At two-twenty one morning, after a week of horrific news from Standing Rock, Washington, Aleppo, ecosystems of the world, I was numbly clicking through Facebook posts so I didn’t have to go to bed, lie there staring at the ceiling, and possibly get waylaid by the despair that had been building in me since….I’m not sure when, probably since the brutal attacks started at Standing Rock.
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.
On Saturday, October 15, everyone in the camp met for Pipe ceremony preceding a direct action at the pipeline construction site. This account is based on my memory; no notes were taken. I’ve made every effort to remain faithful to the messages conveyed, but these are paraphrases, not direct quotes.
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.
The second turning point of the Findhorn visit opened a part of me that I had thought unreachable…a part I’d feared for years as a monster intent on destroying my life.
There was the rush of arrival and meeting other Experience Week participants …the check-ins, the introductions, getting-acquainted exercises, and talks…and under it all, the looming question: where would we each perform our Love In Action (service periods)?
“…And over there is the Power Point,” said our co-focalizer Pat, waving her hand toward the forest beyond the Cluny parking lot. Dropping that provocative comment with no further explanation, she went on to point out the laundry, the Boutique, the downstairs 24-hour shower, and other necessities. But that brief mention left me determined: when we had some free time to explore, the Power Point would be destination #1.
It only took a passing mention at dinner to discover that five women in our group had felt equally compelled to see the Power Point. Despite the cold drizzle, we bundled up and sallied out across the parking lot, past the heart-shaped wisteria espalier and under the freestanding arch, with its path leading up the hill.
For thousands of years, civilizations have seen: when the forests are clearcut, the climate changes. The temperature rises, rainfall decreases, catastrophic weather events increase, deserts spread across the land.
The indigenous peoples of the Amazon know this – and they are fighting to save their sacred lands, not only for the sake of their cultures but also for the sake of life on Earth. The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples protects them in theory from forcible relocation, but this protection is being overridden with coerced, sham agreements, military evictions, and the kidnapping, torture, and assassination of their activists. And the destruction of the rainforest continues.