Since Sacred Stone Camp began in the Spring of 2016, we began to interview live from the campus of University of Vermont on Moccasin Tracks some of the many voices from the North Dakota area known as Cannonball, ND and is also the traditional Treaty Territory of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Councils Fire). They call themselves “Water Protectors” and in this article we will explore why? who they are? and their spiritual relationship with water. We have talked to leaders, campers and allies, spokespersons and we will use their words to describe the largest Indigenous Gathering in over 140 years. Over 300 Nations have sent letters and or delegations to
the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Tribe in solidarity to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline in the last 6 months and recently the Federal Government (US Army Corps Of Engineers) said the camp
can remain. We ask this question: What do 300 Nations have in common to stand in solidarity with the Oceti Sakowin (Lakota, Dakota and Nakota )
and Why are so many risking arrest in non-violent direct action? We will also explore Indigenous Perspectives on Water and talk about some of the ancient prophecies that are inspiring this camp and many other actions to protect “Sacred Water”.
I Heard It On The Radio: Perspectives Of The Water Walker And The Water Protector
Original Peoples Are Leading Resistance To Dakota Access Pipeline With Traditional Ways
“Sound is waves of energy or vibrations transmitted as moving molecules of air”, said our environmental science teacher, Deane Wang. Those sound waves traveling the wind with a certain frequency can be heard by our ears and heart with radio transmission. “We are looking at air, water and land this semester thru the lens of science-based human relationship with the Earth”, Deane said. To date none of the visiting guest speakers to our class have mentioned Traditional Indigenous Ecological Knowledge but when we are listening to our guests on the radio we learn a little more about this perspective that science intersects regularly. At a lecture we recorded for Moccasin Tracks (the radioshow we broadcast on WRUV FM Burlington)Tiokasin Ghosthorse, from the Lakota Nation said, “ when you can have a language that can address something like a tornado, there is something scientific about that. Quantum Physics, Mathematics is in our language..our language is alive..we were told stories that there is life in everything” he said. Using radio as a means to communicate an understanding about the ways of the original peoples of over 500 Nations on this land known Turtle Island we are moving with understanding and respect for the Original Peoples and in this writing we transcribe the voices and interviews to give a perspective of living culture and a greater appreciation of what is happening today in the traditional treaty territory of the Oceti Sakowin (Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Nations) where thousands have been gathering at the Sacred Stone Camps and non-violent actions and prayer are a mainstay to stop the construction of a pipeline that threatens the drinking water for millions of people and all life.Exploring just some of the traditions in this short narrative, we find there are threads of common struggle, consciousness and ways of being that Original Peoples and First Nations share which demand our respect and support. From the original languages and traditions, sacred spaces and ceremony come the resisters living today at the camps that protect the water for the future generations. Non-native peoples are resisting too as allies and joining this incredible movement that is challenging the brutal capitalistic mind-set that abuses precious water and Mother Earth’s gifts that sustain and nurture all life. Inspired by prophesies and lead by Spiritual Teachers the Oceti Sakowin Camps may in turn inspire others to choose carefully the way forward in the ways we walk with Mother Earth.
In May, 2014 Moccasin Tracks talked to Anishinabae Elder Sharon Day, who was preparing to walk the Ohio River says, “the water has given us life and now we support the water.” She collected water from the headwaters to carry the length of the river by the women. “Water is a life-giver and women are life-givers”, says Sharon Day, “and women are the keepers of water, that’s why the women carry the water.” “We want the walk to be a prayer, every step we take we will be thinking of the water” Sharon said. Joining us on the phone, Raven Courtney who had been walking with Sharon Day said, “ water is in my heart. I walk for the water and I believe our waters need help. We walk for the water. We pray for the water. Sometimes I feel the damage and that worries me because water is our lifeline.” Sharon added,” as we walk we are silent unless we are singing. We ask people to think about water as walking.”
