Dear allies of Gidim’ten checkpoint

Dear allies of Gidim’ten checkpoint,

As you will know, we have reached another flashpoint in the Wet’suwet’en’s struggle against the CGL pipeline. Having fought to protect the sacred headwaters of Wedzwin kwa, they are now faced with the possibility of imminent drilling. Today, the hereditary chiefs are holding a press conference and issuing an eviction notice. They are issuing a call to action, which we are relaying to you.

The chiefs are calling for people to take on three targets: BC government, contractors, and the funder, RBC. Decolonial Solidarity members will rally to pressure the latter. For organized groups, we are issuing a call for in-person action. For everyone else, we are inviting you to call the global head of sustainability at RBC.

Click here to access a one-click-to-call action

We have managed to get this man’s personal phone number. It is important that we stay polite and firm in denouncing the actions of the bank. Remember: it can freeze its investment until the hereditary chiefs consent to the project. It can stop the drilling. It is this man’s job to ensure that the bank is sustainable. Let’s remind him there’s a ways to go.

Call the head of sustainability!

Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders have not given up and nor will we. We will continue to build our movement, to show solidarity, to turn up at branches, to talk to our neighbors and to passers by, to mobilize in protest, to confront RBC executives, and to send our love to the admirable Land Defenders whose leadership has inspired us throughout these difficult times.

In solidarity,
The organizing team

(This message from decolonial solidarity on behalf of the Gidimt’en land and water protectors is forwarded with the permission of the Unist’ot’en  in solidarity with their neighboring clan within the Wet’suwet’en Nation.)

Unist’ot’en Solidarity Brigade robertages@telus.net



ALL OUT FOR WEDZIN KWA

There is fatigue with the constant struggle to protect the water and Mother Earth. And yet, there is a true emergency now as Coastal Gaslink is on the brink of drilling under the Wedzin Kwa in the Wet’suwet’en territories in British Columbia.

READY TO TAKE ACTION?

In the long work of elevating Wet’suwet’en hereditary governance, there are many ways that supporters can step into movement through action.

Ways you can help: https://www.yintahaccess.com/take-action-1

Please continue to organize in support of #wetsuwetenstrong. Thank you to everyone who has stood up.

A toolkit can be found here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xenvlytUvfA5OIthZTaCfoUjjtCrcZNy3RCsVzlWGEQ/preview


Urgent Update: Coastal Gaslink Poised to Drill Wet’suwet’en Headwaters

2022-09-18 – Coastal Gaslink equipment is now in position to drill beneath the Wedzin Kwa river, which provides drinking water for Wet’suwet’en villages and has served as a key salmon spawning area for millenia.

Wet’suwet’en territory is unceded, unsurrendered, and sovereign, and Wet’suwet’en people have never provided Free, Prior, and Informed Consent to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline’s destructive construction operations.

To date, Wet’suwet’en resistance to drilling beneath Wedzin Kwa has delayed the destruction of Wet’suwet’en waters for approximately two years. In the fall of 2021, Wet’suwet’en and allies sustained a two-month long blockade of this drill site called Coyote camp, until a series of militarized RCMP attacks on Wet’suwet’en community members and supporters resulted in dozens of arrests.

In advance of CGL’s drilling operations, Wet’suwet’en community members have faced increased surveillance and harassment from RCMP’s C-IRG unit (a police unit created to facilitate pipeline construction) and a series of private security contractors. Wet’suwet’en village sites remain under 24 hour surveillance, while police have made several arbitrary violent arrests, including with pepper spray.

RCMP and CGL’s private security contractor Forsythe were served a lawsuit by Wet’suwet’en community members who have been subject to this continuous surveillance and harassment.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and community members recently hosted a week of ceremony to protect and honour Wedzin Kwa, included rafting tours of a historic Wet’suwet’en village site within the headwaters area.

We will never stop defending our yintah the way our ancestors have done for thousands of years. The pipeline will never be put into service.

Urgent Update: Coastal Gaslink Poised to Drill Wet’suwet’en Headwaters


RCMP Refuses to Respond to Gidimt’en Lawsuit, Continue Surveillance and Harassment of Land Defenders as Coastal GasLink Poised to Drill Headwaters


A detailed account of much of what has been done, and ways you can help, can be found here: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2022/05/27/wetsuweten-emergency/

Radio interview this June with Ed Fallon about the Wet’suwet’en.

