DAPL Contractor Reaches Out

Dear Friends,

Recently, Heather Pearson was contacted by a former DAPL contractor, who said to her:

Heather Pearson, leading the chants at the Women’s March in Des Moines.

“I have the highest respect for what you and others are doing to protect the environment. Truth be told, I really had no idea about the concerns involving the pipeline, or knew much about it at all. Boy, was I in for a shock!

“Regarding Dakota Access, I’ve never had a position working for such a morally bankrupt entity. I struggled with it everyday. You always hear about corruption in large corporations, but when I witnessed it firsthand…WOW!

“When my contract ended, I was so relieved to be out of work. I did get to meet a lot of wonderful people over the course of my contract. I also learned a great deal about DAPL and how they do business. Like I said, I have the highest respect for you and others like you. Keep up the good work! Keep up the fight! You have support in unlikely places!”

Heather’s conversation, and the fact that the contractor reached out to her, is nothing short of amazing.

The contractor also told Heather that DAPL was so concerned about our “BATs” — the Bold Action Teams we mobilized last fall to stop construction — security formed special units to respond to the BATs. How’s that for validation that our efforts were effective!

In sharing this story, Heather writes: “Once people realize that this is just a corrupt, private corporation that wants to ship its toxic sludge to the export market via our farmland and watersheds, people tend to oppose the project. We must keep up the fight. We must continue to spread the message. We must take time to talk to people and combat the mountains of disinformation out there. We have to make our voices heard. It works!”

Heather’s story is a reminder that everything we do makes a difference. It’s also a reminder that, in the spirit of nonviolence, we must always show kindness and respect toward workers, law enforcement and security personnel.

Ed Fallon

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Day of Direct Action Against DAPL

Dear Friends,

[Check out the original post on the Bold Iowa website.]

As we claw our way through the gut-punch gauntlet of President Trump’s funhouse, it’s easy to want to just quit, give up, “crawl into solitude” as one dismayed friend told me this week.

Don’t! That’s just what Trump wants. In David Frum’s excellent article for The Atlantic, “How to Build an Autocracy,” he writes:

“Trump and his team count on one thing above all others: public indifference. . . . What happens in the next four years will depend heavily on whether Trump is right or wrong about how little Americans care about their democracy and the habits and conventions that sustain it. If they surprise him, they can restrain him.

“We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.”

There will be lots of opportunities to fight back against the steamroller President Trump has unleashed on our land, water, climate and property rights! Start by putting February 22 on your calendar:

Day of Direct Action Against DAPL — February 22, 2017

WHAT: Bold Action Teams (BATs) will mobilize for direct action across Iowa, targeting officials and businesses that have aided and abetted construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 22 during “business” hours. Commit for the entire day or for a minimum of 3 hours.

WHERE: In or near your community, at a government office, bank or other place that has supported construction of the pipeline. We’ll have a comprehensive list of targets available shortly before February 22.

WHY: The Dakota Access pipeline isn’t finished. Politicians, public officials and businesses who’ve supported it need to hear that the pipeline is wrong for Iowa and wrong for our planet. Because when we do nothing, when we crawl into our solitude, the forces of greed and injustice win.

THE PLAN:

* Take Wednesday, February 22 off from work (yes, I know not everyone can, but if you can, it’s important).

* Sign-up for a BAT — we’ll help connect you with folks in your area.

* Meet with your BAT of 5-10 people over coffee on the 22nd to study the message, discuss the code of nonviolence and plan details for the action(s).

* Invite local press to meet your team and travel with you to the action.

* Each team will be led by an experienced leader, someone well-versed in non-violence and capable of effectively directing the action.

ACTION: BATs will occupy the targeted space and read statements, press releases, articles and other material explaining why this pipeline is wrong. One or two members of each BAT will take photos and video. BATs either stay until arrested or until security threatens to arrest them. If BATs choose not to risk arrest, they then either disperse or travel to another site for a second action.

FOLLOW-UP: We’ll have a “hotline” — a BAT-line! — for teams to send photos, video and a brief summary immediately after the action.

Let’s make this big! We need 100 BATs. Sign up here to participate, and include a message indicating your preferred role(s) (i.e., team leader, risk arrest, spokesperson, photographer, videographer, driver).

