Standing Rock tribal elder Phyllis Young was among the last to speak at a meeting between the tribal council and representatives of Energy Transfer Partners back in September of 2014.
Yes, the tribal council and the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline met face-to-face more than two years ago. At the meeting, the tribe laid out its concerns over the pipeline crossing ancestral territory — namely its belief an oil spill would poison the waters of the Missouri River as it passes through the Standing Rock Reservation.
The meeting was recorded as an audio recording. It happened long before construction began, despite the company’s claims that the tribe didn’t engage in discussions until the pipeline was well underway and it was too late to change its route.
The most important blogger in North Dakota, Jim Fuglie, outlined it all right here in a stunning piece. Please read it.
You can also listen to the entire meeting on a YouTube audio post by clicking here. It is well worth an hour of your time. The tribe made no bones about its concern for the river and its opposition to the pipeline.
But also, listen to the stirring words of Young toward the end of the meeting. It’s about seven minutes long, but again, well worth your time.
“We will put forward our young people, our young lawyers, who understand the weasel words, now, of the English language, who know that one word can mean seven things. We understand the forked tongue that our grandfathers talked about. We know about talking out of both sides of your mouth, smiling with one side of your face. We know all the tricks of the wasichu world. Our young people have mastered it. I have mastered your language. I can speak eloquently in the English language my grandmother taught me. I also have the collective memory of the damages that have occurred to my people. And I will never submit to any pipeline to go through my homeland.”
I have edited out some brief sections from Young’s speech, when she got into statute numbers and other things that weren’t directly relevant to her main point. But most of the speech was left intact. My editing did not change context. It only made it a bit more brief.