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 Returning to the Oceti Sakowin Tipi in Winter #NativeJournalism #StandingRock #NoDAPL

Returning to the Oceti Sakowin Tipi in Winter #NativeJournalism #StandingRock #NoDAPL

So, I am heading back to Standing Rock next week—and bringing my husband and son, too! And yes, I'm crowdsourcing my work there. Please help in any way you can either by donating or sharing. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated so far!

Here is a link to the campaign: Fund Native Journalism! #DAPL #StandingRock

The latest update on the campaign with photos from my last visit:

It was a sunny day in October when we set up the tipi at my tribe's camp, the Ihanktonwan (Yankton Sioux) in the Oceti Sakowin camp. I had asked them what they needed and they told me tipi poles. They had a cover, but no poles. Driving through the camp, I spotted an entire set of tipi poles lying next to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's camp. When I asked if I could purchase them, they invited me to drink coffee and eat stew with them and we talked about all sorts of things for a couple of hours. Finally, they decided it was time and four of the men loaded the poles up on a flatbed trailer and drove them over to the Yankton/Lower Brule camp. There, the Lower Brule chairman, Lewis Grassrope helped us tie the poles together.

It was a good day to put up a tipi, sunny and beautiful, but this week, seeing the snow that has blanketed the camp, I often wonder now how the tipi is doing.

When the cover went on I was surprised—I hadn't realized it was painted with the seven council fires. The sight of those seven fires blazing, the very image of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) that we all had gathered to see reborn from all our suffering this past 160 years. As we prayed over the prayer flags, I told a family story, an Ihanktowan story, from the time just before the Americans came. It's about a boy named Matowi (Red Bear) and a horse that could not be tamed and the last visit of the White Buffalo Calf to our people. My Lala had told it to me growing up. When he would finish telling it he would tell us that it was our family's duty to tell the story to the people, so they would not lose hope and would be able to make it through this long winter of our people. As I told the story, I hoped it would do what he said it would, and help our Dakota people today make it through this literal winter, the first in a long time we have camped together as one Oyate (nation).

I thank you all for your donations in helping me return to see this tipi. I look forward to returning next week with my son, Joneya Matoska (White Bear)—who at 13 years old is about the age the boy-hero Matowi was in the story when he did his miraculous deeds. Pidamaya ye (thank you) to all of you for helping to make this happen for myself and for all of the Oceti Sakowin.

Photos I took from the tipi-raising at the Ihanktonwan camp:
The poles being loaded at the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's camp

Bringing in the poles.
The Yankton Sioux Tribe camp laying out the canvas cover.
Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Chairman Lewis Grassrope directs us.
Tying the poles tight.

Tipi poles converging.

Last tipi pole
The Seven Council Fires on the canvas.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe flag!

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Jacqueline Keeler

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Together We Rise — #NoDAPL and Expanding the Hoop

Together We Rise — #NoDAPL and Expanding the Hoop

Yankton Sioux Tribe camp with 7 Council Fires Tipi (at Oceti Sakowin camp) photo by J. Keeler

As I watched the water protectors charge up the hill yesterday, heading up to protect the graves of the two Lakota grandmothers buried on that hill, former owners of Cannonball Ranch--recently sold by a white rancher to the Dakota Access Pipeline--a pipeline which will plow through their bodies and upon which the heavily armed police stood waiting for these souls before them ready for them with giant bottles of mace and other weaponry, I thought, what drives these amazing people up that hill?

Not all of them are from Standing Rock, or even Native, yet there is still that desire to charge up that hill, to stop desecration in the name of profit. And it made me think, we are still Dakota and alive and perhaps the hoop is expanding. Perhaps something has shifted in the balance of who has won the West.

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Jacqueline Keeler

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On "More Important Things" and #NotYourMascot and #NoDAPL

On "More Important Things" and #NotYourMascot and #NoDAPL

Andre Cramblit, EONM member protesting at a Washington NFL game in Santa Clara, CA in 2014.

During my Native America Calling pre-interview (I was on the show this week talking about Cleveland at the World Series) the host asked me about criticism that EONM's success with our hashtag #NotYourMascot took away from other "more important" movements.