Ed Fallon and I discuss the Wet’suwet’en struggles on the Fallon Forum

January, 2020, Bear Creek Friends (Quaker) meeting sent the following letter to British Columbia Premier, John Horgan.

John Horgan.
PO BOX 9041 STN PROV GOVT
VICTORIA, BC V8W 9E1.
Email premier@gov.bc.ca

John Horgan,

We’re concerned that you are not honoring the tribal rights and unceded Wet’suwet’en territories and are threatening a raid instead.
We ask you to de-escalate the militarized police presence, meet with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, and hear their demands:
That the province cease construction of the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline project and suspend permits.
That the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and tribal rights to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are respected by the state and RCMP.
That the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and associated security and policing services be withdrawn from Wet’suwet’en lands, in agreement with the most recent letter provided by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimiation’s (CERD) request.
That the provincial and federal government, RCMP and private industry employed by Coastal GasLink (CGL) respect Wet’suwet’en laws and governance system, and refrain from using any force to access tribal lands or remove people.

Bear Creek Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
19186 Bear Creek Road, Earlham, Iowa, 50072



#RCMPOffTheYinta #KillTheDrill #WetsuwetenStrong #AllOutForWedzinKwa

Reflections on Reflections

The First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March involved a group of about thirty native and non-native people walking, eating, and camping together for 8 days. We walked ninety-four miles from Des Moines to Fort Dodge Iowa, along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline during the first week of September 2018.

It was a bit amazing when I read the following as I’m reflecting on my experiences and friendships from the March.

Roughly a year later, in 2019, as part of my work at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in Denendeh, I helped organize a solidarity gathering that took place in March, in the territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN). Our idea was simple—to invite a small group of Black, Brown and Indigenous activists, thinkers, writers, and organizers to spend time with us, in the spring, on an island in what the Yellowknives Dene known as Tindeè, or “big lake.” Together we fished nets under the ice, travelled by snowmobile and sleigh across the frozen lake, shared moose ribs cooked over the fire, stories from YKDFN Elders, our own ideas, and time with each other.

We wanted to invest in our relationship with each other and our affinities, outside of the institution, the internet, and crises, because we believed that the land would pull out a different set of conversations and gift us with a different way of relating. We wanted to sit together on the land, immersed in a Dene world, engage in a practice of Dene hospitality to see if we related to each other in a different way. This is exactly what happened. The land nurtured a set of conversations and way of relating to each other outside of the institution and its formations.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 35). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

In many ways the March was transformative for me. I wrote a long blog post of reflections on the March in early 2020. See: Reflections on the March.

The world, and I, have changed a lot in just the two years since those reflections were written. These two images represent the time span between the March and work we are doing today.


The first time I attended Quaker meeting after the March (2018), Russ Leckband gave me this piece of pottery, which was still warm from the kiln. The graphic on the right is about the Buffalo Rebellion, a climate justice summit, that I attended earlier this year.
(See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/?s=Buffalo+rebellion )

I suppose this blog post is more reflections on the prior reflections.
(As a photographer, I envision what that might look like)

Indy Art Jeff Kisling

Changes since the March in 2018

Environmental devastation and chaos are occurring much more rapidly than expected. In some ways not anticipated. The havoc from increasingly ferocious and frequent wildfires, violent storms, floods, and development of large areas of drought are overwhelming our social, economic, and political systems. Continued wars ruin or prevent the transport of vast quantities of agricultural products.

So many of the systems we used to depend on, we no longer can. Municipal services such as water, power, sewage, and trash processing will fail, are failing.  Food will no longer be available in grocery stores. Medical services will collapse. What will happen to those in prisons and long-term care facilities? Financial failures will wreck the economy and end social safety nets.

There are other compelling reasons to design and build new communities. Our economic system has not adapted to the loss of jobs overseas and to automation. There are simply not enough jobs for millions of people, and many of those who do have work are paid at poverty levels. Forced to depend upon increasingly diminishing social safety nets.

The judicial and law enforcement systems work with extreme bias against people of color. What will the response of militarized police, armed forces, armed militias be as social unrest escalates?


How do we respond? Some lessons learned from and since the March.

It is one thing to talk about change, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the reality of the changes described above. So, this is not an intellectual exercise.

Almost none of the White people I know, or have observed, are thinking of the radical changes necessary to deal with this evolving chaos. They are trapped in these failing systems and ways of being. Even those who recognize the many injustices of those systems.

