You are amazing! Bill Dix . . . not so much

Dear Friends,


Over the past two weeks, your calls, emails and meetings with lawmakers have made a huge difference in the debate about SF 2235 — the pipeline bill backed by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP). SF 2235 passed the Senate in February but has stalled in the House. Now some Senators who supported it are having second thoughts. We’re making progress!

ETP hopes SF 2235 will legitimize the Dakota Access Pipeline as “critical infrastructure” because, if the bill passes, ETP’s chances of defeating Iowa landowners in the lawsuit before the Iowa Supreme Court improve.

Even more far-reaching, the bill could open the door for future abuses of eminent domain for all kinds of private purposes. As a farmer along the pipeline route said to me in 2015, “If ETP can call itself a public utility because some of this oil finds its way into my gas tank, what’s to stop mall developers from using eminent domain because I might shop there someday?”

ACTION: Call, write, or visit your state representative and senator this week or this weekend!

Bill Dix

Here are four key talking points:

1. Iowans don’t want this bill — 74% of all Iowans polled in 2015 opposed using eminent domain to build the Dakota Access Pipeline!

2. ETP wants this bill because landowners suing over the abuse of eminent domain have a strong case. Most Iowans agree that the Dakota Access Pipeline isn’t “critical infrastructure.” It’s not at all in the same category as lines carrying water, electricity and gas. We access these services directly and, when they fail, we notice immediately.

3. If ETP gets this bill passed and Iowa landowners lose their lawsuit, it throws open the doors to eminent domain in the future — not just for oil pipelines but for all kinds of private development.

4. The bill would potentially impose extreme penalties for non-violent protest protected under the First Amendment.

So, where does former (as of Monday) Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix fit into all this?

Dix’s departure from the Iowa Senate this week could help defeat SF 2235. Dix was in the back pocket of a host of corporate interests, including ETP. Years ago, he was a staunch opponent of eminent domain for private gain. Dix even floor managed the 2006 legislation that toughened Iowa law to protect landowners from private development. Yet when ETP’s money began to flow into his coffers, Dix switched sides.

Over the past two years, Republicans at the Iowa Statehouse have championed lots of legislation unpopular with voters. As a result, they’ve got a huge political problem on their hands — so huge that there’s more and more talk of Republicans losing control of both the House and Senate next fall. Republicans desperately need some legislative “wins” to show they haven’t completely abandoned Iowans in favor of special interests.

With Dix gone, Republicans now have that opportunity. With most Iowans opposing the abuse of eminent domain and supporting the right to protest under the First Amendment, ditching SF 2235 presents one possibility to do that.

Another bill the new Republican leadership could jettison to show it hasn’t forsaken the average voter is SF 2311. That’s the bill the big utility companies want that would kill energy-efficiency programs. These programs have been around for nearly thirty years, are immensely popular, and save ratepayers money and energy.

ACTION: Call members of the House Commerce Committee as soon as possible.

Thanks for doing your part to hold our elected officials accountable to do what’s fair and just for all Iowans. I’m eager to hear what responses you get when you contact your lawmakers. Send feedback to Thanks!


Vote “NO” on regressive sales-tax hike

Dear Polk County Friends,

This one is for my local audience regarding the Tuesday, March 6 vote on the local option sales tax. If you’re not a Polk County resident and fighting an unfair tax hike anywhere in America, this is still a productive read. It’s based on what I wrote for The Des Moines Register last week.

Is there anyone in America not fed up with Big Money in politics?

In these most partisan of times, we share near universal disgust with the seasonal bombardment of propaganda financed by corporate and special interests on behalf of political candidates. Sadly, the Democratic or Republican candidate who sinks the most money into this game usually wins.

Well, take heart. There’s one type of election, based on history, where the little guy and gal have a better shot at beating Big Money. On March 6, residents of Polk County will vote on Public Measure A, casting a simple “yes” or “no” vote on increasing the sales tax by a penny.

