As Senator Elizabeth Warren announced that the Keystone XL pipeline vote had failed to pass, the wailing strains of the Lakota unci maka wiwayang wacipi song floated down from the gallery.
It was Greg Grey Cloud, enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and founder of Wica Agli, a group created to bring back traditional values of masculinity and eradicate violence against women and children.
“Grandfather look at me, I am standing here struggling, I am defending Grandmother Earth and I am chasing peace,” Grey Cloud sang, according to a translation he provided to the Lakota Voice .
“The court will restore order,” Warren said, as police moved in and led away several people, including Grey Cloud.
The Senate had just narrowly voted down a bill that would have enabled construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The 59 votes in favor and 41 against came just one shy of the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation, which had prevailed in the U.S. House of Representatives with a 252–161 vote on November 14.
President Barack Obama had said he would veto the measure even if it passed both houses of Congress. Nevertheless it sets the stage for a larger battle in the Republican-controlled Congress whose new members will take office next year.
Meanwhile, as Senator Elizabeth Warren announced the vote and attempted to move the agenda along, Lakota singers led by Grey Cloud began what many media outlets referred to as a “chant.” It can be heard below, both fueling and accompanying Warren’s stolid attempt to “restore order.”
Grey Cloud told the Lakota Voice that Capitol police carried him outside and arrested him. The Rosebud Sioux Reservation resident was released five hours later with a court date of December 10.
The song was “not just from me, but my brothers in Wica Agli,” Grey Cloud told the Lakota Voice. “We’re defending our women and children in our community. The song itself was very influential for why I sang that here.”