This isn't about "I told you so." It is moreso the question of "Have we normalized pipeline spills?" This past week, Nebraska state regulators voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline extension, five days after that pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota. The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 to give the project the go ahead, but rejected TransCanada's preferred route.
There is this magical made-up time between Columbus Day (or Indigenous People's Day for the enlightened) and Thanksgiving where white Americans think about native people. That's sort of our window. November is Native American Heritage month. Before that, of course, is Halloween. Until about three years ago, one of the most popular Halloween costumes was Pocahontas. People know nothing about us, but they like to dress up like us or have us as a mascot.
What does Puerto Rico's catastrophic hurricane teach us about ourselves, how we treat each other, and the future? Crisis brings opportunity. It's important we make Puerto Rico an example of what we want and need for the future. Soon after Hurricane Maria, Tesla's Elon Musk recommended Puerto Rico should go solar. Many Puerto Ricans and organizations such as Resilient Power Puerto Rico are supporting this effort.
North Dakota remains in the international spotlight since last year's battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline. The North Dakota Supreme Court is currently reconsidering the allowance of pro hac vice, i.e. allowing out-of-state attorneys to defend water protectors. What the court decides, and how justice and the rule of law is carried out here, will be viewed by many. As of this spring, there were over 800 water protectors charged in North Dakota. These people were clergy members, teachers, veterans, mothers, fathers and children.
I recently took to flight, the first plane I've been on for a bit. I had to ask my daughter if Dallas was still there. She told me Dallas was good, it was Houston that had 50 inches of rainfall. Glad I'm not flying to Florida. Despite advances in technology, the wizards of weather reporting, and, of course, the president, we are entering a world where everything which was predictable is no longer so. What's apparent is that Mother Nature is actually in charge, not President Trump.
In the time of my parents, we would set up ricing camp at Star Lake. We traveled from the south to the north, following the wild rice as it ripened. In my generation, I remember tribal member Gordon Henry getting arrested for ricing on Star Lake, accused of " poaching" manoomin. Discouraged for years by risk of fines and imprisonment, I am forever grateful to our people for their courage. Harvesting our traditional foods is how we survived and how we will survive.
Ever since Julia Roberts named it a muffin top in " Eat, Pray, Love," I've been conscious of mine. So, when I discovered spandex in jeans, wow, was I happy. They were more comfortable and fit better. But, being a person who asks Mother Earth what I should wear, I did some research. I found the clothing industry to be pretty toxic. Consequently, I've made a choice—either go naked, try to buy used, or go hemp.
I am counting butterflies this week. From the back of a horse, I've been surveying the territory of northern Minnesota. It's a land of wild rice, milkweed, berries, bergamot and life. It's a slow pace, and what I notice is there are not that many butterflies. In fact, there are not that many of any insects. This is my fifth year riding and canoeing the proposed route of the new Enbridge pipeline project to see what is out there and show that I value this world.
I always question the Fourth of July. This year, I was fortunate enough to stop in at the Sisseton Dakota Pow Wow where everything that is important to me was popping—dancing, rodeo, moccasin games and thousands of beautiful Native people. Veterans and patriotism are customarily honored at the opening. That is where I found Sophia Wilansky. I would like to give her a purple heart, but Sophia Wilansky is someone many North Dakotans would like to forget. Wilansky is the 21-year-old New Yorker's whose arm was blown off by a concussion grenade.
It's likely no surprise that my views of President Trump are, well, not approving. The president's capacity to do self-serving dumb stuff never ceases to amaze me.