The Cannonball River in North Dakota forms the northern border of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Photo by Jimmy Emerson
No Water Challenge
By Dana Lone Hill
Lakota Country Times Columnist
Anpetu wanji mni ki iyota otehinka kte lo!When I read comments from non-Natives regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline it is kind of shocking to me how much people disregard water. In fact a few online friends of mine shocked me last year when they said they don’t even like water. They hated the way it tasted, etc. I, of course, after getting over my disbelief went into a rant about how someday water will be more precious than anything. That is something that was taught to me by my grandfather, taught to him by his grandfather. The Lakota prophecy that dates back at least 300 years talks of all the water turning black someday. It says by the time white people realize how precious water is it will be too late. People in North Dakota are so quick to defend oil and disregard water as if oil is need more than water. They are quick to throw their railroad workers under the train in order to put pipeline down without once thinking what they would do without water, how they would live. As Native people we know the power of water, we know water can save our lives. Water can also in huge force take a whole village out in a flood. There is power in water, we are made of water which is why when it is sacrificed in ceremony for four days by Natives, it is done in a constant state of prayer in the hot sun. Water is used in every aspect of our lives, we know that it is our first medicine. Which is why hundred of tribes have come together in this fight for water. This is the challenge I issued on Facebook:
One day, water will be more precious than anything.
-- Lakota Prophecy
~~~~THE NO WATER CHALLENGE~~~Of course I didn’t expect anyone to actually do it. I only wanted them to think about it. Then I had a friend of mine step in who is non-Native. I was thinking this was a good thing because most of us Natives know of someone or maybe have sacrificed water in ceremony before. My own brother did and I remember him telling me the fasting of food for four days is not what got to him, it was the thirst for water. He said every cell of his body could think of nothing else but water for the whole four days. So when my friend Brooke said she would try it the one clause was her cat and if she had plants did not have to suffer her challenge because they didn’t take it on. Animals and plants already know the importance of water, even more so than most humans. (This is why, one elder told me the plant world stands in constant prayer.) So Brooke lives in Florida, works in the health field and decided to do the challenge on her day off. I will tell you about her day according to her notes. Brooke woke up at 9am and her first thought was water. How normally she would shower and drink water, brush her teeth, etc. She used the bathroom to urinate but did not flush the toilet. It bothered her to not wash her hands because she works in the health field she is constantly washing her hands all day. She thought about breakfast but had nothing to eat that did not use water to make. She broke down at 1:20 pm and made coffee because of a dependence on caffeine. Her challenge at that point was over but she tried to keep going. Her mind was constantly on water wondering if she could eat the bananas outside but being they used rainwater to grow, they still involved water.
There have been many challenges on Facebook and in social media that have gone viral. This one doesn't involve water. Being that so many politicians, corporations, and the average caucasian North Dakotan thinks that water is not important, here is the challenge. You can not have anything to do with water for 24 hours. This means no flushing a toilet, no washing your face, no drinking anything with water. No eating any portion that needed water to sustain it, no eating any crop that had anything to do with water. No drinking anything that needed water to make, being that everything has water in it including soda, about the only thing on this list is oil. No brushing your teeth, showering, or even going fishing. No going on a boat, no going swimming, no washing your clothes, no water in your life for 24 hours. I realize this is impossible for mostly everyone. Mostly everyone does not know that water is given up for four days and nights in the summer time during ceremony by the very same people who are fighting to protect their water. Not everyone participates in that ceremony but even those who don't are in the prayers of those that do make the sacrifice. If you think you are ok without sacred water, then take this challenge. I realize not even the strongest man or woman can do this or even the richest, however, should you decide to take it, post it. Let us know truthfully how many minutes or hours you lasted. It is impossible. Let's hear it North Dakotans, you think water is nothing, do it. #NOWATERCHALLENGE #NODAPL #WATERISLIFE
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At 2:10pm she started doing laundry for the work week but her electricity went out showing her again, how important water was. At 3:00pm she finally broke down and drank a glass of water and tapped out completely. She lasted 4 hours and 20 minutes without water. Another hour without needing it to clean and another hour before her thirst took over. I asked her if she was bored without water. She said yes, it was such a distraction it was all she could think about, not being able to concentrate on anything. She said she felt spoiled by having access to water constantly and she realized why there is a fight for clean water going on. I think of the children in Africa who get their water from mud puddles, I think of the power of water in lands that are shrinking due to melting glaciers, I think of the power of water in tsunamis. I think of water all the time and how the Lakota prophecy predicted that one day it will be more precious than anything. I think of the people in North Dakota who are too clueless to realize the fight for oil is about money. The fight for water is about life. Because water is our first medicine. Water is life. Mni Wiconi. We can not live without water. (Dana Lone Hill is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and is the author of a book about life on the reservation called Pointing with Lips.) Find the award-winning Lakota Country Times on the Internet, Facebook and Twitter and download the new Lakota Country Times app today.