Open Letter to My Senator

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Dear Senator Tim Johnson,

I am writing an open letter in response to your announcement of retirement on March 26, 2013.  I had always had hope when you were elected and in office.  Many times in your career as our Senator, you came forward and stood up for the Native American population of the state of South Dakota.  One can not count how many times you stepped up to help the reservations out.  And the Lakota paid you back in your race for your seat against John Thune in 2004.  While Thune and his campaign people were getting ready to celebrate, the votes from Shannon County, the Pine Ridge Reservation were counted, and you were re-elected by 524 votes.  Shocking Thune’s people.

You sat on many committees that were very important to the lives of Native Americans, not only in South Dakota, but in America.  The Appropriations Committee, The Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, The Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and The Indian Affairs Committee.  Your dedication on this link proves how hard you have worked for us.  Even after your health scare, which sent a scare throughout Indian Country.

I am grateful for your hard work and I am grateful for your dedication.  You were our only hope sometimes being the last Democrat in office in our state.  You were our voice.

So when you signed your support for the Keystone XL pipeline, I was so disappointed in your backing of the pipeline that threatens the future of our people.  Not only as Native Americans but as South Dakotans, and as humans.

I understand your wishes for retirement.  As you stated you are 68 years old, you have run 36 years without defeat and feel it is time to spend with your grandchildren.  However, as important as your grandchildren are, I was shocked that you could sign a bill that could eventually poison their drinking water.

I was in disbelief, I put so much hope in you based on your past records, and now it feels as if you don’t care or didn’t care, or ask myself why you stopped?

I feel sold out.  Like none of my votes were ever appreciated.

The Keystone XL pipeline is the beginning of the end of a way of life that includes clean drinking water.  Which should be a right to everyone, like clean air.  The pipeline bust in Arkansas proves that it is not safe and the fact that the media won’t cover it shows how far the government will go to protect the oil companies.

I can’t help but to think of the old saying that what we do here on Earth affects the next seven generations and I seriously hope we can put a stop to the pipeline, ourselves, since our Senators and other elected officials are doing what they can to help Big Oil and the top 1%.  Since so many of our elected officials have investments in Canadian oil, our voices will not be heard by those we put in office.  I pray the people have the power to stop this, because seven generations from now, my people will still be here.  Grandchildren that I won’t meet but love enough today to fight for their water tomorrow, for their land.

Have a good retirement, Senator Johnson, enjoy your time with your grandchildren.

I will continue to fight for the rights of the grandchildren I have yet to meet.

From a Lakota Mother.

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