The man with no shoes, red hair, and a beard that marked his time at camp, looked up at me
and said this:

“Before you volunteer, go down to the river, take your shoes off and walk barefoot through the
water. Let the mud sink between your toes and just take it in. This is why we are all here.”

The next day, we headed up north to Mandan to attend a forgiveness ceremony before we
drove thirteen hours home. The weekend before, tensions rose between Morton County Police
and Standing Rock protesters resulting in injuries and arrests. People marched through Mandan
to the Morton County Courthouse where some were still behind bars, including Red Fawn Fallis.
Red Fawn, 37, travelled from Colorado and was arrested on October 27. She was charged with
attempted murder of an officer, but many protesters stay true to the story that she was unarmed.
Despite the violence, tribe members and protesters believed forgiveness was in order. Tribe
leaders called Morton County, stating their intention of coming together in peace on this day.
Morton County did not show, but hundreds poured into the street from Standing Rock. We
joined them, walking among our new brothers and sisters. I looked around; a sea of faces,
different expressions, but a universal veil of sadness and a glimmer of hope. I looked to my
right, my dad, 54, a white man among these tribes. “How far we’ve come” I thought, to have a
white man here is so symbolic, so important, and he wanted to be there. It didn’t take much
convincing on my part to get him to go. I was so proud of him and honored to be his daughter. I
looked to my left, my sister, 19, studying to be a teacher, deciding to go on a whim, sacrificing
her weekend home from ISU to join me. I was so proud of her and honored to be her sister.
How lucky her students will be someday.

I knelt down and wedged myself between cameras. Lyla June Johnston was speaking. Lyla, a
descendant of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineage, is a writer, adviser, a
one hell of a leader. Hot tears streamed down my face as I shakily taped her words. I share this
footage with you today, because her words and wisdom will forever be engrained in my heart.
When you look down at your plate today, thank the Native American people for your sweet
potatoes, beans, corn, tomatoes, squash, pumpkin and cranberry. Thank them for the turkey
which they first domesticated. Thank them for fighting for clean water and a better Earth. But
more importantly, thank them for teaching us forgiveness, even when it is the hardest thing to
do.

A Geologist’s Perspective

My name is Evan Walters, I have a masters in Geology with a focus on Geochemistry and the
study of negative interactions from anthropogenic (human driven) disruptions to the
environment. After graduate school, I landed jobs working on oil rigs, environmental testing labs,
petroleum testing labs, and now currently working for a large chemical distribution company.
Having this background in what is aptly referred to as biogeochemistry, I am often asked the
same question by people that are concerned about the anthropogenic impact we are inflicting
on earth.

“What do you think about fracking?”

Usually when this question is asked to me I sort of sit there staring trying to think of where I
should start: geologic background, technological advances in drilling, economics and foreign
commodities, petroleum geochemistry…. As you can see the person has asked a very open
ended question to someone who knows a lot about a certain subject. But I know exactly what
they are asking, they want the answer to the question we all want the answer to, but I make
them work for it.

I always ask, “What do you mean?” And then the real question comes out, “Is it good or bad,
like for the environment?”

I always sort of laugh in my head when people ask this question, for two reasons. First reason
being, we all know the answer to that question. Is me just telling them the answer going to
change anything? Second reason being, if they are concerned about how fracking is affecting
the world, then they are asking the wrong question to begin with.

They should be asking me, “Why do we frack?”

That answer is very simple: We frack because you, me and everyone else you know in the world
needs shit. In fact, it goes further than that. We clear forest, put unimaginable sized holes in the earth and now pump chemicals into the ground so we can all live these awesome lives
surrounded by material shit.

So before you give me that look like I am calling you out, please realize that I am calling us all
out, I am as big a piece of shit as you are!

So what’s the next step?

Well I am a father of a beautiful four year old daughter and every time she does something
wrong, I have a sit down with her and say, “Do you know why you did what you did?” We then
talk about it and she agrees to not do it, we hug, and I tell her I love her. Maybe we need to
grow up ourselves and have a conversation with each other to understand what we are doing
wrong as full grown adults.

So back to my conversation with the poor sap that wanted to know if fracking is bad and is now
getting blamed by me for fracking. See I noticed (again myself included) that people love to
blame others for problems that they take part in causing. Now that I told this person fracking is
their fault, I usually say to them, “do you know why we frack?”
Typically their answer is “for gasoline, to fuel our cars”. This is absolutely correct, but does not
tell the whole story. The demand for petroleum products reaches into every aspect of our lives.
Plastics would be the main product I would tell people to focus on if they wanted know why we
drill for oil.

Now think about all the plastic you encounter on a daily basis. Which plastics are necessary for
your daily function and which ones is just excess bullshit. I always start with water bottles; I am
surprised at the amount of people who purchase fucking cases of water bottles? Are you really
that fucking stupid/lazy that you cannot just have one bottle and refill it throughout the day?
Please if you care about the earth, next time you see someone with a water bottle, slap that shit
out of their hand and cuss them out for being stupid. I’m serious those fucking cases of water
bottles should be fucking illegal, no joke.

So here is my next challenge to you, everything you come into contact each day, figure out what
it is made out of and ask yourself do you really need that item? Or do you even need more shit?
One time someone said to me, “How about this wooden table” I said yes, the wood was cut with
a machine powered by gas, then finished with petroleum-derived chemicals, then brought to a
store in a diesel-powered truck. Then the item was put on display, the electricity used to turn on
the display lights were powered from a gas-fired power plant. By the way if you do not know
where electricity comes from it is most likely either petroleum or coal power plants.

To get you started, here is a SHORT list of items derived from petroleum products.
– Cosmetics
– Synthetic Rubber (Car Tires, Shoes, ect.)
– Lubricants (oil for your car)
– Medicine
– Cleaning Solutions
– Asphalt (roads)
– Synthetic Fabrics (clothing)
– Food (flavorings, pesticides, preservatives)
– PLASTICS
– Fuel (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel)

From this list it should become very apparent. Our lives are deeply dependent on the oil and gas
industry and you can confidently assume that everything you come into contact with on a daily
basis is in some way associated with oil and gas. Now does it make sense that if you look up
the top 50 richest companies in the world, you would find that most of them are related to the
petroleum industry? Walmart being on the top of the list, sells what, oh yea shit, shit that we
buy, that comes from black gold known as crude oil. It is safe to say humanity all shares an
addiction to petroleum.

So now that I have rambled on for a good minute, I hope I have convinced you of one thing. Our
addiction to material goods is bad, not fracking. If you want to stop/slow down fracking, please
cut all of the unnecessary shit out of your life.

Editor’s Note: This marks the second part of a three part series dedicated to the happenings at Standing Rock Indian Reservation.