Sarah Pirtle and the Discovery Center


U-wi-ta is a Lakota word for coming together. The song describes the work of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Listen to U-Wi-Ta

Background of the Song

See Northern Spirit Radio for interviews with Sarah.

This video shows the Reject and Protect Encampment in Washington D.C. April 2014. Chief Arvol Looking Horse and Bobby C. Billie invited people at the same time to South Dakota for an U-wi-ta Council. By using the Lakota word, U-wi-ta, the song is meant to connect with and honor these ceremonies. Producer George Aguiar used web pictures of the event to describe the story.

Photos show a tipi created by Sicangu Lakota artist Steve Tamayo with a tipi liner imprinted with thumbprints of those at the action. This ceremonial tipi was given to the Smithsonian Museum of Native American History during the Reject and Protect gathering to say that the land (represented with lines of green paint), water (the blue line), and all beings (the cedar tree up the tipi spine) must be protected.


by Sarah Pirtle

    G                                                 C
1. They raised up tipis on the National Mall,

C                  G                                D
Indians and cowboys hear a common call.
D                  C               G               C
They invited thumbprints on one tipi cloth
                 G         D
to say don’t let this sacred land be lost.
                    C     G               C
Chorus: U-wi-ta, people of the world.
         C        G                            D
U-wi-ta, our common prayers are heard.
C           G                 C
U-wi-ta, we unite and stand.
         G       D                              G
U-wi-ta, no pipeline may cross our land.

2. When the water pours in the reflecting pool,
it?s Ogallala water from the aquifer,
the very same water that this line would cross.
But we won?t let this sacred land be lost.

Bridge: (use chorus chords)
Horses ride against the flood of oil,
and stop the tide that would destroy the soil.
With this tipi cloth, we unite as one.
The mending of the sacred hoop has begun.

3. When the tipi?s folded and becomes a gift,
and the elders stand and the tipi cloth they lift,
when they carry it to a resting place,
the sacred fires that we light can?t be erased.

(use chorus chords)
May the four winds rise, u-wi-ta,
May our hearts combine, u-wi-ta,
May the ones who lead heal their wounded minds,
find their conscience, and reject the line.

Chorus: U-wi-ta, people of the world.
U-wi-ta, our common prayers are heard.
U-wi-ta, we unite and stand.
U-wi-ta, no pipeline may cross this land.

Words and music by Sarah Pirtle © 2014 Discovery Center Music, BMI

You are invited to sing it widely. If you wish to record it, contact me.

The recording was made at Rainbow Sounds Studio: banjo and vocals Sarah Pirtle,
guitar and production by Scott Sibley.

I’m a member of Hilltown Community Rights working to stop the fracked gas pipeline in Massachusetts, and the song connects to our statewide efforts.

I heard this melody in a dream on the morning of April 22, 2014 as the Cowboy and Indian Alliance started their encampment in Washington D.C. to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. I wished that I could be there or in South Dakota with ceremonial spiritual leaders Chief Arvol Looking Horse and Bobby C. Billie who invited people to come to the U-wi-ta Council Fire at the same time as the encampment.

I care very much that Winona LaDuke and her sister Lorna Haynes have been riding their horses along the pipeline route. They are living out a dream that Winona had in 2013 about horses riding against the current of oil.

The chorus words – “our common prayers are heard” – refer to the way that those of us all across the world who come together to protect the Earth are hearing and living each other’s prayers and appreciating each other’s efforts.