Native Nations Rise!

Dear Friends,

The sad news is that oil may soon flow through the Dakota Access pipeline. But there are several silver linings in that dark, oil-soaked cloud.

First, the lawsuit filed by Iowa landowners against the abuse of eminent domain is on its way to the Iowa Supreme Court. In a recent Radio Iowa story, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Bill Hanigan, said “if eminent domain was improper, then all of the condemnation easements are invalid. If the condemnation easements are invalid, then that pipeline and all of the crude oil in it is trespassing.”

And what is the legal remedy to someone or something trespassing on your property? Removal! If the court rules in favor of the landowners, Dakota Access should be required to tear out all that pipeline and find an alternative route. It’s important to support these brave landowners, so stay tuned for more on that.

The other silver lining is that President Trump is indeed making America great again. It is so uplifing to see how many new people are getting involved in the fight to defend justice and our environment against the full-frontal assault led by Pres. Trump and the corporate crocodiles he’s let into the swamp he promised to drain.

One example? The great work being done by Kelly Quinn, Jenny Miller, Shelley Buffalo and others with the Meskwaki Nation. They’ve organized the RISE WITH STANDING ROCK NATIVE NATIONS RALLY – IOWA this Friday at 12:00 noon at the Iowa State Capitol. Please come support them — and deepen your own commitment to push back against state and federal actions whose real motive is to turn over more and more of our rights and tax dollars to the corporate oligarchy that has bought and paid for too many politicians.

Here’s the press release Bold Iowa sent out today. The original release can be viewed here. Please share it!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12:00 p,m, CT, Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Contact: Kelly Quinn, krb.quinn@gmail.com or (515) 657-0179
Contact: Shelley Buffalo, buffaloshelley@gmail.com or (319) 333-2844
Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa Director, ed@boldiowa.org or (515) 238-6404

Meskwaki Women Organize “Rise With Standing Rock” Rally 
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe calls for solidarity as they march in Washington

Des Moines, IA — On Friday, March 10 at 12:00 noon, members of the Meskwaki Nation and their Iowa allies will rally on the west side of the Iowa State Capitol building in solidarity with the Native Nations Rise march and rally in Washington, DC at the same time.

“I stood with Standing Rock in the fight to protect water and I stand with all Native nations for their right to self-preservation and sovereignty,” said Kelly Quinn, a Meskwaki woman who lives in Ankeny. “What Standing Rock showed us is that tribal rights, agreements and treaties need to be honored by the US government. We support tribal autonomy, oppose any more oil and gas pipelines, and advocate for clean energy to save our water and planet.”

“All of creation is equal and the Earth is our mother,” said Shelley Buffalo, a Meskwaki woman who lives in Iowa City. “We practice gratitude for the Earth for providing us with all that we need. That’s why we are the protectors. That’s why we stand in solidarity with our Native brothers and sisters across the country and with all who have come together to defend our land and water.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other grassroots Indigenous organizers have called upon other tribes and all their allies to join them on March 10 in Washington, DC and in events across the country as they march, pray and take action. Participants will lobby Congress for Indigenous Nations’ rights to tribal sovereignty and to protect their homelands, the environment and future generations.

“The fight against the Dakota Access pipeline has ignited a historic alliance that is just beginning to exercise its political muscle and moral authority,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “Friday’s actions in DC, in Iowa and across the nation are another indication that our strength and influence as a powerful coalition of Native communities, farmers, landowners and environmentalists is growing deeper and more connected.”

Fallon will not be at the Iowa event as he is traveling to Washington, DC with members of Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa to participate in the march and rally there. Bold Iowa Program Coordinator, Shari Hrdina, will attend the Des Moines rally along with Lyssa Wade, who will speak on behalf of Bold and her work with landowners along the pipeline route.

In addition to Bold Iowa, organizations partnering with the Meskwaki women spearheading Friday’s Des Moines rally include Indigenous Iowa, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition and the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club.