#NotYourMascot trending nationally during 2014 Super Bowl
I disagreed and pointed out that the fight against Native mascotry helped grow the networks (connections with each other, sophisticated use of social media, connections built with media/reporters) that are undergirding the fight against DAPL. And we were able to achieve success (sadly, #NotYourMascot is still the ONLY Native hashtag to trend nationally) because we were affecting something Americans wore on their heads (sports team caps) — something that affects them personally. I know it is a sorry thing to say that concern about Native issues has to start out of self-interest, but that is my observation. And now, we are capitalizing on those connections that were built.

In light of that, I would like to sing the praises of EONM core members of our strategy team who are out there fighting the #NoDAPL fight:

Yolonda BlueHorse protesting at the Dallas-Washington NFL game in Dallas

Yolonda BlueHorse​ (Lakota) in Texas is working with Natives there to keep the #NoDAPL issue in front of Energy Transfer Partner CEO Kelcy Warren's face in his hometown. He agreed to meet with them after they cornered him at a public meeting and abstained from a Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner vote on a pipeline because of protests.

Yolonda helping coordinate protests at DAPL owner's Dallas headquarters

Desiree Kane at Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota

And Desiree Kane​ (Miwok), who has been living continuously at the camp since July doing the thankless volunteer work that so many are doing who are not in front of the cameras but that is absolutely necessary to make the Oceti Sakowin camp run. Please read her recent piece, "The Standing Rock Victory You Didn’t Hear About" in Yes! Magazine that gives a vision of hope in the midst of all this suffering our people have endured.

Nicky Parkhurst directing EONM's 2015 Super Bowl protest in Phoenix

And Nicky Parkhurst (Diné/Lakota) whose mom's family is from Cannonball and who is fundraising to help her community deal with the fallout of the assaults by the state of North Dakota. Please support her Gofundme!

Native people in the Southwest had strong feelings about being mascotted
Yes, there was a police presence

Nicky's husband supporting his wife

Morning Star (on left) at prayer circle before Washington NFL team protest
And Morning Star Gali​ (Pit River) who is also living at the camp and working hard to revise Executive Order 13007 that provides cultural access and protections for our people. This revision will ensure protection for all threatened sacred sites located on Federally managed lands. Here is a link to the proposal. Please advocate for it!

Morning Star (in skirt) marching outside stadium of Washington-49ers game 
All of these women have been central to the work of EONM. They have stuck by me when others have not. I admire them tremendously. I know they don't want to be singled out — they prefer to do the work that needs to be done and not be on camera.That is our people's way, after all. But they are amazing.

Morning Star's mom demonstrating what a real RedSk*n is to Washington fans

Trolls often chide us that we should work on the "more important issues" and we always say we do it all: #Simultaneously. It's not chance that these women, central to EONM, are also on the frontlines of #NoDAPL. And look at the face of Kelcy Warren, yet another billionaire these amazing Native women have helped put in the hot seat. Priceless.

Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren under pressure

Hechetu Ye (Dakota for this is the truth)

PS: Here is my latest article at TeleSUR English about Standing Rock which is my way of contributing!
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Jacqueline Keeler

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Preserving Indigenous Cultures and Indigenous Spaces- Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for Bears Ears

Preserving Indigenous Cultures and Indigenous Spaces- Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for Bears Ears

Please support the Edge of Morning Kickstarter here:

What is the value of culture versus the resources that can be exploited from the land? This is at heart the question raised when Indigenous peoples lay claim to the land because of their cultural connection to it--often in defiance of corporate and settler colonial desires to fully exploit the resources of that land. What is the best use of the land by human beings? Is it the cultural heritage of the Indigenous people or is it the successful exploitation of the oil, coal, water, etc. to create wealth?

This is at heart the question posed by the unique proposal brought forward by five Native American nations, Indigenous grassroots community members and environmentalists. What value does the past hold? Does it matter that antiquities and ancient sites be undisturbed? Is there more value in mining and the right to ride ATV’s over thousands of archaeological sites?

