Sep 17, 2016 - Protecting My Community, Protecting Water and Stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline by Jaye Two Bears

Mni wiconi, water is life. Over the past couple months, our word for water, mni wiconi, has been introduced to the world. Mni wiconi, the literal translation ‘it gives me life’, essential to all life, to all creation. Mni wiconi, our first medicine, needed for life to exist. We search the heavens, distant planets and moons trying to find evidence of water, evidence of life. Mni wiconi, that life giver is being threatened in my community.

My name is Jaye Two Bears, and I am a student athlete for the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and I grew up in the community of Cannonball on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. I am from the Dakota and Hidasa Tribal Nations. My hometown community of Cannonball, like our word mni wiconi, has become known across the globe. It’s become known, not because of its endless skies and rolling fields and beauty located near the Missouri river, but because it is being threatened by a massive oil pipeline known as the Dakota Access pipeline.

The Dakota Access pipeline is a sprawling 1,200 mile pipeline that stretches from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to a distribution hub in Illinois. Along its route, it cuts across just four miles north of Cannonball and across the Missouri River, the river we call Mnisose, the river that millions rely upon for water. Water that is used for drinking, water for our farmers and ranchers, water for irrigation. Our massive river is under assault because an oil company, Energy Transfer, wants to put an oil pipeline directly underneath it.

Along its route it also threatens family burial sites and other sites of cultural, historical, and spiritual significance. It is heart wrenching to see bulldozers plough through the grave sites of our ancestors, it is unsettling to think that our source of water is under threat.

If the Dakota Access pipeline is built, it will carry of 500,000 gallons of crude oil across my community and across the great Missouri river every day. This is why my Tribe, our youth, other Tribal Nations, Iowans and more have been joined by thousands from across globe in opposing the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

We understand the importance and necessity of water and that is why we are fighting to have the pipeline stopped. Because water is life.

Last Real Indians