Opinion

Jon Eagle: Land remains sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe






Tribal members gather at the Camp of the Sacred Stones near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Photo from Facebook

Jon Eagle, Sr., the historic preservation officer for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, explains why the Camp of the Sacred Stones [Facebook | Twitter | GoFundMe] was established up to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline:
Long ago our ancestors knew the Cannon Ball River as Inyan Wakan Kagapi Wakpa, "River where the sacred stones are made," and they knew the Missouri River as Mni Sose, "Turbulant Water." At the confluence of where those two rivers met was a great whirlpool that created perfectly round stones that were considered to be sacred. When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the Cannon Ball River and altered its course, the rivers quit making those stones. That federal undertaking had an adverse effect on an area of religious and cultural significance to our people. We will never again see this. When man changes the land it is changed forever.

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created the dams to create hydroelectric power, that federal undertaking had an adverse effect on a traditional cultural landscape. Construction had begun north of Standing Rock and they didn't even bother to tell the people. It wasn't until the water came that they realized they were flooding the river. There are many sad stories from our relatives and communities that lived on the river bottom about the deep spiritual wound this caused our grandparents. When they lost the river bottom they lost traditional foods and medicine that caused the people to become dependent on Indian Health Service. Prior to that there was no diabetes, heart disease and obesity among our people.

The land between the Cannon Ball River and the Heart River north of us is sacred land. A historic place of commerce where enemy tribes camped within site of each other peacefully because of the reverence they had for this sacred place. In the area are sacred stones where our ancestors went to pray for good direction, strength and protection for the coming year. Those stones are still there. The people still go there today.

Read More:
Jon Eagle, Sr.: When Man Changes the Land, It Is Changed Forever (Indian Country Today 8/27)

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