January 22nd, 2018
Walking up to the Federal Court house in Bismarck, ND a knot began to form in my stomach. Since the stand at Standing Rock, over 800 water protectors have been charged and 6 face felony charges in Federal Court. Red Fawn Fallis is one of those who have been unrightfully imprisoned and charged with 3 felonies over the last year. Because of the corruption and the looming possibility of facing life in prison for standing up for our water, Red Fawn Fallis decided to sign a plea agreement and plead guilty on 2 of her 3 counts. The felony counts are for civil disorder and possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. Her plea agreement will dismiss her most serious charge, discharge of a firearm in relation to a felony crime of violence, and recommend no more than seven years at sentencing, as well as no fine or restitution. The judge can go as high as 10 years if he feels it is appropriate for her actions.
Red Fawn entered the court in shackles and orange striped prison attire to a somber crowd of 20-30 familiar faces in the court room. Many supporters were turned away though there was more than enough seating. Red Fawn's attorney made a request to Judge Hovland that she be unshackled for the trial, the US Marshal agreed and she was unchained. She was shaking but stood strong as the judge asked the questions he was required to ask by law. He explained everything to her to make sure she understood the plea completely, his disposition was much more civil than the judge we had seen sentence Mary Redway. Tears began to well as the judge prepared to ask Red Fawn how she plead to the first count of civil disobedience. Red Fawn paused for a few moments- I thought for a second she was going to stand up and shout Mni Wiconi! However, with a shaky broken voice she sputtered out, "guilty." I looked around and saw tears running down the cheeks of some of the strongest women and men of the movement as they sat in support. The second felony count was read and again, "guilty" echoed through the chamber.
Judge Hovland explained what would happen next, an in depth interview would be done with Fallis in the next month or so and a report would be finalized. He said that he would take the letters of support into high regard. It is the best way, he said, to truly understand a defendants character and find out how they contribute to society as a whole. Red Fawn's lawyers then asked if they could submit a petition to release her from detention. She is being held at the Burleigh-Morton County Detention Center, and admitted to the pretrial release violation. Hovland said she was unaccounted for an entire day from the halfway house where she has resided since October. When asked if she wanted to explain herself, through tears she said,
“I don’t want to offer any excuses, but I hold the court in the highest regard. With the trial coming up I needed some time to sit and think. It’s hard being up here with no family or anyone to talk to. I apologize.”
Judge Hovland agreed that if this was even going to be considered she would have to have GPS tracking until the sentence date which will take place in 3-4 months. Defense attorney Bruce Ellison said Red Fawn's legal team will call a number of witnesses at sentencing and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Delorme said he may call on a few as well. Red Fawn's attorneys have advised a sentence of 21 to 27 months, while the federal prosecutors may recommend 46 to 57 months.
It was hard to sit and watch someone who stands for Mother Earth and our water have to face such extreme penalties from our "justice" system. It makes you wonder about the word justice and what that means for Natives versus the Bundy family. We will continue to stand with all the water protectors who put their life on the line for our Mother. Thank you Red Fawn for what you stand for and continue to stand for.
I learned the power of prayer standing with our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock and now is the time we need to come together and pray for our sister. Pray that the North Dakota justice system will minimize her sentence to less than 7 years. She has already been detained for a long time, pray that the judge sees her true character and that she will only get time served and probation.
For more information on Red Fawn and where you can write go to http://indi.com/freeredfawn
For more updates on Federal cases go to https://waterprotectorlegal.org/federal-cases/
Prayers up, Tobacco down.