November 2016

November 2016

Ernesto Velez Bustos

How has your understanding of your own leadership changed through the Fellowship to date? How do you now view the role of self-care in sustaining your ability to lead? 

The past four days the moon has been rising and tonight we have super moon, the first in over 50 years; during this same time I spent witnessing what the power of a movement such as Standing Rock can do in the face of corporate greed. The power of prayer has been at the core of this “resistance” from day one when colonization began millennia ago. This tradition of resistance has been passed to the children and youth of these first nations and today they face one of the biggest treats in this nations’ overall narrative.

Cooperate and Citizen Clash

This tradition of resistance is in response to a corporate and U.S Citizen clash in which we historically continue to see the government’s decisions siding with the rights and privileges of corporations. These decisions are often disguised and justified as Economic Development for the state or local communities, but here once again the record proves that the United States model of capitalism continually favors short terms gains at the expense of long term economic and Environmental Prosperity.

These past four days and nights I witnessed elder’s moderate conversations around the various approaches that first nations have put forward through their leaders on pathways toward Economic Viability for their territories and local communities with an outlook always toward the future. These conversations focused around what Standing Rock means in terms of Environmental Vitality and land stewardship. Most answers landed on how this movement is a matter of tradition that continues to honor mother earth - which is not only our creator but also our provider of our most vital supplies such as clean water.

Uniting of Communities

I witnessed a community of allies from various states of the country joined by one cause; how can we loan Standing Rock and its community our building skills and time. As a result a community school and a green house are being built; the design is a combination of Energy Sustainability modalities that managed to combine native guidance on the principles of the design based on the ancestral knowledge of the land.  Getting three meals a day at a camp for a full family was no task; the community kitchen has a set schedule and system set up. Coffee is always in supply and hot, snacks and supplies of water are constantly arriving. Along these lines there were conversations of the Sioux tribes approach to Sustainable Agriculture and the Economics among tribes and the rest of the United States. And, it is on this last part of the journey that made me think about being at the right place at the right time to hear from tribal elders that industrial agriculture is a an oppressive system.

Cooperate Privilege and Agriculture

At the national level we continue to see that corporate privileges are being upheld against the rights of farm workers across the country. We have seen the exploitation of the farmworker families who in most cases are citizens of the United States and have been for more than one generation. We have seen how the established form of mono-cropping agriculture in the Midwest has had environmental impacts on the quality of the soil. We have seen the negative effects of agro-chemical run off on into lakes and rivers in Minnesota. The absence at the federal level of labor rights for farm workers with clear reconciliation paths from generations of oppression and the continued systemic political disenfranchising only exacerbates the present symptoms.  We can see these manifestations currently in the form of broken up Latino communities into multi-status households.

This United Stated citizen and corporate clash is at the forefront of the Standing Rock movement and the continued struggle with Latino farm worker communities. These movements are connected and these communities are begging to connect with each other. However, this is not accompanied without worry. Many are beginning to realize that these violations of individual constitution rights and civil liberties are happening in our state, at Standing Rock, and across our nation. What I witnessed this past week is just another manifestation of corporate privilege over U.S. Citizen rights.

My understanding of my own leadership and my understanding of my own self-care has drastically changed after these experiences. The level of learning and impact that this has had not just on my but also very much on my family, given that Jeanne and Anais have been at Sacred stone since the second weekend of October. My last 4 months have not been what I had “plan” or expected but these are changes that I welcome with open hearth and embrace with all of my positive energy. I also have to say that my spiritual energy was recharge by the work of the elders and tribe leaders at Standing Rock; my energy has been replenish with positive outlook and filled with love for my every brother and sister who is part of the upcoming struggle.