A young indigenous activist takes a stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Tiffany Baker
Oceti Sakowin Unite To Protect Water
By Vi Waln
Lakota Country Times Columnist
lakotacountrytimes.com Kudos to Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II for being a leader willing to sacrifice his personal freedom to protect our Mni Wiconi (Water of Life). He was arrested by police last week when he joined other activists gathered to protect the Missouri River from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Several other Standing Rock Lakota people were also arrested, including Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle and Tribal Council Representative Dana Yellow Fat. These brave Lakota leaders stood strong in protection of our Mni Wiconi. Wopila Tanka! Human beings who are disconnected from life giving elements are like an empty shell. That is, they are unable to comprehend why other human beings are adamant in defending Mother Earth. The ignorance of these people prevents them from understanding the importance of our Mni Wiconi. Their ignorance is dangerous. All human beings are Children of Mother Earth. We are all dependent upon nature’s elements to survive. Our survival is threatened when our life giving elements are the target for exploitation by big profit-making corporations. When a lost Italian happened upon the east coast in 1492, our world was forever changed. The rush of immigrants to “America” was the beginning of an ongoing rape of Mother Earth. The immigrants who arrived by boat over 500 years ago were determined to possess the land, as well as all the elements meant to sustain Mother Earth and humanity. As they made their way west, a major intent was to stake a claim on land. It was extremely rude the way they just showed up to push us all aside so they could try to possess the land. There was absolutely no concern for our ancestors who lived upon this Turtle Island since the beginning of time. When an element with the potential to bring in cash is “discovered,” the immigrants inevitably set out to exploit it. For instance, our ancestors watched as the Black Hills Gold Rush of 1874 caused the desecration of the sacred HeSapa by immigrants looking to get rich. Today, gold, timber and other minerals are still being robbed from HeSapa by the immigrant’s descendants. It’s always been about money for these immigrants. Money is their God. Today, the rush is for oil. Big corporations, who have no concept of Mitakuye Oyasin, want to extract all the oil from Mother Earth to sell for a profit. The construction of oil pipelines, such as the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline, provide temporary jobs for roughnecks. Consequently, the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota and other Indigenous activists of Mother Earth are continually being accused of trying to take jobs away when they stand up to defend the Water of Life. Profit seeking corporations, along with the roughnecks they employ, have no concept of how crucial water is to humanity. Their actions prove they will always choose money over life. Indigenous activists aren’t trying to take anyone’s livelihood away. Grassroots activists standing on the front lines understand how crucial water is to our survival. All of us want to guarantee that our unborn generations have an abundance of good, clean water to drink. Many of us pray for the water every single day of our lives. The people standing on the front lines opposing oil pipeline construction are there for all of humanity’s unborn generations. Many Lakota-Dakota-Nakota people, as well as other Indigenous activists, are being told to go back to the reservation. Those who want us to stay confined within the reservation boundaries are obviously not aware of the Treaty law our people still recognize. We are Children of Mother Earth. Many of us have never recognized the imaginary land boundaries created by the wasicu. We are all responsible to protect the health and well-being of Mother Earth. Today, some of us depend on the underground aquifers for our water. Also, when the Mni Wiconi Rural Water System was established several years ago, it provided clean drinking water via the Missouri River to many people living on South Dakota reservations. Our entire water system is now being threatened by oil pipelines. The Dakota Access Pipeline is a plan to build an oil transfer system under the Missouri River near Cannonball, North Dakota. We’ve all seen the reports of oil pipelines bursting, leaking or exploding. An oil pipeline under the Missouri River threatens all the human beings who depend on the river for their water. Animals and plant life also use the river as their water source. Oil pipelines are an act of terrorism. Still, the quest for a cash profit apparently outweighs the risk of contaminated water for those who are blindly obsessed with fattening their bank accounts. As Children of the Earth, it is our duty to speak out and stand up for our elements, especially our Mni Wiconi.
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Contrary to popular opinion amongst many non-Indians, activists and other Indigenous people are not trying to take anything back, we only want our descendants to have equal access to the necessities of life. Water is a necessity. Water is Life. Once our water systems are all contaminated in the rush for cash, the game is over. Life will be done. We, along with Mother Earth, will die without water. Please support the activists who are working to protect the Missouri River near Standing Rock. They are there to guarantee a future for our descendants. They are the epitome of being a good ancestor. There are many ways to support this effort to protect the water, including prayer. In the on-going global war against terrorism, government officials display great ignorance as they overlook Mni Wiconi as our major source of life. Our water must be protected. Again, this human ignorance will be the death of our planet. The continued terrorist attacks by big oil corporations who want to build their dangerous pipelines over, under and through our water sources must stop. Pray for your water every single day. Without water, there is no life. (Vi Waln is an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and is nationally published journalist.) Find the award-winning Lakota Country Times on the Internet, Facebook and Twitter and download the new Lakota Country Times app today.
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