Danny Beaton receives NAAA
By SHARON WEATHERALL Midland Free Press
The 2010 recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (NAAA) for Environment and Natural Resources has dedicated his life to protect nature and encourages others to do the same. Activist Danny Beaton will be honoured at the 17th NAAA in Regina, Saskatchewan on March 26, as one of 14 remarkable Aboriginal Canadians being recognized for their achievements.
“I am thrilled to be attending the native awards because it will inspire and expose the world to our medicine, spirit, wisdom and culture,” said Beaton who is a Turtle Clan Mohawk of Grand River Six Nations Territory.
Defending and protecting Mother Earth’ from environmental destruction is a life mission for Beaton who views the award as yet another way to create awareness for the important cause he says he believes in.
“This award which is very positive, will help me and those in my field of Environmental Education -people with awards and degrees are usually taken more seriously and Mother Earth is in a very serious crisis,” said Beaton.
“What I am trying to do is bring native values and philosophy to main-steam society where there is a missing link towards solving problems. It is about coming together in unity and solving the environmental problems Western Society created from greed or profit through mismanagement of Mother Earth.”
Beaton uses all forms of communication with the arts to defend and protect the environment including photography, filmmaking, music, writing and teaching, expressing his vision from an Aboriginal perspective. He has received grants from The Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council to study Traditional Native Flute music at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Professor Ed Wapp a Sac Fox/Comanche. He has performed and lectured in Japan, the UK and across the USA, while playing traditional flute, upon request.
This summer Beaton was involved in the peaceful protest to stop Simcoe County Site 41 landfill. He led walks to rally supporters of every age, race and culture, then as a keeper of the sacred fire at the camp and environmental spokesperson, back the successful movement headed by native women and farmers.
By calling on support from political representatives and respected Elders from across the continent, Beaton helped draw international attention to the protest.
Ojibway Elder Wilmer Nadjiwon of Cape Crocker, was one of many who answered the call and joined the movement to stop the dump and protect the ground water. The eighty-six year old says he respects Beaton for his “honesty and determination” to work with people.
“Everyone has a passion for trying to correct things in this world but people with real’ passion are scarce. Danny Beaton is one of them and I don’t know anyone else that works as hard as he does. I think he more than deserves this award for his involvement at Site 41 alone -thousands of people depend on the waters of Georgian Bay,” said Nadjiwon.
“I first met Danny at a Camp Chamoza Pow Wow and have been friends with him for many years. He has been a strong promoter of Indian causes for the past 20 years but fighting for the water of Georgian Bay was one of his biggest achievements not only for natives but all people. Danny did it to preserve the water and he is someone that I am proud and honoured to know.”
Nadjiwon says Danny Beaton “works both sides of the border” creating awareness in Canada and the US and in doing so he has gained the respect of native Elders across the continent.
In 1990 Beaton was bestowed the great honour of being invited to join the Montana based Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth by Chief Oren Lyons. This grassroots coalition of spiritual leaders from across North America gathers to maintain sacred ceremonies and traditional council. At a Youth & Elders Spiritual Conference Beaton befriended Elder Audrey Shenandoah and they have remained good friends. She says Beaton has been deservingly honoured by the 2010 NAAA.
“Danny is one of the early ones to speak on the environment and his aboriginal roots -he has much concern for the Elders. He was always there taking photographs of the conferences and had a few articles published about the environment and traditional beliefs of our people. He is a good and positive person always working towards promoting the environment and the beliefs of aboriginal people,” said Shenandoah.
“Danny encourages people towards a good outlook and concern for Mother Earth and we should be concerned. He has had a real passion for concern for the environment and promoting healthy feelings toward it for as long as I have known him.”
In 1992 Beaton received the Governor General’s Medal for outstanding contributions to his fellow Canadians. His environmental stewardship extends worldwide. In the past two decades Beaton has successfully defended great caribou herds in Alaska central to the economy and basic life of the Gwitchen Nation; helped save the sacred remains of the traditional Seminole territories in Florida; worked with Indigenous people from the Amazon Rainforest to protect their cultures and traditional territories; and worked tirelessly with the Northern Cree, Innu, Inuit, Apache and Ojibway to protect their homeland.
American Elder Robertjohn Knapp of Claremont, California greatly admires Beaton’s work as a protector of Mother Earth and visited the Site 41 camp this summer to support him. Knapp says it just takes one person to stand up and Danny Beaton is doing that.
“Danny Beaton is very deserving of this honour -awards are feedback and this tells Danny he is doing good -don’t stop -keep going and I know he will. He is one of the most trustworthy people I know -we met 20 years ago through the North American Elders Circle where he kept archives and took photographs of the Elders,” said Knapp.
“My belief is that resources’ are something you are in charge of but sources’ are something given to us to continue and preserve life -that is our duty. Danny believes as I do that these must be protected for the future and will do whatever it takes to protect Mother Earth. He has done an admirable job.”
Beaton says his interest to protect Mother Earth comes from a place in his spirit that is part of the Mohawk blood line that runs through his body.
“We come from a beautiful place where our ancestors were one with Mother Earth,” said Beaton.
“If there was one thing I could do to create awareness it would be to show that we belong to the forces that give us life, the earth, air, fire and water and that we the people, have a duty to respect, honour and be thankful to these forces and that we have a duty to protect them for our future generations to come.”
Beaton vows to continually watch what needs to be done to protect the waters of Georgian Bay especially the Alliston Aquifer of Tiny Township from all schemes of land development on this Sacred Farmland.