Call it a protest, call it a demonstration but whatever you call it, the Women's March on D.C. will go down in history as a movement. Hundreds of thousands attended the March in its originating city of Washington, D.C. but what's more thrilling is that, millions of others participated in sister marches all over the world. KMI Board President, Lycia Ortega Maddocks witnessed first-hand, the joining of women, men, and children, each with his or her own purpose for their presence. While several minority groups gathered for their specific causes, Lycia joined the Indigenous Women Rise group, a group that was formed by a committee of women advocating for Indigenous women to, "stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families." The organizers planned and organized with the intention to make a bold statement to our new President of the United States around women's rights.
The Indigenous Women gathering began on the east side of the National Museum of the American Indian with Casey Camp Horinek, Ponca Nation CouncilWoman and WECAN Advisory Council Member, offering a prayer to prepare the attendees for a peaceful march. You could recognize the group of Indigenous attendees by their turquoise scarves with a very distinct pattern. The Native Americans in Philanthropy organization gifted a limited number of special scarves created by Native designer, B.Yellowtail, with a Crow Women Warrior image that symbolizes the, "Women’s warbonnet dance or “Shoshone Warbonnet Dance” (as depicted in the art), a ceremony to honor the young leaders of our Indigenous nations. Bethany explained to the audience that, "This is the only time a woman is to wear the sacred warbonnet, the dance ceremony is the highest recognition of our mighty Apsaalooke women.” Bethany was among the group of guest speakers including the steering committee members of Indigenous Women Rise group, Sarah Eagle Heart, Anathea Chino, Deborah Parker, Kandi Mossett, Rosalee Gonzalez and Chrissie Castro.
The attendees then began to march through crowds estimated at 500,000, pausing for moments to pray, dance, sing, and demonstrate support for Standing Rock Water Protectors. As the group approached the march’s endpoint at the Washington Memorial, organizers encouraged the participants to sing in unison, the Women’s Warrior Song, to carry them to the finish. As their voices grew louder, crowds parted and watched as the Indigenous Women Rise group marchers gracefully moved through the streets. Crowds cheered and applauded and the media swarmed around the group to film this wonderful moment. To cap off the event, the group engaged in one last round dance and a visiting tribal chief offered a prayer, and encouraged the attendees to continue the movement by returning home and finding ways to bring awareness to their local issues, as well as speak up at a national level so that Native American issues are seen and garner attention where it matters most.