Despite Travel Woes, Roadblocks, Iroquois Women March in DC

A half-asleep bus driver, roadblock delays and long metro lines couldn't keep Iroquois women away from the Women's March in DC
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In the early hours of January 21st a group of Iroquois women got on a bus atOnondaga Nation and started their journey to Washington, D.C. to participate in theWomen’s March. The plan was to meet up with other Indigenous women and participate in a sunrise ceremony at the National Museum of American Indian.

Despite a setback because of an overtired driver who needed to stop and nap, the Iroquois women reached the metro station outside of Washington, D.C. but were behind schedule due to roadblocks. Though their metro stop was farther away from D.C. than originally planned and ticket lines were hours long, spirits were lifted as a few of the women began to drum and sing on the train.

Jill Clause drums while Monique Sonoquie sings on the metro train. Photo-Alex Hamer

Jill Clause drums while Monique Sonoquie sings on the metro train.

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Once inside the city and off the metro, the group started their march down 9th Street, toward the Washington Monument.

The Haudenosaunee women march down the streets of Washington. Photo-Alex Hamer

The Haudenosaunee flag was carried out in front of the group while the burning of sweetgrass flowed through the air. The women’s honor song was sung while other Iroquois women in the group carried various signs.

Sweetgrass was burned along the march. Photo-Alex Hamer

Sweetgrass was burned along the march.

Sarah Patterson and Awenjiosta Myers holding their signs. Photo-Alex Hamer

Sarah Patterson and Awenjiosta Myers holding their signs.

Lisa Latocha carries her sign made with cornhusk dolls. Photo-Alex Hamer

Lisa Latocha carries her sign made with cornhusk dolls.

Native youth represented carrying her water is life sign. Photo-Alex Hamer

Native youth represented carrying her water is life sign.

Native youth carrying their banner pass the Haudenosaunee women. Photo-Alex Hamer

Native youth carrying their banner pass the Haudenosaunee women.

A woman watching the group and hearing their song was brought to tears. A man came up and thanked one of the women for coming and apologized for the wrongs committed upon her people.

The women pose for a photo with the Washington Monument in the background. Photo-Alex Hamer

The women pose for a photo with the Washington Monument in the background.

The Iroquois women then marched toward theU.S. Environmental Protection Agency offices (EPA). The women gathered outside and sang and chanted “Water is Life” as the crowd on the streets cheered and joined in. One employee from the EPA entering the building told the group that she was glad they had come.

Singing the women’s honor song in front of the EPA office. Photo-Alex Hamer

Singing the women’s honor song in front of the EPA office.

The women then walked from the EPA to the National Museum of American Indian in hopes of meeting up with other Native women for lunch. At the NMAI, staff members asked Sarah Patterson, Onondaga, if she would be willing to donate her sign to the museum. She agreed, and said she was happy that Haudenosaunee women who had traveled from Onondaga will have representation in the museum.

Sarah Patterson holding her sign that the National Museum of American Indian would request to be donated to the museum. Photo-Alex Hamer

Sarah Patterson holding her sign that the National Museum of American Indian would request to be donated to the museum.

Awhenjiosta Myers told ICMN after completing their trip, “As a Haudenosaunee woman we are the origin of democracy, we are the origin of the feminist movement. The Women’s March was just another opportunity to help do my part to stand up for our rights.”