Onward, through the Trump gauntlet and beyond! – Ed

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Rally to Protest Trump Decision on Pipeline

Dear Friends,

If you live in Iowa, please join us Saturday, January 28 for a big event (that’s tomorrow!). Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa are collaborating on a rally to protest President Trump’s decision to fast-track the Dakota Access pipeline. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is partnering with us to spread the word. We need to show unity among farmers and landowners, Native communities and all of us concerned about climate, water and the abuse of eminent domain.

Let’s make it clear to President Trump and Dakota Access that we aren’t giving in and will continue to fight this pipeline!

WHAT: Rally to Protest Trump Decision on Dakota Access
WHEN: Saturday, January 28, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
WHERE: Neal Smith Federal Building, 210 Walnut St., Des Moines

Landowner Shirley Gerjets in front of Dakota Access Pipeline built on her land taken by eminent domain.

Landowner Shirley Gerjets in front of the Dakota Access pipeline, being built on her land which was taken by eminent domain.

On Tuesday, President Trump took action to fast-track completion of the Dakota Access pipeline.

To be clear, this action does not immediately authorize construction to resume, nor does it automatically grant the remaining permits needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

But one thing is clear: the President’s action signals his intent to move the Dakota Access pipeline forward — despite concerns about climate, water and eminent domain.

We cannot and will not sit back and do nothing. A vocal, public response is needed. Join us on Saturday to send the strongest possible message that we won’t remain quiet and we aren’t going away!

Bold Iowa continues to petition the Army Corps to include Iowa in its environmental analysis. Click here to sign the petition: http://bit.ly/dapleis.

I hope to see you tomorrow!

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Bold Iowa Responds to Trump Action on Dakota Access Pipeline

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Jan. 24, 2017
Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa Director, (515) 238-6404 or ed@boldiowa.org

Bold Iowa Responds to Trump Action on Dakota Access Pipeline

Landowners’ lawsuit challenging use of eminent domain in Iowa still pending

Des Moines — Bold Iowa criticized in the strongest possible terms the action taken today by President Trump to expedite construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

“We’re not surprised, nor are we intimidated,” said Ed Fallon, director of Bold Iowa. “First of all, there are landowners’ court challenges to eminent domain still waiting to be decided. But most importantly, the alliance of landowners, farmers, Tribal communities, environmentalists and property-rights defenders who’ve fought this pipeline for over two years aren’t going to lie down and let the President’s Big Oil buddies roll over us. They want to destroy our land, water and climate and trample on our Constitutional rights? Well, they’ve got a fight on their hands — a huge fight.”

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers last year rejected the company’s permit application for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River in North Dakota, stating it had failed to properly consult the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and account for impacts to the tribe’s water supply and cultural resources.

However, today’s Executive Order supersedes this action by the Army Corps — ignoring the Army Corps’ finding that an Environmental Impact Statement is warranted — and allows the project to immediately resume construction.

In Iowa, the court is expected to rule any day now on the legal challenge Iowa landowners have mounted to the granting of eminent domain for Dakota Access. Landowner plaintiffs in the case include Cyndy Coppola of Calhoun County, who was arrested on her own land for which eminent domain authority is still under judicial review in this case.

The District Court is also expected to rule on Sierra Club Iowa Chapter’s challenge of the Iowa Utilities Board’s decision to issue a permit for Dakota Access to construct a hazardous liquid pipeline across Iowa.

Sierra Club’s attorneys argued that Dakota Access did not show that the pipeline was necessary to serve the public; the impacts to the environment and the dangers of oil spills are reasons that the permit should not have been granted; and the IUB ignored the impacts of climate change.

Bold Iowa is part of the Bold Alliance, building a coalition of small-and-mighty groups in rural states to fight Big Oil, protect landowners against the abuse of eminent domain, and work for clean energy solutions while empowering a political base of voters who care about the land and water.

# # #

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Army Corps Pipeline Analysis Must Include Iowa

Hi Folks – The Army Corps of Engineers has essentially challenged us to demand a full Environmental Impact Statement, saying, “The range of issues, alternatives, and potential impacts may be expanded based on comments received in response to this notice and at public scoping meetings.”

