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American IndiansPeacemakingPublic Commentary

“Water Is Life”

By August 25, 2016February 24th, 2018No Comments

I’m writing to ask your help.

Perhaps you’ve been following the strong nonviolent resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, particularly on the part of native peoples who have established the Red Warrior Camp in its path near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. As of today, there are around 2000 people, native and white, staying in that camp. Representatives of native people are gathering there from across North America, where many of them are fighting similar struggles. The DAPL would cross treaty lands (including sacred sites) and also run underneath Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, putting at risk a major waterway. In fact, this Bakken oil pipeline, also opposed by farmers, ranchers and environmental groups, will cross 209 rivers, creeks and tributaries. You can read more about the situation here. You can also follow the Red Warrior Camp on Facebook.

The governor of North Dakota has asked for Homeland Security to get involved, citing “civil unrest.” He’s also threatening to call in the National Guard. He has removed the Camp’s supply of drinking water and is preventing the sanitation company from emptying the portable toilets.

I’ve attached a photo of the chiefs’ lodge at Red Warrior Camp, sent to me by one of my friends on the ground. I’ve also provided a map of the proposed route (which will pass not far from where I live, down at Madison, SD—construction has already begun).

To me, this struggle against the DAPL is as important as that against Keystone XL. I wish I could be more involved. But at present all I can do is support my friends, offer donations, make phone calls to authorities, and help raise awareness. Will you join me?

(1) Please call Governor Jack Dalrymple (701-328-2200) and ask him not to call in the Guard, to return the water supply, and to allow servicing by the sanitation company, especially for the sake of the children and elders in the Camp. Ask him to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Camp leaders and help to de-escalate the situation.

(2) I’ve been told that Red Warrior Camp is in urgent need of the following items:

Sleeping bags
Toilet Paper
Hand Sanitizer
Sharpee Pens

Monetary donations are also welcome.

I plan to take whatever goods and money I can collect to the Camp within the next week or two. If you live in my area and have goods or funds to offer, let me know ASAP and I’ll be happy to collect them. Or, you can drop them by my house (712 6th St., Brookings, SD 57006). If you live outside my area, you can either send me a check or donate online.

Please share this word with your networks, if you’re inclined. And as my friend and Dakota elder Darlene Renville Pipeboy admonished me yesterday, before she and her family left for the Camp, “All praying people, of all faiths, need to be praying.” Pray for Peace. Pray for justice. Pray for goodwill.

As my native friends keep reminding me, “Water is Life.”

Thanks, all.



The Proposed Route of the Dakota Access Pipeline

chiefs lodge.jpeg

The Chiefs’ Lodge at the Red Warrior Camp

Phyllis Cole-Dai

Phyllis Cole-Dai has authored or edited eleven books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, spiritual nonfiction and poetry. She lives in Brookings, South Dakota, USA.

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