An Ecosystem of Support for the Water Protectors

EcoWatch reported the heartbreaking verdict just the other day:

“A federal judge in Washington, DC declined Tuesday to order the halt of all construction on a portion of the contentious Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) route that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had recently identified as sacred tribal burial ground, a site that was bulldozed over the Labor Day weekend by pipeline construction crews….

The tribe has been locked in a legal fight against Dakota Access and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over a pipeline that would cross sacred sites and potentially affect water that the tribe depends on. The DAPL pipeline’s full path extends across North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois….

The tribe had filed an emergency motion on Sunday, Sept. 4 for the temporary restraining order to prevent further destruction of sacred sites….

Tuesday’s order isn’t the end of these legal battles. Federal Judge James Boasberg is expected to rule on Friday on an injunction that would halt all pipeline-related construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

I have been following this story for a month now, thanks to the Facebook updates by environmental lawyer Carolyn Raffensberger,  executive director of the Science & Environmental Health Network and leading expert on the Precautionary Principle, and ecologist/activist Linda Black Elk, both taking part in the peaceful prayer actions.

And the words have been piling up in my mind, escaping through click-shared news articles, finally through a Facebook call for concentrated energy-sending on Sunday, September 4 – the day the bulldozers plowed through the burial ground while dogs tore through the unarmed men, women and children. The call touched a chord, connecting a number of us who are watching and grieving from the outside.

Carolyn Raffensberger wrote on her public FB feed after the verdict:

This morning it is unbearable to know that Dakota Access will continue forcing its pipeline into the Earth, through waters, through the lands of Indigenous peoples.
The judge yesterday said he didn’t have jurisdiction to stop the pipeline from destroying sacred sites. When one of the most powerful voices in government says he doesn’t have power to stop evil, you know we have created a systemic monster.
Rachel Carson said we have lost the capacity to foresee and forestall. We will end by destroying the Earth. Carson
was partially right, we can foresee the destruction. What we have really lost is the ability to forestall. We built a system by and for capitalism and now the Black Snake is loose and devouring the future.”

I have been crying, sitting with this, asking: what can be done? The water protectors – the largest gathering of  Native American tribes in the past 100 years, supported by civil-rights activists, environmentalists, celebrities, and representatives of churches, covens, mosques, and representatives of Indigenous peoples from as far away as Australia, Ecuador, and Scandinavia – have been putting their bodies on the line, bolstered by multifaith prayers and ceremonies from the U.S. and abroad, world-class attorneys in the courts, even censure by the U.N. against the Obama administration for its silence.

But an understanding of the forces arrayed against the people, the land and the water is beginning to take shape, thanks to indefatigable coverage by Democracy Now: a new investigation has revealed that more than two dozen major banks and financial institutions are helping finance the Dakota Access pipeline. And the DeSmogBlog has revealed that Continental Resources — the company founded and led by CEO Harold Hamm, energy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and potential U.S. Secretary of Energy under a Trump presidency — has announced to investors that oil it obtains via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin is destined for transport through the hotly-contested Dakota Access pipeline.

There is a part of me that wants to wail and cry, dive under the covers and hide from the monsters destroying the world. Every morning after my quiet meditation/journaling time, I sit inwardly shaking and protesting against leaving that safe and sacred space to read the daily news. Every morning I breathe and quiet the terrified, grieving child at my core…the one who first experienced All That Is as alive, aware, and interconnected when I was 10…who still takes pleasure in checking in with the energies surrounding me as I walk the woods. Who, as my mother once did, grieves on seeing woods clear-cut, hears the screaming of a tree when it is dismembered and logged. Who dissolves in total overwhelm at the thought of the indigenous people who have held the land and water sacred from the beginning are savaged by dogs and their sacred places bulldozed to make way for a pipeline that will almost certainly poison the nation’s largest aquifer and last remaining clear tributary system.

I shared these feelings at Friends Meeting on Sunday, breaking down in tears as I spoke. A Friend came up to me afterward and said – I hear you, and I am grieving with you. And it is your light and love and connection to Spirit that will make the difference. Your depression and anger can paralyze you. Stay connected to the Light and act from the Light. 

It took me a long time to hear his message.

So I continued asking: What can be done? And the inner answers begin to arise: the sending of prayers, meditation, energy, magic, ceremony/ritual –  subtle activism  by a critical mass of people, can help to turn the tide: concentrated prayers, energy, meditation, ceremony/ritual. So I created a FB group, Subtle Activism for Standing Rock, as a gathering place for news posts and sharing among those who hold this issue at heart. And people are responding.

What does it mean? Maybe nothing, my 21st-century skeptical self says. Maybe the people who join the group – due to busy-ness or emotional overwhelm – can offer only good thoughts in this direction.

But even if they are, we all start somewhere.

I am receiving the nudging again and again: the more prayers, energy, focused ceremony/ritual, magic – and good wishes – are put out into the ether, the more awareness is raised, the better supported the water protectors will be. As Starhawk told me – every action has many levels of participants: those who take the front lines; those who support them directly with press releases, food, legal representation; those who pet- and house-sit while they are in action, those who run GoFundMes and petitions and other online support campaigns; and those who send gifts, whether material, financial, or energetic.

It is all part of an ecosystem of support; everybody plays a part; and some move from one level of support to another as they gain inward strength and conviction. The more we can give or do, of course, the better – but we all start somewhere.

I remember going to Lakota Sundances at Rosebud and Santee, supporting my husband: how a tent city of hundreds of people gathered to support the Dancers and the ceremony: running supply errands, cooking, building the arbor, pouring for sweatlodges, doing security, fetching sacred herbs from the surrounding plains….and dancing under the arbor, making prayers for the men and women doing giveaway under the blazing sun. Everyone had a way to serve, no matter how small.

We are all related. We share one heart.

Quoting Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Original Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nation of the Sioux:

“Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind. Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger?
Know that you yourself are essential to this World. Believe that! Understand both the blessing and the burden of that.
You yourself are desperately needed to save the soul of this World. Did you think you were put here for something less?”

If you want to support the action against the Dakota Access Pipeline, here are some things you can do:

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