Suzie Hall Rosse, posted in Lehigh Valley Activism Network on November 27, 2016:
Today I saw a video of some representatives of the many tribes taking part in Standing Rock Water Protection. The day before yesterday, Friday, a letter was sent to many of the tribes from the Army Corps of Engineers telling them that they could not continue to stay on that land after December 5th. This video showed their response to that letter. The statements are strong and poignant. There is much in the text that I haven’t seen shared anywhere other than in the video itself which is long for many people. I decided to do my best to transcribe the part of the video which contains the statements so that the content can be easily copied and pasted and shared. It is important. The tone of the whole water protector earth protector life protector movement . . . series of actions. . . that is couched in prayer and reverence for life . . . is so important. Please share this. I am going to share it as widely as I can. Please note that it is rough and there may be errors. Feel free to edit out the mistakes, but view the video also. Here is the video first and I will follow with my transcription:
Standing Rock Press Conference In Response to Army Corps Eviction Letter- 11/26/2016
“OK everybody! Hello! – (Native language introduction) – I said Hello Relatives. My name is Eagle Woman. I am from New Town North Dakota northwest of here and I work with the Indigenous Environmental Network. We’d like to thank you all for coming here today on Saturday, November 26th, and experiencing this global warming with us today. We wanted to talk about a response to the Army Corps of Engineers’ letter that was received yesterday as well as some other things during this month of November which some of you may or may not know is American Heritage month. And we’re going to offer perspectives from the Youth Council with Thomas Lopez. We’re going to offer perspectives from continuation of youth but also Sacred Stone Camp here with Eryn Wise, David Goldtooth with the Indigenous Environmental Network. We want to hear from some of our spiritual folks, spiritual piece which Isaac? will bring in for us. Some of the actions pieces, kind of what we’ve been praying with Mick Pillson? here. And we’ll end with comments from Tribal Chairman David Archambault. We are going to be providing a short time at the end for a few questions. The panelists will be available afterward on an individual basis as they agree or press to visit with one on one. So this time I’m going to go ahead and turn it over. I’m going to have each person introduce themselves and we’re going to start with Thomas.
“Hello. Thank you all for coming here today. Thank you to my elders for asking me to come and speak on behalf of the International Indigenous Youth Council. My name is Thomas Lopez Jr. from Denver, Colorado. My mother is Sharon Dominges Lopez and my father is Sendez Thomas Lopez Sr. I am here to talk about the past few hundred years and the many broken treaties that have occurred. We’ve been lied to for over five hundred years and we’re here to request that President Obama honor his word that he made to the Standing Rock youth when he came here in 2014. President Obama, when you came here you promised that you would protect tribal sovereignty and spiritual belief. You promised to protect our sacred way of life and here we are today standing up for that sacred way. You mention nothing on your Thanksgiving Day. You spoke nothing of us or to us. Many of our council members on the International Indigenous Youth Council, if not all of the members on the International Indigenous Youth Council have experienced the brutality that has come from the Morton County Sheriff’s Office and also the National Guard. From broken limbs to injuries from flash bombs, internal bruising and the everlasting consequences and results of PTSD. I am asking you now, President Obama, if this were happening to your daughters Sasha and Melia, would you say something, or would you stand in silence and let them brutalize your own children? On behalf of the International Indigenous Youth Council and our allies and all youth around the world we are asking that you step in now and assist us in stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline.
