| Sixteen-year-olds shake up the world on Pine Ridge:
Tokatawin Iron Eyes and Greta Thunberg
The Magnitude of Lakotas
Article by Brenda Norrell
Video by Lakota Peoples Law Project
Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019
PINE RIDGE, Oglala Sioux Nation -- Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner said if the man camps and oil pipelines come here and encroach on Oglala land, they will have to run over him because he is willing to die as his ancestors did.
President Bear Runner's words were the battle cry, the call to action, before Tokatawin Iron Eyes, Lakota, and Greta Thunberg spoke out for Mother Earth on Pine Ridge, in the heart of Native resistance.
Then, these two 16-year-olds woke up the world.
"We have a moral responsibility to do something about this," Tokatawin Iron Eyes said of the climate crisis. Tokatawin, speaking at Red Cloud Indian School on Pine Ridge, where she is a junior, said she can already see the effects of climate change.
"What is economic growth if you don't have water," Tokatawin said. Speaking of capitalism, she said there is no sustainability if we do not question capitalism.
Tokatawin announced that on Monday, Oct. 7, there will be a march in Rapid City, beginning at Memorial Park (Civic Center) at 11 a.m.
They will march to the Rapid City Mayor's office to demand an end to the fossil fuel industries destroying their communities.
The Oglala Sioux Nation chartered two buses to transport Lakotas to the Civic Center on Monday. Buses depart at the back of the tribal building at 9 a.m. with sack lunches provided.
On Tuesday, the dynamic teens will speak at Standing Rock in North Dakota.
Speaking out for real change at Red Cloud Indian School on Sunday evening, Tokatawin said each person must take action and look at what is happening to Mother Earth. She said we must all speak out for those environmental activists who are being assassinated.
"It is our responsibility to speak up for those who do not have a voice."
Tokatawin said as a 16-year-old that she should not have to worry about the climate and the future. She should not have to worry about whether to go to school or to go to Washington to protest the climate crisis.
Tokatawin spoke of Mother Earth as a living being and shared how she met Greta in Washington D.C. recently.
Tokatawin said she often feels like she is walking down her own road, and expressed how good it is to have another 16-year-old, Greta, to share with.
Greta Thunberg began by thanking the Lakotas gathered for all the gifts she has been given. She shared her experience of protesting in her own homeland in Sweden, and the need for action because of climate change.
"Listen to Indigenous Peoples. They have been living in balance with nature for so long," Greta told the crowd at the Red Cloud Indian School fieldhouse.
"Everyone can make a difference."
Greta said she and Tokatawin share their commitment to saving the planet. Greta praised Tokatawin for being courageous and pointed out that she is a "true person."
Asked why she is striking at home in Sweden and traveling to support climate strikes, Greta said she is doing this because there is a crisis -- not because she is simply interested in climate change.
"We need to reclaim our power," Greta said. "We are the ones who have the power."
"This is a matter of life and death to many people," she said, urging people to organize and mobilize.
"Push in the right direction."
"If we start doing that, then we have won."
Greta urged everyone, "Come together in this fight."
Tokatawin said climate activism is an oxymoron, that all people should now be working on this. She spoke of what defines Lakota as a people, and why they are fighting.
She began by saying it has been an awesome experience to live on Pine Ride for a year now, after moving from North Dakota.
"Pine Ridge is a place with a rich history in Native resistance."
The Youth Climate Panel comes as Dakota Access Pipeline plans to double its capacity and damage to Indian country. A second pipeline, Keystone XL, is now seizing lands in Nebraska using eminent domain for Keystone XL. The water of the enormous Ogallala aquifer in the midwest is at risk from Keystone XL pipeline's dirty tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada.
The gathering on Pine Ridge began with a prayer and song by Basil Brave Heart and his grandson offering a blessing to the Four Directions, and all was set in motion.
Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner thanked Oglala officials for coming, in this effort to save what is left for future generations.
Bear Runner acknowledged the ancestors for their sacrifices so we can be here today. Bear Runner said before becoming President, he had a conversation with the Creator.
As a young president, he said it hasn't been easy.
Bear Runner said Oglala Sioux are a force to be recognized, a sovereign Nation that deserves a seat at the table, one that is equal to the United States government.
Bear Runner said it is the people who will be there to regain and stand for the full return of all of their land, including the Black Hills.
Speaking of western education, he said, "We are using their education against them.
"We use that education in a good way." He said western education must be used against the government.
"They tried to manipulate our minds, to get what they want."
Now is the time to stand and say: "What you are doing is wrong."
"We also have our own education and belief system."
Whenever man camps and oil pipelines start encroaching on Oglala land, he said, "I'm going to make sure I'm standing on that frontline and they are going to have to run over me."
"I'm going to lay my life down."
He said Crazy Horse knew what he must do and said, "Hoka Hey. It is a good day to die."
"I have to do that same thing as a leader."
As a leader, Bear Runner said, he must do this for the children of today who will depend on the resources in the future.
Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota attorney, introduced Oglala Elder Brave Heart who offered the prayer. Chase said Brave Heart has been involved in a truth-telling, which has to happen before there can be a reconciliation. Brave Heart is also working to have the medals rescinded of those responsible for the Massacre of Wounded Knee in 1890.
Chase Iron Eyes, Tokatawin's father, spoke of Standing Rock and the power of the movement of water protectors. Chase, whose father is Oglala, began by saying, "We are few, but we are mighty."