Sticking it to Big Money is one reason to vote down the proposed local option sales tax, though it’s hardly the best. Here are the reasons I’m voting “no.”

The sales tax hits low-income people and the working poor hardest — a fact verified by every credible study available. As Register columnist Daniel Finney points out, “People who make less than $22,000 per year, the lowest 20 percent of Iowa taxpayers, pay 10.4 percent of their income in state and local taxes, per a 2015 report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Meanwhile, people in the top 1 percent income bracket, those who make $376,000 or more per year, pay just 6 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the report stated.”

The sales tax has been raised over and over again even as other taxes that benefit special interests, corporations, and the wealthy have been cut. Enough! Politicians who lack the guts to pay for new projects or programs with a tax increase on those most capable of paying need to rethink this “tax the poor because they can’t fight back” strategy.

This is mostly a tax shift. People hate property taxes, and Public Measure A’s backers know this. That’s why they cleverly earmark 50 percent of the revenue for property tax relief. That’s unfair and disingenuous.

The vote is scheduled for March 6 instead of during a municipal or general election when more people vote. Issue elections such as this usually go better for backers when turnout is small — thus, the choice of an obscure date in March when turnout will likely be 5 to 10 percent of registered voters. On top of that, scheduling the vote separate from other elections costs a bundle of money — think 200 precincts each staffed with three people open for thirteen hours, plus the paper, machines, etc. T’ain’t cheap.

Challenge government to cut waste before raising taxes. Some of the remaining 50 percent of potential revenue would be spent on stuff that most of us appreciate, but let’s demand that local governments do a better job spending the money they already collect. I could give loads of examples of government waste I’ve seen in Des Moines, but each would require a separate column.

Proponents of the sales tax increase have raised $135,000! Those of us opposed have raised $0. Where is the big money in support of the tax increase coming from? Check out the full campaign finance report. Here are a few of the biggest of the big donors, many who will benefit from the proposal’s property tax reduction:

Hubbell Realty Company fund — $15,000.00
Meredith —$15,000.00
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. — $10,000.00
James S. Cownie — $10,000.00
Knapp Properties, LC — $10,000.00
EMC Insurance — $7,500.00
The Graham Group — $6,000.00
Raccoon Valley Investment Co., LC — $5,000.00
Wellmark — $5,000.00
Nelson Development, LLC — $5,000.00
Christensen Development 1, LLC — $5,000.00
The Hansen Company — $5,000.00
Ruan Center Corporation — $5,000.00
Ruan Inc. — $5,000.00
Kemin Industries, Inc. — $5,000.00
Gartner, Michael G. — $5,000.00
Rypma, Timothy — $2,500.00
Simonson, Michael W. — $2,500.00
Conlin, James C. — $2,500.00
Ryan Companies US, Inc.. — $2,000.00
The Weitz Company, LLC — $2,000.00
Des Moines Area Assoc. of Realtors — $2,000.00

At the risk of ruining his reputation, I’ll conclude by again quoting Finney: “[P]roperty tax breaks for big companies and new construction are given away like candy on Beggars’ Night. And city and county officials scramble to find cash to pay for potholes, cops and paramedics.”

Nailed it. Vote “no” and challenge our elected officials to find a fairer way to fund their pet projects.

My visit to Parkland, Florida

Dear Friends,

Three things strike me as I skirt the perimeter of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, site of the most recent school shooting — the eighteenth of 2018!

First, the strong showing of local law enforcement. Given the circumstances, their presence is understandable and appreciated.

Next, the sprawling memorial to the seventeen students and teachers shot and killed on February 14. The memorial is a spontaneous outpouring of grief and respect — a colorful wall of flowers, urns, candles, stuffed animals, balloons, flags and signs stretching the length of the fence to the school’s entrance.

I talk with two students from a nearby high school. Like so many others, they’ve brought flowers to add to the growing tribute to those who lost their lives. They don’t understand why anyone should be allowed to own an assault weapon. Given the heightened national discussion in the wake of the Parkland shooting, they now feel hopeful.

