Standing Strong With Standing Rock

By RONNI PIERCE

Choctaw Nation

Photos by Payton Guthrie

Choctaw Cody Wilson, originally from Idabel now living in Idaho, was just one of many Chahtas making their way to Standing Rock to show their support.

Energy Transfer Partners plans on building a 1,200-mile oil pipeline through Lakota reservation land. The pipeline, which has the capacity to pump half a million barrels of crude oil through the line daily, will run a portion of the proposed pipeline under the Missouri River which runs across Lakota land. The citizens of Standing Rock Lakota Reservation oppose the pipeline over potential oil spills under the water source and other ecological concerns.

“I received a request from Chief Batton and my executive director to make contact with the tribe and see how the Choctaw Nation would be able to assist,” Hansen continued. “We’ve been coordinating with the [Lakota] tribe’s Emergency Manager, Elliott Ward, to discuss some of the items they needed.” 

Once in Bismarck, the group made several shopping stops buying sleeping bags, generators, chain saws, and propane heaters, things needed to survive a long North Dakota winter.

The continuous rain prevented the supplies from being delivered directly to the camp so the group was diverted to the Lakota Nation’s administrative offices where they presented a letter from Chief Batton to Tribal Councilman-At-Large Charles Walker. 

“All the assistance coming in from all the nations, it’s humbling,” Walker began. 

 

He continued by thanking the Choctaw Nation on behalf of his people.

“As our values teach us, we value life, so all the way down the Missouri, the Mississippi, we think about them too.

“Mni wiconi [Water is life]. Anything that lives cannot exist without water. We are one with everything that has a spirit whether it’s trees, a blade of grass, animals. Everything. We’re not going to receive the benefits of what we are standing up for today. It’s our children and their children and their grandchildren. First and foremost, we think about them.”

When the rain stopped, the group made their way to the camp and found several Choctaws volunteering their time alongside other Native Americans.

Cody Wilson was one such Choctaw. Working now for the Coeur d’Alene tribe, living in Idaho, he was about to push off from shore into the Missouri River with a canoe flotilla headed to Sacred Stone Camp. A former Choctaw language facilitator in Idabel, he now works in vocational rehabilitation.

“You’ve got all these tribes,” Wilson said, “and these aren’t their waterways. They all came to support it by putting their traditional canoes on the water.

“We’ve got people from Alaska, from all different tribes mainly coastal and Pacific Northwest who brought their canoes down.”

“It’s a good feeling knowing we have so much support because when we have our tribal nations come together although we come from different backgrounds, we come from different treaties, we come from different whatever had happened to our people in the past, we’re still here in the fact that we exist,” said Walker. “We stand here today in unity with our people.”

Hundreds of tribes from across the nation have contributed to the Standing Rock people and to the community at Sacred Stone.

“This fight is everyone’s fight,” Hansen said.

The official Choctaw flag was sent by Chief Gary Batton and delivered to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe along with supplies and equipment. The flags at the Sacred Stone Camp are from tribes and nations around the globe and represent the worldwide commitment and support for the Standing Rock cause.