Native Americans Train to Defend Mother Earth

On August 23rd, Alliance affiliate, Indian People’s Action of Montana opened camp for a 3 day Direct Action training camp. Indian People’s Action brought Moccasins On The Ground to Montana. Drawing Native Americans from across the country to defend Mother Earth they trained activists in nonviolent direct action to stop the Keystone Pipeline that the Canadian developer, TransCanada is building to carry crude oil from the Boreal Forests of Albert, Canada across the United States to the Gulf Coast.

Many Native groups believe that the Environmental Impact Study did not adequately consider potential damage to American Indian Tribes and Tribal members in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, whose water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other vital resources could be damaged by the project.

100 trained defenders of Mother Earth and Sacred Waters
100 trained defenders of Mother Earth and Sacred Waters

Beautiful forest, or fetid ponds and blackened Earth.
Beautiful forest, or fetid ponds and blackened Earth.

President Obama approved two phases of the pipeline that now extends into Oklahoma despite passing over critical aquifers and threatening the ecology of several regions as the sludge moves south. A decision on the final phase is expected this year.



Debra White Plume lit the Moccasins on the Ground movement. When a group of Lakota heard that a Megaload of equipment used for the construction of the pipeline was heading through the reservation, attempting to avoid paying fees to travel on the state highway, she called folks to action. Like many in the country, the tribe had already come out against the pipeline. They had not even made aware that the Megaload was routed through the reservation, sovereign territory.  Debra activated a group of people to head to the highway. They staged a sit in and stopped the trucks, refusing to let them pass and demanding that they turn their trucks around. The trucks were stalled for hours, hitting the corporation where it hurts- their pockets.  {video}

Since then, Debra has been on the road, training up Natives and hippies alike, in nonviolent direct action to protect sacred water from environmental abuses.  Indian People’s Action, who has a long history of working on health disparities issues in Indian Country, recognized the potential health and environmental impacts for people, animals, lands and waters of their indigenous lands of Montana and invited Debra to the state.

The efforts of these organizers and activists are not going unnoticed. During the three day training, there was a noticeable swell of police presence around the training camp, which was being held far off the highway, along miles of gravel roads and on someone’s private property. Unmarked cars were staked out at the entrance of the private drive at night and followed cars out of the camp. It’s seems safe to assume that the corporation is worried about the power that common, everyday people can have when working together to protect their ancestral land, and the health and welfare of future generations.

Indian People's Action blockade
Indian People’s Action blockade

Over 100 people attended the training, attracting people as far away as Washington, Utah, Oklahoma and Mississippi.  Participants left feeling inspired and rejuvenated with a new family of allies for future collaboration.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.