Idle No More – What it is and how you can get involved (originally published in 2013) & a tribute to Cacy Forgenie.


Below is a revamp an article I wrote that was published in berBice[MRKT] back in 2013. My lifelong friend, Cacy Forgenie commissioned this article for his website and though I struggled with a phenomenal amount of procrastination, writer’s insecurity and a general state of frozenness, this article was born. Thank you Cacy Forgenie for the asking. May your memory be for a blessing.



There is no such thing as old news especially when it comes to educating settlers like myself. I would not have been able to write this article without the help of Alex Wilson, PHD and the encouragement of both Cacy Forgenie and Yusuf Abdul-Qadir. But before you read the article, I want to ask you in joining me in giving space to the person who provided the forum for this to be published – Cacy Forgenie.


Tribute to Cacy Forgenie by Elizabeth Mariani

Cacy Forgenie, otherwise known as Boudicon was a brilliant writer, photographer, visual artist, journalist and activist. As a human and a friend, he was impeccably present and warm. He suffered, as we all do, with life and he made known his thoughts and expressions of how to mangle this suffering into a pulp of joy for bits and pieces of storytelling some of us were able to absorb, some of us were able to witness and some of us were only able to pass by. This storytelling is commonly called art. Cacy changed my life.

He was a good friend. He was my chosen family. When I saw him at Penn Station after almost 20 years, I burst into tears. We’d been chatting online and over the phone for so long, I had forgotten how healing his physical presence was.

You died last winter, Cacy and I’m still confused about it. I miss you terribly. You referred to Irwin, your love, as an angel when you first spoke of him. I could hear you smile. We all lifted with you. I love you Cacy and I am grateful we have met and loved each other as humans in the flesh this lifetime. Your work is not done. We are all still learning from you. May your memory be for a blessing. Thank you for publishing the article below. :::::::



In News on April 9, 2013 at 9:34 am berBice [MRKT]

*Please note some of the original graphics have been removed. This is the text of the article.

What is Idle No More?

Idle No More is a peaceful movement inspired in late 2012 after four women from different communities, Jess Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean and Nina Wilson, came together via Facebook to respond to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s (Canada’s George W. Bush) overhaul of the Navigable Waters Protection Act of 1882 – Bill C-45 in and around Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. That was just the beginning.


We’re still here.

Indigenous people still exist. In fact, in Canada, they are the fastest growing population. Sometimes people, in their blatant amnesia, speak of indigenous people as if they’re gone, done, defeated. Nothing could be further from the truth. A genocide? Yes. Total destruction? No. They’re here. They’ve been here and we need their help now more than ever. In truth, we need each other.



Idle No More wants you to be part of the rethinking, re-imagining, and restarting of the narratives of how Canada (and the USA) came to be.We all know it wasn’t a love story starring Columbus and the Queen of England. It’s time we swallowed our fear and bit the bullet. There is a new story to create, a true history to reclaim, one that involves all of us.


Idle No More is about reclaiming space in thought and land.

Yes, this is a shake up; but the boat, as you can tell, has been rocking, hasn’t it? This is not Occupy, which, like many movements before it, missed the bill in confronting the legacies of patriarchy, colonialism, rape culture, genocide and most of all, privilege. And, the term “occupy” to indigenous people, is the wrong term, another hallmark of unchallenged societal amnesia. Exchanging one smarmy patriarchy for another isn’t change at all. If you listen closely to Idle No More, you’ll be able to clock into the female energy grounding you.


We will not forget the women.

The founders of Idle No More Idle No More is focused on bringing attention to and addressing the multitudes of women and girls who have been murdered and/or are missing in North, Central and South America. Not forgetting the women also means activating the opportunity for all men, including indigenous men to relearn; men who may have taken on colonial formulae through the pressure of assimilation in defining their manhood, their space, their identity as men. This isn’t a party for anyone but it is work, good work which must be done.


You drink water, right?

