No Water Challenge

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When I read comments from non Natives regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline, it is kind of shocking to me how much people disregard water.  In fact, a few online friends of mine shocked me last year when they said they don’t even like water.  They hated the way it tasted, etc.  I of course, after getting over my disbelief went into a rant about how someday water will be more precious than anything.  That is something that was taught to me by my grandfather, taught to him by his grandfather.  The Lakota prophecy that dates back at least 300 years talks of all the water turning black someday.  It says by the time white people realize how precious water is, it will be too late.  People in North Dakota are so quick to defend oil and disregard water, as if oil is needed more than water.  They are quick to throw their railroad workers under the train in order to put pipeline down without once thinking what they would do without water, how they would live.   As Native people, we know the power of water, we know water can save our lives.  Water can also in huge force take a whole village out in a flood.  There is power in water, we are made of water which is why when it is sacrificed in ceremony for 4 days by Natives, it is done in a constant state of prayer in the hot sun.  Water is used in every aspect of our lives, we know that it is our first medicine.  Which is why hundred of tribes have come together in this fight for water.  This is the challenge I issued on facebook.

~~~~THE NO WATER CHALLENGE~~~

There have been many challenges on Facebook and in social media that have gone viral. This one doesn’t involve water. Being that so many politicians, corporations, and the average caucasian North Dakotan thinks that water is not important, here is the challenge. You can not have anything to do with water for 24 hours. This means no flushing a toilet, no washing your face, no drinking anything with water. No eating any portion that needed water to sustain it, no eating any crop that had anything to do with water. No drinking anything that needed water to make, being that everything has water in it including soda, about the only thing on this list is oil. No brushing your teeth, showering, or even going fishing. No going on a boat, no going swimming, no washing your clothes, no water in your life for 24 hours. I realize this is impossible for mostly everyone. Mostly everyone does not know that water is given up for 4 days and nights in the summer time during ceremony by the very same people who are fighting to protect their water. Not everyone participates in that ceremony but even those who don’t are in the prayers of those that do make the sacrifice. If you think you are ok without sacred water, then take this challenge. I realize not even the strongest man or woman can do this or even the richest, however, should you decide to take it, post it. Let us know truthfully how many minutes or hours you lasted. It is impossible. Let’s hear it North Dakotans, you think water is nothing, do it.

#NOWATERCHALLENGE #NODAPL #WATERISLIFE

Of course I didn’t expect anyone to actually do it.  I only wanted them to think about it.  Then I had a friend of mine step in who is non-native.  I was thinking this was a good thing because most of us Natives know of someone or maybe have sacrificed water on their own in ceremony before.  My own brother did and I remember him telling me the fasting of food for four days is not what got to him, it was the thirst for water.  He said every cell in his body could think of nothing else but water for the whole four days.  So when my friend Brooke said she would try it the one clause, was her cat and if she had plants did not have to suffer her challenge because they didn’t take on the challenge.  Animals and plants already know the importance of water, even more so than most humans.  (This is why one elder told me the plant world stands in constant prayer.)  So Brooke lives in Florida, works in the health field, and decided to do the challenge on her day off.  I will tell you about her day according to her notes.  

Brooke woke up at 9am and her first thought was water.  How normally she would shower and drink water, brush her teeth, etc.  She used the bathroom to urinate but did not flush the toilet.  It bothered her to not wash her hands because she works in the health field she is constantly washing her hands all day.  She thought about breakfast but had nothing to eat that did not use water to make.  She broke down at 1:20 pm and made coffee because of a dependence on caffeine.  Her challenge at that point was over, but she tried to keep going.  Her mind was constantly on water wondering if she could eat the bananas outside but being they used rainwater to grow, they still involved water.  At 2:10pm she started doing laundry for the work week but her electricity went out, showing her again, how important water was.  At 3:00pm she finally broke down and drank a glass of water and tapped out completely.  She lasted 4 hours and 20 minutes without water.  Another hour without needing it to clean and another hour before her thirst took over.  I asked her if she was bored without water.  She said yes, it was such a distraction it was all she could think about, not being able to concentrate on anything else.  She said she felt spoiled by having access to water constantly and she realized why there is a fight for clean water going on.  

