Standing Rock had filed an for an emergency TRO, after the desecration and destruction the construction company did over the holiday weekend. (See here and here). The decision came in early afternoon, around 2 p.m. At that time, spirits were high, people were happy. The judge denied the order. There was a crushing wave of disappointment, but not much surprise. We were reminded of our gathered strength, of how government has always been allied against Indians, how we never stopped, never backed down, continued to fight for our rights, and for what was right. Dennis Banks spoke of the early days of AIM, when he and Russel Means were sued, and they looked at the court papers, where it read: The United States of America vs Dennis Banks and Russel Means. They won that fight. The judge was appalled by the actions of The United States of America, and said so, in scathing terms. Dennis reminded us that this fight is not impossible, and it is not over. We need to stand, we need to stand together, we need to be an unbreakable chain. Others began to speak, when we were interrupted by the often heard “wave to the plane, everyone!”
Everyone waved at the latest surveillance plane. They even fly over in the middle of the night, as if they’ll unearth nefarious schemes being plotted. The plane disappeared, and everyone settled in to listen to Arvol Looking Horse, the 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, and always a voice for our earth.
Arvol Looking Horse spoke of strength, resilience, the need to protect, and the obligation to teach. He spoke of a disconnection that lies over the land, that lies over non-Indian people everywhere. He spoke of how it is up to us to teach non-Indians the right way to live, a life based on respect, care, and sustainability. He said this is not a matter of religion, it’s a way of life, and that’s truth. I think of how, in my tiny town, one year, the council decided to spray poison because of mosquitoes. Yes, they can get bad. Unbelievably bad. But this wasn’t a solution. I didn’t live in Almont at the time, but Judith did, and she told me about it one day. She took me over to where the Muddy Creek runs along the back of the town, and told me as we sat there, how she used to come and watch all the turtles. There are no more turtles. In the 10 years I’ve lived here, I haven’t seen one in the Muddy Creek. Because of one summer, about two decades ago, people got upset about mosquitoes, and decided to dump poison in the Muddy Creek. No more turtles. No more life. Just poison. This is short term thinking, and it has to stop, it has to change. Sure, mosquitoes are a plague, and I’ve lived through summers here you couldn’t be outside more than 5 minutes. You know what? It passes. The mosquitoes die, as all things do. If you have to spray poison, you always have the option to spray it on yourself. In the water? No.
Rick tells me that people got panicked about Zika, so they started dumping poison all over everything. That poison? It also kills bees and other pollen gatherers. People are busy killing off the ability to grow food, not only for themselves, but for all future generations. The gift they give to their children, their children’s children? A poisoned, sick, dying earth. Water which cannot nourish. Earth which cannot grow. Air which poisons all. No healthy pollinators. Land which has been rendered useless for generations due to frakking, this insanity tearing into the earth with disregard. Already, water is worth many millions more than land. It’s become the most precious commodity, one that can only be traded in by those with obscene wealth. The rest of us, we allow the poisoning of our very lives, little caring or looking at the mighty rivers which feed all throughout the land. These waters, they are all connected, all around our earth. These waters, they are not a puddle. They are not contained. Water meets water, and poison will spread.
People willingly lay out hundreds to thousands of dollars to eradicate one beautiful flower, an edible one at that – dandelions. This utter hatred of a natural plant? Why has this become the law of the land among so many people? Why are so many people unquestioning about this? Why does no one ask, why does no one refuse? If you want to see a golf course, go to one. It’s better than poisoning the very earth you live on, because you hate the sight of a humble flower. This disconnection from our earth is a sickness, and it’s one that will kill us all. Right up from my tiny town, I can barely stand to look, the land is torn open for this fucking pipeline, ruthlessly ripped up, miles and miles of this cheap pipe laid out as far as you can see. But no one fights, they just take the money and turn away. It’s beyond heartbreak, and being home is so sad, I don’t have words.
Other people came up to speak. Running Strong, representing Grand River, Ontario, Canada. He detailed the ongoing fight his people are having with oil, trying so very hard to protect their part of this earth. More elders came to talk. More representatives of tribes were announced.
Then Dave Archambault was there to welcome the Quinault Delegation, the Canoe People had arrived, and they brought much excitement with them!
There was dancing, singing, thanking, happiness. The Quinault also spoke of their battles against government and oil. Not one tribe or nation has yet been safe from zuzeca sapa snaking its way across the earth. One delegation camped across from us:
Oh, if anyone is wondering what all that splendid green stuff in bags being offered is, it’s cedar. I’m not even into evening here yet, folks. I’ll try to get more camp story scheduled for tomorrow, because we’ll be gone again, to Wacipi for the day and evening, then briefly back home, then heading back out to camp. Click photos for full size. © C. Ford, all rights reserved.