Whether or not these words, as Brabeck-Letmathe claims, were taken out of context, the fact remains: oil is a passing fad; soon, it will all be about the water.
Donald Trump, dead set on removing what few regulations there are concerning the quality and quantity of our drinking water, will only hasten us to the point where only the rich will be able to afford clean water. It’s almost to that point now. Flint is only the tip of whatever iceberg still remains.
The group that has suffered the longest at the hands of white stupidity and greed has been indigenous Americans. That the most potent American offensive against this avarice, this attack on water and ordinary humans, has come from the indigenous community is a powerful reminder of the traditional wedding of water and spirituality in all cultures. If it is true that John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, it is worth noting that today the northernmost portion of the Lower Jordan, the first 1.9 miles below the Sea of Galilee, has been kept clean for baptism and local tourism while the rest of the river is polluted, thanks largely to Israel, Jordan and Syria.
According the Washington Post, “The 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, which runs through North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois and has a capacity to transport more than 500,000 barrels of oil a day. The $3.8 billion pipeline now under construction was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cross under the Missouri River a mile north of the [Standing Rock Sioux] reservation.” “ That river is the source of water for the reservation’s 8,000 residents. Any leak, tribal leaders argue, would cause immediate and irreparable harm. And tribal leaders point to what they consider a double standard, saying that the pipeline was originally going to cross the Missouri north of Bismarck, the state capital, but was rerouted because of powerful opposition that did not want a threat to the water supply there.”
Donald Trump holds stock in the company building the pipeline; the Trump transition team has made it clear that they support completion of the project.
Is this a last stand? If indigenous Americans once again put their bodies in harm’s way to keep the water safe, as they did for months before President Obama’s denying of the permit needed to finish the pipeline’s route, there will be violence and lives will be lost. It has always been so in these matters.
I am honored that Natalie Diaz has assembled, exclusively for Connotation Press, a collection of new work from indigenous American poets that lives in the here and now of all things sacred. I am honored that she took the time to talk about things and offer us her wonderful new poem. I am strengthened in my own resolve to stand firm when I read these artifacts.
Happy New Year. Inyech ‘Aha Makavch ithuum.