It's all about the journey...
I’m watching the election returns, seeing my friends’ Facebook feeds registering fear, horror, anger as each new bit of news shows up. Fighting the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, madly tracing Reiki symbols in the air and sending energy, then turning back to the spiraling disaster.
What happened???? Yes, the polls were all over the map, and when I went to Standing Rock the Midwest was a sea of Trump signs….but how could anyone seriously vote for this racist rapist….we all know the epithets he’s earned.
Just a brief post tonight….and yes, there will be more about my visit to Standing Rock; after the horrific events of 10/27, I am still madly sharing the news I see to inform sympathetic friends.
But this thought: One of the most moving elements of my experience at Oceti Sakowin was the warmth of the welcome and the shared support of the men and women camped there. The elders at the drum circle would speak of the campers as family – “we are all relations here” – and it was common to hear groups addressed as “relatives” or “brothers” or “sisters” with the deepest authenticity.
To the Editors:
Reading the prevailing mainstream coverage of the horrifying events at Standing Rock on 10/27 and 11/2, as hundreds of police from multiple states massed in military vehicles and riot gear against the unarmed, praying water protectors, I have been simply appalled. While some reporters have represented the full situation (more or less), too many have been one-sided or biased in their coverage, weighting the words of corrupt officials beholden to the oil industry and diminishing the just claims of the people being victimized as they struggle to protect the water resources not only of their tribal lands, but of the nation’s heartland. Even cursory research would have turned up the truth that there is far more to the situation than is being represented.
There is a time when human-interest stories of strong and gentle people preparing for winter in a remote resistance camp fade before a heart-stopping demonstration of raw communal courage, made in the face of overwhelming militarized force. A demonstration documented only on social media; the most important history of our time is being made far away from the mainstream news cameras.
That’s what happened yesterday. My accustomed middle-class routine was setting in; I’d intended to spend the day blogging about the amazing people I met at Standing Rock. But upon seeing a stark, terse warning in a NoDAPL group’s feed, I spent the day frantically scouring Facebook for the latest news, trying desperately to find out what was happening and get the news to someone – anyone – who could give it the mainstream media coverage it deserves.
In the morning of my first full day at Standing Rock, I awoke to the sunrise and the song of the Four Directions echoing over the camp. Quickly unwrapping myself from the emergency blanket, sleeping-bag liner and mummy bag in which I’d coccooned against the frigid night air, I did my morning preparations and hurried down to the central drum circle for the morning’s ceremonies.
I knew of the DAPL desecration of ancient graves and brutal attacks on unarmed water protectors; the ramped-up arrests by the Morton County sheriff’s officers; the lies being spread through the local media about the resistance to the pipeline. I knew of the paramilitary equipment that was showing up against the front-line water protectors’ actions. But nothing could have prepared me for the shock of seeing the steady parade of law-enforcement vehicles on Rt. 1806 past the camp, or the surveillance helicopters and planes that circled many times each day. It was clear: this camp was at the border of a conflict zone; a psy-ops campaign was underway to wear the people down.
After the final AirBnb evening, I was off on the last leg of my outward journey, with a slip of scrawled directions from the NoDAPLSolidarity.org site in my hand and the little remaining space in my car stuffed with firewood for the camp. It was a glorious day for travel: the miles of rolling brown hills, studded with oases of cottonwoods and shrubbery, rolled past, with hawks and buzzards circling high overhead; the breeze through my open window was brisk and scented with the fragrance of water and living earth.
By the second day of travel – en route from Illinois, through the glorious foliage of Wisconsin and Minnesota to North Dakota – I was beginning to feel the energy building, the gulf between the world I call home and the one I was going to visit.
It hit me with a shock as I left the progression of cities along I-94 to enter the rolling brown hills of the high plains…and saw the rising numbers of roadkills, from small, matted bundles of fur to the deer, raptors, and – coyotes? wolves? – on the shoulder of the road. At one point I winced to see a triple death: hawk, wolf, and rabbit, all crumpled at the edge of a cattle-chute stretch of barriers.
When I named this blog SoulPaths/the journey, I had no idea of the literal journeys that would be involved in this particular soul’s path. In the past two years, Ecuador, Findhorn…and this week, a pilgrimage of support to Standing Rock, ND.
Why am I going there? I’ve written of the resistance of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation to the Dakota Access Pipeline that is slated to run across the reservation land, crossing the Oglala Aquifer and – many times over – the Missouri River. I touched on how they are being joined by a virtual United Nations of supporters from Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures from around the world. And I’ve touched on my gradual progress from timorous waffling to starting a group for subtle activism, to a drive for donations.