By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.
Cheryl Angel leads a group on pilgrimage at Black Elk Peak, one of four Lakota sacred sites that were visited during the Sovereign Sisters Gathering.
Sovereign Sisters drove to Rapid City, South Dakota during the gathering to join a protest and court hearing of the Riot Booster Act, a bill introduced by Governor Kristi Noem aimed at criminalizing pipeline protestors.
Tracy Barnett<p>"We've given our power over to an entity that doesn't deserve our power," she added, referencing the modern corporate industrial system. "We must take back that empowerment of self. We must take back our own health care. We must take back our own food. We must take back our families. We must take back our environment. Because you see what's happening. We gave the power to an entity, and the entity is destroying our world around us."</p><p>Allard, June and Angel shared a bit about the work they've been doing to establish sovereignty, each in her own way, since the Standing Rock encampments.</p>
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard: Planting Seeds<p>As the woman who established the first water protector encampment at Standing Rock — called Sacred Stone Camp —and issued a call for support that launched a movement, Allard learned a lot about sovereignty and empowerment during the battle against the Dakota Access pipeline.</p><p>As the camps began to dismantle in the last weeks of the uprising, she frequently fielded the question: "What do we do now?"</p><p>Allard's response was simple: "Plant seeds."</p>
Lakota Elder LaDonna Brave Bull Allard joined a van full of fellow Sacred Stone Village residents who made the five-hour drive from Standing Rock to join the Sovereign Sisters Gathering.
Lyla June: The Forest as Farm<p>A Diné/Cheyenne/European American musician, scholar and activist, June has gravitated toward a focus on food sovereignty through her work to revitalize traditional food systems. Currently, she's in a doctoral program in traditional food systems and language at the University of Alaska, where she works with Indigenous elders around the country to uncover the genius of the continent's original cultivators.</p><p>"I think there's a huge mythology that Native people here were simpletons, they were primitive, half-naked nomads running around the forest, eating hand to mouth whatever they could find," she said. "That's how Europe portrays us. And it's portrayed us that way for so many centuries that even we start to believe that that's who we were.</p><p>"The reality is, Indigenous nations on this Turtle Island were highly organized. They densely populated the land, and they managed the land extensively. And this has a lot to do with food because a large motivation to prune the land, to burn the land, to reseed the land, and to sculpt the land was about feeding our nations. Not only our nations, but other animal nations, as well."</p>
Musician, public speaker, and scholar Lyla June on recovering traditional food systems: "What we're finding… is that human beings are meant to be a keystone species… what [we're] trying to do is bring the human being back into the role of keystone species, where our presence on the land nourishes the land."
Tracy Barnett<p>June is intrigued by soil core samples that delve thousands of years into the past; analysis of fossilized pollen, charcoal traces and soil composition reveals much about land use practices through the ages. For example, <a href="https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5276203.pdf" target="_blank">in Kentucky</a>, a soil core sample that went back 10,000 years shows that about 3,000 years ago the forest was dominated by cedar and hemlock. But about 3,000 years ago the whole forest composition changed to black walnut, hickory nut, chestnut and acorn; edible species such as goosefoot and sumpweed began to flourish.</p><p>"So these people—whoever moved in around 3,000 years ago — radically changed the way the land looked and tasted," she said.</p><p>So did the colonizers, but in a much different way. The costs to the food system as a result of colonization, she said, is becoming clear, and the mounting pressure of the climate crisis is making a shift imperative.</p><p>"When did we start waiting for others to feed us? That's no longer going to be a luxury question," June said.</p><p>Besides the <a href="https://www.macleans.ca/society/how-crop-monocultures-are-threatening-our-food-supply/" target="_blank">vulnerability of monocrops</a> to extreme weather events, these industrial agricultural crops are also dependent on pesticides and herbicides. Additionally, pests are adapting, producing chemical resistant insects and superweeds.</p><p>"We're running out of bullets in our food system, and it's quite precarious right now," she said. "The poor animals that we farm are also on the precipice … so we're in a state where we should probably start asking ourselves that question now, before we're forced to, and remember the joy of feeding ourselves."</p><p>That's June's intention: to take what she's learned from a year of apprenticeships with Indigenous elders in different bioregions, then return home to Diné Bikéyah — Navajo territory — to apply it, regenerating traditional Navajo food systems in an interactive action research project aimed at both teaching and learning, refining techniques with each year.</p><p>"I'm hoping at the end of three years, or four years, we will be fluent in our language and in our food system," June said. "And we will be operating as a team — and we will have a success story that other tribes can look to and model and be inspired by."</p><p>The long-range goal, she said, is to create an autonomous school that teaches traditional culture, language and food systems that can be a model for other Indigenous communities.</p>
Cheryl Angel: Creating Sovereign Communities<p>To Angel, sovereignty is best expressed in creating community — the temporary communities created at gatherings, like at the Sovereign Sisters Gathering, but also more permanent communities, like at Sacred Stone Village.</p><p>Part of being sovereign lies in strengthening and rebuilding sharing economies, she said. And part of it lies in reducing waste, rejecting rampant consumerism and the harmful aspects of the modern industrial system, like single-use plastics and toxic chemicals.</p>
Cheryl Angel in a late-night talking circle, sharing reflections about her Lakota ancestors: "We were never into entitlement; that's why we didn't have kings. We were into revering, honoring, relating to everything around us. All of these living spirits around us… That's the system nobody is talking about, that needs to be protected."
