Alfred Bone Shirt: Voices from the frontlines of resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline
In September, Deb Konechne and S. Gutierrez conducted a number of interviews with opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Alfred Bone Shirt, a Lakota elder from the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota, traveled to Standing Rock Reservation early in August and set up camp. He, like thousands of others, came to North Dakota to unite in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipe Line. Alfred states when he got the call from his brother, who is coordinator for Grassroots AIM in Rapid City, SD, about the stand being taken at Standing Rock, he didn’t hesitate to travel. He went on KOYA 88.1 FM, the Rosebud Nation Community Radio Station, to issue a public service announcement that called on others to do the same.
Alfred Bone Shirt:
”I called for people to – I said, practically to ‘stop what you’re doing’ – this word goes out to our warriors and members of the American Indian Movement to come up and support the people in Standing Rock.’
We got ready and we headed this way. My niece and her husband, we mentioned that and they said we’re gonna come, so they hurried and got a babysitter and they got their bags and we headed out this way.
The major reason behind all this is our people – Red people – are always looked at as an impediment to progress for the white man. Everything, our resources, we’re an impediment. And I don’t like the racism; I pray against the racism. South Dakota is in denial of racism, North Dakota is in denial of racism.
It really bothers me what they say about these corporations coming in and the damage it’s going to do. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to envision – and if you listen to any type of news, you hear of oil spills across the country, catastrophes affecting a lot of areas, and it can’t be undone that easy, it’s really bad.
I know the river, the damage that could be done here, affects whites, rednecks, peaceful farmers, the clergy, down river, it’s gonna affect everybody. If I’ve never done nothing right in my life, let me come here. We come and do what we can.
In my lifetime, the only time I seen so many tribes together was Wounded Knee Two, and the International Treaty Council meeting, that first one at Mobridge, there was a lot of union there.
But prior to that I don’t think there was a representative of so many tribes on the same page, I don’t think there ever was, and this is great. Not only the American nations here are together, but like South American tribes,they’re looking this way. We sent word down to Brazil, we’re gonna send word out again, because they pretty much [know] as far as what the U.S. and corporations do, because what they do in South America, and the evil there, they can identify, they can empathize with what is occurring here. The outright blatant racism, and the civil racism, backed by big oil, backed by the government, backed by corrupt politicians, racist politicians. And here’s the end result. We’re impediments to their progress, again.
They were supposed to put it [the pipeline] above Bismarck, then they move it down here, because it don’t affect them. But see they’re narrow minded, they forgot about Mobridge, Pierre. Why they disregard their own people, I can’t understand it.
I seen the power of that spirit one other time up in Dakota Teepee Sundance. I seen that here when the horses came in [to break through the police line], and I seen the horses dance and I seen them spin and the songs were going up in a good way, the prayers were there. We said nonviolence, I seen that spirit, the same time that spirit came in again, and that was beautiful, the way they [the police] broke ranks and scattered, you know it was really beautiful to see. We were right there where the barricades were. That’s why people say, prayer is at work here, prayer is being answered, and that’s one of the most beautiful things.
When we talk about water, not just for humans, we talk about the survival for fish, other living creatures in there, and our spiritual wiwilas. I want to say, to please encourage people to keep coming. Dedicated people. We need the support, basically reinforcements. I encourage people to keep coming. I know it’s cold and luxuries in life, and it’s for hard for them to break loose from that. They need to come, continue to support and prepare for the long haul.”