Letters to the Corps from everyone concerned about the Dakota Access pipeline, especially Iowans, are essential. We have until Feb 20th. Please take a few minutes for an action that could truly make a difference.

Here’s the press release Bold Iowa sent out today, outlining the situation and providing the appropriate links. Please share it far and wide. Thanks! – Ed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017
Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa Director, (515) 238-6404 or ed@boldiowa.org

Army Corps Pipeline Analysis Must Include Iowa
Environmental Impact Statement Should Not Be Limited to North Dakota

Des Moines, IA — In response to the Army Corps of Engineers’ announcement of its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in connection with the Dakota Access pipeline, Bold Iowa called on pipeline opponents, especially Iowans, to write the Army Corps of Engineers and demand that the Corps’ EIS consider the pipeline’s impact on Iowa’s land and water, too. Bold Iowa insists further that the EIS must weigh the pipeline’s impact on climate change as well.

“We are thrilled that President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers are listening to Americans across the country who have raised concerns about the Dakota Access pipeline,” said Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon. “But it’s not enough simply to examine the pipeline’s impact on the Missouri River in North and South Dakota. The Corps’ analysis needs to consider the full range of impacts of this pipeline, including its demonstrable exacerbation of the climate crisis.”

The letter released yesterday by the Corps states that the “EIS will analyze, at a minimum”:

1. Alternative locations for the pipeline crossing the Missouri River;

2. Potential risks and impacts of an oil spill, and potential impacts to Lake Oahe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water intakes, and the Tribe’s water, treaty fishing, and hunting rights; and

3. Information on the extent and location of the Tribe’s treaty rights in Lake Oahe.

Fallon noted, “It’s important that the Corps’ letter also says ‘The range of issues, alternatives, and potential impacts may be expanded based on comments received in response to this notice and at public scoping meetings.’ That language makes it really clear that people everywhere, especially Iowans, need to weigh in on the importance of a broad EIS.”

The Corps has set February 20 as the date by which comments need to be received. The full text of the Corps’ letter can be read here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2017-00937.pdf.

Bold Iowa today launched a petition calling on the U.S. Army Corps to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement for the Dakota Access pipeline that includes the state of Iowa.

View petition online: https://boldiowa.webaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19870

Bold Iowa is part of the Bold Alliance, building a coalition of small-and-mighty groups in rural states to fight Big Oil, protect landowners against the abuse of eminent domain, and work for clean energy solutions while empowering a political base of voters who care about the land and water.

# # #

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Dems Must Toss Out Establishment

Dear Friends,

As a kid, I would watch with a mixture of wonder and horror as my Irish kin butchered chickens. Spellbound by a headless hen running around the yard, I once asked, “How can she do that, run around like that. Isn’t she dead?”

Wicked_Witch_of_the_East_is_dead“Well, Eddie,” said a cousin in his lilting brogue. “It’s like that movie you watch back in the States, where your good witch drops a house on your bad witch, and the little coroner man comes out and declares, ‘She’s not only merely dead, she’s really most sincerely dead.’”

For the record, I would never butcher a chicken that way. But the memory conjures up an appropriate metaphor for the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP). The corporate “Establishment” that has controlled the Party is not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.

Cartoon chicken running around with head cut offYet the Establishment doesn’t realize it — or perhaps it’s simply pretending not to realize it. The Establishment hopes you won’t notice. It hopes you’ll buy the lie that conflicting elements within the Party simply need to come together and everything will be fine. It hopes somehow that its hegemony will continue, despite all signs that it is headless and hemorrhaging.

But we know better. The Democratic Establishment is defunct. It has been for years, running around in circles, creating the illusion that it’s still alive and viable. But the reality is now too obvious to ignore.

From a political perspective, a quick look at numbers and election results make it clear that the IDP is a failure. Of even greater concern, from a policy perspective, the IDP is a failure as well.

Under Establishment control, the IDP has turned its back on populist concerns while kowtowing to big business. The Party platform reflects the will of the grassroots, mostly. Yet the Party’s elected leadership has ignored that platform and pursued an anti-populist agenda. As a result, Iowa has moved from a slightly blue state to one that is as solid red as Nebraska.

