By Lailani Upham
Ross dispelled myths that have arrived in mainstream of what the movement is about and cleared the air, “You may have heard Idle No More is only about Native people. That is completely untrue. What Idle No More is about–is a difference in perspective. There is a difference between being a victim and being a self-determined autonomous person that takes control of their fate. That is what Idle No More is about. As an example of why Idle No More is not about race, I am going to talk briefly about the Medicaid expansion. To my understanding affordable healthcare and being covered by health insurance covers all people, irrespective of color. It has nothing to do with whether you are Indian or non-Indian,” Ross stated.
“Idle No More is first of all a poor people’s movement. It’s a voiceless people’s movement. It is a people that are formerly idle taking control and saying we will not be victims any more. That doesn’t say anything about color. The only reason why there are Native people that have been specified as the primary movers of the Idle No More movement is because there are a visible number of Native people that are poor.”
Ross explained the second misconception of the Idle No More movement, “It’s about Native people getting together and singing on drums. Doing round dances. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s called a 49–it’s a good time,” he stated in amusement. “But Idle No More is a platform of organizing people.”
Curiously, I've heard some Natives say Idle No More is for Natives only, or primarily. As I indicated in Idle No More = Occupy, I think they're wise to cast it as a broader movement with goals similar to other populist movements. Anything you can do to rally the people against the power elite is good.
For more on Idle No More, see Women March on Valentine's Day and John Lennon on Indians.
Below: "Singers render one round dance song to close out the day. Amanda Walking Child, and a Missoula INM event singer passes a lead to fellow INM singer Ryan Upham." (Lailani Upham)