Leadership, by Kent Lebsock

Debra White Plume with Carter Camp in Oklahoma

I've always known that Debra White Plume had the energy of two 21 year olds.  I've watched her lead and organize and guide in such diverse places as Geneva, New York, and the Lakota homeland at Pine Ridge.  I've seen how she can stop big hauls from TransCanada from crossing Lakota territory, and train young women in leadership and organize unity gatherings bringing together hundreds of Indian and non-Indian groups alike.  But not until I actually spent a more substantial length of time at she and her husband Alex's home along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek did I truly see how much knowledge, ancient and modern, this one Lakota grandmother could turn into action, movement and inspiration. 

We came back here [Pine Ridge] after two weeks on the road educating people about the devastation of the pipeline, organizing grassroots communities and leading young people in their efforts to develop action camps.  Myself, a year younger than Debra, took a couple of days to rest up and get a modicum of energy back.  Meanwhile, our first day home Debra was driving herself over to the Tribal Council, advocating for a tribal resolution to keep the pipeline off of the Oglala Lakota reservation.  This is particularly important given that ??? have already sold out to the "fat-takers", the english translation of the Lakota term for invading colonists.  The next morning she was off again, back to the Council to ensure its passage.  

This is a small example of Debra White Plume's activism based on a love of Unci Maka, knowing that Mother Earth was the only being that would sustain and nurture her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and their great-grandchildren.  Observing Debra White Plume and the few others like her, I now understand that for the rest of us the real battle to be fought is the internal one that sets aside fatigue, illness and fear.  It's time for us to get behind our true leaders and make a stand.  There is no more waiting and seeing.  The battle to save Unci Maka is on and we are either on the front lines or we are not.  Hecetu

© John Kent Lebsock 2016