I’m a Colonizer but I feel the Sacred. by Peggy Roberston


BustED Pencils is proud of our own Peggy Robertson who is now on the ground in North Dakota and participating in the #NoDAPL grassroots movement.  She will be submitting blogs via cellphone.  With the help of friends, we (BustED Pencils) will make sure that every word from that sacred location gets to you.


I’ve been at Oceti Sakowin for 24 hours. We arrived in the middle of the night, almost early morning, and found our campsite by the Cannonball River. We face the river and across the river is the Rosebud tribe. After putting up our tent in the dark, and hunkering down for the night, I heard the helicopters, loud, low – never leaving, always loud and low. As I fell asleep around 5:30 a.m. I heard someone at Rosebud camp chopping wood, and then the singing began—that sound intermingled with wolves howling, and I tried to keep those sounds ever present in my mind, hoping to drown out the helicopters – who were still circling at 9 a.m.

We’ve talked to a lot of people in just 24 hours. We are making connections, and it reminds me very much of Occupy in that sense. Other than that, it is an experience that I am ultimately sure I cannot possibly really comprehend in terms of the depth of what is happening here. But I feel the spirituality, the absolute depths of collective and communal “being” and this utter, absolute sense of hope.

Water is life, and the tribes have joined together again, forgiven wrong-doings, and hope to regain – regain – everything – I have no words for how to describe this.

Writing these blogs is a struggle for me because I am at a lack of words. I feel in my soul powerful feelings – if you are hearing what I hear as I go to bed on my second night here – singing and drums, and the cold and calculated never-ending sound of helicopters, well, simply put, you will cry. And you may not be able to explain why. And as a white person who stands on sacred indigenous land, being decimated – once again – by colonizers, you will find yourself in a place you might desperately love but feel such horrendous guilt that you cry no matter what the feeling might be.

There are so many stories here that the words jumble out into the air and I cannot grasp them in my heart fast enough to relay them to you. The tribes are many. One tribe is the Red Warrior tribe. They are described as militant. They do not allow you into their campground. They have seen what has happened to the rest of the encampment as outsiders, such as myself, have come in and helped, but perhaps also hindered. The rules are clear on the site – and I respect and follow them.

The Rosebud tribe prefers to be alone. They live across the river from me. I wake up in the morning to their singing and am forever in awe of watching them ride their horses all over the camp. My son lingers by them as they walk alongside the river unaccompanied. We are in awe of the beauty, the freedom, and the absolute brutal genocide that makes all of this something we see – the hope – but then the devastation makes it hard to grasp that hope. Hope for humanity and people who are being destroyed by the colonizers.