Standing Rock Testifies Before United Nations.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, flanked by (left) United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Andrea Carmen, executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council, at the 33rd Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on September 20. Courtesy Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, flanked by (left) United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Andrea Carmen, executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council, at the 33rd Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on September 20. Courtesy Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II called on the United Nations on Tuesday to halt construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline through tribal treaty territory and formally invited United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz to visit the reservation.

“I am here because oil companies are causing the deliberate destruction of our sacred places and burials,” he told the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva on September 20. “Dakota Access wants to build an oil pipeline under the river that is the source of our nation’s drinking water. This pipeline threatens our communities, the river and the earth. Our nation is working to protect our waters and our sacred places for the benefit of our children not yet born.”

Speaking at the 33rd Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which runs from September 13 through 30, Archambault outlined the ways in which the pipeline and the treatment of water protectors by the company’s employees had violated the protectors’ human rights.

“Thousands have gathered peacefully in Standing Rock in solidarity against the pipeline,” he said in a statement from the tribe afterward. “And yet many water protectors have been threatened and even injured by the pipeline’s security officers. One child was bitten and injured by a guard dog. We stand in peace but have been met with violence.”

[Read more…]

No DAPL: The Optics Say Birmingham 1963…

Stand with Standing Rock #No DAPL


Alex Jacobs has an excellent column up at ICTMN.

The Optics Say Birmingham 1963, but It’s Standing Rock 2016, Or could it be Selma 1965, Bloody Sunday, when the President had to federalize the National Guard. Many of the water and land protectors may feel it’s like the Greasy Grass Fight in 1876, Alcatraz 1969 or Wounded Knee 1973. A new generation of activists are being passed the drums and pipes. But right now they need lawyers and funds to bail them out of North Dakota jails. Dozens more were arrested at the Red Warrior Camp including media with their cameras (probably to be used as evidence). If hundreds of the protectors went in to get arrested that would shut down the system. Perhaps shut down the camps too, but more people will come to sneak past the checkpoints, just like 1973.

The land they are on, folks keep calling it private property or Army Corps of Engineers land. But the Oceti Sakowin say the land was theirs until the Army Corps of Engineers at the behest of North Dakota politicians came in and flooded Standing Rock and Cheyenne River lands where Lake Oahe is now. There was no consultation and no compensation for their homelands, for this violation of the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868. Now it’s where the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens to be built 100 feet below, crossing the Missouri River three times. The Indians say the whites flooded the river, stole their land and left them nothing but poverty.

What we Natives are fighting, among many things, is the perceived numbers against us. We cannot deny that we are the very bottom 2% of the population. For every person talking about #NoDAPL and #Standing Rock, nine are arguing over various media distractions. But don’t get mad, just get even. Keep talking, texting, tweeting, posting, writing about #NoDAPL, Sacred Stone, Red Warrior, the indigenous activists coming from around the world and Lawrence O’Donnell too. Billionaire Kelcy Warren set-up his Energy Transfer Partners as a Master Limited Partnership (MLP) company which does not pay taxes. North Dakota politicians are in lock step with the oil & gas industries, Congressman Kevin Cramer as an energy advisor – and climate change denier – to Donald Trump (see no evil), Senator John Hoeven who sits on both Native American and Energy Committees (hear no evil), and Senator Heidi Heitcamp’s non-sequitur responses who also sits on a Native American Committee (say no evil). Is this a pattern of conflict of interests in North Dakota?

Natives are told to go home, do your protest legally, petition the government as citizens do and depend on the courts. Sovereignty, treaties, environmental justice?

Kelcy Warren and the ETP strategy is to keep buying up weaker pipeline, oil & gas companies, because the price of oil is low. The plan for DAPL/ETP in Iowa was all this dirty fracked Bakken oil in the pipelines was for domestic consumption. But Congress changed the 40 year ban to allow U.S. companies to export crude oil, this dirty fracked Bakken oil, to counter the oil price war the Saudis have unleashed on the world. All thanks to Warren’s friend, ex-Texas Governor Rick Perry who joined the board of ETP and lobbied to end the ban.

