Moccasins on the Ground workshop where participants are trained in the skills, tactics, and techniques of nonviolent direct action.
Will Falk, a Deep Green Resistance member in San Diego CA, highlights the front-line struggle of indigenous communities across North America against ecocide in its many forms. Despite the impression given so many of us from school and history books, genocide is not just a thing of the past; it continues every day in the present. Falk calls on all those who benefit from settler culture to step up and stand alongside indigenous people fighting for justice and for the future of all of us.
I used to imagine that I could go back in time and offer my help. I would learn how to shoot and offer my rifle to Crazy Horse or learn how to ride and ask Chief Joseph if he could use my help. As I listened to the rhythmic thump of soldiers’ boots marching on where they thought my friends’ village was, I would imagine approaching a fat officer in a powdered horse-hair whig with a smile coming from my white face. I would tell the officer I knew where the Indians were, only to lead him on a wild goose chase while he trusted me because I was white.
I have grown up now. I realize that there are wars being waged against the land and those who would protect the land. I realize that I can work to stop the black snakes that are being built to slither through this land, to choke her original people, and to wring the last few drops of oil from her.
Whiteclay, NE – Activists from across the country participated in an act of civil disobedience in the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska. Members of Deep Green Resistance, Unoccupy Albuquerque, Occupy Lincoln, and Lakota organizers attached U-Locks to their necks and strung a chain between pairs of activists, blockading the road running through the town to bring attention to the town’s infamous liquor industry. After blocking the main road running through the town for 3 and a half hours, police agreed to work with Lakota women to investigate the plethora of crimes and abuses committed by the owners of the four alcohol peddlers in Whiteclay.
In addition to the blockade, the Lakota women posted eviction notices, which gave the alcohol stores 30 days to change their business and stop selling alcohol. The organizers are also determined to take on the brewers who supply the stores.
“The action in Whiteclay is the first in a series of assaults that will ensure that the poisons of Anheiser-Busch and Coors do not infect another Generation of Our Lakota here within Our homelands,” said Olowan Martinez, one of the Lakota organizers of the action.
Speaking on the strong stand taken by herself and other Lakota women, Martinez said “We the life-givers of this Nation are expecting in 30 days of June 9,2012 that these businesses are to agree to change their type of Business. If they refuse to do so, We, the Women will consider it a breach of peace against Our future generations. It is our responsibility as Life Givers of the Lakota Nation to protect Our Future by any means necessary, not only in Whiteclay Nebraska, but also the border towns of Interior, Gordon, Martin, Boondocks, Rushville, and Olreichs.”
The four liquor stores in Whiteclay (a town with a population of 14) act with chronic illegality and a total lack of ethical concern. The stores repeatedly violate the terms of their liquor licenses on the daily bases by allowing on premise consumption of alcohol as well as selling to those who are intoxicated. The liquor stores of Whiteclay are notorious for selling to minors, and it is common knowledge that the dealers sell alcohol for sexual favors and sexually assault women.
The act of civil disobedience took place after the 2012 March for Justice, an annual march from Pine Ridge to Whiteclay in memory of the victims of Whiteclay, including Loren & Wally Black Elk and Ron Hard Heart. Several hundred participated in the march, demanding justice for the countless victim’s of Whiteclay’s alcohol. As the march came to a close, seven activists locked themselves together and blocked the single road running through the town of Whiteclay. The action cost the liquor businesses an estimated $1000 in liquor sales in the ongoing struggle against alcohol-fueled genocide of the Oglala Lakota.
“Deep Green Resistance is here today to stand with the Oglala Lakota people against Whiteclay, which is an instrumental piece of the ongoing genocide of the Lakota people and their culture. As allies, we are here to put our bodies on the line in solidarity with their struggle,” said a representative of Deep Green Resistance Great Plans participating in the lockdown.
The blockade ended after the police signed a written agreement, promising to meet and work with the Lakota women on a joint-investigation into the rampant illegal activity and abuse of the Whiteclay alcohol stores. Provided with the opportunity to have a direct impact on the alcohol infrastructure of Whiteclay the blockade was concluded.
