This billboard has been live in Times Square in New York City since Dec. 24th and will be there for the New Year's Celebration!

Indigenous Environmental Network, Honor the Earth and Sacred Stone Camp sourced up funding for this billboard in collaboration with the International Indigenous Youth Council. Divestment campaigning in the financial and trading centre of the United States and world...

Times Square in New York City became a stage for images of the water protectors.

Brilliant signs were held by the protectors with the slogans "Water is life" and "Keep the oil in the soil." After the initial introductions from the organizers, people chanted, “Get up! Get down! Keep fossil fuels in the ground!" and "Street by street, block by block, we stand with Standing Rock!"

Thousands of New Yorkers have signed up online for a local protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline — which would carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois and cross through Native American territory —

Water Protectors are expecting that shippers for the Dakota Access Pipeline will terminate their contracts when the pipeline remains uncompleted come January 1.

Shippers could legally terminate their contracts if the pipeline is not completed by 2017, which could “effectively result in project cancellation,” according to court papers from the pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, cited by The Guardian. When shippers were contacted by The Guardian, they either did not respond or provided vague answers.


The United Nations Environment Program estimates that 150 to 200 species go extinct every day, which is about 10 to 100 times the "background," or natural, rate of extinction.

One problem facing endangered species, particularly in developing countries, is poaching. Driven in part by the demand for animal parts in traditional medicine cures in parts of Asia, poaching (and capture of animals for the pet trade) has only increased — dramatically — in the past decade.

But humans are animals who come from a world replete with other creatures and forms of life. Even now, surrounded as many of you are by urban centers, devoid of forests and most wildlife, people depend on plants and animals for survival. Ultimately the loss of biodiversity will hurt you, as you, dear humans, are part of the web of life. Each species serves a specific function that can't be wholly replaced if one goes extinct, leading to a less productive ecosystem which ultimately provides fewer benefits for humans.


Wolves play a very important role in the ecosystems in which they live. Since 1995, when wolves were reintroduced to the American West, research has shown that in many places they have helped revitalize and restore ecosystems.

They improve habitat and increase populations of countless species from birds of prey to pronghorn, and even trout. The presence of wolves influences the population and behavior of their prey, changing the browsing and foraging patterns of prey animals and how they move about the land.

This, in turn, ripples throughout plant and animal communities, often altering the landscape itself. For this reason wolves are described as a “keystone species,” whose presence is vital to maintaining the health, structure and balance of ecosystems.




After news of Carrie Fisher's untimely death spread, fans took to social media to pay tribute to the film star.

Amidst the outpouring of grief, one image was repeated again and again: little girls, their hair in two perfect "cinnamon buns", smiling for the camera.

Fisher was, of course, much more than the role she won aged 19, yet Princess Leia - and an iconic hairstyle - have come to symbolise the actress, author and script doctor.

Fisher took it in her stride, telling Time Out in 2014: "I am Leia and Leia is me. We've overlapped each other because my life has been so cartoony or superhero-like. By this age, it would be ridiculous if I had a problem with it."

But what is it about that particular hairstyle - which only appeared in the first film - which has sparked so many imaginations over the years? And where did it come from?

According to Brandon Alinger, the author of Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy, the buns do not even appear in any of the concept artwork done for Leia in the preparation of the film.

In later interviews, Star Wars creator George Lucas said he looked to Mexico's female revolutionaries, or "soldaderas", who joined the uprising at the start of the 20th Century.

"I went with a kind of south-western Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look, which is what that is. The buns are basically from turn-of-the-century Mexico," Lucas told Time in 2002.

The hairstyle was first worn by unmarried Hopi women in Arizona 

It makes sense to look to such a band of women when creating a character far removed from a traditional princess awaiting rescue.

"George didn't want a damsel in distress, didn't want your stereotypical princess - he wanted a fighter, he wanted someone who was independent," Fisher explained to the BBC in 1977.

The Squash Blossom as a Symbol of Fertility 

There is only one problem with Lucas's claim. Female Mexican revolutionaries are not known for their hairstyles - or certainly not hairstyles of that sort.

"As much as I would like to say that Princess Leia's hairstyle was based on the 'soldaderas' from the Mexican Revolution, this was probably not the case," Tabea Linhard, author of Fearless women in the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Civil War, told the BBC.

"If you take a look at photos from the period, you see women with long braids, some wear hats, on occasion they cover their hair with a shawl.

"Conditions on the battlefields were harsh, and the women's task included carrying supplies, taking care of all the men's needs, serving as spies or smugglers; some also participated in battle.

"So a hairstyle like Leia's probably was not a convenient option."

However, the hairstyle does appear to have roots in North American history.