Finally, the overwhelming throng of reporters and media crews toting cameras, microphones and notepads. The school has been closed since the shooting. Today, teachers return and join school board members and Robert Runcie, the Broward County Public Schools Superintendent, at a press conference. Robert is focused on the immediate well being of teachers and students and says, “We’re going to do what we can to relieve the stress, the pain, and the grief that we know our teachers are going through. And of course, when our students get back we’ll be ready to support them as well.”

I ask Anna Fusco, President of the Broward Teachers Union, about assault weapons. There are many, many aspects to the debate about gun violence, including concerns about mental health, violence in the media, and the extent to which Americans have become isolated from each other  and nature. To me, the most pressing issue, one of the problems we can and should fix immediately, is that nearly anyone can own an assault weapon — a weapon whose sole purpose is to kill as many people as quickly as possible.

“Teachers should not be armed,” Anna tells me. “To say that we should be the chosen ones to have a loaded gun on our campus with our students, it’s not our job, it should not be put on us, and I’ve not heard from one, not one teacher who wants to have a gun on their person.”

Anna Fusco

I interview Anna, and ask if she believes a ban on assault weapons is an accomplishable goal. “I believe it can happen,” she responds. “All it takes is sticking with it and being persistent and being relentless and making sure it goes through the process and the channels and things happen.”

Given the political clout of the NRA and the sad reality that the Republican Congress is its wholly owned subsidiary, it won’t be an easy fight. Until Parkland, it seemed that too many Americans had grown numb to gun violence. But something has changed. There’s momentum like never before, with a palpable shift in progress. Parkland students themselves, and the thousands of other students who have quickly coalesced into a national movement, may well bring this crisis to the tipping point where something meaningful finally gets done.

Because the only thing bought-and-paid-for politicians fear more than losing the financial backing of their biggest donors is losing the support of their constituents and being voted out of office. The polling on various gun control measures indicates an electorate increasingly ready for gun control. While we expect the NRA, Congress, and President Trump to continue to stonewall, it may no longer be possible for them to put the brakes on the momentum that’s building.

Parkland students and a wide range of allied organizations have called for a massive, coast-to-coast mobilization on March 24, including a March for our Lives rally in Des Moines. It’s important that all of us stand with them, even if we risk offending some friend or family member who has not yet grasped the urgent necessity for reform.

Yes, this is truly a historic moment. Think of the comparable points in time with Women’s Suffrage, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and most recently marriage equality where the collective consciousness had evolved enough — through both hard work and tragedy — that a paradigm shift was inevitable. We may well be at that point with regards to gun violence, and it’s important to keep pushing, and to push hard.

If by March 24 Congress has done nothing, I suggest the next step for this national mobilization be a general strike. It could start with students refusing to attend school until specific, significant changes are accomplished. If that happens, those of us who aren’t students must be prepared to stand with them. A general strike is one of the most powerful social change tools available. But to work, it has to be broad-based with massive public buy-in — and it has to be well organized.

In the meantime, let’s do all we can to encourage a huge turnout on March 24. In doing so, we not only honor those killed at Parkland and in other mass shootings, we honor our own children, and the children and families who will be spared the agony of losing a loved one to gun violence in the future.

For US Congress . . . Eddie Mauro!

Dear Friends,

Eddie Mauro

Iowans living in the Third Congressional District are fortunate to have a talented field of candidates running in the Democratic Primary. But Eddie Mauro stands out as a genuine, authentic, caring person — the complete opposite of the bought-and-paid-for politicians running, and ruining, our state and our country.

I first met Eddie twenty years ago when I was bringing food, clothing, and other supplies to homeless men and women living along the Raccoon River. Eddie wasn’t there for a photo op. I learned that day that he spends a lot of time serving our most disenfranchised population.

Eddie’s commitment to help the homeless, the poor, and the downtrodden has persisted all these years. In fact, at two recent events for the homeless, Eddie was the only congressional candidate in attendance.