From Group: “Aho”
“Hello, my name is Colestuay? My name is Eryn Wise. I come from the Apache Nation in the Pueblo in New Mexico and I am here to represent my Aunt, Ladonna Brave Bull Allard who is the founder of the Sacred Stone Camp. When my Auntie came in April she told me that her intention was not to set up a camp that would look like this, her intention was to stop people from putting up pipeline in the place before her son’s grave. She said that she wanted to ensure a peaceful resting place for her son and she did not think that when she started her camp it would evolve into this. She is grateful for it, but on behalf of Sacred Stone Camp and my Aunt, we went to Washington D.C. last week and we met with the General of the United States Corps of Engineers and she looked me in the eye and I told him what happens to people that I left unprotected. Right now our land is to be left unprotected if we are to leave this space. And being a woman that has survived sexual assault, I just want to say that we are not going to allow that to happen to our Mother. We stand with all women who have been hurt, but we especially stand with our Mother who is continually hurt sanctioned by the United States Government but that hurt is a continuance of the hurt that has been brought upon us for the last five hundred years and we’re not going to stand for it any more. I also want to say to President Obama that in light of what Thomas said, the indigenous youth are calling upon the United States Government for protection. They’re begging for people to start caring about them. We have three times the national rate of suicide than any other community. We have children that are killing themselves every single day because they want to be a part of this country so badly but they are continually ignored and you know my Aunt who stands behind our youth councils here who is a grandmother and a mother herself, she does represent the sacred here. The children are what we need to protect. We need to think about them going forward. I think that the US Army Corps of Engineers needs to remember that these are children that we are protecting and that if they continue to support Morton County and the North Dakota state government that they are not protecting the children and that they are responsible for. I just ask that whoever is watching this who is in power, you remember the children and that you remember that we as sacred people, as prayerful people will continue to take our stand.
From Group: “Aho”
“(Native language introduction) My name is David Goldtooth. I am Dakota. I work with the Indigenous Environmental Network and I first and foremost want to acknowledge all of our relatives who traveled from afar and I also want to acknowledge our relatives Hupapo Awate our relatives from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation who invited us to this land and we’re their guests. Acknowledgments for that. I also want to say that we have our relative, our sister organization Honor the Earth couldn’t be here at this moment. We had a representative was supposed to be planning to speak, but four of their vehicles had all of their tires slashed this morning in Mandan, North Dakota, so their vehicles are incapacitated. It just demonstrates the environment we are in right now. This letter from the Army Corps of Engineers is just a disgusting continuation of five hundred years of colonization and systemic oppression. It is absurd for us to see such a declaration the day after Thanksgiving. But that is the state of affairs that we are in. It doesn’t matter if you are Dakota, Lakota, Nueka, Sanish or Cheyenne. This is the land our ancestors are from. This is the land where our ancestors dreamed of our existence, of our songs, of our future lives. And in defense of those dreams, in defense of our ancestors we’ll stand strong. We stand strong to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth. We stand strong to defend our rights as indigenous people. We stand strong to defend our territorial treaty rights, (native language phrase). That’s the stand that we make and we continue to stand by that. This movement that you see before us is not a movement of hate. We’re just a movement of undying love for our land our people and our water. And that’s what we’re here for. And that’s what we’ll stick to. So thank you very much.
From Group: “Aho”
“(Native language introduction) I am of the Great Sioux Nation and I represent my Hocahala Lakota people. We’ve started, we dropped back Ochachi Chacona in the firey lit and there’s representatives here from all seven council fires and our biggest concern is from 1851 to 1868, 1868 our boundaries go to the Heart River just north of here. These are our lands. And we have treaty Indians here who are here to enforce that treaty and the Army Corps of Engineers, they aren’t our landlords. As it states in the treaty that us as the Oceti Sakowin, the Lakota Dakota Nankota people, we are the wardens of the land. This is our land. They can’t remove us. They need to respect our treaties and respect our rights. In violation of executive order 13 647 that Obama signed himself in 2013, they have to honor our treaty. They have to honor our rights as indigenous people. In the order, executive order 13007, we have a right to be on federal lands in which we can pray. These lands that we stand on are old Sundance lands, they’re old vision quest sites, they’re old burial sites here. We have every right to be here to protect our land and to protect our water. Aho.
