This Labor Day, like always, it is bitter sweet. Labor Day came about to buy workers off. It was made an official holiday in 1887, in Oregon, one year after the Haymarket rebellion of 1886. Several states quickly followed, with the Federal government sealing the deal in 1894, giving workers a 'holiday' in exchange for deescalation in the labor movement.
We, I pray, cannot be bought. The Land is not for sale; We are not for sale. Our Labor - which is a holy thing - Work, is not for sale. This time is also around my deceased mother's birthday; Labor Day is personal. I once was arrested at this time of year with over 2,000 others protesting an unjust war, and my entire holding cell sang happy birthday to my mother over the phone. She said it was the best birthday present ever. On this Labor Day, full of so much tension and memory, Stay Radical People - we have lifetimes more of Being and Doing.
When I lived in Oklahoma, the water was noxious. We lived in our tribal housing and the water that poured from the tap reeked of bleach. The clothes we washed aged years with each cleaning. Certainly I did not use it for cooking or drinking or even to water the animals. I cringed each time I poured it on my garden, breathing an apology prayer to the plants, knowing the water must sting their delicate roots and stems just as it did my skin. Some miles away, someone was fracking. You could feel it in the small earthquakes that happened now and then, as they never did before, my relatives told me, waves across the plains. Ripples of that which is amiss.
Use your Labor wisely. "Line 3" has been declared a public health crisis by health professionals. It is a crisis not just because a pipe might burst in a river or underground, contaminating drinking water, killing wildlife, and destroying ecosystems. It is a crisis because labor, workers, law enforcement - they are all being used to intimidate and hurt those whose only mission is to protect our water. Those officers, oil workers, engineers - they don't have to do that, use their talents and presence to harm. Instead, we can work together and they can use their skills in a beneficial way. How we act is a choice. Our water protectors are being charged as terrorists and fighting stiff sentences. They are being hurt, our communities are being hurt, not just by Line 3 but by extractive practice; our Land, our communities, need our labor and our love. Tell the government and the corporations what we want, what we need. Water is Life. Land Back. Wéwihnaⁿ