Minerals, natural gas, oil etc., are finite and are not sustainable sources of energy. The environment is under threat everywhere on the planet but big players like the U.S, Brazil and Canada are taking their sweet time making solid moves to protect essentials like fresh, clean water and air. Lucky for us, indigenous nations can bridge that gap with their unique positions as sovereign nations. Because of this, nations like the Onondaga Nation (who have their own passports) can speak directly to other nations, even address the UN or the International Court at The Hague, on a nation-to-nation basis . This unique position can help respond to regulations and de-regulations that could harm the planet and can promote definitive actions concerning essentials like clean water, clean air, and good, clean ground to grow crops on. Want more? Expand your understanding of sovereignty. Make room.


“There is a spiritual aspect to speaking out for other peoples and other species,” says Alex Wilson, Idle No More. Whatever your path, however you connect to the ether, the divine, your God/Gods or even none at all, there is room for those who look out for others, who clear space through action and thought so that others can live and thrive. Yes. It’s like that. 

Queerness and Gender Fluidity in the face of Colonialism

Idle No More is also focused on disrupting colonial notions of gender and sexuality. Launch this map for a look back. So you want to research the core of how patriarchy tried to stagnate a naturally fluid spectrum of sexuality and gender? Check out Leslie Feinberg’s Transgender Warriors. It’s worth the ride, trust me on this. *2017 update: I’d now add works by Julia Serano your to reading list.


“Take a look at yourself, take one good look.”

Guru, Gang Starr 

*listen here


People will be forced to examine their own belief systems especially regarding consumerism as a way of life. Down for the cause? If you’re down for Idle No More, you’re in solidarity. This is not just an indigenous movement. This is an Everyone movement. One of the founders, Sheelah McLean, is not indigenous and identifies as a fourth generation settler.

This is an Everyone movement.

Join in solidarity and unite because this movement is more than a movement. It’s a tectonic shift. Major components of Idle No More actions have included chiefs fasting, youths walking 1600 Km (994 miles) to reach Ottawa, and teach-ins. Additionally, flash-mob round dances have taken place in intersections, in malls, in places you wouldn’t expect, even talk shows. Round dances are friendship dances and anyone can participate.


You up for this?

You’ll notice this article is chock-full of hyperlinks. Take advantage of these portals. They lead to good places. Places you can learn. Research that can lead to planning. Planning that could increase your food security, your access to clean water, and keep our air breathable. Like any dynamic shift, this beauty is evolving right before our eyes. You’ll want to remember this. Again, thank you for showing up.

Food for your brain

A buffet of streamed teach-ins, books, Twitter feeds, websites related to INM. @idlenomore4, @winonaladuke, @russdiabo, @nishiiyuu Last Real Indians,

UN Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Thinking in Indian – A John Mohawk Reader

Basic Call to Consciousness

Teach in – CITR (*still looking for exact link)

Elizabeth Mariani is a poet, visual artist teaching artist, and a fourth generation settler living in Vermont. Liz would like to thank Alex Wilson for her expertise and assistance with this article on behalf of Idle No More. Contact Elizabeth Mariani the following ways:, 

e.mariani.poetry at


I am for

I am for healing
I am for the redistribution of resources
I am for hard truths
I am for discussing and confronting the invention of race
I am for art
I am for health
I am for all forms of self-determination
I am for blocking remotely, in reality and otherwise all those who seek to harm me, who seek to suspect me, who seek to rip me from my roots and tell me to start again.