But hope is on the horizon. The number of progressive populists within the IDP’s leadership is increasing. It is time for them — and for all rank-and-file Democrats, plus those of us who left the Party in disgust — to call out the Establishment’s lie.

It’s time to turn the page on this sad chapter of IDP history, when corporatists took control and ran the Party into the ground.

It’s time to ignite a revival that unites rural and urban concerns under one progressive, populist banner.

It’s time to stop pushing an agenda for the economic and political elite, and instead focus on the concerns of the vast majority of Iowans who have seen their influence grow less and less as the grip of monied interests grows stronger.

The first step in this revival comes on January 21. The 49 members of the IDP State Central Committee (SCC) will vote that day for a new Party chair. If SCC members elect an Establishment candidate (former State Senator Mike Gronstal being the most glaring example), then expect continued exodus from the Party.

Expect continued losses in elections and Republican dominance.

Saddest of all, expect continued failure of the policy changes Iowans are hungry for, changes that are long overdue, changes opposed or ignored by the Establishment in both parties.

Changes like:
* Restricting the influence of money in politics;
* Reining in the abuse of eminent domain;
* Defending local livable-wage ordinances;
* Returning control of Medicaid to the public;
* Allowing local control over the siting of corporate-owned hog confinements.

If the 49 members of the IDP State Central Committee get it right, citing another avian metaphor would be in order:

The Phoenix rising from the ashes.

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Florida farmers robbed through eminent domain

Dear Friends,

[Read the original article here: BOLD IOWA WEBSITE LINK HERE]

Banner welcoming visitors to the Sacred Water Camp near Live Oak, Florida and the path of the proposed Sabal Trail pipeline.

Banner welcoming visitors to the Sacred Water Camp near Live Oak, Florida and the path of the proposed Sabal Trail pipeline.

“Water is Life!” A cry started in the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline has become a national rallying cry in the growing movement to beat-back Big Oil. Pipeline fights across the country have brought the reality of the importance of water home to millions of Americans. More and more are jumping on board, working to protect water, land, property rights and our climate from the largest build-out of fossil-fuel infrastructure in America’s history.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I had the honor of spending two days working with tireless water protectors in northern Florida, battling the Sabal Trail Pipeline. At one of two camps set-up to help organize water-protection efforts, I met a woman who shared this story with me:

About 50 people stay at the Sacred Water Camp opposing the Sabal Trail pipeline.

About 50 people stay at the Sacred Water Camp opposing the Sabal Trail pipeline.

“I headed out recently to get produce for our camp, which has grown to fifty water protectors. We stopped at a farm stand about 30 miles from here at the Georgia-Florida line. We were buying a lot of food, and haggling a bit with the farmers, trying to stretch our donation dollars as far as possible.

“The family running the stand wasn’t very friendly at first. They asked me why we were buying such a large quantity of produce. I was a little hesitant to tell them, since I thought they might be for the pipeline. I said we were from the Sacred Water Camp, and we had a bunch of new people showing up that we had to feed. Then I took a chance, and told them that the whole purpose of our camp was to stop the Sabal Trail Pipeline.

One of the Sacred Water Camp’s organizers: Debra Johnson, nearby landowner and long-time local resident.

One of the Sacred Water Camp’s organizers: Debra Johnson, nearby landowner and long-time local resident.

“Well, one of the people working the farm stand, a young woman around 23, lit up, saying that the pipeline was wreaking havoc in Florida. Her father and brother, also working the stand, started going on about how strongly they opposed the pipeline and the abuse of eminent domain.

“They told us they grow oranges. They didn’t want a pipeline running through their grove, so the pipeline company took their land by force, through eminent domain. The company gave them $6,000 for destroying land that produces $1 million a year in orange sales! They were outraged, and couldn’t believe their government could let this happen. The father point-blank told me there was nothing in the eminent domain negotiations about giving them fair market value for crop loss. They felt robbed. Their land was gone, part of their family-farm business was gone. This is a fifth-generation orange grove, dating back to 1900, and their family had never seen anything like this.”

Pipeline fighters Connie Byra, Adam Dubbin (holding camera), Lisa Kay, Anita Stewart and Janet Barrow (not pictured) monitor the Sabal Trail pipeline company extracting water from the Withlacoochee River.

