How Native am I?

So, I’m out at the 4-or-more day protest (Tues-Fri) on the DC mall (not a shopping mall, rather a monument mall)  with the Native Americans and others protesting the North Dakota Access Pipeline – the water protectors.  A day late setting up my tent among the tee-pees because I was out in the field collecting and testing water samples from various streams and rivers. That, and the fact, that probably like many of my Native American brothers and sisters, I was trying to figure out whether I had enough money to spend on the trip and medical supplies for my diabetes. I ended up spending my last $10 on the trip after I found some extra supplies stored away.

We are about 10 big tee-pees out here, and my little tent. The tee-pees seem small compared to the National Monument

– the tent even smaller…

With Native cultural events, and speakers, and a march planned to lobby Congress on Friday, it should be good company. The march plans to leave at the Army Corps of Engineers near G St and Massachussetts at 10 am Friday, and finish at Lafayette square with a rally at 12 noon.

On a beautiful day, I sit in a grove of trees – many of the trees poetically protected by a sitter.

So, why care about the Dakota Access Pipeline?
1) First and foremost, it is indigenous sacred land. The small community of people in North Dakota who cared endured unbearable hardship as a small frozen community to say “No” to access for this pipeline. It violated ancient Indian treaties. What happened to the Indians in this country is a tragedy that is beyond words. They, and the natural abundance of wildlife associated with them, are truly on the edge, communities that are almost voiceless in the stand-off with a culture racing for MORE, MORE, MORE.

2) If you don’t care about the Indians or wildlife, then there is additionally the question of water and what happens to it when it gets polluted. Some people seem to think that pollution is no big deal. Just get someone to bring the water back up to spec with some costly system – water treatment, more chemicals, etc. It is abundantly clear to me, as someone living in a community that has had water problems, that “putting more chemicals in the water” to “make it ‘alright’ to drink” is not a solution that can solve every water contaminant. Most aren’t easily detectable. And then there is the wildlife…how are they going to survive when the water becomes so polluted? Look at the chemical disasters that have occurred with pesticides, and other agents that the EPA is charged with cleaning up. The massive fish kills in Florida and other areas, whole flocks of birds exterminated when they land on fields that are contaminated and flooded and migrate. It is never just a local problem.

3) CANCER.  Your groundwater is very likely connected to someone else’s who is dumping carcinogens into the water.  If your kids swim in streams, participate in river sports, etc.  they are being exposed at a level that will affect them a few years up the road.  The horrific tragedy is that it is “the Indian way” to simply  gather water in their hand and drink it – a belief that their body is somehow protected against most external threats that seem so foreign to them, like chemicals injected into water.

4) If it isn’t abundantly clear to everyone by now, we ARE accountable for how we treat others and the environment.  Being born or living in a rich country that can have as much as it wants does not translate into unaccountability.  There will be a tab.  Learn to say “no” when someone is hurt by your excesses – especially if they are voiceless.


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