Moccasins on the Ground to Protect Sacred Water

Update: Sunday, March 10 – Day of Ceremony and Commitment to Protecting the Sacred Water from KXL

Moccasins On Ground

Photo credit: Andrew Ironshell

Watch the video:

Update: Saturday, March 9 – Trainings on Direct Action,  Action Medics, and Strategic Media

Lakota drummers opened the day in ceremony and performed traditional songs throughout the day. Song loosely translated as: ”Grandfather look down and watch over us as protectors of Mother Earth.” See more photos and follow live updates on twitter.

Here are some highlights:

  • A young warrior spoke: “This will not be ‘game over’ because we will NOT allow this pipeline to go through Lakota territory.”
  • “Our Red Nations have all opposed KXL pipeline and called upon all Lakota to defend our water. We can’t become complacent. We need to be ready and trained if KXL comes here.” - Debra White Plume
  • Cindy, a Nebraska rancher brought a jug of her pure well water to share. ”Don’t let this be poisoned by KXL.”
  • Participants had fun practicing “hassle lines” to get hands on experience in nonviolent deescalation tractics

Lakota drummers perform traditional songs

Young warriors stand strong in front of giant "Honor the Treaties" banner

Young warriors stand strong in front of giant “Honor the Treaties” banner

Kandi Mossett with Indigenous Environmental Network training on Strategic Direct Action

Kandi Mossett with Indigenous Environmental Network training on Strategic Direct Action

Update: Friday, March 8 - Moccasins on the Ground: Frontline Activist Training begins

Moccasins on the Ground training at Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota kicked off today with celebration and ceremony. Debra White Plume, Lakota Grandmother, spoke about the goal for the weekend:

“This training is a message to Obama and TransCanada that if they try to build KXL we’ll be here to meet them with our moccasins on the ground.”
Elder Opening CeremonyLakota elders addressed the crowd with important messages about protecting the Sacred Waters from toxic tar sands. Here are a few highlights from the opening ceremony:

  • Drummers performed a traditional song in Lakota that’s loosely translated as: “Grandfather look down and watch over us as protectors of Mother Earth.”
  • “Water is the first medicine. It doesn’t matter what color you are. You need water to survive. This is about protecting our Sacred Water.” – Vic Camp
  • “This is the key question: When do we claim self defense for Mother Earth?” -Alex White Plume
  • “This is a death pipeline. Cultural death for our people.” Ramsey Sprague, Tar Sands Blockade

Follow more live updates from Moccasins on the Ground on twitter.

Guest post by Debra White Plume, Lakota Grandmother, Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way). You can follow live updates from Moccasins on the Ground: Frontline Activist Training on twitter.

Lakota know we love Unci Maka. All of Unci Maka. Our ancestors were free, to follow the Star Nation Path (the Good Red Road), to roam, to hunt, to be happy, to have sacred water. Then one day, FAT TAKER came thru camp, and stole the fat that many women prepared to get their lodges through the harsh prairie winters. From then on, it was the beginning of a war our ancestors waged in defense of their children, their babies, their, and our, sacred path of life.The gunfire may have ended at Wounded Knee in 1890 on that day when the 7th Calvary massacred unarmed women, children, old people, and men. But the war continues. America continues to violate international law, which is what a treaty is. Our ancestors made the 1851 and 1868 Ft Laramie Treaty with the United States to retain territory and make peace. America violated the Treaty Law when Fat Taker found gold, and they have been violating it ever since.  America recently admitted their guilt in being a Fat Taker, through the unilateral (because no one bothered to talk with Traditional government about this lawsuit) approval of the Cobell Settlement, which awarded a few billion to the many many Red Nations peoples who America stole money from in the amount of $134 billion dollars worth of what American calls “natural resources”. These were taken off Unci Maka to make a profit for a few Fat Takers, leaving destruction and contamination behind that our Red Nations have to live and die with.

