|Story: OutsideOnline.com; Photo: Sara Lafleur-Vetter|
“The earth is a spirit, the water is a spirit, and if you have no spirit, and you have no connection to those things, it will be easy to destroy them and not even care.”
-- Quese IMC
(born Marcus Frejo Little Eagle)
Why is Standing Rock such a phenomena when other, similar actions didn’t catch the public attention?
Last night I talked to a woman in her 60s who drove 1500 miles to Standing Rock, who got arrested (with about 30 other people) for obstruction of a government activity, who spent time in a dog cage (a large chain link structure within the jail). She was one of several “returnees” who spoke at a meeting at the Unitarian-Universalist church in Grass Valley, CA.
|Photo: Daniella Zalcman|
Her story wasn't awful. She wasn’t shot, maced or pepper-sprayed. She was strip searched and held for almost fourteen hours, but she did not feel like she had been mistreated. She did wonder why she was arrested for obstructing a government activity when she was actually obstructing a corporate activity. Interesting question.
Her story and the story of the other returnees made me wonder why. Why they went. Why they were willing to be arrested. Why they spent their time, money and energy to stand up for this particular issue.
It could be the issue … water is life. The $3.7 BILLION pipeline crosses a river that impacts the lives of 17 million people and was declared potentially hazardous by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when it was originally proposed near Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota.
It could be the people … Lakota tribespeople putting their lives on the line for their land and for our future rather than for money or power or fame.
It could be the time … perhaps people are waking up to the fact that we need to wake up, speak up, stand up ... that waiting for "them" to fix "our" problems is magical thinking.
It could be the place … a place that calls to some sleeping part of us that remembers an earlier time, a simpler time, a time when we understood and respected the fundamentals of life ... but also calls to the greed of developers and corporations who see it as a nowhere place, an empty-space-on-the-map place.
It could be the anger and fear … clearly highlighted by the recent election, anger and fear are major forces in the world right now.
It could also be the words: Standing Rock … Words that go beyond words into metaphors that carry the power to energize and engage.
Standing Rock. Standing up for what’s important. Standing firm for what we believe in. Standing tall, willing to take risks for the seven generations of the future. Standing out, resisting the forces of power and money and greed.
Standing Rock. Strong, still standing, visible, solid, earth, the planet we live on.
It makes me ask:
When the world is sitting,
What am I standing up for?
What are WE standing up for?
What are YOU standing up for?
Notes: From Mark Sundeen's article for OutsideOnline.com: (entire article highly recommended.)
"Two of our country's biggest issues, racism and climate change, have collided on a North Dakota reservation. This week, I loaded up my station wagon with water and supplies and drove down for a look at a historic demonstration that could shape the national dialogue going forward."
"The Standing Rock lawsuit may hinge on the definition of sovereignty. The law required the Army Corps of Engineers to consult with the tribe before it permitted the pipeline, but it didn’t require that the tribe approve. So Standing Rock contends that its wishes were overruled.
“When we need help, they say we are sovereign,” said Mossett. “But when it comes to development of our resources—oil, gas, coal, uranium, water—then they step in see how much money the state can get.”
"The United Nations appears to agree. On Wednesday, its Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues released a statement that the failure to consult with the Sioux on DAPL violated the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a resolution President Obama signed in 2010."
The Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program authorized nine dams—five on Indian land, displacing those who lived along the banks. Standing Rock lost 55,000 acres, while adjacent Cheyenne River Reservation lost 150,000 acres. According to historian Michael Lawson, author of Dammed Indians, “The Oahe Dam destroyed more Indian land than any other public works project in America.” Estes said his elders “died of heartache.”
Speaking of historic conflicts between tribal nations: "They (Native Americans at Standing Rock) rattled off these 19th-century events like they happened yesterday, and this gathering at Standing Rock was occasion for a new round of history making. The site was called Seven Councils Camp, indicating the first time all bands of Lakota had gathered in one place in more than a century.
"While I saw passion and anger and solemnity, the main thing I saw was joy. Travelers were reuniting with long-lost relatives. Parents brought small children, and an impromptu homeschool taught them to ride horses and make fry bread."
"The Yakima Nation in Washington chartered a tractor trailer filled with pallets of fresh fruit and bottled water. Small donations were also received: somebody mailed four packets of Lipton noodles. When I asked how long they planned to the stay, most said, 'Till the end.'”