“Some people ask why we do it, Yes, to raise awareness is part of it. We hope to do that. The main purpose is to speak to the spirit of water because everything has spirit and those who love the water , respect the water”, Sharon Day continued. In a prophecy story Sharon explains,” when the world is fouled and the water polluted, people will have to choose materialism or spirituality. We choose spirituality, we have faith in the water spirits, we have faith in love…we thank the water, we respect the water, we love the water. What we saw in Appalachia was the first time I saw white folks treated so badly. It was difficult to walk thru there. Just breathing was difficult. Smoke stack after smoke stack after smoke stack….in the process of walking that’s the ceremony….we all have to change our relationship to Earth and Water and its easier to do with people who think the same.” She encourages us, “take a little tobacco and go to the river…all the water we have now is all the water we will ever have.” Today Sharon Day and friends are walking the Potomac River in a Sacred Water Walk. (October 2016)
Another Water Walker, Carole Bubar-Blodgett, joined us on Moccasin Tracks several times to talk about Sacred Water Walks along Androscogin River, Cheyenne River and in the summer of 2016 she walked the Penobscot River. She says,”we need people to come back to the water, that water birthed us all….ceremony is simple, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be just giving thanks before you drink a glass of water..and remember to add water to your spirit plates!” Carole says, “water remembers and has memory and it shares information drop to drop. As I see more and more desecration happening I see we have forgotten responsibility. Its my responsibility to make sure there is clean water for the 7th generation. If we don’t have clean pure water we won’t be able to birth the 7th generation. That’s a hard reality.” Carol says,” It is time for us to step up and be a voice for the voiceless, to use ceremony that has been passed to me in a prayerful way, to fix the broken connection.” She says,” our prophecies tell us it is time for unity, water is life. It is your source.” Today Carole is living at the Sacred Stone Camp and preparing for winter.
When we talked to Cody Hall who is the media contact for Red Warrior Camp, he said,” I am asking the whole world to hear our plight and come stand with us in a peaceful manner. it is right to go and protect what is ours and has always been ours, so i am asking you guys to please come in support. Our lives are in jeopardy . Stand with us so this pipeline is defeated.” He said,” Educate yourself. Every week there is a oil spill, its time for us to wake up..Flint, Michigan Look what happened there. This can happen everywhere. Water will not be a free commodity soon.” The camps are spiritual and traditional with no weapons, no alcohol and no drugs allowed. From the over 300 Nations that have joined in solidarity there is a unity forming that includes the struggles of all these peoples/Nations and connects us all.
Carol Bubar-Blodgett in the most recent Moccasin Tracks interview said , “there have been over 400 oil spills since January in North and South Dakota…..I have been walking the Sundance way of life since 1999. As a Sundancer I was given the Sacred Bundle to hold for the youth and the 7th generation…. during a vision quest an earwig took me to the Water. Water is life and I’ve always been drawn to the water. The Hopi Nation carried water to the World Water Forum in 2006 ..their message was Water Is Life and should not be privatized.”
Camping at the Sacred Stone Camp, Joye Braun (Cheyenne River Lakota) is a frontline organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network and spoke on Moccasin Tracks during a protest at the ND Statehouse. She said, “everything we do starts with prayer and ends with prayer.” When asked about the youth she says, “ 2 years ago when President Obama visited Standing Rock, he told the youth they had a future and promised them they could choose their future….. So the youth decided to run to Washington DC with a petition for the President to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.” She later said she would love to just do Grandmother things bake cookies and go to Pow Wow’s and take care of her grandchildren, but, “ we have a spiritual obligation to the 7th generation.” she said and that is why they are protectors of water and are resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Josephine Mandamin,an honored Ojibway Elder, was walking earlier this summer on a Sacred Water Walk that followed the footsteps of the ancestors from the east to Madeline Island. She says,” we rely on the good hearts of the people, we are walking with faith. We feel the presence of the ancestors, the animals hear us…the water we walk with is protection..water should not be sold….she says if you wrap something in plastic it dies….its always “grassroots people that make things move…as women we carry life, we carry sacred water in our womb with life…women have a responsibility to protect the water.” Grandmother Josephine asks,”what are you going to do about it?…you cannot waste water it is to precious..think about water.”
