Stop Lakota Cultural Theft in Boyce, Virginia

Feburary 10, 2016

To:             The Friends, Organizations, Native Warrior Societies, and Activist Allies of the Lakota Cante Tenza Strong Heart Warrior Society and grassroots Lakota Oyate (People)

Ally Sign-On letter and documents found at: https://cantetenza.wordpress.com/actions/protect/

The Cante Tenza Okolakiciye or Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Independent Lakota Nation, acting on behalf of traditional and grassroots Lakota people on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, have issued a Cease & Desist Order to a group of white and non-native individuals who willfully engaged in the theft of Lakota cultural property by raising and using a Lakota ceremonial tipi for their own use, without the free, prior, and informed consent of the grassroots Lakota Oyate and against the expressed denial of the Lakota Cante Tenza.

The individuals and their groups named in this February 18, 2016 Cease and Desist Order are as follows: Eric Joseph Lewis of Silver Spring, MD; Zachary Owen Heidemann of MD; Katie A. Poffenberger aka Alia Kaitan of Boyce, VA; Barry Wagner of Boyce, VA; Zee Kong of Rockville, MD; and Amanda Truett, of Accokeek, MD.  Additionally, this group of self-described “hippies” also operates under the name of The Harvest Collective, a permaculture education and gardening business in the Washington D.C. metro area.

The tipi is raised in violation at 1040 Page Brook Lane in Boyce, Virginia on land currently under ownership of Ned, Clara, and Katie Poffenberger. In postings and photos of the “Tipi Raising Party” found on social media, an empty beer bottle appears to lie inside the tipi and a future “Medicine Retreat” is planned.

Let it be known, Cante Tenza provided multiple written, phone, and in-person verbal communications denying the individuals and their groups permission to raise and use a Lakota ceremonial tipi and explained in detail the harmful effects to Lakota and other Indigenous peoples caused by their culturally disrespectful behaviors.

Despite this prohibition, on February 3, 2016 the individuals callously and with racist threats and statements refused to remove the tipi, return stolen property, or be accountable for their actions to Cante Tenza or the grassroots Lakota Oyate. Further they recklessly threatened the use of colonial law and police violence to block Cante Tenza efforts at open communication and accountability, with no regard for the historic or ongoing effects of colonial violence on the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island known as North America.

Theft of Indigenous cultural property and denying Lakota and other Indigenous people’s rights to preserve and protect their spiritual and cultural traditions is in direct violation of Lakota Customary (traditional ) Law, the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples International Treaties, International Human Rights Covenants, and no less than seven multi-national declarations of inherent Indigenous rights by Indigenous nations from across Mother Earth.

The willful denying of Indigenous authority acting to protect and preserve Indigenous cultural and spiritual traditions is not a trivial or insignificant action, but is deeply hurtful and emotionally traumatic to those Indigenous people fighting to preserve what culture they have left. Indeed, Indigenous people within the “United States” have been systematically oppressed from their own identities and denied recognition and rights to practice their cultural and spiritual traditions without interference. We are still denied many of the same cultural and spiritual rights afforded religions that are not original to these lands. These injustices are violent, perpetuating inter-generational trauma and genocide.

The flagrant and privileged claim to raise and use a Lakota ceremonial tipi for white and non-native use without grassroots Lakota consent is without moral or ethical defense and it must end now.

We call upon friends and allies of the Independent Lakota Nation and grassroots Lakota Oyate as well as Native activists, groups, and warrior societies to stand with us to resist these racist actions. We must stand together and defend our spiritual and cultural traditions, as well as the rights to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures in honor of our ancestors, for our people today, and for the future generations to come.

Please sign on to our Solidarity Letter and stand with us to end these actions. Fill out the form here or email your name, organization, and contact information to cantetenza [at] gmail.com.

Pilamaye and Hoka Hey!

 

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