Stories abound about the Besieged Standing Rock Sioux of North Dakota, their struggle against the Dakota Access Pile Line (DAPL) or ‘Black Snake’ and endless western media prevarications. But while on assignment at the Oceti Sakowin Camp I also found another story. Granted, it was unexpected but it was also hard to ignore for it brought me back to the very essence of my core beliefs. In a way this became my personal pilgrimage.
From the moment you approach the Cannonball River one is taken by the size of the encampments on both banks. Then there is the line of traffic waiting to pass the security check point as supporters, supplies and lookie loos pile into camp. You must go through orientation and your credentials verified to acquire a press pass. Only after you met their criteria you are allowed to take videos and photographs in permissible areas with the permissions of the occupants.
It is advised you heed the warning about taking photos of sacred sites, camp fires, lodges etc. Though you may fool people and take videos of something sacred on the sly you are not fooling spirits of the spirit world. Everyone is watching you betraying your vow to honor a sacred tradition. And what timing eh. Nothing like doing something completely stupid & disrespectful during a spiritual event of this magnitude for no other reason than you can. How far beyond stupid is that eh?
If you are planning a trip to Standing Rock bare in mind this is a budding community not a KOA Camp Ground for this is home to many people who’ve moved to camp permanently. It’s a traditional native community intertwined with societies, clans and private aspects of indigenous life foreign to other cultures. Familiarize yourself with proper protocols and clearly defined tribal precepts of what is hallowed for there are no exceptions to this rule. Just show respect, ask questions, no biggie.
Our camp had a majestic view of the spotlights that would shine down onto camp throughout the night. A supporter commented, “Reminds me of the West Bank”, then I noticed the Palestinian flag. It was humbling to note people from around the world who were so driven by compassion they made the pilgrimage to Standing Rock. Through the rigors and excitement of the day a story began to evolve, a story of the human condition.
Though people came from many dogmas & ideological principals they understood the deeper significants this joining of cultures has in the grand scheme of things. Where other ‘signs’ were simply ignored or passed off as coincidence, the DAPL – Black Snake Debacle struck a cord within prophetic philosophies around the world. It was good to hear people speaking comfortably about the realities of prophecy, especially from a multi principled perspective.
What I found way cool was the younger generation I encountered. These folks were awake, aware and wanting to make a difference for humanities sake. They were up to speed in the issues that mattered. It was great to hear well read and knowledgeable young people sharing their observations in life, motivations and how much they cared for their fellow human beings & Ma Earth. And the skills they offered were off the charts professionally speaking, holay!
Various technologies were in review, including innovative housing, holistic medical and mental health facilities under construction within this sprawling encampment along the Cannon Ball River. I happened onto a yurt building class and was spell bound by this unique structure and it’s simplicity in assembly. But alas I resigned myself to my cousins dilapidated tent that survived a savage wind storm in a previous run to the rez. Some rope, Duct Tape and we were good to go.
“Mni Wiconi, Water is Life” the mantra of the Water Protectors would resonate throughout the camp as a reminder of what we are here for. The hustle and bustle of daily life was apparent as mothers would prepare meals and various groups would conduct meetings while kitchens prepared to feed the masses. Sanitation and other infrastructure services continued quietly and unnoticed in what could have been construed as total chaos. This was truly a ‘civil society’, well except for the Bluecoats & their toys peering down on us.
As I meandered throughout the camp I could not help but imagine how life was for my people back in the day. I pondered how life could have been, where humanity was an axiom not just a noun. My thoughts turned to the prophecies and oral traditions of my people. Then I remembered the teachings of my late uncle Martin Burnt Fingernail and the visions we shared. If only he could see this now, or maybe he already does.
Our wonderful view of flood lamps was overshadowed by a perfect amphitheater since I could hear drums from the meeting area and around camp. After walking around all day it was a joy to lay down and listen to sacred songs, prayers and sagged prophetic teachings from noble speakers.
In spite of all the chaos I did find peace of mind at the Oceti Sakowin Camp for I witnessed prophecy in motion.
Like I’ve said many times before, you better have a handle on true spirituality and know who your ancestors are because the show has only just begun…
Mni Wiconi Water is Life…
Your Devil’s Advocate