By John R. Platt
Things are heating up — and not just because it's August. This past June was the hottest June on record, and as of this writing July was shaping up to follow. That makes this month's new books about climate change essential reading, along with other important new titles on pollution, wildlife, oceans and Indigenous peoples.
Climate Change:<p><a href="https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Kochland/Christopher-Leonard/9781476775388" target="_blank"><em>Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America</em></a> by Christopher Leonard — The scary true story of how one private company stalled action on climate change, bought influence in the government, widened the gap between rich and poor, killed unions and so much more.</p><p><a href="https://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=A4825C" target="_blank"><em>Leave It in the Ground: The Politics of Coal and Climate</em></a> by John C. Berg — Want to know why we need to get rid of coal — and how we do it? This book lays out the science in clear, understandable language and reveals the truth about the politics and economics of the coal industry. Berg then provides a roadmap for how activists and governments can dismantle it.</p><p><a href="https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/bryan-walsh/end-times/9780316449618/" target="_blank"><em>End Times: A Brief Guide to the End of the World</em></a> by Bryan Walsh — This isn't strictly a climate-change book — it also covers apocalyptic volcanos, nuclear war, disease outbreaks and other terrifying scenarios — but it does showcase the people working to understand how the world could end and what they're doing to prevent it. Which, you know, is kind of an important job.</p><p><a href="https://www.grandcentralpublishing.com/titles/tatiana-schlossberg/inconspicuous-consumption/9781538747094/" target="_blank"><em>Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have</em></a> by Tatiana Schlossberg — How do your fashion sense, your lunch and your taste in Netflix movies contribute to climate change? A former <em>New York Times</em> science writer lays out the hidden effects of our daily lives and shows how informed and empowered consumers can make a difference.</p>
Wildlife & Conservation:<p><a href="https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/title/future-bluefin-tunas" target="_blank"><em>The Future of Bluefin Tunas</em></a> edited by Barbara A. Block — Dozens of experts from 15 countries contribute to this exhaustive examination of the threats facing all three species of bluefin tuna and what's being done to save them.</p><p><a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/extinction-a-very-short-introduction-9780198807285?cc=us&lang=en&" target="_blank"><em>Extinction: A Very Short Introduction</em></a>by Paul B. Wignall — A slim book about a big topic: Why do species die out? Covering historic mass extinctions and the current biodiversity crisis, this book offers what you need to know about what we're losing.</p><p><em><a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250143129" target="_blank">Science Comics: Cats</a> </em>by Andy Hirsch — A fun focus on our feline friends, looking at the science of everything from tigers to housecats. As with the rest of the "Science Comics" series, this is perfect for young readers or graphic-novel fans of all ages.</p><p><a href="https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/tracking-the-highland-tiger-9781472900920/" target="_blank"><em>Tracking the Highland Tiger: In Search of Scottish Wildcats</em></a> by Marianne Taylor — Persecution by farmers and hybridization with housecats have made the Scottish wildcat one of the <a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/scottish-wildcat-kittens/" target="_blank">rarest and most threatened felines on the planet</a>. This book comes out at a time when conservation efforts to save the species are starting to pay off. Will they be in time?</p><p><a href="https://garethstevens.com/series/Life-Without-Animals" target="_blank"><em>Life Without Animals</em></a> by Theresa Emminizer — This six-book series for young readers (available individually or as a set) asks what would happen if species such as elephants, sea otters, prairie dogs and tigers disappeared and examines the ecological effects of their extinctions.</p>
Pollution:<p><a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520305281/wilted" target="_blank"><em>Wilted: Pathogens, Chemicals and the Fragile Future of the Strawberry Industry</em></a> by Julie Guthman — A truly eye-opening book about the often exploitative industry that produces one of the world's most mouth-watering fruits.</p><p><a href="https://www.capstonepub.com/library/products/you-are-eating-plastic-every-day-1/" target="_blank"><em>You Are Eating Plastic Every Day: What's in Our Food?</em></a> by Danielle Smith-Llera — Middle-school students may never eat at the school cafeteria again after reading this book.</p>
Oceans:<p><a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/538736/the-outlaw-ocean-by-ian-urbina/9780451492944/" target="_blank"><em>The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier</em></a> by Ian Urbina — The high seas exist outside of international law, which means they can also be quite lawless. The author spent five years reporting around the world to expose the crime and exploitation that run rampant through the fishing, oil and shipping industries.</p><p><span></span><em><a href="https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062691545/into-the-planet/" target="_blank">I</a></em><a href="https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062691545/into-the-planet/" target="_blank"><em>nto the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver</em></a> by Jill Heinerth — Science and adventure far beneath the sea. This must-read memoir looks back at an amazing career and provides insight into parts of the world that few of us will ever see in person.</p><p><a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/ocean-recovery-9780198839767?q=ocean%20recovery&lang=en&cc=us" target="_blank"><em>Ocean Recovery</em></a> by Ray Hilborn and Ulrike Hilborn — Which of the world's fisheries are sustainable, and why? This book offers the scientific context for what we know about the status and ecological impact of global fishing operations.</p><p><a href="https://www.wwnorton.com/books/9780393635164" target="_blank"><em>Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait</em></a> by Bathsheba Demuth — The Bering Straits are known for their Arctic waters, amazing wildlife and Indigenous peoples, but they're also the site of a clash between capitalism and communism for control of the natural world's finite resources.</p>
