By Josh Meny
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) is getting close to beginning construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The company received necessary permits this week from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The water protectors at the L'eau Est La Vie ("Water is Life") Camp near Duson responded on Saturday with prayer.
The Native American lead water protectors at L'eau Est La Vie Camp processed the Bayou Bridge Pipeline's recent regulatory success by grounding themselves in their ongoing mission to protect what they believe is sacred.
"The First Nation people in this country have been struggling to protect these waters. We feel like that's always been our directive. From our cultures, from our ancestors, from all the way back, for as far as time, immortal have told us that we are to protect that land; we are to protect the waters of North America," explained camp founder Cherri Foytlin.
The day of blessing included creating art for the resistance, eating a potluck, having stimulating conversation and coming together in fellowship.
There was also a sacred Native American ceremony that could not be recorded on camera.
"For me, ceremony is a very sacred thing that brings you closer to your ancestors and creators. And, for me being here today, I'm one acknowledging the tribes of this land actually belongs to. I'm acknowledging that this is their land. This isn't even my land because I'm from a different tribe. I'm also asking for my ancestors to be with us here today in our fight and our struggle for our land, and for the rights to clean water," explained University of Denver Student & Navajo/Dine tribal member Grace Carson.
Much of the day's prayer was for the protection of the water protectors themselves during the likely protests that will ensue in the months ahead when construction begins.
"A lot of us have been through this before at Standing Rock for the XL Pipeline, and I'm from Louisiana, but I've been up to those places, also, and it's very traumatic what these pipeline mercenaries do to peaceful protesters," explained water protector Ryan Trundle.
Organizers for Louisiana Bucket Brigade, a nonprofit that helps residents living near oil refineries and chemical plants to reduce pollution, says the water protectors will not resort to violence during their oncoming fight to halt the pipeline.
"We're here in a peaceful spirit. We are nonviolent. We always have been and we always will be. And, we expect to be treated that way by the local officials," explained Louisiana Bucket Brigade Founding Director Anne Rolfes.
Right now, the water protectors are appealing to urge Louisiana to continue to deny the private security firm, TigerSwan, from providing security for the pipeline construction.
Tigerswan is currently subject to a lawsuit in North Dakota for allegedly mistreating protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Since August, TigerSwan has employed five lobbyists to engage Louisiana's Executive branch, according to records with the Louisiana Ethics Administration Program.
"Just praying nobody gets hurt," said Trundle.