Art and activism have collided for months at Standing Rock, where more than 100 other tribes and thousands of allies have joined the Sioux Nation's efforts to shut down the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Nowhere is this creative collaboration more evident than in the sprawling five-volume set Songs for Standing Rock, a compilation of protest songs written by musicians in an effort to raise funds for the struggle.
Boulder folk artist Silent Bear, whom Westword profiled in September, just announced that he has joined the ranks of fourteen other singer-songwriters and bands showcased on volume five. His song "The Dakota Access Pipeline Dirty River Blues" is a reworking of Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm," which he says was, in turn, based on a 1920s rural protest song.
"In the spirit of what Pete Seeger called 'the folk process,' I'm going to go ahead with it," he said in a video recording of the song.
He says he sings for "the beautiful water protectors in North Dakota, Standing Rock, then for all the living life that depends on clean clear water to live."
Silent Bear, who is not Native American and was given that name by his sister while on a road trip, has been writing protest songs for more than twenty years, focusing his efforts on freeing Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who has served a life sentence after being convicted for killing two FBI officers during the 1975 Pine Ridge Indian Reservation struggle.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
While Silent Bear is continuing to advocate for Peltier's freedom, hoping President Barack Obama will release the activist, much of the musician's attention has turned to Standing Rock.
In early December, the Army Corps of Engineers ordered Energy Transfer Partners to stop construction. The water protectors at Standing Rock opted to maintain the encampment after ETP announced that the Army's decision would, ultimately, not stop its pipeline.
Silent Bear and a full electric band will play a free show tonight at Baur's Restaurant and Listening Lounge, 1512 Curtis Street, from 8 to 11:30 p.m.