For many reasons I believe our responses will be a return toward Indigenous ways and the sustainable ways of our ancestors.

White settler colonists must learn the true history, which was not taught to us. We can’t begin repair if we don’t know the underlying sources of injustice. We must stop treating the symptoms and instead focus on the causes, the underlying disease.

I FEEL THAT I NEED TO go backward in order to go forward. If we are going to find a way to make livable lives in these times, it is necessary to move beyond “human-related activities”: the climate crisis is tethered to its origins in slavery and colonialism, genocide and capitalism.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 25). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

I’ve been learning about the #LANDBACK movement, but I hadn’t consciously made the connection to the land we walked and slept upon during the March. We were deeply affected when we crossed the pipeline. And were aware of how different it was to spend hours outside and away from the busy-ness of technology. Many more hours than usual for many of us. And yet time had that elastic property that made hours seem like minutes and vice versa as we traveled through space together. Hearing stories of the past that can help us face the future.

Most of my White friends are horrified as they are learning more about the atrocities committed at the Indian boarding schools. Can hardly believe thousands of children died there. But they are being forced to as the remains of the children are being located.

White people cannot process these things and begin healing as long as they remain in the their White spaces and thinking. And deny any responsibility for what was done in the past.

My hope and prayer is a mass movement of us build Mutual Aid networks.

As William Shakespeare wrote, “what’s past is prolog”. Native children are still being taken from their families in the guise of child welfare. Native children are still forcefully assimilated when they are forced to read the White settler colonist view of history.

My involvement in Mutual Aid for the past two years has resulted in significant changes in my life. Changes that can be done now and help us move into the future. Another quote from the book Rehearsals for Living eloquently describes Mutual Aid.

My hope and prayer is a mass movement of us build Mutual Aid networks.

You and your relations, my friend, are (still) busy building a different world at the end of this one. This is something I’ve emphasized over and over again in my own work. I cherish the belief and practice that it is never enough to just critique the system and name our oppression. We also have to create the alternative, on the ground and in real time. In part, for me, because Nishnaabeg ethics and theory demand no less. In part because in Nishnaabeg thinking, knowledge is mobilized, generated, and shared by collectively doing. It’s more than that, though. There is an aspect of self-determination and ethical engagement in organizing to meet our peoples’ material needs. There is a collective emotional lift in doing something worthwhile for our peoples’ benefit, however short-lived that benefit might be. These spaces become intergenerational, diverse places of Indigenous joy, care and conversation, and these conversations can be affirming, naming, critiquing, as well as rejecting and pushing back against the current systems of oppression. This for me seems like the practice of movement-building that our respective radical practices have been engaged with for centuries.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 39). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

Following is the latest version of a diagram I’ve been working on to visualize some of what I’ve expressed above.

Court: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Iowa Supreme Court September 12, 2018

September 12, 2018 was the day Iowa landowners and the Sierra Club’s oral arguments in the case against the Iowa Public Utilities Board (IUB) were heard before the Iowa Supreme Court. The landowners and Sierra Club contend that the Public Utilities Board improperly allowed Energy Transfer Partners to use eminent domain to force Iowa landowners to let the Dakota Access Pipeline be constructed on their land.

One of the main objectives of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March was to call attention to this court case.  We had a large banner saying Stop Eminent Domain Abuse with us on the March. A similar sign was painted on our portable rest room/shower.


I didn’t enter the Court that day because I had my camera with me, and photos weren’t allowed inside. As my friends left the Court, they told me the justices seemed pretty well informed about the issues. The Court’s decision may not come for weeks or months. It is unclear what will happen if the Court decides for the landowners.

The other primary purpose of the March was to build a community of activists who began to know each other so we could work together. This court date was the first opportunity for that to happen, and I was very glad to see quite a few of my fellow Marchers at the Court this morning.

The decision several months later was against the landowners and for the pipeline.



Back at the Iowa Utilities Board

We’re back at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) these days, this time to object to proposed carbon pipelines.


Another pipeline and the courts

In a decisive victory for Native American rights, a federal judge just ordered an energy company to completely remove a natural gas pipeline.

Seventeen years after the expiration of an easement, a federal judge has ordered an energy company to completely remove its pipeline from the properties of 38 Native American landowners — none of whom have been compensated for the company’s use of their land since the year 2000.

Now, the pipeline company will have just six months to dismantle and completely remove the structure.

