November 30th, 2021 Last Updated on: December 8th, 2021
Cliff Matias remembers arriving with his team in Standing Rock in 2016, during the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests (#NoDAPL). The protests erupted as a grassroots opposition to the construction of Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access Pipeline.
5yrs ago I was in Standing Rock with the water protectors. The fight to protect indigenous pipelines continues. ✊🏾💧#NoDapl #RedWarriorCamp #WaterIsLife #FreeLeonardPeltier #IndigenousPeoplesDay #OaklandToStandingRock pic.twitter.com/VCmEQhHXRc
— Chaney (@ChaneyTurner) November 24, 2021
“I remember when we first got into Standing Rock and people expected us to be on the frontlines right away and the first thing we did was to make sure that people who needed help in the kitchen [got it] and that people were being fed, that we brought supplies,” he said.
Matias wasn’t representing FEMA, the American Red Cross or some other well-known NGO—he was there with his motorcycle club: REDRUM.
Matias (Taino/Kichwa), a native New Yorker, founded the indigenous motorcycle club REDRUM in 2006 with a focus on biking, brotherhood, service of the people, community, and respect. The name REDRUM derives from “Red Drum,” the heartbeat of Mother Earth and its people. During the formation process, the founding members dropped the second “D” and it became REDRUM Crew, and eventually REDRUM MC.
REDRUM has a mantra: Warriors For The People. And its members live it out through their dozens of chapters spanning eight countries globally.
“That’s really what a warrior does—he serves the community,” Matias said.
REDRUM’s structure is modeled after the democracy of the original Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy who fought, struggled and persevered to promote peace and unity. Matias, recognizing the role warriors play in indigenous society, embraced the traditions of our elders and different tribal nations, to cultivate a new biking culture to serve all people.
Beyond Standing Rock, REDRUM’s various chapters have stepped up to provide support for those impacted by COVID-19, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) crisis, the Line 3 Pipeline, Mauna Kea, and abusive residential schools, to name a few. They’ve offered everything from food, shelter, direct support, and other supplies.
Notably, REDRUM was the first MC to be invited to the United Nations in New York City, where they were able to address numerous issues impacting the indigenous community. Many of the bikers in REDRUM come from the very communities they serve. They have seen the same struggles and are part of the solution.
This year alone, REDRUM has planned several bike runs across the globe to benefit veterans, Akwesasne Freedom School, Every Child Matters, Residential School Children’s Ride for Justice, and several soup kitchens that serve the homeless community within various reservations.
Although REDRUM holds no specific tribal affiliation, many tribal leaders are well aware of the MC’s commitment and generosity. Along the way, many have taken note of not just their deeds, but how they interact with the communities they serve.
Recently, REDRUM hosted its 3rd Annual Indigenous Scholarship Bike Run, donating proceeds to the Fresno American Indian Health Project in Fresno, California. As winter approaches, they’re planning several more bike runs to benefit children, soup kitchens, and more.
“There are different levels of indigenous [motorcycle clubs] and what sets us apart is our tribal traditions and culture,” Matias said. “REDRUM is a motorcycle club first and foremost and our goal is to support the indigenous community, always.“
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