Saturday, December 3, 2016
Red Spectral Moon/ Red Lunar Dragon - Overtone Peacock Moon of Radiance, Day 19
Among the first group of activists arrested this past summer as part of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation protests against the crude oil Dakota Access Pipeline were Scotti Clifford and Juliana Brown Eyes, a married couple who also perform as Scatter Their Own, an Oglala Lakota band from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. The band’s bluesy indie-rock anthems celebrate the sacredness of land and water to their tribe. They call their mix of activism and guitar-driven songs “Alter-Native Rock & Roll.”
“We were there at the beginning when there were only 50 or 60 people at the camp. We were one of the first 10 individuals arrested at Standing Rock,” Clifford told Pasatiempo. “One of the things my friend Hank Means, who is the son of Russell Means, said was ‘We are not protesting. We are protecting the water. We are water protectors, not protesters.’ The best thing about this movement is it has brought 300 Native American tribes together. People from all over the world are standing in solidarity as relatives.”
For several years now, the band has been touring the country, performing a set list of songs that explore Lakota identity and the band members’ connection to their heritage and to the earth. As thousands of people have converged in South Dakota to defend the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation against the oil pipeline construction, the band’s message has become as urgent as it is local. When Scatter Their Own plays on Friday, Dec. 2, at the Digital Dome at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Clifford and Brown Eyes will likely have a lot to address with the audience. Prior to the concert, on the IAIA campus, Clifford and Brown Eyes will also be leading free student workshops on how to negotiate life as a performing artist while promoting Native activism and preserving one’s indigenous heritage.
“A few years back, Scatter Their Own formed out of a social movement,” said Clifford. “The name comes from the idea that we wanted to scatter our own Lakota point of view. We wanted to scatter those concepts and philosophies, so hence the name Scatter Their Own, as in scatter their own beauty across the country.”
As a teenager, Clifford was already touring the country as a backing guitarist with Indigenous, another well-known Native American South Dakota band that mixed lyrics celebrating American Indian life with a bluesy rock style. The celebrated band has performed internationally, including opening stadium concerts for Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King.
It’s easy to see Indigenous’ influence on Scatter Their Own. While the band hasn’t opened stadiums or played Late Night with Conan O’Brien the way Indigenous has, Scatter Their Own has carved out a more indie route to developing a fan base that is both Native and non-Native. The band’s 2014 album Taste the Time was promoted through Native media and through its performances at the South by Southwest festival in Austin. It’s been nominated for Native American Music awards (the NAMMYs), while profiles of the band members and their cultural activism have appeared in Marie Claire and a BBC documentary.
In his early twenties, Clifford left Indigenous to pursue a life in activism. “I worked in social justice after I left Indigenous. Then I moved into environmental justice, simply because I felt we are of the land. We treat each other like we treat the earth. We live in a time where we have no respect for the earth, so therefore we have no respect for each other.”
Despite the Standing Rock pipeline protests in their proverbial backyard, the band members have elected to keep up their scheduled tours in the Midwest and East Coast. Beyond their contract commitments, the musicians felt that touring and talking about Standing Rock would help draw public attention to the issue. Despite the ongoing coverage of the protests, Clifford feels the pipeline and its cost to the South Dakota environment are very poorly understood.
“We’re challenging everyone to get the word out through social media because there is a media blackout. It’s 20 degrees out, it’s cold, it’s the harshest conditions you can think of, and they are spraying everyone with water,” said Clifford. “Ironically, the very water we are protecting is being sprayed on us. It’s being used against us to give us hypothermia.”
When performing in big cities, where most of their audiences are likely to be non-Native, Clifford said the band talks about Standing Rock as an environmental issue as well. “It’s not just for us — it’s for your children too. This protection of water isn’t just a Native issue, it’s an Earth-rights issue. We wanted the whole world to see injustices that went on right in America. They are not just injustices against Native people, but injustices against the land,” said Clifford. “After all, we are only as clean and healthy as our water is.”*
Kin 89: Red Spectral Moon
I dissolve in order to purify
I seal the process of universal water
With the spectral tone of liberation
I am guided by my own power doubled.
In order to understand your own mind, you must become skilled at critical thinking or exercising the power of discrimination.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Visshudha Chakra (Alpha Plasma)