Three Eds are better than two: Mauro, Bloomer and Fallon

I’m passionate about a lot of issues, but none more than the urgent climate crisis. Eddie’s position on climate change is not only the strongest among candidates running in the Third District, it’s one of the strongest of any congressional candidate in the country! Check out Eddie’s white paper on The Climate Crisis.

Eddie truly understands the urgent need for bold action on climate change and the importance of creating clean energy jobs as climate mitigation becomes a driver of economic development. His message on climate is one that resonates with both urban and rural Iowans.

Beyond the specific issues that Eddie champions (learn more here), I’m impressed with his authenticity and leadership skills. I’m impressed, too, with the campaign he’s running. Frankly, Eddie is Iowa’s best prospect to beat David Young in the fall.

That means a lot. Winning a tough primary in June means nothing if you can’t win the general election in November. With the Third District listed as one of the pivotal congressional seats in the country, it’s tremendously important that Democrats put forth their strongest champion.

With Eddie Mauro, we’re fortunate that the strongest candidate to win is also the strongest candidate on the issues. Please join me in supporting Eddie. Let me know how you’d like to be involved. A grassroots campaign such as this requires ALL our voices and a whole lot of effort. Let’s make it happen!

“Sabotage” bill a Trojan Horse for eminent domain abuse

Dear Friends,

About twenty years ago, growth-management advocates across the US were shocked when the Tennessee General Assembly enacted one of the nation’s strongest anti-urban sprawl bills. At the time, I was working on similar legislation in Iowa, so I traveled to Nashville to learn more.

Sitting in the office of a state lawmaker who helped champion the bill, I asked, “How did you make this happen?”

“Mah friend,” drawled the lawmaker as he drew on his cigarette, “if you want to accomplish something big, you have to manufacture a crisis.”

That conversation provided solid insight into the mechanics of back-room politics, which occasionally, but only occasionally, benefit the common good. I’ve since learned, however, that you don’t have to manufacture a crisis to accomplish something big. Sometimes, all you have to do is latch on to an existing one.

Such is the case with so-called “critical infrastructure sabotage” legislation (HSB 603 and SSB 3062) currently before the Iowa House and Senate. The proposal is  backed by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the corporation behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.

ETP is fortunate not to have had to manufacture a crisis. Multiple acts of arson and vandalism against the pipeline in 2016 and 2017 provided the ostensible justification for this legislation, giving ETP the cover it needed to push for a bill that has nothing to do with sabotage and everything to do with silencing nonviolent dissent and influencing a historic Iowa court case.

Consider these key points:

1. Under Iowa law, arson and vandalism are already serious crimes. Remember Charles Willard, the man who torched a Catholic church in Stuart in 1995? He got 25 years — the same number of years prescribed in the proposed legislation. Further cracking down on arson and “sabotage” isn’t necessary. The Iowa Code already has it covered.

2. The legislation could potentially apply the 25-year sentence, plus a fine of up to $100,000, to completely peaceful and nonviolent protesters who “cause a substantial interruption or impairment of service.” ETP originally said oil would flow through its pipeline in the fall of 2016. Yet because of numerous delays, some caused by protesters, oil didn’t begin to flow until June of 2017.

It’s impossible to say how this legislation would be interpreted in a court of law, but ETP could argue that, given the delay, protesters caused an “interruption” of service and deserve the maximum fine and penalty. What a chilling effect that would have on the First Amendment!

3. This legislation legitimizes the Dakota Access Pipeline as “critical infrastructure.” It lumps a privately owned oil pipeline in with genuine public infrastructure, including lines that transport electricity, gas, broadband service, water, and wastewater.

That’s my biggest concern. More than anything, this legislation could be used to help defeat the lawsuit filed by nine landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club against the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) for granting ETP the authority to use eminent domain to take landowners’ property by force to build the pipeline.