“We have a moment in history right now that we can change…that’s why we are here at Red Warrior Camp…we put a call out to able bodies that will put their bodies on the line for the water..,”said Cody Hall from the Cheyenne River Lakota. He was talking to Moccasin Tracks in August, 2016. “We give the youth a platform,” he says,”we have to create our own message..music is a gift..and we all like music.” One night when he was the MC a young girl in Jingle Dress Regalia spoke,”..we need to stop this oil from polluting the water or all the babies will die.” When we asked Cody how does he keep his energy positive he says,” I am spiritually and traditionally connected to my ways of life without those this would break me down….do your part as part of the human race.” He remains spokesperson for the Red Warrior Camp after arrested outside the Camp and jailed in Morton County Jail, No. Dakota released 3 days later on bail in September, 2016.
From an interview with Moccasin Tracks Dec 30, 2014, Tiokasin Ghosthorse,Lakota Nation, says,”the highest form of intelligence, I say this all the time, is to live with Mother Earth.” He says,”there is a collective sense of being all over this land..it is softer than concrete…almost every Native person that I see who are really Native, they don’t have anger in their eyes…thru the eyes you can see the ocean of peace in every Native and I’ve seen that..I trust in that…Mother Earth provides for us if we only recognize her and honor her we can retain our spirit ..and have peace with Mother Earth.”
To be continued… Join us on Moccasin Tracks on WRUV FM Burlington every Tuesday 4-6PM. The Oceti Sakowin, 7 Councils Fire, continue to Protect The Water, Mni Wiconi, with non-violent direct-action taking place every day to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline along its 1272 mile proposed route and a 3.7 billion dollar cost to continue the fossil-fuel consumptive, life destroying capitalistic plans. This historical show of solidarity with over 300 Original Nations, First Nations, Tribes and Indigenous Peoples world-wide calling for the Protection of Sacred Sites and Water and to Stop the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline included letters of support from Vermont Abenaki Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk-Abenaki and Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan of the Elnu Tribe of Abenaki, as well as other Wabanaki Nations, Penobscot Nation and Wolastoq Grand Council. Many Eastern Tribes are also sending supplies and delegations with gifts and protocol always followed. The people gathered are considered Water Protectors and are there to protect the water from oil contamination.This story has no end and no one beginning like the Wabanaki symbol that looks like the figure eight sideways, the people remain a living culture and could be your neighbor, an Abenaki once told Moccasin Tracks. To hear the complete conversations click on the links below. choose the closing music here: http://www.nativeamericanmusicawards.com/free-music
Karen Ducheneaux, Cheyenne River Lakota, DAPL Resistance
http://radiowithdeb5.podomatic.com/entry/2016-09-09T05_54_48-07_00 Cody Hall September 8, 2016
Cody Hall is part of the media team for the Red Warrior Camp which is part of the Oceti Sakowin that have gathered creating Sacred Stone Camp and the Rosebud Camp or All Nations Camp and the Red Warrior Camp as many are gathering in solidarity with the Standing Rock Lakota peoples in their challenge to the Dakota Access (crude oil) Pipeline which wants to bring oil from the Bakken over 1,000 miles to the Gulf for export. The camp was started in April and has many Nations in solidarity. In this conversation with Cody he tells us the National Guard has been called and have taken up positions on the highways surrounding the camps as we publish this podcast.
http://radiowithdeb4.podomatic.com/entry/2016-06-09T10_48_37-07_00 Interview with Carole Bugbar Blodgett
http://wpcrmoccasintracks.podomatic.com/entry/2015-07-16T13_25_47-07_00 Grandmother Josephine on MT JULY 16, 2016