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Steve and Rhiannon Moon: Voices from the frontlines of resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline

By staff |
October 28, 2016
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In September, Deb Konechne and S. Gutierrez conducted a number of interviews with opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Steve and Rhiannon Moon live in Saint Cloud, Minnesota with their four-year-old son. Their respective mothers come from Standing Rock Reservation. They were at the encampment on day three, when the DAPL machines were stopped for the first time.

Rhiannon Moon:

“I came here on day three of the front line, with my son and my husband. We came here together. I ended up staying the day, then I had to go back because I had other commitments to keep. I worked that whole week and I was torn, like my heart was ripped. And I told my boss I couldn't be there. I was just in tears, like I have to go, I can't do this. He supported me in it and he gave me the week off. I wish I would've said 'I don't know how long I'll be gone’.

“It was a Friday, and we got here at like 7:00 in the morning. And it was really a small crowd. There was maybe 50 of us, maybe, that's being generous. They were protecting the gates from when the oil companies come in with their vehicles and machinery and things like that. There were a total of seven arrests that day or that morning. We were all singing and praying, and trying to protect the land, trying to stop the trucks from coming in.

“That day was really intense. There were a lot of prayers and a lot of singing. It was really humbling. It was beautiful.

“It is all so beautiful. The last time this happened, the government did not win, and that's what I want to happen here.

“In 1873, I believe, was the last time the Seven Council Fires burned united. So for Standing Rock as a whole, that's huge because that hasn't been the way it's been. Even though we're one, Standing Rock, we each have our own divisions, and it's been separate, have not been united. And that's not just Standing Rock, that goes for multiple nations. It's disheartening because we're losing so much.

“Hopefully this will change everything for the future. It's for my little guy that runs around and raises hell. That's why. Everything I do is for him. And they [future generations] deserve it.

“He earned his first eagle feather on day three. I was so proud of him. And even like the march this week in Bismarck, oh my gosh, he was just there, stone-faced with his fists in the air. A four-year-old knows that this is what should be done. Why is this a question? How do you question something so powerful? Very proud, very proud of him.

“If need be, it'd be worth risking my job for.”

Steve Moon:

“After 150 years, this is all we have left and we can't let that be taken away - an aggressive word, rape - [is] essentially what's happening. So we came up. My wife and I said, 'we have to go.'

“It just sinks in, the community, that you have a purpose - everybody needs that in life. Not just us here, but every color, every race. Once you have that feeling, you can't get rid of it.

“My youngest son is along. He loves it. To watch him be comfortable here is huge. He already has four years of knowledge, where we had to fight tooth and nail just to survive for 30 years before we got here. It's pretty amazing to see all the kids, the feeling that they have here with the community, the oneness. They're going to take that forever. We’re changing these kids' lives. It's amazing. They're not going to be afraid to stand up. Even at school and at home, they're not going to be afraid to say 'no, this isn't right,' and it's okay to stand up. I think that's the greatest thing here so far.

“Day three we broke through, when they said they found remains and they were taking heads home and stuff. We broke through that day. We broke through the fence. The word came through and everybody got pretty worked up. I flanked the side and stood at the fence, waiting for my wife and my boy. My sister said, 'do you wanna go?' Yeah, so we jumped over. A lot of people would look down on that, doing illegal stuff with your kids, but that's standing up for something. That's going to change his life.

“So they actually started breaking earth on Monday when they started bringing trucks in. I'm not sure how the word got through. I mean there were [drones] flying around everywhere, but they said they were disturbing our burial sites. And as soon as that hits the people, everybody's going to go do what they have to do to stop it. The police lined up and people got arrested. The chairman got arrested that day, and some other people. So with all that going on, a lot of people got around the police. If I remember right, the first person over was an old lady. She just hopped right over. She had someone help her get over. 'Help me get over the fence.' So we helped her get over the fence, and she was the first one back there. And then more and more people, they were arresting people, the cops were busy, so a lot of us got over. And we ran back, all the way back, to where they were working, to see exactly what they were doing.

“I'm glad my son got to be there, and my wife. We all went back there. She knows me well enough, she just looks at me and she knows. I'll stand up and chain myself. That's what we do. We stand up for what we believe in and for our families. Even though the water’s not for me, it's my people, it's not even native people, it's everybody.”