I had been reading and watching everything I could on the Dakota Access Pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s fight against big oil.
Watching the events that unfolded two weekends ago, I was in tears. Seeing the construction company workers and private security guards antagonizing the water protectors into provocation, literally throwing stones to protect one another.
I couldn't believe it, in 2016 and our brothers and sisters were being treated poorly on their own land. Then later, the press release from Morton County Sheriff’s Department was debilitating. The words hurt: “guard” dogs attacked the protectors and they were maced...there were “weapons,” which the “rioters” used to jab and assault the workers and security officers. This is all alleged, because no law enforcement was on the scene and they only took statements after the fact from the “security officers.”
I was visiting my childhood friend when she asked if I wanted to drive with her to the Sacred Stone Camp. My answer was everyone's answer. I will be forever thankful for the opportunity, and the people that made it possible for me to go and experience the power of the People.
We drove from Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is over a seven-hour drive just to get to Bismarck, North Dakota. To the south, about 45 miles was the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the Sacred Stone Camp.
There were three construction signs informing us that Highway 1806 was closed. We came upon a police blockade. There were six police vehicles and about three to four officers—that we could see.
The officer asked where we were going. “The casino.”
“Are you aware there is a protest ongoing?” Yes.
“Be careful, there will be pedestrians along the side of the road.”
We wondered what would have been the response if we had said we were actually headed to the Sacred Stone Camp…would we have been detoured? It would have doubled the travel time to the reservation.
We drove passed the sacred site that was recently desecrated by the Dakota Access bulldozers. We were greeted at the main entrance by camp volunteers when we arrived. We were directed to the media tent at the top of the hill to the camp. We watched the remainder of a press conference with Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II and the leaders of the protectors.
We were registered as media by the Indigenous Environmental Network, Executive Director, Tom Goldtooth. I watched as Chairman Archambault, Dallas Goldtooth and Melanie Benjamin gave interviews to Al Jazeera News.
From the top of the hill, we could see the whole camp. The women's camp, where we were supposed to meet our contact, Tanya Aubid, was at the very back of the camp, along the trees and water. This is where they stayed for the past several months. It was their home. And it was one of the most beautiful lands I have ever seen.
Nearby, my eyes were drawn to a red sunshade. There was a Hotinonshon:ni Confederacy flag, a red Warrior Society flag, and a women’s warrior flag flying around it.
We walked down the hill and entered the camp. The main path was adorned by flagpoles on each side. There were so many nations' flags. I was in awe. This is us. We are here. We are still here. Again, we saw more Hotinonshon:ni and Warrior Society flags flying.
Pride. Respect. Love.
We walked through the camp. We tried to find our contact, but she was on a horse when we arrived and was milling about the camp. We learned she is one of the leaders of the protectors.
We saw the red sunshade from earlier, off to the right. I started walking towards it and recognized a young boy in a warrior sweatshirt from one of our community members Facebook posts. Elated, I introduced myself and asked if they were from Akwesasne. I met Darlene Gray. I told her who my parents were. She immediately knew “me.” We were welcomed into their camp.
How easily we found Akwesasro:non (Mohawks from Akwesasne) in a camp of thousands. What were the odds? Stacy Huff arrived, fresh from the public showers at the marina 10 miles away. I hugged her, happy to see her, even though we just met.
Across from their new home were sweat lodges, and on the side—the Missouri River.
People walking by, came to sit down. There were children running about. There were non-Natives at the camp. It isn’t just Indigenous Peoples against the “white man” and big oil. It is everyone’s fight.
We sat down around the fire pit. It had recently gone out, white ashes flew into the afternoon air. Stacy told us about the patrol groups, the four fronts. The base camp, the camp across the river, the Red Warrior camp. How people were chosen for duties according to their strengths. How the possibility of arrest was imminent if you went to the front lines.
Not long into the conversation, people were rushing through the camp. Yelling. There was a meeting called by the Elders. They wanted to talk to the camp about the National Guard. Some were yelling that the National Guard was coming.