“Having carefully reviewed the parties’ submissions, and in light of the facts and circumstances in this case,” Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange wrote in the 10-page decision for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, “the court finds that a permanent injunction should be entered in this case. Specifically, it is plaintiffs’ interests in the exclusive possession of their land which has been invaded by the presence of the pipeline and defendants’ continued use of the pipeline.

JUDGE ORDERS REMOVAL OF GAS PIPELINE FROM NATIVE AMERICAN PROPERTY By Staff, nativefire.blogspot.com, November 25, 2017

I’m having trouble finding much more information beyond this article saying the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the permanent injunction of the case cited above.

While Enable Midstream Partners LP recently lost a U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling regarding its pipeline operation near Anadarko, the company will not be forced to rip up 1,300 feet of the pipeline.

It came out of the Tenth Circuit court this week in a case involving a group of tribal landowners who filed suit a few years ago and accused the company of trespassing.

The Tenth Circuit ruling this week stayed a permanent injunction handed down earlier by Oklahoma City U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange in which the company had been ordered to remove the pipeline by May 5.

Enable Won’t Be Forced to Remove Pipeline After Losing Lawsuit, OK Energy Today, April 26, 2018

Day 8: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Eighth and final day.  September 8, 2018.  Walk 12.4 miles from Otho to the end of the march at Fort Dodge, Iowa.

It was cold when we awoke this morning at 6:00 a.m. and broke camp in the dark. I didn’t want to get out of the sleeping bag. But this was the big day, one we were both looking forward to, and not. Fortunately, hot coffee was ready. Last night we talked about the need to get going early, because people would be expecting us to arrive in Fort Dodge by 1:30 pm. Many of us were skeptical that we could leave early enough to walk the 12.4 miles to get there in time, but we managed to do so.

One way this will be an interesting day for me is because my camera battery finally died. I thought it would last and hadn’t brought my battery charger. So, the photos of this final day of the march were taken with my cell phone camera.

Before we started walking, we had a nice ceremony where we gave the money we had collected to Alton and Foxy as a gift for their upcoming wedding. Fintan decorated the envelope.


Alton and Foxy didn’t know about the money we collected for their upcoming wedding

Many times I heard people talking about how sad they will be when the March is finished. Many friendships had been made, as you can see from all the smiles in the photos.



Among my many new friends were Matt and Alton, so I was glad to have the selfie Alton took of us, and the photo Miriam took of Matt and I. Matt and I talked much of this final day of the March. Since the end of the March we have chatted via Messenger. I’m glad we’re keeping in touch. He is editing more of the video he took during the March and I look forward to seeing them.


Alton and I
Matt and I

We had a police escort through downtown Fort Dodge. At the City Square Park the tipi had been set up.

Foxy and Donnielle

Arriving at park in Fort Dodge

I was amazed by the huge mural that hung on the side of the gear truck. Several people had been working on this all during the week.



Sikowis (Christine) Nobiss

Donnielle EWanatee

Drummers played and sang the “Mni Wiconi Song.” According to The Messenger newspaper, the English translation of the lyrics is:

“Grandmother earth gives life
The water is sacred
The water that gives life is sacred
DAPL is very bad
The Nation needs to take heart and be brave.”


The Messenger published a nice summary of the March and celebration, with photos, including one of my bandaged foot and shoes. “Many steps. One journey”, September 10, 2018.

http://www.messengernews.net/news/local-news/2018/09/many-steps-one-journey/

The band Brutal Republic performed. All of their equipment was being powered by the solar system that had accompanied us all week. My brother Randy, who was there to give me a ride home, thought they sounded really good and would have like to stay for a while. But I was way too tired to enjoy it.

During the week we came to understand how much work was involved in planning and guiding this March, and are very grateful. So many people contributed in so many ways.

I hope we can be together again soon. As our environmental chaos gets worse, I think a combination of the knowledge and wisdom of Indigenous people and progressive farmers, thinkers and activists will be crucial.


Two-eyed seeing “recognizes the benefits of seeing from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, from the other eye the strengths of the Western ways of knowing, and using both of these eyes together to create new forms of understanding and insight.” 

Elder Albert Marshall (Mi’kmaq, Eskasoni First Nation) from Urban Tribes, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

Day 5: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Day 5. September 5, 2018.  14 miles from the Boone County Fairgrounds to Pilot Mound, Iowa.

