Events and Conferences

From AIM to Idle No More: Indigenous Activism in North America

Join the roundtable discussion with influential Indigenous activists Madonna Thunder Hawk and Erica LeeDon't miss this opportunity to be part of a relevant and timely conversation discussing Indigenous activism in North America over the past fifty years.

Indigenous activism has long been an important form of political resistance and cultural empowerment for Native American and First Nations people on both sides of the 49th parallel. Surveying this history of activism provides an important window on the effects settler colonialism has had on Indigenous communities and the role solidarity has played in addressing its legacies.
Event Details
Thursday, November 19, 2015
12:30 - 2 p.m.
Admission is free.

Lincoln Park Room, J301
Mount Royal University
4825 Mount Royal Gate SW

Click here to RSVP.

For more information, please email Mark Ayyash, Assistant Professor, Sociology, or Liam Haggarty, Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies.


Madonna Thunder Hawk

Madonna Thunder Hawk, Ooehnumpa Lakota, known as Gilbert in the 1970s, is a veteran leader of every major event during the Red Power Movement from the occupation of Alcatraz to the Black Hills Gathering in 1980. She is co-founder of WARN, Women of All Red Nations and currently serves as the cultural liaison for the Lakota People's Law Project fighting to stop the illegal removal of Native children in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act by the state of South Dakota. She has also been the subject of a documentary called Warrior Women soon to be released.

While on the federal relocation program in San Francisco she joined the occupation of Alcatraz to be forever consumed by the Indigenous struggle for self-determination she moved to a number of cities on the Federal Relocation program eventually drawn into activism and has been a voice of resistance since. Hailing from the Feather Necklace Tiospaye spread across the Lakota reservations of South Dakota, Thunder Hawk has remained a committed grass roots organizer with a range of experience in American Indian rights protection, cultural preservation, economic development, environmental justice and Lakota treaty rights advocate.

Erica Lee

Erica Lee is a 22-year-old Cree woman raised by a single mother in a rough part of town. She's the first of her family to finish high school, the first to go to university and, as an organizer of the Idle No More movement, she represents a sea change in Canadian life and politics.

When she was in high school in Saskatoon, Ms. Lee's history teacher was a woman named Sheelah McLean, one of the four founders of Idle No More. Together they embody one of the movement's most intriguing aspects: It has been led and organized almost entirely by young, university-educated women. But Idle No More is also shaped by a collision of demographic and historic forces: a very young population, rising levels of income and education and a community that has suffered decades of injustice. It reads like a recipe for a resistance movement.

Ms. Lee is a fourth-year student in political philosophy at the University of Saskatchewan. She has been active in Idle No More since its first rally in a Saskatoon community centre, where she spoke to a humble gathering of 100 people. At the time, she thought it was no different than the other political activities she'd taken part in. The crowd was familiar, many of them veterans of the local activist scene, and there were no signs that this time was different. But within weeks, the movement started to take off.

Ms. Lee runs the Idle No More Facebook page, which she says reaches a million readers a week. It is one of the main communications hubs for the movement. She sees herself and the aboriginal friends she has made on campus as belonging to a new generation, one that will enjoy the benefits of university training, good jobs and an assurance about their place in the world. Like her, her friends are almost all the first of their family to go to university. They are determined to speak up against federal policies they see as wrongheaded and harmful to the environment. They are also aware of trying to live up to the expectations that come with their education.