Kendra Van Cleave of Frock Flicks, a website which reviews the accuracy of costumes in historical dramas, told the BBC that while such buns had been fashionable in medieval Europe, the "most obvious" inspiration is the "squash blossom" style worn by women of the Hopi tribe in Arizona.

She said: "This consists of two side arrangements which aren't actually buns - they're more loops of hair.

"The hair is parted in the centre, then wrapped around a U-shaped 'hair bow' made of wood. The hair is wrapped in a figure of eight pattern, then tied at the middle and spread out to create the two semi-circles.

"This hairstyle became more widely known in the early 20th century due to photography," says Ms Van Cleave, who adds it saw a revival in the 1920s.

Yes, this hairstyle is called the squash blossom whorl, and it is the traditional hairstyle for unmarried girls in the Hopi tribe.

Stunning photos of Tal'ngai Dha'run - a very unique Grey Headed Flying Fox in care with Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Centre. He is truly photogenic.

Some people might view bats as terrifying creatures but in reality, that’s not the case. We know that many animals are unfortunately given bad reputations because of our misconceptions about them, and bats are one example of this.

Most bats pose little or no threat to humans and are actually quite beneficial to us. For instance, one brown bat – about the size of a human thumb – can consume about 600 mosquitoes and other unwanted insects an hour. Amazing!

Sadly, bat populations are in decline. Many bat species are in danger of extinction due to habitat loss, culls, and fatal white-nose syndrome. White-nose syndrome is a form of fungus that grows on bats when they are hibernating. So far, six million bats have died from this disease.

Australian Bat Clinic and Wildlife Trauma Centre, located in Queensland, Australia is working towards changing the misconceptions about bats. The organization aims to care for injured and orphaned bats, and they currently have a very unique Grey Headed Flying Fox, named Tal’ngai Dha’run, in their care.

They believe this little one has leucism, a condition that causes partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes.

Not only is this one incredibly rare, but they believe he might just be the only one who exists! His condition hasn’t stopped him from making friends or interacting with his caretakers, though. The clinic’s staff report he is a total lovebug. Check out these stunning photos!

Tal’ngai Dha’run is not only a gorgeous guy, but he plays a critical role in our ecosystem. Bats can eat millions of bugs in one night which means that farmers don’t have to use as much pesticide when bats are around. Bats are also pollinators.


The Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II, sends a message of thanks and recognition to the water protectors involved in the fight to stop the Dakota Access pipeline.

 Dear Water Protectors:

Today, I want to take time to thank each and everyone of you who stood with us over the course of the past year. We face a long struggle ahead, but let that not overshadow the tremendous victory we have achieved here. I want to take today to recognize that this would not have happened without you.

To the thousands that came to the camps and put their hearts, minds, and bodies on the line, we can never thank you enough. To the millions around the world who expressed support from afar, do not underestimate how much your thoughts and prayers mean to this movement. To the hundreds of Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples who brought their most precious prayers, songs, and offerings, please know that we are humbled and honored by your generosity and compassion and we will never be able to fully express the depth of our gratitude.

To all the original Water Protectors who are citizens of our Tribe – especially the youth, please know this all started with your courageous voices and we appreciate how you show us the true meaning of power.

Wophila to all who sacrificed so much to build this movement. Your bravery and dedication has motivated millions, and I truly believe that many accomplishments in Indian Country in the future will have at their root the spirit of the Water Protector.

As we pivot our focus towards pressuring the new administration, we take this time to acknowledge that we would not have gotten here without your incredible show of support. We will do our very best to honor you, and fight onwards in solidarity.

David Archambault II

David Archambault II, the tribal chair, who from the beginning has led the resistance to the D.A.P.L. pipelines, told the water protectors, “What you are doing is precious to us. I can’t describe the feelings that move over me. It is wakan, sacred. You all are sacred.” 

Every year on December 15th people gather at Sitting Bull Camp, near Bullhead, South Dakota, to ride horseback nearly three hundred miles to the site of the Wounded Knee.

 The ride is called the Oomaka Tokatakiya (Future Generations) Ride and the majority of the riders come from three Lakota (Sioux) reservations: Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, and Pine Ridge.

 In two weeks they travel across rivers and farms, cross a major interstate, and arrive at Wounded Knee on the anniversary of the massacre that took more than 300 lives in 1890.

The Future Generations Ride is an offshoot of the Big Foot Memorial Ride that ran from 1986 to 1990. The original ride started on the 22nd of December and traced the route taken by Big Foot (leader of the Miniconjou Lakota from the Cheyenne River reservation) and his people, as they were chased by the 7th Calvary, from their camp near Bridger to where they were surrounded and killed near Wounded Knee Creek.

Today the ride starts at Sitting Bull Camp, near Bull Head, to mark the anniversary of Sitting Bull’s death, and follows the route taken by some of his followers to join Big Foot. The ride then continues the rest of the way along Big Foot’s trail.

