An anniversary is a chance to remind ourselves of something important to us. This is especially interesting when that event has continued to impact our lives. Looking back is an opportunity to put that in perspective, to recognize things that we might not have realized at the time, focused as we were on living those experiences. If the intention was to build on that experience, we can see how successful we have been. And determine if there is work that still needs to be done.
Two years ago this week, I was walking down rural gravel roads, along the route of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) with a small group of around thirty native and nonnative people. One of us called it a sacred journey.
We began in Des Moines, Iowa, and walked, camped, and shared stories from September 1 to September 8, 2018. We walked ninety four miles over those eight days to reach our destination in Fort Dodge.
This was the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. The application form to participate on the March is still online, and can be seen here: http://boldiowa.com/2018-marcher-application/. That provides a lot of detail related to the March.
Also still online is the Press Release about me and the March: https://firstnationfarmer.com/2020/04/01/first-nation-farmer-press-release/
This video was used to promote the March, to recruit people to join. Fintan Rowan Mason, who was one of the Marchers, created it.
As the video indicates, at the time of the March, the pipeline had already been built, and oil was flowing through it. So why were we walking along it? One of the goals of the March was to bring attention to the abuse of eminent domain to force landowners to allow pipeline construction on their land. Even if they did not want to do so. A case before the Iowa Supreme Court related to this was held the week after the March. The case was decided against the landowners.
And yet there is still hope to stop the flow of oil through the pipeline. A Federal judge ordered a new, complete and accurate environmental impact study be done, especially taking into account the impact on native peoples. These continued roadblocks cost the pipeline company, Energy Transfer, a great deal. This is an especially bad time for oil companies, with the dramatic decrease in oil consumption related to the coronavirus pandemic. And the rapid expansion, and decreased cost of renewable energy sources.
This video by my friend Matthew Lone Bear, one of the Marchers, gives a good sense of our marching experiences.
We walked 9 miles on this day after a tireless night of thunderstorms and flash floods. The Iowa State football game was cancelled due to the storm. Total mileage 22.2 miles down.
But as the name of the March indicates, another goal, the most important for me, was to create a community of native and nonnative people who came to know, and begin to trust each other, so we could work together on issues of common concern. I feel truly blessed to have become friends with those I shared this sacred journey with. And am grateful for the many things we have done together since. And look forward to what we will continue to do.
What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship — we change the world one story at a time.Richard Wagamese
So on this two year anniversary of the March, it is a pleasure to look back on how we overcame the adversities of walking that distance, often in pouring rain, and shared our stories with each other. To remember the many ways we have worked together since the March. And look forward to what we will continue to do.
Click on each day to see a detailed route.
Sat, Sept. 1: Des Moines – Ankeny (13.2 mi)
Sun, Sept. 2: Ankeny – Huxley (9.0 mi)
Mon, Sept 3: Huxley – Ames (9.2 mi)
Tue, Sept 4: Ames – Boone (15.1 mi)
Wed, Sept 5: Boone – Pilot Mound (14.0 mi)
Thu, Sept 6: Pilot Mound – Dayton (9.0 mi)
Fri, Sept 7: Dayton – Otho (11.7 mi)
Sat, Sept 8: Otho – Fort Dodge (12.4 mi)