It’s one thing to learn about a situation from afar. It’s easier to compartmentalize that way — to think that’s awful but it’s happening to them, not me. It’s an entirely different experience to actually feel the energy around a struggle. I experienced this last weekend at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This feels like an opening for me — to step into an uncomfortable story instead of just reading about it. I’ve lived in a mostly comfortable bubble my entire life. Sure, I’ve had my struggles, we all do, but I’ve never had to fight for my right to clean water, or had my race or culture be the basis for how I’m treated. Visiting Standing Rock was an eye-opening experience for me. I feel ashamed of this. Why have I not stepped out before? Was I too afraid? Was the opportunity not presented? I have always felt passionate about injustice — towards the environment, people and animals but I always felt a bit lost as to where to put this energy. I often felt alone with my outrage and removed from these “other” realities. I am grateful to the brave Water Protectors at Standing Rock for creating this movement. I know it’s not for me. Still, I feel grateful that they have created an opportunity for folks to bear witness to their story and struggle. I wavered between feelings of profound sadness and hope. Sadness over how much violent resistance they are met with while peacefully standing up for something as basic as their right to clean water and being treated like trespassers on their own land. Hope that their culture would resurface with more strength and beauty than ever — that the sustained prayer and ceremony would carry them through this difficult time. That more and more people would awaken to this reality and bear witness and therefore join in the fight. Because in the end, although it’s their story, they should not have to fight this alone. We have a responsibility to our fellow humans and to Mother Earth. When we hurt other people, we hurt ourselves. When we hurt Mother Earth, we hurt ourselves. It’s time to be fierce with our compassion. To be brave. To stand up strong against clear injustice. We’re entering a time where more and more opportunities will show up. Many ugly truths are revealing themselves and with that comes more clarity on where to act. For another perspective on our journey, read my dear friend Austin Wallis’s account here. She was the motivation behind this trip and I’m so thankful for her.
If your life allows you to travel to North Dakota, I highly recommend making the trip. You won’t regret it. If you can’t make the trip, there are many ways you can get involved;
- Prayer. Join them in prayer. Every day. Pray for their message: Mni Wiconi—Water is Life, to reach the hearts and minds of people wide and far. Pray for their protection against violence. Pray for their strength to withstand these cold winter months. Pray for the wild buffalo who came to join the Water Protectors and are now confined in a razor wire fence by the DAPL employees. Pray for Mother Earth. Pray for the militarized police, that their hearts may open to the reality of the role they are playing.
- If you can’t make the trip, find someone who can and organize a local event to gather money and supplies. This is a great way to spread awareness and get people actively involved. We put the word out to our community about our trip and the donations kept flooding in. We couldn’t fit everything in our truck. That said, be very discerning about supplies, they had an overflow of unneeded supplies that just become a burden to them. Here is a list of needed supplies.
- Put the pressure on! Contact the people who sent militarized police here. Pull your money out of any banks funding the pipeline, see the list here. And/or call these same banks, see the contact info here. Call North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple at 701-328-2200. Sign this petition and any others you come across. Call the executives of the companies that are building the pipeline: A. Lee Hanse, Executive Vice President Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. Telephone: (210) 403-6455, Lee.Hanse@energytransfer.com. B. Glenn Emery Vice President Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. Telephone: (210) 403-6762, Glenn.Emery@energytransfer.com.
C. Michael (Cliff) Waters, Lead Analyst, Energy Transfer Partners, Telephone: (713) 989-2404,
- Donate. They need all the help they can get to sustain their efforts, especially through the winter months. They need money for supplies and for their legal defense fund.
- My dear friend Jasmine Lilly has organized an effort for small businesses to support Standing Rock through donating a portion of their holiday sales along with raising awareness through different marketing avenues. Visit thankstandingrock.com, and shop with intention this holiday season.