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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Bold Iowa to Occupy Offices

Dear Friends,

Christine Sheller and Arlo blocking construction equipment during a BAT action last fall.

The Dakota Access pipeline isn’t finished. Tomorrow, here in Iowa, we’ll continue to stand with our allies at Standing Rock and with Iowa farmers, landowners, Native communities and environmentalists who have fought Dakota Access every step of the way. Public officials and businesses who’ve supported the pipeline need to hear that a 30-inch pipe carrying 570,000 barrels of oil a day is wrong for Iowa and wrong for our planet. Those who helped bring this catastrophe to our fields and waters need to know that we’re not done fighting.

So, if you haven’t yet signed up for a BAT tomorrow — Wednesday, February 21 — it’s not too late. Just respond to this message and we’ll hook you up with someone in your area leading an action. Here’s more detail, in the form of the press release we sent out this morning. (You can read the original release posted on the Bold Iowa website.​​)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa Director, (515) 238-6404 or ed@boldiowa.org

Bold Action Teams (BATs) to Occupy Offices
In at least 10 cities, teams of Iowa pipeline fighters, some risking arrest, will occupy offices of politicians and banks that have supported the Dakota Access pipeline 

Des Moines, IA — On Wednesday, Feb. 22 throughout the day during business hours, Bold Action Teams (BATs) will mobilize for a DAPL Day of Direct Action across Iowa, targeting officials and businesses that have aided and abetted construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Cities where actions will occur include Ames, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Grinnell, Iowa City, Newton, Sioux City and Omaha, Nebraska. Some cities will see multiple teams and actions at several locations.

“The Dakota Access pipeline isn’t finished,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “Here in Iowa, we continue to stand with our allies at Standing Rock and with Iowa farmers, landowners, Native communities and environmentalists who have fought Dakota Access every step of the way. Public officials and businesses who’ve supported it need to hear that this pipeline is wrong for Iowa and wrong for our planet. And they need to know that we’re not done fighting.”

Bold Iowa’s BATs were formed last fall to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline at targeted locations across the state. Teams of five people mobilized repeatedly, preventing construction equipment from working up until the point where BATs were threatened with arrest. On one day in Calhoun County, BATs were able to stop construction for 7 – 8 hours.

As further evidence of the effectiveness of Bold’s BAT approach to protesting the pipeline, DAPL’s attorney, Bret Dublinske, wrote to the Iowa Utilities Board on December 19, 2016 that Dakota Access had been unable to finish work on the pipeline in 2016, “due to the 90 day regulatory delay from March 10, 2016 until June 7, 2016, as well as several incidents of trespassers interfering with construction work.”

“We know this approach worked to slow down construction of the pipeline,” continued Fallon. “Now we’ll see how well it works to disrupt business-as-usual for the politicians who backed the pipeline and the banks that financed it.”

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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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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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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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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Standing with Standing Rock: Day 5

Thursday, December 1, 2016. We spend an hour today visiting with Manape LaMere, one of the seven tribal leaders at Oceti Sakowin. We discuss what is likely to happen when the veterans arrive on Sunday, and I give him an update on the pipeline fight in Iowa. I share the sad news that Dakota Access today dragged pipe under the Des Moines River. There is also the positive news that pipeline fighters in Iowa continue to push back on every possible front.

Mekasi, Matthew and Lyssa insulate a solar barn.

Mekasi, Matthew and Lyssa insulate a solar barn.

Manape is a gracious host, despite suffering from a bronchial infection. Lyssa offers to help. Among other hats Lyssa wears (including one that looks like a blue wombat), she’s a knowledgable herbalist. She pulls together a cocktail of a blend of essential oils for an intense, hot, nasal steam bath. Manape spends five minutes breathing in the healing moisture, saying, “If it doesn’t hurt, it’s probably not doing you any good.”

