Harold Frazier, the
chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, addresses a #NoDAPL rally outside
of the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., on August 24, 2016. Photo by
Indianz.Com / Available for use under a Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
The following is the text of an open letter from Harold Frazier, the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, to the thousands of people who have been resisting the Dakota Access
Dear Water Protectors:
Wopila tanka! Thank you, thank you so much for your hard work, your dedication, your courage, and your commitment. This struggle has brought together the people of the Great Sioux Nation, other tribes, and our non-native allies from around the world to join with us to defend our water, our treaty lands, and our sacred sites. This movement to fight the Black Snake transcends tribe, nation, and race. This is a global movement, and all of you have contributed so much.
Sunday was definitely a great day for all of us and a direct result of months of your peaceful and courageous actions as water protectors. It was a direct result of prayers and peaceful solidarity. I took time to celebrate and enjoy the good news on that day, and I thanked all those who helped get us to this point. We have won an important battle in this fight, but make no mistake—we have a long hard fight ahead of us.
In fact, this week I am traveling to Washington, D.C. where I will testify to an international tribunal about the abuses perpetrated against the water protectors and other human rights issues. I will also be meeting with members of Congress to discuss legislative options to win this fight. Our tribal lawyers will be in court working to defeat the oil companies. And I will be meeting with
representatives of the federal government to engage in nation-to-nation consultation regarding the path forward.
While the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe does its part to defeat this Black Snake and water protectors continue to keep watch over our sacred Mni Sose, we must all be aware that winter has finally come to the Great Plains. Conditions out there are hard. Winter weather in Sioux Country can be life threatening if you are not prepared. Please, do not put your life in jeopardy. If you are elderly, have medical issues, are camping with children, or are not properly equipped for our harsh weather, you should consider moving on so that you do not endanger yourself, your family, the emergency responders, or the larger movement of killing the Black Snake.
If you choose to go home, I thank you and honor your decision. To our Cheyenne River tribal members returning home, you are heroes! Welcome home. To our friends and allies returning to your homes, thank you so much! You have all shown the world that courage, peace, unity, and fortitude can indeed change the world.
Those of you who choose to stay, I thank you. But you must be strong and prepared if this is your choice. As you know and have experienced, North Dakota winters are brutal and harsh, so please take all precautions to stay safe, warm, and healthy.
Whether you choose to stay at the camp and continue your efforts or whether you choose to go is your personal decision. And understand that regardless of your decision, you have the full support and gratitude of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.
For all those veterans still coming to relieve our protectors in this struggle to save Unci Maka: we will continue to welcome our military brothers and sisters with open arms in Eagle Butte. Our facilities here are open for those veterans coming for briefing and education, and for transportation to the camp as the weather permits. Hospitality and generosity are virtues of the Lakota people, and we will always welcome and thank those visitors who traveled far and wide to help our people.
I understand there is concern over what Dakota Access may do as far as drilling under the Missouri—that they will not abide by the Corps’ decision. I understand and share your concerns. Please remember that Dakota Access can legally drill on private land, but they must stop as soon as they reach federally-owned Corps’ land. The Corps has promised to keep Dakota Access honest. I have reached out to Corps’ leadership to confirm their position, and I will keep you posted.
Also, I humbly ask that anyone who chooses to remain please refrain from any action, like trespassing on the easement or committing any vandalism, that would give Dakota Access or the government any reason to disrupt this EIS process. We all understand that those who value corporate interests and money over people want nothing more than to cast a negative light on water protectors and the victory we have achieved. It is my opinion that the water protectors have exercised wisdom and restraint thus far, and I have confidence that you will continue to do so.
Lastly, I want to express that I remain in solidarity with the entire Great Sioux Nation. The Great Sioux Nation has always been and will continue to be unified, powerful, and sacred.
Again, thank you, water protectors and veterans, for your continued support and true patriotism. Sunday’s victory belongs to you. As Wesley Clark, Jr. said, Creator made Sioux people strong and stubborn because one day we would be called on to stand up for Unci Maka. I honor and acknowledge our Lakota people, especially the Lakota women who started this movement, who will never give up and will never be defeated. Wopila tanka! Stay safe, stay strong and stay prayerful.
Very Truly Yours,
Harold Frazier, Chairman