It’s no longer about American Energy Independence but outright profits for the U.S. and foreign banks who’ve invested in a futures deal to get cheap oil to their countries. The biggest problem for the citizenry (and for ETP) is that these huge pipelines need to be full to maximize profits. Bakken crude is dirty and needs to be heated to move better. This bakes the soil and along with oil and brine spills, the once black fertile land becomes useless. ETP heats, cools, or liquefies the oil & gas for its 70,000 miles of pipelines and is aiming for a goal of 150,000 miles. ETP says, “this is a growth project” and they are “exceptionally well positioned to capitalize on U.S. energy exports.” So forget any carbon reduction and pollution treaties, this sets the stage for more fracking and environmental degradation for years.


But the nation and the world is watching now. I remember the story, the Crow scouts told Lt. Col. Custer the day they looked down at the biggest gathering of Indians anyone had seen. You don’t have enough bullets for all the Indians down there. Custer didn’t believe, didn’t care about those numbers.

We got to think like that, that whatever they think they got, we got more. They fight for a paycheck. We fight for all we got and all we will have and all that we lost. We got them now. Now it’s them stuck in the past trying to impose a nationwide system of pipelines that will degrade the environment for the next 50 years. The Native water and land protectors, #NoDAPL, the Raging Grannies, farmers and ranchers of Iowa, Bold Nebraska now Bold Alliance that took down Keystone XL, all need to prepare to fight for the future. The country needs to rebuild its infrastructure, go into debt if need be to create millions of jobs not just thousands, with new transmission lines for all manner of green energy projects and not just pipelines. This is the time to start the switch to renewables.

Remember The Greasy Grass River 140 years ago. They don’t have enough “bullets” if we all stand up.

I’m just going to add a reminder here: when you read or hear “light and sweet” or “like olive oil” in regard to oil, remember that you’re drinking oil’s kool-aid. It’s marketing. They want people to think of honey or other food, because in our minds, we consign honey, syrup, or plant oils to the good category. If this oil was that manner of good, it wouldn’t poison land and water. If this oil was that manner of good, the white people of Bismarck wouldn’t have gotten upset about the pipeline running north of them. It’s toxic. It’s poison. It kills. It renders water into death, not life. It is inimical to life. Oil is invested in this type of marketing so that people won’t question, won’t try to stop them. They count on such marketing to keep the majority of people on their side of things.


Indian Giver.

Neil Young’s song about what’s happening at Standing Rock! Thank you, Neil.

Young has campaigned against big oil for years, and he drives a car that runs on plant-based ethanol. Along with Willie Nelson and Lakota hip-hop artist Frank Waln, he performed at a concert to rally supporters opposing the XL Keystone Pipeline. Earlier in 2016 he provided the background music for the American Indian College Fund’s new advertising campaign.

When the Apache Stronghold movement traveled throughout the United States to oppose the degradation of sacred Oak Flat by the Resolution Copper Mine, Young welcomed the Apache to drum at one of his concerts in New Jersey before they rallied in Washington D.C. The iconic performer has also been actively engaged in First Nations’ battles. He donated the proceeds of select concerts on his Honor the Treaties Tour to the legal fund for the Athabasca Chipewyan’s struggle to halt the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands.

Vincent Schilling’s full article is here. And please, heed Neil, and share the news!

Books, Wonderful Books.


I’ve recently read these three books by Nnedi Okorafor (and Binti, of course, but that was earlier.) Reading is a good occupation in between bouts of ‘not-quite-conscious’ periods of being concussed. It’s with relief and familiarity, laced with deep comfort that I sink into Ms. Okorafor’s books. As far as I know, I have no connection to any part of Africa, and while it can take time to get the rhythm of some works, such as Lagoon, it’s the indigenous mindset I sink into with ease. Like too many other people, I am beyond weary of stories with the same rapacious, colonial mindset, populated with the ever ubiquitous straight white males. Even authors who don’t mean to write in that mindset tend to slip into it, because we’ve all been trained that viewpoint is best, it’s good, it’s great, pat on the head, now sit down and be quiet. Ms. Okorafor’s protagonists are all too human, even when they aren’t quite human. They suffer with their flaws, and struggle to cope with them, as we all do. Her protagonists are often women, which is yet another comfort. I don’t have to struggle with often squirmy, unwelcome moments when a protagonist character is male, and does something cringe inducing and deeply embarrassing. This isn’t to say there aren’t such moments in these books, there are, because there are people like that all over the place, and we all have to deal with them. They are better in the background though, where we can’t always relegate them in real life.

