Monthly Archives: August 2016

Human Love: A Formidable Weapon

Robin Meade

HLN’s Morning Express with Robin Meade reported that people gathered near the Missouri River were “armed with weapons and pipe bombs.” Photo from Facebook.

By Vi Waln

I never wanted to be a journalist. The word “journalist” always conjured images of those paparazzi types with huge cameras chasing people or sneaking around to get photos. Journalists were always in the way or in close proximity to someone’s face. It didn’t seem like a very attractive way to share information.

There are unethical reporters taking information and running in the wrong direction with it. Many won’t bother to do any fact checking on the reports they get. Instead, they rush to their computer to create an often embellished account of what happened to share with the world. Consequently, dramatic reports of events will boost newspaper sales and draw readers to websites, even when the accounts are not true.

This is what happened last week when Kyle Kirchmeier, who serves as North Dakota’s Morton County Sheriff, was depicted in a video stating people were “preparing to throw pipe bombs at our line.” He was referring to the now thousands of human beings gathered to peacefully stand against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). He called the gathering “an unlawful protest.”

In addition, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page, the officers’ “top priority in monitoring activity involving the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline is to keep everyone safe, including those involved in any demonstrations. While officers have not seen weapons present in any of the protests, we have received information and heard mentions of the use of weapons. We treat these reports as viable threats and will take them seriously in order to ensure the safety of all individuals.

The key words here are “officers have not seen weapons present in any of the protests.” Yet, the Morton County Sheriff made a conscious choice to pass along hearsay to national media outlets. This isn’t the way to “keep everyone safe.” Rumors like this are dangerous.

National media outlets quickly picked up the comment about pipe bombs and distributed the information worldwide. Still, they had no reason not to believe Sheriff Kirchmeier because, after all, he is a law enforcement officer. Obviously, news reports are not always accurate; spreading misinformation, like the embellished report from the Morton County Sheriff, is very risky.

Many people believe everything they read or see in mainstream media. That is, it was on the news so it must be true! For example, HLN’s popular Morning Express with Robin Meade show reported that protestors were “armed with weapons and pipe bombs,” This national television report was watched by millions of viewers, thanks to the skewed information put out there by Sheriff Kirchmeier.

The distortion of media reports last week is similar to the frenzied accounts about Indigenous people during the 19th century. Army officials and media outlets in the 1800s were quick to spread false information about our ancestors. This was especially true during the time of the Ghost Dance, which was a gathering of prayer. Sadly, these unfounded reports resulted in the killing of our ancestors. Tribal leaders, elders, women and children were mercilessly murdered, and often mutilated, by military forces.

Consequently, human emotion is based in either love or fear. What we saw in the news last week was fear-based. It’s a fact that many non-Indians still fear the world’s Indigenous people. They cannot comprehend our spirituality or the level we pray at (remember the Ghost Dance?) and it provokes their innermost fears. As a result of this fear, many angry or disparaging comments have been posted on social media and internet news outlets about the human beings gathered along the Missouri River.

When a person feels fear, they will often react with anger. Many people will deny being afraid; they would rather admit to anger. So, underlying all these reports of violence is a great fear of the peaceful group gathered to protect our Mni Wiconi.

When dealing with people who are afraid, we have to respond with love and prayer, instead of more fear and anger. When people remain calm in the face of adversary, it confuses an angry opponent. Many don’t know how to stay calm, especially when they haven’t dealt with their own inner fears of what the “wild Indians” are capable of. They expect people to react with the same emotion they do. It totally baffles them when others won’t give in to anger.


Water defenders demonstrated at the North Dakota capitol last week. Photo from Facebook.

In reality, the human beings gathered in support of our Mni Wiconi are only “armed” with love, prayer and song. Many are praying with their Cannunpa. The sage, cedar and sweet grass are being used to enhance the prayers for our Water of Life. The big drum is an instrument to spread our love for Water of Life throughout the universe with prayer songs.

Those of us who can’t travel to the camp really appreciate all the reports from the people there! Millions of social media users continue to watch and share the daily events reported from the growing camps near Standing Rock. Your relatives at home look forward to all the social media status updates, photos and video from the front lines. Keep sharing!

Be strong relatives, continue to walk your inner peace. Resist anger. Do not take on the fear of the wasicu. Contrary to the reports of violent acts against our people in the 19th century, which often took weeks or months to reach people in faraway places, today the whole world is watching. Law enforcement, government officials and DAPL know they are being watched by human beings all over Mother Earth.

Human love is a formidable weapon. Water has memory and will remember our powerful prayers. The human beings gathered to protect our Mni Wiconi flowing in the Missouri River are examples of what being a good ancestor looks like. Our most powerful weapons we can use to protect our Mni Wiconi are love, prayer and song. Wopila Tanka!


