Debra White Plume
Owe Aku, Bring Back the Way
Moccasins on the Ground: Protect Sacred Water by the Lakota Media Project
Aku, a grassroots organization on the Pine Ridge, SD Indian
Reservation, along with many allies, held a three-day training at the
Wounded Knee School, titled Moccasins on the Ground Tour of Resistance.
“Over 300 people registered, some came and left, others stayed, some
did not register. We estimate 250 people took part in some or all of the
training,” says Vic Camp, Owe Aku organizer. NonIndian ranchers and
farmers from SD and NE participated, as well as members of SD Rural
Action, Clean Water Alliance, and other Great Plains water protectors.
“Moccasins on the Ground Tour of Resistance is a community strategy
to protect water from the tarsands oil proposed to pass through the
Great Plains inside the Keystone XL 36-inch pipeline owned by a Canadian
corporation, TransCanada [TC],” said Debra White Plume, a Lakota
grandmother from Manderson. “The KXL pipeline would slurry tarsands oil
from the Canadian mines, crossing hundreds of rivers and streams and the
Ogllala Aquifer which provides drinking water to two million people from South Dakota to Texas, which irrigates the
bread basket of America,” said White Plume. “It would cross unceded Ft
Laramie Treaty Territory without our free, prior, informed consent, our
right according to the United Nations, and in violation of our treaties,
which are international law. It would cross the Oglala Sioux Tribal
Rural Water pipeline, which brings drinking water 200 miles to our lands
here, from Pierre, SD.”
has applied for its second international permit through the US
Department of State, as the pipeline would enter Montana from Alberta,
Canada. President Obama denied the first application in January, 2012.
TC filed another application, which includes a 45-day Comment Period
that started on March 1, 2013. A US State Dept Hearing is scheduled for
April 18, 2013 in Grand Island, NE. In past hearings, landowners
expressed concern that TC forced rights of way across their ranches and
farms using eminent domain, exposing their lands to the tarsands bitumen
mixed with chemicals, heated constantly to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Concerns include clean-up capabilities, referencing the 2010 Enbridge
pipeline rupture of a million gallons of tarsands bitumen into the
Kalamazoo River in Michigan, which to date has cost $809 million, three
years into the clean up effort, leaving forty miles of the river closed
pending clean up. (for info see http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20130128/dilbit-6B-pipeline-kalamazoo-river-enbridge-oil-spill-michigan-keystone-xl)
training included nonviolent direct action skills, community
organizing, Human Rights, Treaty Rights, Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples (adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007), street
medic and strategic media workshops. Folks from the Indigenous
Environmental Network (IEN), Texas Blockade, Owe Aku, Earth First, and
many other organizations served as trainers and will continue to
network. “Effective social media skills are critical in social justice
work. Often mainstream media neglects issues impacting people’s
everyday lives, and the ability to cover non-violent direct action
[nvda] situations is a skill with value that cannot be measured,” said
Suree Towfignia of People’s Media Project of Chicago, Ill, one of the
trainers in the Strategic Media workshop. Working with the Lakota Media
Project, the groups created a video that is available on Youtube.
Plains Tarsands Resistance is comprised of many organizations. “We are
not little organizations working in isolation, we are working
collectively across the country to stop this desecration,” said Camp,
who served as “Eyapaha” (announcer), engaging folks in workshops,
plenary sessions, and social gatherings.
collaborated to develop and adopt the Treaty to Protect the Sacred at
our Gathering in February. We are happy to meet allies here and continue
our work to protect the sacred,” said Faith Spotted Eagle, from the
Yankton, SD Homelands. “We are going to Ottawa, Canada, to make more
allies and strengthen our Treaty.” Moccasins on the Ground Tour of
Resistance will be in the Yankton area April 5-7, 2013.
must protect our communities, children, water, for the future. We want
Moccasins on the Ground to come to the Eagle Butte Reservation, to
Bridger, the first community to face the tarsands,” said Robin LeBeau,
Tribal Council Representative from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The
training will be held in mid-April.
training came in handy on the final day when a young boy experienced
difficulty breathing. Camp yelled “MEDIC”, and a dozen people came
running to provide assistance. (The boy was treated and was ok, his
mother greatly relieved.)
US decision regarding the KXL pipeline is expected in September or
October,” said White Plume. “Through the long, hot summer we will
provide requested nvda to Lakota Homelands, several have confirmed
training dates, more requests are coming in, so we will schedule those.
An organized and trained community is better prepared to protect their
lands and waters,” said White Plume, “in the event that President Obama
chooses to ignore the concerns of thousands of Americans who have
commented, written letters, rallied by the tens of thousands in
Washington, DC, and the thousands of people arrested in civil
disobedience at the White House to give him the message that the KXL
pipeline is not in the best interests of the big land (America). We will
join our counterparts of ranchers and farmers who will face
TransCanada’s earthmovers when they come to dig, using the human right
to engage in nonviolent direct action. We hope the president will
realize the large and diverse national support to deny the permit, that
he will be revolutionary and refuse to expose the big land to such a
is the land of our ancestors. We protect it for our grandchildren,”
said Marie Randall. George Jumping Eagle led the drum group to Honor
Grandmother Randall. At age 94, she stood with others in front of a
heavy haul Texan caravan transporting huge equipment destined for
Canadian oil mines, when it attempted to pass through the Pine Ridge
Reservation’s village of Wanbli, in March of 2012. Five individuals were
arrested for blockading the trucks. (Randall was not arrested). LeBeau
of Eagle Butte, SD said that such caravans have passed through her
Homelands in spite of Tribal Council legislation and expressed concern
that South Dakota’s Governor seems oblivious to tribal council action.
Twice her people have blockaded trucks.
need tools to fight this KXL black snake pipeline. The strongest tool
we gained is unity between Lakota and non-native supporters,” said Marty
Cobenais, from IEN. He spook of the Enbridge pipeline blockade in
Minnesota, which the Red Lake Nation states has been on their lands
illegally since 1949.
Randall conducted a traditional Lakota Water Ceremony, calling those
who intend to protect sacred water. “Almost everyone came forward to
receive sacred red earth paint to make their commitment to Grandmother
Earth,” said White Plume.
Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer addressed the crowd, vowing to
protect the water and the Lakota generations from TransCanada’s KXL
tarsands pipeline, “I will put my moccasins on the ground with my
for more info contact Debra White Plume on FaceBook.
Photo 1: Vic Camp, Marie Randall, Poj Camp during Honor Dance for Unci
Marie after the Water Ceremony Committment. Other photo is a group photo
at the training, includes Oglala President Brewer.