I am for difficult conversations
I am for showing you my bones and blood and imperfections as proof of growth
I am for the separation of my soul from the brand of my name
I am for determining my own path
I am for soothsayers
I am for ceremony and prayer and song
I am for returning to the languages of my grandmothers
I am for storytelling as medicine
I am for vulnerability over preservation of the false self
I am for rearranging American English
I am for hot weather and cold weather and wind weather
I am for rivers of fresh water and communal resistance
I am for calling in
I am for anger when it rises
I am a passionate Italian-American woman
I am for returning again and again from disassociation triggered by early and repeated trauma
I am for our imperfections
I am for leading by example and being led by example
Not words or promises
I am for healing from the oldest of wounds
I am for your light
I am for mine
I am for this opportunity
to shift

Elizabeth Mariani

Published in Advaitam Speaks

I am pleased to announce one poem dedicated to Cacy Forgenie Things I learned out West and two pieces of visual art Futitility is Urban and Golden Strega Hemoglobinita have been recently published in the Advaitam Speaks: An international journal of poetry, poetics and visual arts. You can find my work on pages 45, 79 & 80.

Birthday Gifts? Not this year.


I’ve been thinking of my role as a creative in light of the holidays July 1st and July 4th. I’ve been thinking about my role as a creative settler in light of the ‘birthdays’ currently celebrated in Canada and the USA. What you see below is part blog performance, part journal, part critique of colonialism, whiteness and specifically, white silence. It seems to be undone and unfinished. I’ve edited this piece multiple times since first reading it. It is in flux. 

This blog entry was inspired by this short video followed by the extended version of this video. Will you join me in listening? You can also open yourself for further indigenous knowledge by following Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail on Facebook. She’s right, we are guests here and yes, without indigenous peoples, we’d be homeless. I owe a great deal of gratitude to the indigenous knowledge I’ve been lucky enough to have had  access to and the opportunity to learn and grow from. I’m in a listening place and these words below are my escape from a structure I’m pretty sure is not invested in my well-being. Still, I use these words to build a life raft. To float and think. To leave the howling ships in the background. Thank you for being here. I have no idea where I’m going. 

Who are you?

For over 3 decades, my work as a poet, as an interdisciplinary artist, performer and an educator has been my central service to others. We, creatives, take time and space to process various forms of storytelling and deliver these stories through the mediums of our bodies and memory. We relentlessly deliver to a society primarily invested in a fast pace. I argue this pace is inhuman. The dominant portions of our society steadily professing to propel us forward are simply afraid to breathe deeply let alone absorb messages from independent creatives on the planet.

But, like trees in the forest, we must breathe anyway. We must breathe so others can breathe. We must breathe to live. They deliver us mass media and corporate sponsored news and the same movie and the same song over and over and over.  We respond with songs from our ancestors. We respond with poetry. We respond with independent film. We respond with color, invented words, unapproved patterns of gathering and speaking. We respond with growth in imagination. We respond with urgency and fever. What choice do we have? What choices are we given? Who cares about the choices before us? We choose to create a space despite the pressures patriarchal domination bring forth. We can’t always react. Sometimes, more often than not, most times, these days, we must must must Create without asking first. In doing this, we will fold time and inspire a path to healing we have yet to embrace. What is this healing journey Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail speaks of? I have a lot to learn.

Choosing Creativity in 2017

As creatives, we must continue. We live in a society demanding we move faster and achieve at a faster pace what is chosen for us not what we choose. I choose to be a creative.  I am open to making mistakes and growing. I seek to explore the shifting, liminal and crumbling spaces reforming and renaming every form of inhumanity, injustice and immobility. There must be movement and we, as creatives, can be part of a great undoing and healing. It’s time you showed up.

What is Whiteness?

The concept of whiteness is a problem. It shifts. It’s about power. It’s about property ownership and the concept of owning land.  I have a lot of opinions about whiteness from many perspectives, not starting or ending but including an identity rooted as the living extrapolation as part of the greater Italian-diaspora coming through the USA and Canada about 100 years ago.

What holds us to beliefs of superiority, separation and greed? How do these beliefs manifest in our choices moment by moment? Who are we protecting when we protect whiteness? I think we’re protecting the concept of property and not ourselves, as humans. I think we’re protecting the holding and owning of things and not growth.