Of all the compelling arguments against the Dakota Access Pipeline, one of the strongest is that ETP is a private company merely transporting its product through Iowa. True public infrastructure is used by the people whose land it passes through. Whether it’s a road, a gas line, telephone lines, or a water line, people living along the route are able to use that service or product. Not so with the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Its highly questionable status as critical public infrastructure is ETP’s Achilles’ heel. It knows this, and it hopes Iowans either haven’t noticed or have stopped caring. If ETP can use its financial might to ram this legislation through quickly and quietly, it will effectively codify a private oil pipeline as a public necessity.

Even if you’re not concerned about the Dakota Access Pipeline, you should be disturbed by the broader ramifications of SSB 3062 and HSB 603. And you should be interested in the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit because if plaintiffs lose, all bets are off with how eminent domain could be used in the future.

During the thick of the pipeline fight, a farmer along the route said to me, “If ETP can call itself a public utility because some of the crude oil flowing through my soil may eventually find its way into my gas tank, what’s to stop mall developers from using eminent domain and arguing that they’re a public purpose because I might shop there someday?”

Great question. Conservative or liberal, Iowans ought to oppose this legislation. It’s a Trojan Horse that has nothing to do with sabotage.

It’s about cracking down on peaceful protest.

It’s about throwing open the doors to the abuse of eminent domain wider than ever before.

It’s a slippery slope — greased with oil and campaign donations — that will only lead to further erosion of Iowans’ property rights and put our land, water and climate at even greater risk.

# # #

Check out this week’s Fallon Forum. We discuss:
1. “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” with David VanCleave
2. Why New England Patriots still best team ever
3. DREAMers find ally in conservative Christians
4. Mighty Earth vs Tyson, with Jessye Waxman and Lora Fraracci
5. Global warming kisses Paris accord goodbye
6. No one president can fix America’s deep disfunction, with Ron Yarnell

– Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 96.5 FM and 1260 AM (central Iowa).


– Listen on other local affiliates:
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Iowa Pipeline Fighters Head to Super Bowl to Pressure US Bank to Divest

Dear Friends,

Go Tom Brady! Yeah, I just had to get that out of the way. Across the country, people are turning up the heat on politicians and corporations intent on destroying our water, land, and planet for satiate their lust for power and money.

US Bank is one of them, and it’ll be in the spotlight on Super Sunday when the Pats and Eagles tangle at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The day before the Super Bowl — let’s call it Super Saturday — pipeline fighters, Native leaders, and property-rights defenders from across the upper Midwest will converge in Minneapolis to turn up the heat on US Bank. I’ll be there and, with cold weather forecast, will be wearing two hats. See photo on right. And see the release below for details about the action.

And “Go Tom Brady!” (Or did I already say that?) — Ed

Thursday, February 1, 2018 — 11:00 a.m. CST

Contact: Christine Nobiss at (319) 331-8034 or
Contact: Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404 or

Iowa Pipeline Fighters Head to Super Bowl to Pressure US Bank to Divest
High security, restrictions on freedom of speech, expected in Minneapolis

Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa will join a coalition of Native and non-Native organizations from across the upper Midwest this Saturday, February 3 at 12:30 at the headquarters of Minnesota at 2104 Stevens Ave in Minneapolis for a rally and action in advance of Sunday’s Super Bowl game at US Bank Stadium. Native communities, farmers, landowners, and environmentalists fighting Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline are pressuring US Bank to stop financing oil pipelines.

“If US Bank has a moral compass, this should be a no brainer,” said Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon. “US Bank is as complicit as Energy Transfer Partners for abusing eminent domain, trampling the rights of rural landowners, destroying farmers’ soil and crops, and threatening our water and climate. That can change. It needs to change, and we’re turning up the heat to make it happen. In Iowa, we’re educating people about the lawsuit filed by landowners and the Sierra Club. That case is expected to come before the Iowa Supreme Court this spring, and the ruling could well be historic.”

