Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota / September 2016
They are gathered in peace & prayer at a spiritual encampment called Sacred Stone. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
A few people freaked out when they heard I was going. I had to hang up on one person. It was a 2 ½ day drive. The first sight of a tipi nestled along the river bank coming up over the hill into Sacred Stone took my breath away. It was like driving into another world. A lost Brigadoon. A young Sioux named Emerson welcomed me and helped me pitch my tent.
Any non-native person who enters the camp in a spirit of support is considered a relative. It’s that simple. Hello My Relatives is the Sioux mantra for inter-dependence and they apply it to all things. It is as deep an understanding of inter-dependence as the Buddhist perspective.
I spent my time there organizing the school library, circus’ing with the children and listening to as many people as would talk to me. I swam between the encampments in the Missouri River. I sat and looked at the tipis for a long time. At night, I danced outside those tipis under a moonlit sky. Elders held my hands as we circle-danced around the drummers & singers. I was awkward at times; they still held my hands. The singing was other-worldly. I watched the men’s and women’s throats as the beautiful vocalizations emerged and I was struck by the complexity of the art form. And I was struck with the thought that the Sioux have managed to retain as much as they have of their culture. Let that register. They are an incredibly strong people.
The 1,200 mile Bakken pipeline they now fight (the “black snake” of Sioux prophecy) would cross the Missouri River twice and the Olglala Aquifer once. The Oglala Aquifer is the largest and only pristine aquifer we have left in the United States. A spill there would be catastrophic. Standing Rock is the last place to take a stand. Over 200 Tribal nations have come together to take that stand for all of us. Uniting indigenous and environmental groups for the first time, the movement is historic in its proportions.
The camp is nothing but prayer and appeals for peace. They’ve got it figured out. This is a spiritual battle. The teaching is Water is Life, Mni Wiconi.
And they just might win.
Support the cause by liking & following their facebook page: Standing Rock Protectors & Indigenous Environmental Network
If you care to understand the situation more deeply, start with the Constitution.
“All treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”-Article VI / United States Constitution
The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty established the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation. Only nine years later, an act of Congress violated the treaty when the gold rush hit the Black Hills. Over 100 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court admitted, “A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability be found in our history.” (United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, 1980) The current pipeline construction is yet another in a long line of treaty violations with devastating environmental consequences for our native peoples.