I don’t feel the earth breathing. Mid-spring, and everything around us is dead. We were barely living anyway, surviving on malt liquor that singed pathways down our throats. Now we crave alcohol to clear away the sludge lining the walls of our esophagus from the oil we drink in our water.

Standing Rock is deserted. Most Lakota have crossed the border into Canada, where they are more respectful of our sacred lands, where the ground isn’t sterilized by the rust of metal—thunderous pipelines that extend for miles.

I’ve stayed behind, me and Chief. Day after day, we pray for Wakan Tanka, Great Spirit, to heal us of this invasive snake, which occupies our home and drains her of all signs of life. While walking the Plains, we discover gallons of crude venom has spilled from an open sore and permeated the ancient graves.

The hope we hold onto still resides, but it thins even more, as the fuel driven noose around our necks tightens, choking us to death.


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