The Not So Quiet Ramblings From Oceti Sakowin Camp
So I have been back home now for a little less than a week. Having all intentions of writing about my experiences at Standing Rock, wanting to share a bit of what’s been going on and how things were when I was there, and I’m having a real tough time coming up with the words to do so.
Normally things just come to me. I’ll wait it out, take pen to paper and a few edits later I’m set. This however, is a completely different situation. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t want to romanticize the situation, or give out any false pretenses, or if I just am not ready to share with those who haven’t been a part of it. But I will tell you this; I can’t sleep, or eat or go about my daily activities without constantly thinking of those individuals who are still there.
I know a lot of you have reached out and sent love and prayers and support and again I thank you. I am overwhelmed and devastated and enlightened. I have hope and feel anger and I harbor hatred. I can’t imagine a world, this world where the lives of others aren’t important enough to some. Where peaceful protest is met with water cannons, rubber bullets and concussion grenades. I am angry that hundreds of years later most of us still have no idea the horrific things these people have been through. I harbor hatred for a society that breeds evil and realize I too am a part of the problem. I am overwhelmed by wanting and needing to do more, so much more. I am devastated that we live in a country where a high percentage of the population doesn’t even know what’s going on at Standing Rock and half that do, could careless. I am enlightened with gratitude in having had the opportunity to be a part of this movement first hand. And most importantly I am hopeful. I am hopeful that there are enough of us who do want to make a difference. Enough of us that believe in the greater good..enough of us that want and need to protect our earth and each other…
For the rest of those, trying to come to terms with Standing Rock or the election or I don’t know ANY of the fucked up shit facing this country. Passing the buck or blaming ignorance as the root of it all, I will say isn’t the answer. Ignorance is not the excuse. Ignorance isn’t even the problem. You cannot educate a population when the information to educate them isn’t available. You cannot learn from the past when they’ve kept it out of our textbooks. We have had the wool pulled over our eyes for far too long and are now seeing the effects of a powerless society in the form of hate, in the form of fear, in the form of violence.
We lash out with our words. We kill cops. We shoot unarmed black men. We fight fear with anger and we justify it because we’re not alone.
I have never in the years I’ve been on earth experienced peace the way I did at Standing Rock.
We say we want peace..
Hell I ask for it everyday..
but we are so far from what peace really is that I can’t even say I knew what it looked like until I got there.
There was absolutely no..
We all worked together as a community, as a village. No hierarchy of help, No job more important than the next. If You had a strength, you brought it to the table. If You wanted to eat, you helped prepare the food, or washed the dishes. There were buildings being built, medics and herbalists providing care for the wounded and the sick. Stations with warm clothes, camping gear, electrical supplies, all available for whomever needed it. Hours were spent sifting through donations. DAYS even. And as soon as you made a dent there was more to be sorted. I remember being overwhelmed in feeling like nothing was getting accomplished and had to remind myself that ALL of these items were given and donated to camp. That besides the thousands that had come here, there we thousands more back home that believed in what we were here doing…
Hundreds of pounds of food were being donated and cooked daily. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner prep took all day, informational meetings filled your every extra hour, and hot tea was always available to warm your bones (which was so desperately needed. Because It was cold. And not just any kind of cold. This was A cold that you couldn’t get away from. It stuck with you night and day and made for a tough goodbye when it was time to leave your sleeping bag behind).
But I’d really have to say the most powerful aspect of this camp was what you kept hearing off in the distance. The sounds of Prayer. Constant Prayer. The sacred fired burned and burned, The Smoke filled both my lungs and my heart and brought so often tears to my eyes. The sounds echoed throughout the day and helped fill the night with warmth. Waking to the sounds of prayer at dawn is something I’ve always dreamed I’d experience. I just never imagined it would be at a place like this… zippered in, wearing everything you’d packed to bed, your smoky breath filling up the tent was all forgotten by those distant sounds of drums and prayer.
I could get into the daily happenings and activities, or the possible army raid preparation, but I won’t. I could tell you about the drive and the supplies we brought and the weather, but I won’t . I could tell you about the direct action on the day we left and the dozens that were arrested, but I won’t.
I won’t because to me that isn’t what this was about. It wasn’t about you, or me, or the supplies we brought, or the weather. It wasn’t about the journey or the police presence or the protest. It wasn’t about any of those things.
This was about them.
It was about a culture whose people have been shit on for centuries. A culture whose land was pillaged, whose women were raped and whose dignity was spit on.
A culture so in tune with the earth and one another that they have found a way to keep believing. A way to believe in hope, a way to believe in peace.
And most importantly it was about them welcoming me, welcoming all of us. It’s about looking past assumptions and stereotypes and expectations and believing in humanity.
It’s about them protecting the very essence of life. Protecting the earth… and in my eyes being the only ones left having the answers on how to do so.
So please don’t thank me for what I did. Don’t look to me for inspiration.
Look to them. Because even after all that they have been through, they have never given up and they will die trying to save, what the most of us work to destroy on a daily basis. (Our Earth)
Water is Life. *NODAPL*