Many of you who check out the website had the opportunity to join us for one or more of the varied events, visits, and concerts that made up the Honor the Earth Tour 2000. Some of you may not have been able to attend but are interested in learning more about the Tour. Honor the Earth Tour 2000 was a remarkable journey, created to join music and activism and give voice to Native communities who are literally fighting for their lives in the wake and presence of extreme environmental injustice imposed upon them. The following is an account of various aspects of the Tour 2000, including goals and accomplishments, some which can be quantified, some which cannot.
Honor the Earth Tour 2000 was a 17-stop, 20-day concert and organizing tour that kicked-off September 30th and concluded on October 19th, spanning eight states from Montana to Arizona to Wisconsin. The Tour included 11 urban concerts, 5 reservation rallies/shows, and 1 reservation visit.
The 2000 Tour focused on two goals: stopping the Yellowstone buffalo slaughter and stopping nuclear waste storage on Native lands. The message of the Tour clearly linked these issues by stating that now is the time to right historic injustice and implement viable alternatives and solutions.
HTE implemented a two-fold strategy to heighten awareness and create change on these issues. First, we worked in Montana to support “Get Out the Indian Vote” efforts as a means to catalyze Native organizing, elect pro-buffalo candidates, and change statewide buffalo policy. Second, we employed a strategy of bringing together communities impacted by nuclear waste policy as a means to portray the environmental injustice of such policy and elevate the status of Native concerns. The nuclear industry exhibits a clear pattern of unjustly targeting Native communities for waste storage. The public is barely aware of this, and Native issues will continue to be marginalized unless greater visibility and public support is created. HTE Tour 2000 was a means to accomplish that end.
In addition to buffalo and nuclear waste policy, the Tour took up a host of related energy issues including uranium mining on Navajo land, the Zuni Salt Lake coal mine, mega dams in Cree territory, Wisconsin power lines, and the Crandon mine. We also supported the struggle for freedom for Leonard Peltier and honored Ingrid Washinawatok’s life on her home reservation in Wisconsin.
Overall Tour Accomplishments:
- More than 30,000 people attended Tour events. For many, these events provided first-time exposure to Native environmental justice issues. For Native communities, the Tour boosted the morale of organizers, forged new alliances, and sparked momentum for critical issues.
- In Montana, the “Get Out the Indian Vote” effort left a clear mark on state politics. In conjunction with Native Action, Honor the Earth contributed to securing the largest Indian registration and voter turnout numbers in Montana history. As a result, six Native state legislators were elected – five to the House and one to the Senate – three of them defeating incumbent Republicans. These numbers are unprecedented in any state.
- Three of the newly elected Native legislators were directly from districts where Honor the Earth held rallies: Northern Cheyenne, Blackfeet, and Flathead. This is the first time a Native person has represented either the Flathead or Northern Cheyenne Reservations. In addition, a pro-Indian, pro-sovereignty candidate was elected Attorney General for the state.
- For the first time, Native Action, Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC), Montana Conservation Voters, Northern Plains Resource Council, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and Buffalo Field Campaign worked together on a coordinated Native Vote-Buffalo campaign with Native leadership in the forefront. This alliance resulted in significantly shifting the political dynamic between established environmental groups and Native Action by elevating the status of Native leadership and Native issues.
- For Skull Valley representatives, the show of support they received in their own state of Utah and also in Minnesota offered hope. Joining hands with other impacted communities revitalized unity.
- In the Southwest, HTE events built bridges between grassroots groups such as Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) and Dine CARE who jointly sponsored the Windowrock and Albuquerque shows. This shared effort provided the opportunity for these groups to reach a large reservation-based and urban constituency with their message.
- HTE visited the Zuni Pueblo to support community resistance to the Salt Lake coal mine. We also worked closely with the SAGE alliance to sponsor a successful media visit to Petroglyph National Park the day of the Albuquerque show. Zuni, SAGE Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), ENDAUM, and Dine CARE participated in the Albuquerque concert, creating strong unification around environmental justice issues in the region.
- In Stevens Point, Wisconsin over 500 people attended an HTE rally sponsored by campus groups of color and progressive student groups. A delegation from the Bad River, Menominee, and Mole Lake communities also participated. Artists attended a hearing on the Crandon Mine the next morning, followed by a lunch at the Mole Lake Bingo Hall and then a gathering at Ingrid Washinawatok’s gravesite. A community feast was held prior to the free and final concert that night. These two days of events were politically effective and successful, and nurtured both the organizing work and spirit of the participating groups and communities.
- At each show, local speakers took the stage to educate audience members and generate support. In Montana, a Get Out the Indian Vote speaker (Gail Small, Native Action) was paired with a buffalo speaker (Pat Smith, InterTribal Bison Cooperative). In Salt Lake and Minneapolis, Tom Goldtooth (IEN) joined Skull Valley, Prairie Island and Western Shoshone speakers to create a visual image of nuclear injustice. In Minneapolis, this group was joined by a council member of the Picicikimak Cree’s who are fighting Xcel Energy on mega-dam development. In other markets, compelling local leadership shared the stage with Winona LaDuke and moved audience members to act.
- Political action cards for audience members to fill out were distributed to audience members and targeted the following issues: Native Vote, Buffalo, Nuclear Waste, Uranium Mining on Native Lands, Crandon Mine, and Freedom for Leonard Peltier. The total number of cards collected (with complete address for data entry) was 5,737, meaning 1 out of 5 people participating in Tour events filled out and submitted a card. This is a very high rate of response, considering the average response rate on most direct marketing projects is less than 1%, or 1 out of 100.
- 16,000 programs covering the issues of Buffalo, Voting, and Nuclear Waste were distributed to audience members.
- Vandenberg Public Relations coordinated the distribution of all HTE press releases and Tour related information, placing two national stories, one in the New York Times, the other in the Los Angeles Times. In total, HTE reached more than 15 million people through print coverage alone.
- The newly updated Honor the Earth website, featuring increased interactive, participatory and community building vehicles (including polls, community forums, multi-media functions, free email, chat functions, and other cutting edge technology) received more than 30,000 visitors during the period of September through December 2000.
- The Honor the Earth board is in the process of granting nearly $100,000 to grassroots Native environmental groups and communities. These and other monies were raised through ticket sales and private donations. A full accounting of money distributed to Native groups will be made available soon. Contact the HTE office for further information.
Clearly, Honor the Earth Tour 2000 had much success, serving to inspire, educate, and mobilize thousands of people across the country. HTE helped create a strong base of political influence not only among progressive forces but within institutions of power. Musically, the Tour was diverse and powerfully represented by Native talent. Inside the concert venues, beautiful front-of-house tables displayed photos and captions pertaining to issues and highlighting activists. Newsletters and programs from sponsoring groups were made available. Information tables were staffed by Native groups and each night during the show, a powerful video directed by Chris Eyre (“Smoke Signals”) was shown to covey the messages of the tour.
Art and politics, community building, righting historic injustice, creating change for a just and compassionate future, giving voice to those who would help guide us toward such a future – these are what Honor the Earth is all about. Please stay involved, we can always use your help (especially given the environmental challenges we face with this new administration). If you have any further questions about the Tour or Honor the Earth, please contact us. Stay in touch for further information regarding upcoming HTE events and plans.
(Much of this Tour Summary was taken from a memo distributed by Faye Brown, Honor the Earth’s Campaign Coordinator).