Lowdown on your Hosts!

Your hosts–Chas Jewett and Melissa Billington–discuss all things “Indian” & “White” with an aim to cultivate consent culture in a world based on rape culture. These complex, and often fraught, conversations began during our long days on the indigenous-led 1700+ mile prayer-walk of the Missouri River, August – October 2017.

Here’s a bit more about us individually…

Hosts: Chas
Chas walking the water with a young Ojibway man holding the eagle feather

My English name is Chastity “Chas” Jewett and I am a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. I am Lakota and my Lakota name is Anpo wicahpi luta win, which means Red Morning Star Woman. I was raised along the Moreau River near Jewett Creek, a creek named for my ancestor who settled in so-called South Dakota around 1832 before the Treaty of 1868, which made it a legal part of the Great Sioux Nation.

I attended the College of St Benedict, and also the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. I’ve been officially active in South Dakota politics since I began organizing for the Sierra Club in 2002, but I’ve always been an advocate for equality, justice for humans and for Earth. I’ve worked in tribal relations with the SD Dental Association, helping to further cooperation between state, tribal, and federal oral health care providers.

While in Poland, bearing witness to the death camps of Auschwitz with the Zen Peacemakers, I celebrated the first death of the Keystone Pipeline, arguably my first political victory. To this day I continue to fight against the Keystone XL. During a post-Standing Rock tour of Ireland I did an interview with the Irish Times.

When I’m not fighting crime, I love climbing mountains with my boxer puppy, Nupa. Recently I joined Sharon Day, an Ojibway Mdiwin, on the Missouri River Water Walk. Living in ceremony and praying for the nibi (water) from Montana through North and South Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and finally Missouri has altered the trajectory of my journey in a myriad of ways yet to be known. I live in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota, for the moment… 

 

Hosts: Melissa
Melissa walking the water with the eagle feather

My name is Melissa Elvira Billington and I am of Robertson, Carr & Billington descent. My parents are second cousins so I have a double dose of the “fierce when roused” Robertson medicine and it is this part of my ancestry that has been so proud, for hundreds of years, to be descended from Pocahontas (which becomes a hot topic here in our talks…). I was born in our ancestral lands in Virginia but then raised in the NorthEast and went to school at both Temple and Cornell Universities.

After working as a milliner, actor, and costume designer/creatrix in Santa Fe, Idaho and New York City, I went overseas in 1999 and have not lived permanently in the US since then. Although I loved university, my greater education and blessing has come from living in India, Barbados, Puerto Rico and New Zealand, as well as traveling to many other lands. My musings about what I’m learning in my walkabout are in my blog.

I’ve been teaching yoga since 2001 and most of my teachings are now online. You can also view some of my acting work, including the solo show inquiry into my ancestry and the colonizing beginnings of what we now call the US. However, since 2014 I have been on walkabout and in my wanderings I was given my first water song, from the Northern Ojibway. Since then the act of praying to and for water each day as I’ve traveled has opened my eyes to the plight of water on our finite planet. I offer much gratitude to Sharon Day for carrying on the water-walking ceremony of her elder Josephine Mandamin, and am grateful to have walked both Lake Seneca and the Missouri River with her.

 

Thank you for being here and for listening to us as we grapple with the underlying paradigm clash that created the USA (as we think we know it), and as we begin to learn how much there is to learn (as well as unlearn) if we are to be truly worthy of the word civilization.

October 26, 2017