The last time I remember camping without any luxury was when I was six or seven years old, during the Siege of Big Mountain, when the Nation of Islam and Native American tribes came together so the government would not take the sacred land that wasn’t legally theirs.
So I must admit I have been a tad bit spoiled by the simple luxuries of hot water and electricity. Immediately, Warrior Woman and Chief Ernie Longwalker graciously gave my party a cabin in “The Museum” when we arrived at the Redwind Aboriginal International InterNation Apr. 21, the first day of a weekend retreat with youth organizations from Los Angeles and the Bay Area, approximately four hours from Oakland, Calif.
Chief Ernie Longwalker and Warrior Woman have been involved with the Nation of Islam since the 1970s. Longwalker and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan married my parents in 1976, because my parents wanted to show the strong bond between the Black and Red nations.
In 1977, the American Indian Movement began a protest, “The Longest Walk,” which started in Alcatraz Island in the Bay Area and ended in 1978 in Washington, D.C. I was the only girl of the three children born during this walk. Ernie Peters, the western national director for the American Indian Movement, actually walked from California to Washington, D.C.–and that is how he got his name “Longwalker.”
So coming into the Bay Area for the first time and seeing Alcatraz Island was heartfelt.
A rich history
My mother Wauneta LoneWolf came from Pine Ridge, South Dakota and moved to New York City in the 1970s as the first Native American to work for NBC. During her stay, she was recruited to work for Don King Enterprise as Muhammad Ali’s public relations manager. If you happen to have the documentary “When We Were Kings,” you can see my mother sitting next to Muhammad Ali during his commentary. That was her introduction to the Nation of Islam and the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. During her time at Ali’s camp, she met Minister Farrakhan.
Growing up in South Dakota and living the Red Road, she noticed a strong similarity between Islam and believed that Native Americans should know Islam as well.
After losing contact with Minister Farrakhan for some years, my mother reconnected with him when he began rebuilding the Nation of Islam. At the time, she was pregnant with my brother Julio and I was five years old. She eventually moved to Phoenix and began helping the Nation with the rebuilding of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s home there. He had said that we should always have a home for the Native Americans, and so Maria Farrakhan and my mother began not only the remodeling of the Big House, but also the small house next to it, the Indian House. Even today after its updated remodeling, the Native American designs in the home are still visible.
Chief Ernie Longwalker took Minister Farrakhan to his first sweat lodge (Inipi) and taught him a lot of our spirituality. Chief Longwalker, Warrior Woman and my mother have been very supportive and loyal to Minister Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam for many years, and traveled internationally with him to develop some of the key friendships we still have today.
When I toured Redwind Nation, I saw the appreciation of many Black pioneers. There were news clippings and pictures of Kwame Ture, Minister Khallid Muhammad, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Muammar Qadhafi, Cesar Chavez, Che Guevara, Malcolm X and others.
The second day of the retreat there was a 21-gun salute from Schafik Handal, a Palestinian organizer for El Salvador. We gathered around the campfire for prayer. There were approximately 100 people that attended the retreat.
Minister Keith from Oakland, Calif. caravanned 32 Muslims, which included students from Muhammad University. Various leaders from multicultural organizations spoke. Dedon, from the All African Revolutionary Party, conducted a workshop on “The History of Revolution.” He advised the youth to study the revolutionaries in Africa, explaining that revolution means “mass social change.” He noted the Ivory Coast young patriots, who were 300,000 young people killed during the protest against the French control.
Min. Keith thanked Chief Longwalker and Warrior Woman for the opportunity to welcome the Oakland Believers to RedWind Nation. “We come together with various labels, organizations,” he said, “but one thing we have in common that we all desire is freedom, justice and equality.”
He also explained what revolution means to him, saying, “Islam is revolutionary in a world ruled by Satan. Revolution is love. Jesus came by love.”
Several students shared their perspective, as well. Annie Lopez, a 16-year-old Mexican resident of Los Angeles, organized 25,000 students to protest against immigration for the May 1 demonstration. She said her main source to spread the word was a website called myspace.com. She said they organized a “walk out” from school, where the students wore U.S. flags and Mexican flags.
A young warrior from the Chicano movement said, “We may not know our roots, but we are Brown for a reason.” The students walked more than 20 miles. I asked her if any Black students protested with them and she replied, “That they walked out with them, but they didn’t march with them. They looked at it as an opportunity to leave school.”
She attributed this to ignorance of the real issues. “The Mexican and the Black youth in the Los Angeles area have the same issues, fight the same enemy,” she said, “but we don’t look at the bigger issue, instead they kill and fight each other.”
Warrior Woman explained that the essence of the 11th Annual Youth Conference is to “bring us together to establish and educate the youth to develop relationships.”
Chief Longwalker, Warrior Woman and the Mdewankaton tribe in Minnesota won the four-year fight against the federal government for their land. “On paper, Caucasians were claiming Native blood to receive a million dollars a year from the local casinos, while the full-blooded Native Americans weren’t receiving anything,” recalled Chief Longwalker, a fifth generation, full-blooded Dakota man.
They are also receiving back pay and establishing an Aboriginal government on their land, which is a major accomplishment, because this fight of non-Indians claiming sovereignty for the money is happening throughout the country.
“I am tired of these meetings, because once you leave that gate, you are back to the sickness of the city,” he told the group.
He explained that four to five ceremonies are geared to the women and how men need to respect women. He told the men that they do not have any right to call themselves men. He shared when a man did something wrong in his community when he was growing up, that man would shave his head to represent his shame. But today, he lamented, all young men are shaving their heads.
“We have a superior intelligence that came from God, Allah, Grandfather, the Great Mystery and you are killing our women and children because our men are weak. Take your children by the hand and ask them what you need,” he urged. “Stop telling them what to do!”
Point taken. Brothers and Sisters, I hope to see you all next year at the next Redwind Youth Conference.