I think of the children in Africa who get their water from mud puddles, I think of the power of water in lands that are shrinking due to melting glaciers, I think of the power of water in tsunamis.  I think of water all the time and how the Lakota prophecy predicted that one day it will be more precious than anything.  I think of the people on my reservation who still live with no running water.  I think of the people in North Dakota who are too clueless to realize the fight for oil is about money.  The fight for water is about life.  Because water is our first medicine.  Water is life.  Mni Wiconi.  We can not live without water.

Anpetu wanji mni ki iyota otehinka kte lo!- Lakota Prophecy

(One day, water will be more precious than anything.)

The fight for water, the fight for oil.

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photo courtesy BBC.com

 

Another Veteran’s Day has come and gone and we were all subjected to commercials, tv shows, news stories, listening to the honor ceremonies at football stadiums, all the tearful and sad stories of our young women and men who are overseas “fighting for our freedom.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing them.  Many of my ancestors have gone to war for this government and they all came back different, wounded, and PTSD.  Many died before their time due to these circumstances and issues that happened because of them.  I know the government recruits in poverty stricken areas, I have seen them come to our reservation offering opportunities of a lifetime to our youth when I was in high school and everyone was scared of Saddam Hussein.  Many of my classmates signed up, served and came home.  Some took advantage of the college opportunity but most came back to the same impoverished reservation to live as they had before, poor.

I believe they went over with a warrior mentality.  I believe in our Lakota ways and this warrior mentality is in our DNA.  They deserve thanks and gratitude for serving and being warriors when they had to even though they came home to the same situation and the healthcare with the VA is no better than our IHS healthcare.

The government screwed them over, but I still believe in our warriors.

Even though the “fight for freedom” was really a fight for our oil companies and the whole war started an ongoing war with countries that never had weapons of mass destruction and terror cells and new terrorist groups formed from this.  My children, the oldest age 23 have never known a time of peace.

But there is a new war on the horizon, funded only by grass roots.  It is getting so huge it is now a global movement.  It started growing in April of 2016 as a gathering but the NoDAPL disagreement between the tribe and Energy Transfer Partners out of Dallas Texas has been ongoing for two years over the 3.8 billion dollar pipeline.  It also brought together not only the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) for the first time in a gathering since Custer went down, but tribes from close to 500 nations and Indigenous people from as far as New Zealand, Hawaii, and all over the world.  Not to mention many different nationalities, and people from all different sides of like, cops, veterans, artists, musicians, politicians, teachers, medics, cooks, etc.

The water protectors went to help their brothers and sisters at Standing Rock to fight for water and the sacred land that is being desecrated by big oil companies.  The same big oil companies the U.S. Government protects by recruiting youth in impoverished areas of the country with promise of opportunities of a better life and to join the “fight for freedom.”

The same government who is funding the law enforcement of North Dakota to use military tactics on the peaceful water protecters who are using non violent direct action to protect the water and land.  While the people at the Standing Rock NoDAPL gathering are being funded by crowdfunding that is sometimes a dollar at a time and donations of food and water and supplies.

So while last week everyone remember those who “fought for freedom” everywhere and thanked them for protecting us way overseas.  I would like to thank the water protecters who left their homes and are there everyday, because the fight for water is something that will help us live for many generations and the fight for oil is something that will only help the rich get richer.

MNI GLONUCA WOPILA!!

(Thank you Water Protecters)

The river at Standing Rock, photo by Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle, water protecter.

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To get involved or donate please go to http://www.sacredstonecamp.org

 

Recognition of Stillness

10380577_10152161332212307_186872873047761594_o Pic I took fishing on the back channels of the Mississippi River.

