Defending First Nation rights

ONE OF a series of flash mob demonstrations in support of the Idle No More movement was held on December 29 at the Capitol mall in Olympia, Wash.

Hundreds formed a circle at a main intersection of the mall to sing, dance to and drum with songs of the local Nisqually and Squaxin Island tribes.

The Idle No More movement began with the Canada First Nations people in response to recent land-use legislation. "What this legislation represents is further stripping of indigenous lands in Canada...basically without the consent of the tribes there," said Erin Genia a Dakota tribe member and one of the organizers of the Olympia demonstration.

The demonstration was also held to support Attawapiskat First Nations Chief Theresa Spence who, at that point, had been on a hunger strike for 19 days. Spence has said that the hunger strike will continue until Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees to meet with indigenous leaders.

The mall portion of the demonstration was short due to the fact that a similar demonstration days earlier in nearby Tacoma, Wash., ended when participants were kicked out of a mall there by security and banned from the mall for 24 hours.

The Olympia demonstration continued, however, with a march to a waterfront location about a half-mile away.