While the ride is in many ways in homage to Sitting Bull, Big Foot, and those who lost their lives at Wounded Knee, this ride is also meant to foster leadership qualities in the youth.

Photos by Ken Marchionno

Along the way, the riders experience some of what their ancestors endured by embodying an intellectual, spiritual, and physical remembrance. Braving the cold—down to –20°F—these kids, some of them barely into puberty, ride as many as 35 miles in a day.

The ride starts on December 15th and ends on the December 29th.


Kereama Te Ua and some Māori women went to pray at the frontline where authorities were positioned.

“I didn't think I was going to do it there. I just had an overwhelming feeling to drop to my knee and deliver something from my ancestors, knowing full well that a haka would have provoked them, they wouldn't understand what it means, and these guys are looking at any reason to take a shot at us,” said Te Ua.

For months the Sioux tribe along with thousands from around the world have been camped at Standing Rock, to protest the construction of the underground pipeline, which they claim will pass through a sacred burial site.

“It was really about my ancestors acknowledging their ancestors and letting them know that we're here to support them and even if we're not there ā tīnana, there's a maunga of people and a maunga of my ancestors standing behind me, standing for Standing Rock.”

The haka is a traditional war cry, dance, or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.

Photo Credit: Rob Brumm Website

War haka were originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition.

Most haka are performed by men. There are however some haka which are performed predominantly by women – one of the most well-known being the Ngāti Porou haka "Ka Panapana".

Photo Credit: Rob Brumm

 Photo Credit: Rob Brumm

 Photo Credit: Rob Brumm

 Photo Credit: Rob Brumm



Cold, injured and stranded on a train track for two days, this terrified dog faced certain death.

 But thanks to her loving companion who faithfully protected her until help arrived, Lucy survived the horrifying ordeal.

She was too injured to move from the tracks in Ukraine but her male friend Panda kept her alive by curling up next to her and pushing her head down when trains zoomed over.

If locals in Uzhgorod came too close, then Panda barked to scare them away.

The pair were found by Denis Malafeyev, who shared a heart-racing video of the dogs dodging a train which sped over their heads.

Even after they were rescued, they remained snuggled together in car boot on the way to the vets. Mr Malafeyev said it was unclear if she was injured after being hit by a train crossing the track.

He added: 'It's such a touching story. I got a phone call from a friend who said that there were two dogs lying on the railway track near Tseglovka village for two days.

'When we arrived, it turned out that one of the dogs, the female, was injured and couldn't move. 'But the male dog was protecting her from us. I saw a train approaching - and felt sick. 'The male dog heard the sound of the approaching train, came close to the female dog and laid down next to her.

'Both of them pushed their heads towards the ground, and let the train pass. 'The male dog was doing this for two days in a row. Think about it. He was keeping her warm.

'I don't know what to call this: instinct, love, friendship, loyalty? 'One thing I know for sure, not all the people would do the same as this.'

'Just to relieve the stress, the dogs are safe and sound. They have had medical assistance,' he said.

Lucy had no fractures but severe bruises. The owners of the dogs were found and the pair have been returned to them.

"The more you create positive energy, the more you are in prayer, sending a voice, the more fearless you walk. We are defeating an empire." Chase IronEyes

"All the people here are committed to standing for a new reality. This fight is symbolic, reaching mythological proportions. The people are heroes, the giants are ready to be slain, the rebirth is happening, material comfort is forgone, spiritual guidance changes the very archetypes & dynamics of power.

The great usurpation of our spirits, the oppression of all by debt, capital, currency & materiality is exposed as the artifice from which we must liberate." Chase IronEyes sent this message of hope  for all peaceful warriors and the watching world.

“The highest weapon of them all is prayer,” White Bull said, a Lakota Warrior. She explained that her Lakota name meant “Compassionate Woman.” Like so many Lakota, she was the granddaughter of a Second World War code talker, one of the Native soldiers who, using their own language, communicated in a code that was never broken. “The world is watching. Our ancestors are watching,” she said. “We are fighting for the human race.”

David Archambault II, the tribal chair, who from the beginning has led the resistance to the D.A.P.L. pipelines, told the water protectors, “What you are doing is precious to us. I can’t describe the feelings that move over me. It is wakan, sacred. You all are sacred.”

Photo: Rob Wilson

A recently published photo of a person from that night of November 20th, covered in ice and praying, illustrates the deep resolve that comes from a philosophy based on generosity of spirit.

Photo: Rob Wilson
Every time the water protectors showed the fortitude of staying on message and advancing through prayer and ceremony, they gave the rest of the world a template for resistance.

Photo: Rob Wilson

The young people offered the water to the police who stood on the other side. Two of the officers refused, but one took some water and spilled it onto his shirt, over his heart.



