Native Americans Lead Protest

Native Americans led a protest rally near Greenfield September 9 following a corporate acid spill that killed thousands of big and small fish in a river. The September 1 spill into the North river in Colrain, Massachusetts was from a factory owned by Barnhardt Corporation of North Carolina.

“We prayed for the water, the wildlife, and those who work at Barnhardt -- they need prayers too. We are all connected to this watershed, and we are all connected through water. Water has memory and is considered a living being -- a sacred being, in Indigenous spirituality,” protest organizer Rhonda Anderson told the Valley Post. “I am Iñupiaq- Athabaskan from Alaska. I have lived in New England most of my life, and currently call Colrain my home. I want to recognize this land we are standing on, this land that we are all benefiting from, was and still is Wabenaki territory, land lovingly inhabited by Sokoki Abenaki, Pocumtuck, Mohican, and Nipmuc people.... Sokoki means 'people who go their own way' and they are still in southern Vermont."

Anderson continued, “We're in the watershed of the Kwenitekw river, or Connecticut river. While this river has known several names by many different groups of people along along its flowing path, Kwenitekw has stuck. It is important to remember that this area has been an integral place for Indigenous people to reside, gather, farm, hunt and fish for millennia.... This action is a statement to Barnhardt: This kind of pollution is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. We are sending a message to (state regulators): hold industry accountable for such devastating pollution.” The regulators she referred to are appointed by – and serve at the pleasure of – Republican governor Charlie Baker.

Rhonda Anderson can be reached at inua7@msn.com.

Jake Mayer was at the rally. He told the Valley Post, “Rhonda is an incredible advocate for people and planet.”

The below photo shows Anthony Melting Tallow holding a feather and leading a prayer at the rally. He is a member of the Siksika Nation. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click “see full size image.” The photo was taken by Jason Montgomery. To reach Montgomery go to www.AttackBearPress.com.

Tallow said, “This is the time of the gathering of all the spirits, because it’s going to take all of us to turn this world around from where it’s going.”

Rebecca Tippens was at the rally. She told the Valley Post that, contrary to some media reports, Barnhardt Corporation did not tell regulators about the leak until it was pressured to do so by neighbors who saw lots of dead fish floating in the river. Tippens said children often swim in the North river. “Reparations should include restocking the river and perhaps having children involved with the restocking so it becomes a deep lesson learned for them,” she said. “Teach deeper respect and love of our rivers and the creatures that live in them.”

Tippens asked the Valley Post to include her e-mail address in this article. It is rebecca_tippens@yahoo.com.

Montgomery, the photographer, told the Valley Post, “What we hoped to do was first honor the loss of life through prayer with Anthony Melting Tallow, then let Barnhardt know that we see them, and that we will not be silent.”

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In other news from the Valley, seven people were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience September 10 at Wendell Massachusetts State Forest near Greenfield, bringing the total number of arrests to 32 since August 6. The goal is to stop planned logging on publicly owned land. More information is at:

www.valleypost.org/node/1529

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In other news from the Valley, on September 20 in Springfield there will be a climate change rally. It starts at 12:30 p.m. at Court Square. The same day at 4:30 p.m. there will be a climate change march in Northampton from Sheldon Field to city hall. Also that day, in Greenfield at 5 p.m. on the town common there will be a rally for the same issue. Details about all these events are available from a group that has a web site at www.ClimateActionNowMA.org. Recent Valley Post articles have details about climate protests that day in Keene, Brattleboro, and Amherst.

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In other news from the Valley, in Keene on September 5 activists attended a city council meeting to demand the speed limit be reduced in their neighborhood to make it safer for people to walk and ride bicycles. After a long debate among the councilors, the activists won. Twenty-eight people had signed the activists' petition.

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In other news from the Valley, thanks to the work of bike-ped activists, the state of Massachusetts will invest $134,000 in Buckland, Massachusetts near Greenfield for better sidewalks and $207,000 for new bicycle paths in Springfield. The state announced the news September 5. The activists have web sites at www.WalkBoston.org (despite the name this group works state-wide) and www.MassBike.org.

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