Standing Rock Water Protectors Find Support in Vershire

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Abenaki and Others Donate, Organize, Travel to Protest the Dakota Access Pipeline

Several strategies are being used by Vershire residents who want to do something to support the struggles of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota who are opposing the building of a crude oil pipeline through their ancestral lands. 

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More than a hundred tribes have gathered on the SRST reservation along the Missouri River, calling themselves protectors, rather than protesters, for they are working to protect their water supply and that of many other people from the inevitable spills and contamination from the pipeline, as well as trying to protect ancient and sacred sites of the Tribe, though some have already suffered destruction recently.  And an ExxonMobil pipeline actually has leaked, for example, spilling oil into the Yellowstone River, as described here, with more examples of pipeline concerns here.

Middlebury Schumann Distinguished Scholar and co-founder of Bill McKibben wrote an article in the New Yorker describing the situation this week, asking Americans to learn fro history and not repeat the tragedies of the past.  For a summary of the litigation pending regarding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's lawsuit visit this web page of Earthjustice.  Here is additional background in an article on  There are many, many sources of information online, with updates every day, so I am linking to just a few of them.

A Labor Day barbeque in Post Mills attended by several Vershire families was organized to raise funds to send food and water to the N. Dakota reservation, and to spread awareness of the situation, by Nate Pero, Chief Spirit Owl of the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation.  He can be reached at, and asks for donations to be sent to the Koasek, Box 147, Post Mills, Vt. 05058.  Vershire’s Steve Garrow promoted the event through his local email network.  Bonnie Strout, a cousin of Nate's, was vending at a flea market booth at the event.  Proud of her Native American heritage through both parents, she feels the pipelines are a "bad idea" in general and encourages investment in renewable energy.  She was understandably upset by the news of bulldozers desecrating native burial lands and sacred sites over the holiday weekend when the peaceful protesters were also attacked with dogs and pepper spray.

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Another effort is underway to collect supplies and encourage people to attend an event in Vergennes on September 13, organized by Rising Tide Vermont.  Jo Hamlin plans to lend her support at events here in Vermont as well as being willing to travel to Washington D.C., depending on the unfolding legal proceedings and even to North Dakota to participate where she feels she is needed most.  Jo will accept and forward donations of supplies for the protectors/protestors.  Contact Jo at for a current list of needed supplies.

Rev. Gregory Wilson is also deciding which events to attend, choosing from a fundraising event in Burlington Friday evening, a Break Free Albany kayak flotilla on Saturday and next Tuesday's event.  A Unitarian Universalist minister and private practice therapist, he says, "If we truly believe we are part of the interconnected web and... if i’ve got the emotional sense of what’s going on, I’m going to take some action to support these human beings fighting for their place of existence.  Hopefully we're responding not out of threat but out of empathy.  By the time it gets to threat, it’s really serious. Empathy is the healthier spiritual response."

Gregory hopes to help “strengthen the infrastructure of this movement, which is people, the connections of the people, which eventually become political dialogue, then electing people who espouse these issues."  He offers counseling especially for those seeking help in grappling with the emotional overwhelm of facing the climate crisis.  He can be reached at 772-871-6010 or

Gregory and his wife, Helen, are members of the Vershire Climate Action Committee and organizers of Deep Change for Climate Justice, coming up October 15-16 in White River Junction.  They also organized Healing Ourselves and Our World in the Florida community where they lived before deciding to relocate to Vershire year-round.  In Florida, Gregory says, "We see a more intense version of the oppression than we do in Vermont," relating to climate activism.  He adds that it's "harder to get people organized and involved in Florida" with Vermont being "more advanced in political organizing, mindfulness of nature."

Sabra Ewing has donated money and helped connect people and information through Facebook, directing them to donate to Stacey Patel in Florida, who is traveling out to the Camp of the Sacred Stones.  Her connection with Stacey grew out of the recent Bernie Sanders campaign.

"Water is life".  And even here in Vermont we've experienced a very dry season, though I' m grateful at least my well hasn't run dry.  All the waters of the planet are connected, as are all the members of the human family, as demonstrated by the compassionate efforts of the folks in this story.  There may be even more ways Vershire citizens are supporting the peaceful, legal actions of the Standing Rock Sioux - let me know via comments below or on Facebook, where you will find a short video interview with Nate Pero.  The Buzz is your voice, Vershire, so I'd love to hear from you!

And don't forget next week is Tunbridge World's Fair, September 15-18, and I'll be looking for Vershire entries, participants and attendees while I'm there.  You can find me spinning wool on Antique Hill.

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