Posted by on Dec 7, 2018 in Featured

Why I March: Chenae Bullock ‘Unifying Indigenous Peoples’

Why I March: Chenae Bullock ‘Unifying Indigenous Peoples’

On January 18 2019, Indigenous peoples from across the world will be uniting in Washington D.C. to stand together to bring awareness to the injustices affecting Indigenous men, women and children.

In the lead up to the historic event, Last Real Indians will be featuring individuals involved with the Indigenous Peoples March.

LRI editor Matt Remle recently spoke with Chenae Bullock (Shinnecock Indian Nation) about the march, issues she hopes to high-light and why it is important for Indigenous peoples to show unity.

Tell us about the Indigenous Peoples March? 

The indigenous Peoples March is to eliminate all of the border injustices that divide our indigenous communities. All around the world there are indigenous communities fighting for the same causes, but because we haven’t United, the battles we face on our own are destroying our communities. Whether is substance abuse, rape, kidnapping, obesity, tribalism, or gentrification issues are hard to create resolutions for when we are divided. This march will allow us to unite and recognize that our battles are essentially identical and many of our traditional ways are similar. The differences are not great enough to encourage division. The reality is that we are dying left and right for so many reasons, and that alone is enough to put any difference aside. 

What issues will you be high-lighting at the march (how can people support that issue/s)? 

The issues I will be highlighting is our spiritual and physical connection to the land and water. The violence to the land and water is genocide to our people. There are laws that have been created against our way of living. And if we cannot live, then we will die. The different laws that have been passed and amended were all under the impression that they were  supposed to protect and preserve our sovereign rights. These very same laws under the constitution in which was modeled after our traditional governmental structure has been violated from the very same law makers. We have to as indigenous peoples begin to understand the literacy of these laws and acts, and hold the law makers accountable and strengthen our alliance to rise above this oppression. Because at the rate in which we are fighting for the land and water rights, the more land is being stolen and destroyed, the more water is being scarce and polluted, and the more of our people are becoming infected and killed. This is beyond an indigenous peoples issue it’s a human rights issue. We as indigenous peoples have unique creation stories and teachings about specific bodies of water and territory of land that allow us to know how to care for it for all people who live from it. If we are removed from it, the land and water will no longer be healthy for anyone who tries to live from it. 

Why is it important for indigenous peoples to show unity? 

It is important for indigenous peoples to show unity because since Indigenous still exist in every inch of this world. It will show the society of this world that they too can unify without the focus of individual power or status. 

Why will you be in the streets 1/18?

I will be in the streets of Washington DC to sing the songs and speak the language of my Algonquin ancestors to help liberate the people who will also be in the streets on that day. Awareness can be effective so long as we are unified and we continue to grow. I feel in my being that 1/18/19 will change the world. Change is hard because much has to be destroyed to do so but we must remain strong and resilient in order to create lasting change. 

Chenae Bullock

Traditionalist, water protector, activist, business woman, writer, and artist, Chenae Bullock is a tribal member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation located in Southampton Long Island. She is known to many by her traditional indigenous name, Sagkompanau Mishoon Netoouesqua in the Shinnecock language. The translation is “I Lead Canoe I am Buttetrflywoman. Born in Philadelphia, PA and raised all over the world as an Air Force brat she has always lived a diversified life. Both parents raising her to understand she will always considered bi-racial as an African American and Native American to the rest of the world. Growing up with these teachings, Chenae has focused her life on not only balancing these two backgrounds, but creating awareness of the importance of culture and heritage.

Directly after graduating Marymount Manhattan College in New York City 2011 Chenae return home to the Shinnecock Indian Reservation and served as the Shinnecock Indian Youth Council advisor. In the fall of 2011 she represented not only the Shinnecock and Long Island tribes but all of the East coastal Algonquin people in running for Miss Indian Nations 2011 and placed 1st in both the Children’s Choice award and talent contest. Also in 2011, she paddled to Swinomish in the annual Tribal Canoe Journeys in Washington State. In 2012, she led members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in a historic for day canoe journey from Shinnecock territory in Long Island New York to Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan territory in Connecticut. This journey had not been made in over 400 years. In the same year, she returned to the Annual Tribal Canoe Journeys and Paddled to Squaxin Island. In 2014, she paddled in the Nimpuk Sacred Deer Island Paddle in Massachusetts. In 2015, she was asked to give the open prayer as a representative of indigenous people at the Justice or Else Million Man March in Washington, DC. Shortly after the March she was appointed as a Board Member for the Unite or Die organization as the Native American Liaison. In 2016, she was she paddled as the pacer in the Largest Mishoon made in over 400 years from Mystic Seaport, CT to Noyak Beach, CT.

In the fall of 2016, Chenae and several other Shinnecock and sister tribal members answered the call out made by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock North Dakota. She lived there in the camp for 4 months. She returned home at the end of December and began to mobilize for the Women’s March at the start of 2017. She participated in the Women’s March DC and was asked to close the rally in prayer and asked to lead the songs during the March on Independence Avenue.

This brings her work the present time in which she is currently working as the co-director of the National Association of Cultural and Heritage Preservation. Which is an organization that preserves national cultures and the heritage of all people for the future generations through leadership, education, economic innovation, implementation and programs. 

For more information on the Indigenous Peoples March go here

Follow on Instagram here #whyimarch #ipmdc19

by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle)

Matt Remle (Lakota) is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire and the co-founder of Mazaska Talks. Follow @wakiyan7