Lakota Allies Gather to Stand Their Sacred Ground by Natalie Hand and Kent Lebsock, Owe Aku International Justice Project (www.oweakuinternational.org)
“We sought spiritual guidance and were told that the spirit of Unci Maka will awaken people to protect her. For us it has always been about protecting sacred water, whether it's uranium mining or KXL.” Debra White Plume, Owe Aku, Moccasins on the Ground.
The grassroots people of the Kul Wicasa Oyate (Lower Brule) immediately put out a call to action when they learned that their Tribal Council (1934 Indian Reorganization Act government) agreed to allow the construction of a power station and power lines on treaty land necessary to move tarsands oil through the KXL pipeline. Despite efforts of the grassroots leaders to obtain documentation from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, their attempts were unanswered. The Lower Brule Sioux tribal council is comprised of six people including President Michael Jandreau, who has served in tribal government since 1973, with the most recent decades in the office of the President. Inquiries to the Council by several tribal members resulted first in denial, then in confirmation (without documentation) and finally an admission that the ‘carrot’ to the Tribal Council is the construction of wind turbines and free electricity for tribal members.
Lakota people from Rosebud Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux reservations and surrounding towns and urban areas, as well as members of Owe Aku's Moccasins on the Ground, headquartered on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation, answered the call to action. The grassroots people served the evening meal to the gathering of about 200 people and spiritual protocol was followed with the offering of prayer and honor songs by Kul Wicasa singers. George Estes, a member of the Kul Wicasa Oyate and world renowned Lakota flutist, shared a song for Mother Earth to strengthen the growing spirit of collective action.
"We answered the call to action to stand in solidarity with our relatives who want to protect sacred water and lands from Transcanada's HUGE power station needed to pump tarsands through our treaty territory. According to everything we have learned, their tribal council is taking action behind the peoples backs. We will stand with our relatives and, as one young man said, ‘lets take it right to them,” stated White Plume.
“We’re up against a well-established council. They had to have signed an agreement,” said Kevin Wright, co-organizer of the meeting. Power line leases are entered into with local utilities and power corporations (under South Dakota Public Utilities Commission regulations), in this case Basin Electric who intends to provide electrical power to Keystone XL.
The grassroots people of Kul Wicasa oppose the development of the power line infrastructure planned by Basin Electric. The Lower Brule substation is to be located two miles from the Big Bend Damn. The thick, corrosive nature of tarsands oil (which in its natural state is the consistency of peanut butter) requires a constant temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit and necessary dilutants to liquify it enough to be slurried through the pipeline. This will require an enormous amount of power.
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