What I find most troubling these days is the wavering of those who are named and recognized as white (along with those who ascribe to what they believe whiteness is) – the wavering speak and act to things they know are true. It’s not like we haven’t been given space to speak before but we have. We’ve hogged the podium.

So, what is it? What is it that becomes the gravity to our silence? Is the the physical manifestation of white fragility? Silence can continue to grow but we have ways, if we search, to shift from silent to vibrant with our truths and imperfection. And beyond the speaking, we must first remember we must listen. We must listen so much more than we speak. And after we speak, we must find an action to manifest our intentions.  You can’t unknow. True. But what if you have no idea how to take what you know and put it into action in the face of a patriarchal legacy designed to dismember the streaks of sunshine from your spirit. You must not muzzle or muffle yourself. If you don’t know how to exist and express with this new knowledge, then maybe it’s time to ask someone who knows how to open up. I am asking you and please know I am also speaking to myself in a very public way.

Confronting Personal and Communal Silence

I have invested in this type of silence, as well. Silence in silence. Silence in inaction. Silence in fear of speaking up or acting up. I refuse to condemn myself to a swelling frozen death. I will not and am not invested in being a person unable to breathe, grieve, sweat, cry and grow. I’ve had it. How are you doing with your knowledge of personal and communal silence? If you’ve escaped it as a single entity or a community, how did you get there? So many of us need to know. So many of us beg to know.

Truth & Water

Recently I experienced what holding and releasing a difficult truth can look like in dominant society. As if facing a full and heavy lake of fresh water one moment and having that same water, glistening and swaying instantly disappear before my eyes, revealing a gap, a crater, a crispy grey. This is how the truth has sometimes been met in my life when I have spoken to personal experiences surviving violence, especially sexual violence. I’m speaking, the water moves. I speak a difficult truth, the water shifts from reflective and supple, hydrating and present, to hallow, vacant, missing.

The water becomes thirst. My voice echoes. The person listening closes. Sound runs. You can hear it running. There is a competing duality of whisper and silence holding and pressuring me to stop speaking, stop acting, stop asserting this violence be named. But I’m going to keep naming it because I’m not the only one on this planet, I’m not the only person on this planet gaining strength and accessing healing by speaking in words, screaming in spirit the first truth, that I must live. I must continue. My light will not be dulled.

I want you to see me.

I am here to admit mistakes, reveal my blood, my bones, scars, trauma and to challenge the concept of linear time while mocking, reusing and warping what’s left of American English. I’m here to help formulate a new way of being in what seems to be both a sacred and dynamic responsibility to connect with other creatives, other storytellers, other open spirits, others shifting. Others who were born to arrive at this moving point in time and space.

I’m trying very hard to see and listen to you.  I’m asking for the space to develop the creative work I was born to do. My process as a creative involves confronting my personal legacy as a settler here. My process as a creative involves difficult conversations. My process involves having the capacity to want to grow more than I fear messing up falling victim to a rabid internet culture which could possibly take my words and make them weapons for my destruction. I’m open to falling down and knocking my teeth out. I’m also open to flying. I’m open. I’m walking. Walking alone in the woods to a space where I’m pretty sure I’ll meet others. I’m open to the humanity of my creative growth. For this reason, I must challenge any assertion my name is a brand. I must confront all forms of white silence and fragility. This work coming through me is a spirit. Because I’m choosing to live, I have to remain open. Part of that openness is going to be ugly. Despite the pressure, America, I have to tell you – I don’t have to be beautiful all the time to be human. I know that’s hard for you – America. You’re invested in my selfie face. Think of today as the day before the cell phone camera was invented in thought. Imagination matters. And so does reflection.



I am a poet. 

You ask me what I do and I tell you I am a poet. Don’t ask me how I eat before you consider first who is feeding you and who is gifting you poison and telling you it’s your birthday.


Don’t blow out the candles,

Elizabeth Mariani



Water Census

IMG_0056I told you this would happen. You’d wake in the morning and drain your thoughts into the rain barrels stored near the bricks your ancestors used to lay. Just remember this planet is a living being and you, these days, you are more than a census taker. Stop counting people and money.

