Water Is Life - Mni Wičoni (song for Standing Rock)

ABOUT THIS SONG
Water Is Life (Mni Wičoni)

This song is inspired by and in tribute to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all the tribes, nations, native and non-native people coming together to protect the land and water threatened by the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The song came to me on my return from Standing Rock. That morning before leaving, a meadowlark was singing right outside my tent. "Be a lark from the meadow. Be a lark from this meadow," I heard it sing.  We, too, can be larks from the meadow. We, too, can sing in the new day. 

You are welcome to use and share this song (for non-commercial use). I ask only that you do so in prayer and solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock and all corners of the globe!  Please support water and environmental protection efforts in all the ways you can.  —ST

ABOUT THE CHORUS
The chorus contains two Lakota phrases:
Mni wičoni (mini we-cho-nee) —“Water is life.”
Mitakuye Oyasin (mee-dah-koo-yeh o-yah-seen)—“All My Relations”

My gratitude to Jeremy Davis, of Lakota and Anishinaabe heritage, who —after my initial sharing of this song at choir practice—suggested adding the phrase "Mitakuye Oyasin" and helped me incorporate it into the song.

Water Is Life (key of C) SATB arrangement by S. Thomsen 164 KB
 

ABOUT THE LAKOTA PHRASE "MITAKUYE OYASIN"

“When we say Mitakuye Oyasin, ‘All Our Relations,’ many people don't understand the meaning of those words. The phrase Mitakuye Oyasin has a bigger meaning than just our blood relatives. Yes, it’s true; we are all one human race. But the word Mitakuye means relations and Oyasin means more than family, more than a Nation, more than all of humankind, everything that has a spirit. The Earth herself, Maka Unci, is our relation, and so is the sky, Grandfather Sky, and so is the Buffalo and so are each of the two-leggeds, the four-leggeds, those that swim, those that fly, the root nation and the crawling beings who share the world with us. Mitakuye Oyasin refers to the interconnectedness of all beings and all things. We are all interconnected. We are all One.”

—Chief Arvol Looking Horse
from his book White Buffalo Teachings (Dreamkeepers Press, 2001)
Arvol Looking Horse is the 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe and a spiritual leader of the Sioux Nation. 
 

 
“We are the river, and the river is us. We have no choice but to stand up.”

— LaDonna Brave Bull Allard
Founder of Sacred Stone Camp
Quote from article in Yes! Magazine

LYRICS
Water Is Life - Mni Wičoni


All my relations, come
Every nation, come
All my relations under the sun
We are one
 
We are praying, come
We are praying, come
We are the song and we are the drum
We are one
 
We are the river, come
We are the river, come
We are the boat, the paddle, the shore
We are one
 
Chorus:
Mni wičoni, sing (
Mitakuye Oyasin…)
Mni wičoni, sing
Mni wičoni, “water is life”
for everything

 
We are the water, sing
We are the water, sing
We are the water
We are where all life begins
 
We are the ancient ones
We are the ancient ones
In your breath and bones we sing on
We are one
 
We are the meadow, come
We are the meadow, come
We are the lark that sings
the new day has begun
 
We are the new day, run, run, run
We are the new day, run, run, run
We are the old and we are the young
We are one

Chorus

We are the earth and sky
We are the thunder cries
We are the fire,
We are the light in your eyes
 
We are standing strong
Like a rock, like a stone
On this sacred ground we belong
We are home

Chorus
 

All my relations, come
Every nation, come
All my relations under the sun
We are one
 
—words & music by Sara Thomsen