“Coyote sneaks into Oceti Sakowin” By: Deb White Plume (Wiyoweya Win) and Faith Spotted Eagle (Tunkan Inajin Win) SACRED WATER DEFENDERS


It is no secret that big oil developers like Transcanada have induced Native communities into letting them sponsor pow wows in Canada for a number of years. Oceti Sakowin had resisted this because of our high profile fight against KXL, until this past weekend of February 25-27th.  The Sioux Empire Pow wow was sponsored by Three Affiliated Tribes and Missouri River Resources of North Dakota.  This is disturbing in light of the threat of the Dakota Access Pipeline, also called the Bakken pipeline; which is seeking construction startup through Dakota/Lakota/Nakota lands as soon as this spring.  The Standing Rock tribeand other bands of the Oceti Sakowin are fighting hard against this happening. What other tribes chose to do outside of the Oceti is their choice.

The weekend of February 25-27th, 2016, saw hundreds of Native people stream in to dance at the Sanford Center in Sioux Falls, SD.  The winning drum wore warbonnets.  This is a departure from most drum contests where drum groups are judged for their singing for their people, not how they are dressed.  Is it a coincidence that it happened during Oscar night, where flashy outfits were the norm?

Cars, “best dressed drum” and random prizes were given along with the dance prize money as with sizable dance contest prizes.  It did not appear that local Sioux Falls Natives were part of the organizing or present to act as hosts, as is done in Rapid City at the Black Hills Pow wow in the fall of each year; or at any pow wow for that matter.  We do not know that for certain.

The Sioux Falls pow wow was sponsored by companies that develop oil and gas in the Bakken range.  The Dakota Pipeline builder Energy Transfer Crude Oil Co. is pushing to begin construction despite the objections of tribes who oppose the Pipeline, following on the heels of the failed KXL pipeline.  The pipeline will actually be built adjacent to the city of Sioux Falls.

We are deeply saddened and disappointed that hundreds of dancers and singers supported this gathering, while water defenders and other grassroots are fighting the Dakota Access pipeline which is slated to transport oil from the Bakken area.  The sponsors are from the Bakken area.  These dancers and singers may not have been aware of this, but this reflects what oil companies have down in Canada by courting pow wow goers by hosting extravagant pow wows.  We know that the majority of the pow wow families were innocent partakers, but this proves that tribal need to be vigilant of pow wow sponsors. It is no different than the shiny gifts and peace medals that were given away to tribes by early settlers who wanted the land.

A sponsor of the Sioux Empire Wacipi (pow wow); Missouri River Resources, LLC is a tribally-chartered energy company that develops oil and gas for the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota.  Their jingle is “Sovereignty By The Barrel”.  MRR has a subsidiary called Grey Wolf MidStream, LLC.  Grey Wolf owns 12% interest in the Sacagawea Pipeline, LLC. Their partners include Phillips 66.  The Sacagawea Pipeline will be buried up to 100 feet under Lake Sacagawea and connect and feed the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Energy Transfer Crude Oil Co. owns the Dakota Access Pipeline. Some say the Koch brothers are hidden way deep in there, behind the corporate veil.  MRR is a big sponsor of the Sioux Empire Wacipi (pow-wow) going on in Sioux Falls, SD. As is the Three Affiliated Tribes, who frack on the Ft Berthold Reservation.  A lot of people have a problem with the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline crossing through Indian Country as well as through farms, ranches, the Missouri River and under lakes, carrying its oil to refineries.  How did it happen that these Fat Taker corporations are funding this dancing and singing contest?  Extractive industries often search high and low for a weak link to get into a community or neighborhood or state that is more environmentally conscious than to allow in such a destructive business, no matter how much money it promises.

So many people and groups are working really hard to protect sacred water and ancestral lands from such monsters as these pipelines, only to find that they have found a way in to the Indian Nations.  Prize money at the Sioux Empire Pow wow was around $40,000, and that drew a lot of people.  Singers and dancers want to have a good time, but at the expense of being paid from this earth exploitation?  Pow-wow committees are accepting money from the very entities the rest of us are working to keep as far away from our children, waters, and lands as we can.  If children and youth see their parents and elders singing and dancing for money associated with the Fat Taker, what kind of message does that give them?  Opposing such entry into our culture from enemy Fat Taker is not a personal issue against singers and dancers, it is a much bigger issue than that, so hopefully friends and relatives won’t take it personal. Instead, maybe they will think about it before heading out to that next pow-wow with flashy prizes.

We are not seeking to divide Native people, the oil benefactors are.  Incidentally, the word “Sioux” is not our word and “Empire” certainly is not in our Oceti vocabulary.  Empire has echoes of dominance.  Discernment is key in all issues affecting the lifeblood of our children, sacred water.

Mitakuye Owasin,
Deb White Plume & Faith Spotted Eagle, February 29, 2016

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