In Solidarity with the Standing Rock DC protest

Mni Wiconi means Water is Life

Hundreds of water protectors are in the streets of Washington D.C. standing up for clean water and demanding that this administration respect tribal sovereignty and stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Organized by the Native Nations Rise movement and led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, many are building tipis, marching on Lafayette Park and rallying in front of the White House.

I stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and all Nations in this fight.

I spent close two months last year at Standing Rock, praying, protecting water and helping prepare for winter. It was an experience that was deeply moving and transformative.

The pipeline was originally routed near Bismarck, North Dakota, but then re-routed.

I want to stress this next point, because it is underreported in the media: The pipeline was rerouted from Bismarck through sacred lands because it rightfully wasn’t good enough for the city’s environmental standards.

It’s infuriating that a pipeline that was considered harmful for Bismarck was approved to be re-routed to impact the Sioux Nation’s sacred burial grounds and water supply.

This is environmental racism — if it’s considered harmful to the residents of Bismarck then it should be considered harmful to the Sioux Nation.

Though I went to Standing Rock for a week to cover it as a journalist, I ended up staying much longer. I simply could not sit idly by while this disregard for Native American dignity continued.

Over the next two months, I saw utter beauty, acts of incredible courage, and I saw horrific pain.

I will never forget watching peaceful water protectors — many of whom were women, children, and elders — be water-cannoned in 14 degree weather by a militarized police. I will never forget pouring milk of magnesia into a young man’s eyes as he screamed and gagged after being tear gassed. I will never forget the women in beautiful tribal skirts who, despite the militarized police, despite the tear gas, despite the freezing weather, continued to pray and be resilient against all odds.

I’ll also never forget the day I found out about Red Fawn’s arrest, a young Oglala leader and mentor to the the International Indigenous Youth Council. She has been wrongfully accused of firing a weapon the day the camp closest to the pipeline, the 1851 Treaty Camp, was raided by local law enforcement. To this day, she is still in custody.

President Obama signed an executive order halting the pipeline last December. Donald Trump has since rescinded that order and construction on the pipeline has resumed.

This fight for clean water is part of a larger struggle. It is interconnected with a number of other issues, both figuratively and literally.

Figuratively, this fight is part of a broader fight for social justice, a fight that the Republican party is vehemently assaulting. Whether having a climate-change denier at the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency, rescinding protections for trans students, or scapegoating immigrants: These fights are intersectional.

Literally, the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens to contaminate the Missouri River, a source of clean water for millions, not only in North Dakota, but for many states that depend on it for clean water.

The spirit of the camp lives on. It inspired me to take action, and it’s one of the reasons I’m running an underdog campaign for Congress in the upcoming special election in Los Angeles.

I’m proud to say Mni Wiconi, that water is life, and that I stand in solidarity with all the water protectors in Washington D.C.

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For more information on my campaign, please visit votewendycarrillo.com