A friend from Chicago was telling me about how he watched a coyote carrying her pup across the freeway and thought she was safe when she was only in between the two freeways so she kept going.  A car hit her and it caused a pile up.  He said “Something must be wrong with me, I was more worried about her than the human aspect, but humans are in such a hurry.”  He then went on to tell me how fast people drive there.

 

People drive too fast everywhere, they don’t appreciate their surroundings, the drive, the world going by.  They want to get from point A to point B to point C without recognizing the way.  There is a belief about the relevance of time, the more you are in a hurry, the faster time goes by.  It makes sense when you think of how in a hurry you are to be a grown up and get away from your parents, (which by the way, you really never do.) Time takes forever to become an adult and have the ability to make your own decisions.  When you get there you realize that comes with responsibilities, namely, bills.  So thus, the rat race from point A to point C to hustle around, break speed limits, pay bills, have children, buy diapers, feed a family.  

 

Next thing you know you are middle age, sitting somewhere with faint gray in your hair,  staring at the way the sun shines off a single blade of grass as it blows in a gentle wind.  And you are wondering how you never saw something like that before, you never recognized the beauty of sunshine, grass, wind, the world.  No recognition of stillness.  No appreciation for life, because the mistake was the American dream, driving a nice car, making sure your kids had what they didn’t need, keeping up with the Jones, and all that.

 

When I recently moved back to Minnesota, my brother had told me of three sisters who were bridesmaids in their brother’s wedding.  They were on their way to the bridal shower and were running late.  So in January in Minnesota, they made the choice to speed and pass a car less than a mile from their destination. They were hit by an oncoming car and all three died.  No matter how late they were, they would have still made it.  People are always in a hurry.  I have been in two car accidents in my life, I was never the driver and alcohol was never the factor.  It was ice.  Both my friends at the time had underestimated the ice on the road and their ability to control the car they were driving on ice.  Both were in a hurry and sped up when I told them there was no hurry.  I remember spinning on the ice and the accidents being over in a blink of an eye.  Both times, snow blessed me with a longer life because it stopped me from rolling one time and going over an embankment another time.  Anyone who has ever been in a car accident can tell you that as fast as the accident happens, in the car time stands still almost.  A thousand thoughts go through your head.  Who will take care of my kids?  I’m not wearing my seat belt.  God, please forgive me for all the bad things I have done?  I am so happy my youngest didn’t ride with us.  Who will take care of my kids?  I don’t have my seatbelt on!  I told her to slow down.  Who will take care of my kids? God please help me.  I’m not wearing a seat belt.  I should have stayed home.  Thank God Stephon wasn’t with me, his dad wanted me to take him.  God save me.  I still have dreams.

I remember seeing the snowy landscape fly by and other cars moving out of our way as we spun, I remember seeing my kids faces, and I remember grabbing my friends’ hands as if forgiving them for speeding.  

It was as if in the middle of spinning on an icy road, in the quick minute it took, I had a recognition of stillness, and I have heard others I talked to about being in car accidents describe the same moment.  Don’t ask me how it happened to me twice.  I know I can’t drive on ice.  If you know me, you know I don’t like driving.
We live in a world that spins 25,000 miles in 24 hours, that is 1,042 miles an hour, through space and we hardly ever take time to recognize the stillness by watching the stars, the moon rise, the sunset.  I wrote this just to tell you that our time is precious.  Appreciate every minute, it goes by in a flash so there is no need to rush.  Love life and every person you have in it.  Only you can guarantee that you will appreciate your time here because your time is not guaranteed.  Take time out to recognize the stillness and beauty and drive safe, always.

Go child,

It is bittersweet to leave the reservation.