Once again I was pleasantly surprised to awaken feeling fairly refreshed, despite being pretty tired at the end of yesterday’s 15 miles, and staying up late to write. Since we were all sleeping in the same large room, the lights went out a little after 10 p.m. There were no windows so it was pretty dark. Several others and I were in a smaller ‘media’ room writing. I didn’t get to bed until 11:30. It was a little tricky finding my way through the large darkened room to my sleeping bag

When we arrived yesterday I discovered I had worn a hole into the sole of my shoes, and developed a blister. I would have been more concerned but I had seen Miriam work on a number of other people’s blisters. She cut a piece of adhesive foam larger than the blister, then cut a hole in the middle of that the size of the blister, to help keep pressure off it. Then the ever useful duct tape was wrapped around the foot to hold things in place. And it worked pretty well. A photo of my bandaged foot was included in the article about the March in the Fort Dodge Messenger, Many Steps, One Journey.

Miriam Kashia foot doctor extraordinaire

It was raining harder than ever when we started out that morning. But again, I didn’t hear any complaints. We were warned to be more aware of traffic because we started out going through town. Before we started burning sage was brought to each of us. And Alton made a raincoat for his dog Oceti.


Being outside all day, and sometimes sleeping outside (sometimes in some strong thunderstorms) has made me more and more aware of the natural world. I’ve mentioned before how I enjoyed being outside as I trained for this March. Walking has been much more interesting now that I am aware, as Indigenous people have always been, that everything: trees, water, plants, rocks, wind, etc. has the Spirit in them. I found myself focusing on talking to the trees, squirrels and birds as I walked.

At one rest stop a police officer stopped to see what we were doing. Manape spoke to him. We were careful to use a system to announce when a car was approaching from the front (“car up”) or back (“car back”). Everyone then immediately formed a single file and got as far off the road as possible. Even so, the police often seemed to have heard about us marching, though none of the policemen caused us any trouble.

There wasn’t quite as much talking today since there wasn’t much of a shoulder on the road, so we had to walk in single file.

Before crossing the river just before reaching our destination of Pilot Mound, we came to another pipeline crossing. We could see the area where trees had been removed to build the pipeline on the hill on the other side of the river.

As always, we stopped for prayers. This time I was asked to lead them. I was very happy to have this opportunity to share some about Quakers and the Spirit. As we stood in a circle holding hands, I mentioned that Peter Clay, Lee Tesdell, and I were Quakers. And that I hoped they would meet my brother Randy, also a Quaker, when he comes to Fort Dodge at the end of the March, for the celebration and give me a ride home. I’ve been trying to share about Quakers as opportunities come up for several reasons. I think there are many parts of Quakerism that are common with the spirituality of Indigenous people.

And as Manape has said, the reason we are marching together is to make it possible for us to continue to work together in the future. For that to happen, we need to trust each other. And for trust to be established, we need to understand each other. That was why I shared about Quakerism when it seemed appropriate.

As we stood in the circle I said that Quakers do not believe spirituality is just a matter of Sunday morning services. We try to be attentive to the spirit all the time, though we often get distracted. We do also gather together Sunday morning to worship in silence. That sometimes someone is given a spiritual message that they speak into the silence. During the March someone had asked if I was a minister and before I could answer, Miriam said, “he’s a Quaker and all Quakers are ministers.”

During the ceremony at this pipeline crossing I asked the circle of my friends to listen together to the Spirit (saying we wouldn’t do so for a whole hour). But in the time we spent worshiping together, I felt the presence of the spirit among us. Afterward several people gave me hugs and thanked me. As I think about it now, I have felt the spirit among us all week.

Once we arrived in Pilot Mound some of us noticed we were being followed by a car for a while. We learned the driver was Manape’s father, Frank, and he was just enjoying watching us march together. Frank has been a very active activist.

One of the most moving parts of this journey occurred as Frank spoke to us before we ate dinner. He began by saying he was honored to be with us and how blessed he felt as he watched us marching. He said it made his “heart soar like a hawk.” He spoke of the many issues he has worked on in his life. And how it takes many, many years to see results (40, more). That it is not the number of people involved that is important. It is their persistence in raising up the truth. Once a certain concern starts to see a shift toward what is right, others remember the people or person who never went away during all those years.

We found there was no cell phone or internet service available in Pilot Mound. In a way that seemed to symbolize that we were cut off from civilization. The whole marching and camping experience felt like we were back in a simpler time. We felt more in touch with nature. We also knew things like the severe storms and flooding we experienced were related to climate change, and to what we were trying to call attention to by marching.

