The Lakota phrase “Mní wičhóni,” or “Water is life,” has become a new national protest anthem. It was chanted by 5,000 marchers at the Native Nations March in Washington, D.C. on March 10, and during hundreds of protests across the United States in the last year. “Mní wičhóni” became the anthem of the almost year-long struggle to stop the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River in North Dakota.
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Place always exists in a particular time, and for Northeastern Pennsylvania that time is anthracite coal time. Because coal mining has decreased significantly over the past 50 years, the result has been a major outmigration of the area’s traditional population… However, the legacy of coal still runs deep as reminders of coal heritage are scattered throughout the 484 square miles that make up the anthracite coal region.
Across all of North America, a rich array of indigenous nations and communities inhabited the landscape before Europeans came. Many places retain traces of these older cultures in their place-names; others show the impacts of continuing inhabitation by indigenous people through efforts to re-name features of the landscape with the language the land once knew. Bdé Makhá Ská, a lake in Minneapolis that formerly held the name of a 19th century defender of slavery, is but one example of this emerging trend. Bdé Makhá Ská is located just 5 miles west of the Mississippi River, a feature that is itself named in a derivation from indigenous terms.