These books coincided with my camp life, and a strong theme through all of them is the same one at the center of the protection going on here in Ndakota: Water Is Life. Aman Iman. Mni Wiconi. There’s a natural spirituality suffused throughout the books, and I find that familiar and comforting also, because it’s the spirituality of indigenous people all over the world. She understands the need to keep traditions alive, and the fight to remain community based while embracing the wider world. This leads me into contentious territory, but I don’t see a conflict, and I don’t see the need for one, either. People were having a good talk about these issues in this thread, and while I’ve had thoughts swirling about in my shaken brain, I haven’t felt the coherence needed to tackle it. I’ll complain yet again at what a remarkably lousy language English is when it comes to certain concepts. Even when it doesn’t suck, terms are so loaded with baggage that a great many people simply can’t move past the baggage to even try and understand.

I don’t believe in gods. I don’t believe in an afterlife. I believe in the physical world, I believe in the universe, and I believe in life. There’s plenty of room in that for spirituality, and without any need whatsoever to worship anything, or be a Crystal clear running rainbow unicorn summer rain star type of person. Atheists often bring up Carl Sagan, and he always struck me as a very spiritual person, who often spoke of the numinous, a word used in an attempt to get away from the overly laden ones, like sacred or divine. Sagan was science based, but he also lived a life in appreciation and awe of life, all life. He got it, he grokked what was important – the connection of all things, of all life; the importance of all life, and the need for responsibility, care, and respect. Indigenous people believe we are obligated to care for our earth, and it’s a responsibility which has always sat seriously albeit lightly on the shoulders of indigenous people. That responsibility has become a terrible burden ever since colonialism came into the picture, bearing down with a ruthless brutality and no respect at all, for anything. If anything, the colonial attitude and way of being has become increasingly rapacious, with care for nothing except money-filled pockets. Those of us without money-filled pockets find ourselves constantly bruised from being tossed about by marketing and the propaganda screech of always needing more, more, more, more. More and more people find themselves in living situations where they have none to little contact with nature in any way, and have no sense of community, either. There are whole generations now who don’t have the slightest idea of what a community is like. That came up a lot at camp. I met people from all over the U.S. who did not want to leave, as they had never experienced anything like the camp, the community which has grown there. They were blown away by how community works, and many people were fired up and determined to go back home and start building a community there. I saw people who had definitely felt they had been missing something, but didn’t know what. When they came to the camp, they found it – community. So, can you have a sense that’s there’s a hole in you somewhere? Yes, of course you can. Will being part of a community fix everything? Nope. It will sure as hells help though, and simply being part of something larger can help to heal much of what ails people. Being a bunch of communityists is good for our non-existent souls.

There’s every reason in the world to work on a spiritual connection to our earth. When you have that, when you understand that all life is sacred, important, and connected to you and all other life, respect happens. When you have respect, you have care, awareness, mindfulness. When you have respect, you have thankfulness. Thankfulness for the energy the sun provides, for the light and the warmth. Thankfulness for the water, which is life. Water to drink, water to bathe yourself, water to cook, water to create. Thankfulness for the air, and all the plants and trees which give us so very many gifts. Thankfulness for the earth, which provides us with a foundation, and the means to grow and nourish ourselves. Thankful for all the species we are related to and their gifts to us. When you have respect and gratitude, sustainability and care are built in. It’s part and parcel of your everyday beliefs and actions. When you have that spiritual connection, you understand that you need to give at least as much as you take. A balance must be kept. This does not mean you need to turn yourself into a credulous, babbling critter. It does mean you are aware of life, all life, and the connectedness and importance of that life. Indigenous people don’t find themselves afflicted with a sudden societal based mania to poison the land they live on to destroy dandelions, or decide to pour poison all over to get rid of groundhogs. That’s because there’s a deep understanding of how things work on our earth, and they aren’t removed or disconnected from it, the way many people are now. It’s not wrong to question these idiocies, like having to maintain a golf course lawn, or why anyone would want to do that in the first place. Allowing native plants to grow is good for many other beings, like all the pollen gatherers and transporters, who in turn, help to nourish our crops so we can feed ourselves. It’s one tiny chain among many which  maintains health in all of us.