Day 4: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Day 4 Sept 4, 2018 Ames – Boone 15.1 miles

I believe today is our longest mileage march–15 miles. More rain is predicted for this afternoon and there are flash flood warnings.

The group is becoming more cohesive as we share our stories. As Donnielle said, “we are a tribe.”

We are a tribe

Tim Dwight walked with us today. He used to play in the National Football League. Now his work relates to solar energy. I learned a lot about how he can work with communities to build solar energy systems. He has been involved in lobbying efforts in the Iowa legislature to support solar energy.  Tim is going to talk more about that for the whole group tomorrow or the next night.

Those of you from the Bear Creek area might recognize the name Gary Clague, who grew up in Earlham. He knows the Knights and others.

Gary Clague

Alton was talking about the strong bond that forms between a child and an animal. He spoke fondly of a horse from his youth. When he and his friends went to ride their horses, his was the only one who came up to him every time. He talked about how easy is was to ride the horse that was in tune with where he wanted to go. “I really miss that horse.” I spent a lot of time visiting Foxy Jackson, who we learned is going to marry Alton in a couple of weeks.

Alton Onefeather

Matthew Lone Bear and I continue to talk a lot about photography, videography, and drones. He sometimes goes for unusual camera angles, for example lying on his back. I think that is a sign of a good photographer.

Matthew Lone Bear

Mahmud Fitil shared stories related to tar sand spills, saying most commercial labs won’t analyze the water samples from tar sand spills because they fear repercussions from the government. Fitil went to Doon, Iowa, site of a train derailment and oil spill of an estimated 230,000 gallons in June. He said there was little activity related to the cleanup. The smell was worse than that of raw gasoline, causing some to vomit.

Mahmud Fitil

Miriam Kashia and I compared my Quakerism to her Universal Unitarian church and community. I told her the Quaker Social Change Ministry program we used at North Meadow Circle of Friends in Indianapolis was modeled after the program created by the Universalists. Miriam says her new church is the greenest church in Iowa.

Miriam Kashia

At 5:30 pm we all straggled into the Boone County Fairgrounds, fifteen miles from our Ames camp. Everyone seems to be limping a little. I discovered I had worn a hole in my shoe, which resulted in a blister! Fortunately, we have Miriam, who plugged the hole, and will treat my blister in the morning. Several others also developed blisters. It was a rough day.

The building we are in is actually the site where the Public Utilities Commission had a meeting for public comments about the Dakota Access Pipeline in November, 2015. Peter Clay spoke and Miriam Kashia attended. That was where Peter had his first contact with Native Americans, who came from South Dakota to fight the pipeline.

Before dinner, someone described how they went to the Bakken oil fields to see what tar sands oil looked like. He was able to obtain a couple of quarts of it and found an independent lab to analyze it. As expected, it was full of toxic chemicals.  He found that the tar sands product became suspended in water, so a spill cannot be cleanup up simply by skimming it off the top of the water.

Someone else talked about the damage to the fields done by the pipeline construction. Heavy treaded vehicles traveled over the fields in wet weather, compacting the soil. Where the pipeline was laid, the rich topsoil was scraped off. It was supposed to be saved to put pack in place but wasn’t. The clay layer was dug up, then a mixture of the topsoil and clay refilled in the trench. The clay disrupts the flow of water and nutrients through the topsoil/clay mixture. It is common to see ponds of water over areas of the pipeline because of nonporous clay layer.

Standing water in fields

Dinner that included buffalo meat and fry bread followed. Looking around the table I thought it would be nice if this was a “real” Thanksgiving dinner. Manape said, we call it Thanks-taking.

Storms are predicted for tonight and tomorrow so we are glad to be inside. This was the first night we all slept in the same space together, which I thought added another dimension to us growing closer as a group.


Day 3: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Day 3 Sept 3, 2018 Huxley – Ames 9.2 miles

Prior to beginning today, Tricia performed smudging for us, to remove negative energy and bring positive energy. That this was offered to all of us, sharing this Native practice, is just one of many examples of all of us sharing with each other. This sharing was crucial to our growing interconnections, and building a single community, together.


This video was shot by Mahmud Fitil who is marching with us. My feet felt better after that. Mahmud told me when he went to the site of a tar sands train derailment the smell was so bad people nearly vomited.

