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Gyasi Ross: Native grandmother and 'hellraiser' Faith Spotted Eagle

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: faith spotted eagle, gyasi ross, keystone xl pipeline, women
     
   

Faith Spotted Eagle addresses the Native Nations Rise rally at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com / More on Flickr

The controversial Keystone XL Pipeline is back on the agenda thanks to President Donald Trump, and Faith Spotted Eagle, an elder from the Yankton Sioux Tribe, has been there from the beginning. Gyasi Ross, the editor at large for Indian Country Media Network, shares a 2015 interview with the grandmother who continues to lead the fight against the project:
Could you please give the readers a bit of background on you and also on the Braveheart Society? Why did this Society come about and what does it do?

Brave Heart Society is a 20 year old revived Dakota Society on the Ihanktonwan homelands. Originally this Society existed to take care of the dead and dying on the battlefield. We have done that actually in a NAGPRA case on our homelands in 1999-2000…Now, we do it symbolically by bringing back our people from emotional death suffered through the great impact of historical trauma. We call back their spirits so they can stand in full spirit and then began the journey home to their “hocoka” or center.We have revived many of our gender based traditional rites of passage for youth to find their rightful places in this world in a healthy manner. Our Society has the basic principles of a Dakota society that exists to bring balance where unbalance has occurred, to resolve conflict, preserve culture and language and assure a place for our grandchildren in the future. We refuse to replicate neo-capitalism and strive to not be oppressed by colonizing processes, including not taking federal funds. We have a 50 year strategic plan in order to accomplish that. In order to be on our governing board one has to be a grandmother—as we value wisdom and experience.

A lot of your recent focus has gone toward fighting man camps that spring up around these oil ventures and also toward fighting survivors of sexual violence. Is there a connection between those things—oil exploitation and sexual violence?

There is a correlation between sexual violence and oil development and beyond. History teaches us that during times of crisis, violence escalates. Hence, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek and Whitestone massacres in the 1800s and even in the 1970s. In 1974, there was a crisis in South Dakota with the second Wounded Knee incident whereby it became unsafe to travel in the bordertowns surrounding the reservations. Consequently I was in the company of five young Native students who were attacked by five non-Native males, and I had my leg broken—yes, my leg was broken. It sounds unreal, but racism continues to exist in this land, where the war against Natives never really ended.

Read More on the Story:
Gyasi Ross: Native Grandmothers Defend Mother Earth: Faith Spotted Eagle Kicks SERIOUS Knowledge About Keystone XL (Indian Country Media Network 4/4)

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