Camp Evictions and Our Future

We at Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa, Defenders of the Water School, were very disappointed in the government’s decision to ignore the call for an environmental impact study regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline put in place by the previous administration. The speed with which the drilling was completed was much faster than what Energy Partners had said in court filings it would take to complete. They now state that oil could be flowing next week. Our hearts are heavy as the water and sacred lands of the Lakota people have been stolen once again. There are lawsuits that continue to work their way through the court system and we hope that justice might be served through that route.

The camps had regular garbage pickup and were very well maintained. When winter hit, access to the camp was blocked. This was one of the harshest winters in recent history. Snow storms pounded the land one after another. The members of camps were committed to cleaning up in the most environmentally friendly way. Items were being sorted through, some things were being sent to other reservations, some were being repurposed, some recycled, and as a last resort some was being discarded. The camps were asked how long it would take to get everything out and then given an eviction date that was many days before the answer given. With the earlier date, there was not enough time given to clear the camp out in a sustainable way and people were forced out before the job was complete. People had been working around the clock to complete this process and it is devastating to know that people had to leave before the plans were carried out. Structures that could be used to house the homeless, building materials, clothing, and more are now just being scooped up and dumped into landfill.

We had already begun the process of moving our school structures from camp before the eviction notices came for treaty lands. We are dedicated to taking this school, built out a gathering of tribes from around the world, and creating a permanent indigenous project based school. We are making progress on finalizing what that is going to look like and working with an existing organization for a possible merger. While we complete those plans, we are also planning one to two week camps that will bring students traditional knowledge. In the next several months we will have camps ranging from storytelling to buffalo hide tanning and meat curing. We are also in the exploratory phase of adding an virtual learning environment to our school.

During the last several weeks we have been finishing our application to become an affiliate of Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Inc. Director of Development, April Rain, recently traveled to their headquarters in Arcata, CA to receive training on reporting and best practice. We are very excited to be a part of this outstanding organization. Their support will allow us to make our dreams for the school a reality. With over 40 years experience to share, Seventh Generation can help guide us and offer us access to grants and funding we may not be able to qualify for on our own. All future donations to our school are tax deductible and should be made to Seventh Generation. We will be updating our website with a new donation button soon. All future donation should be made payable to Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Inc. You can still support our new efforts by purchasing the remaining shirts Third Man Books has to offer here.
We are very grateful to Chet Weise and the entire Third Man Records and Books team, Seventh Generation, and all of our supporters and volunteers. We could not have offered our programs in camp or be in a position to grow without you. We hope that you will continue to support and follow our progress as we set forth on this exciting adventure. We will continue to fight against the poisoning of water and the destruction of tribal lands by corporations concerned about profit over people. Our children can not drink oil and have rights to the sacred sites of their ancestors.
Mní Wičhóni.
Alayna Eagle Shield
Blaze Starkey
April Rain
Jose Zhagnay

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