News Release

Red Road to DC

As part of the Red Road to DC, a cross-country tour highlighting Indigenous sacred sites at risk, Native American grassroots organizers held an event in Yankton, South Dakota, to highlight the urgency of protecting the Missouri River. Tour organizers brought a totem pole honoring sacred Indigenous sites as a gift to President Biden to urge his immediate protection of sacred sites. They will make stops across the country at places and resources that are at risk due to development and infrastructure projects.

"At every turn, Mother Earth is being threatened by the greed of oil companies. Our sacred Missouri River has been used and abused by extractive industries that pollute our waters and air, and contribute to the climate crisis. It is time that we recognize the rights of the Missouri River to flow freely and exist as more than just a tool to build wealth for corporations.

Our River is a transboundary watershed that is home to sacred cultural sites, medicines, diverse threatened plants and animals as well as rich cultures spanning two countries, 10 U.S. states and 28 tribal territories. There are 10 million people impacted by the pollution of this river. The only agency that is calling the shots on this river is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That is a continuing “one-stakeholder” threat to our River as she is indeed a “Sacred Traditional Cultural Site” and always has been. What impacts the land and water impacts Native bodies and spirits, known as physical and spiritual trauma.

As Indigenous people, it is our sacred duty to restore the spirit of the Missouri River. And it is our inherent right as Indigenous people to be caretakers of the Missouri River region. We have thousands of years of knowledge and experience in caring for the lands and waters. We must bring balance back to this sacred River.

"Water is our first medicine and must be protected. We will protect this sacred site which is within the 1851, 1858 Treaty territory and within unceded territories as well. Coming out of a 13-year battle against KXL, we welcome the House of Tears totem pole and its mission in protecting Indigenous cultural sites." 

— Faith Spotted Eagle, Chair of Inhanktonwan Treaty Committee and grandmother of the Brave Heart Society

“Since the entire Missouri River Basin is a sacred site it requires action to declare it a historic district. Thousands of cultural sites, burials and currently used ceremonial sites continue to be destroyed by constant undertakings, economic and recreational. There are 20 million people who depend on it as a water source.”

— Kip Spotted Eagle, Yankton Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation Officer

More info: For additional information, photos, and a full list of tour stops, visit

About Brave Heart Society
The Brave Heart Society, supervised by a group of community grandmothers called the Unci Circle, is dedicated to restoring endangered and lost cultural practices to heal the wounds endured by the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota peoples. This process of restoration is decidedly community-driven.

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