Previous to our arrival, there were rumblings that the Governor of North Dakota had the Guard on standby in anticipation of the outcome of the case brought by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. People were saying that the Guard could be arriving later today. My mother and sister were messaging me to be careful, they read the troops were coming in too. I had no phone service to answer them; I was okay for now.
As summer comes to a close, while BBQ’s are being flamed up one last time, the media wants many of us to get caught up on choosing sides about the appropriateness of athletes sitting down during the playing of the national anthem, or tradi
I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations, ask you to understand an Indigenous perspective on what has happened in America, what we call "Turtle Island." My words seek to unite the global community through a m
Greetings to Chante tin’sa kinanzi Po in the spirit camp Iŋyaŋ Wakháŋagapi Othí.
It is only the grandmas and grandpas in Indian country that may have any memories of the violent revolutionary times of the 1960s and early 1970s; but even many of them have no personal recollections, because all the rioting and destructio
I wasn’t surprised that “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” crossed this particular line and featured “Native-inspired” headdresses and clothing. I am Romani, pejoratively referred to as “Gypsy.”
Trump’s a racist. He’s also an idiot.
The following statement was made from the Long March to Rome Gathering in Florence, Italy from April 30-May 4, 2016:
Greetings to Pope Francis and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace,
Let us begin with some historical context. In 1992, the Indigenous Law Institute (ILI), founded by Birgil Kills Straight (Oglala Lakota Nation) and Steven Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape Nations) began a global campaign, calling upon the Holy See, during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, to formally revoke the Inter Caetera papal bull of May 4, 1493. That campaign continues now in 2016, during the papacy of Pope Francis.
In 1993, the ILI wrote an open letter to Pope John Paul II regarding its call for a ceremonial papal bull revocation. The UN Human Rights Centre delivered that open letter to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. The Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission sent the UN Human Rights Centre a letter stating that the ILI letter had been sent to the Vatican in Rome. The Haudenosaunee also began working on the papal bulls issue in the early 1990s with the Traditional Circle of Elders and Youth.
Although the Holy See was not responsive to that first letter from the Indigenous Law Institute, the ILI, the American Indian Law Alliance, and the Haudenosaunee have continued on with the campaign calling for a revocation of the papal bull of May 4, 1493, as representative of a series of fifteenth century papal decrees of domination and dehumanization. After more than 20-years that campaign has gained a great deal of momentum throughout the world, with the ILI, the Haudenosaunee, the American Indian Law Alliance, the Yakama Nation, the Assembly of First Nations, the Apache Nde Nnee Working Group, and many others, now calling for the issue of “the Doctrine of Discovery” to be dealt with. This overall momentum has resulted in the Long March to Rome gathering for several days in Florence, Italy in May 2016, and has resulted in this face-to-face meeting with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Let us turn now to the focus of our discussion. As you know, after the first historic voyage of Cristobal Colón (Columbus) to the islands that came to be called the Caribbean, Pope Alexander VI, issued several papal bulls to the monarchies of Castile-Aragon (Spain) and Portugal. The first two of those documents are dated May 3 and May 4 of that year. How ironic, then, that May 4, 2016 is the day we are meeting with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican.
The purpose of our visit is to discuss, from our perspective, the significance of those and other such papal documents. When we look at the specific wording of a series of papal decrees (inter alia, Dum Diversas (1452), Romanus Pontifex (1455), Inter Caetera (1493)), we see that they called for non-Christian nations, so-called “pagans,” to be invaded, captured, vanquished, subdued, reduced to perpetual slavery, and for all their possessions and property to be taken away from them in order to benefit Western Christendom with global empire and dominations (“imperi et dominationes”) riches, wealth, and vast areas of real estate. Such language is evidence of Christendom’s bid to establish a system of Christian domination all across Mother Earth by means of a Doctrine of Christian Domination found in the papal bulls.
The papal bulls of 1493 called for “the propagation of the Christian Empire” (imperii christiani propagationem), and for the reduction (reducere), subjection (subjicere), and domination (e.g., “sub actuali dominio temporali aliquorum dominorum Christianorum constitute non sint”) of non-Christian nations (“barbare nationes”) by reducing and dominating them (“deprimantur”).