Oil Pipelines Are An Act of Terrorism

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Photo courtesy of Unicornriot.Ninja. Used with permission

By Vi Waln

Kudos to Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II for being a leader willing to sacrifice his personal freedom to protect our Mni Wiconi (Water of Life). He was arrested by police last week when he joined other activists gathered to protect the Missouri River from the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Several other Standing Rock Lakota people were also arrested, including Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle and Tribal Council Representative Dana Yellow Fat. These brave Lakota leaders stood strong in protection of our Mni Wiconi. Wopila Tanka!

Human beings who are disconnected from life giving elements are like an empty shell. That is, they are unable to comprehend why other human beings are adamant in defending Mother Earth. The ignorance of these people prevents them from understanding the importance of our Mni Wiconi. Their ignorance is dangerous.

All human beings are Children of Mother Earth. We are all dependent upon nature’s elements to survive. Our survival is threatened when our life giving elements are the target for exploitation by big profit-making corporations.

When a lost Italian happened upon the east coast in 1492, our world was forever changed. The rush of immigrants to “America” was the beginning of an ongoing rape of Mother Earth. The immigrants who arrived by boat over 500 years ago were determined to possess the land, as well as all the elements meant to sustain Mother Earth and humanity.

As they made their way west, a major intent was to stake a claim on land. It was extremely rude the way they just showed up to push us all aside so they could try to possess the land. There was absolutely no concern for our ancestors who lived upon this Turtle Island since the beginning of time.

When an element with the potential to bring in cash is “discovered,” the immigrants inevitably set out to exploit it. For instance, our ancestors watched as the Black Hills Gold Rush of 1874 caused the desecration of the sacred HeSapa by immigrants looking to get rich. Today, gold, timber and other minerals are still being robbed from HeSapa by the immigrant’s descendants.

It’s always been about money for these immigrants. Money is their God. Today, the rush is for oil. Big corporations, who have no concept of Mitakuye Oyasin, want to extract all the oil from Mother Earth to sell for a profit.

The construction of oil pipelines, such as the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline, provide temporary jobs for roughnecks. Consequently, the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota and other Indigenous activists of Mother Earth are continually being accused of trying to take jobs away when they stand up to defend the Water of Life. Profit seeking corporations, along with the roughnecks they employ, have no concept of how crucial water is to humanity. Their actions prove they will always choose money over life.

Indigenous activists aren’t trying to take anyone’s livelihood away. Grassroots activists standing on the front lines understand how crucial water is to our survival. All of us want to guarantee that our unborn generations have an abundance of good, clean water to drink. Many of us pray for the water every single day of our lives. The people standing on the front lines opposing oil pipeline construction are there for all of humanity’s unborn generations.

Many Lakota-Dakota-Nakota people, as well as other Indigenous activists, are being told to go back to the reservation. Those who want us to stay confined within the reservation boundaries are obviously not aware of the Treaty law our people still recognize. We are Children of Mother Earth. Many of us have never recognized the imaginary land boundaries created by the wasicu. We are all responsible to protect the health and well-being of Mother Earth.

Today, some of us depend on the underground aquifers for our water. Also, when the Mni Wiconi Rural Water System was established several years ago, it provided clean drinking water via the Missouri River to many people living on South Dakota reservations. Our entire water system is now being threatened by oil pipelines.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a plan to build an oil transfer system under the Missouri River near Cannonball, North Dakota. We’ve all seen the reports of oil pipelines bursting, leaking or exploding. An oil pipeline under the Missouri River threatens all the human beings who depend on the river for their water. Animals and plant life also use the river as their water source.

Oil pipelines are an act of terrorism. Still, the quest for a cash profit apparently outweighs the risk of contaminated water for those who are blindly obsessed with fattening their bank accounts. As Children of the Earth, it is our duty to speak out and stand up for our elements, especially our Mni Wiconi.

Contrary to popular opinion amongst many non-Indians, activists and other Indigenous people are not trying to take anything back, we only want our descendants to have equal access to the necessities of life. Water is a necessity. Water is Life.

Once our water systems are all contaminated in the rush for cash, the game is over. Life will be done. We, along with Mother Earth, will die without water.

Please support the activists who are working to protect the Missouri River near Standing Rock. They are there to guarantee a future for our descendants. They are the epitome of being a good ancestor. There are many ways to support this effort to protect the water, including prayer.

In the on-going global war against terrorism, government officials display great ignorance as they overlook Mni Wiconi as our major source of life. Our water must be protected. Again, this human ignorance will be the death of our planet. The continued terrorist attacks by big oil corporations who want to build their dangerous pipelines over, under and through our water sources must stop.

Pray for your water every single day. Without water, there is no life.