Our Treaty boundaries encompass a large part of the Great Plains. This is our ancestral territory that we retained through Treaty. We, to this day, love this land, and feel that we need to take care of it. At one point in time, America called, after illegal takings of other unceded territory, the remaining portions this land base “the Great Sioux Reservation”. Nonetheless, we are our own sovereign Nation!

Therein lies some of the confusion as to the understanding of the American people when we speak of “reservations”. The place where I live now is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. Officially, in the records of the American government’s Interior Department (where the national parks, animals, and plants are managed, is also where the Indians and our lands are “managed”) Pine Ridge Reservation is acknowledged as Prisoner of War Camp 344. In the past days, our people were not under the Interior Department, we were classified under the War Department. American Indians (sic) are the only people in this big land who have ANOTHER  number, beyond the social security number of all Americans. We have our “Indian” number, our Prisoner of War number. Mine begins with 344. So America knows I dwell within Prisoner of War Camp 344. Think about that for awhile.

In our work to protect Treaty Territory, Human Rights, Treaty Rights, we make allies all over the world to educate about our situation in POW Camp #344, our Treaties, and our obligation and priviledge to protect lands and waters for our coming generations. We have many American people allies. Sometimes they make the human error of going by information they find about us, and utilize American records, and America refers to some of our land base as the “Great Sioux Reservation” which was a collective land base for our Nations to live on together, vs the individual ‘reservation’ landbases that remain after American carved out all our Treaty Territory that they wanted for the Fat.  These individual ‘reservations’ are where the distinct Bands (I am of the Oglala Band) reside today.

Moccasins on the Ground
There is a tarsands oil pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline, planned by TransCanada, Inc. that will pierce through our Treaty Territory, or, if you go by American records, parts of the “Great Sioux Reservation”. It will cross hundreds of rivers, streams, creeks, and it will be over our Ogllala Aquifer, which spans 8 states from South Dakota to Texas, and it will cross our piped-in drinking water as well. This aquifer is also our source of drinking water for portions of the Pine Ridge Reservation, the Cheyenne River Eagle Butte Reservation, and Rosebud Reservation, which by the way, also depend on the piped-in drinking water. We must protect our drinking water.The American process of citizen involvement is designed to make people feel they have a voice. However, as the process applies to “American Indians”, the process is flawed to benefit the United States and any corporations who want to do business on our lands. America claims their process gives us voice to express our concerns and needs and RIGHTS. We know this is to be fallacy, a myth, a disguise for Fat Taker to continue to get their way.TransCanada has a website that displays our Moccasins on the Ground Activist Training poster. TC caims they have utilized this American process to “work with” the tribes, but it is just more of the manipulation of Fat Taker to get what they want. Say our “tribe” meets with the American entities of EPA, BLM, etc. and we voice “NO, dont come through here.” The entities will say, but we have the right to come through there, it does not violate any law. That is not a consultation, it is the federal government TELLING us what they will do. Our Red Nations have all opposed the KXL pipeline and called upon Lakota to defend the water.

Watch this video from a blockade on Pine Ridge a year ago, in which people stopped tar sands mega-load trucks from illegally crossing the reservation.

TransCanada is trying to make a big deal out of a mistaken American identification of who our people are and what are Territories consist of. TransCanada is trying to explain away how their tarsands KXL pipeline application process for a permit to enter the big land is all above board and honest and good. Ask the non-Indian American ranchers and farmers from Montana to Texas how above board TC and America have behaved. They lost their lands to eminent domain to TC. They are the new Indians of today, the federal government is helping Fat Taker to take their lands now, against their wishes.

Folks have to take caution, and read between the lines of what these Fat Taker corporations say, as they manipulate the English language and play with words to make themselves look like they are not Fat Taker, that they are honest and good. Do not be deceived by Fat Taker. Stand with us to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and shut down tarsands oil mine. Stand with us now while there is still time to stop them. Take courage! We do have the right to protect our sacred water for our children and grandchildren. It is their water. We must be prepared to protect that which is for our generations.

