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Mni Wiconi and Keystone XL

Oct 18, 2011

As a human being dependent upon Mother Earth for my sustenance, I oppose the building of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. And as a fellow human you should too. My drinking water comes from the Ogallala Aquifer. I have been drinking this water since I was born. I have buffalo, sheep and horses that also drink this water. Our plants, trees, flowers and vegetables also depend on this water.

In my language we say Mni Wiconi, which translates to Water of Life. Without water there is no life. Within all the ceremonies I attend, water has an essential place. That is, we pray with water in every ceremony we have. And as inhabitants of Mother Earth we depend on water to live. We do not need oil to live. There are other ways to create energy.

Like many of my Lakota-Dakota-Nakota relatives, I am deeply concerned about the world our grandchildren and unborn descendants will be left with when we are gone. Like the ancestors who have gone before us, many of us pray for the descendants who will soon stand in our place.

At the rate we are pillaging Mother Earth there will be nothing left. How will our great grandchildren feel when they learn they have inherited a dead planet? The inhabitants of North America cannot afford the Keystone pipeline expansion. It will surely destroy us. It will destroy everything we are building in terms of culture and spirituality for our children.

The expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline will have to cross our precious drinking water sources, including both the Ogallala Aquifer and the Mni Wiconi water line, along with several streams and rivers. The water which comes through these systems serves many residents currently living on our reservations.

Our water is our life. As a child of Mother Earth, I am against the proposed Keystone pipeline expansion crossing our water sources. I ask you to pray for our water of life to remain pure for our descendants, both yours and mine. Without water we will die.


Vi Waln is Sicangu Lakota and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Her columns were awarded first place in the South Dakota Newspaper Association 2010 contest. She can be reached through email at


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