Jonah Yellowman, Utah Diné Bikeyah
“We're here to look after it, we're here to preserve it. When our medicine people, when they go to get something for a to do a ceremony they go there and either talk to the plant or whatever they're going to use, either they're going to cut it, they always put corn pollen there, they put it back together. Wherever they dig around, they smooth it out. Leave it like the way it is they walk away from it. We don't just dig it out and leave a big hole. We don't do that. So that's how we are as Native American Indian people.We are here to take care of it. If you take care of it and look after it--it's going to take care of you. You're going to be healed from it. It's going to heal the land, too.”
Jonah Yellowman, Diné, Utah Dine Bikeyah, spiritual advisor

And not only are 100,000 archaeological sites endangered, but so is Navajo (Diné) culture. The Navajo Nation is one of the largest Native Nations within the United States. Its landbase is the size of Ireland; it has 350,000 members--a population equal to that of Iceland; it is also larger than more than 20 member states of the United Nations. Over 125,000 Navajos speak their language fluently--the most of any Indigenous language in the United States. However, the culture depends on isolated communities like those found in San Juan County, Utah to continue to survive.

Navajo Community members at Bears Ears

Traditional Navajo communities and their elders have borne the brunt of energy development in the Southwest since World War II when the Navajo Nation’s uranium resources were used to win the war. To this day there are hundreds of open uranium mines that have not been cleaned up, which poison the water and health of the  people. At Black Mesa, coal strip mining has led to the forced removal of thousands of more traditional Navajo. Many families were “relocated” to the Puerco River, the site of the largest uranium spill in U.S. history. The coal is transported by slurrying a process draining precious  drinking water from the Navajo-Hopi aquifer--the only slurry line in North America. The Public Lands Initiative presented by Rep. Bishop (R-Utah) in congress this week, will open up more Navajo communities to be the victimized by mining.

Putting a Price on Cultural Exchange

And what value do intact culturally-intact Navajo communities provide to America? One need only look at American history to see the huge impact that cultural exchanges between American colonists and intact Indigenous nations like the once powerful Iroquois Confederacy gave to the world.

Modern Democracy--the product of cultural exchange

It has been well-documented that it was the Iroquois that urged the 13 colonies to unite like the 6 nations of their confederacy had done to bring peace and stability to the region. The Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) was also a living example the colonists could see first hand of a working democratic government.

Women’s Rights

It is no accident that the first women’s rights conference was held in Seneca Falls, New York--adjacent to a Seneca village. The Seneca were one of the 6 nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. White women observed daily the greater rights Iroquois women enjoyed. At a time when American women were legally dead, the Iroquois Confederacy, which was matrilineal and ultimate power over the leadership was held by clan mothers, was a vision of another world for European American women. The exchange gave them the courage to challenge thousands of years of patriarchy that dehumanized women. In their speeches, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott exclaimed that they wanted the rights they saw Seneca women had.

So what is the value of such exchanges with Indigenous cultures? Cultures that contain ideas long lost in the rest of the world? As seen by these two examples, the exchange produced ideas that have made lives better for literally billions of people in the world.

What cultural ideas exist in traditional Navajo communities? The land contains not only beauty, history, and energy resources, but the cultural resources that represent human intelligence and the source of ideas that make life better in ways we cannot predict today.

In light of this, the Edge of Morning looks at the work of Native Americans to fight for their cultural places and spaces both at the grassroots level at Bears Ears (Origin Stories - Interviews with Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition organizers) and by Navajo activists and thinkers across the Navajo Nation (For this Land, For the Diné Bikéyah – The People’s Land - Navajo Activists and Academia Speak for Bears Ears), but across the United States (“In Our Usual and Accustomed Places” - Indigenous leaders on Bears Ears and the Fight for Cultural Preservation and Access to Public Lands in the United States).

The fight for our traditional communities and cultural access to our traditional homelands and sacred sites is a monumental effort being conducted by Indigenous communities in a variety of ways. Bears Ears is unique and promising by being such a unified effort by several different Indigenous Nations. It is also unique in the creation of a national monument proposal that represents an unusual degree of collaboration with Indigenous communities.

National Monuments are meant to celebrate the beauty and richness of the our American experience--and nothing encapsulates that more than the cultural exchange with Indigenous people and the gifts that exchange has given to the world.

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Jacqueline Keeler

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