Thursday, May 13, 2021


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Remembering the extraordinary life and contributions of LaDonna Allard


The world bid farewell to matriarch and Earth defender LaDonna Brave Bull Allard as she was laid to rest this past weekend. Tamaka Waste Win (Good Earth Woman), who was endearly known as the matriarch of the NoDAPL Standing Rock Movement, passed away peacefully in her home on April 10 after a long-fought battle with brain cancer.

In 2016, LaDonna took a stand for Mother Earth and Indigenous people when she founded the Sacred Stone Camp in Cannonball, North Dakota on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers. Through her message of resistance based in prayer and non-violent direct action, LaDonna became a prominent voice for the historic grassroots gathering which gained the support of millions across the globe.

LaDonna, an enrolled member of Standing Rock, was the Tribe’s former Historic Preservation Officer and for decades, she worked to identify and safeguard sacred sites. She was also a mother, and it was her love for her children that sparked her fight for the land that the Dakota Access Pipeline was to encroach on.

In the beginning, her resistance was not about oil or fossil fuels — it was about protecting her son’s grave, which was on a hill near the pipeline. 

“I’ll defend my son’s grave until the day I die,” LaDonna said. That love for her children combined with her passion to protect sacred sites evolved into her conviction to defend the Earth. Through her leadership, thousands of people converged to the NoDAPL resistance site and sent a message of solidarity in defense of Indigenous rights and racial environmental justice.

This was not the first time LaDonna stood up as a leader for her people. In 2014, she ran as a Democratic candidate for the North Dakota House of Representatives. Her run highlighted the need for Indigenous representation in the state legislature.

LaDonna was also an outspoken advocate for Native American voting rights. The Spirit Lake Nation, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe along with individual voters, sued the North Dakota Secretary of State over a 2013 law that changed the voter eligibility requirements that was deemed voter suppression targeting Native American citizens.

The new law required voters to have a physical address on identification in order to vote. LaDonna was one of the loudest champions for protecting Native American voting rights and joined the movement to overturn the restrictive voter ID law.

“The States of North Dakota and the Tribe have always put our post office box number on our IDs. As a people, we are not concerned about America’s fight over parties — either Republicans or Democratic, to us they both have issues. We just want to vote,” said Mrs. Allard.

 LaDonna also encouraged political engagement and activism at all levels of government. She cheered on local candidates who chose to run for tribal legislative offices and urged tribal members to stay politically active within the tribe.

 After the NoDAPL resistance camps were shut down, LaDonna continued to share her message worldwide, serving as an annual speaker at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  

 Shortly before she began her journey into the spirit world, Native youth enroute to a rally in Fort Berthold, North Dakota to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline, stopped by LaDonna’s residence to place banners and signs in her yard. The group cheered and vocalized adoration for the respected leader, a testament to her ability to inspire transformational change.

 LaDonna was a beacon for the important message of protecting water, and her advocacy started an international movement that underscored the role fossil fuel reliance has in the global climate crisis. Her life and leadership changed the course of history and united people from all nations in defense of the sacred.

“She inspired the world with her love for the water, the land, the people, and the love she shared with her husband Miles,” said South Dakota Democratic Senator Red Dawn Foster.

Cante Heart, South Dakota Democratic Party Native Outreach Director, stated, “Tunwin (auntie) Ladonna was a voice for our people, land and water. We will carry on her legacy by continuing to protect Mother Earth through restoration.”

The South Dakota Democratic Party recognizes the important foundation laid forth by LaDonna Brave Bull Allard. Her trailblazing work is a catalyst for what it means to protect natural resources and the rights of Indigenous nations. We reaffirm our commitment to continue that good fight for present and future generations. There is no phrase in the Lakota language for goodbye, only “toksa ake waunkte”, which means we will see you again. Tamaka Waste Win toksa ake waunkte.

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