This is the final blog in a series of pieces from Standing Rock. See these links for previous posts.
November 8th, 2016
This morning I receive a sage blessing from Dawn Neptune Adams of the Penobscot Nation and I drag Sam out of the tent to make sure he receives a blessing too. The steam is rising up off the river and the frost is thick.
Today is really my last day at Standing Rock. We leave tomorrow morning. It’s a slow day. Mainly a day of taking stock of our supplies and deciding how to disperse them. We take some time to head back up to the bridge one more time along with some friends who hadn’t seen the ruthless aftermath of the corporate oligarchy.
One thing I’ve learned from my trip to Standing Rock: You are where you need to be when you need to be there. And many thanks to Dawn for reminding my son and myself of that.
Sam and I also head over to donations to find thermal underwear for the Front Line. They’ve requested it. We haul off every adult piece we can find and bag it up to take it to them later.
We are kind of at that point of thinking things through….. and how all this impacts our direction in life when we leave – it’s a privilege to do this. We think how we can help Standing Rock in the future. We want to come back – but if we come back – meaning it’s still here – does that mean no progress has been made?
Or, perhaps if it is still here, it simply means that the various goals, one being a collective of people who wish to create a community that is based on the common good, is indeed achieving success.
Does that mean that the pipeline will be shut down? Not necessarily. And where does that leave the courageous men and women on the front line? I don’t know. The construction people were digging the pipeline on election day. We can see it from our camp.
There is a plan to push forward by the front line, but as we discussed at our campfire, these fights are cyclical. One push might make the next push achieve success. It’s hard to know what will happen.
I have a few thoughts on Standing Rock and some things to consider if you plan to come and help.
First – remember – you are here to help – not to direct . If you’re white, check that white privilege at the door and learn how to listen.
Regarding where to camp. This will most likely offend some folks. It’s my opinion – take it or leave it. We stayed at the Oceti Sakowin camp. Sacred Stone (the most “publicly” known camp) – is across the Cannon Ball River. Sacred Stone is referred to by many as Sacred Woodstock. It is largely populated by white people. And Sacred Stone has received many many donations. Donate to Oceti Sakowin here.
That being said, should white people come to Standing Rock to help?? OF COURSE. But help, and listen.
Other thoughts – my only moments of cringing, or feeling ashamed or embarrassed while at Standing Rock this week were due to the actions of some of the white people.
Let me give an example. At the bridge, where the burned trucks and barbed wire separate the law enforcement from the entrance to Oceti Sakowin camp I witnessed a white female rushing forward towards the trucks and yelling to those of us standing behind the flags on the hill (standing behind flags as directed by tribal camp leaders). She yelled to us that nothing would get done by standing back and we all needed to rush forward with her. There were approximately hundred people at that point watching as we stood behind the flags. Luckily no one listened to her. The tribal leaders have a plan, and the white people are there to help and listen. Not takeover. Not create wreckless disasters that could harm the peaceful plan of the tribal leaders. Not spend their days trying to party and attempt to recreate a Woodstock scenario. Please represent us well. Don’t make this about “you” – this is a chance to give back and to face history, and our ancestors role in colonizing – genocide – of indigenous people and land.
Other thoughts re: coming to Standing Rock:
It’s cold. Be sure you have enough blankets to be warm. Assume you don’t have enough – truly.
Hand warmers (the packets) are a must.
Tent? Make sure it can handle freezing temperatures and be sure to take notice of your tent’s pathetic construction compared to the teepees that stand strong and warm in the fiercest of winds and subzero temperatures.
Head lamp a must.
If you are blogging expect to have to leave camp to get anything uploaded.
The additional chargers for phones, etc. are pretty essential (I didn’t have one). The signal at Media Hill is weak and the solar panel charging works, but it is slow.
Camp near a portapotty – at three a.m. you will thank me.
The wind is fierce – be sure to have the proper winter items to cover your face.
If you wear contacts – good luck – bring extras.
Food? Depends on how you plan to contribute. There is plenty of food, but we brought our own as we didn’t want to take food from the community. I suppose if you plan to work in the kitchen then perhaps eating there for free might work for some. You’ll have to make those decisions. Water? Also available at camp. Perhaps bring your own jugs and refill as needed? A “dolphin” to put on top of a jug is a luxury but a good investment.
If you plan to get arrested, be sure to have a plan in place for bail and don’t expect to be out within the hour. You may end up in Fargo, and in a dog cage. And be prepared to be strip searched.
Wood for a fire. You will forever need wood. There of course is wood at the camp, but again think through how you plan to contribute before taking – just my opinion.
Leaving camp – if you plan to leave to do anything, such as run a simple errand, anticipate a three to four hour trip. The detours make it impossible to do anything fast.
The casino -about the only place you can go and be back to camp quickly – it’s a good place to recharge your phone, laptop, etc., if you get lucky enough to find one of the plugs. There are a few in the lobby and near the restaurant. They might let you stay, they might not.
I am told you can shower at the marina.
Finally, recognize that these are all problems of the privileged and keep it in check.
Much gratitude and love to the indigenous people of Standing Rock and the protectors at the Front Line.
Nov. 9th, 2016 – The day after the election.
I woke up in my tent not knowing if Clinton or Trump had won. I made my way up to Media Hill in the dark to check the news on my phone after hearing from a friend at camp that Trump was indeed the winner. I videotaped Oceti Sakowin as the sun came up – listen for the singing. It gave me some peace of mind and reminded me that the fight for humanity must move faster than ever before. No time to cry. No time to mourn. The revolution must be now. Much love to you all. Let’s get this done.