Justice is far from complete, and Whiteclay continues to enable and enact the destruction of the Oglala Lakota and the people of Pine Ridge. The continued subjugation of the Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Reservation will not end as long as the liquor stores in Whiteclay continue to operate. If the concessions granted do not bring about the change demanded by the Lakota women, or if those in power do not live up to their end of the bargain within 30 days, escalation in this struggle will continue.
Report from Great Plains Visit to Pine Ridge and Participation in Vern Traversie Protest
This past weekend, Deep Green Resistance Great Plains (and Alex from Deep Green Resistance Colorado) went to Pine Ridge to meet with our Lakota allies there about the upcoming action in Whiteclay, NE and to participate in and support a March for Justice for Vern Traversie.
Saturday afternoon we hosted a showing of End:Civ at the library in Rapid City. About 20 people attended, many of them friends from Pine Ridge. After the screening, we had a discussion about the film and the need for unity and resistance. All were in agreement that we need to work together to make the resistance movement in the Great Plains stronger so that we can start to win.
The next morning, we drove the remaining couple of hours down to Pine Ridge, where we met with allies and members of AIM. We were invited to a meeting about the March for Vern Traversy, where we were asked to help be a part of the march security team.
Vern Traversie is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and was at Rapid City Regional Hospital several months ago for heart surgery. While he was unconscious, the letters “KKK” were carved into his stomach. In the words of Dennis Banks, who marched with us and spoke at the rally, this is at Regional Hospital. The march was a call, a demand, for justice and an end to racism in Rapid City and Regional Hospital.
The next day, we awoke and joined our allies in Pine Ridge, where a caravan assembled before leaving for Rapid City and the March for Vern. We stopped outside of Rapid City for a ceremony and to rendezvous with others who joined the caravan. There were more than 20 cars, honking horns and waving AIM flags out the windows as we drove through Rapid City, drawing as much attention as we could to ourselves and the fact that racism and crimes like that against Vern would not go unanswered.
After a short rally at Memorial Park, about 700 of us marched 3 miles to Rapid City Regional Hospital, where many people got a chance to speak out about racism and their own experiences. After the march, we said goodbye to our friends (and some new ones) and drove back to Jefferson.
It was a great trip, both fun as well as being a productive and meaningful time spent with our allies, building relationships and supporting on going work. We look forward to having more people with us for the action in June, and to seeing our comrades in Pine Ridge again soon.
The film Battle for Whiteclay, a documentary about the ongoing genocide in Whiteclay, Nebraska
March for Justice 2012: Always in Memory of Wally Black Elk and Ron Hard Heart Date: June 9th, 2012 at 12 pm Location: Billy Mills Hall, Pine Ridge, SD A Day of Action against Whiteclay, NE
Whiteclay, Nebraska is an unincorporated village with a population of 14 people in northwest Nebraska. The town sits on the border of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota (also known as the Oglala Sioux Tribe), only 200 feet from the official reservation border and less than 3 miles from the center of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the largest town on the reservation. On June 9th, the fight against Whiteclay continues.
Sale and possession of alcoholic beverages on the Pine Ridge is prohibited under tribal law. Except for a brief experiment with on-reservation liquor sales in the early 1970s, this prohibition has been in effect since the reservation lands were created. Whiteclay has four off-sale beer stores licensed by the State of Nebraska which sell the equivalent of 4.5 million 12-ounce cans of beer annually (12,500 cans per day), mostly to the Oglalas living on Pine Ridge. These retailers routinely violate Nebraska liquor law by selling beer to minors and intoxicated persons, knowingly selling to bootleggers who resell the beer on the reservation, permitting on-premise consumption of beer in violation of restrictions placed on off-sale-only licenses, and exchanging beer for sexual favors.
Many people have died in the streets due to exposure, as the state of Nebraska fails to address the breaches of state law and countless deaths as a result of dealers in Whiteclay. As long as the liquor stores in Whiteclay remain in business, the genocide of the Oglala Lakota people will continue.
