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Young Protectors of the Water, Standing Rock. (Photo: John Clark-Dvorak)

We’ve Always “Occupied the Prairie” and We’re Not Going Anywhere

In Occupying the Prairie: Tensions Rise as Tribes Move to Block a Pipeline by Jack Healy, New York Times, Aug. 23, 2016  we see and hear about Indians in paint on horseback, in “procession” out of their “tepee-dotted camp.” Who writes like that?

While the almost 500 Nations of our indigenous brothers and sisters (over 80 are represented in the Sacred Stones Camp) are proud of the heritage of our peoples, it’s important to keep the focus on today and why we are here. This is our land, as defined in our times as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a Sovereign Nation.

In fact, what we call the United States is really comprised of Nations, it is a “united” Nations, of relationships formed by diplomacy.

"We are Protectors not Protesters. Our camp is a prayer, for our children, our elders and ancestors, and for the creatures, and the land and habitat they depend on, who cannot speak for themselves."

The Greater Sioux Nations predated the United States, so as the newly minted USA acquired more territory, agreements were sought in many cases with the existing nations of the Plains and elsewhere. One such Treaty, the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851), matters now. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 was signed on September 17, 1851 between United States treaty commissioners and representatives of the Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapaho, Crow, Assiniboine, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations.

The Indigenous Nations guaranteed safe passage for settlers on the Oregon Trail and allowed roads and forts to be built. It was an international deal, and remains so.

What Jack Healy misses in his over-romanticized and over-sensationalized perspective is basic journalism: What’s really going on. His is the version Wall Street wants to hear, cowboys (Energy Transfer Partners) vs. Indians in face paint. Once we had images in advertisements of the “Crying Indian.” No More.

According to Hollywood, every story needs a conflict. And calling this a “conflict” plays into the hands and the wallets of those who would like to profit from the energy game at other people’s expense.

Healy does a disservice to both the Native Nations of the Americas and the Pacific, as represented in United Nations appeal by The International Indian Treaty Council, and to the investors and companies in the energy field who rely on good practices in the field to make a profit. Good practices seem hard to come by in North Dakota right now.

So it’s right on all counts to provide basic information from the leadership of Sacred Stones Camp in helping all parties understand what is at stake, become more educated, and raise the level of conversation about the environment that sustains us — including our water supply.

Sacred Stones Camp was begun by women, as a prayer. It is our prayer that the waters of the homelands of the Standing Rock Tribe and all the peoples of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires, or “Greater Sioux Nation,” remain pure. That includes the Missouri River and it’s tributaries, flowing into the Mississippi in the greatest river system within the continental boundaries of the United States.

With over 200 river crossings the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline puts the drinking water supply of a large part of the country at risk. Our prayer is to keep the waters pure for all tribal peoples and all Americans.

We pray for the waters used by farmers in Iowa and Illinois, the water consumed by schoolchildren in South Dakota, Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Millions of Americans get their drinking water from this system.

We are Protectors not Protesters. Our camp is a prayer, for our children, our elders and ancestors, and for the creatures, and the land and habitat they depend on, who cannot speak for themselves.

We wish the Army Corps had done their job in protecting federally administered lands, unceded Indian lands, and Tribal lands, relying on science and judgement in protecting Indian culture from construction. Whether by intention or omission, the Army Corps broke federal laws, and didn’t do their job.

The state didn’t do its job, overstepping jurisdictions and boundaries placing police barricades inside a Sovereign nation’s borders, disrespecting treaties, conducting an illegal “occupation” on Indigenous lands in direct counterveillance to most of the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a document signed by 144 other nations and (later) endorsed by the United States of America and President Obama.

The Governor of North Dakota didn’t do his job, when instead of ensuring all parties get to the table on energy and environment, he let negative words and accusations cloud our hearts and judgement, and threaten to divide us.

What is going on here is that over 80 nations and thousands of people have arrived on the Canonball River to pray for our environment and our cultures together.

We ask people to join us if you feel it in your hearts to do so. We are calm here at Sacred Stones Camp; we are safe and in a safe place, and we hold the land in healing and prayer for everyone’s benefit.

Protect the environment from being “savaged” by speculators, carpetbagging Texas energy companies owned by lone wolf billionaires.

Don’t let them take our public, and our Native lands, and the resources they hold, the water we all depend on for our future in a changing world and climate.

We invite all peoples and representatives to come to our territories to sit together in honor and respect for protection of our lands and waters.

Elders and Leaders
Sacred Stones Camp
Canonball River

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Sacred Stone Camp Leaders and Elders

The Sacred Stone Camp was established on April 1st, 2016 when tribal citizens of the Standing Rock Lakota Nation and ally Lakota, Nakota, & Dakota citizens, under the group name “Chante tin’sa kinanzi Po” founded a Spirit Camp along the proposed route of the bakken oil pipeline, Dakota Access.

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