Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 22:19:50 -0500 (CDT)
Workers World <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Native Warriors to Hold International Demonstration
Buffalo[On Oct. 10 the North American Native Warriors Association will be holding an international demonstration in support of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and all political prisoners, and to protest the honoring of Columbus. The protest starts in Buffalo at 2 p.m., at Niagara and Porter Avenues. Participants will then be crossing the Peace Bridge for another rally in Fort Erie, Canada.
Workers World interviewed Grandpa Bear, the founder and coordinator of the North American Native Warriors Association.]
WW: What is the importance of Leonard Peltier's case and why should people attend the demonstration?
Grandpa Bear: My personal opinion, which is shared by my elders and constituents, is that we should be directing our attacks at the FBI because they are the source of this whole problem. We feel that we should be conducting all of these demonstrations around the FBI building instead of the White House. For several years now there have been more than 30 million petitions from around the world sent to President Clinton. He promised some years ago to do something about these petitions. He has done nothing.
WW: How long have you been organizing bridge crossings and why do you feel that they are important?
Grandpa Bear: We have been organizing bridge crossings for several years in the Buffalo area. We've not just conducted them on one bridge, but on every bridge from Western New York into Southern Ontario, Canada. As long as I've organized these bridge crossings, I've had people carry signs for Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal. I've also supported bridge crossings which I haven't organized in Detroit and Sarina, Ontario. Personally, I've demonstrated at the FBI building in Washington, DC, in Lafayette Park, and at the Justice Department in DC in support of Leonard Peltier's case.
In 1974, a treaty was made between Great Britain and the United States. Article 3 of the Jay Treaty states that Native people could cross the bridge without paying duty or taxes on their goods and that Native people could freely cross back and forth. Canada refuses to honor that treaty. Whenever we do a demonstration over that bridge, we don't pay anything. They let us through. We refuse to pay.
Since my personal involvement, I've wanted to have banners and signs for Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal to draw international support for all political prisoners. When we are on that bridge, we are over international waters. We are a sovereign people.
Most of our supporters have been non-Native supporters. I am very sad that more Native people in the New York area do not stand up and join their Native brothers and sisters in this struggle. They seem to be asleep, but I pray to the Creator that they will awake and stand up with us in this struggle. I urge everyone with a conscience to stand with us.
WW: What is the significance of having this demonstration on Columbus Day weekend?
Grandpa Bear: We do it around this time to protest the honoring of a
man who is recognized as the person who
Americas. This man was nothing but a murderer and a rapist. Native
people strenuously object to the renaming of streets and the statues
being built across the whole country because this man is the lowliest
scum of the earth.
Even in this modern era, NASA names some of their space ships after him. They don't say Columbus, but Columbia, which pertains to Columbus. After one of these demonstrations in front of the Columbus statue in Buffalo, I made a statement against Columbus, which was later rebutted by the family who began the Columbus Day celebration, which began in Buffalo. They said that I wouldn't be making this statement if I knew what a nice guy Columbus was. In fact, I know what kind of a person Columbus was.
This slaughter of Indigenous peoples in the Americas symbolizes the oppression that is being perpetrated upon the people of Iraq, Kosovo, and South America. When the settlers came to the Americas, they wanted the resources, like uranium and plutonium. They wanted gold and silver, and now in the Middle East they are after the oil.