To Our Dear Water Protectors and Supporters,
I am one voice among a sea of dedicated hearts. In all of us, there’s a yearning that we rarely discuss. That yearning, for me, was to be at Standing Rock and stop a single pipeline from violating indigenous rights and contributing to the destruction of our beautiful world.
The crude that is pulled from the Bakken, per gallon, requires ten gallons of fresh water from the aquifer to be contaminated with chemicals before being injected beneath the shale from which it came. Ocean water must be desalinated, rivers and streams must be filtered, but this water comes out ready to drink – and we poison it, sending it back into the earth, destroying that resource for generations to come, causing earthquakes, polluting rivers, and filling the atmosphere with hydrocarbons.
The stock market is beginning to invest in water. When our scientists look to the frontier of space – they look for liquid water.
I arrived at Standing Rock in early November. A little whisper told me to come here.
It said, “Not in our name.”
The struggle to oppose Dakota Access has asked more than the average camping trip. It has been hard but rewarding work. When I would succumb to that warm blanket of self-pity, I’d look around me and see so many others fighting against the same feeling: I’m not doing enough… What else can I do?
The people I have met at Standing Rock, on the whole, possess more integrity than any other group of rascals I’ve met. Regardless of whether or not Energy Transfer Partners goes against their investors, or whether they defy the Federal government’s denial of the easement by drilling beneath the Missouri River, I have become wealthier than any of them by the company I have shared.
The human race has a crack-like addiction to oil. Our entire grid is built for mass power stations that were conceptualized when Tesla was tinkering with A/C currents. Since then, our innovators have built better power storage systems, and localized power generation technology (such as wind and solar); yet we haven’t learned to be more resourceful with our energy.
It is time to change this. Standing Rock was just the beginning.
On December the 4th, the world press declared victory on behalf of the Water Protectors. The necessary Environmental Impact Statement that had not been conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers was ordered and the easement denied. It was hailed as a major victory for the Sioux.
Many of us understand that it is less expensive for Energy Transfer Partners to pay the fines and continue drilling, however, we are in a spirit of celebration. We have won a tremendous victory in the name of indigenous rights, water rights, and treaty rights. The greatest victory we offer is Empowerment. Standing Rock declares that anyone who believes in their little whispers can get together with thousands of little whispers to make a difference. We are so powerful that we can even limit the amount of power we have by statements like “I am unable to make a difference” – what a powerful thing to say!
You have so much power you can even disempower yourself, and those who will hear you.
Standing Rock took that power and channeled it through the seven Lakota values: Prayer, Respect, Compassion, Truth, Generosity, Humility and Wisdom.
As of yesterday, all non-Sioux have been asked to leave Standing Rock by Chairman Archambalt II. Should we be needed – we will be back. Before we go, there’s one last thing to be done, and it involves every single one of you.
December 10th is the UN’s Human Rights Day. On their website, it reads, “We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media.”
We are all going home soon, but we’re still here for now. We can still make a real difference.
A lot has happened since we got to Standing Rock. Our clean cloths have become smoked and musty. We’ve slept in tents and tipis and on gymnasium floors. Our bodies have become toughened like beef jerky. We have hitched rides in truck beds filled with activists to actions. Concussion grenades have gone off at our feet and tear gas has seared the eyes of our elders and youth. We have seen native women run down by pickups driven by men with impunity – while our people went to jail for as little as holding a banner. Our unconscious brothers were carried from the frontlines dripping with icy water. Our sister Sophia is still fighting to save her arm. Our other sister Sioux Z may lose one eye. We have been beaten down unjustly by the forces of an allegedly just government. To date, 566 people have gone to jail for Standing Rock.
On December 10th, in honor of Human Rights Day, we propose that Standing Rock hold a healing ceremony and celebration on both sides of the river – at the drill pads. There will be no property damage in this prayer ceremony. There will be no violence in our hearts. Our mother needs us to wrap her wounds. We need to heal our brothers and sisters who suffered traumas through arrest, police brutality, and the excessive force of DAPL security forces. This would be a celebration of our common humanity and gratitude for an incredible life.
This is a convergence of over 300 tribes, which is historically unprecedented. I am one voice among thousands at Standing Rock. I believe we should formally request a demonstration permit from Morton County, and beseech Energy Transfer Partners to allow natives and veterans access to the drilling sites to perform ceremony. The Seven Council Fire had not been lit for 140 years – I implore them to hear me and take up this initiative. Our non-native relatives can act as support in the ceremony. On this same day, we call upon the entire world, the United States, and EVERYONE, to please join us in prayer at the exact time we continue our stewardship of mother earth and her precious, rarefied waters, for all our relations.
Cover photo credit to Ryan Vizzions aka Redhawk.