Faith Spotted Eagle on the Settler-Colonial Mind-Set

Yankton Sioux elder and water protector Faith Spotted Eagle on confronting the settler-colonial mind-set from within the non-Native ranks of NoDAPL.

Faith Spotted Eagle is an activist and PTSD counselor. She is a member of the Yankton Sioux Nation who helped block development of the Keystone XL pipeline and now the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

The elder and water protector has been at the forefront of the struggle against DAPL since it began. She has testified before members of the U.S. House of Representatives, written personally to President Barack Obama and even gotten a vote for President herself, from the Electoral College. She was the first Native American to receive an electoral vote for President of the United States, garnering one from a so-called faithless elector in Washington State, who cast a vote for her over Hillary Clinton. Amid all this, Spotted Eagle found time to sit down with Longhouse Media on a few occasions and talk about what makes the DAPL fight so important.

In this interview, Faith discusses the far-reaching impacts of the "Settler Colonialism" mentality, and its pervasive role in shaping current issues affecting the camps at Standing Rock. Namely, the increasing role of white organizers in relationship to an indigenous-centered movement and how this shift could change the overall intentions of the camp. She is concerned that the new demographic, of roughly 80 percent non-Native water protectors, taking up space and making independent decisions at Oceti Sakowin Camp, is more reflective of the larger American society than an indigenous-led initiative. This highlights the need to confront settler colonialism within the movement itself, she explains. Without meaning to, some of the non-Natives who come to help are in fact seeking something.

"We have non-Native people who come here, bless their hearts, who are looking for their spirits," she says. "Now they're looking to try to be Indians. And we don't have their answer."

This is one in a series of conversations with Faith Spotted Eagle at Standing Rock, North Dakota, in December 2016, conducted by Longhouse Media.