Bucky Harjo: Making sure our voice was heard in Washington, D.C.
This story was first published in the April 2017 edition of First Nation’s Focus.
WASHINGTON — On March 9, 2017, I made a journey to the nation’s capital, as did thousands of other Native Americans and supporters of Standing Rock, Water Protectors, elders, medicine people, woman and many youth.
Prior to our arrival, an encampment had been set up on the Mall at the Washington Monument, no camping was allowed but used as a gathering place and preparation for the March on Washington.
This was important even though the Trump administration had already approved the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Trump said he never got a phone call or heard any complaints. I am sure he heard us that day.
The morning was cold and windy. I rode a train in from Baltimore. I was lacking sleep having flown in at 11 p.m. the night before from Reno.
I woke up at 5 a.m. Eastern time to get ready. I made my way to the train station and into Union Station where I would maybe get a bite to eat. I wanted bacon, eggs, toast, a good cup of coffee, but time was of essence, so I walked outside the station to get a feel of the location and check with GPS as my destination to meet.
There were many other natives and water protectors in the terminal but did not follow. I walked out to see police everywhere. Lights were flashing in front of the Capital, so I went to get a closer look, not knowing what was going on but more of a curiosity, thinking maybe Trump was circling the wagons to defend his temporary palace.
Little did I know that many government attorneys had lost their jobs and were not being allowed to come to work. Sad, sad, what a country this is….
I never should have relied on technology to get me where I needed to go and just use my instinct. GPS had me walk more miles than just the few blocks I should have walked, but the exercise did me good.
Within a few blocks of the Army Corp of Engineers I started to see more and more water protectors gathering to continue fighting. They were walking, carrying signs, walking in traditional clothes, walking with hand drums, as I rounded the corner on G Street I could see a good size crowd singing and laughing, hugging and smiling.
A strong wind blew and I felt this strong wind before, it’s the ancestors. They came to march with us. It started to rain; it did not rain on our parade, it was more of a blessing.
To see many faces who were at camp, to hear the songs and smell the medicine, to be among the nations of the nations standing for what we believe in, what is protecting our way of life.
Before we knew it more people walked into the staging area soon the entire block was filled with people and we looked at the building that housed those who turned their back on us in a great time of need only to support those of greed.
On Jan. 24, President Trump signed executive orders to revive the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone Pipeline. He had said that no one had called or complained, so we took our action directly to Washington.
Sadly, oil, is in the DAPL pipeline. This is not a defeat, we were victorious at Standing Rock, we stood against the odds, laws were ignored by DAPL, by North Dakota, by Morton County and by the president.
The world is watching and shaking their heads at this country’s government, but our movement did not give up. We did not die, but life, the power of prayer, unity and love and many beautiful things came out of Standing Rock and we have taken this strength to the four corners of the globe, united we are as one and more and more people are being educated and we are moving forward in defending the land, the water, sovereign rights, treaty rights, human rights, the right to clean air, clean water and a cleaner environment. We are encouraging many to break away from fossil fuel and to start using solar, and wind to harness energy that is cleaner and greener.
So, as we marched the streets there were those bystanders who were confused. Our group was small at a gathering of 5,000 but by the time we marched upon the Capitol, maybe 10,000 strong voicing it loud and clear, again we were united, many of us from the many camps, we again had people from all walks of life, from the very old to new young ones, from all, faiths united in strength, prayer, love and compassion….MNI WICONI Water is Life.
We are here in Nevada continuing the fight, as we have individuals returning now and soon to return to North Dakota for court hearings, so we are currently having an online auction at Stand With Standing Rock, Reno, Nevada Facebook Page. The photo of Red Wolf Pope is one currently being auctioned.
I am not a journalist but an individual and want to share these moments with everyone. I will do what I can to document the wrong doings of those who desecrate our culture, our heritage, our beliefs, our ways of life, our land, our water, our future, our people.
Bucky Harjo (Paiute Shoshone) is a member of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, an award-winning photographer and activist based out of Reno.
I am over the moon with how strong our school-community relationship is, how easy it was to grow, and surprised by the willingness of my community, students and parents alike, to move in this direction too.