Pipeline fighters Connie Byra, Adam Dubbin (holding camera), Lisa Kay, Anita Stewart and Janet Barrow (not pictured) monitor the Sabal Trail pipeline company extracting water from the Withlacoochee River.

True story, and frightening. This fight cuts deeper than water, climate and individual property rights. If a bought-and-paid-for government can hand over the power of eminent domain to a powerful private business that can give a fifth-generation family farm a pittance in compensation for a $1 million loss, is there anything still sacred in America?

This fight is only going to get more challenging with Donald Trump as President. Not only does President-elect Trump deny climate change and disparage the importance of protecting water and land, but he has personally used eminent domain for his own private gain.

Action is the antidote to despair. And building a strong, broad, outspoken, well-organized coalition of farmers, landowners, Native communities, environmentalists and defenders of liberty is how we push back and win against the escalation of Big Oil’s war on America.

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Much bigger than the pipeline

Dear Friends,

The battle against the Dakota Access pipeline has morphed into a conflict bigger than anyone ever imagined. Sure, it’s a critical element of the growing movement to push back against climate change.

But it also has become a pivotal issue on two related fronts:

(1) The rights of Native communities, and

(2) The rights of farmers and other property owners subject to the eminent domain.

Thursday, December 15 marks a significant event in the struggle to protect Iowa landowner rights. It’s important for those of us who can to be there. Come at 8:00 a.m. to the Polk County Courthouse for the hearing, at 11:00 a.m. to the Courthouse for a march and rally, or ideally to both. Click here for more information.

At the rally we’ll hear from speakers who’ll point out that this court ruling is important to all Iowans, not just those living along the pipeline route.

steve-hickenbottom-headshot

Steve Hickenbottom

“This eminent domain case is way bigger than just this pipeline,” says Steve Hickenbottom, a Jefferson County farmer and one of the landowners in the lawsuit.

“It is an abuse of power that will have a lifetime of consequences. If they get away with this, the ride is just starting. Anyone could be next, and I do mean anyone.

“If our legal system and the Army Corps and any other government power can not stop DAPL, then what really is next? How do you wield enough power to get law enforcement to come in against peaceful people and do what they are doing to them. The best thing we have going for us is the tribal people coming together and showing the rest of us what you have to do to get something stopped.”

kathy-holdefer-headshot

Kathy Holdefer

Jasper County landowner Kathy Holdefer writes, “The outcome of this case will set a precedent for eminent domain use in the future. If this private company, whose product merely flows through our state only to be put on the market for sale to the highest bidder, is considered a ‘public necessity and convenience,’ think of who else could come after YOUR land for a project that they can claim is good for Iowa, when really, it’s just good for their profits.

“Someone could say they want to take several blocks in YOUR residential neighborhood to build a mall because it would provide jobs and generate sales taxes. Then they’d claim ‘Well, you use the kind of stuff we’re selling here, so it provides a needed commodity.'”

Yes, this fight is for all of us. What happens tomorrow at the Polk County Courthouse won’t be the final word. But it’s an important step forward, and all Iowans who care about freedom, justice and our environment should be there if possible.

And if you’re not able to make it, click here to watch the march and rally live-streamed on Facebook. Thanks! – Ed

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Stand With Landowners Against the Pipeline

Dear Friends,

For me, the week that Lyssa Wade and I spent at Standing Rock was a life-changing experience. If you missed any of my daily blog posts, you can read them here:

Day 1: Our Arrival
Day 2: Surviving the Blizzard
Day 3: Building Standing Rock
Day 4: Dakota Access’ Smiling Face
Day 5: Building Solar Barns
Day 6: Water is Life

(Lyssa wrote a daily blog as well, and you can read those here.)

The other life-changing experience for me during this pipeline fight came last year, when I walked the pipeline route in Iowa. It wasn’t the walk that was transformative, it was meeting so many amazing farmers, landowners and others rooted in this beautiful land we call home. To read those blogs and hear the stories of some of the people I met, click here and Next–> to scroll.

All across the country, men and women of good faith continue to stand with our Native allies at Standing Rock. We must also continue to stand with the farmers and landowners who have fought this pipeline for over two years, often at great personal expense of time and money.

