2019 Quad Cities Women's March

The second annual Quad Cities Women’s March was held on February 2 this year at the Rock Island Union Hall. Though the ice and snow of the previous week prevented the march from being held outdoors, many speakers from the area came to speak about women’s issues from an intersectional viewpoint.

The rally began with Regina Tsosie and Jo Ironshield preforming a traditional Native American smudging ceremony to bless the event. The audience was invited to watch them perform the ceremony outside, and each person was smudged with burning sage. They were also given a small sachet of sage to bring home with them. Sage is traditionally meant to purify and bring positive energy to a person. I participated in the ceremony, and it was really special to learn about the tradition from two indigenous women. Allowing every attendee to be part of the ceremony really drove home the fact that everyone was attending this event for the same purpose.

Regina Tsosie and Jo Ironshield also spoke on behalf of the Coalition to stop Violence Against Native Women. This organization is bringing to light Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. 4 out of 5 Native women are affected in some way by violence, yet many missing or murdered Native American women do not receive the media attention that their white counterparts do. The group advocates for legislation change and and overall increase of awareness to end this epidemic in Native communities.

Speakers also talked about a woman’s right to choose a home birth, healthcare justice, and advocacy for victims and survivors of domestic violence. Local librarian Emily Tobin brought book recommendations focusing on issues of women’s rights and immigration. She highlighted books for all ages, and those in attendence could actually check out the books at the event if they had a valid library card.

Camilla Hilliard was one notable “speaker.” She signed a speech about the deaf community and language accessibility while an interpreter translated for the audience. Her family watched as she told the audience to remember that being deaf does not mean she is incomplete or less than any other person.

Amanda Puebla, a school social worker, discussed her work alongside another teacher to start a resource room for students. 21% of Rock Island residents live below the poverty rate, and Puebla and coworkers noticed that many students came to school lacking basic hygiene products and clothes for the winter. Through donations and grant money, they have created a room where students can take what they need for themselves and their families, so they can have a better education overall.

To close the rally, Nia Walker, Nina Lanciloti and Lily Chen, high school students in Davenport, performed a spoken word poem. They wrote the poem about discrimination they had faced both because of their gender and their ethnicities. The poem wondered why they never learned certain things in school, and how they wished they could teach their younger selves about discrimination based on what they have experienced. It was very powerful to close the rally with the voices of three young women, because a new world for younger generations is what the Women’s March is fighting for.