The following is the statement I prepared for the Capital Pride Board of Directors meeting on May 8, 2017. In order to make space for other Two Spirit LGBTQIA people in the audience I didn’t read this in its entirety. You can watch a video of both myself speaking to the Board and Capital Pride’s Executive Director, Ryan Bos’ response. I share this not only as a demand for Capital Pride to change its ways, but for Pride boards and committees across Turtle Island to make fundamental institutional changes to uplift all of our most marginalized community members.
Osiyo! My name is Jen Deerinwater. I am Bisexual, Two Spirit, multiply Disabled, and Tsalagi. I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and reside here in D.C.
I’m present today to speak to the unmitigated harm that Capital Pride is causing my communities through your sponsors, police presence, colonization, and erasure of us on leadership and planning levels.
Capital Pride occurs on Piscataway Nation land. You have a responsibility to consult with them as well to have LGBTQIA Two Spirit Indigenous People in leadership positions. You have not only failed on this, but have colluded with the very entities that are raping and murdering us.
The Maryland Live! Casino is a key sponsor for both Capital Pride and President Trump. Before even taking office, Trump has wreaked havoc on Indigenous communities. He has used such egregious language as “Pocahontas” and his supporters have even used the foul slur “squaw.”
In the past, Trump has said that the Mashantucket Pequots do not “look like Indians” and have accused other Native Nations of colluding with the mafia. He did this all in an attempt to stop our economic sovereign rights to casinos and to provide for our people. David Cordish of the Cordish Companies, which owns Maryland Live! Casino, has been described as “one of the key alliances in the president’s inner circle” and his son, Reed Cordish, serves in Trump’s cabinet.
Since taking office Trump has placed the management of federal lands, including Native lands, into the hands of the states which furthers the attack on our sovereignty, increases our genocide, as well as the rape of our Mother Earth.
Trump has also restarted both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines. Resource extraction bring man camps onto our land which plays a key role in the devastatingly high rates of sexual assault, trafficking, disappearance, and murder of our women. 84.3% of Native Women have been assaulted in our lifetimes and the overwhelming majority of our attackers are non-Native men. I am survivor of multiple rapes, domestic violence, and stalking all by non-Native men.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is partially funded by Wells Fargo, another large sponsor of Capital Pride. I was at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in North Dakota. I saw the violence first hand that the U.S. Government and law enforcement committed against our people. I felt the pain of tear gas and mace and the around clock presence of guns loaded with live ammunition pointed on myself, my people, and our non-Native accomplices. I stood on the front lines not only with our straight and cis relatives, but with our LGBTQIA and Two Spirit relatives. I heard the stories of their arrests, abuses, and humiliations at the hands of the state all for the sake of dirty, dead oil.
Wells Fargo also funds private prisons. Native People have the highest rates of incarceration in the U.S. of all ethnicities. From our youth to our Women, Men, and Two Spirit People we are thrown in cages at unprecedented rates. Wells Fargo profits off of our genocide.
The presence and participation of law enforcement at Capital Pride furthers the prison industrial complex and school-to-prison pipeline that is stealing and killing both Indigenous People and Disabled People. 56% of people murdered by law enforcement have some type Disability. The police and prisons harass, beat, incarcerate, and murder us simply because we are not able to follow their ableist training and commands. There have been several Native Women murdered by the police that were called for mental health wellness checks. The presence of law enforcement does not make me feel safer. In fact, it does the opposite.
Futhermore, Pride was created by Brenda Howard, a Bisexual Woman. It was a protest against the brutalities that we as a people suffered. It was not intended to be a party for the most privileged of our community nor a way for corporations to receive good press while they’re literally killing us.
Capital Pride has no right to exist if it comes at the expense of the most marginalized of our communities and the very stolen land that happens upon.