While thanking those who came to the gathering, he said, "The source and force of the movement is because you are willing to show up."
Chase described how his daughter Tokatawin had to watch as her mother, Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle, Lakota Dakota pediatrician, was arrested, and watch as her father faced years in prison, for the stands they took against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock.
Chase, expressing his appreciation of the youths, said, "We've got your back, and we love you."
The Lakota People’s Law Project, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Last Real Indians and Red Cloud Indian School hosted the Youth Climate Crisis Panel at the Red Cloud Indian School Fieldhouse.
More -- Listen to all the speakers, including Mark Tilsen:
Posted by Last Real Indians
As you walk upon our sacred Mother Earth, treat each step as a prayer. - Black Elk
Today Red Cloud Indian School was honored to host a Youth Climate Crisis Panel, sponsored by the Lakota People’s Law Project and the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and featuring environmental justice advocate and Red Cloud student Tokata Iron Eyes and Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg. Born on Standing Rock Nation, Tokata is a dedicated indigenous activist and a water protector who protested against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Greta Thunberg’s climate activism has sparked a global youth movement that is demanding progressive solutions to the climate crisis.
Both Tokata and Greta remind us of the crucial importance of lifting up and celebrating the voices of young people, particularly in conversations about the future of Uŋčí Makȟá, or Mother Earth. We are extremely proud of Tokata and the many other Red Cloud students who have become strong advocates for environmental and social justice—and we are inspired by the millions of students around the world who are standing with Greta Thunberg and taking action to protect our planet.
As Tokata herself has reminded us, “...there cannot be a solution to the climate crisis that doesn’t include indigenous people." Like many indigenous peoples around the world, the Lakȟóta people have a profound and deeply spiritual interrelationship with the environment. Traditionally, Lakȟóta people did not own land individually but instead believed in the importance of honoring the earth as our common home and sharing its resources responsibly. Today, indigenous leaders like Tokota are working tirelessly to preserve and protect the earth for future generations—and we are proud to stand with them. Because regardless of who we are and where we live, all of us have a moral responsibility to care for the gift of creation.
|"Listen to Indigenous Peoples. They have been living in balance with nature for so long," Greta told the crowd at Red Cloud Indian School.
Photo Censored News
|At Red Cloud Indian School today, the audience praised the young women and asked questions about climate change.
|Greta maintaining her climate strike vigil in Sweden
on #ClimateCrisis. #NoDAPL , #NoKXL. Please share!
Video copyright Lakota Peoples Law Project
Article copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News
More: Standing Rock: Climate Change Forum set for Tuesday, Oct. 8 at the Standing Rock High School Gym
Greta Thunberg is coming to Lakota Country. The 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, famous for her school strikes advocating for more aggressive climate action, will visit Pine Ridge on Sunday and Standing Rock on Tuesday.
Thunberg will participate in a pair of panels with fellow youth climate activist and Indigenous rights advocate Tokata Iron Eyes. The two will address high-priority topics for the climate struggle in Indian Country including plans to double the oil flowing through the Dakota Access pipeline and the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline adjacent to tribal nations.
On Sunday, the Lakota People’s Law Project, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Last Real Indians and Red Cloud Indian School will hold a Youth Climate Crisis Panel at the Red Cloud Indian School Fieldhouse featuring the two. Food and beverages will be provided, and the public and press are encouraged to attend.
Former North Dakota Democratic congressional candidate Chase Iron Eyes, who also serves as Lakota People’s Law Project Lead Counsel and Public Relations Director for Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner, will be the Master of Ceremonies. Bear Runner will provide opening remarks.
Then, on Tuesday morning, Indigenized Energy and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have invited Standing Rock high school students to attend a Climate Change Forum, again featuring Tokata Iron Eyes and Thunberg at the Standing Rock High School Gym in Fort Yates, N.D.
The two youthful climate warriors first came together in mid-September at George Washington University when Iron Eyes spoke at an Amnesty International event where Thunberg received an award. A friendship was formed by the two teens, who may come from very different backgrounds but nevertheless have much in common. Now Thunberg has accepted Iron Eyes' invitation to visit her homelands and address the two tribal nations.
Event Details for Sunday:
What: Youth Climate Crisis Panel
When: Sunday, Oct. 6 at 5 p.m.
Where: Red Cloud Indian School Field House — 100 Mission Drive, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, S.D. 57770
Who: Featuring youth climate activists Greta Thunberg and Tokata Iron Eyes; Master of Ceremonies Chase Iron Eyes; opening remarks by Ogala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner
Why: The climate crisis is real. Our world faces its greatest existential threat, and the younger generation that will inherit it is standing up to ask us to pay attention to the gravity of their plight.
Tokata Iron Eyes: Born on Standing Rock Nation, Tokata Iron Eyes now makes her home at Pine Ridge with her mother, Dr. Sarah Jumping Eagle, and her father, Chase Iron Eyes. Tokata is a junior at Red Cloud Indian School, a dedicated Indigenous and environmental justice advocate and a water protector who protested against the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock. She is also a sought-after speaker who has appeared on dozens of broadcasts and events around the world. She will soon appear in a Disney special.
Greta Thunberg: Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Greta Thunberg gained international recognition when she began appearing at the Swedish Parliament with signs demanding climate justice. She has since become a highly visible voice promoting progressive solutions to the climate crisis. She has organized worldwide school climate strikes and appeared on the cover of Time Magazine.
The Lakota People's Law Project is part of the nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center, the Romero Institute.