We (finally) arrived at our first destination, the farm of Craig and LaVon Griffieon on the north side of Ankeny. When we arrived the tipi had been setup. We setup our tents and prepared for dinner and the evening forum. Not long after we setup, thunderstorms began. Rain was predicted for every day of the March, and so far that’s what we got. Fortunately the last couple of days ended up being dry.
I took a very quick shower in our portable shower/toilet trailer. Somehow the solar part hadn’t warmed the water. Tables were setup in the large machine shed. Unfortunately I missed the first part of the presentation after dinner (almost missed the food, too) because I was working on photos and a blog post.
The Griffieon’s have for years been in a struggle against the city of Ankeny’s efforts to rezone their farm as city property. When I was sharing my experiences about the March with my Quaker meeting, Bear Creek, people there were familiar with the Griffieons and their fight to keep their farm.
After the Griffieon’s shared their story, Regina Tsosie spoke. First she embraced and thanked Craig and LaVon for their hospitality. Then she spoke about the parallels of the attempts to take their farm with the theft of Native lands in the United States.
This theme was expressed a number of times during the March, how the court case we were marching for about the wrongful use of eminent domain related to the illegal taking of land from farmers for the Dakota Access Pipeline was ironic, because the modern day ownership of the land was land that had been stolen from Native Americans.
The other concept of the March, Climate Unity, is about changing current U.S. agricultural practices that have many harmful environmental effects, to move back toward Native practices that are much healthier for the land and water. These evening forums were ways we learned to think about Native and current agricultural practices and discuss ways to begin to unify, so we can work together to improve agricultural practices today.
Regina expressed sympathy for the Griffieon’s situation, and said all of us would be willing to do what we could to help and support them. Regina said she hoped they would not lose their land.
Severe thunderstorms began during the evening forum and continued through the night. A tornado was sighted about 20 miles away from us. At one point the wind was so strong that the side of my tent was pushed inward toward the floor. I was trying to decide whether to leave the tent and go into the machine shed. I didn’t really want to go out into the storm, and was afraid if I did the tent might blow away, so I stayed.
Ed Fallon wrote “I’m a veteran tent-dweller, yet have never seen my tent pummeled so mercilessly by the driving rain that hit us in the middle of the night. It was as if buckets of water were being hurled against the sides of the tent. I worried that the nearby ditch between our tents and the road would fill with water and wash over the field where we camped. That didn’t happen, but if our first night’s rainfall had been as bad as some storms that Iowa has seen in recent years, that field could have indeed been swamped.”
The next morning we trudged through the rain soaked yard to get our tents into the gear truck. The following images seem symbolic of First Nation-Farmer Unity, as Craig Griffieon brought his tractor to where the tipi was being taken down so the poles could be put on the tractor, to be carried to the gear truck.
Matt Lone Bear’s video nicely shows our camp at the Griffieon Farm and second day’s journey to Huxley.