Friday, July 24, 2009

First-ever indigenous youth delegation to Palestine

August 1-15, 2009

Melissa Franklin, Jodi Voice, and Marei Spaola will travel with the first-ever indigenous delegation to Palestine, August 1-15, 2009. All three are members of Seventh Generation Indigenous Visionaries, an independent youth organization whose founding members met while attending Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence. The student group seeks „to share the experience from this trip with our own tribal communities,‰ as well as Kansas City public audiences.

Citizens for Justice in the Middle East hosted a <>fundraiser dinner in May, and calls on individuals to donate more to offset the students‚ travel costs. The students are seeking your financial support, which will go a long way to connect with Palestinians. They each have $2500 travel costs, including $1500 for air travel and $1000 for food, lodging, and ground transportation. Read <>student letter.

This delegation is an amazing chance to see the Palestinian struggle in a completely new perspective.
Members of the group, also known as 7thGIV, are emerging leaders in their communities, but also guides for those seeking a meaningful connection with Indian groups. On separate occasions they shared their reasons for joining the delegation and outlined their community work.

On July 31, all three will join the Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine in order to „build solidarity and bridge gaps with tribes/nations in the U.S. and other Indigenous people around the world.‰ They acknowledge a responsibility to their past and the preservation of their culture by telling stories, such as the Haskell school history and their tribes‚ traditions.

· Melissa Franklin is president of the American Indian Studies club at Haskell, works at the Jim Thorpe Recreation Center on campus, and served as a mentor with an Upward Bound summer program at Haskell. Melissa gave a report of her background and the delegation at the May 31 fundraiser dinner. Melissa is Comanche, Wichita, and Sac & Fox of Oklahoma.

· Jodi Voice has an Associates of Social Work and is pursuing a Bachelor‚s in Indigenous American Indian Studies at Haskell. Her father is a graduate of Haskell. She seeks to „speak for the voiceless and stand up for others that face oppression.‰ Jodi belongs to the Tsalagi (Cherokee) Nation of Oklahoma, the Mvskoke (Creek) nation of Oklahoma, and the Oglala Lakota Nation of South Dakota.

· Marei, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe of South Dakota, traveled to the Southwest and South Dakota this summer to work on a documentary film. Marei sent greetings from his tribe and spoke about the indigenous youth delegation at the Viva Palestina event on July 2. He is a Haskell student and reporter with Haskell News.

During the delegation they will be learning about the experience of Palestinians, as well as sharing their own stories.

They have already connected with youth in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus in the West Bank by sharing a presentation about Indian history and culture (see photo). Palestinian youth at Balata, in turn, shared their solidarity through poetry: "Despite our suffering, there is no difference between us / In likeness, color or gender / You walk on the same earth that we walk on."

Will you make a generous contribution to this unique delegation? This group holds the promise of building a bridge across peoples struggling for self-determination. A struggle that promises to enlighten all peoples to the possibility of liberation and a just peace.

The Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine is working with the Middle East Children‚s Alliance (MECA), which is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1988 working for the rights and the well-being of children in the Middle East.

Please consider making a donation to 7thGIV expenses by sending a check to MECA c/o 7thGIV, 1101 8th Street, Suite 100, Berkeley, CA 94710. You can <>make an online contribution on the MECA web site.

7th Generation Indigenous Visionaries (7thGIV), an independent youth organization whose founding members met while attending Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. They will join a delegation to Palestine for two weeks, August 1-15, 2009. The delegation is comprised of grassroots youth groups throughout the U.S. and Palestine. The organizing group is connecting Native and immigrant youth in the U.S with youth in Palestine „through the use of print media, traditional music, hip hop, photography, poetry, video, and other forms of arts media, we share our stories and involve our local communities in building a national and international movement against colonization and for self-determination.‰

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