by Michelle Margaret Fajkus
The old Lakota was wise. He knew that a man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans, too. So he kept his children close to nature’s softening influence.”
~ Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Chief
Water is life.
Villa Sumaya is located on the shores of a sacred water site, Lake Atitlan, in the Guatemalan highlands. This gorgeous volcanic lake, surrounded by three volcanoes and a lush, green, floral basin, looks beautiful and blue—but trouble lurks beneath its presently presentable state. In 2009, there was a major cyanobacteria bloom, and there have been additional blooms in the years since.
The lake is the primary source of drinking water for approximately 100,000 people, mostly indigenous Mayans living in the pueblos surrounding the lake. The contamination of Lake Atitlan has increased exponentially over the past decade due to population growth, tourism and the chemicals and phospates entering the water from farms in the lake basin, as well as untreated sewage from many of the pueblos.
Unfortunately, scientists have concluded the wastewater treatment plants will not solve the problem. And composting toilets are not catching on like wildfire, though there are a number of residences (including my own) and businesses in the region that have functional, if not attractive, composting toilets.
Of course, this sad reality of pollution is true of an alarming number of lakes, rivers and oceans.
Right now—today—human beings are coming together in a powerful way. After 500 years of oppression, land-grabbing, mistreatment of indigenous folks by white colonizers, more commonly called “cowboys,” “conquistadors” and “pioneers,” and subsequently the government, everything is coming to a head at Standing Rock right now.
The authorities and corporations wanting the pipeline to be completed are willing to use violent methods to dissuade the protestors. Peaceful people with the intention of protecting their sacred lands and access to clean water have been attacked by dogs, pepper spray, rubber bullets, fire hoses and more since the resistance officially began on April 1, 2016 with the establishment of the Sacred Stone Camp by a Standing Rock Sioux elder and her grandchildren.
Last Sunday, December 4th, a small and spirited group of about 30 of us joined in spirit with the thousands of water protectors who have gathered at the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota. As we joined them from afar and danced and sang and meditated and sent out good wishes, the fire danced, too. Incredibly, that same afternoon, the news broke that the Army Corps of Engineers had, at least temporarily, ordered work on the Dakota Access Pipeline to halt. It felt as though the prayers of the worldwide water protectors had been answered. Sadly, yet not surprisingly, word came from the camp that the corporate/industrial powers behind the pipeline construction were ignoring the order. This is not over yet. We need to stay strong and keep supporting the cause.
Ways to help:
> Educate yourself on what is happening.
> Talk about it, write about it, expand awareness of this issue, which is largely not being covered by the mainstream media.
> Sign this petition.
We stand in solidarity.
We pray for peace.
We take action to support important movements for equal rights, access to natural resources, and respect of ancestral lands.
We give love and gratitude to the water.
Ma’tiox to Father Sky and Mother Earth.