“US Bank is perpetuating the cycle of colonization that disenfranchises and oppresses those who are not ‘privileged’ enough to be part of middle and upper class American society,” said Christine Nobiss, founder of Indigenous Iowa. “US Bank funds the extraction industry and allows government-backed corporate conglomerates to move in to poor communities and create havoc. Not only does the extraction industry add to climate change and destroy local environments during construction, spills, and explosions but it also institutes ‘man-camps’ which bring added violence and sexual assault to local communities. As an Indigenous woman, I’ve seen and heard first hand what man-camps have done to our First Nation communities, and it is frightening. These camps are one of many institutions in society that contribute to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, men, and children. This is on you, US Bank.”

Last year, Nation of Change published an informative article about the nuances in pipeline infrastructure financing. That article also contains links to the contracts between Energy Transfer Partners, US Bank, and other financial institutions providing capital to allow the Dakota Access and other pipelines to be built.

Indigenous Iowa was founded by Christine Nobiss, Plains Cree-Salteaux from the Gordon First Nation. She is a decolonizer and also works with Seeding Sovereignty. One of the main goals of Indigenous Iowa is to raise awareness about the devastating effects that oil, gas and coal have on our environment while simultaneously promoting the development and implementation of renewable energy. Indigenous Iowa’s website is

Bold Iowa is an independent non-profit organization that addresses the climate crisis, opposes the misuse of eminent domain to expand fossil-fuel infrastructure and other private purposes, promotes individual and entrepreneurial efforts in renewable energy and energy conservation, and works to build a broad, urban/rural coalition. The organization’s website is

# # #

Pipeline “Sabotage” Bill Legislative Extremism

Friday, January 26, 2018 — 2:00 p.m. CT,
Contact Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404 or

Pipeline “Sabotage” Bill Called Legislative Extremism
Proposed bill could render peaceful protest against oil pipeline impossible

Bold Iowa today strongly criticized legislation that passed unanimously out of a Senate subcommittee on Thursday. The legislation — Senate Study Bill 3062 — defines “critical infrastructure sabotage” as an “unauthorized act that is intended to or does in fact cause a substantial interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public related to critical infrastructure property. The bill provides that a person who commits critical infrastructure sabotage commits a class B felony.” Such an offense would come with a fine of $100,000 and a prison sentence of up to 25 years. The parent company of the Dakota Access pipeline — Energy Transfer — is listed in support of the bill.

“This latest attempt by Big Oil to silence dissent is no surprise,” said Ed Fallon, a former lawmaker who now directs Bold Iowa. “This is legislative extremism at its worst. The bill’s backers want you to believe this is about cracking down on arson and vandalism. But the hundreds of pipeline protests who were peaceful, nonviolent and didn’t engage in property destruction could be accused of interrupting service under this bill and subject to insane consequences.”

Bold Iowa is continuing to fight Dakota Access through educating Iowans about the lawsuit filed by Iowa landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club. That case is expected to come before the Iowa Supreme Court this spring. Bold also supports the growing movement to compel banks to divest from financing fossil-fuel infrastructure projects. A couple dozen Bold supporters will travel to Minneapolis on February 3 for “Super Saturday,” calling out US Bank to stop funding oil pipelines.

Bold Iowa was formerly part of the national Bold Alliance and is now an independent non-profit organization that addresses the climate crisis, opposes the misuse of eminent domain to expand fossil-fuel infrastructure and other private purposes, promotes individual and entrepreneurial efforts in renewable energy and energy conservation, and works to build a broad, urban/rural coalition of Iowans. The organization’s website is

# # #

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Dear Friends,

Kim Weaver and Deidre DeJear

{Please come to Bold Iowa’s “Here Comes the Sun” Party on Friday, January 26 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Victor’s Mexican Restaurant, 602 US 69 in Huxley. In addition to learning about Lee Tesdell’s solar set-up, we’ll discuss the lawsuit against the Dakota Access pipeline that will soon come before the Iowa Supreme Court. Details on the Bold Iowa website or Facebook.}

Christine Nobiss

This weekend, an estimated five million people turned out for 673 Women’s March events across the U.S. and around the globe. I attended the Des Moines rally where an estimated 6,000 people showed up at the Iowa State Capitol. The organizing team — including former congressional candidate Kim Weaver, West Des Moines City Councilwoman Renee Hardman, and Robin Covington — did an incredible job in a short span of time.

