Walking with Russell

We met once.

We did not speak.

But for a few moments, we walked together.

On April 4, 1994, the Cleveland baseball team opened a new stadium.

My friends and colleagues among the indigenous peoples and the antiracism activists of Cleveland have a simple message. People are people. Not mascots. The name and logo of the Cleveland baseball team need to go.

The Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance organized an educational event for the stadium opening. The event included a public witness/demonstration at the new stadium. I attended.

As the stadium opened, we gathered in its shadow. Words were said. Prayers prayed. And then we walked in silence around the stadium.

Russell Means attended the event as one of the speakers. He walked with us. And for a few moments, we walked side-by-side. We made eye contact. We smiled. But no words passed our lips.

Russell, who journeyed to the spirit world early this morning, was a big man. And I walk slowly. I did not keep up for long. But those few moments, I remember, for they were a gift, an honor.

Russell lived a life of courage – working tirelessly and faithfully for the well-being of his people – of all indigenous peoples – of all oppressed peoples – of us all.

I give thanks for his life, his work, and his witness. I give thanks that, for a few moments on one April day in Cleveland, we walked together. I give thanks for all who in any way carry on the struggle for human dignity.

The National Museum of the American Indian will present a symposium: Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports on Thursday, November 1, 2012, 10 AM – 5:45 PM in Washington, D.C. I will not be there, but the event will be Webcast. As my friend Molly suggests, watching – and then taking action – would be an appropriate way to honor Russell Means.

People are people. Not mascots.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Human Rights

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