The Water Defenders of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Historically, the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock has struggled, as land and water protectors, for their right to defend their territories. Sadly, they are being stripped of their way of life once again with the installation of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and its foreseen environmental effects. In their struggle, they’ve received solidarity and support from the Confederate Sioux tribes and hundreds of indigenous communities, as well as indigenous communities across the continent. For months in 2016, the tribe and their allies resisted at the Standing Rock Oceti Sakowin camp against the imposition of the DAPL extractivist project, carried out without prior consultation.

A decision by a lesser court ruled that the construction of the pipeline violates peoples’ rights by not considering “the impacts of a spill on fishing rights, hunting, or environmental justice” or the controversy created by the project. Currently, the tribe continues its legal battle and has renewed its demand in the courts in rejection of a faulty environmental inspection of the US Army Corps, performed without including the Sioux tribe’s technical information of the irreparable effects of a possible spill in the Missouri River.

In their struggle, indigenous communities are also fighting against the arrest and possible jail sentence of ancestral water and land defenders. In the next series of videos, Grandma Madonna Thunder Hawk shares her wisdom, along with Daniel Sheehan and Lanny Sinkin’, that plots a roadmap ahead for the legal battle of DAPL, and discusses defending water protectors against big oil economic interests and the militarized offensive on indigenous people.

Indigenous peoples make renewable energy proposals

Beyond making their claims for justice, indigenous people at Standing Rock are also focused on proposals. The community’s concern for preserving energy sources and being able to live without pollution has been permanent. The use of fossil fuels is not an option for these communities, protectors of Mother Earth.

Native communities have been struggling for years against the excessive collection of coal-generated electricity consumption. Now they have retaken the initiative and have built a new alternative energy production base, free of pollution and at no cost to them. They challenged university leaders in database production to support communities and become partners, helping to solve the serious problems of marginalization, poverty and pollution they have been subjected to. With the development of these new alliances, they have been able to invest in new technologies, friendly to the environment and Mother Earth, to create an idea of progress and development that does not destroy nature.

Women represent the best of Mother Earth

It is necessary to understand the historical context of the cultures that are part of our ancestral heritage. The social and cultural base on which many Native northern communities were built, as well as indigenous communities across the continent, was a matrilineal base. This was invisibilized and repressed under colonialist domination, but survives and is alive in the fight of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. This explains the depth, commitment and strong presence of women in this struggle. Women have always been there, guiding the steps of their people, sharing their wisdom, leading the processes of struggle with love and respect for Mother Earth and the communities that are part of it. These women are an impressive example of resilience.