I was encouraged to see the voices of Indigenous women featured prominently in rallies across the country, including Des Moines. Christine Nobiss of Indigenous Iowa gave one of the most passionate and inspiring speeches I’ve ever heard.

Here’s the link to the livestream of Christine’s speech, and the text is included in its entirety, below.

Please check out this week’s Fallon Forum.

Christine Nobiss joins me for the opening segment. Then I discuss the killing of 500,000 bees in northwest Iowa by two young boys. Joel Kurtinitis is my next guest as we talk about the 1.3 million US troops that remain overseas despite claims that ISIS has been destroyed. Kim Weaver joins me to talk about the election focus of this year’s Women’s March, and I give an update on the DAPL lawsuit.



I want to say thank you to the organizers for having me on this stage at the last minute. In these settings, Indigenous people are often overlooked. We overcame assimilation and extermination but we are still often ignored or romanticized by settler-descendant society. I had to ask to be here because there was no Indigenous representation in the line-up. I’d also like to say thank you to Ed Fallon and Heather Pearson from Bold Iowa who also asked on my behalf.

I’d like to start by saying why is it so important that there be Indigenous representation here. As the original inhabitants of Turtle Island, we should always be represented at forums like this to pay respect to the land on which we are standing right now. And with that in mind, I’d like to honor the Meskwaki Nation, the only First Nation left in Iowa. And we can’t forget all of the other nations that thrived in this area of the world before they were murdered or removed — the Ioway, the Omaha, the Ho-Chunk, etc.

This March is about many things, but primarily it is about empowering women. The reality is that Native American and Alaska Native women endure the highest rates of rape and assault in this country. Older statistics told us that one in three Native American women will be raped or experience sexual assault in their lifetime, but recently that statistic has been moved to 1 in 2.  A new Department of Justice study shows that of over 2,000 women surveyed:

  • 84 percent of Native American and Alaskan Native women have experienced violence;
  • 56 percent have experienced sexual violence;
  • Over 60 percent had experienced psychological aggression or coercive control;
  • 90 percent have experienced violence at the hands of a non-tribal member.

Experts say these astonishing statistics still underestimate the number of women affected by violence because the infrastructure for women to report and handle incidents is underfunded. Also, there is a lack of local law enforcement on reservations and tribal courts do not have the jurisdiction to prosecute non-tribal members for many crimes like sexual assault and rape–even if they occur on a nation’s territory. And our men our also facing similar statistics.

This leads to my next point. Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls: on some reservations in the United States, Native women are murdered at more than 10 times the national average. In Canada, it is 6 times the national average and there are currently over 1000 missing Indigenous women there. It is no different here, where the rate of missing women is astounding but has barely made a dent in mainstream newsources. These women are either dead, ran away or have been sold into the sex trade that exploits our vulnerable population. Here in Iowa, the Meskwaki have taken the initiative to protect their people and have started a program for missing and murdered indigenous women that is led by my good friend Dawson Davenport. He recently created the Rita Papakee Foundation in dedication to this missing Meskwaki woman. It provides resources for families and educates the public about this serious issue.

With all of this being said, I have to ask, do you think Donald Trump and his misogynistic, white supremacist administration is going to help or hinder us in our fight to overcome this awful realty? I think not. This Administration has already announced that they will make cuts to the Department of Justice. This means that the violence against women act is in jeopardy. This act has specific programs under it that are targeted towards Indigenous women because of our crisis status. This is something to keep in mind as we move forward in 2018.

Furthermore, I’d like us to keep in mind that Trump has a vendetta against the Indigenous people of Turtle Island. Back in the 80s he lobbied very aggressively against us and our gaming rights. He has been quoted saying, “Well, I think I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians that are trying to open up the reservations.”  In fact, his 27-member Native American Coalition states that his presidency will minimize federal oversight and regulations through the privatization of our lands. He is not doing this for our well-being but to exploit the resources on our land.

