Published April 19, 2017
LEECH LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION – In the last 50 years there have been many gains in the areas of civil, human and legal rights for Native Americans. These rights came at a very high price for so many native men and women. Our brothers and sisters were willing to sacrifice their lives so that we could live free today. These people were our saviors and protectors, a gift and a blessing to us all.
People such as Russel Means, Leonard Peltier, Vernon Bellcourt, Clyde Bellcourt, Floyd Redcrow Westerman, Leonard Crowdog and Dennis Banks.
It should be noted that there were many women who were heavily involved in the movement and we must recognize their contributions as well . Our women who give us life. It is their creator/god given maternal instinct that drives them to protect us.
This weekend we gathered to honor our warrior, our protector, Dennis Banks, who turned 80-years-old on April 12, 2017.
Dennis Talking to Crowd
It was a privilege to celebrate the life and legacy of this great man. To show him that we are grateful for his lifelong dedication to Native American causes.
In the morning we gathered at Dennis’ home on the Leech Lake reservation, located in Minnesota. When we arrived we were greeted with beautiful Buddhist chant songs. Dennis then gave us instructions for gathering wood, our medicine. This wood will be used for many sacred purposes. We use the Iron wood to build the frame for the Long House, which is an Ojibwe ceremonial building. We also gathered red cedar that is used for purification ceremonies, and red willow hat is used to make Ojibwe kinnikkinnick, which is smoked during ceremonies.
We then traveled to the Northern Lights Casino to join the celebration so lovingly prepared by his family.
Three Generations, picture by Patricia Montes Gregory
His brother began the celebration with some beautiful heartfelt words. He said, “To be a pipe carrier. You have to be true to the cause, true to your people and Dennis is that way.
Dennis was concerned with justice, freedom truth, honesty, and. peace. He has fought hard and long. He has traveled the red road, that has led him to justice. I am proud of my brother! I love my brother.”
People traveled from far and wide to be with Dennis on his birthday. Among these places was Australia, Japan, Canada, and throughout the United States.
He was also given the gift of sacred songs and beautiful Native music. Mitch Walking Elk, and Robby Romero performed a beautiful song entitled, “A Song for Dennis”
Dennis was also gifted many items including a San Francisco Giants scarf, as well as a medallion that had the word protector written on it.
There were many speeches, from those whose lives he touched. One sister said, “Thank you for saving us.” Very powerful words!
To this day he continues to walk on the red road as he tries to save his people from drug abuse, and domestic violence.
Dennis Banks has been the protector and savior for many, and for that we will be eternally grateful!
Happy Birthday Dennis Banks !