The Lakota Peoples’ Law Project is preparing a series of videos to tell the story of the militarized police response against water protectors at Standing Rock. To stand in solidarity with those who are in the streets now, protesting against police brutality and for racial justice. To share lessons learned.
I trust that, as a supporter of Lakota sovereignty, you believe in justice and equity for all people. So I hope you’ll join me in standing with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. My experience as a lifelong activist gives me insight into what a moment that shifts society looks like. It can look messy, it can look dangerous — it can look just like this.
Lakota Law’s Madonna Thunder Hawk, OG warrior woman, discusses her history of activism and expresses solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Lisa Skye and I stand with BLM at the Cheyenne River Reservation border. Photo courtesy of Warrior Women Project. Please click the play button above to watch this video message from me.
As you are no doubt aware, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police on a Minneapolis street, our nation is on fire. This follows the recent murders of Breonna Taylor by police in her home and Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes on a Georgia street.
Now, every day and every night, thousands march and kneel and vocalize to end police brutality and demand a new respect for Black bodies, lives, and communities. A few days back, Lakota Law’s Chase Iron Eyes and his daughter, Tokata, helped lead one such protest in Rapid City.
As a nation, many of us are listening to, and gaining further understanding of, the pain suffered by communities of color for centuries in this land. With that understanding, hopefully we will feel compelled to offer support and advocacy in whatever ways are most appropriate or asked of us. Whatever lane each of us occupies, we can find our role in the struggle.
I and many people of the Oceti Sakowin and other Indigenous nations can empathize with the pain wrought by institutional racism. Seeing the young people of today demonstrating and standing up for what is right takes me back to my own youthful days organizing for Red Power — once upon a time, right there in that same place, the Twin Cities. It reminds me of our American Indian Movement, born from Lakota, Dakota, and Ojibwe activism in that northern midwest metropolis.
And, of course, it reminds me of the #NoDAPL protests at Standing Rock. Anyone surprised to see the president unleash militarized police, security forces, and tear gas on peaceful protesters wasn’t paying attention in 2016 and ‘17. For decades, from Sitting Bull to MLK, from the American Indian Movement to Black Lives Matter, Black and Brown communities have taken turns leading the movement for understanding, equality, and justice.
The struggle is now being live-streamed, and it’s not easy to watch. We know that a few irresponsible people on our side and, more often, counter-protesters with hate-filled hearts are infiltrating, looting, and trying to paint legitimate civil disobedience with the brush of violence. But we know the difference. We know that we are not terrorists, and neither is anyone who truly seeks justice and calls out tyranny.
The world is changing, and it’s long overdue. I hardly need to remind you that Black and Native people die at the hands of police and are incarcerated at far higher rates than white folks. So yes, I empathize. And I offer you my deep gratitude for your compassion. Thank you for standing with us through our struggle. I hope we can all say we also stand arm-in-arm with Takomni Hesapa Wiconi Heĉha — #BlackLivesMatter.
Wopila tanka — Thank you for your friendship and your support,
In solidarity, always,
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
With a mix of indignation and hope, I call on you today. Militarized police roam the streets of America, much as they traversed our treaty lands during the #NoDAPL protests a few years ago. Once again the world is watching and standing in solidarity with communities of color.
In this time of uprising, my organization has a duty to do whatever we can to help. And in the wake of my successful legal defense three years ago, we interviewed dozens of attorneys, activists, water experts, tribal officials, and government personnel to ensure that the full Standing Rock story can always be told.
Now, as we await a ruling from Judge James Boasberg on whether to suspend the flow of oil through DAPL, our team is releasing videos as quickly as we can. Please watch our flagship mini-documentary and donate to help ensure that, over the coming months, the release of all these key assets becomes a reality.
In 2017, we did exclusive interviews with participants in the NoDAPL effort, including Harold Frazier, Julian Bear Runner, and Rodney Bordeaux — the respective leaders of the Cheyenne River, Oglala, and Rosebud Nations. We videotaped interviews with witnesses and deposed law enforcement personnel. And afterwards, the state’s attorney tried to suppress those depositions, knowing them to contain troubling truths about what really happened at Standing Rock.
For example, you’ll see Kyle Kirchmeier, the incident commander for law enforcement during NoDAPL, acknowledge that when he arrested me and 75 other water protectors in February of 2017, he didn’t even know he was on treaty land.
Your continued support is critical. You can help us show the power of protest and expose the legal absurdity of oil flow through a pipeline ruled to be environmentally suspect. We’re 100 percent committed to releasing our unique footage so that attorneys, activists, academics, and tribal leaders can access it forever.
Wopila — thank you, always, for standing with Standing Rock and all Earth’s children!
Chase Iron Eyes
The Lakota People’s Law Project
P.S. Please give today so you can help us continue to engage the public, lift the people and preserve the planet. With your support, we’ll tell the real story of Standing Rock, lend support to the movement for justice, and maybe — prayers up! — stop the Dakota Access pipeline once and for all.