Baby born during pipeline protest, named Mni Wiconi (“water is life”)

Sacred Stone Camp, North Dakota (Aug. 2016)
Sacred Stone Camp, North Dakota

From April of 2016 to February of 2017, indigenous people representing hundreds of Native American tribes gathered in temporary camps at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatened the region’s water supply.

The movement’s rallying cry was the Lakota expression “Mni Wiconi” (pronounced m’NEE wee-CHOH-nee), meaning “water is life.”

On October 12, in the early morning, a baby girl was born at one of the camps to Lakota woman Zintkala Mahpiya Wi Blackowl (Sky Bird Woman Blackowl), who had traveled from Oregon to take part in the protest.

Although her husband and family were sleeping in the same tipi, the birth was a private event. In the traditional Lakota way, the mother gives birth alone.

The baby — who was the first (and perhaps only?) baby born at a Standing Rock camp — was named Mni Wiconi.

P.S. An earlier Native American protest in the Dakotas may have been behind the debut of the name Morningstar in 1973…


Image: Adapted from Sacred Stone Camp North Dakota (29167637232) by Tony Webster under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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