This afternoon, Lyssa and I work with Mekasi Horinek, director of Bold Oklahoma, to insulate one of the solar barns. These are small structures, shaped like a barn. They are basically a medium-sized bedroom, designed to provide plenty of heat and just enough space to withstand the onslaught of a North Dakota winter. An indoor kitchen and indoor bathroom will be available nearby. Funds for the barns were raised by the Bold Alliance.

Ed, Mekasi and Lyssa.

Ed, Mekasi and Lyssa.

Mekasi has been at Standing Rock for the past four months and helped design the winter camp. In keeping with Native traditions, the camp is laid out in a half circle, with four large lodges in the center. Around them are tipis, and behind those are the solar barns.

Mekasi has a vision that this camp will be entirely sustainable, run without any fossil feels. In an age when we need to move quickly to combat the worst impacts of climate change, these solar barns demonstrate that Oceti Sakowin is not merely about stopping a pipeline. Yes, first and foremost, it is a spiritual and cultural revival. Yet it is also a movement demonstrating the eco-friendly technologies that allow us to move quickly toward an economy powered entirely by renewables.

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Standing with Standing Rock: Day 4

Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

With the unexpected availability of a hotel room last night, Lyssa and I catch a much-needed break — both from the blizzard and from each other.

day-4-slot-machine-11-30-16Lyssa and I are good friends, and fellow travelers when it comes to our shared passion for sustainable food, clean water and climate justice. But sure, after living and working together 24-7 for four days straight, some space is needed. I plug away on my computer, working late and catching up on a chunk of my backlog. Lyssa “paces” as she calls it, prowling the casino and enjoying the wild, weird, colorful images decorating the hundreds of slot machines.

We sleep in. The blizzard continues to blow hard, but the snow’s movement is all horizontal. This three-day display of Nature’s raw power is winding down.

We drive back to camp and run into Myron Dewey, who has gained quite an online following for his work documenting the pipeline battle from the air. We follow Myron’s truck through the “Road Closed” barrier, beyond the camp entrance. We soon come to a bridge where a handful of water protectors are gathering.

Myron tells us he’s seen Dakota Access transporting the huge rig designed to bore under the Missouri River. Folks from the Oceti Sakowin camp are preparing a response, but I can’t find anyone who knows the details.

day-4-action-by-bridge-11-30-16Our activity on the bridge is met by an influx of law enforcement vehicles. A DAPL representative talks with us over a loud speaker. He sounds pleasant, friendly even.

“We really don’t want to arrest anybody, but please move to the south side of the bridge folks, or we’ll have to have you arrested.”

To one of the water protectors who slipped and fell: “Are you ok? Do you need any help?”

To the uniformed veterans in the group: “I see we’ve got some veterans here today. I really want to thank you for your service to our country.”

The disembodied voice presents the kind, fatherly face masking oppression. DAPL has found an excellent front man. But no one is fooled. Behind the voice is corporate and police power prepared to defend Big Oil’s interests with water canons, long range acoustic devices (LRADs), pepper spray and tear gas.

Lyssa and I are marginally prepared for these possibilities, although I wonder if our ear plugs will provide enough protection against an LRAD. I joke that we could have responded in kind if I’d brought my accordion, an LRAD in its own right.

The action on the bridge today is mostly posturing. But it is important, reminding DAPL and the world that we are present, unafraid and not going away. For me, the most powerful moment came as one Native leader leaves the bridge to stand by the water. He lifts his hands in prayer and sings in a voice that, though not amplified, carries nearly as well as the DAPL rep on the loud speaker.

Indeed, one does not have to spend much time at Oceti Sakowin before it becomes clear that, more than anything, this is a spiritual place. Every morning before sunrise, prayers and singing can be heard clearly, broadcast from an open tent by the sacred fire. The height of morning prayer is a water ceremony at the bank of the Cannonball River.

It is hard to imagine anyone not being moved and inspired by these acts of humility and reverence.

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