John Boncore – Wikipedia – Boncore was born in Buffalo, NY, to a Mohawk/Cree mother and an Italian-American father. His father and eleven co-workers died in 1957 after entering a storage tank at U.S. Rubber without respirators. Boncore’s family fell into poverty thereafter and he and five siblings were later sent to foster care after being removed from their mother’s care. Boncore was physically abused due to being placed in racist households during his time in foster care and ended up homeless after fighting back against one of his oppressive foster parents. At the age of 19, he was sentenced to four years in Attica prison for robbing a store out of desperation and hunger after sleeping on the streets of New York city.
In 1993, Boncore met Sandra Bruderer, a Cree woman whom he later married, at a First Nations/Native American sovereignty conference in Edmonton. In 2001, the two self-published a co-written autobiography of Boncore entitled The Autobiography of Splitting the Sky: From Attica to Gustafsen Lake (ISBN 0-9689365-0-4). Boncore also acted in roles in the TV series Men In Trees, Alice, I Think and Da Vinci’s City Hall, and in the films The Last Rites of Ransom Pride (2010) and Deepwater (2005). Boncore was a leader in the Attica Prison revolt. Although 43 people died during the five-day siege, including ten hostages taken by inmates, Boncore was the only person convicted of murder in the aftermath. Despite a legal defense mounted by famed attorney William Kunstler, Boncore was convicted in 1975 by a jury of the murder of prison guard William Quinn, whom he denied attacking as was claimed, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. However, in 1976, Boncore was granted clemency by New York governor Hugh Carey.
Boncore later joined the American Indian Movement and returned to the media spotlight during the 31-day Gustafsen Lake Standoff by First Nations land claims activists in British Columbia. First Nations people and supporters had come to Gustafsen Lake to hold a Sun Dance on private property there, Boncore was the Sun Dance leader and when an eviction notice was served on the group he called for armed resistance.
In 2009, Boncore was arrested while attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of former US president George W. Bush in Calgary, Alberta. He had intended to defend himself on the basis that Bush was a war criminal and that the RCMP was bound by law to assist him rather than arrest him. The judge in the case had scheduled 3 days for him to present his defence (he had asked for one). He died before he was able to present his defence.
splitting the sky : intro – In 1980, Dac attended the Black Hills Alliance Survival Gathering co-sponsored by the Mobilization for Survival (the main national anti-nuclear group) and the American Indian Movement, which was first organized to oppose uranium mining in the Black Hills. It was here that Dacajeweiah met representatives of the Hopi spiritual leaders, the Kikmongwi. The Hopi Prophesy tells of a “Gourd of Ashes” from the sky that will threaten humanity. When they heard about the atomic annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the Hopi Kikmongwi declared in late 1945 that nuclear weapons were the prophesied Gourd of Ashes, and called for their immediate abolition. Another part of the Prophesy called on the Hopi to travel to the United Nations to address the world. Dac agreed to help Grandfather David, a Hopi spiritual leader, to organize the event.
In the fall of 1982, over 400 Indian Chiefs and spiritual leaders accompanied the Kikmongwi into the United Nations Great Assembly Hall, followed by more than 2,000 others. The assembly heard the Hopi renew their call for nuclear abolition, and for a radical change in human consciousness. The Hopi “Message of Warning to the World” was one of the early important anti-nuclear protests confronting Ronald Reagan’s apocalyptic nuclear policies. Dacajeweiah was the main organizer of this seminal gathering, and his reputation as a serious organizer became firmly established.
After being released, Dacajeweiah had moved to the Washington, DC area, and developed a friendship with the Tayac family. Billy Redwing Tayac, Chief of the Piscataway Indian Nation of southern Maryland and a longtime AIM member and activist, was respected widely for his leadership and wisdom. The Piscataway Nation’s Tayac Territory was and still is a haven for Indian People and Indigenous People world-wide, and seasonal ceremonies at their sacred burial grounds, Moyone, are attended by hundreds, Indian and non-Indian alike. In 1982, Dac and Mark Tayac traveled to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to dance in the Lakota Sundance run by Chief Bill Eaglefeather. The following year, Frank Fools Crow, while visiting Tayac Territory, asked Chief Tayac to establish the Eastern Sundance. Dacajeweiah was one of seven original Piscataway sundancers, and danced three years under Chief Fools Crow’s direction.
During the early 1980s, Dac became active helping the Piscataway’s in their own land rights struggles and was a fixture in local progressive politics. In 1984, Roberta Blackgoat, one of the leaders of the “Big Mountain” Dineh (Navajo) resistance, and Duncan Murphy, a legendary human rights activist working out of Big Mountain, asked Dac, Billy and Louise Franklin-Ramirez, a non-Indian activist elder, to establish the Big Mountain Support Group of Metropolitan Washington (BMSGMW).
The Dineh Elders of the Black Mesa area of the “Four Corners” region had been fighting against forced relocation since 1984 when a new law PL 93-531, sponsored by Barry Goldwater, ordered 14,000 traditional Navajo (Dineh) Indians living in the newly defined Hopi Partition Land (HPL) to be removed from their ancestral lands. The process had been proceeding with grim efficiency for over ten years when Dac was approached to help. With Louise & Billy’s help, a group of several dozen core activists under Dac’s direction formed the Big Mountain Support Group of Metropolitan Washington (BMSGMW).