Image / olego
Listen to River by Ibeyi
"River Soldiers. Dangerous people in their way, mucking peacefully around in water, stirring up idle love for minnows, mud, and eternity's filaments when there's hard cash to be made. Obeying 78 percent of Christ's love-thy-neighbor order by loving the fluid 78 percent of everyone, whether they believe in Christ or not. Creekophiles. Stone skippers. Aquatic bug lovers. Idlers. Weirdos. There ought to be a law. There are some, actually. But it's hard to outlaw River Soldiering completely without outlawing love and life itself.
We're not out to make trouble for the money-driven - though we do like to remind them that water is essential even to the manufacture of the paper their money's printed on. We're not anti-progress, anti-profit, anti-politics. We just happened to have discovered that once you start spending time in the wet, glimpsing eternity in glides, or being lifted above earth by joys caused by nothing but water's flow, you tend to stop fretting the gross national product...
The life and health of the waters flowing into our lives; the life and health of the same waters as they flow out of our lives: this is the news that absorbs us. Our kind of news doesn't make many headlines, but there's a newsworthy reason for this: eventually there may only be one of us...the river. We call ourselves the River Soldiers."
- David James Duncan, from My Story As Told by Water
When David James Duncan wrote his beautiful and passionate book-length love letter to the rivers of America in 2001, he called himself and others like him River Soldiers. Those who were raised by the river, were taught life's most important lessons between her banks. Those who knew the power and nourishment to be found in the waters of our nation - and their fragility. His book is full of beauties and losses - moments of boyhood wonder and true tales of the corporate devastation of irreplaceable ecosystems. Fifteen years later, much damage has been done, the vulnerabilities of the land remain great, the environmental stakes remain high.
Over the past few weeks, 280 diverse Native American tribes have gathered at the banks of the Missouri River at the Standing Rock Reservation with a common purpose: they are the Water Protectors. Intent on preserving the lifeblood of the land, they have set aside their differences, and their normal daily duties, to collaborate in calling attention to a threat they're no longer willing to see ignored. They are calling for a halt in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was recently re-routed through tribal lands without the necessary consent of tribal leaders. They have concerns about decimation of lands they consider sacred, and they have concerns about pollution of water, land and wildlife in the event of a spill. The protection of water against corporate accidents is a concern that Native Tribes have historical reason to hold, and it's also a very timely concern. Just days ago, in the midst of this protest, a pipeline spill in Alabama dumped 338,000 gallons of fuel into an ecologically sensitive area.
'“We say ‘mni wiconi’: Water is life. We can’t put it at risk, not for just us, but everybody downstream. We’re looking out for our future, the children who are not even born yet. What is it they will need? It’s water. When we start talking about water, we’re talking about the future generations.” - David Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux
In an age of busyness, in an age of mass denial of the consequences of our consumption and our actions upon the future of this earth, these Water Protectors are doing incredibly important work. Work that serves all of us. Here are some of the many individuals who are standing up to the notion that short-term corporate profits should take precedence over the health of our only planet and the people - living and yet unborn - of this nation. Here is information about the camp, what is happening there, and how you can help from wherever you are. Help, support and solidarity are all needed at this time.
"As water, given sugar, sweetens
given salt, grows salty
we become our choices."
- Jane Hirshfield
Breathe deeply, practice often, be well.
Dana Wyss Healing Arts