In July 2018 I traveled to visit the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota . My family ancestry on my fathers side is Cherokee . His mothers maiden name was Jessie Gunter Rider . She was born in Indian Territory which later became the state of Oklahoma .This goes back to the start of the trail of tears and deeper in my Cherokee ancestry . https://cherokee.org/About-The-Nation/History/Trail-of-Tears/A-Brief-History-of-the-Trail-of-Tears
Chief Jesse Bushyhead https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Bushyhead
Cherokee Princess Ghe-No-He-Li aka Katy and Catherine https://www.appalachianhistory.net/2017/03/the-feud-that-erupted-over-john-gunters-estate.html
Chief Dennis Bushyhead https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Bushyhead
Guntersville , Alabama https://guntersvilleal.org
Will Rodgers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers
I have always felt connected with nature and the outdoors . My connection to water has been deeply rooted and started surfacing as I have gotten older. Me and my sister Melanie are the last of our family to be blood members of the Cherokee Nation based in Tahlequah , Oklahoma . https://cherokee.org
While at the Cherokee Nation Headquarters April 9th 2018 I noticed a poster for the 2016 National Holiday. Note I had never been to Tahlequah, OK . The 65th Cherokee National Holiday theme was ‘WATER IS SACRED’ and is a reminder that water has long been a symbol of healing for Cherokees. Over the past year (2016) Cherokee Nation has put a renewed focus on preserving water rights and natural resources . My father Jay Allen Passed July 19th 2012 and April 9th 2018 would have been his 89th . His mother was born in Indian territory ( near Tahlequah ) I told my wife kelley the morning of my trip ” I feel like I am supposed to go to Talhlequah today ” and she said you know its your dads birthday .
There are 7 clans in Cherokee . The primary clan in my ancestry is the Aniwodi * The paint clan known as healers or medicine people . They were reputed to have extrasensory perception capable of seeing things hidden to others like visions of the future or events that might happen far away.
My story with Standing Rock begins in 2016 and It was put in my journey to meet these people at their home in North Dakota in 2018. I want to emphasize these might be some of the most honorable people I have ever met in my life . What happened at Standing Rock was unacceptable and needs to be fixed .This is a current article regarding Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline April 2019 . https://www.abqjournal.com/1300158/photographer-captures-standing-rock-protest.html
My Grandfather FC “Judge ” Swindell had purchased mineral rights in Mountrail County North Dakota back in the early 1950’s . He was an Attorney in Tulsa Oklahoma and was at the front end of the oil industry in the United States . He also represented many of the Indian tribes in Oklahoma and served our country WWI ( Marines ) . He was also considered an honorary chief of several of the tribes he represented . This is what lead me to North Dakota . Thing is I did not know any of the above as I watched from California what was happening in current times to indigenous peoples at the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota . I did not know why this was bothering me so deeply . I do know my grandfather FC Swindell would have stood with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe . I STAND with Standing Rock .
I met with Doug CrowGhost the director of water resources for the tribe on July 19th , 2018 in Fort Yates , ND. I simply said I want to understand from you what happened with the oil pipeline that had been run through the Missouri river on sacred Indian grounds , the water source for the tribe , and the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
So Doug spoke to me for 3 hours and I listened . I’m 53 and what happened was like the civil rights movement of the 60’s but current 2016-2017 . Attack dogs , military level enforcement , water cannons , tear gas , rubber bullets of all places the standing rock sioux tribes hallowed , ancestral land . This literally made me sick .
Doug spoke to me in a cadence of honor and integrity . Doug said the prayers of the elders through out where of love and peace . The day I spoke with Doug was the anniversary of my fathers passing 7/19/2012 which is my ancestry to the Cherokee Nation.
I then met with Danielle Ta’Sheena Finn (Public relations for the tribe and tribal judge ) Note: She got her Law degree at UCLA . She spoke to me for 2 hours . I asked Danielle with all that has happened to indigenous tribes and standing rock in particular ” How could you EVER trust anyone “? She said “Our tribe believes if a person comes straight at them with honorable intentions we welcome them with open arms” They have core beliefs that do not change no matter the circumstance . They also believe that you have 1 year to grieve loss and then need to move forward or it will sicken you . Powerful .
I was then invited to sit at the OCETI SAKOWIN OYATE – WOLAKOTA WICAZO YUTAN OMNICIYE – WOIYUSKINYAN AHITI . This was the tribal gathering commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. I sat in for 3 hours of this 3 day event and listened . I was honored to be present. https://www.standingrock.org
So I spoke with Doug CrowGhost recently over the phone . During our talk at standing rock in July of 2018 he had asked me about the issues we face in the ocean regarding the Monterey Bay . I gave him an overview of how plastics are polluting our oceans and the entire marine ecosystem . The simple actions of reducing the use of single use plastics is a great start point . He said Brent since we met I have been sharing this with my kids and the tribe of how we can contribute to the reduction of using plastics. Even know we are miles and miles from an ocean we can help . http://montereybay national marine sanctauary
Standing rock needs support in getting water testing devices that they can place up stream in the Missouri river to do their own check and balance of leaks from the Dakota access pipeline DAPL for short . Has this pipeline leaked ? of course it has . We are responsible in correcting this travesty on indigenous people . It is NOT ok. Water is Life .
So you know part of my trip in 2018 was to get all records of our mineral rights in Mountrail County ND . I then drove the country roads for every location we had mineral rights . None have been drilled at this point . If we get contacted at some point regarding my family will discuss how we can use this to support the standing rock sioux tribe . I believe what is being put in front of me from my ancestors is that I am charged with speaking up , standing up , and helping make it right . I take ownership and responsibility . #waterprotectors
My most sincere gratitude to The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Director of Water Resources Doug CrowGhost , Public Relations / Tribal Judge Danielle Ta’Sheena Finn , and The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe .