July 19, 2015
South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
500 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501
Wioweya Najin Win miye. My English name is Debra White Plume and my address is PO Box 325, Manderson, SD 57756. I am commenting on docket number HP12-001 regarding the TransCanada, Inc. KXL Tarsands Pipeline for the July 26, 2015 Public Comment in South Dakota.
The Lakota worldview and the American worldview about land and water are different, as is our worldview about time and space. The American worldview through its institutions and policies and laws and regulations say that elected officials and appointed officials have the final decision on what happens in our shared space. To clarify this, by the word “our” I am referring to the Lakota and the Americans, and the elected/appointed officials and the rest of us. In the Lakota worldview, everyone has a say, a collective decision is made by consensus. There is no hierarchy of one person being more important than another. All people are important and have a right to their say.
In my view, the space and distance between where I live and where TransCanada, Inc. wants to put its KXL tarsands pipeline is too close. Although the place where I lay my head to rest at night, where I rise each morning to live a life I am thankful for, and the pipeline route through Mission, SD or Murdo, SD or Lower Brule, SD or Faith, SD may be hundreds of miles, but to me, that route is just right there. This whole area is my home.
The KXL proposed route you are considering would not only be insanely located over the Ogllala Aquifer, it would also recklessly cross many surface waters, including the Missouri River and the Cheyenne River. All of this is sacredwater, we say Mni Wicozani, through water there is life. Without water there is no life.
I will share some personal history with you. I received my fourth Lakota name along the banks of the Cheyenne River, named by Grover Horned Antelope. My song was sung by John Around Him, at a ceremony led by Rocky Afraid of Hawk, witnessed by Celane Not Help Him and many highly esteemed Lakota elders. My children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren received their names on the river banks. My marriage 36 years ago was blessed there.
Babies are born along the river banks, marriages are blessed there, names are received there. Give-aways are held along the river banks. Healing ceremonies and thanksgiving ceremonies are held along the river banks. People die there, along the riverbanks. Tens of thousands of these ceremonies as well as the Keeping and Releasing of the Spirit ceremonies, Girl to Womanhood ceremonies, many other ceremonies have been and are held along the river banks for our Lakota Nation for tens of thousands of people, for tens of thousands of generations. Water is part of all Lakota ceremonies, we honor and respect water.
Our Lakota Nation has lost many relatives over the generations fighting for water and land. Ancestors have died along the river banks fighting off the American pilgrims and settlers, the railroad and mining corporations, and USA Military encroaching on our territories. Our ancestors lived a beautiful life along the river banks, fought along the river banks, died along the riverbanks, and won their battles along the riverbanks. America recognized and acknowledged that this water and this land is Lakota territory as evidenced by the 1851 Ft Laramie Treaty. America and its citizen government violate this Treaty, an international law, every time they want to make money.
While the world has Human Rights, the international community has recognized and acknowledged that as indigenous peoples the Lakota Nation needs extra protection, as do all indigenous peoples, against corporations and governments that do not respect laws nor moral and humane judgements, including Human Rights. Indigenous peoples are seen as expendable in the effort to desecrate lands and waters for personal and corporate profit so the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the United States, to provide guidance on respecting the Human Rights of all peoples. This action is also being violated and will be violated further by such government officials as yourselves if you approve the KXL tarsands pipeline.
America’s citizen government violates its own laws, established to protect drinking water, to approve not only pipelines, but extractive industry like uranium mining and fracking. Individuals such as yourselves violate these laws and doctrines. You are not anonymous and must not try to hide behind your government titles. You live here and need this water as much as I do. South Dakota citizens and their organizations, all the Tribes in South Dakota, have said no to TransCanada’s KXL tarsands pipeline. Now it is your turn to say no.