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​Making a scene and being heard

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | October 18th, 2019

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Greta Thunberg meets Chief Arvol Looking Horse, climate activist Tokata Iron Eyes, and Greta Thunberg - photograph by Sabrina Hornung

Last week we had the opportunity to attend the Climate Change Forum at Standing Rock High School in Fort Yates. If there was one word to describe the experience it would be inspiring.

Tribal elders, Executive Director of Indigenized Energy Cody Two Bears, and teenage activists Tokata Iron Eyes and Greta Thunberg led the charge in expressing the importance of youth voices to a room of 500 youths. It was a positive message that many of us need to hear, old and young. Two Bears led the discussion between the two youths and the floor was opened to questions.

A friend of ours, Shane Balkowitsch recently shared this Native American proverb on his Facebook while sharing one of his wet plate images of Thunberg on facebook, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Thunberg is making a scene in one of the best ways. She’s forcing the world to think. She’s establishing the fact that she wants the world, particularly the U.S., to hold themselves accountable to the impact they have upon the environment. In turn, she’s received threats, personal attacks and has even been compared to Goebbels-era propaganda by...adults? All for not wanting the world to end?

I mean, you guys know why Goebbels chose an Aryan girl for that poster, right? I’ll clue you all in, that it was not because his administration was educating the world about climate change.

Most 16-year-olds deal with bullying by their peers, not by the U.S. president and his minions. It’s childish and it’s ignorant and it should NOT be happening and it should not be tolerated.

The vitriol directed toward this brave young woman is shameful and it is embarrassing. Last week our photo of Thunberg shaking Chief Looking Horse’s hand went viral on reddit and social media. It was posted in a group that shares regional history; due to the level of outrage and toxic comments, it had to be taken down. Perhaps it would have been different if it were spoken through vaseline-covered teeth on some pageant platform and didn’t include trigger words like “Standing Rock.” Instead she’s called a “liberal puppet,” and “is a tool used by liberal media,” and we “libtards” are too dumb to see through it. Apparently the only puppets and tools North Dakotans approve of is if they’re covered in oil--then they get voted into office.

All of these unpleasantries uttered by a bunch of yokels offended by a young girl shaking a native elder’s hand.

It really makes me wonder where this outrage comes from. Is it the role reversal of the youth scolding adults? Do they feel like they squandered their youth and the opportunity that came with it so they need to defecate on the dreams of the next generations? Would she be more palatable if she were marketed to the masses like a Disney or Hallmark cartoon? I’m surprised she hasn’t been told to smile more.

Do they not understand because words like climate change are too complex and confusing to process? Or is it because we really need to reconsider our way of life and our consumption patterns? Change is a scary thing but how and why is this fear turning into anger fueled by ignorance?

Step up America and quit picking on a young girl. What would you do if that was your daughter receiving hate mail?

Needless to say there’s a bunch of useless finger pointing, what about India, what about China--why is she targeting the U.S.? Or…dismissing the conversation by starting a whole new topic--like all that plastic in the ocean. Followed by oh yeah you don’t like oil-- d’ya like drivin’?

I hate to break it to y’all but the majority of plastics are petroleum- based and the ones that are plant-based aren’t immediately biodegradable. It’s almost like being discouraged to throw a benefit for someone who has a vital role in your community and abandoning it because it doesn’t benefit everyone else suffering from that ailment.

Obviously no one is going to change the world overnight and we’re not going to find a solution in a day but why aren’t we exploring our options? Treat it like your Tinder profile and try to find a match/solution.

The folks at Indigenized Energy are taking a step in the right direction by investing in renewable energy with their solar farms near Cannon Ball. Plus, everytime I drive near any of the wind farms in our state it warms my heart. There are options out there but it’s just a matter of educating ourselves.

As for Greta and Tokata, keep up the good work. You’re an inspiration to us all. 

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