I have been watching the pipeline protests with dismay. Can there be a more stark example of the conflict between economic expediency and protecting the environment? I am not naive enough to think that we don’t need energy, because our current consumption rate still requires the use of oil. But neither am I naive enough to think that we can build a failure-proof pipeline under the Missouri River. To think that we can is, at best, magical thinking, and, at worst, economically-driven indifference to an inevitable disaster. Thank you, Native America, for having the courage to stand up. As a Shoshone elder said about the arrival of the European: “They don’t know it yet, but they have come here to learn from us.” May that learning not be too late.
I’m attaching an adapted version of one of Dan’s “little talks” from The Girl who Sang to the Buffalo. I think it is appropriate. Please pass it along if you feel it says something that needs to be said.
NATURE HAS RULES
Nature has rules. Nature has laws.
You think you can ignore the rules, or if you don’t like them you can change them.
That’s what you did with us. If you made a law with us — you called them treaties — and it didn’t work for you, you changed it. You
said the old rules, the old laws, didn’t apply anymore. You just
made new ones.
Well, that doesn’t work with Mother Earth. She doesn’t
make deals. She doesn’t change the rules.
It takes fifteen minutes to cut down an oak tree and a hundred years to grow another one. Are you going to change that?
If you kill all the animals are you going to go to Mother Earth and say, ‘We made a mistake, give us another chance?’
You don’t get another chance.
I’m telling you, when you can count the animals, you’re getting
near the end of your chances. We can count the eagles. We
can count the buffalo. I’ve heard that in Africa and India they can count the
tigers and the elephants.
That’s Mother Earth crying out. She’s giving us a warning
and she’s begging for her life. We ought to be helping her and thanking her, not just taking from her.
Instead, we’re just taking everything, using everything, thinking we’ve got a right to everything and that we can fix everything if we get it wrong.
Well, we can’t fix everything.
We can’t make it all fit the shape of our own lives.
Mother Earth thinks different than we do. She thinks in the Creator’s time, not human time. She’s got long patience, but she’s got her laws.
And here’s what worries me. It’s something your people
don’t seem to ever learn.
There’s going to come a day when things can’t be fixed.
And you know what? It’s going to be a day just like