreneurs, or really anyone interested in changemaking, must study. As op-eds around the web have noted, the boundaries between social enterprise, citizen activism and public policy are shifting.

The Atlantic has even launched a whole new blog on the topic, Notes From the Foreign Policy Frontier. Its author, politics Prof Anne-Marie Slaughter, pointed out on Foreign Policy that the Arab Revolutions, and its global ripple effects, are only the beginning of a much larger shift in how people organize and affect change. That's why we included this video.
Demonstrating Blackfire's commitment to social action, here's a recent news item:

Photos Klee Benally locks down to Snowbowl equipment

By Brenda NorrellNavajo Klee Benally chained himself to heavy equipment on Snowbowl Road on Saturday, as an excavator continued destroying sacred San Francisco Peaks during a morning prayer gathering of Native Americans and supporters.

The destruction is part of the development of Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, which is digging into the earth and clearcutting for a pipeline to carry sewage water for snowmaking on the sacred mountains.

While Klee Benally was chained to an excavator, he said, "Here we draw the line, here we say no more!"

"You are criminals. You allow the desecration of our sacred. You threaten our cultural survival.

"What part of sacred don’t you understand," Benally said. His words were repeated by supporters gathered at the site as police arrived and a forest service officer emerged from the woods who had been videotaping them.
Comment:  For more on Blackfire, see Blackfire and the Native Legacy.

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