“Water Is Life”
Thursday, September 22, 2016. “Water,” as the Indians say, “is Life”. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Sioux City, Iowa looking out of my window at the wide Missouri River. Today the river is agitated and grey-green under storm clouds. I left the encampment at Standing Rock, North Dakota yesterday, and followed the Missouri here. From Standing Rock to Sioux City, the river was beautiful, calm and clear-blue, sparkling with sun diamonds and reflections of autumn-gold Cottonwood trees, and reflections of acre-upon-acre of golden GMO corn, wheat, soy, and sunflower fields. It worried me, driving through all that monoculture, that I did not see any birds.
The Missouri River brings Life as it meanders through five states, joining with the great Mississippi and flowing into the gulf. These two rivers form the artery of our heartland.
Vast and priceless, this watershed is now threatened with the possibility of complete and irrevocable destruction. What will it mean not only for ourselves but also for our children and grandchildren, “for the next seven generations” as the Indians say, if we allow one of the most significant watersheds in the Continental US to be destroyed?
It’s that question that by mid-September, 2016, had brought together more than 350 Native American tribes and over 7,000 non-indigenous people from all over the world, with more arriving every day. The people have gathered by the river to protect the Mississippi-Missouri artery running through America’s heart from destruction by the Energy Transfer Partnership Company.
How could one nice little energy company threaten such devastation? ETP is the mythical gyre-wolf in sheep’s clothing; a monstrous many-headed hydra; the giant Black Snake, foretold thousands of years ago in Native prophesy, that will bring the end of the world if it’s not stopped. ETP – parent of the North Dakota pipeline project – is (wait for it): an amorphous and opaque partnership of the largest US banks and financial institutions (the same guys who brought us the global financial crisis of 2007-2009), plus major world banks, and multinational petrochemical extraction-processing-distribution corporations, all wrapped up into one mullti-billion dollar tangled writhing vipers’ nest of financial/legal/oligarchy. http://www.democracynow.org/2016/9/6/new_investigation_names_wall_street_banks
Now that the Keystone XL pipeline has been defeated, the Energy Transfer Partners’ new game is to construct a pipeline through Native American lands, and in-and-out under the river two times, so they can transport their fracked oil from the Bakken shale fields (a Canada -Montana- North Dakota wasteland) to the gulf as fast as possible, and ship it overseas for enormous profits. (Nope, that oil is not for us Americans. Sorry, Charlie.) http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/who%27s-banking-dakota-access-pipeline
But if we stop the pipeline and keep the oil in the ground, how will we make everything go? And What About the Union, Jobs, and all that?
Re: Pitting protectors of the water against pipeline workers
It’s one of the oldest propaganda strategies they’ve got: The old “They are trying to take away your jobs” trick has duped AFL-CIO to endorse the pipeline instead of the defenders of the water. What a terrible mistake, not really in the interest of the workers at all. https://www.revealnews.org/article/in-north-dakotas-bakken-oil-boom-there-will-be-blood/
“The Bakken is the most dangerous oil field to work in the U.S. The energy producers never pay for their mistakes.” — Justin Williams, Wegner attorney
Pipeline workers, your jobs are hurting you and are really terrible. Terrible for you, horrible for your families, for your neighbors, for the world. You can have MUCH MUCH BETTER JOBS if you’ll get on board and help us build a clean, socially and environmentally just, loving, joyful, sustainable New Earth. Lots of jobs. New technologies are here! Wind. Solar, Geothermal, Tidal, . . .
The stand-off at Standing Rock is historic: never before have so many Indigenous Peoples and representatives of so many tribes gathered together for a common cause. Over 350 tribes counted, as of the end of August, including not only a large percentage of tribes from the continental U.S. but also indigenous groups from Hawaii, Mexico, Ecuador, and even Palestine. In my opinion, the Standing Rock gathering is biblical in its nature and import. While I was there, I witnessed the miracle of Loaves and Fishes happening 24/7. People arrive day and night, many having traveled enormous distances under great hardship, and they are all lovingly welcomed, hugged, and fed. Thousands of people (an estimated 7,000 as of October 1st) are being fed well with donated food, cooked by volunteers on outdoor fires, without electricity or running water. Tribal groups bring their most sacred foods to share – such as wild Alaskan salmon from the Haida People. A lesson in nurturing and love.
Many people I spoke with at the camp told me they had felt Called to come help Protect the Water. I myself received the Call to journey to Standing Rock while I was watching Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now on TV in my California living room. When I saw the video of the dogs, I knew I had to go – video of unarmed, prayerful Native Americans being attacked with pepper spray; private mercenary military personnel on the payroll of ETP going after men, women, children, and babies with attack dogs. Watching blood drip from the mouth of one of the dogs, with the memory of the 1960’s Birmingham Civil Rights movement playing in my head, I knew I had to immediately unharness myself from the business-as-usual of my life and join the people at Standing Rock. Going was one of the most meaningful acts of my life.