This is what we will count. One dog bark every 6.5 seconds, 17 morning bird noises, the house plumbing, the distant hum of the fridge, 1 luna moth, 4 young foxes, 86 books in Italiano, 2 – 6 yard rabbits, 3 books en Español, 87 books, 3 booklets and 12 chapbooks in what’s left of American English, 76 poems scattered in pieces of Acoma and Hebrew and Mohawk lifting, 5 clear recordings of my great grandmother’s confessions, the confessions she left in Ontario, a tub of anise oil, another tub of coconut oil, 28 vats of Spanglish words determined to be impatient expressions and a thousand chihuahuas running in one direction. Away from the Ocean. *Keep in mind, the sea is a language.


Flash future. Before the drinkable water ran out. Before the birds flew. On another day.                 In another place. You will have ripped open a cotton shirt. You will have no nipples, no chest, just a mark where the seatbelt continues to invest in bruising the sternum. Everyone’s sternum. With that kind of friction, with that kind of collision, you can expect to get hurt.

The skin you had, we had, will wash away like bed linens released from their restrictive, impressive clothes lines. Free to the wind. My heart, our hearts will be made of bubble wrap and my lungs, your lungs will be filled with the disorganized coils of video reels. Everything will be turning and twisting so that no Doctor could possibly accurately diagnose what it means to be filled with the short films of passersby. This is the life of an empath. Before your days end, sweet friend, promise me, yourself, the sky, promise me you’ll donate your body to Art while you’re living.


Stay Conneceted and Woke.

Love Always,

Elizabeth Mariani

Spell Fuchsia

I remember the day they stopped Niagara Falls. Something radical happened. The grandchildren, children, siblings and great grandchildren of farm workers and factory workers tossed their styrofoam coffee cup liquid known as coffee from their passenger windows the moment they passed where the toll used to be. You know what I’m talking about. That place where they used to collect money for no reason. An education toll. I’m sorry. I meant – a transportation toll. You can’t get there from here without paying in blood. Well, coffee was our blood. So, we drained our blood into the Niagara River. They wouldn’t give us days off or time to sleep. Yet, they insisted we drop the #MostPositiveHashtagOutThere to prove how good of a time we were having. I told you before – You can’t drink oil or surf honey and you sure as hell can’t fall on coffee if you’re awake. Are you awake or are you dreaming? Will that mixture of coffee and blood and milk and sugar and being in a hurry fall at the same rate? Tell me what the water looks like where the rapids commence. Will you explain to your children what happened to all that fresh water falling? Will you leave it to to nature to explain. Speak now or forever hold your Peace. Save your buckets.

A Call to Creatives – To Continue

IMG_0016This is an age of insanity. Of instant ingestion. Consumption. Consuming. We live as beings in a cataclysmic relationship with reflection. Reflection and revision at all costs. These are the times. The days where people. Places. Entities. Corporations. And otherwise. All these spaces where your story can begin. Can be shifted. Can be tweaked and quirked and spoken for. Who is speaking for you? Who is telling your story? What becomes of the space you hold when the holding, is, itself, up for an intense debate?

The grasp. Clasp. Crunch. Squeeze of ownership. Is it possible our stories are melding together?  Are our spirits actually as singularly identifiable as our separate government numbers and names? What exactly are you doing here?

If you find yourself struggling as a creative in a world astutely focused on quantifying your worth by means unintelligible to beings not born and named, human, you’re not alone. Or you may be the type of being entrenched in the popular and heavily ingested casual validation of self-possession.

Are you obsessed with your infallible über-humanity?  Were you among the those who were lucky enough to be born, and be born human of all species? Well, then, we have a conundrum. Most children can’t tell the difference between a delicious ice cream cone topped and toppled with pistachio flavored ice cream and the vibrational promise of a black hole. I’m going to ask you again. What are you doing here?