OccupyDC and American Indians

So I’m walking through McPherson Square yesterday. I had just gotten off the bus from Indiana and was taking in all the changes in the occupation since Jo and I were here last week.

As I’m walking I cross paths with someone that definitely looks Indian (American Indian that is – PLEASE DON’T SAY “Native American”). He stops, looks at me and says, “You’re skin, aren’t you.” * I smile, nod and tell him “Yes. Lakota and Cherokee”. We shake hands as we introduce our selves and he tells me his name is Star and he’s Comanche. With our semi-common ancestry, we find a spot on a park bench and talk a bit.

Star is from Oklahoma. He’s here at OccupyDC as a representative of his tribe and nation. He reports back to tribal headquarters once a week on the events and happenings here. As we talk I’m amazed by his depth and breadth of knowledge about what is happening in this country which gave rise to all the “Occupy” movements.

I’m also impressed that he’s here. When people were stealing Indian land. Destroying the villages and forcibly removing them from their homeland, no one stood up to protest. Yet here in McPherson Square, there’s one Indian that’s saying, “Stop…enough is enough”.

*Saying “You’re skin…” is kind of a ‘code word’ for asking someone if they’re Indian. While this is not a secret, it’s also NOT common knowledge among non-Indians. It’s also offensive to an Indian if he/she is asked this question by someone who is NOT Indian. Kind of like calling a black person the “N” word unless you’re another black.

Jerry Nelson is a nationally recognized photojournalist. His work has appeared in many national, regional and local publications including CNN, USAToday, Upsurge, Earthwalkers and Associated Content. Nelson travels the country seeking out the people, places and things that make America unique and great. Nelson currently is in Washington D.C. pointing his camera at OccupyDC

Click Here to see some of his work.

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