From Group: “Aho”
“(Native language introduction) My name is Nick Tilson, I’m from Porcupine, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Ala Lakota, the father of four children and I’m here representing the Indigenous Peoples’ Power Project. We’ve been here since August helping with the campground ourselves and in nonviolence and in nonviolent direct action. Today we trained over three thousand people in this camp in nonviolent direct action. Because nonviolent direct action is connected to our indigenous values of prayer, and we were told in ceremonies that we needed to continue to do what we do founded in our indigenous values and founded in nonviolence and founded in prayer, if we stay nonviolent and we stay prayerful, we will win. I would like to remind Morton County and the Army Corps that we are unarmed. We’ve been unarmed. And we will continue to be unarmed. We are only armed with our prayers. We’re armed with our bodies. We’re armed with our faith that we have. We’re here to make a stand. Every time that we have done action, every time we have taken action we have done it based on these values. And we will continue to do it based on these values. But we have been met with aggression. We have been met with violence. That violence has been put upon us and this eviction notice continues to show the United States government and the Army Corps of Engineers and Morton County’s ability to escalate to a point of violence. That’s not our goal here. Our goal here is to stay peaceful, to stay prayerful, to stay focused on what we’re here for. And that is stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline. They have an option. In the next ten days we are calling for them to deny the easement. To permanently stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from treaty lands. And this camp will continue to be grounded in prayer and nonviolence and nonviolent direct action. These are strategies that different movements around the world have been taking for generations and we are borrowing from those different movements and combining them with indigenous values that we have here today. And so we ask, we ask that Morton County and the Army Corps of Engineers be honest and tell the truth when they see us coming forward, when they see us at these actions, when they see us taking a stand, that they see us in prayer, that they see us peacefully. But they have been acting aggression upon us. And so we are asking accountability for the violence that has been portrayed on our people. Our grounding in spirituality, the reason that there’s not guns in this camp, the reason why there’s not alcohol and drugs in this camp is because we don’t bring those things to Sundance. We don’t bring those things to ceremony. We don’t bring those things because it doesn’t allign with who we are. That’s how strong our commitment is here. And we understand that our ancestors are here with us, that we’re not alone. That’s who we have to be accountable to in the work that we do. It’s part of our very identity of who we are and that’s why we’re here. And we will continue to remain peaceful, we will continue to remain nonviolent and we will do it with strategy, but we want America to know that as indigenous people, we’re not victims. This movement exists here because we are powerful. Indigenous people have reclaimed power. And because we have been doing it through indigenous values.
From Group: “Aho”
Dave Archamble “I just want to thank everybody. My name is Dave Archambault with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and I want to thank everybody for their continued commitment and continued sacrifices that they are making to build awareness that is happening. When I got the letter from the Corps of Engineers, the Corps of Engineers was saying that the weather, the harsh weather is coming, so they are aware of that. And then they continue complications that are escalating between law enforcement and water protectors are becoming more and more unsafe and some serious injuries are starting to take place. So because of that, they sent the letter. If they want public safety, the best thing for the federal government to do is to deny the easement. The best thing for the government to do is to step back and really analyze what has happened. What the environmental assessment, when you look at the environmental assessment all your taking a look at is earth, when you are going into a full environmental impact statement and review what’s happening you take people into consideration and what’s happening here is the people are lost. They have taken the environment as being more important than human lives. And we have an escalating situation where safety is a concern for everybody. We need to realize that. So to stop this all what we need to do is ask the federal government ask the President of the United States to deny the easement and to continue to stand behind his words when he says he would recognize the treaties. And what I think is happening is they are giving us notice because they want to reduce, the Army Corps of Engineers want to reduce their liability when something serious happens . They’re going to reduce their liability and push it off onto somebody else. They sent this letter not just to me but to all the Great Plains tribes. All the Great Plains tribes got this letter to the responsibility of what takes place, and I’m not worried about it because I know what is happening here through prayer, through peace. As long as we continue to stay in prayer and in peace we can accomplish a lot of things in life. As long as we stay united with prayer, there’s nothing that we can’t accomplish. So it’s really important that we continue to stand together and we continue to be on the same page and put our own self interests aside and . . (unintelligible). . collective greater good for all.
From Group: “Aho”
Eagle Woman: “So today there are 748 tribal nations across 22 cities standing with Standing Rock” “Cheers” “Perhaps one of the most important things that they can do if they can’t be here is to pray. Send your prayers. The power of prayer is amazing. Whatever that looks like to you. We have the ability for people to pitch in to our cause here. By going to Stand with Standing Rock.net. Contribute to the tribe. Go to Oceti Sakowin.org and contribute to the camp. Sacred Stone Camp.org if you want to contribute to the original camp. These are places that people can go to get updated information. You can go on our Facebook pages, Indigenous Rising Media, and follow and share the reality of what’s happening. And not the propaganda that continues to be perpetuated by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department. And their violent and criminal human rights abuses against peaceful native people and our allies that are simply doing one thing: protecting life. Mni wiconi! Mni wiconi! Mni wiconi!
Thanks for sharing this, Susie!