Sometimes, sitting on the sidelines and listening to people talk (translation: reading along without commenting), I’m often bemused by the atheist voices I’m part of. Over the years, it’s been increasingly popular for atheists to adopt a dictionary only not in the least emotional stance. I’ll admit to being befuddled by that, because it seems a sterile isolation to confine oneself to, for no particular reason. If that really makes a person happy, okay. I have my doubts about that making anyone happy though. I’m an atheist who finds the dictionary only argument to be utterly idiotic, and it’s seriously not my thing. I want things to be better. I want people to be better. I want people to be content, more self sufficient, more thoughtful, more community based. I want people to care, and I want to effect change. That means changing myself, too. I don’t see the attraction in sitting around, sniffily denouncing this, that, and the other, while claiming not to give a damn about anything at all. I don’t see the point of that, either. There’s already enough resigned apathy afflicting people, and I don’t see any virtue in promoting that as a way of being. It’s not impossible or wrong to be spiritually connected as your way of life, your way of living.

I know this will get its fair share of sneers, disdain, and bad ‘jokes’. If that’s all you have in you, go for it. I have more inside myself, and I am not ashamed to care and expect others to care as well. I think it’s perfectly possible to be an atheist and to be spiritual as well.

I recommend reading Chief Arvol Looking Horse on the current situation we all face, the constant assaults on our earth, and the increasing destruction going on everywhere. I had the honour of listening to Chief Looking Horse at the camp several times. I first read the linked piece some time back on ICTMN, and wanted so much to share it, but I gave into fear because it is deeply spiritual, and all I could think about was mockery from those who would read, and I let that fear rule me. No more. This sickness must stop, and I must fulfill my responsibility to our earth. One of the lawyers currently working on the pipeline problem here and in Iowa has a good column up at ICTMN, which includes an excerpt from Bemidji Statement on Seventh Generation Guardianship:

“Who guards this web of life that nurtures and sustains us all?

Who watches out for the land, the sky, the fire, and the water?

Who watches out for our relatives that swim, fly, walk, or crawl?

Who watches out for the plants that are rooted in our Mother Earth?

Who watches out for the life-giving spirits that reside in the underworld?

Who tends the languages of the people and the land?

Who tends the children and the families?

Who tends the peacekeepers in our communities?


We tend the relationships.

We work to prevent harm.

We create the conditions for health and wholeness.

We teach the culture and we tell the stories.

We have the sacred right and obligation to protect the common wealth of our lands and the common health of our people and all our relations for this generation and seven generations to come. We are the Guardians for the Seventh Generation.”

For anyone who has missed the basics of what’s happening, Kyle Powys Whyte has an excellent article here.

Breaking: Dakota Access Lake Oahe Work Stopped.


© C. Ford.

A U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. has ordered the company building the Dakota Access oil pipeline to stop construction for 20 miles on both sides of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe while the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s appeal of its denied motion to do so is considered.

“ORDERED that Dakota Access LLC be enjoined pending further order of the court from construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline for 20 miles on both sides of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe,” a three-judge panel wrote in its decision, handed down late on Friday September 16. “The purpose of this administrative injunction is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for injunction pending appeal and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion.”

This solidifies a request by the federal government on September 9 for Energy Transfer Partners to cease construction along the same swathe, which the Standing Rock Sioux say contains sacred artifacts and ancient burial grounds.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II expressed relief at the decision.

“This is a temporary administrative injunction and is meant to maintain status quo while the court decides what to do with the Tribe’s motion,” he said in a statement. “The Tribe appreciates this brief reprieve from pipeline construction and will continue to oppose this project, which will severly jeopardize its water and cultural resources. We will not rest until our lands, people, waters, and sacred sites are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline.”

Attorneys for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe—which has signed on as an intervenor in the case—faced off with Dakota Access LLC attorneys on September 15 in federal district court in Washington before the three-judge panel that will also hear the appeal: Janice Rogers Brown, Thomas B. Griffith and Cornelia T.L. Pillard. They voted 2–1 to stop the company from working, according to the order, with Brown casting the dissenting vote.

Also on Friday, a Bismarck judge dissolved the temporary restraining order on protesting that had been levied against Archambault, Tribal Council Member Dana Yellow Fat, and several other tribal members.

Full story here.

Note Cups.

I am seriously spaced out, can’t think, so it will be a while until I get to the second part of the walk. Managed to eat, and I’m going to go back to sleep. Also something I’m going to post about later, but for now a recommend: Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon. Na wao, such a story! And from that story, I learned Aman Iman – water is life. Isn’t that great? Okay, I was using styrofoam cups for note taking, once they had been emptied of coffee. These bits of styro, I’ll keep. Remembrances.