Did you see that attack dog video? If you did, you’re in a minority. Because of an oligarcy-imposed media blackout, most Americans have no idea what’s going on in Standing Rock North Dakota. See it here and then Share: https://youtu.be/kuZcx2zEo4k
Gathering at Standing Rock to Defend our Water:
a Movement By and For the YOUTH
In early August, 2016, thirty Native youth from the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) completed a 2,000-mile relay run from North Dakota to Washington, D.C. to deliver a letter to President Obama reminding him to “Rezpect Our Water”. This visit was a follow-up to a massive “Our Generation, Our Choice” youth mobilization and rally last November, 2015 in D.C. for Racial and Climate Justice . After delivering their letter asking the President to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, the thirty Lakota youth returned to Standing Rock to hold a continuous prayer vigil for the water.
To date, few mainstream newspapers or television have reported this historic stand-off. Many lies populate the internet, promulgated by the denizens of Energy Transfer Company. In fact, right after the dog attack incident, ETP’s PR people flooded Twitter with fake accounts that made false statements about Standing Rock. Those fake accounts were outed and removed, but not before they had done their dirty work spreading confusion, fear and hatred.
Even though mainstream papers and television aren’t reporting on Standing Rock, many grass-roots participant-observers are working to keep the public informed via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, blogs. Some of the Indy reporters have access to fairly sophisticated communications devices, but many, myself included, have been recording and sharing what we can, just using our smart phones. Please help spread the word.
Standing Rock camp is “primitive” – tents, and open fires for cooking, heating, and prayer; no running water or electricity except for a little solar.
I’m told Cellular service on the land used to be decent until the protest started, but now it’s only available on one hilltop above the camp and even that service is “spotty”.
The casino, about 10 minutes down the road by car, is the only place with WiFi. Everyone using media goes to the casino to tweet and post to their Facebook pages and blogs. People fill the lobby at all hours, sitting on chairs and on the floors, trying to get the message out about the pipeline. But someone or something is CENSORING much of the material people try to post. I wouldn’t believe it if it hadn’t happened to me.
One afternoon at the casino, I re-tweeted a benign post – no bad or hateful language, only a factual report on the conditions at Standing Rock. A little while later, I noticed that the post had been BLACKED OUT, and in white block letters across the black rectangle were the words CENSORED. At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Have you ever heard of anything like that happening in the United States of America? I mentioned it later to someone else uploading posts at the casino. He asked if I’d taken a screen shot. No. When I went back to Twitter to look for the censored post, it had completely vanished.
A woman working on a GoFundMe project for warm winter clothes for the camp told me that when she posts information about her project on Facebook, within an hour her posts have disappeared. Everyone I’ve talked to has a different theory about who is doing this censoring. No one really knows why our internet is showing signs of repression in the United States of America. My attorney friends who volunteer at the camp say they believe it’s the work of Homeland Security or the National Security Agency. Are we being censored because NSA thinks we’re terrorists. Yikes. That’s scary.
I am not the kind of person typically profiled as a terrorist. I am a middle-class white woman from an affluent suburb, a law-abiding, highly-educated professional. A paragon of responsibility. Pretty much the epitome of “respectability”. I am a patriot. I love my country. I am NOT a terrorist. But guess what? Being a member of a privileged class won’t protect you if you cross that line to stand with your oppressed brothers and sisters. Surprised?
No wait. My country does not Censor my First Amendment Rights to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press, right? WeIl . . . I’ve been hearing many troubling stories of censorship on Facebook and Twitter. How abut you? The Independent media group Unicorn Riot has a report documenting journalists being repeatedly threatened and arrested. http://www.unicornriot.ninja/?p=9147
Honestly, how did these poor people who work for our public agencies – the police, highway patrol and military – get so twisted that they perceive nice old grandmas and beautiful young teenagers, doctors, lawyers, priests, artists and college students as evil enemies to be hated, feared, attacked and locked up? The Black Snake has been slithering around for a long time. Remember Kent State, when young, innocent National Guardsmen massacred young, innocent college students?
The Black Snake is Poisoning our Mother Earth. It’s twisting our Peoples’ hearts and minds, so they don’t recognize their own family and friends anymore. The Black Snake needs to be stopped.
Standing Rock is at the epicenter of a shift taking place within each of us, and within every family, community, and nation around the world. The obscene assaults on the feminine, Mother Earth and her children, which we are witnessing this presidential election, are public displays of a world view that is no longer sustainable.
According to a Standing Rock legend, long ago a woman was so humiliated and abused by her husband that she turned to stone, a stone which can still be seen on a hill above camp. Now this woman is coming back to life. Her heart beats again. She is rising to protect Mother Earth and her children from the Black Snake.
Women and Men of Good Hearts, Rise Up!