“Chanting the Waters” (2016)

in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe & all peoples protecting the sacred waters of this earth

water is life becuz our bodies are 60 percent water

becuz my wife labored for 24 hours through contracting waves

becuz our sweat is mostly water & salt

becuz she breathed & every other breath is birthed from the ocean

water is life becuz our lungs are 80 percent water

becuz water broke forth from her body

becuz amniotic fluid is 90 percent water

becuz our daughter crowned like a new island

water is life becuz our blue planet is 70 percent water

becuz some say water came from asteroids & comets

becuz some say the ocean formed within the earth from the beginning

becuz water broke forth from shifting tectonic plates

water is life becuz the ocean is 99% of the biosphere

becuz we say our gods created water

becuz no human has found a way to safely create water

water is life because we can’t drink oil

becuz water is the next oil

becuz we wage war over gods & water & oil

water is life becuz only 3 percent of global water is freshwater

becuz the water footprint of an average american is 2000 gallons a day

becuz it takes 660 gallons of water to make one hamburger

becuz more than a billion people lack access to clean drinking water

becuz in some countries women & children walk 4 miles every day to gather clean water

& carry it home

becuz we can’t desalinate the entire ocean

water is life becuz if you lose 5 percent of your body’s water you will become feverish

becuz if you lose 10 percent of your body’s water you will become immobile

becuz we can survive a month without food but less than a week without water

water is life becuz we proclaim water a human right

becuz we grant bodies of water rights to personhood

becuz some countries signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

becuz my wife says the Hawaiian word for wealth, waiwai, comes from their word for water, wai

water is life becuz corporations steal, privatize, dam, & bottle our waters

becuz sugar, pineapple, corn, soy, & gmo plantations divert our waters

becuz concentrated animal feeding operations consume our waters

becuz pesticides, chemicals, oil, weapons, & waste poison our waters

water is life becuz we say stop, you are hurting our ancestors

becuz they say we thought this was a wasteland

becuz we say stop, keep the oil in the ground

becuz they say we thought these bones were fuel

becuz we say stop, water is sacred 

becuz they say we thought water is a commodity

becuz we say we are not leaving

becuz they say we thought you were vanishing

becuz we are water warriors & peaceful protectors

becuz they call us savage & primitive & riot

becuz we bring our feathers & lei & sage & shells & canoes & drones & hashtags & totems

becuz they bring their bulldozers & drills & permits & surveillance drones & helicopters

becuz we bring our treaties & the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

becuz they bring their banks & politicians & police & private militia & national guard & lawyers

becuz we bring our songs & schools & lawyers & prayers & chants & ceremonies

becuz they bring their barking dogs & paychecks & pepper spray & rubber bullets

becuz we bring all our relations & all our generations & all our livestreams

water is life becuz our drumming sounds like rain after drought echoing against our taut skin

water is life becuz our blood is 90 percent water

becuz every minute a child dies from water-borne diseases

becuz every day thousands of children die from water-borne diseases

becuz every year millions of children die from water-borne diseases

water is life becuz my daughter loves playing in the ocean

becuz someday she will ask us, “where does the ocean end?”

becuz we will point to the dilating horizon

water is life becuz our eyes are 95 percent water

becuz we will tell her that the ocean has no end

becuz we will tell her that the sky & clouds carry the ocean

becuz we will tell her that the mountains embrace the ocean into a blessing of rain

becuz we will tell her that the ocean-sky-rain fills aquifers & lakes

becuz we will tell her that the ocean-sky-rain-lake flows into the Missouri River

becuz we will tell her that ocean-sky-rain-lake-river returns to the ocean & connects us

to our cousins at Standing Rock

becuz we will tell her about the sacred stone of a mother holding her child

becuz we will tell her that the Sioux are still there & still breathing

water is life becuz our hearts are 75 percent water

becuz, while my daughter is sleeping, i will chant to her, my people’s word for water:

“hanom, hanom, hanom,” so her dreams of water carry us home

becuz water is life, water is life, water is life

© , Craig Santos Perez | Visual design by Jai Arun Ravine.