Showing posts from May, 2017

Clear Sailing for a Giant Sioux Wind Farm

A version of this article first appeared on Indian Country Media Network in May 2017.

A coalition of Sioux tribes is poised to harness the wind. Long held sacred by the Great Sioux Nation, or Oceti Sakowin, the wind may soon provide tribal communities with clean, renewable power and sustainable economic development. “We tribes see ourselves as custodians of the environment,” said Oceti Sakowin Power Authority (OSPA) board member Dan Gargan, Rosebud Sioux. “Producing clean energy is something we’ve wanted for a long time.”

The endeavor has taken a lot of work, and in the process obstacles have become assets. Oceti Sakowin means “Great Sioux Nation” in Lakota/Dakota, and its vision encompasses the possibility that even more Sioux nations in the U.S. and Canada might join the current group—the Rosebud, Oglala, Cheyenne River, Yankton, Flandreau, Standing Rock and Crow Creek Sioux Tribes—according to Caroline Herron of Herron Consulting, which has been involved in OSPA since its beginning.

Building on Standing Rock, Native Americans Lead Climate March

A version of this article first appeared in May 2017 in Rural America In These Times. “We are at a major movement moment,” says Judith LeBlanc, a member of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma and director of the Native Organizers Alliance (NOA), which helps indigenous advocacy groups build their organizations and capacity. As LeBlanc watched tribal members from around the country gather near the U.S. Capitol to lead the April 29 People’s Climate March, she credited the past year’s Standing Rock demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline for bringing awareness to indigenous struggles [and the continued threats to land and water by a range of industries in both the short and long-term.
“Standing Rock has been the largest continuous protest in U.S. history,” says LeBlanc. As a result, she said, a network of tribal leaders and grassroots people and groups have coalesced around the issue of climate justice. “We have the land base, the people, the traditional knowledge and the sovereignty tha…

Lost Bones, Damage and Harassment at Sacred Site

This story first appeared in Indian Country Media Network.

“Horrifying” is how Lydia Johnson, shown right, described an ordeal her Shoshone community has faced in recent weeks. Johnson chairs the Te-Moak Western Shoshone in addition to her own Battle Mountain Band, which have taken the lead in protecting the Tosawihi Quarries, a tribal sacred site in north-central Nevada, from destruction by gold mining.

The Shoshone have used the Quarries for more than 10,000 years, going there to collect their sacred white flint, fashion it into weapons and use it in ceremonies. They hunted there, gathered medicine plants, buried their dead and more. Tosawihi means “White Knives,” an ancestral tribal name that acknowledges the importance of the place and its revered white stone to the Shoshones, said tribal council member and former Band chair Joseph Holley.

Gold lies in veins beneath the Quarries, though, and safeguarding the place from mining-related damage and pollution has been a multi-generat…