It was an amazing week. One of the greatest in my life!
Mind you, I have not a drop of Native blood in me, but consider myself an ally. I feel like I have come back from a pilgrimage. Anyone who knows me can say I am not a 'religious' person, and have not been one since I was 17 or so, and I have only considered myself a 'spiritual' person marginally at best. But the protector camps are so grounded in prayer it is like nothing I have experienced before.
Although Sundance ceremonies I have attended are closest to it. I didn't realize how much I was being affected by this until we left and headed home and I started missing it immediately.
The police have been rioting out there, so there is definitely a level of anxiety mixed with profound levels of determination. They've used water cannons in the freezing weather, shooting concussing grenades and tear gas directly at (not 'near') unarmed, peaceful people. I held one of the 'rubber bullets' they are shooting at unarmed protectors.
In the face of this, the strength of the presence and the determination of the Native leadership is difficult to describe.
Combat veterans were drifting in as I was heading home. I overheard conversation of one of them who had walked to the 'front line' to verbally engage with the police (or whatever they are) on the other side and asking them why they are on the wrong side of this. 1,500 vets supposedly arriving on December 4th, one day before Army Corps of Engineers say the main camp is to be vacated.
There are already several thousands of determined 'protectors' there. It is cold and getting colder there in North Dakota. Hopefully the vets will arrive. Hopefully they will 'fall in line' behind the Native leadership in place there who are totally grounded in prayer, non-violence. At one of the 'non-violent direct action' training sessions I went to, the woman leading it read from Martin Luther King' first book 'Stride Toward Freedom': SIX PRINCIPLES OF NONVIOLENCE.
I am being asked for good places to donate money. There are several I am aware of, am not in a position to say which is best, and encourage you to pick one/all to send money. I'm sure I am missing some, but in no particular order:
- Oceti Sakowin Camp www.ocetisakowincamp.org
- Honor The Earth: https://honorearth.nationbuilder.com/makagioti
- Sacred Stone Camp sacredstonecamp.org
- Water Protector Legal Collective waterprotectorlegal.org
- Standing Rock Tribe: http://standingrock.org/
- Indigeneous Rising Media www.facebook.com/Indigenousrisingmedia/
I think two of the more thorough and concise statements on what's going on can be found at
- One totally from a Native perspective "Standing Rock Press Conference - 11/26/2016" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgSkdCxUabk; you might find it long (4o mins), and audio is not great, but I find it quite powerful
- For a legal perspective, and from a white man's perspective I suggest Robert F. Kennedy Jr at Standing Rock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdvSQaWYk8M
Local to Philly
- The local support group of which I am a member: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=philly+with+standing+rock+-+sioux...
- Fund raiser in Mount Airy this Saturday: https://www.facebook.com/events/1219677508114638/
In all of this please remember our brother Leonard Peltier. He and others in the American Indian Movement, and other Native Americans from Central South and North America have paid a terrible price and enabled us to reach this place where we are no longer carrying guns, but are only carrying hope, determination and prayers. Do remember Leonard and do ask Obama to grant him clemency before he leaves office. He has been a prisoner of war for 40 years and will die in prison otherwise. http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/
You are welcome to drop my house this Thursday night at 7:00 if you'd like to talk with me in person about all of this.
In the spirit of Crazy Horse - Charlie Cooper — at Standing Rock Indian Resevation.