Monthly Archives: November 2015

Cyberbullies are Cowards

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By Vi Waln

Bullying is a real problem. In fact, there are young people who have committed suicide because they grew weary of being terrorized by a bully. Yet, there are adults on the Rez who are in denial about how bullying contributes to suicide. There are also adults who deny that poverty is a factor in the choice some of our young people make to take their own lives.

I am an Unci. Yet, I make an effort to empathize with my Takoja. I try to truly understand how they feel. People my age grew up watching more incidents of heavy drinking, drugging, child abuse and neglect, as well as extreme violence and devastating sex crimes happening on our homelands. Life on the Rez is completely different from what it was forty years ago.

I was the victim of bullying when I was in elementary, middle and high school. Some of the torment came from my peers. I also remember instances when a mean adult at school was the bully. But I really don’t think I experienced anything as harsh as what goes on today with our students. People can be vicious when it comes to harassing others.

I also remember what it was like as a young person to feel completely self-conscious. When a person has low self-esteem, they will be especially self-conscious. Many of our children come from homes that lack not only the basic necessities, but are also devoid of an emotional, mental and spiritual support system. Some parents, for whatever reason, are incapable or unwilling to help their children thrive.

So, there are many children today who don’t get any positive attention at home. Many are belittled by their parents. It has to be really difficult to face each day with the knowledge that your parent doesn’t care much for you, while your peers at school all just want to torment you. For some students, suicide might be viewed as the only way out of what they think is an unbearable situation.

Technology has brought us cyberbullying. This is the coward’s way of terrorizing others. Our young people are very susceptible to online influences. There are actually people out there who create fake profiles with the goal of hurting others by bullying them online. This is one of the dark aspects of the internet.

As much as I depend on the internet to enhance my life, I wouldn’t be sorry at all to see it shut down for good, especially if it would disarm the online cowards who revel in bullying people they don’t know. If you are one of these people who hide behind a computer screen to engage in cyberbullying, you need to seek counseling because you obviously have major issues you’ve never dealt with.

We have to give hope to the young people we work with or encounter every day. On the Rez, we are also seeing many of our young people embrace both their masculine and feminine qualities. Many of our young people, as well as adults, openly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LBGT). I commend them for their courage to embrace their true selves, even though they are often tormented for doing so. We have to do more to support all of our young people to reach their full potential.

It will take all of us working together to give our young people the tools to cope with the stress, and often dismal realities, of everyday life on the Rez. The adults who deny the effects of bullying and poverty aren’t much help. Things could change when the adults make an effort to genuinely empathize with our teenagers and children. Still, it might take a long time to reach the point where the adults can truly understand the inner emotions and outer hardships our young people experience every single day.

When one young person takes their own life, others around them might catch that feeling of total hopelessness, a feeling which may have largely contributed to the suicide. The feeling of total hopelessness is very real. People affected by suicide, or those who have attempted suicide, may have experienced how it felt for those dark emotions to overwhelm their life. It’s not a good feeling.

Our personal experience growing up is no comparison to the lives our children are living today. Society has changed greatly since I was a child. Life on the Rez is markedly different from what it was like when I was growing up.

We are all affected by suicide. It is going to take a conscious effort from each one of us to change the world our children and teenagers experience. We won’t have a future if our children keep taking their own lives. Take some time to visit with the teens and children you encounter every day.

A kind word and caring demeanor can go a long way. A simple act of kindness or encouragement could be the one thing that stops a young person from taking the next step. Be a good relative.

There are no steps left for the South Dakota Public Utility Commission to take

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe established a Spirit Camp in March 2014 along the now rejected route of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. On November 6, 2015, President Obama denied TransCanada’s application for a permit to allow construction to cross the Canadian border. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe hosted a public celebration on Saturday, November 14, 2015 at the SGU Multipurpose building in Mission, SD. Photo by Vi Waln.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe established a Spirit Camp in March 2014 along the now rejected route of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. On November 6, 2015, President Obama denied TransCanada’s application for a permit to allow construction to cross the Canadian border. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe hosted a public celebration on Saturday, November 14, 2015 at the SGU Multipurpose building in Mission, SD. Photo by Vi Waln.

By Vi Waln

Kudos to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe for hosting an awesome celebration to acknowledge many of the organizations, tribal programs and countless individuals who stepped forward in the fight against the now rejected Keystone XL pipeline (KXL). It’s hard to describe the feeling of knowing you have been a part of making history. All pipeline fighters stood strong with their prayers in the battle against TransCanada. This is something our unborn generations will remember long after we are gone.

TransCanada’s monster KXL pipeline is dead. The black snake is defeated. Yet, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) stubbornly continues on with their certification process for TransCanada. Maybe TransCanada and the PUC missed something. I’m not sure if they are just uninformed or if they are just willfully wasting everyone’s time. Obviously, TransCanada and the PUC are both oblivious to the fact that President Obama denied the Presidential Permit application. Or maybe the PUC is in bed with big oil, just like a lot of other elected officials are.

Maybe we should all email or call the PUC to inform them that on November 6, President Obama stated: “After extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision.”

Those of us who live in South Dakota are really not surprised at the actions of our PUC. Many of our elected officials, as well as private citizens, are arrogant enough to carry on as if the State Department and President Obama were still considering granting a permit to TransCanada. Without the permit allowing KXL to cross an international border, the project will not happen.

