The Mni Wiconi Movement and LaDonna Brave Bull Allard’s Contributions
Prior Lake, MN
2023, Junior, Creative Writing
Climate Hero: LaDonna Brave Bull Allard
LaDonna Carole Brave Bull Allard was an inspiring activist. She was born on June 8, 1956, in Fort Yates, North Dakota. She spent most of her time growing up with her grandmother all around the country. In 1990, she graduated from the University of North Dakota. Once she graduated, she went back to the Standing Rock reservation to help the people as a historian and a genealogist. Mrs. Allard said that generational and historical trauma had an impact on her, and she wanted to learn more about why this happens to many indigenous people. To help her gain more information on the trauma impacts that happen to many indigenous people, she visited the massacre at Whitestone Hill that took place in 1863.
In 2014, she advocated against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that was near sacred land, which is important to her community. She fought against the government for a good cause. She rebelled against the government because they went against their treaties. More importantly, the land near where they were trying to build the pipeline was very close to sacred burial grounds that are very important to her people. In 2016, she vowed to stop the pipeline, which she named the “black snake,” by allowing protesters to camp out on her land. The protesters named the Sacred Stone Camp on her land near where the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers connect.
All around the world there was support to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. People described this movement as a cultural movement; many indigenous people from many different countries and states agreed that, “We are not fighting for a reroute, or a better process in the white man’s court.” When President Obama started to allow construction on the pipeline, there were many peaceful protesters that exercised their First Amendment rights. Even though they were peacefully protesting, security guards and police attacked the protesters with mass arrests, and violently with pepper spray, pressure hoses, rubber bullets, and dogs. The construction fortunately halted because of the Obama campaign. But when Donald J. Trump was elected as President, he allowed construction to continue. The pipeline was ordered to be finished, and the camps were ordered to be evacuated. Even though the indigenous people owned the land, which was stated by many treaties signed by indigenous people and the government, they were still ordered to evacuate Mrs. Allard’s land that she owned.
She continued to support the Anti-DAPL movement, even though there was nothing else that they could do to stop the black snake from being built. She traveled all around the world to advocate for indigenous people’s right to their sacred lands and the protection of these lands. All she wanted was to protect Unci Maka, which means Mother Earth in Dakota.
Many organizations awarded her for her brave and courageous acts against the government. The United Nations Forum on Indigenous Issues wanted to let her speak on climate and many other issues that concerned indigenous peoples. In 2019 the Indigenous Peoples Economic and Social Council acknowledged her bravery and made her a representative of the Council. Before she passed she wanted all of us to continue the fight, the fight for clean water and a clean Earth.
Today LaDonna Carole Brave Bull Allard is remembered for her bravery and all the things she did to protect indigenous people and land. She is known as a hero to indigenous people; she took action against the government, and still wants us to fight in her spirit. Even today, many indigenous people tell stories about the Dakota Access Pipeline. Every person fighting for clean water and clean land is a hero. LaDonna Carole Brave Bull Allard would want us to remember that “Water Is Life.”
A person who had a big role in the anti-DAPL movement was my Grandma LaDonna, who I always heard stories of because she played a big role. There were some moments while I was writing that made me feel sad, but I realized that she is someone who makes me feel proud of who I am as an indigenous teen growing up surrounded by non-indigenous people who don't really know how I feel. I want people to know that government betrayal is not something new, but something that should be stopped. I wish for people to know that we shouldn't have to fight to have clean water and for our sacred lands that we had before.