Dear President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama,
It has been two years already since I met you during your visit to Standing Rock. When you were here, you sat and listened to what we had to say. You made us feel like we mattered, we didn’t feel invisible anymore.
I am writing this letter to you because I am concerned about the wellbeing of my people. The Army Corps of Engineers just issued a construction permit allowing Dakota Access LLC to build a massive pipeline through our Missouri River. This pipeline will transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil through our water every day. In 2012-2013 alone, there were 300 oil pipeline breaks in the state of North Dakota. When the Dakota Access Pipeline breaks, it will not only contaminate our water but it will also destroy our sacred land and threaten our individual, societal and community’s health.
A few months ago, the youth from my Tribe started speaking out against the Dakota Access Pipeline. We created a petition to raise awareness about the potential damages this pipeline could do to our people, and our Rezpect Our Water campaign now has over One Hundred and Forty Thousand (140,000) supporters, both across the country and around the world. Our campaign has been successful. Sadly, it was not enough to dissuade the Army Corps of Engineers from issuing the construction permit.
Throughout history, our people have used messenger runners to deliver valuable information between tribes. In the spirit of our ancestors we have started a Relay Race to bring our message to Washington DC. Thirty of us, from the Oceti Sakowin Youth (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), will be running almost 2000 miles over three weeks to raise further awareness about the pipeline and to deliver our 140,000 petition signatures to the headquarter of the Army Corps of Engineers. Our final stop will be at your doorstep, Mr. President. We hope you can join us and listen to what we have to say.
As the native children of this country, we are asking you to stand with us on August 6, 2016 at Lafayette Square and help us fight the Dakota Access Pipeline. Enough has been taken away from our people. We want to thrive and we want a bright future. One that embraces our cultural heritage and our deep communion with our lands. By helping us fight for our water and for our ancestral lands, you confirm our common humanity and dignity. This is what we ask for.
After your visit to Standing Rock you said you felt we were like your own children. Mr. President and First Lady we have no doubt you meant every word you said and we know you have not forgotten us. We hope that your schedule allows you to greet us and show your support upon our arrival in Washington DC.
Thank you very much,
Tariq and the Oceti Sakowin Youth