A pipeline wants to pass through paradise
Home of the Hunkpapa
From Taco Johns parking lot you can see where Sitting Bull stood
From SBC you can listen to real life language revitalization
From Boot Hill you can watch the whole entire world
Look past all the negatives
Standing Rock is paradise
The prettiest land, the purest air, the proudest people
Think "Power" not poverty
Think "Indigenous Integrity" not illness
Think "Love and Longevity" not loss
But now a pipeline wants to pass through paradise
Government treats treaties like trash
Army Corps doesn't defend kids of certain colors
Preventative politics proved useless
Protest is the only option
Red nations ready to rally up and rabble rouse
Really they’re just doing what’s right
Persecuted for protective parenting
Chairman charged with felony leadership
Councilmen convicted of misdemeanor mentorship
Pipe bundle confused with pipe bomb
Locals laugh a little cuz it's ludicrous
Celebrities in Cannon Ball?
Wayward supporters are welcomed though
It’s a powerful place of prayer
Oceti Sakowin stands strong
As the cameramen film and reporters roam
Everyone’s just grateful it’s the photographers shooting
And not the police
The little ones, like little ones everywhere, just want to play
While the honor songs are sung and the warriors ride in
Kids tug at their caretakers’ sleeve
Baby asks: Can we just go to the river now?
Sister smiles: Yes. Today, you can. In a minute.
Baby asks: How about tomorrow?
Sister says....... I hope so.
Inspiration and Background on the Issue
I grew up in various places around North Dakota but spent every summer living with my dad at our home on Standing Rock near Fort Yates. My dad always told me about how the Corps interferes with reservation lands but I never really understood until now. Since the DAPL issue flared up a few months ago, I've been reporting on it. As a journalist who is not only invested in the great issues facing all Indigenous people today, but who is particularly invested in the wellbeing of that community, I consider it my duty.
I wrote this poem in honor of all the people who are fighting to protect the land and water of the Great Sioux Nation. Lots of folks are referring to it as a protest but really it's a protective barrier of people and prayer. Above all, it's peaceful.
This poem was inspired, of course, by everything that's going on right now but largely by a video clip sent to me by my older sister, Lexi. She lives in Fort Yates, and she's been at the Sacred Stone Camp site with her partner Rhonnae and our baby siblings Maya and Cash. They do an incredible job taking care of our little siblings and as a part of that they respect their young minds enough to keep them informed and involved regarding everything that's happening. In Lexi's video from the camp site, one of the little ones can be heard in the background asking to go play in the river. For many reasons, that is symbolic.
I write to you now from Phoenix, but in a few hours Thosh and I will be headed up to ND to show support and to do some big-picture reporting on what's happening. We will do our best to bring further insight to the cause and to the people who have been so tirelessly and selflessly defending our land and water this from the beginning. Feel free to comment or send in any ideas.
In the meantime, feel free to read up on some of the reporting I've done so far:
Dakota Access Pipeline Threat: What You Need to Know 3/19/16
Great Sioux Nation Defends Its Waters From Dakota Access Pipeline 4/6/16
Native Americans are demanding ‘rezpect’ in the face of this 1,100-mile oil pipeline 4/29/16
Justice League Stars Protest Dakota Access Pipeline, Support Standing Rock Sioux 5/19/16
Dakota Access Pipeline Construction Begins Despite Standing Rock Sioux Objections 5/23/16
Breaking: Dakota Access Pipeline Approved 7/27/16