When Evans Ray Satepauhoodle, a fellow Oklahoma Indian Counselor, was a bit older than I am now he phoned bemoaning he was in the "4th quarter," (having turned 75). Evans Ray, a Kiowa, the grandson of Satank, known as Sitting Bear, was a full-grown former football player, determined to find ways to ensure the songs, language and the stories he knew in his language could be remembered into the future.
So at the oddest of times, he would phone and sing, tell the origin story of that song and who was there when he birthed it and why. I didn't know the Kiowa language, but I learned to love the sound of it and the way the words lay together bringing the message, the story forward. I was frantic because I could hear his plea. The guy was full blast and had more to give. Huge Foley at Rogers State University did capture some of his songs and stories which are now on the internet. He was in a race which he completed to some degree.
His story is more relevant now. It is profound. We all must be in the race of our lifetimes. We are still in the early days of a deadly pandemic that is taking the lives of Americans. We flew past the number of dead from WWI too quickly adding 23,000 more. Lives cut short, races lost by people who had hopes and dreams and stories to tell. Stories to help us remember each one of them. The mosaic of faces expands each evening on the news. We must listen to those numbers. Each one has a name, each had more to do and all gone too soon."Oh, the old ones. They had good lives, we can spare them." But we didn't have to.
So I am joining the race. The human race, to finish the thing begun, to bring it closer to the place to hand it off to those who remain. I am not sick. I am broken hearted for those who have been sick and who have died from the virus among us. But I am sharing with you my hope and dream for the future. I long for justice. Not for me. I don't need it. I live on a pristine prairie. The most toxic thing I have on the property is the poison ivy that followed me home from some place long forgotten, or was gifted here by the birds passing through.
I long for justice for the people who might not even know they have been wronged. Justice is big, and yes justice for all. But let's bring it in closer. Honed in tighter, I long for justice for the people and for the environment in Ottawa County.
That is why 22 years ago some folks sat in a circle and read documents in the library. We were looking to learn all we could about why and how we were poisoned and look for every avenue to seek justice to repair the damaged lands and water. We organized as LEAD Agency, which stood for Local Environmental Action Demanded. This has been my 3rd quarter's work.
Demanded is a loud and pushy word and it has seemed a little out there for me personally, since generally I do not see myself as a demanding sort. But the pushy part does fit. I have been told more than once.
The lights for the most part are off at our office on A. Street, but we are working.
We are asking questions and we are demanding answers. Justice demands them. Why wouldn't LEAD Agency join the Waterkeeper Alliance in a lawsuit against the State of Oklahoma over coal ash rules that won't protect the public? What is the back story about the Inhofe Amendment which could ensure Miami gets much wetter in the future? Why are we pushing EPA for a better Human Health Risk Assessment for the Tar Creek Superfund Site? We won't get justice for Ottawa County without pushing for more protections now. There is no chance later. This is it and those comments are due August 17. We will share ours with you. Won't we join in the effort to force Oklahoma's Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry to do their job and protect the public not just poultry industry wishes? You would not expect less from us. EPA removed asbestos from BFG, a slice of justice, but not enough.
Join our efforts and become a member. Make us stronger. How can you help? Debra Warner reads the news and forwards articles on environmental issues. JoAnne Walkup dropped off garden gloves, Debbie East and Georgeann Roye brought tomato plants. Shirley Giles and her daughter Caroline brought BOXES of books for our Little Free Library. Hands-on volunteering has been limited to be protective, but let's get creative. We have work to do, justice to seek, wrongs to be righted.
Races to win. This could be our 4th Quarter.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim