By Valley Reed December 2007
With the flap of the wings of a butterfly,
a hurricane was started halfway across the earth.
Sometimes the effects of one action can set something in motion so powerful it can pull the powers of the wind and the sea together creating an awe inspiring force. Once in awhile, in the midst of the long struggle for peace and justice, an activist may see the effects of their heartfelt message break through the barriers of greed and ignorance. If we are blessed we will see the fruits of our actions turn from song and vigil for the oppressed and voiceless to freedom and justice.
One morning, I awoke from a dream with the phrase “Mariposa Movement” on my mind. I recalled the dream from the previous night where people gave up their places of comfort and status within the American Empire to stand in solidarity with Mexican immigrants, Indigenous peoples and Muslim Immigrants who are currently being demonized by the United States. These honest hard working people are being described as criminals, terrorists, child molesters, and drug dealers. I remember how inspired I felt upon waking from the dream with the idea it was presenting of a Solidarity movement to tear down the walls of class, racism and separation that are currently being built along our borders. It was shortly after this dream I was presented with the opportunity to accompany several fellow activists down to visit Taylor, Texas where a demonstration was planned with activists from all around the state of Texas. The focus of the action was the Don T. Hutto residential detention center where families are locked up along with their children while waiting for their case to process and seeking safe assylum in the U.S. These families seeking safe haven are being treated like criminals, along with their children, and imprisonment of children is in violation of International Law and Sacred Law.
On this day as we sit outside of these prison walls in Taylor Texas at the Don T. Hutto Residential Detention Center we are drumming to free the children inside. I tried to imagine what it would take to open the doors and allow those inside to have their freedom. I remembered the story of the Shoshone Medicine Man, Rolling Thunder, the story was of one of freedom.
Rolling Thunder had stood up for justice in his day, to demand freedom for his Shosone brothers who were locked up for refusing to fight an imperial U.S. war against Vietnam. Rolling Thunder was a Medicine Man and an activist for indigenous rights and the environment. He was known to have abilities such as effecting the weather by calling in the rain, the wind and the lightning. He demanded the release of his brothers and when the guards did not heed his call, he summoned the powers of the sky, and called a tornado directly toward the prison.
The guards became so frightened they let the two Shoshone men go they held prisoner. I looked to the story of Rolling Thunder for inspiration as I drummed an African Beat called Kaki Lambe on my Jimbe Drum, it is an African drumbeat used to call to spirits for assistance in times of dire need. My partner, Hadi Jawad, had taught me the rythmn and it was his strong desire that we bring the drums so that the children inside could hear us drumming through the thick prison walls. Together we drummed the rhythmn and I focused my attention on every beat. I connected my intention toward spirit for an answer, I closed my eyes as I drummed and released myself to the sound. It was then a clear vision appeared, and I saw the spirit of an immense White Eagle that flew to the front doors of the prison, opening them and letting me know that every child inside would feel the presence of the eagle and know that we were there. Later that afternoon, an indigenous looking man with long dark hair approached me and expressed his thanks. He had been listening to the drumming throughout the day while we played and he let me know how important drumming is to the Native People. He said, “We believe the drums are sacred, and they call in the power of the Great Spirit.” I said “Yes!” and I immediately shared with him my vision of seeing the spirit of the White Eagle flying through the front doors of the building. The spirits had heard our call and come to our aid.
After the last song was sung of the candle light vigil, we moved in the direction of leaving after a full day of drumming, protesting, singing and vigiling. The sun was going down and it was starting to get cold. Suddenly, something began to happen, instead of the crowd dispersing, people began to spontaneously move toward the doors of the prison demanding to speak to the warden! We joined in the movement of protestors toward the front door where official vehicles tried to block our path. We boldly walked around them as water flows around stones, we also crossed over the line we were “officially” told to stay behind. The crowd moved right up to the doors of the prison and people began to open the doors and fill into the building singing Feliz Navidad and chanting solidarity forever! Many people still holding candles aflame from the candlelight vigil we had finished just shortly before. People then began shouting, “Bring in the Toys!” A flood of Christmas toys began to appear with people carrying boxes and bags of toys overflowing. The gifts and were brought inside from the 200 or so protesters who had come from all around Texas to make their voices heard against the immorality of imprisoning families. This experience of breaking through the prison doors was elating to all those who came to participate in the vigil. Spirit was among us, and flying high this day just as the eagle had foretold.
This movement that took us right through the front doors of the prison may have begun from the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Mexico. Mariposa means butterfly and it also means soul. It is said that the butterflies who migrate South to Mexico are the returning souls of lost children. To the Native People sacred law states that children shall always be protected and that no harm shall come to the children.
Free The Children!
Let me share with you this beautiful song that was sang as one of the closing songs during the candlelight vigil.
Circle round for freedom,
Circle round for peace,
for all of those imprisoned,
Circle for release.
Circle round the Planet,
Circle for each soul.
For the children of our children,
Keep the Circle Whole.