I’ve been a tribal Judge for four years. In the beginning, I was an Associate Judge for the tribe I’m enrolled with, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. That’s where I got my judicial feet wet, so to speak.
Writer’s block, oy, what a flu that is to have. Last year, I believe I did not write, and if I did it was of no consequence. However, there were a great many thinkers that did write and contributed to the ICTMN Op/Ed pages. Why?
Some 14 years ago I sat in the back of a van along with a group of Little Big Horn College students on their way to pick up Joe Medicine Crow before going across the border to Ucross, Wyoming, home of the Ucross Foundation Art Gallery and temporary display area of the Barstow Collection of ledger art.
The art was mostly done by Crow (Apsaalooke) and Hidatsa warriors who lived on or passed through the Crow Reservation agency from 1879 to 1897. It depicted intense battle scenes and also dances, gatherings and bison hunts. Bureau of Indian Affairs clerk William H. Barstow noticed that Natives liked to draw and encouraged them to re-create scenes of their lives by giving out ledger paper and colored pencils to do so.
With the bison nearly extinct and the nomadic way of life near its end, the art was created during a time that Crow Chief Plenty Coups later described this way: “When the buffalo went away, the hearts of my people fell to the ground … . After this, nothing happened. There was little singing anywhere.”
When Barstow died in 1908, his collection wound up in an obscure trunk in Roundup before it was rediscovered in 1930. Most of the collection was purchased by Eastern Montana College (now Montana State University-Billings) where it remained in vaults for decades before research by Professor Adrian Heidenreich brought the work’s importance to light at a 1985 Yellowstone Art Center showing.
The collection was to be shown publicly for only the second time in its existence since 1985 at Ucross, and when we picked up Medicine Crow you could tell he was feeling spry and excited about the event as he joked with everyone he came into contact with.
Passing on history and tradition is what he lived for. On top of that, much of the work in the collection had been done by Joe’s own grandfather Medicine Crow, as shown by Barstow’s notes and the crow drawn above Medicine Crow’s head that depicted him in the autobiographical works.
In the van Medicine Crow and I sat on the same seat. We soon passed by the tiny town of Wyola, and as he began to speak the students respectfully quieted down. He told us the town was named Wyola because there used to be a main train station there, and that’s where people waited for loved ones to arrive. Hence, its name was translated into English as “The Place We Wait.”
During the whole drive he was full of stories. Full of tidbits. Full of facts. Eager to teach. I’d come as a young journalist to write a story on the event, but I wanted to absorb as much as I could from this respected yet humble man. I hung onto his every word.
Since he sat near me, he of course asked me my name and wanted to know who my relatives were, as is typical of tribal people. They always seem to know someone related to you, or they might even be somehow related to you.
I told him my name but also said I wasn’t Crow but Northern Cheyenne. Our tribes were bitter enemies back in the day. As an old school Apsaalooke, he said, “Ah, Isashboosha, then!” using the Crow word for Cheyenne. He shook my hand, smiled warmly and told me a quick tale about my people.
Later, during his Ucross speech, he made a wisecrack about the Cheyenne and drew a big laugh—at least among the Natives present. Some whites looked uncomfortable, wondering whether it was polite to laugh since a few students were of course Cheyenne. He looked toward me with a knowing grin and glint in his eye. I nodded and smiled. Good one, I thought.
Although he probably would have told the joke anyway, since it was a Crow-inspired event, Indians generally will only tease people they like or are comfortable around.
After his speech I followed him closely as he spoke about the drawings. The art told numerous tales of battles between Indians not always recorded by white historians, but passed along from grandfathers to fathers to sons like Joe Medicine Crow.
Until the 1870s, Crow casualties in war parties had numbered just a few at most in small skirmishes. But casualties sometimes turned to dozens as every hill, mountain and river valley was fiercely fought over in attempts to control the last prime hunting areas of Crow land alongside the Rocky Mountains and Northern Plains in Montana and Wyoming.
Berta Caceres, a great Lenca woman from western Honduras, was assassinated early in the morning of March 3.
She was killed because of who she is, because of what she lived, stood and fought for, her whole life.