As the national women of color Reproductive Justice collective, SisterSong holds a deep commitment to intersectionality and recognition that we do not live single - issue lives. We embrace a broader understanding of the issues affecting communities of color, and particularly those impacting Indigenous women and women of color. We recognize this historic moment, the largest gathering of native people that is happening on the prairies of North Dakota. They have gathered to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

SisterSong joins in solidarity with the Standing Rock nation and the Oceti Sakowin, the seven council fires of the Lakota/Dakota people.

Indigenous folks have been camped alongside the Cannon Ball river in North Dakota since April as a peaceful protest against an attack on sacred lands, on clean water and on the rights and sovereignty of Native people. During that time the camp has grown from one small camp to three camps.
There is the Sacred Stone Camp, the first camp and prayer camp. The larger Oceti Sakowin camp includes more nations and supporters. There is also the Red Warrior camp. They are the leaders who have been organizing more of the direct actions. All of these camps are deeply rooted in spiritual belief and practice. And like with many movements throughout time in Indian Country and throughout the world, women are leading the efforts on the front lines.
There is a phrase that the Lakota people say to end prayers, "Mitakuya Oyasin". These words translate to "all my relations", as a reminder and recognition that we are connected to all living things. This Lakota resistance is due in part because the Standing Rock tribe was not consulted about this pipeline that travels through burial grounds of their ancestors. There is also deep concern that the pipeline will break and poison their water source.
The original plans for this pipeline called crossed the Missouri River north of Bismarck, the capitol city of North Dakota. However, the citizens of Bismarck were concerned about potential water poisoning upstream from them, so it was re-routed to cross the river two miles north of the Standing Rock Nation. The approval and permitting process of this pipeline excluded the tribal government of Standing Rock.
After the outcry from Native people and allies across the country and the world it was temporarily halted by the orders of the U.S. Departments of the Army, Justice and Interior. But the fact is that construction continues.
The Native people resisting in North Dakota call themselves Water Protectors and one of the rallying cries used is "Mni Wiconi" which translates to "Water is Sacred." The Lakota people are doing what they have done since they encountered conquerors; they are protecting the sacred while trying to explain to non-native people that what happens to the land will happen to you. As we live in an ever changing climate, these Water Protectors are also calling attention to the addiction to oil and fossil fuels and the harmful impact it is having on us all. They are calling on us to remember that "you can't drink oil."
In spite of the peaceful nature of the camps, violent suppression from the Morton County Sheriff's office abounds. There have been at least two violent confrontations with hired private security and the Morton County Sheriff's department. The Governor has declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard. The Morton County Sheriff's Department have also engaged the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, allowing them to put out a call to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States to come and assist them. This is important because the Morton County Sheriff's office employed 22 full time people. The officers would not have been able to engage in violent confrontations against Native people without these other outside agencies standing with them.
The Standing Rock nation and Oceti Sakowin want clean water for their children, for their elders, and the millions of people down river. The right to raise our children in safe environments with clean water is under siege. As Reproductive Justice advocates, SisterSong knows that autonomy over your own body is critical and that when we can live in an environment that isn't poisoned, we uphold sovereignty.
SisterSong stands with the Standing Rock Nation and the hundreds of other native people defending the sacred, the environment, and future generations. As a collective rooted in social justice, we see this issue as our issue. We ask folks to raise awareness about this issue. You can learn more about what's happening in North Dakota and the intersection of native sovereignty, reproductive justice, and environmental racism by clicking HERE.
If you have money to give, we hope that you will also provide monetary support to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Sacred Stone Camp, and the Red Warrior Camp Legal Fund. This will help provide funds to winterize the camps, to help with legal counsel for protestors arrested for exercising their right to free speech and help to continue this amazing, powerful and important demonstration.
You can also add your voice by sharing information, posting on social media and helping to amplify the incredible work of the people at Standing Rock.
In solidarity,
Board of Directors of SisterSong under the leadership of our Indigenous board members