We are now hosting a three day training session to learn from each other how to protect our sacred water using non violent direct action, which, by the way, is a right of all citizens in this big land. We will make allies, learn new skills, share existing effective skills that will make us stronger in our collective action of putting our Moccasins on the Ground to protect our sacred water. Hecetuwe. (It is so so.)

Debra White Plume
Owe Aku, Bring Back the Way

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Video: Fighting For Cummins Hill – Stop the Tennessee Pipeline!


Our allies working in Pennsylvania have been resisting the Tennessee Pipeline from going through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.  This video highlights their struggle as they occupied the road on Cummins Hill to stop workers from clear cutting the trees on the easement.

But their fight is not over!  Visit for more info about the campaign, the resistance, and how to contribute to their supplies and bail funds.

The Quest For Sustainability With Pike County

Creative Director & Producer: Zakee Kuduro

Executive Producer: Energy Action Coalition

Imagine living in a place that’s so serene that when you open your eyes… you’ll swear you are standing inside of your dream. Of course you don’t want to awake, only to pinch yourself standing in all the Glory that has been given for your eyes to see. You touch the air with your tongue and run your fingers through the soil invoking all its minerals.
Oil pipelines have been in the news a lot this past year, between the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and various publicized oil spills. Potential human health effects of these spills are one of the concerns frequently raised, so I decided to take a fairly high-level look at the potential risks by hitting the road for our “Quest for Sustainability” series. I made the journey up to Pike County, Pennsylvania just outside of Upstate NY where describing the mountains as beautiful is a complete understatement. This is the part 1 of a story of a small town in Milford PA who wants to keep their water clean, air free of toxins and of course pipeline free.

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Protestor Locks Himself to Conference Equipment, Disrupts TransCanada Presentation At Oil Industry Gathering

An activist with Tar Sands Blockade locked his neck to a projector screen and successfully disrupted a TransCanada presentation at an oil industry gathering in Houston. In taking direct action, Ethan Nuss confronted in-person Paul Miller, TransCanada’s Executive Vice President of Oil Pipelines, and a ballroom of tar sands industry investors, demanding a halt to the toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Read more in the Houston Chronicle and Democracy Now! Watch the full action video here:

Update 8:30am — Ethan’s just been bailed out!

We’re all happy and excited to see him, and can now celebrate his birthday with him.

Update 1:50am — Check out the livestream video of Thursday’s conference disruption action below!

Update Friday, March 1st, 1:15am — Ethan is expected to be in jail through the night.

Ethan hasn’t yet been charged with anything or had his bail amount set. We’re hoping to have him out tomorrow by noon or so. Show your support for his courageous act of civil disobedience!  Donate to help bail him out and support Tar Sands Blockade to continue to confront tar sands profiteers. Read the letter he wrote before taking action.

Update 8pm — Ethan still hasn’t been officially charged yet.

He’s in high spirits and sends along his deepest gratitude for all the love and birthday well-wishes:

“I turned 29 today, and there is nowhere that I’d rather spend my birthday than locked to that projector screen, speaking truth to power.”

Ethan Senior Portrait

Although he’d never admit it, we know he’d much rather be here, eating birthday cake and celebrating another revolution around the sun, than sitting in Houston City Jail right now. Donate to his birthday bail fund here.

Make his other birthday wish come true by signing up to host an action during the Week of Action to Stop Tar Sands Profiteers this March 16-23!

Spread the word on facebook and twitter about Ethan’s action today if you agree that Keystone XL is a toxic investment and that we won’t tolerate its ‘business as usual’ any longer.

Update 5:15pm — We’ve just heard from Ethan that he’s been charged with criminal trespass.

Ethan showed great courage to be able to confront tar sands profiteers and other forms of deadly energy at one of their marketing conferences. Show your support by donating to help bail him out!

