We at Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa (Defenders of the Water School) are greatly encouraged by the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision not to grant the easement underneath Mníšoše. Indigenous people, along with allies, have prayed together and stood together to say that human rights abuses, treaty violations, and environmental degradation will not be tolerated. This is a historic moment and a step towards greater justice for not just Standing Rock, but all indigenous nations.
This victory reminds us of how powerful we are together. We must remember too that this fight is about much more than a single injustice. We’ve seen the State’s lack of regard for treaty rights, sacred spaces, and the earth; we’ve seen how corporate interests are elevated above human interests; and we’ve seen the police brutality and racism perpetrated against indigenous communities. However, at camp we have also seen the beauty of a community structured around indigenous values. We’ve seen the high level of love, care, and generosity we can show each other each and every day. We’ve seen how strong our prayers and our songs can be. Our solidarity does not and cannot end here.
To that end, Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa will continue to fight for indigenous children to have access to an education rooted in their own cultural traditions, beliefs, and languages. We will continue to fight against a system that was designed to wipe out indigenous cultures. We believe that indigenous families and communities have the right to educate their own children through culturally-based frameworks. Most of all, we believe deeply in our students. It was the youth who started the movement here at Standing Rock and it will be the youth who will continue to lead the way through their powerful and culturally-guided leadership.
As our movement grows, we at Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa are looking forward to moving into a new phase in our work. For the time being, we will be taking a break from conducting daily classes and will instead be focusing our energies on the exciting work of creating a long-term project-and-culturally-based school. In the next few months, we will also hold a number of events designed to further the conversation around indigenous education and provide traditionally-based learning opportunities, including:
-A decolonization-in-education conference at Standing Rock
-A reunion of the incredible people who have been involved in the school for a conversation about our future vision
-Multi-day learning workshops that include: Lakota food preservation (with buffalo butchering and hide tanning), zine making with indigenous poets and artists, star knowledge and the sacred places of Ȟesápa (Black Hills), and coding and computer science through an indigenous framework
In the next few weeks, we will be posting additional details about these upcoming projects.
We are so grateful to our community both within and outside of the camp, who have so graciously shared time, energy, resources, and knowledge. We are honored to stand with you all.
Philámayayapi na Wóphila Tȟáŋka
Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa