All images used courtesy of Damon Gates
The Native American community has just made history for all the wrong reasons. In the Dakotas, indigenous community have opposed the United States government allowing oil developers to drill on their land for the explicit purpose of pushing oil through their land. This is the largest protest (protect) movement by Natives in the history of this land. On top of it all, many members of the Hip-Hop community were present to lead. AllHipHop talked to Queen Yonasda, who witnessed first hand what her comrades persevered through during this ordeal. It ain't over. "We were behind a fence yelling, singing prayer songs while they was ripping and tearing up layers of layers of Mother Earth," Yonasda told AllHipHop. "We don't want an oil pipeline coming through America!" Mainstream media seems to have a blackout over this, even though protesters were attacked by K9 dogs and bullied with bulldozers. This is 2016.
AllHipHop: Can you explain the situation going on in The Dakotas?
Queen Yonasda Lonewolf: The Army Corps of Engineers are building 50 oil pipelines along the Missouri River which affects us all if completed. From fracking to oil leaks in our water and on our land that will affect out livelihoods. Within this process they are illegally plowing Native American historical sites that lays our ancestors. So they are digging up human remains. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe put the Army Corps of Engineers in litigation. Last month the Supreme Court ordered them to halt construction until the judge gives the Army Corp permission on Sept.14th.
Can you explain what you saw and witnessed out there? We heard there were hoses, dogs and other aggressive moves to peaceful protesters/protectors.
Yes the army Corp of engineers were illegally plowing land to prepare for the oil pipeline and we shut it down. They used their dogs to intimidate us. They were very aggressive. When I jumped the fence I asked the worker "who's land is this?" He said "I don't know I'm just working here." After that we to was on land that had our ancestors buried below and we stopped them from breaking the law peacefully. None of us had weapons . I came with my son and my drum to pray and sing traditional prayer songs.
Why were they (the government) trying to dig this pipeline so early?
They are junkies for oil. You know how a junkie needs a fix and he/she would do by any means to get that fix ? Well that's the government, an oil junkie! They killed thousands in the Middle East for oil. They killed thousands in South America for their oil fix. And now they aren't high enough so they are in our own backyard getting their fix and they don't care who gets hurt in the process.
Discuss why it is a bad idea and what are the alternatives?
It's a bad idea because of fracking and messing up the land for cropping, for cultural preservation and for our water supply and land supply. The alternatives that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is raising money for is cold fusion for energy. I am assisting them on a fundraising concert on Nov.26th to help with that as well as their legal fees.
Are Africans and Indigenous people in solidarity more now, with these common struggles?
Well being Lakota and Black I always saw the commonality within both nations. I have been receiving messages from many Black organizations that want to be involved. Black Lives Matter are in solidarity. The Nation of Islam is in solidarity and as we speak many Black organizations are hosting solidarity marches within their cities. And the beautiful part is the tribes want that. Our unity is what's important here because it's a human rights issue not just a Native issue alone. Once we know we are connected than we all hurt.
How does Hip-Hop play a role (if any)?
With so many popular artists like Pharrell and Black Eyed Peas tweeting and bringing awareness, it's tapping into the Hip-Hop community. But what's so dope is the youth and the Native Hip-Hop artists that are not only camping out and protesting but also making music for this. They have been doing concerts at the camp in Standing Rock. We also will be hosting a concert Nov. 26th that we are reaching out to the Hip-Hop community to be involved. The Native youth are moved and inspired by h Hip-Hop.
Do you feel the media is giving this proper coverage?
No, but that's why AllHipHop is so dope! Thank you!