For the first several hours it was raining pretty hard. Prior to this march, I never would have ventured out into such heavy rain. But this morning I didn’t hear one person suggest we should wait until it wasn’t raining so hard.  Not one person complaining. We just put on our rain gear, had our morning circle to discuss the day’s route, and began to march and continue sharing our stories. One of the most remarkable and most meaningful things that happened on this march was the extended length of time we were with each other, and the conversations went on almost non-stop.

After Lee Tesdell’s presentation last night, he took me to see where the pipeline crossed the highway we would be traveling on when we left Huxley. We planned to have a ceremony when we reached the pipeline. Donnielle Wanatee offered good prayers, asking for protection for the walkers, and for their families at home. I was surprised at what an emotional time this was. It was especially difficult for Kathy Byrnes, bringing back a lot of bad memories of her past experiences with the construction of the pipeline on her neighbor’s land. Many offered her hugs.

I could see from the expressions and body language that every one of us was feeling the trauma of the land and water being desecrated by the black snake.

These deep emotions were felt by all of us every time we crossed the pipeline. I could see from the expressions and body language that every one of us was feeling the trauma of the land and water being desecrated by the black snake.

So today was mostly about walking in the rain, sharing more stories, and experiences at the pipeline sites.


The tipi was set up again in Ames. Here is a short video of putting the cover on the tipi.

Day 2: First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March

Day 2 Sept 2, 2018 Ankeny – Huxley 9.0 miles

Day 2 Griffieon Farm to Huxley
Day 2 Matthew Lone Bear video
Forum on Agricultural Practices with Lee Tesdell

From the photos below you can see we encountered stormy skies and overflowing creeks. The tipi was erected at most of our stops. And we all participated in smudging with burning sage. Learning about each other.

As would happen often, our planned camping site in Huxley was flooded. Sam became adept at finding alternatives. The Fjeldberg Lutheran Church allowed us to sleep there.

The video by my friend Matthew Lone Bear (see link above) was taken during this day of the March and provides a nice overview of our journey.

Each evening there would be a community discussion. This evening my Scattergood roommate, Lee Tesdell, spoke about progressive agricultural practices he’s using on his farm including a denitrifying bioreactor. The link in the above describes an interesting discussion about agricultural practices today compared to Indigenous methods as described by Sikowis Nobiss.

Lee Tesdell
denitrifying bioreactor


Foundational stories: Videos

[Note: This is a continuation of a series of posts about the evolution of my foundational stories, which are related to the intersection between my Quaker faith, protecting Mother Earth, and photography. As is often the case, it is taking me much longer than expected to tell my foundational stories (See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/?s=foundational). Dramatic changes in the world have me re-evaluating how I see my Quaker faith, love of Mother Earth, and photography now. And seeking the way forward.]

There are many branches of these stories. Thus far the focus has primarily been on being a water protector, protecting Mother Earth, although my Quaker faith and photography are also parts of almost every story.

Having spent my adult life in Indianapolis, I returned to Iowa when I retired at the end of June, 2017.

But before I begin the Iowa stories, there are a couple more from Indianapolis.

I mentioned the Kheprw Institute (KI), a Black youth mentoring community I was involved with, in an earlier story about the Keystone Pledge of Resistance. KI played a huge role in my education about faith, social, racial, and environmental justice. I plan to share those stories later.

KI allowed us Keystone Action Leads to speak at a public meeting about the Keystone Resistance. Each of us spoke about why we were willing to risk arrest to stop the pipeline. We hadn’t really spoken about this before, and I was moved by what my friends said. I could tell the audience was as well.

Kheprw Institute, Indianapolis

Additionally, Ra Wyse, associated with KI, interviewed Aghilah Nadaraj (KI) and I about the Dakota Access pipeline. Following is the audio from that interview with a slideshow of photos I had taken.

Dakota Access Pipeline

Coming full circle in a way, the video below is of me talking about the Keystone Pledge of Resistance at a Dakota Access Pipeline gathering at the Indiana State Capitol in 2017. That was a moving ceremony for those of us who had been working on the Dakota Access pipeline together.


I previously shared the Keystone Pipeline video Derek Glass and I made: https://youtu.be/gf08zb7t6UQ


Those of us involved with DAPL supported Alex Red Bear when he wanted to organize a gathering and march related to DAPL in downtown Indianapolis.


NODAPL at PNC bank