It is estimated that Native American land holds about 30 percent of the nation’s coal, 50 percent of potential uranium, and 20 percent of known oil and gas. He wants to deregulate federal control on reservations and allow private entities to entice poverty-worn Nations with money in order to take their land. This is what Winona LaDuke calls predatory economics. This could undo our sovereignty, undo 500 years of resistance and 100 years of policy-making that has led us to a semblance of self-governance.

And, it may not be obvious but the health and safety of Native American women and men are directly linked to the health and safety of our land. It has been reported by many Native people that they feel much safer when they are living within their own communities where identity and purpose are linked to the traditions and cultures that rest on Sovereign territories. Basically, our Indigenous women’s body sovereignty is directly linked to the sovereignty of their first nation. And Trump is systematically and viciously trying to dismantle that.

However,  even with his portrait of Andrew Jackson hanging in the Oval Office, he has yet to realize the tenacity and strength of our people. We were the first to fight a corrupt, imperialistic, genocidal, slave trading, white supremacist government. We were the first environmentalists in this country and the first revolutionaries. And, we have been doing this for over 500 years. We have experienced much more than what he and his administration have even begun to attempt. We have shut down bridges, taken over buildings like Alactraz, and protected sacred areas that rightfully belong to us. We have set up resistance camps for hundreds of years. We have fought in the Walleye Wars, Oka, against Custer, fought for rivers in the northwest, mountains in the southwest, fought against commercial expansion in the Northwest and for the integrity of the ocean in the southeast. We took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that we will not to be easily oppressed anymore. We are coming out of the darkness and there are many of us that continue to fight this government and their manifest destiny campaign. Trump is but a manifestation of what this country was truly founded upon. And before I conclude I’d like to pay recognition to the our Latin, African American and Asian American brothers and sisters who have also endured a long history of extreme violence and oppression in this country. I’d also like to recognize the more recent immigrants into this country and the Two Spirit community that are also experiencing the same issues. And I’d like to say thank you to all of the settler descendants that are taking a stand and fighting for a better future for all of us. The imperialist agenda is to divide and conquer, but together we can overcome this.

And I would like to give a shout out to Bold Iowa, the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, the Sierra Club and Indigenous Iowa for continuing to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline here in Iowa. Thank you.

Women’s March!

Dear Friends,

This week, I’m pulling together my contacts who’ve supported the Great March for Climate Action, Bold Iowa, and the Fallon Forum for one urgent message:


What’s been happening across America this past year is incredible and historic.

This part is frightening:

The oligarchy of political and corporate elites who oppose justice, equality, peace and our environment are enacting policies that erode the very foundations of our democracy.

The other part is encouraging and essential:

Pushback from a growing coalition of average Americans committed to fighting for our rights, liberties, and planet continues to swell.

Every week, there are more events, rallies and calls-to-action than I have ever seen in my three decades of activism. Thanks to all of you who participate.

It’s hard to tell when you’re in the middle of the storm, but you are changing history. You are blocking tanks even more threatening than the ones blocked by “Tank Man” in Tiananman Square in 1989.

That’s how much is at stake!

That’s how important your involvement is at this time!

This weekend pulls all of our concerns together under one banner, highlighting the growing power of women’s voices in our fight. Your voice is needed this weekend! Come stand with hundreds and thousands of others at the Women’s March in your city or state. I’ll be in Des Moines, and hope to see some of you there.

Women’s March events across America

Marches in (or near) Iowa:
Des Moines
Iowa City
Quad Cities
Omaha, NE
Sioux Falls, SD


Check out this week’s Fallon Forum (above) featuring one of Iowa’s promising young women leaders, Ashley Vanorny, recently elected to the Cedar Rapids City Council. Also, Charles Goldman and I cover the previous week’s policy and political highlights, including the fury over Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury,” the insanity of Hawaii’s ballistic missile alert, and (because we can’t help ourselves) the NFL playoffs.