Articles for further reading and resources for getting involved below. Questions stem from being at Standing Rock earlier this November and conversations, news, etc. since.
How do you tell a story that isn’t yours but is so important it wants to pour off your lips, trembling with urgency?
How do you accept gifts when you are only there to give? I’m learning to receive, he told me as I offered to refill his water.
Water. How do you let the liquid refresh your throat cracking in the cold, dry wind while remembering this is holy. This is important. This is worth fighting for. Every. Single. Time. Mni Wiconi.
How do you step onto a land that is sacred, enter a community of hope, perseverance and love then leave to hear people informed by racism, biased media coverage and capitalism tell you otherwise? Does the burning in your ears ever not reach your heart, your soul, the tip of your toes? Let injustice burn you into action.
How do you say, “I am here because of you. I respect you and am scared I won’t be doing enough and that the whiteness of my skin and my ancestors farming this North Dakota land have done too much harm. I am here because I want to change the path of my history so that your history has more hope, clean water, native tongues and never ending prayerful ceremonies”? All that came out was, “I care about you and your fight. I have time. I have resources. I hope to help.”
How do you hear someone who has been released from jail for peacefully protesting? I hear them with gratitude because justice looks different depending from where you look.
How do meet the ‘broken’ who after abuse, death, addictions have found purpose in a roaring white truck, in bins overflowing with donations, in pot rubs, in taking care of the people who are doing what they can, in animal knit hats and sparkling dresses? I don’t see the broken. I see strength growing. I see beauty radiating.
How do you see a super moon reflecting on still Missouri water at dusk but only think about the black snake, abrasive lights and surveillance planes circling overhead? How do you not?
How do you take the hand of a little one, speak with her in Spanish and look to her brave parents, pregnant with not only another life but with a passion for justice so strong that this little one is present here in this camp teeming with teepees? How do you find more hope in the future than in her rosy cheeks, bubbly smile, and her sleepy body at a candle light vigil?
How do you take those couple of days and write about how they both soothed your heart but unsettled your mind?
How do you ask people to listen, not because your ego needs to be heard but because they need to be heard? What is happening cannot stay silent. How do you honor them best?
And when you fail, how do you go back and reconcile?
How do you tell a prayer warrior and protest witness, elderly gentle stubborn, that her work is important and her presence valued? With her aching bones, big flowered outfits and early nights filling the tent with snoring, she tirelessly does God’s work.
How do you judge water protectors while looking down from your throne of white privilege, white security? How do you take a sledge hammer to this throne? It’s time we realize that thrones can’t exist if there is to be equality.
I’m in process of learning this, yet it still leaves me with an echoing question. How do you teach empathy?
How do you acknowledge the complexities of the issue while being so incredibly biased?
How do you read the Morton County lying through their teeth and, without yelling, explain why this is wrong? I’d never been one to yell.
How do you look militarized police forces in the face, with your determination becoming more of a threat than a shield to your safety?
How do you pray for those persecuting?
How do you go and come back while wishing more than ever you were there, with the people you met being sprayed with icy water, mace, rubber bullets and concussion guns?
How do you come back as intentional as you went?
More veterans are on their way: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/us/veterans-to-serve-as-human-shields-for-pipeline-protesters.html?mwrsm=Facebook
History of broken treaties: http://e.startribune.com/Olive/ODN/StarTribune/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=MST%2F2016%2F11%2F27&entity=Ar00803&sk=9658CC8C
The ELCA’s stance on the issue: https://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7865
A good report on what’s going on and miscommunication, including the girl who’s arm may have to be amputated: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-dakota-access-pipeline-20161127-story.html
To help, go if you are able. If you decide to go, I have resources to read from those at the camp so that you can go in the most respectful, helpful way. Please reach out if you would like.
If you are unable to go but still are interested in helping, consider calling DAPL backers and those in government. Donate to the camps so they can remain sustainable medically and throughout the winter.