Centering Indigenous Womxn in the Womxn’s March MovementTweet
For the third year in a row, Seattle Womxn Marching Forward, the official Seattle chapter of the Women’s March, is honored to work with a dedicated group of indigenous activists to honor the Womxn’s March on Seattle. Since the original Womxn’s March in 2017, Seattle Womxn Marching Forward has sought out, listened to, and prioritized the voices of indigenous womxn in all the work that they have done.
In 2017, the Indigenous Sisters Resistance formed in response to a direct request from the original March organizing coalition to lead the first Womxn’s March. Indigenous Sisters Resistance imbued the Womxn’s March on Seattle with the gravity and beauty that the event demanded, leading 175,000 marchers out of the park and into the future. With their support, we acknowledged the stolen land on which we marched, while also honoring the love and power that flowed through the crowd. As we left Judkins Park on that beautiful January day, led by the Indigenous Sisters Resistance, two bald eagles circled over our heads.
“As one of the organizers for that first year’s Womxn’s March,I will say that we didn’t have to do much to get folks to show up,” says Jennifer Fuentes. “The large numbers of people we saw come out was a grassroots response to the change they felt in the nation’s climate. This was true for our Native people as well. Personally,this was one of the first times I have ever seen that many Native people show up to a rally/march that was not specifically for Natives. Scores of Native people came out. We brought our drums, rattles, scarves, signs, medicines and prayers and join our allies, despite the differences we may have had, to take to the streets. It was such an amazing and powerful day, one I will never forget.”
In 2018, Seattle Womxn Marching Forward did not organize the Women’s March 2.0, instead hosting a day of action and activism called Womxn Act on Seattle. The group arranged, organized, and sponsored nearly 100 different events from Sammamish to West Seattle. One of the day’s most extraordinary events, Indigenous Women Storytelling: Stories of Leadership and Resistance, was presented by Chief Seattle Club and co-hosted by Colleen Echohawk-Hayashi and Abigail Echo-hawk, who at the conclusion, received a standing ovation. At the Casa Latina hub, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womxn organization led a panel and short training to raise awareness of missing and murdered indigenous women and the direct link to human trafficking.
This year, programming for the Womxn’s March anniversary weekend was determined by a group of front-line activists and members of targeted communities. Indigenous leaders Roxanne White, Jennifer Fuentes, and Katherine Poco-Enders sat on the programming team and helped guide the content for the march, rally, and day of action.
“I have been participating in the Seattle’s womxn’s march for 3 year. November of 2017 I was asked if I wanted to be a part of the W.M.2018. As a survivor and advocate of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls it was undeniable that MMIWG needed to lead the march so that we could shed light to a dark subject. Creator, ancestors and all of our Relatives across turtle island did the rest. I have been an active member on the womxns march committee for two years. I believe our voices are so important at every table I hope to see Sisters from across coast Salish lands join us this summer for the organizing of womxn’s march 2020. The entire committee this year has been more than supportive we have grown a sisterhood amongst us. I look forward to our ongoing collaborative for the unity and education for those that seek participation,” says Roxanne White.
Colleen Echohawk-Hayashi will co-MC the Womxn’s March on Seattle and along with indigenous community members Deborah Guerrero and Alice Oligario, will provide the land acknowledgement and opening ceremony for the rally. For the first time ever, the Womxn’s March will kick off a day of learning, as marchers arriving at Seattle Center can choose from a dozen different panels to attend. From 2:30 –4 p.m., Deborah Guerrero will lead and event called Indigenous Healers United, comprised of indigenous healers who will come together to encourage and heal as needed to sustain powerful communities.
On Sunday, indigenous womxn will lead the land acknowledgement and opening ceremony at Casa Latina. At Plymouth Church, indigenous womxn will speak on an incredible panel called Unleashing the Power of Connecting with Ancestors: Knowing Who We Are and Where We Come From. And at Phinney Neighborhood Association, Colleen Echohawk-Hayashi and Abigail Echo-hawkwill revive the Indigenous Womxn’s Storytelling event,featuring local indigenous womxn leaders from a wide variety of fields and expertise.
Seattle Womxn Marching Forward acknowledges the intergenerational trauma forced upon indigenous womxn, who experience higher rates of chronic and preventable disease, domestic violence, and poverty than almost any other population in America. We center their voices in our work not just because of these challenges, but because we know in our hearts that the very land upon which we march belonged first to our indigenous sisters. Any march worthy of the name Womxn’s March must be led by, guided by, and exist to honor indigenous womxn.