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DRA Points Dems Toward Tribal Organizing Theme: Protect Water from Pipelines

As Democrats recruit and organize Indian voters, they should be looking for themes around which to mobilize those voters.

Dakota Rural Action has one suggestion: focus on clean water, pipelines, and environmental issues. A DRA press release says Henry Red Cloud (the Dems’ 2016 PUC candidate) hosted a NoKXLDakota meeting at his renewable energy facility in Oglala a week ago to talk about ramping up pipeline resistance. The cowboys, Indians, and others who met issued this statement:

Indians and white folks discuss resistance to Keystone XL. Photo by DRA, 2017.06.02.
Indians and white folks discuss resistance to Keystone XL. Photo by DRA, 2017.06.02.

We as neighbors and relatives stand together to protect inherent, creator-given rights to clean sustainable water. Out of a common concern for Mother Earth we work for future generations using an open-hearted, nonviolent approach based on a foundation of spiritual well-being, healing historical wounds, and a commitment to structural justice. Together we work towards a regenerative and restorative ecosystem for all and future generations and strive to base decisions on the health and well being of our communities and environment. We work together as good relatives to respect sovereignty and place, natural law, and strive for justice for all of creation.

The NOKXLDakota Alliance is facing head on a carbon friendly US Administration that is now attacking the Paris Climate Agreement, which is overwhelmingly supported by the majority of the world’s countries. The group debriefed on many of the powerful lessons learned at Standing Rock, as it creates a roadmap based on mutual respect, kinship, discipline, truth and relationality.  Along with a busy schedule created, the group plans to gather at a central location in mid- summer.  Alliance members came from SD and surrounding states affected by the KXL pipeline [Dakota Rural Action, press release, 2017.06.08].

Any Democratic organizer working Pine Ridge or Standing Rock or other Native neighborhoods should carry this statement in their pockets. When Lakota neighbors ask why they should vote, hand them this statement and say, “You’re a water protector, right? Voting another way to protect the water. Sign here.”

Of course, the South Dakota Democratic Party will need to back that pitch up by presenting a slate of candidates who don’t take money from the predatory pipeliners (uh oh, Billie—Pat has a point) or who can at least show that pipeline money won’t keep them from sponsoring bills to tax those pipelines to pay for their messes.

Dakota Rural Action members have worked with tribal members in the Cowboy Indian Alliance. The Standing Rock and Lower Brule Sioux tribes successfully mobilized thousands of people to fight Dakota Access, even as well-paid mercenary infiltrators tried to foil their efforts, and reawaken cultural hope and warrior spiritThe Ponca tribe is playing an important role in fighting Keystone XL in Nebraska.


  1. Lanny Stricherz 2017-06-10

    Until you can get Congress Critters, local authorities and judges, to say nothing of the general public, to help to stop the police state from acting like what we saw at Standing Rock, most of last year and particularly at the beginning of this year, you/we are just urinating into the proverbial wind.

  2. Donald Pay 2017-06-11

    There has to be commitment, and follow through. It can’t just be an election strategy, where you say the right things and forget it after the vote is taken.

    Right now Democrats can’t really make much happen, and I think everyone knows it. There’s no Daschle or Johnson or Herseth Sandlin to push it at the federal level. And it’s been a long time since Democrats had the power to force Republicans in Pierre to consider good projects and policy. But it’s something to work toward.

    Look what happened when Indians, white ranchers, environmental organizations, the business community and government officials worked together for Mni Wiconi. In spite of all the difficulties and complications, and all past and present issues, it got done. Yeah, we need to stop the bad stuff, uranium mines and waste dumps and bitumen pipelines. But Imagine if we were all on the same page and everyone cooperated on wind power and solar power, rather than fighting each other on dumb projects all the time. That’s when growth and jobs happen, and real people, not speculators or the South Dakota elite, have a little something in their pockets for a change

  3. jerry 2017-06-12

    In Jackson, Wyoming, a white mayor takes down a trump portrait and placed the great Chief Washakie (the only American Indian leader given full military honors at burial) The mayor then compared trump to Stalin. So yeah, there is hope for us here in South Dakota when a prominent mayor of a prominent city in a state that has a cowboy on a bronc on its licence plate, understands climate change.

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