Greg Grey Cloud, Crow Creek Sioux, was arrested on November 18 after bursting into song when legislation enabling construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was defeated by one vote in the Senate.
Grey Cloud was released five hours later, after news of his song and the aftermath went viral, and made a statement posted to the website of Bold Nebraska, which has been in the forefront of the battle against the $8 billion, 1,700-mile-long pipeline that would carry 800,000 barrels per day of viscous bitumen from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico coast in the U.S.
He is co-founder of the group Wica Agli, which works to foster a healthy version of masculinity and raise awareness about domestic and sexual assault on and around the Rosebud Sioux Reservation.
His song can be heard in the video of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s reaction to the music.
Below is Grey Cloud’s full statement.
Senate Decision to Oppose Keystone XL Called for an Honor Song
Wica Agli co-founder Greg Grey Cloud, an enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, would like to address the media’s recent understanding surrounding the honor song (not chanting) that was sung for the senators who voted against the Keystone XL pipeline. This was not a political stunt or a protest demonstration this is how we honor our heroes.
“Once I heard the outcome of the vote I was overcome with joy. Our culture uses songs for everything. Before going to the Capitol I was wondering what song would be appropriate to sing. I called Pat Bad Hand Sr. of the Sicangu Oyate he is a renowned hoka wicasa a keeper of songs, he suggested that a song that was composed during the 1980’s in opposition to coal mining would be the most appropriate. Mr. Bad Hand translated the song lyrics for me as “Grandfather look at me, I am standing here struggling, I am defending grandmother earth and I am chasing peace.
As I was sitting there, watching and listening to the votes being counted. I started to think of all the women and children that would be affected by this pipeline, I thought of all the relatives back home. I thought about the Land and the Water. I looked to my left and I saw Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Scott sitting there waiting to hear the vote. I was filled with pride thinking about his strong words and the strong words from our tribal leaders on how the Oceti Sakowin and other indigenous relatives would stop the tar sands at all cost. I looked to my right and saw Jane Kleeb and I was filled with all the memories of this past few years of fighting this pipeline along side our Cowboy relatives. Then I heard it, I really heard it no. The vote was no. We have time, time to keep fighting time to make sure that Wica Wawookiye hears us, President Obama hears us and says NO to this pipeline. I looked down and thought we need to honor these senators for having the courage to make the right decision for not only Indian country but for America as a whole. As a singer I know only one way to honor someone and that’s to sing. I didn’t mean to disrupt senate only to honor the conviction shown by the senators.”
Lakota language for Unci Maka Olowan song: “Tunkasila wamayanka yo, le miye ca tehiya nawazin yelo. unci maka nawacincina wowahwala wa yuha waun welo”
English translation Grandmother Earth song: “Grandfather look at me, I am standing here struggling, I am defending grandmother earth and I am chasing peace.