Firefighting crews from several Native American tribes have been battling the deadly wildfires in Sevier County.

“We had a lot of Native American crews — Navajo, Apache, and others — on this fire,” said Warren Bielenberg, a spokesman at the wildfire command center. "This is because this fire hit when most of the fire crews across the country had shut down for the end of fire season. The Native American crews were the only ones still active.”

Bielenberg said among the crews in Sevier County are the Navajo Scout Type 2 Initial Attack Crew, Mescalero Apache, Fort Apache No. 1, Hopi 1, San Carlos No. 2, Warm Springs No. 1, Warm Springs No. 2 and Chief Mountain IHC. Native Americans also are staffing camp crews, including those from Fort Apache, Ariz., and the Great Onyx Job Corps at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.

William Smith is squad boss of a 20-man crew of the Navajo team that has been working on the fires since Nov. 29, the day after a hurricane-force wind sent the blaze on a rampage through Gatlinburg and surrounding communities. Previously the crew had been working on a fire in North Carolina.

He said his crew will be active until the end of December.

When asked whether he felt a measure of pride that Native Americans were playing a big part in the fire fight, Smith responded, “I certainly do.

“I love helping out people and communities that are affected by fires and getting them back in their homes,” Smith said. “I don’t mind interacting with them and seeing what I can do to help out.”

The Navajo Scouts, a team from Native American firefighters from Fort Defiance, Ariz., is among Native American crews working the Sevier County fires. 

His crew is from Fort Defiance, Ariz., near the Navajo Nation headquarters in Window Rock, Ariz.

He said this fire has been a challenge.

“I have done firefighting for 11 years,” he said. “This one is pretty bad. I have never seen anything like it. Totally shocking.”

Smith said his crew has been helping to secure the perimeter around the Chimney Tops trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the fire began.

The crew is slated to go home Wednesday after a 14-day deployment. Crews are usually on 14-day rotations unless needed to stay longer.

The Fort Apache C-7 Camp Crew from Arizona is among the Native American crews helping in the firefighting effort in Sevier County.

“What happens when your last available dog gets adopted? Volunteers jump into the kennels to celebrate!”

 One Colorado animal shelter has a lot to celebrate this Christmas. All of the dogs at the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, a nonprofit animal shelter in Colorado Springs, have been adopted thanks to the shelter's "Bring Them Home for the Holidays" campaign.

The shelter waived pet adoption fees for those wanting to take home a furry friend before the holidays.

A video of the staffers cheering the shelter's empty cages quickly went viral on Facebook with more than 150,000 views.

"Although we've come close to adopting out all of our available dogs before, Monday was the first time we succeeded and had our dogs kennels completely empty!" Gretchen Pressley, the shelter's community relations manager told ABC News. "Seeing so many pets find wonderful new homes is what makes it all worthwhile for us."

Pressley added that it's not too late to adopt a pet, as the shelter still has cats, and more dogs are available daily. It is waiving pet adoption fees until the New Year.

According to the shelter, they adopted out 25 cats and 23 dogs as of Monday, but the kindhearted staff and volunteers won’t be stopping anytime soon. “We’ll have more dogs available later tonight or tomorrow. Keep those adoptions coming!”.

Winter Solstice at Standing Rock was warmed by the generous donation of hundreds of pounds of organic food for all the Water Protectors, delivered from Organic Valley, in La Farge, Wisconsin.

 What began as a spirit camp of prayer in April 2016 with some 50 people, who opposed the Dakota Access pipeline coming onto ancestral Sioux territory, has turned into the largest gathering of American Indians in over a century.

It is difficult to have an official count, but literally thousands of American Indians have come to Standing Rock during the past several months in the effort to show solidarity for the water protectors.

The water protectors’ rallying cry has been ‘mni wiconi,’ which means water is life.

During the intervening months, the water protectors have faced vicious German shepherds and pit bull dogs, high-pressure hoses from water cannons, grenades, rubber bullets and arrests. Even with the adverse circumstances, the fight to protect water and tribal sovereignty has kept those at Standing Rock strong. After all, American Indians are warriors.

Tribal leaders and spiritual leaders have consistently reminded the participants at Standing Rock that the fight to oppose the pipeline has to be won through prayer and peace.

Among the strongest tenets of the Christmas story for two millennia has been “Peace on Earth.” The Ojibwe believe “to love is to know peace. You must love yourself in order to love another.”

On this Christmas, some 1,000 water protectors are on site at the encampments to pray and are striving for a peaceful end to the standoff at Standing Rock. Their existence is not necessarily comfortable.

They are facing the harshness of a northern Plains winter that brings sub-zero temperatures and fierce winds. The water protectors’ Christmas is not going to be a cozy and comfortable as most of ours across Indian Country. Their Christmas meal may not be nearly as substantial as many of ours.