Please join us on Thursday, December 15 for what is shaping up to be a big event. There is growing national interest, too. (Check out the interview I did with Ed Schultz.)

Here’s the detail:

WHAT: Stand in Court with Iowa Landowners vs. Dakota Access
WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 15, 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Polk County Courthouse, Des Moines
HEARING: 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. (Come early!)
MARCH: 11:00 – 11:30 a.m. (led by tractors)
RALLY: 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Cowles Commons

Click here to RSVP and to receive updates on #NoDAPL actions in Iowa: http://boldiowa.org/event/dec-15-stand-in-court-with-landowners-vs-dakota-access-eminent-domain.

I want to thank the organizations partnering with Bold Iowa on this important action, including the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

In addition to hearing from the attorney representing farmers and landowners, the court will also hear from the Sierra Club, Iowa Chapter. The Sierra Club has challenged the Iowa Utilities Board’s decision to issue a permit for Dakota Access to construct a hazardous liquid pipeline across Iowa. They cite concerns about the alleged necessity of the pipeline, potential impacts to the environment from oil spills and the impacts of climate change.

Needless to say, dress warm. Join us as we stand united to stop the Dakota Access pipeline that is trampling sovereign rights, abusing eminent domain for private gain, and threatening our land, water and climate.

Thanks!

Ed Fallon

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Standing with Standing Rock: Day 6

Friday, December 2, 2016. Every morning, my wake-up call comes not from the alarm on my phone but from the voices of water protectors 200 yards away, across the Cannonball River chanting, “Mni Wiconi! Water is Life!”

View across the Cannonball River

View across the Cannonball River

The words drift across the frozen river, where over 100 people gather at sunrise each day for a water ceremony. Campers on our side of the river stand in silent reverence, watching the ceremony, participating in their own quiet way.

This prayerful start to the day is a reminder that, more than anything, Oceti Sakowin is a spiritual encampment. Especially at the morning water ceremony, but throughout the day, prayers continually circle back to the truth that without water, we are nothing.

Water is so much more important than oil, money or power. Yet face it. Most of us take water for granted, especially if we live in water-rich regions. We turn on the faucet or hose, and voila! We immediately have access to as much water as we want — for pennies.

day-6-water-is-life-12-2-16Yet people who draw their water directly from the source have a deeper appreciation of its value. Last year when I walked the pipeline route, one of the issues most frequently raised by Iowa farmers was concern over how an oil spill would poison their wells.

I think about this as I listen to “Mni Wiconi, Water is Life” inside the cold, clammy comfort of our tent. I reflect on my own experience with well water as a youth in Ireland. In the 1960s and 70s, every drop of water my Irish uncles and their neighbors used came from a nearby well. No one had running water. Drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning. All water came from this one well, carried home in buckets.

My Irish well

My Irish well

As a kid, I found our community well a beautiful, magical place. It sat on the side of a small “boreen” — a narrow, grass-covered road used only by cows, sheep and walkers. Centuries ago, someone had built a covered, three-sided stone enclosure to protect the well from the branches and leaves that fell from trees arching above the well.

Every year, someone would clean the well. The water would be drained out, one bucket at a time, until the bottom of the well was exposed. Whatever debris had settled would be removed. Aquatic plants that had taken root were evicted. Limestone would be thrown into the well and the stones white-washed.

Maybe it was my imagination, or maybe it was because harvesting this water required effort, but I always thought that water tasted better than any I’d ever sipped. One of my uncles’ neighbors, Maura Sampey, insisted that it made the best tea. Years later, when piped water was brought in to all the homes in our hamlet, Maura continued to haul buckets of water from the well to make tea.

Sunset at Oceti Sakowin

Sunset at Oceti Sakowin

Water is Life. Water is Sacred. The Oceti Sakowin water ceremony challenges me to reconnect with the spiritual power of water. For me, the life experience that brings that spiritual power home is the well that sustained my uncles, grandparents, great grandparents, and generations of poor farmers before them.

We all have a water story, a magical encounter with the most important substance on Earth. Those stories can help remind us why this fight against an oil pipeline is so profoundly important. What’s your water story? I’d like to hear it.

Mni Wiconi! Water is Life!

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