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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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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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