A Multi-Nationed Prayer of Protection from Dakota Lands to Ohlone Lands- Poverty, Climate Change and the Dakota Access Pipeline Indigenous Resistance

Tiny - Posted on 31 August 2016

Poor Magazine

Poverty, Climate Change and the Dakota Access Pipeline Indigenous Resistance 
by Tiny, Daughter of Dee, Mama of Tiburcio

 “I don’t care if we have half of a t-shirt to sell, we have no money and food left so you gotta go out there….” On my mama’s last words directing me to sell on the street in our micro-business even when we really had nothing to sell, words which were at a volume loud enough for the whole street to hear, the earth moved and moved and MOVED again…” It was 1989 and the Loma Prieta earthquake shifted all  of our lives, especially those of us already in struggle, never to go back quite the same. 

This horrible moment of mama earth’s aggression and the deeper crisis it caused in me and my mama’s poverty herstory flooded back to me as I watched, listened, prayed and supported one of the largest gatherings in herstory of indigenous peoples from all four corners supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe fighting the construction of a huge pipeline through their sacred burial grounds, rivers and homelands in North Dakota.

Today and everyday throughout this struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline I prayed in thanks to the spirit of my, orphaned Taino/Boriken mama, the Ohlone relatives of this (Oak)land and so many of our ancestors from all four corners  who I pray to everyday, as word from Obama came through that he has finally listened to us all and suggested the halting of this corporate desecration called the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Water is life, said Dine Nation earth, water protector and mother Wahleah Johns who spoke along with many other water and earth warriors at  a San Francisco Solidarity rally with the indigenous resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline on August 24th
“Since 1990’ we have been involved in fighting environmental racism and supporting climate justice efforts in the Bay Area and across the country,” said Pam Tau Lee from Chinese Progressive Association. Pam and Wahleah were one of many power-FULL speakers at the San Francisco solidarity rally organized by the NoDAPLsolidaritySF, a group of organizations that included the Chinese Progressive Association SF, Indian People Organizing for Change and Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth.

Since April 1st the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been in a fierce battle to protect their cultural and sacred sites, their drinking water which comes from the Missouri River, native prairie lands, farmlands and other natural resources from this horrible destruction

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,168-mile crude oil pipeline that will transport up to 570,000 barrels of oil daily from the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota to refineries in Patoka Illinois. Oil pipelines break, spill and leak oil; oil that has been treated with chemicals that are flammable, toxic and carcinogenic. It is not a question of if; it’s a question of when and where.

“Water everywhere, even in Huchuin, Ohlone Land (Oakland) is connected to the Dakota Lands, we are all connected, that is one of the reasons it is important for all of us to fight this pipeline, and other acts of corporate destruction” said earth warrior and Ohlone sis-STAR Corrina Gould as she taught a class of 7-14 year olds at Deecolonize Academy- a revolutionary school for children in poverty in Oakland started by myself and other poor mamas and uncles.

From out of control fires, rising global temperatures, floods, hurricanes, fracking caused earthquakes, destroyed aquifers, lakes and rivers, climate change is here.But what does it even mean?

Climate Change - or Mama Earth's Destruction?
Climate Change are two oddly clinical words that really mean nothing, derivative science-speak for the destruction of our Mama Earth, Our Great Grandmama, the one for without whom we would have no water, air or life  -  so i don’t use them, I try to say what exactly is happening and that our Mama Earth is under attack from the things, poisons, “conveniences” and life-style choices we as humans have made, have tacitly bought into or have enabled just by not caring what happens as a result of our massive consumption.

The most impacted by Mama Earth’s Destruction
The fight to save Mama Earth by poor and indigenous peoples is happening all the time, from water protectors like Wahleah Johns to Chinese elders in Chinatown trying to fight for safe, unpoisoned air and housing,

Similarly, the impact of climate change is felt everyday by  those of us with the least resources, from unhoused peoples in Arizona and Bangladesh who have nowhere to escape when the climate change impacted temperatures rise to beyond human ability to withstand and so they literally die on the street of dehydration, to the fisher peoples who live in the gulf coast and can no longer fish and there fore have no way to support themselves because of the BP “accident”, to the fisher people and families who fished and lived and raised families and food in Fukushima, Japan until 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant cracked from an earthquake and tsunami and now live , barely with multple forms of cancer and can no longer make their living from fishing and farming to me and my mama who really never recovered from that earthquake cause our life was already held together by a string and ended up losing our tenuous grasp on our housing at the time cause we couldn’t sell on the cracked streets of Oakland and San Francisco.

It is clear that climate change is not a good thing for anyone and a lot of people say its a class, culture and race leveler and yet the impact on 1st peoples like the Dine nation who struggle with the corporate poisoning of their water in their ancestral homelands  and poor Black, Brown and White people of Detroit and Mountaintop removed Virginia and thousands of other poor peoples living in locations of environmental racism and corporate destruction of mama earth is deeper than it is for folks who can just move “out of the area” or buy filters for their water or private bottled water for that matter. Things that peoples with access to resources take for granted everyday like clean showers and water to drink are already becoming scarce and therefore creating an even deeper class and race divide in this already frightening divided world.

A Victory of Indigenous Peoples
This is why the move of focused Indigenous collaboration of so many 1st Nations peoples in the fight to stop the DAPL was so significant. It is not over, we are sure of that, it might not even be halted, but the protectors were listened to and we cannot stop protecting and praying. We cannot water down, philantho-pimp, fetishize or foundationcize this moment in herstory and let it be re-written as anything but what it was- an indigenous resistance, a multi-nationed prayer led by the earth warriors and prayer bringing protectors who have been here since before the lie of colonizer discovery protecting , honoring loving and praying for our Great Mother, Mother Earth.


More PNN-TV coverage from the SF solidarity protest:

PNN-TV: Chinese Elders & Climate Change



PNN-TV:Water is Life #NoDAPL #SFSolidarity 


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