Indigenous People and Sacred Lands Disrespected at L.A. Women's March

by Ross Plesset Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 at 1:52 PM

Gloria Arellanes of the Tongva (the original inhabitants of Los Angeles, originally known as Yangna) was unable to give an opening prayer as promised, and her needs as an elder were unmet.

Indigenous People an...
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(Pictured above: Gloria Arellanes, third from right, and companions at Saturday's march.)

Statement by Gloria Arellanes (January 22, 2017). Reproduced with her permission:

"'IF YOU ARE GOING TO MARCH ON OUR LAND, AT LEAST LET US PRAY BEFORE YOU DO. HONOR OUR WOMEN, HONOR OUR ELDERS, HONOR THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THIS LAND YOU OCCUPY.'

“This is a quote from Kelly Caballero, a young Tongva woman. She wrote this at the L.A. Women's March after we were denied to do prayer despite being scheduled to do so. This march disrespected us, were rude to us.

“One of the women organizers was told the protocol of requesting an Elder of the land to do a prayer and failed. This march while impressive in numbers of attendees was poorly organized, lacked communications, provided no measures for medical emergencies, no American with Disabilities access or safety, no aisle to the staging area and completely disrespect the first people and Ancestors of the land.

“Thank you AIM So Cal for assuring my safety, Gray Wolf (Walter Ruiz) for not letting anyone intimidate us, Lydia Ponce for your eloquent, passionate speech, getting the mic and gently reprimanding everyone for not mentioning the people of the land, the Tongva, Michelle Castillo who backed someone into the stage who begin yelling at her and set him straight and her daughter who was supposed to learn from this march 10 year old Lalanie, Marta Herrera-White and Kelly Bear for staying with us and even though you were supposed to drum with the HummingBird Drum and did not, and to Erma Scranton and Marco Zermeño for keeping me safe and lastly the Indigenous women who marched with their own banner after the crowds begin to thin to honor us because of the disrespect to me and Rachelle Figueroa. This banner was taken all the way to Indian Alley. As always my profound love and deep respect to Lydia Ponce my Sis. Kelly Caballero, so proud of you.

“I will be more cautious with who I feel should hear our prayers in the future. This I offer to my Ancestors. Neschun Achama, Grandma Gloria”

She subsequently encouraged people to express their disappointment about these aspects of the March to the organizers:

“. . . I thank those of you who have sent emails expressing your disapproval of the treatment we experienced. If you would like to send an email to members of the March's' committee go to Women's March Los Angeles on the Facebook search bar at the top right. The two co-chairs of the march are Emiliana Gueveca (the person whom was in contact with us) and Deana Katz. You can read their bios. Other LA committee members are Tracy Samson and Dove Rose. I thank you if you choose to do this or just for agreeing. Grandma Gloria.”

***

Picture below: Gloria Arellanes speaking at a rally protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline in L.A., February 17, 2013. In this instance, she did give an opening prayer and talked about her people, the Tongva, the original inhabitants of the L.A. basin, parts of Orange County, parts of Riverside, and some of the Channel Islands. Of downtown L.A., she said, “This was the village of Yangna.”

Original: Indigenous People and Sacred Lands Disrespected at L.A. Women's March