G.A. Minutes 11-13-18
It is really freaking cold tonight, the temperature is in the low teens and promises to go lower than that before morning. There’s a slight dusting of snow everywhere; it appears that winter has arrived and is planning to stay. We think most Duluthians are not real happy about this; there are a lot of advantages to living in Duluth but an overly long winter is not one of them.
Of course there are winter sports aficionados who live here too but we don’t have any friends who share that particular form of craziness. We believe it to be rather self indulgent, especially given the times we are living in. We do not wish to explain to our grandchildren why we were “fiddling while Rome burned”.
Anyway, the first group of people to arrive at Coney Island this evening consists of two Occupiers, two Anons, one straight-up Water Protector and a guy who is vaguely connected to Loaves N Fishes. We are just getting settled when the front door opens and a whole bunch of people come tumbling in. Now we are many and fill up several booths and many tables.
The Occupier who usually takes the meeting minutes sighs, “Well, I did it again for the second time in a month; I was unable to write minutes from our last meeting. When we have a big group like this, with everybody having good ideas about really interesting stuff and everyone talking at once, I just can’t keep up. Maybe if we all tried to focus on just one topic at a time and gave each person the time to express their view, we’d be able to accomplish more. We all agree and pledge to follow these guidelines. The cynics among us think “Good luck with that”.
A Water Protector comments, “The really good thing that happened at our last meeting was our discussion of The St. Paul Principles”. The St Paul Principles are a simple set of rules to be agreed upon between separate groups who have consented to work together toward a particular goal. The Principles are 1.) Our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups. 2.) The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space. 3.) Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events. 4,) We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.
Everyone finds these principles to be clear and to the point. An Occupier has made copies of the short statement and hands them out to the group. She figures people will have an easier time remembering the principles if they can have a copy of them at hand; it will be especially helpful when one’s cell phone needs charging.
Changing the subject, someone remarks, “So I see that the trial of our fellow Water Protector, expert and teacher of traditional Native ways didn’t go as planned?” An Occupier answers, “No it did not; the plan was to bring in Anishinaabe treaty rights”. She explains to those who are unaware, “The MN DNR and other federal and state agencies have been saying that Native people are subject to the same hunting and fishing laws as the rest of citizens of the United States. However, that’s not true. The Anishinaabe bands signed treaties with the United States when they ceded much of their land over for general usage by the colonists. The 1864 or 1865 treaties, I can’t remember which, or maybe it was both, say that the Anishinaabe people shall maintain the rights to fish, hunt and gather in the ceded lands, whenever they want to, forever and ever and ever….. So that means that Ojibwe people can do these things at any time.
“The USA government regulators have been ticketing and giving fines to Native people for hunting and fishing outside the so-called official government ‘seasons’ for a very long time. Now days, Native folks are deliberately and visibly hunting and fishing out of season on ceded lands in hopes of being “caught” by some type of nature cop. The Native peeps can then bring their case into the US court system and argue for their treaty rights. That’s why, over a year ago, our friend the traditional teacher, threw a gill net out on a lake in one of the reservations up north during the off season. However, the court system used a cheap shot on our friend”. We say, “What a surprise!” She continues, “They just charged him with a few minor technicalities and didn’t address the trying to fish out of season issue.
“The United States court system does not want to try a treaty rights case because they know they would lose. Our US Constitution states that nothing, not even He Who Shall Not Be Named’s magnificent executive orders, supersedes a treaty. Even our wacko Supreme Court does not want to tackle the issue”.
Another Occupier adds, “But they still want the Natives to behave like the mindless, consumer slaves that they expect the white folks to behave like; so that’s why they have their minions give tickets and fines and stuff”.
An Anon quires, “Hey, you know what?” We say, “What?” He answers, “All those Native Chiefs and everyone behind them were really smart. Given the situation they were in, with their backs to the wall and all that, they still managed to find a way to preserve something for their people. Amazing”. A Water Protector explains, “Well, it’s about, you know, the SEVEN GENERATIONS”.
Another Water Protector opines, “Speaking about the seven generations, it’s been reported that Enbridge is now doing actual work on their despicable Line 3 tar sands pipeline out on the Fond du Lac Reservation. I think it’s time to put our boots on the ground”. Everyone agrees with him; another Water Protector begins to make a list of other groups who may be willing to put their boots on the ground with us.
We start a conversation about what type of action we should conduct first; then we look around and notice that, although we are taking up most of the back end of Coney Island, there are customers scattered around here and there. The staff people also come over regularly to see if we need anything.
A Water Protector suggests, “I think we need to have this discussion somewhere that is not so public”. An Occupier agrees, “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. Seeing as Occupy originated as a movement where everyone is welcome, whenever Occupy Duluth holds a meeting we need to hold it in a space that is easily accessible to the general public. However, I think this Occupy meeting is now over?” Everyone agrees so we pack up and get ready to move to a more secure location.
The staff people are surprised to see us leaving so early; we don’t explain anything, we just clean up our mess, leave good tips and promise to see them back at Coney Island next Tuesday.