Water is of major importance to all living things. Our bodies are composed of 65% water. We need clean water to drink, to water our crops for our food, for the animals that need it to survive, and for the ones that live in the water. I feel very fortunate that I was able to spend some time at both Sacred Stone and Oceti Sakowin camps in Cannon Ball, ND this fall. We donated a compressor, 4 garbage bags full of high quality winter gear, and boxes of food. Although we knew no one, we were welcomed with open arms. There was such a overwhelming sense of gratitude, peace, and mutual respect. The people at camp were such an amazing group of diverse people, yet, we were all there for one main reason: to advocate for clean water.
My trip culminated with the Veteran's Day March. Native, non-native, active and retired military personnel followed by civilians marched in solidarity to the front lines for clean water. Hundreds of us stood in resistance to the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline which threatens to pollute the Missouri River and millions of people's water supply downstream. We all stood there in prayerful protest even though the DAPL workers surrounding us had bullet proof vests and helmets on and were carrying rifles and shot guns. It was a very surreal situation. During the ceremony, two bald eagles flew over us. Simplified, bald eagles are sacred to the Native Americans signifying courage, wisdom, strength, and they are the the messenger to the Creator. The eagles just reconfirmed to all of us that what we were doing, standing in unity for clean water, was meant to be and a worthy cause.
There are many opportunities for people to fight for the right to have clean water, whether here or there. I do encourage people to go out to ND if able. If not, call your representatives, divest from the companies that support DAPL, and share on social media what is happening there.
As I said at the beginning: Water is Life! Mni Waconi!
Stephanie Johnson, Bush Lake Chapter Director and Member