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Indigenous Rights Now!

Indigenous Rights Now: Protect the Missouri River from Toxic Corporate Exploits at Standing Rock

The Standing Rock Water Protectors at the Dakota Access Pipe Line are standing in action for their universal rights of clean fresh water and healthy, intact ecosystems. This is the most important cause of our times. It should be the forefront issue today and it should be supported by us all. What is more important than clean water and a clean habitat to support our very existence and wellbeing in all communities? The brave Water Protectors are taking action with their living presence, standing on the land that they belong to, their life-sustaining bioregion, standing up for their rights as they’ve had to do for the five hundred plus years since colonization began in the Americas. Imperialism, colonization and now globalization have been disenfranchising and displacing all of our indigenous cultures systematically for more than 500 years and still continues today. All of us were indigenous at one point in our more or less recent ancestral past, and the displacement of our ancestors from their natural ways in the Web of Life should be burning in all of our veins right now.

The mechanisms of colonization, (the domination and control of one people over another) consist of propaganda and programming to assimilate all into industrial consumer culture or perish. However, the exact opposite is true. Indigenous languages and cultures are encoded with crucial technologies and information that the human being needs to flourish in a profoundly reciprocal relationship with the natural world and the intricate Web of Life we belong to. It is the industrial growth machine and consumerist culture taking over all of the world’s land, habitats, and resources for corporate profits and for the “growth” of our national economies that is killing us. There is no economy without the natural economy. Destroying resources without replenishing them means they will end. If we destroy all of our natural resources and destroy the intricate web of relationships that we are intrinsically connected to, we are destroying life, we are destroying our own habitat, and we are destroying ourselves.

We live in times, now, when corporations have systems in place and legal backing to exploit and damage the world’s natural resources: our water, our land, our atmosphere, our natural food supplies, and our natural habitats at unprecedented, alarming rates. In the face of this voracious, daily destruction to pristine environments and ecosystems cultivated over thousands of years and disappearing almost over night, one does not have to be a scientist to see how the Industrial Growth Society is impacting our planet and its carrying capacity to the point of no return if we do not change our ways right now.

Money (and consumerism) has become a middle man between us and our direct relationship with the natural world. We are far too dependent, now, on governing institutions and consumer corporations to provide for our livelihood and our basic needs for survival in our our western societies. We all know that the industrial growth machine is destroying ecosystems and natural resources rapidly right under our noses, but we are compliant by our addiction to the excessive, wasteful, and often empty lifestyle it affords us. As consumers, we enjoy unlimited distractions in the form of fancy consumer products, planned for obsolescence, that provide us fleeting, momentary pleasures, and as we lose interest in each one, successively, we look for the next new shiny thing to capture our attention-deficit fancies and then these materials, once trees and minerals in a living breathing ecosystem, end up thrown-away into exponentiating wastelands of landfills, mummified, not feeding-back into, or nourishing, the natural system and life-cycles from which they came. Through industrialization, consumer culture, and the unjust institution of private property, modern, industrial humans have stepped out of the natural checks and balances of a healthy ecosystem that keep everything thriving in balance and in relationship with everything and everyone else. We feel comfortable and powerless in the face of this grand issue, which fuels our desire to buy more stuff so we can assuage the “pain” for one more day, “check out,” and escape mentally from having any responsibility in the situation.


“The Earth is our Grandmother and the water is her blood.”

Indigenous people consider water sacred because they recognize how tremendously important it is to everyone and everything in the land, in the entire ecosystem. AND it is particularly sacred if it is scarce! Our indigenous people have the least agency as a people in America and many, therefore, have the least access to safe, clean water. Water must remain clear, clean, pristine and accessible for all of the multitudes of creatures that depend on it both human and more than human. Indigenous people recognize that all of the creatures in the ecosystem are also sacred, each having an important contribution to the health of the collective environment. All creatures and humans require a clean healthy environment to be healthy and we are losing these healthy environments. Humans and animals everywhere are getting sick and cancer rates are up. Now how can our health be less important than the conquests of a dying petroleum industry and one company’s desire for profits? How is it that we can ignore the water protectors standing for this universal message while the state police of North Dakota gasses them, grenades them, and beats them down? The corporations stand to make tremendous amounts of money which they will then contribute generously to the political figures that support their interests so that at all costs to the environment and also to the people of that land, big business keeps winning, destroying river after river and bioregion after bioregion, leaving wastelands in the wake of their exploits. This is the plundering of pirates and it is a mindset, a cultural paradigm that keeps playing itself out based on fear and scarcity.

“We can live without oil but we can’t live without water.”

When indigenous people get displaced from the land, they lose their traditional earth-centered lifestyles, systems, and technologies, which they have been perfecting for thousands of years, in direct, sophisticated relationship with their particular bioregion. In many cases around the world, they are moved into cities to be factory workers and laborers for a ruling class in a vicious cycle of poverty. This is the indigenous struggle and it is all of our struggle because for our specie to survive we need to preserve and honor indigenous lives, their wisdom and culture and end the destruction of our living planet.. We need to restore our earth-centered technologies that remain and build new ones. Our modern technologies should be based on a new paradigm and global culture of mutual respect, cooperation and the sharing of resources.

All of us want the same rights. We want rights to a healthy home, to the land around us, a healthy environment, and a safe place to be who we are, practicing our own cultures as they make sense to us and raising our children safely. We all want our right to clean drinking water. These natural birthrights are clearly meant for all in the natural scheme of things and should not be manipulated. Sharing creates abundance, while hoarding and plundering creates scarcity. Instead of seeing different people and life forms as “other” we should train ourselves to see all of Earth’s people as our people and all of our fellow species as our personal community members, as our family and as our relations. With this ecocentric, planet-centered, global paradigm, sharing amongst each other, we will have enough resources for everyone and we can contribute to making our ecosystems thrive. It starts NOW by valuing our indigenous people and their rights, and joining them as the caretakers of the Earth. Let’s live up to our potential as an amazing specie on this planet and start making life-sustaining contributions to a beautiful and very precious world. Like the Standing Rock Water Protectors, let us too take action now and break our compliance to an injustice system. Everyone has a unique contribution no matter how small. Even just having the discussion will bring more light to a situation strategically and repeatedly swept under the rug. Solidarity with Standing Rock. #NODAPL!

Indian Jingle Dance at Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline #NoDAPL Protest

By Danielle Richardson


cover photo credit

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