Oyate. This is a call to all Native people. My name is Jim Anderson. I am the Cultural Chairman of the Mdewakanton Dakota Community. Right now, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is about to put an unneeded road through our sacred land. What they intend to do is cut four ancient oak trees that are planted in the four directions. It is a dance circle and the road is going to go right over this spot. This is against their own federal laws in the Indian Rights Act. They have, for the last ten years been disturbing our grandfather's bones and sacred items in the disguise of maintenance to cover themselves. I am making a plea to all my brothers, black, red, yellow and white in the name of the Sacred Buffalo Calf Woman to come to this place and fight this wrong. We have joined with Big Woods Earth First! in defending this area, and have held off the bulldozers for over ten days now. We are growing stronger every day. My people, the Mendota Dakota are the guardians of this land and the Blue Man has come again to uproot these sacred trees that are over three hundred years old. They want to destroy our artesian well that has supplied our grandfathers since the beginning of time.
For more information please contact me at: DMKerr9@aol.com or 612-825-7050.
The sacred lands of the Mdewakanton Dakota people in Minnesota being threatened with a road expansion are *not* on a reservation. The land is partly a city park, partly a state park, partly a residential area and partly federal land owned by the Bureau of Mines. It is land that is traditionally sacred to the Mdewakanton people, and would/should be their reservation if the government recognizes them, which it has not yet done.
The urgent call for support is very real, since if the road goes through this sacred land will be destroyed. There are many people, both tribal and non-tribal, who strongly oppose this road, but it was not until the Mendota band joined the EarthFirst! protest that it began to look as if it might really be possible to stop the road. (Sierra Club and a coalition of local environmental groups also oppose the road, and there is a lawsuit pending.) Some here are saying that if the road is stopped from going through by people doing civil disobedience, it will be the first time this has ever happened in the U.S.
The Mendota people, AIM and EarthFirst! have been camping in the abandoned residential area and the spring area for more than 3 months now, in spite of colder weather and impending snow. They are preparing to put their bodies in front of road-building equipment and are saying they will not leave as long as this road is scheduled to be built through sacred lands, historic sites and a beautiful park along the bluff of the Mississippi River--all so people can get to the airport or the Mall of America about 3 minutes faster.
A larger community is supporting the action with food and other necessities such as candles and firewood, and hundreds, perhaps even thousands, are ready to run to the camp to stand with the protesters if the state tries to clear them out through mass arrests or brings in equipment to start knocking down trees.
This action seems to be another demonstration that environmental groups and native groups joining to oppose destructive projects can form an effective coalition that is taken seriously by those in power. Support from the wider Native community and backers of indigenous sovereignty would be very helpful in holding back the bulldozers, reinforcing the seriousness with which native people regard their sacred lands, and reminding the Minnesota Department of Transportation that "the whole world is watching."
Tom Taylor also has a Stop the Reroute site at http://members.aol.com/noreroute/Highway_55_occupation.html which has a link to the band's own site at http://www.mendotadakota.org/index.html and also to Jim Anderson's page about the Mendota Sacred Sites at http://hometown.aol.com/dmkerr9/Mendota_Sacred_Sites.html