JUNEAU -- For nearly nine years now, Dawn Moneyhan has displayed Christmas decorations, but not this year. She is joining her Native American brothers and sisters in the dispute over TransCanada's Keystone XL plan and efforts by American Indians to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from crossing beneath the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Moneyhan, who is a member of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indian tribe based in Manistee and Mason counties in northwest Michigan, said her tribe has almost 4,500 members.

"I may be living in Wisconsin, but I still care about Mother Earth," she said from her Juneau home. "I would be out there protesting if I could."

While muslin cloth tepees, deer and, as she calls them, "water protector elves" adorn Moneyhan's snow-covered lawn this December she wants passersby to see the "Water Is Life" banner she has posted in her yard.

"I have been following what is going on at Standing Rock, North Dakota, and I am devastated," she said. "It is horrible what is happening there. Just sickening."

Moneyhan called the White House and was hung up on. She called every number she could find for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She called many of Wisconsin's politicians but didn't get any help or response.

"We only get one Mother Earth and when it's gone," she said. "it's gone."

She said her mother's dad was not a Native American, but he had the "spirit" within him.

"He raised me to respect the earth and all that has it to offer -- the birds, trees and flowers and the everyday natural beauty we take for granted," she said.

Although she was born in Milwaukee, she said she spent much of her youth in Lannon Quarry, located in Menomonee Park in Menomonee Falls.

"I was a city kid, but I did much of my growing up in Lannon Quarry," she said. "I learned so much of nature and the earth and how fragile it is and it needs us and we need it."

She admitted she didn't get her official membership in the tribe until 12 years ago but wanted to learn of her connection to her people.

"I wanted to know the culture," she said. "I just don't preach it. I teach it. I live it."

Moneyhan said she wants the display to make people aware of what is happening in the country.

She said she and her husband, Rob, worked almost four weeks on the display. The two wanted something physical they could photograph and send to those on the front lines of the protest in North Dakota.

"We wanted something people would remember," she said. "When we were putting the display together we had people stop and ask us what are we doing and how they enjoy seeing what we have each year. Every year is different. I hope this year's display gets people thinking about what they have and how they take care of Mother Earth."

She began "Facebooking" with a person who was protesting and the person put Moneyhan's name on her sleeve ?-- literally -- with other "prayer warriors" for the protest.

"I was brought to tears," she said. "I just wanted to do something and make some people think. Hopefully, I did."

(1) comment


Here is a video of my display as I posted it for the water protectors and veterans on my facebook page.
Happy Holidays! Water Is Life!

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