“What we are faced with in this world…”

Chief Arvol Looking Horse at Agape Community, October 7, 2017
Chief Arvol Looking Horse at Agape Community, October 7, 2017

“What we are faced with in this world is – man has gone too far,” spoke Chief Arvol Looking Horse, a Spiritual Leader, of the Lakota Nation on Saturday, October 7th at the intentional Christian community Agape in Hardwick, Massachusetts.

Several hundred people gathered to hear the program of Native Voices and I was fortunate to be among them. 

At twelve years of age, Chief Looking Horse was chosen to be the keeper of a sacred bundle.  He is the keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, given to his people by White Buffalo Woman.  When he was chosen, he was told “if people don’t straighten up, you will be the last sacred bundle keeper.”  He grew up with his traditional elders (grandparents) without electricity or running water. 

He told us that the state of South Dakota is shaped like a heart and how a satellite view shows the rivers, creeks and mountains look like an open heart.  “Mother Earth has the same water as in our bodies,” he said.

He told about the youth who went to Chief Dave Archambault of the Standing Rock Sioux, when they became aware of the coming pipeline, asking him to protect the water because “the black snake of prophecy is coming.”

The black snake is a prophecy of a terrible black snake that would cross a mighty river and bring harm to land, water and sacred sites.

Today, the black snake is understood to be the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that has hastily and without any environmental reviews has been forced upon the people and is now running oil under the Missouri River, drinking water source for millions of people.  This pipeline is funded by many banks – including TD Bank which has many branches around New England. 

Chief Archambault and others invited him to Standing Rock a year ago August (2016).  At that time, a spiritual camp was created, with six teepees in a circle with the pipekeeper at the center.  “It was over a hundred years since a Council Fire was set.”  “What we are going to face is going to be hard.”  “Can’t say what will happen physically.” “From here on the earth changes,” “Climate changes, winds are stronger, earthquakes happen where they never happened before,” “Witness global disasters – Sacred Fires (forest fires) on the west coast, Volcanoes, these are warnings.” 

The Standing Rock struggle is to protect the water – Mni Wiconi.  “Standing Rock is everywhere.”

Chief Looking Horse spoke of the “sacred circle that becomes the sacred hoop, in which none are higher than another, the four-legged, the two legged, those that swim, those that crawl and plants are all equal.”

“The Great Spirit gave us, not to own, to take care of.”

“We came here with nothing, leave with nothing.”

“We are part of a cycle.”

“Everything – good or bad, makes a complete circle.  If you do wrong or right, it comes back to you twice.”

“The spirit of the buffalo is to go forward,” he said, “all the time.”  “Understand the cycle of life, the Great Spirit won’t give you something you can’t handle, so go with your gut feeling.”  “Standing Rock – new beginning to the old way of life.” 

Procession in preparation for Water Ceremony, Agape Community, Oct 7, 2017
Procession in preparation for Water Ceremony, Agape Community, Oct 7, 2017

Over the course of my activist life (which began at age 17 as a Native American Solidarity Committee member) I have heard many American Indian speakers.  The truth they speak is profound and comes from the deep connection to and love for Mother Earth, which is also known as Turtle Island.

The Europeans who traveled, conquered, pillaged, murdered to take land and resources committed grievous original sins, which we live with today.  The oppression and use of force and/or laws to deny land and water rights to Indians continues to this moment. 

The afternoon program told us of a companion struggle to Standing Rock against a pipeline in Mahwah, New Jersey where Spectra Company is pushing for AIM and Pilgrim pipelines to be completed.  There is an encampment on sacred land owned by the Ramapough Lenape Nation, called Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp.  Many are currently on trial at Bergen County Court House.  More information is available at their Facebook page:  (www.facebook.com/splitrockprayercamp/).

Huge thanks to Claire Gosselin (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) and Cole Harrison (Massachusetts Peace Action) for driving out to Agape and taking me with them!