The home you are so familiar with

You see news from home and feel guilt by association

It is the only place you have ever known

That has been the one place you can call home

There is that feeling when you leave

It is for the best you want to believe

You hope that is what others perceive

You don’t want to be that “City Indian”

That feels guilt within

But then you see your friends dying

You see their grandmothers crying

You see tribal council talking in circles

They wear their Indian print shirts and get real verbal

Break promises like the government taught them

Talk about what can’t be done instead of what can

Yes, you feel guilty when you leave the reservation

But go child, and get that education

Because the only way you can help your people

Is when you learn to fly like an eagle

Home will always be there

Waiting for those who care

Go child, do what you have to do

Generations depend on you

Your ancestors are proud of you

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other Issues Tribe

You ever notice when someone is fighting for something in Indian country, there are always those who say, “We have more important issues to worry about, like diabetes, alcoholism, etc.”

I call these people “the Other Issues tribe”.  They get angry that people want to protect our water, saying the world is full of water.  They do not stop to think of the water restrictions California is going through or how much water people buy.  Not even thinking is the mni wiconi water that is piped in actually safe to drink with all the fracking going on in North Dakota.

It angers the Other Issues tribe when people are against the Redskins mascot, we have other things to worry about.  People are homeless.  This is true, people are homeless.  We have homeless people in Whiteclay, Rapid City, and on the rez.  These homeless people have feelings though.  They appreciate a warm meal and a hello.  They do not like to be talked down to, stereotyped, or disrespected.  They are human, they had dreams as youth too, something just went wrong in their lives to get them where they are.  I can bet you not one homeless person would take being called a redskins in stride.  It would anger them too.  If we allow ourselves to be characterized and stereotyped as a cartoon and thing of the past, how can we get respect for all of us now?  

The Other Issues tribe also don’t like anyone fighting about costumes or women dressing up in skanky fake leather dresses and chicken feather war bonnets.  We have other issues to worry about, children are being abused and our women raped.  This is true, at a higher rate per capita than any other culture.  If we don’t let the world know our women and children are sacred how do we expect them to respect us with these costumes out there?  This needs to be taught at home also, our own males need to be taught not to rape, instead we teach the women how not to get raped.  If costumes are not a big deal, then I suggest you take your child to that section of the store, see how looking at them makes them feel.  It’s an uncomfortable, ugly feeling.

There are many things we are fighting for in Indian Country.  Many issues, too many to list here.  We are clearly a people powerful enough to fight these.  To say we should focus on one thing is insulting to our intelligence and strength as a people.  We should encourage anyone who takes a stand for something.   I’m starting to think the ones with issues are the Other Issues tribe.  

Be good to each other, we’re all related.  And when a Lakota says that, we mean it.  

We call it Wannabe

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The whole Rachel Dolezal incident blew up over the internet and social media these past few days.  A white girl who tanned herself, permed her hair, and claimed African American heritage so far as to use that status to get jobs.  The country is fascinated with this story, fascinated with how it could happen, and fascinated with the black community’s reaction.  Some people are forgiving and compassionate, comparing her to transexual Caitlyn Jenner a/k/a Bruce Jenner.  They are saying she is “transracial.”  Which many are arguing, does exist.  My only argument is it becomes the term of 2015 like YOLO was back in 2011.  Or was that 2012?

Anyway, in Indian country we have already dealt with these situations, many times.  So many people are fascinated with our culture, they claim our heritage, even without being hunka-ed into someone’s already huge tiyospaye.  There was the chick who got her 15 minutes of fame on Fox and Friends by saying she was a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and speaking on behalf of us saying she was honored to be called a redskin, although she looked like she never saw the light of day.  Until the tribe gave her the big shaft and came out saying she was never a member.  To which point she turned it around saying they rejected her membership.  Apparently her grandfather was a Chief, which must be the new improved version of your grandmother being an Indian princess.  Which is crazy, if they really knew Indian grandmothers, they are queens who rule and can rock the world.

