(Part 1 can be found here)
We’re staying with Murphy’s parents in Iowa…
“Your Dad’s going to wallmart, anything you need?”
“No…well actually, some dust masks, in case they drop tear gas on us…yeah, just those little paper ones…thanks!”
It’s all a little surreal. We’re expecting to be at Standing Rock tomorrow, and it’s hard to know how to feel at this point. To a large extent, I’m expecting to be camping in the cold and praying with an amazing community of wonderful people. That all sounds great! But what about this other stuff…
We keep hearing the stories from folks on the front lines…a young person shot in the back with rubber bullets who starts coughing up blood…people sprayed with fire extinguishers…and on the up side a rumor that some cops have turned in their badges over how they have been asked to treat peaceful prayerful protesters.
Here are a few thoughts I’m feeling like sharing as I attempt to wrap my head around this crazy situation I’m about to walk into…
- People have been camped out at Standing Rock, near Cannonball ND, since April in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
- What started as a small group grew to as many as 7,000 people at the peak, right now it might be more like 1,000-2,000, though I’m not really sure.
- Read this: https://transformativespaces.org/2016/10/27/how-to-talk-about-nodapl-a-native-perspective/ Everyone is reading it, so if you want to be up to speed give it a look.
- This whole effort to stop or reroute the pipeline is being led by Native Americans, non-Native people have been asked to show up and support, and we are happy to do just that :)
- There are several camps, all in roughly the same area, some on Native owned land, some on public or privately owned land. The one camp in the actual path of the pipeline was brutally cleared by police, not sure if it still exists. The roads North of the area are often being blocked by police.
- The pipeline is being built on land that was illegally stolen from Native Americans around 1850, this is well know and well documented. While much of it is privately owned now, privately held might be a better word…general common sense says that stolen things remain stolen even if you sell them, and ownership is still maintained by the person it was stolen from.
- The corporations building this pipeline want it to cross the river, and by cross we actually mean “cross under” after some kind of drilling process. If the pipeline was built, it would eventually leak because all pipelines leak, and the local indigenous folks along with millions of people down stream would not be able to drink the water…water is pretty important…they understandably wont give up their own water…plus the river is sacred…plus the graves of their ancestors are sacred…some of these graves have already been trashed by the construction company who knew the graves where there…and with all these obvious issues the corporate response has been to step on the gas and get this project done even faster.
- Police are siding with the corporations. They probably deny this but their actions make it pretty obvious. They have attacked peaceful praying people, old people and young people, and they have attacked them with tear gas, pepper spray, billy clubs, rubber bullets (which have been known to kill people), sound cannons, fire extinguishers, concussion grenades, tasers, mace…they have also generally thrown people around, braking and bruising peoples bodies, and using tight zip ties as handcuffs which have been cutting off circulation and doing serious harm.
- Yes it’s illegal to trespass, which many people are doing, but the reaction is pretty damn extreme! Plus they are trespassing on land that was stolen from them…so yeah…
Also, at this point, people in Palestine think things are so unjust that they are coming over to support Standing Rock…
And…I honestly want to be writing about my own experiences…and I’m mostly skirting around it here…my reality on this one feels so far from the public awareness that it’s hard to imagine an accessible way of sharing my experiences, but I’m thinking about it and I’ll get there eventually.
I’m not sure how to think about Standing Rock right now, let alone write about it…let alone communicate all this to other people who maybe don’t know what’s going on…
All this said…please! LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT STANDING ROCK!!! I’d love to try and answer peoples questions and help everyone understand what’s going on. The more you understand, the easier it will be for me to share my experiences with you :)
Oh…and we’re totally living and running off of the prayers and support of our friends, our communities, the wider world of people who think clean water and indigenous rights are good things…so please keep finding ways to show your support…even just little prayers or a little note can make a huge difference…we’re all in this world together and everything matters in moments like these.