Indigenous Peoples:<p><a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank"><em>Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States</em></a> edited by Devon A. Mihesuah and Elizabeth Hoover — The subtitle of this book is "Restoring Cultural Knowledge, Protecting Environments, and Regaining Health," which pretty much says it all. Noted activist Winona LaDuke provides the foreword.</p><p><a href="https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/standing-with-standing-rock" target="_blank"><em>Standing With Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement</em></a> edited by Nick Estes and Jaskiran Dhillon — An essential volume to understand the history and significance of the famous resistance action, combining everything from essays and interviews to poems and photography.</p><p>That's our list for this month, but check out dozens of other recent eco-books in the <a href="https://therevelator.org/tag/revelator-reads/" target="_blank">"Revelator Reads" archive</a>.</p><p> <em>Reposted with permission from our media associate <a href="https://therevelator.org/environmental-books-august-2019/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Revelator</a>. </em><em></em></p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Last month, the Butte County Commission in South Dakota approved an agreement to use Faulk County jails for $85 per day per detainee, should the demonstrations go ahead and if protestors are arrested. Faulk County is roughly 270 miles east of Butte County.
By Deonna Anderson
In February 2017, Seattle became the first city to pass legislation to divest from a financial institution because of its role in funding the Dakota Access pipeline.
Stopping a Dakota Access Pipeline Leak in Under 10 Minutes? A Fairy Tale, Say the Standing Rock Sioux
By Susan Cosier
Nine minutes. That's the longest it would take to detect a leak and shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) should the crude oil within begin escaping into the North Dakota prairie or the Missouri River. At least that's what Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the pipeline's owner, says. It's a claim that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe calls completely unrealistic given the company's "inadequate" emergency response plan.
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Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered a passionate wedding sermon to royal newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday, also gave a powerful message about two years ago to Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at Standing Rock, North Dakota.
On Sept. 24, 2016 at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the reverend offered the Episcopal Church's solidarity with the water protectors, noting that, "Water is a gift of the Creator. We must protect it. We must conserve it. We must care for it."
By Jenni Monet
At the height of the movement at Standing Rock, Indigenous teens half a world away in Norway were tattooing their young bodies with an image of a black snake. Derived from Lakota prophecy, the creature had come to represent the controversial Dakota Access pipeline for the thousands of water protectors determined to try to stop it.
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In the past days we have seen new desperate attempts by corporate bullies to criminalize protests and spark unfounded fear of community protectors. Greenpeace is committed to standing up not only for our planet but for everyone's right to speak out and peacefully protest. If we don't all stand together against this intimidation, we might be facing a truly dystopian future.
On Tuesday, members of Congress called for individuals and environmental activists protesting pipelines to be prosecuted as terrorists. Today, the fossil fuel echo chamber is repeating both the call for prosecution and the false allegations. Energy Transfer Partners and its cronies in the Trump administration are trying to rewrite the history of Standing Rock in real time. This is shameful.
By Conor Mihell
At dawn, I launch my kayak and paddle into a velvety expanse of turquoise water. Here, in northern Michigan's Straits of Mackinac, Great Lakes Michigan and Huron meet like the middle of an hourglass. To the east, the rounded form of Mackinac Island is the centerpiece of an archipelago in Lake Huron.
According to an Ojibwe creation story, this is Mishee Makinakong, the Great Turtle, whose surfacing shell became a refuge for plants and animals as floodwaters surged in the days before time. Today, droves of ferries buzz to and from the island, a bustling summer tourist destination replete with kitschy fudge shops and horse-drawn carriages.
On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) can continue operating pending an environmental review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the Corps in July 2016, arguing that the pipeline destroyed sacred sites and threatens the water quality of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation that sits downstream of the site where the pipeline crosses the Missouri River in North Dakota.
By Liz Blood
A little over a year ago, Morgun Frejo, a member of the Pawnee, Otoe-Missouria, Navajo nations, began camping at Oceti Sakowin at Standing Rock. The Missouri River is sacred to both his Pawnee and Otoe-Missouria tribes and Frejo recalls elders in both tribes telling him stories of its importance as a child.
He lived at Standing Rock from mid-August 2016 to late February 2017, just before the camp was evicted and closed by the National Guard and local law enforcement.