Protecting the Water: From Maine to Standing Rock

For our inaugural blog post, we would like to share with readers more about how Wabanaki people are connecting to the work of the water protectors at Standing Rock. If you have spent time in People of the First Light, you will know that water – rivers, lakes, the ocean – are a living part of the Wabanaki universe. Many Wabanaki oral traditions tell of the people’s relationship to the water. The rivers of the homeland loom large in the ways the Wabanaki name and explain their landscape. And many of the threats to Wabanaki sovereignty and lifeways are connected to the water.

#NoDAPL

#MniWiconi

#WaterisLife

#StandWithStandingRock

At the same time as the movement at Standing Rock is celebrating a significant victory in their battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Wabanaki are both fighting local battles and joining their Native relations in North Dakota.

standing-rock-group-shot
Credit: Sacred Stone Camp Facebook page, photo by Dallas Goldtooth.

Wabanaki Water Protectors

In Nova Scotia, Mi’kmaq and their allies are working to protect the Shubenacadie River from damages that could be caused through the construction and operation of the Alton Gas natural gas storage facility:

Alton Gas detractors take a stand on small Shubenacadie River island

#StopAltonGas

The fight against a liquified natural gas terminal on sacred ground on Passamaquoddy Bay by members the Passamaquoddy Tribe gives hope that the work of Native water protectors can lead to good outcomes:

Passamaquoddy group defeats LNG project on sacred ground

The ongoing work of the Penobscot Nation and their allies to protect their namesake river and their sovereign rights is an profound example of both the challenges being faced and the resilience of the Penobscot and other Wabanaki in a struggle that has been going on for more than 200 years.

THE PENOBSCOT: Ancestral River, Contested Territory and its follow-up Penobscot: A Fight for Ancestral Waters are a great introduction to the story.

EPA Rules in Penobscot Tribe’s Favor in Water Quality Dispute

They are holding rallies and vigils in the Wabanaki homeland to show their support:

bangor-black-friday-rally-2016
Maine tribe members and allies during a peaceful protest on Bangor Mall Boulevard on Friday, November 25, 2016. Credit: Ashley L. Conti, BDN

Oil pipeline protest draws at least 150 to Bangor Mall area on Black Friday

Bangor Solidarity Vigil for North Dakota Pipeline Protesters

They are helping to make the legal case against the pipeline:

Custer’s Ghost Rides Again by Sherri Mitchell, Penobscot

They are traveling to the Oceti Sakowin Camp:

Penobscot Nation member David Demo among pipeline protesters arrested

Jason Brown, Penobscot, and his wife Donna Decontie Brown, Penobscot/Anishnabe, have made two trips to Standing Rock, traveling by car from Maine and from northern Arizona where Donna is currently working.

“We have been there twice in the past month and the first person we run into as we pull up to the gate at Sacred Stone camp is a guy who is Passamaquoddy from Sipayik! He checked us in…we also very randomly and by chance started talking with another guy who just got there that day and come to find out he lives in Bangor only a few streets over from us; he’s also Passamaquoddy from Sipayik (raised in Oregon) and Donna knows his wife Crystal who works at the clinic on Indian Island…now that is the universe telling us we are in the right place at the right moment!” – Jason Brown, December 2016

Recent News from Standing Rock:

Army will not grant easement for Dakota Access Pipeline crossing

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Statement on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Decision to Not Grant Easement

Standing Rock Tribe defied history; what happens next is anything but inevitable

Kanid Mossett from Oceti Sakowin camp with the good news!!! #MiniWiconi

Follow the water protectors on social media

Dawnland Environmental Defense

Sherri Mitchell – Wena’gamu’gwasit

Indigenous Environmental Network

Sherri Mitchell @sacred411

IndigenousEnviroNet @IENearth

Dallas Goldtooth @dallasgoldtooth


The fight to protect their homeland is not new for the Standing Rock Sioux. Learn more about the deep history behind this conflict:

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s resistance in North Dakota draws on 150 years of troubled history, By Steven Mufson, The Washington Post

Let us know if you have found other great social media feeds or articles that share Native perspectives on these issues.

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