On March 24, 2013, an Educational Forum and Event was held at Andrews Park in Norman, OK. The purpose was to inform others as to the dangers and issues surrounding the KXL Pipeline that is being built for the purpose of delivering dirty ugly tar sands oil to the Gulf of Mexico from Canada.
The day was very cold, with wind chill temperatures in the 20’s and the wind blowing out of the north. Despite the freezing temperatures, folks came out in winter gear and with blankets to hear the speakers and the musicians. Although the event was short in attendance, the goal to educate was made as listeners heard from a landowner who filed a lawsuit to get his land returned to him that was taken by eminent domain along with lawyers on the ground who are working with Tar Sands Blockade folks to stop the pipeline. Professor John Davis did an outstanding job emceeing the event and keeping the event moving.
View slideshow: Indigenous and Buffy Sainte Marie Perform
Only two Oklahomans spoke at the event, Doug Parr and Brenda Golden. Parr spoke of the work being done with civil disobedience and how stopping the building of the pipeline for one day makes an impact. Golden spoke of unity and how we need each other to save our planet for our future generations. She began by stating how much respect she has for Richard Ray Whitman, Earl Hatley and Casey Camp, and how she wished they were speaking instead of her as they are much more eloquent and versed on environmental issues and the Pipeline. Golden stated she has the utmost respect for the leaders and activists that withdrew their support and participation in the event. “Intergenerational Trauma and the resulting lateral violence are indicative of long seeded problems in our communities,” she said. “Boundaries and territories are well settled in Native American communities so that all outsiders are looked at with suspicion,” she continued, “that’s completely understandable given the hundreds of years of abuse, oppression and lies our people have endured.” Further, our Native people have three layers of government to contend with to get answers, the tribal government, the state government and national government, she said. Golden said that we need to hold our tribal and state leaders accountable and ask them to answer where they stand on the Pipeline because it is coming through our lands and has the potential to poison our waters and ruin our natural resources. But more importantly, we need to stand together united to stop the pipeline now, before its too late.
Inclement weather was a force for the travelers; Indigenous arrived very late in Norman the night before the event. And Buffy Sainte Marie’s plane was diverted from Denver to Dallas, and after spending the night in the airport, she and her band then rented a car and arrived at Andrews Park just in time for the concert. Indigenous and Mato Nanji rocked the outdoors with a set of blues that made a person get up and dance. Buffy Sainte Marie came on the stage and was incredibly personable and vivacious as she got the crowd into the music and her songs.
She spoke of the C-45 Bill in Canada and how 5 pages that is confusing to read changes all environmental rights of the people. "Look at how easy treaty rights are being trampled," she said adding that the Idle No More Movement as a result was bringing attention and change. Everyone sang along to “Up Where We Belong” a song she wrote that Jennifer Warren and Joe Cocker recorded and became an Academy Award winner. When she sang “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” the crowd was reminded of Leonard Peltier and those who are criticized and condemned for activism. She spoke of how activism is a hard, tireless and thankless job and that it takes a certain kind of person to be an activist. Both bands performed despite the bitter cold and the wind sweeping across the stage and many wondered how they could perform and play guitar with frozen fingers. And for that they deserve all the respect and love in the world for displaying such dedication to the cause and to the people.