The first is the election of Donald Trump while the second is the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Reservation where peaceful protesters have endured abuse from law enforcement.
The protesters have garnered support from people around the world including a Montana man you’ve read about previously in this column. His name is Norm Miller. In the September 2014 edition of Your Life is Now, we met Norm and learned about his dedication to helping paddlers on the Missouri River. To say he’s in love with the Missouri wouldn’t be an overstatement. Norm has paddled the entire river, all 2,300 miles of it, against the current.
The Dakota Access Pipeline was slated to cross under the Missouri River, but that route has been vetoed by the US government. However, President-elect Trump will perhaps reverse that decision once he enters the White House. Before the pipeline was halted, Norm went to Standing Rock and he shared his impressions with us.
DL: Why did you go to Standing Rock?
NM: I felt I had to. It called me to be part of this mass collection of support for the Lakota Sioux and compelled me to lend my support for clean, protected water from Big Oil.
DL:What was the atmosphere in the camp?
NM: The atmosphere was unlike anything I have ever experienced. To my knowledge, it was the largest human encampment in modern US history. It was very emotional to walk through the camps, especially Oceti Sakowin, which had about 8,000 people. So many people came together in support of the Sioux, of clean water, and of human rights, which have been violated for months now. It was really amazing to talk to so many Native Americans from tribes all over the country and to hear their songs and dance around the sacred fire, which burns continuously. The camps are very busy. Delivery trucks were coming hourly with everything you can imagine: produce, firewood, fresh-killed deer, canned goods, building supplies, the list goes on.
DL: Do you think the decision to halt the pipeline will be reversed by Donald Trump?
NM: I do. This country took a serious step backwards in so many ways. We will now have to fight even harder and longer to save our environment and the rights of the people. I’m not sure how all the politics will work out, but I can guarantee if Trump reverses this, you will see a huge revolution in this country. You’re going to have a lot of entertainment in Canada watching the US deteriorate over the next four years.
DL: What does water mean to you?
NM: Water is life! The world needs to wake up from the big lie that “oil is God.” We can do without it, but we cannot live without water. Water also provides a means for me to travel. I love to canoe and kayak. There is no better way to feel connected to the Earth than to travel down a river.
DL: How did visiting Standing Rock inspire you?
NM: I want to stand up more for the underdog. I’m inspired to inform people of my experience and provide a small voice in the crowd. I’m also good at writing letters to political figures, media and businesses regarding these issues. I have a big mouth when it comes to this!
Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing. For more information about his speaking engagements, phone 306-661-8975 or visit www.canoetoneworleans.com.