Markus, Michael "Rattler"
Rattler (Michael Markus) is Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge, SD. He is a descendant of the war chief Makpiya Luta, translated as Red Cloud. Rattler's Lakota name is Mato Tanka, meaning Big Bear. He is a Sundancer and Canupa (sacred pipe) carrier.
Rattler arrived at the Oceti Sakowin resistance camp as a Water Protector in September 2016. On January 23, 2017 Rattler was charged for the work he engaged in as Akicita to protect Land, Water, People, and Treaties against militarized police and mercenaries working for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). DAPL was illegally constructed to go through the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, despite the damage done to sacred sites, Lakota burial sites, Treaty lands of multiple indigenous Nations, risk to the Lakota living on the reservation, and numerous violations of human and environmental rights. He was charged with Civil Disorder, a charge that has only been applied for movement work such as the American Indian Movement, Black Liberation Movement, Vietnam protests, and to these 7 Water Protectors, as well as Using Fire to Commit a Felony, a federal charge that most attorneys don't know is on the books.
On October 27th, 2016 militarized police illegally raided 1851 Treaty Camp, which had gained more numbers of water protectors to block the progression of DAPL from going across Highway 1806. Barricades were lit on HW 1806 and the 134 bridge to keep the militarized police from further endangering our unarmed encampment as police had done for previous months. The only thing lit on 134 bridge were logs; no property damage occurred there. Logs, hay, and scrap wood were used as a barricade alongside donated vehicles on HW 1806. No violence was inflicted on law enforcement in either location. The courts refused to grant Rattler and 5 other water protectors a change of venue to have trial outside of Bismarck, ND despite statistics given to the judge proving the majority of the local population already considered them to be guilty before trial even began. Rattler, Little Feather (Michael Giron, Akicita), Bravo (Brennan Nastacio), Angry Bird (Jimmy White, Akicita) and Dion Ortiz were all given the same charges, facing 15+ years in federal prison. Little Feather and Rattler chose the better of two evils: a non-cooperating plea deal (as in no cooperation with feds). Both received 3 years for nonviolent conduct as Water Protectors keeping our people safe from violence, and stopping further desecration of land and water. RedFawn Fallis also took a non-cooperating plea deal of five years for a gun planted on her by an informant on Oct. 27th. Angry Bird and Dion have also accepted non-cooperating plea deals for their work on Oct. 27th.
Akicita is a traditional role among the Lakota Nation. Akicita is a life commitment, living a life of service and accountability. Akicita are the last to inflict violence, but they are the last to leave a battle. Akicita leave no one behind. We must not let the sacrifices of these water protectors be in vain. We thank all those around the world that committed themselves to be in the NoDAPL camps with us long term, and we thank all those that continue to support water protectors as the movement goes on into federal prisons.
Aho Mitaquye Oyasin
MNI WAKAN, WATER IS SACRED. MNI WICONI, WATER IS LIFE.