Deep Green Resistance Great Plains and other Deep Green Resistances organizers across the country are coordinating support for the Oglala Lakota activists organizing the action against the liquor peddlers in Whiteclay. We stand with the people of Pine Ridge and the organizers of this action against the continuation of genocide. Stand with us as we send the message: “No more liquor in Whiteclay!”
On June 9th 1999 two Lakota men, Wally Black Elk and Ron Hard Heart, were brutally murdered in Whiteclay. It is in their memory that we will march for justice. We are seeking material support, in the form of food and donations for caravans and for the action itself. Additionally, we will be collecting donated fans and air conditioners to bring to elders on Pine Ridge.
From February 25th-27th, Deep Green Resistance Great Plains traveled to Wounded Knee, South Dakota, located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in order to take part in the 39th Annual Liberation Day. The purpose was to commemorate and celebrate those who took part in and died in the 1973 takeover as well as those who died in the Wounded Knee Massacre. Members of DGR Great Plains traveled from Iowa City, IA, Cedar Rapids, IA, Cedar Falls, IA, and Omaha, NE, to meet in Jefferson SD the night before. Upon arrival, we bonded, shared a meal, had a meeting, and watched a documentary about the 1973 takeover to give everyone in the group some historical perspective.
We arose bright and early at 6am to begin the long drive west across the state of South Dakota. Along the drive, many of us from the heart of production for the world’s corn and soybeans were taken in by the beauty of the prairie land, golden and swaying in the wind. With over 99% of our prairies gone, it was quite a treat to see. On our first day in Western South Dakota, we took time to take in the natural beauty of the Black Hills. An evergreen tree called the Ponderosa Pine dominates the forests of the hills, making the hills appear black. Later that day we went to Wind Cave National Park, which is as close as we could get to South Dakota’s natural state before the arrival of settler society. For so many of us that spent most of our lives in cities, standing in the presence of a strong force of wind, the endless hills, free roaming bison, antelope, mule deer, elk, prairie dogs and the vastness of the sky was a freeing experience. Being there gave us a new perspective on what we are fighting for, from an abstraction to something tangible and real.
The next day was the pow wow. Before the pow wow we took time in the morning to meet with activists at the Wounded Knee Museum, and we also took time to drop off supplies that we brought with us (blankets, electric blankets, winter clothes and canned food items) for elders whose homes are not built well enough to deal with the South Dakota winters. All of us, especially those at a pow wow for the first time, really enjoyed taking in all of the beautiful costumes, beating drums and singing. To our surprise they called our group down and our Lakota friends and all of us performed a round dance in DGR Great Plains’ honor. We were asked to give a short speech to let everyone in the audience know why DGR Great Plains was in attendance. We let them know that DGR was at Liberation Day to show our solidarity with all indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, and the we would do everything in our power to help keep alive their beautiful culture and language and protect their land from encroachment by settler societies.
The last day was the four directions walk. It was quite a windy day but the weather was no matter. While our group walked a mile, people walked from more than several miles away to this event. To be there that weekend, to participate and fly our banner alongside members of both Native Youth Movement and the American Indian Movement, was quite an honor. This trip was an important first step to building a relationship with the Lakota people, a relationship crucial to successful defense of the land against our common enemy. DGR Great Plains was shown the greatest hospitality by our hosts, and given honor and respect that we still work to deserve. We hope to have the chance to earn it soon.
This adventure was crucial to creating friendship and a feeling of family among our members. Some of us knew each other before the trip and others were meeting for the first time. We did an excellent job of getting along as twelve people all shared one hotel suite. I think we all walked away from this experience having grown closer as a group, and stronger in our resolve to bring down this death machine.
The Keystone XL pipeline, proposed to carry oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, would have a devastating impact on the environment along its route, particularly in the Indigenous communities already marginalized by centuries of genocide. The Lakota people live above the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest aquifers, which supplies 30% of the water for irrigation in the United States and 82% of the drinking water for those living above it. Any spill, which judging by the record of other tar sands pipelines is a matter of when and not if, would be catastrophic for all the life that depends on this vital source of water.
Our wealth isn’t money, it isn’t material things, it is in our health and what we pass down to our future generations… We need to pass down to our generations good clean air, a decent environment, and water as it should be, without pollution.