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July 6, 2022

Movement Maker Profiles: Morning Star Gali

Morning Star Gali is a member of the Ajumawi band of the Pit River Tribe located in Northeastern California. She serves as Project Director for Restoring Justice for Indigenous Peoples (RJIP) and as the California Tribal and Community Liaison for the International Indian Treaty Council, working for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Cultures and Sacred Lands.

Who are your people?

My people are a community of warriors, of folks that have resisted colonization, of folks that have resisted this theft and stealing of our children, of our women, of our youth, of all of the attempts of stealing our language and our culture and our land, the people that have survived so many atrocities that we're not supposed to survive. That's who our people are, those that are survivors, are warriors, are committed to our healing, and committed to not only our personal healing but healing of our community, our land, and mother earth.

What brings you to this work?

What brings me to this work is that commitment that we're not here as individuals, that there's just so much more, that we are responsible, too. That's the water and the land and a commitment to the healing of our people. That's what brings me to this work.

What aspect of your movement work brings you the most joy?

The ability to celebrate our victories. I think so often we can sit in a place of defeat or we're constantly in response mode, we're constantly just trying to navigate all of the challenges and barriers. Although it can be few and far between at times, yes, being able to celebrate our small wins definitely brings me a lot of joy.

Is there a recent victory that you've gotten to celebrate?

There is a recent win in terms of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s legislation that we were able to have passed for the state. Yes, that was a moment, for sure, with folks, with families that have been impacted. We were able, not necessarily able to celebrate in any large visible way, but I think that just sharing that space with one another and understanding that this was a big move forward for us was for sure.

Morning Star and family

What moves are you making to end violence?

The moves that we're making to help end violence are providing families with the support, providing children, especially, that have been impacted with support, with resources, with access to ceremony, with access to community care. That's how we've been able to work towards individual, family, and community healing. That's what working to end violence is, making the connections, the everyday work of addressing the lack of visibility and to address the erasure of native peoples, challenges, the violence that's perpetrated against us.

I think talking more about how it's not just Land Back, and when we say Land Back we mean it. We mean Land Back. It's not just a hashtag. We're saying water back, we're saying ancestors back, that we want it all back. When we are operating from this place that we think that this healing is not linear, that we're a part of a circle, so it all comes back to us. In order to, they talk about Mending the Sacred Hoop and to be able to mend that we need to be able to have access to clean water.

We need to be able to have access to our sacred lands that we pray on, that we need to be able to have our ancestors returned. It's so much more I guess in the bigger context and so much more than I think even when we view through this lens of colonialism that we're not able to even see.

How would you describe your leadership strengths?

You really have to learn how to be a good listener. You're not always going to have the answers, and a lot of times folks aren't even looking for an answer, they just want to be heard. They want to be validated, and they need someone that's willing to fight for them. That's something that I've found, too. A good leader embodies somebody that's willing to really take on all that comes with that leadership role, and it's not just a title.

What keeps you in the work?

It was a moment that Apache Stronghold folks came to the Alcatraz Sunrise gathering, and they laid prayers on the island. It's just this little moment where the sun's rising, it's like the power of thousands of native peoples, I could cry just thinking about it and supporters. They're going to be here on October 22nd.

We're gathering support together for them, and it really is an honor just to be able to coordinate and support them in that way. I think just our commitment to the people, our commitment to the land, our commitment to our healing, both individually and through our families and through our communities, through our tribal nations, knowing that the work's, in no way, over with.

Even days like today, that can be challenging, and I'm like, "Oh, there's just so much to get done, there's so much to navigate." Just thinking of, truly, all the sacrifices that have been made by those that are now our ancestors and all that they had to endure really does keep me grounded in a sense of we can do this, we can get through this, whatever is going on in the moment.

Art by lizar_tistry