What would possess someone to leave the comfort of their home and loved ones during the holidays to camp in a freezing cold field surrounded by strangers? What's wrong with turning to our own sources of oil and reducing foreign dependency? What's the harm in another pipeline?
There could be many answers to these questions, but these are mine.
The stronghold of water protectors that have set up camp at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North and South Dakota are protecting the Missouri River. A non-renewable source of water for millions of Americans, mostly non-native. We are already in a global and national water crisis and we cannot afford to lose this river. The pipeline is also planned to run through part of their land that is sacred tribal burial grounds, and is rightfully theirs and not up for sale according to the (ignored) Laramie Treaty of 1851. President Obama has issued a temporary stay of construction and recently The Army Corps of Engineers have suspended the permit they issued a couple months ago in order to reconsider the tribes arguments. The Chief of the tribe, David Archambault has even been to speak at the UN, which is now taken up alliance with the tribe and requested the pipeline be stopped. You can find a more comprehensive timeline of events here.
This stronghold has become about more than protecting the Missouri River. It's become a line in the sand between the people and Big Oil. Between those who understand the dire situation our climate is facing and those who perpetuate the climate crisis while touting a base-less need for energy or jobs. Yes - we need energy and jobs. NO THIS PIPELINE IS NOT A SAFE OR SMART WAY TO PROVIDE EITHER. The clean energy industries already employ more people than the oil industry and still have much room to grow. This pipeline is a money grab by greedy profiteers who know they can get away with putting the pipeline on native land because they've been getting away with it since . . . well, forever. The pipeline was originally slated to go through a different city - a white city - a was easily re-routed by those citizens in the planning phase. The natives have been putting up a fight since it was proposed, yet their voice was ignored. There are no safe pipelines. Ground moves, pipes leak, and burst and the spills can never be cleaned up.
This is not about jobs or energy. This is about justice. The kind of collective justice we don't know how to talk about in this country but we die trying to. This is about justice for the planet and respecting shared resources over private profit. This about racial and environmental justice and looking at our practice of polluting poor areas because they have less resources to defend themselves. This is about learning from our native cultures who think collectively, who think in generations, and who live in respect for life.
It's less about 'Natives vs Big Oil' and more about the kind of people we want to be moving forward. It's about saying, enough is enough - our planet and people can't take any more.
That is why I am packing up my things and standing with Standing Rock. Please notice - when reading this and a lot of what people at Standing Rock write - there is an absence of words like fight, protest, or standoff. This is not a fight, this is not a protest. This is a mother rushing to her child's side when a man comes to strike them. This is protection of our most precious life-giving resources.
The need to support the protectors is heightening. Not everyone can leave their home and support with their body and talents, but I can. And I ask that you come with me. If not in body, in spirit. Follow my social posts, sign up for the email list, donate to my expenses or post this on your own social pages.
I plan to collect stories and statements like this from protectors at camp. I plan to ask them what moved them to stand and. I look forward to hearing their answers and sharing them with you here on this blog. I hope by sharing their motivations, we can invite more people to stand on this side of the river.
Water is life. "Mni Waconi."