Water Is Life
On May 19th, 2017, members of Deep Green Resistance Santa Barbara attended the Water Is Life: Standing With Standing Rock conference hosted at UC Santa Barbara. This conference was presented by the Carsey-Wolf Center, the American Indian & Indigenous Collective, the American Indian Student Association, the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, and Red Lightning, in addition to receiving support from many other co-sponsoring organizations.
The conference commenced with welcomes from members of the Chumash Nation and conference co-organizers. The history of environmental activism in Santa Barbara was mentioned, being catalyzed by two large oil spills in the Santa Barbara region. Despite environmentalists’ efforts, fossil fuel production has only expanded in the region, most recently with three large oil & gas projects proposed in the past few years. The conference co-organizers expressed their gratitude to the Standing Rock water protectors who traveled to the university to speak, and recognized that we have a lot to learn from them about how to protect the water and land here in Santa Barbara. After the introduction, there were three panels centering around different themes.
After Tilsen had to leave because of a prior engagement, the conversation turned to the role of women in leadership. Charger encouraged women in the audience to disobey the traditional feminine gender role: to be brave, powerful, and outspoken, and not to care about being pretty. She believes women are sacred and have a spiritual connection to the Earth because they can create life. But patriarchy has caused women to forget that they are sacred because they are so disrespected, especially native women who suffer much higher rates of abuse than the general population and are raped in “man camps” that accompany large extractive projects. Braun agreed with Charger, and added that the western, civilized, patriarchal point of view has distorted relationships between native women and men by introducing the male supremacist power dynamic. Patriarchy was enforced in indigenous communities through the Christian church & boarding schools, and the destruction of traditional indigenous knowledge, spiritualities, and cultures.