Update 3pm — Ethan has just been extracted, taken into police custody, and removed from the building.

Believe it or not, today is actually Ethan’s 29th birthday! Show your support for Ethan and help bail him out of jail!

Update 2:30pm — All protestors are outside of the hotel now except for Ethan, who is still locked to the projection screen in the conference room.

Update 2:15pm — Protestors continue to yell and chant outside of the hotel where the conference is being disrupted.

Update — In solidarity with Ethan and other oil conference disruptors, Tar Sands Blockaders dropped banners in sight of two major Houston highways.

Banner off Route 90 and the Buffalo Bayou in Houston reading "Today's 'Jobs' Aren't Worth Earth's Demise"

Banner off Route 90 and the Buffalo Bayou in Houston reading “Today’s ‘Jobs’ Aren’t Worth Earth’s Demise”

Banner off Route 10 reading "Protect the Sacred!  No Pipelines on Stolen Land" in solidarity with the Red Lake Blockade against Enbridge pipelines in Minnesota.

Banner off Route 10 reading “Protect the Sacred! No Pipelines on Stolen Land” in solidarity with the Red Lake Blockade against Enbridge pipelines in Minnesota

Update 2:10pm — Here’s a pic of Ethan testifying to the crowd. His shirt reads “STOP TAR SANDS”

Ethan speaks out to a room full of tar sands profiteers

Ethan speaks out to a room full of tar sands profiteers

Update 2:05pm — More protestors are outside the conference lobby chanting “All night, all day, Tar Sands Blockade!”

Update 1:53pm — All press have been kicked out of the conference.

Houston, TX — February 28th, 2013, 1:45pm – A protestor with Tar Sands Blockade this afternoon locked his neck to a projector screen in the middle of a TransCanada presentation at the North American Crude Marketing Conference in Houston. In taking direct action, Ethan Nuss confronted in-person Paul Miller, TransCanada’s Executive Vice President of Oil Pipelines, and a ballroom of tar sands industry investors, demanding a halt to the toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Nuss successfully disrupted the second annual conference hosted by Platts. Among other things, the gathering is intended for fossil fuel industry executives and their financial backers to collaborate on schemes to transport dirty and dangerous tar sands from Canada to the Gulf Coast so it can be refined and sold on the international market, thereby expanding the industry.

“TransCanada’s ‘business as usual’ spells death and destruction for our communities,” said Ethan Nuss. “My conscience won’t allow me to watch this multinational corporation and their profiteers poison impacted communities from here in Houston’s polluted East End to indigenous people at the point of tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada. This must stop.” Ethan further shares his reasons for taking direct action below:

At last year’s marketing conference, Paul Miller explained the necessity of the southern leg of Keystone XL through Oklahoma and Texas to the expansion of the exploitative tar sands industry. TransCanada’s own fourth quarter report, released last week, revealed that the controversial pipeline is less than half completed, despite the Canadian pipeline corporation’s previous projections for completion of the southern segment this April.

This revelation highlights that Tar Sands Blockade’s sustained civil disobedience campaign since last August has been successful in delaying Keystone XL construction. Today’s action is part of growing momentum for an upcoming national week of action called for by Tar Sands Blockade and allies from March 16-23, with over 60 actions currently reported nationwide.

“This is just a morsel of what TransCanada and other tar sands profiteers can expect in the coming weeks and months,” said Kim Huynh, a spokesperson with Tar Sands Blockade. “All over the country, communities are gearing up to take to the streets, offices, extraction sites and public events to show that our movement won’t relent until we’ve made this investment as toxic for TransCanada and its financial backers as the very tar sands being piped through Keystone XL. Our tar sands-free future begins now.”

Earlier this week, 20,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into Otter Creek in Tyler County, TX from a pipeline owned by Sunoco Logistics. Otter Creek flows into Russell Creek, which feeds the Neches River. The leak did not trigger Sunoco’s detection systems but was discovered by local residents reporting oil in their water.

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