Lakotas keeping it real in South Dakota, building resistance to protect Mother Earth for future generations
Article by Brenda Norrell
Photos by Kent Lebsock, Owe Aku Dutch translation NAIS
Lakotas in South Dakota are fighting the modern-day monsters -- Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands, megaloads and uranium mining. On Pine Ridge, Lakotas are building, and on Cheyenne River, tipis are going up. On Rosebud, the spiritual camp is ready to resist the threats.
Meanwhile to the north during May, Desmond Tutu will speak on treaties and tar sands at Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, where Cree and other First Nations lands have been poisoned by tar sands mining. Desmond Tutu is urging an Apartheid-style boycott to save the planet.
Meanwhile, on Pine Ridge, Lakotas are literally building.
Kent Lebsock of the Lakotas Owe Aku International Justice Project describes how a suspicious fire destroyed the White Plumes home on Pine Ridge during the intense fight against new uranium mining, but the work never stopped. Now, a new office building is going up.
“A few years back a suspicious fire destroyed the White Plume home out on the land near Wounded Knee Creek. The fire was devastating to the family, the community and to Owe Aku’s work. Priceless ceremonial object, ancestral art and historic documentation was lost. This happened in the midst of fighting one of the largest uranium mining companies in the world and for many weeks Debra White Plume worked tirelessly to recreate the documentation from an ironing board set up in a motel room on the reservation. Things improved, of course, with time, and Alex White Plume rebuilt the family home which is the heart of their tiyospaye. At any given time several grandchildren, a few great grandchildren and guests from all over the world can be found living and working at their house. The ‘office’ has moved to a spare room bursting at the seams with the ‘inbox’ being a corner of Debra’s bed. And the work has never stopped.”
To the north of Pine Ridge, on the Lakotas Cheyenne River land in South Dakota, a spiritual camp is also going up to resist the threat of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Joye Braun, Cheyenne River Lakota, welcomed all to the Bridger camp to help build, and learn sustainable lifeways.
Braun, who made news recently by halting an oilfield megaload alone, said, “We need you to come down, even its for a day to help build, to man a booth, to help cook, to help in the garden, and to gather wood. If it is for a couple of days or for a couple months, whatever you can do.”
Braun is among the Lakotas fighting the threat of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and the ‘man camps’ of oilfield workers bringing drugs, crimes, sexual assaults and violence to Indian communities.
Calling on Lakotas to join the effort, Braun said, “Your communities are on the front lines of this Transcanada attack. They made this line in the sand. We didn’t. We are only responding to what Transcanada is trying to do to our people.”
“They are the ones that want to bring the mancamps near us and put our women and children in jeopardy. These men in these mancamps use facebook to look for young girls as young as 12 years old! You young men especially please step up and come out and help!” Braun said.
The Ogallala Aquifer, a massive water source in the Plains and the source of life for future generations, is threatened by the Keystone XL pipeline.
Lakotas Owe Aku: Sometimes Building Means Building