There are also people who assume one person throwing a star quilt on them makes them an honorary member of our tribe, like that Little White Bird chick who tried to get rich quick off writing a book on how horrible our reservation is, how horrible she was treated there, all the while how much she loves our reservation and even has the nerve to go around to small colleges on the East Coast lecturing about our way of life and how it is to be Indian, when she was there for only six months.

There are others whose stars have risen as they were the faces and voices of Indian America, like Ol’ Iron Eyes Cody.  Who could forget his one tear drop as he sees trash blowing on his Hollywood reservation.  Yet, he never once gets off that high horse to pick any of that trash, just lets one tear drop fall in the dramatic fashion of some intoxicated relative who is going away for the night to sit 8 hours in jail.  Then it comes out he was Italian!!  If his needed to shed tears for anything it should be the fact that his Italian homie ol Christopher Columbus is the reason this land is trashed!

Either way, mis-appropriation of Natives is nothing new, there is never national shock over it.  In fact people are shocked at us when we get mad at people portraying to be us.  It happens on a daily basis to us.  Our heritage is by our ancestry, not because we want to suffer or be victims.  Our ancestry is documented and Native Americans are the only ones who can tell you their family tree going over a hundred years back.  We have to because of the rights set in place by our treaties.  This is why we must continue the fight for our treaty rights, so no one can claim what is rightfully ours.  It is not called being selfish, it is hanging onto what we have left in a government that took everything else from us.  Stole everything from us.  So when we are upset by false claims of our culture, it is because it is all we have left.
See in Indian Country, it was never called “transracial”, we call it “wannabe”

Unless you have tasted it

I have never eaten key lime pie.  I probably never will.  I have seen it made on tv, it has a weird testure to me, is it lime?  Is it pudding?  Or like a cheesecake?  I don’t know.  I have seen the recipe but never took the time to notice how it is made to give it that strange texture.  I have seen people order it but I look away because honestly, key lime pie makes me uncomfortable.  So I can honestly say, I have never “experienced” key lime pie.  It may be a flavor of yogurt I buy for my daughter and even though the picture on the front depicts key lime pie, it is in fact, not key lime pie.  The funny thing is I have nothing against limes.  They are great for seasoning and I even like limeade, just not the pie.

So in saying that and admitting that, I can only tell you what I do know.

You can not really talk to people about racism if you never experienced it.  You can not preach to people on how to handle racism if you have only read about it.  There are people, like me, like my children, like my family, like my friends, and relatives, and relatives of relatives who experience racism sometimes on a daily basis, to the point where we get jaded to it.  Where a cashier will throw the change at us instead of handing it to us, or a salesperson will follow us around, or we will be waited on last in a restaurant and being jaded, we will think “Oh that person doesn’t like Indians.”  And we will hold our heads high and walk away knowing that we didn’t steal, we didn’t react, we didn’t give the best tip we could’ve because in the state of South Dakota racism against Native Americans is rampant.

I no longer read the hateful comments on social media pages that add fuel to the fire of racism.  I don’t need to be affected because someone called us “those people” or put our people down because I know how wonderful of people we are.

However racism against our children is another thing and I will speak out, or write about it for that matter.  And when someone living in Hidden Valley Ranch (fictional place), California wants to tell me how racism affects the white people around her because “blacks attack them” or tell me how I should humbly and quietly fight racism by loving everyone, then I will tell her in her blue eyes that she should live a day in the life of a Lakota person in South Dakota.

Do not talk to a people who are being affected by racism, who are looking for solutions, who are hoping for change, who won’t be quiet about it because children were assaulted like you know what is best for them and their people.  We don’t like “crying racism” we do what we can to fight it.

If you even experienced racism once, you have a small, tiny few seconds of a view into our lives.

We will never be quiet about it because South Dakota is Lakota land and we are not going anywhere except up in population and up in doing great things to make lives better for our children.

I don’t even like pie, I love cheesecake though.

http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/article_9b65b4f5-9270-51bb-bafe-e1953d8cfdda.html