A Letter From the Publisher, November 10, 2016
The gathering of Indian nations near Standing Rock to oppose the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through historic treaty lands—and under a source of drinking water for millions of people—is the biggest event in Indian country since the standoff at Wounded Knee in the early 1970s. Thousands upon thousands of Native activists, leaders, lawyers and citizens have made the pilgrimage to the three main camps at Cannon Ball after the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s conflict with Energy Transfer and the Army Corps of Engineers reached a crisis point in early August.
To call the gathering a grassroots effort only partly touches upon the size, scope and unity of what is happening and what it means to us. The operation of what are essentially three small towns of Indians from hundreds of nations requires the cooperation of Native governments, organizations and everyday people. Everyone plays a role, and everyone comes to Standing Rock bringing what they can—food, supplies, ideas and energy.
I had the honor of visiting the camps recently on a weekend following the widely condemned and disturbing destruction by militarized police of a fourth camp built in the path of the pipeline. I was tasked with bringing messages of support from the Oneida Nation, and delivering many sets of body cameras to better protect water protectors from becoming victims of needless arrests and human rights violations. My trip coincided with the return of Chairman Dave Archambault II of SRST after he had pressed the cause of NoDAPL in New York at Columbia University and with the City Council of New York, which issued a pledge of support for the movement.
There are many ways Natives can protect the sovereign rights of our nations that are jeopardized by the type of disregard and desecrations practiced by a desperate oil company and complicit state officials. Witnessing the resolve and patience of Archambault in New York and North Dakota and then spending time with his distinguished father, Dave Sr., and Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle, would energize anyone to forge head with what must be done.
Throughout Indian country, fundraisers will help raise the millions of dollars needed to continue the fight. Lawyers will flock to press the many cases against alleged abuses and excessive force employed by police during arrests. The legal system of North Dakota will be challenged, swamped with cases, and overtaxed to the point that the state’s citizenry will question the folly and disgrace of the governor borrowing, and burning through, a $6 million loan so its police can serve the needs and interests of a private company. Losses will mount, and the resilience of Indian country will dismay those who underestimated us.
Here’s the biggest mistake our opponents can make: This gathering finds its strength not because this community is against a pipeline. Its bond and power comes from the belief in all things positive. Clean water. The land. Fairness. Freedom. The generations to come.
Navajo. Paiute. Haudenosaunee. Ojibwe. Hopi. Tlingit. When we look at the Dakota, we see ourselves. The connections that bind us are greater than our differences, and they present themselves in unintended but eternal ways. Oneida is a mispronunciation of Onyota’a:ka in our natural language, and it means People of the Standing Stone. Like us, our friends in the Dakota nation have a creation story from which they take their name. And now, across a distance of time and many miles, the People of the Standing Stone have come together to stand with the People of the Standing Rock.
NΛ ki’ wa,