• Sunrise Movement Chico

The Canary Effect

Updated: Jan 4, 2020

On December 8th, 2019, a few of us local residents gathered at Blackbird: Books, Gallery, Cafe in order to watch The Canary Effect, a documentary that taught us about the United States’ true history - the hidden history. 

You can watch it for free here:

The Canary Effect is a very well done, heart wrenching movie that details what really happened to First Nation peoples (aka Native Americans) on the continent of North America - genocide.

I don’t know what hit me more. Was it the amount of innocent people murdered? Was it the sterilization of young women without their consent? The boarding schools where children were ripped away from their homes for 8-10 years and force-fed Christianity and white imperialism? Or was it the fact that the trauma from the atrocity of genocide has riddled current, existing tribes with acute depression? 

Or how about that the CURRENT United States refuses to help them, and in fact steals money from these people who desperately need it, continuing a genocidal mission?

“When Columbus arrived, there was an estimated 12-15 million Indians in what is now the USA. In 1890 there was under 250,000,” (The Canary Effect). 

If that doesn’t break your heart, I don’t know what will.

I write knowing that my heart is torn a new one wondering how we, the present people who live here in the USA, can gather our humanity and recognize how we have been conducting genocide against men, women, mothers, children, and elderly. So many people.

How can we repent? How can we heal?

The answer lies within giving back land, financially supporting tribes, and restoring traditional ecological knowledge to the land through appointing First Nation people in leadership positions.

Before Columbus and his invasion, this land was cared for by thousands of different tribes who intimately knew the land they were working with.

Now we see the effects of our always starving system, that eats and eats and eats and spits out pollution, poverty, and heartache. We are amidst a climate crisis. Scorching fires, furious hurricanes, deadly blizzards like we’ve never seen before. Sick oceans, smog filled air, heaps of waste in forgotten lands. By giving back land to people who know it, we can restore health to this world. We can restore balance by doing what is right.

There is hope, and action being taken place already. Ali Meders-Knight of Mechoopda recently acquired a half acre in Paradise, CA that she stated she would use as “a local ‘restoration station’ for residents who need land management equipment and teams of people to help restore and manage woodland property,” (Meders-Knight).  She is in the process of restoring traditional ecological knowledge to this traumatized area - the effects of which we can see in the Camp Fire of 2018, the most deadly and destructive fire in U.S. history. Locally, the Wiyot were recently given Tuluwat (aka Indian Island) back. We are making progress in just our small circle of community, but more needs to happen.

More needs to be restored. People who are not First Nation can help by supporting those who are fighting for the land back, and by fighting to give it back, not just to the people but to the land itself. We can federally recognize the many tribes that still go unrecognized by our current government. Or even small things, like sending Visa gift cards to the Yankton Sioux tribe in South Dakota, who were recently badly flooded and need winter gear and food and water - you can pay reparations in this way by dropping a Visa gift card at local Blackbird Cafe, and spreading the word.

We can learn to really listen, learn to love, and learn to love ourselves enough to admit we make mistakes and recognize that whether we like it or not we were born into this system and have the power to help heal it, for ourselves and others.

We can do this. We can make a change.

I believe in you.

I believe in us.

Let’s change the world.

//Clara, Chico Hub Member

December 16th, 2019


The Canary Effect. Davey, Robin and Yellow Thunder Woman. Weapons of Mass Entertainment. 2006.

Meders-Knight, Ali. Messenger Interview. 14 Dec. 2019.

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