This can’t wait any longer. The Huntington Beach oil spill on October 4th, 2021, reminded me again. 25,000 gallons of crude oil flowed into the ocean. As the beach cleanup goes on, residents can apply for federal disaster loans. But why should the government (we) pay for the corporate oil exploitation sins? Make the oil barons cough up the money. Besides, no money can make the hazards of offshore drilling or pipelines breaks go away.
Look, at the above sculpture “Water Is Life (Remembering Standing Rock)”, a porcelain piece by Cincinnati artist Lisa Hueil Conner. It was featured in an SOS Art Exhibit and Retrospective last year. Isn’t it beautiful? I just had to have it. I look at it every day. It tells an important story. And it’s also a stark warning about oil spills.
There are oil spills all the time. Remember the Amoco Cadiz in 1978? The Exxon Valdez in 1989? The exploded and burning oil platform in the Gulf at BP’s Deep Water Horizon in 2010? This was the largest oil spill in history, which left 11 workers dead.
And the spills continue. There were at least 8 spills at the North Dakota Access Pipeline in 2017 after it was put in operation again. The Native American DAPL protesters (2014 to November 2016), who held watch over their land, were trying to stop the pipeline transgression, but the protectors of the land were forcibly removed.
At the time of the no-DAPL protests in 2016, I marched too, in Arizona. At our Native American program in the high school, we held a presentation on the DAPL issue with Native American speakers, Tim Hunts-in-Winter (Lakota, Standing Rock), Stephanie Big Crow (Oglala Lakota), and a key participant by the name of Rance. (The assistant principal wasn’t too happy about it.)
The Dakota (Sioux) knew they had reason to be afraid: The Black Snake prophesy could bring life to an end. In that prophesy, a black snake would slither across the land, poisoning the water before destroying the Earth—the Dakota Access pipeline. It crosses over the Standing Rock Reservation and under the waters of the Missouri.
“There was a prophecy saying that there is a black snake above ground. And what do we see? We see black highways across the nation,” said Dave Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock reservation, which straddles North and South Dakota. “There’s also a prophecy that when that black snake goes underground, it’s going to be devastating to the Earth.” (CBC News, December 11, 2016)
DAPL continued. The DAPL pipeline expansion is now vying to cross under the Missouri River without a federal permit. Standing Rock fears that their drinking water supply is threatened. They called on President Biden to shut down the pipeline.
Lisa Hueil Conner speaks my mind:
“We still see the disregard for indigenous people’s humanity in the handling of the Standing Rock Pipeline in North Dakota and its ongoing controversy since 2014. Hiking trips to several national and state parks in the Dakotas inspired my work in porcelain called “Water is Life (Remembering Standing Rock)”. This piece is a visual statement of my outrage over the pipeline that was allowed to be built below Lake Oahe and through sacred native lands in North Dakota. The base of the piece depicts a Lakota family (a father, mother, and child) with representative Lakota icons displayed beside each face. The faces are a composite created after viewing many photographs of members of the Lakota tribe. The rim is the pipeline as it leaks toxins into the ground water of the Lakota peoples. Of course, the pipeline has leaked countless times into the lake water.”
What can I say? Protest, protest, protest! Speak up when things are wrong. Art can give you a voice for that. SOS Art Cincinnati has been going strong for 25 years, giving a diverse voice to many political concerns. There is a lot say about humanitarian outrage—rightfully so.
What can we do? We all use oil. We can car pool and use less of it. We can opt for alternative energies. We need to be willing to pay a higher price for clean products.
But what would we be without water? Lake Mead is at its lowest point in history.
Luckily we can always drive up to Horton Springs for some untreated well water right from the earth. Inder scooped it straight from the source; spring in the rocks to his right. (Yeah, yeah, wrong kind of bottle, I know!)
I hope this spring will stay clean forever. You all stay clean!