The intervenors in the TransCanada permitting process, which has been under review by the PUC for several years, filed a motion to dismiss the case on November 9. They stated, in part:

Because TransCanada failed to commence construction of the Project within four years of the date of the 2010 permit. . . it was required to file a petition with the Commission
Certifying that it could continue to meet the conditions upon which the 2010 permit was
Issued. Condition No. 1 requires TransCanada to comply with all applicable laws and rules. Condition No. 2 of the 2010 permit specifically provides that Keystone shall obtain
And thereafter comply with all applicable federal, state and local permits, including but not limited to: Presidential Permit from the United States Department of State.

Still, TransCanada responded almost immediately with objections to the motion for dismissal, stating:

There are no further necessary steps for the [PUC] to take other than to decide whether to accept Keystone’s certification. . . Having elected not to respond to Keystone’s proposed findings and conclusions other than by their joint motion, the movants appear motivated to delay the ultimate disposition of this docket, which was opened on September 15, 2014, and they should not be allowed to succeed. Keystone therefore respectfully requests that the joint motion be denied and that the [PUC] act on its certification petition.
Again, President Obama denied the permit application. The action by the President of the United States should be evidence enough that there are “no further necessary steps for the Commission to take.”

Only in South Dakota will you witness elected officials deny a decision issued by the President of the United States.

Climate Justice: Black Snake Denied

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe established a Spirit Camp in March 2014 along the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama denied TransCanada’s application for a permit to allow construction to cross the Canadian border. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe will host a public celebration on Saturday, November 14 at the SGU Multipurpose building in Mission, SD. The event will begin at noon (CST). Photo by Vi Waln.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe established a Spirit Camp in March 2014 along the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama denied TransCanada’s application for a permit to allow construction to cross the Canadian border. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe will host a public celebration on Saturday, November 14 at the SGU Multipurpose building in Mission, SD. The event will begin at noon (CST). Photo by Vi Waln.

By Vi Waln

Wopila to President Obama for denying the permit which would have granted TransCanada permission to construct their Keystone XL pipeline through our homelands. There were many human beings involved in this fight over the past several years. Our prayers were answered last week when President Obama announced his decision to deny the permit.

Water is life. We have to drink water to live. The Keystone XL pipeline would have threatened our major water source. This pipeline was being proposed to be built directly over the Ogallala Aquifer. It would have also crossed countless bodies of water. This project would have affected all of us.

I remember testifying at a hearing hosted by the State Department in Pierre regarding the application for a Presidential permit. It was a scary day for me. There was a mob of roughnecks there. Those who testified in favor of the pipeline were like robots. Many grassroots people spoke up for Mother Earth that day. As we testified on behalf of our sacred Water, we were all laughed at by the fans of big oil.

So, this week many of us are thanking President Obama for denying TransCanada’s permit application. But this action would not have happened without the effort of all the pipeline fighters. Individuals and organizations came together to speak out against the construction of this project. They also deserve credit for seeing this through to the end.

Many pipeline opponents traveled to countless events and rallies to speak out against the Keystone XL pipeline. Some people who traveled all the way to Washington DC sacrificed a lot to get there. Many financed their own trips and even gave up their personal freedom by getting arrested during peaceful protests.

Farmers and ranchers who resisted easements along the path of the pipeline had their land taken away by TransCanada’s legal minions. I still don’t understand how our federal and state legislators could be in favor of eminent domain for a foreign corporation. TransCanada has obviously sold their souls for money.

The people working for TransCanada don’t act like human beings. A genuine human being will always put Mother Earth first. A real human being doesn’t sell out the entity which gives them life. The big oil corporations worship money. They have no boundaries when it comes to getting more money.

I know we all depend on money to survive but the greed demonstrated by the big oil corporations is pathetic. Our legislators from South Dakota are no better. Last week our delegation blasted President Obama for denying the permit. Those elected officials who supposedly speak for us in Washington also worship money. I am sure their campaigns were well financed by TransCanada as well as other big oil corporations.

So, I want to ask all the Lakota people who read my column to please register to vote. We have an important national election coming next year. It is imperative that we vote in people who have not only our best interests at heart, but the well-being of Mother Earth as well.

The fight against big oil is not over. You can be sure that TransCanada and other similar corporations will be groveling at the feet of those politicians who are disconnected from the Earth. The big oil executives will continue to gladly pump big money into the campaigns of the candidates who are most likely to move forward with the continued exploitation of Mother Earth.

Wopila to the Sicangu Lakota for establishing Oyate Wahacanka Woecun and for maintaining the Spirit Camp on tribal land near Ideal, SD. Many of our own people did not have faith in this spiritual effort. Our own people criticized our leaders for establishing the Spirit Camp. Yet, it was the prayers of our spiritual leaders and numerous others all over Mother Earth that helped to influence President Obama’s decision.

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A wopila prayer circle and pot luck lunch was held over the weekend at the Spirit Camp. Today, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe begins a two day celebration to honor all pipeline fighters. A meal will be served at noon (11-13-2015) at Rosebud’s Tribal Headquarters. Tomorrow (11-14-2015) a public event will take place at the Sinte Gleska University Multipurpose building in Mission, SD. A meal will be served at noon. All are welcome to attend.

Wopila to all of you who prayed for this pipeline project to be stopped. I encourage our Lakota people to register and vote during the 2016 Presidential election. Thank you for your continued prayers on behalf of Mother Earth.