When I arrived, the cold wind was reminding me, "take warm clothes!" I had already packed my winter coat, so I bundled up and made my way down the banks to the water's edge.
I remember what my First Nation's friends tell me: pray to be grateful, pray to be humbled before Creator, pray to be a servant of Mother Earth.
After weeping all day while watching the live stream, I stood on the shore of one of the last great bodies of fresh water in the world with two small prayer bundles I got during the mining fight in the Penokees. I could not help but be humbled. I thanked all of creation, and I thanked over and over the brave people who stood up yesterday against the US tyranny of people who will destroy us all. I prayed for all the peoples of the world standing up against US tyrants. I asked to be humbled before my friends and neighbors and for the strength to do the right thing.
Over the course of the mining fight, I met many of my Native American neighbors: Bad River and Red Cliff, LCO, Lac du Flambeau, Ho Chunk, St. Croix—so many descendants of the families who have been murdered, abused, abducted, sold into slavery, kicked off their land (some of which is my home now)—the awful things that have happened to my neighbors does not just go back generations, but it is alive and well today.
Since I was young, I was fascinated with the story of our First Nations. I read every book I could get my hands on. Over and over I re-read those books—Black Elk Speaks, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Lame Deer—and they always ended the same: in tragedy for these amazing people and their masterful culture. Every time, I sobbed, as if, maybe this time the story would end differently. It never did.
Today, watching them take down the Standing Rock Sioux with guns, LRAD, concussion bombs, rubber bullets to the face, tear gas, I felt like I was living that ending all over again. How could it be that these people are once again being driven into despair, their grandparents' graves and sacred sites being torn up by Corporations while the jack booted law enforcement protect the tyrants? How can this be happening? Silly me. They know it can, is and does still happen in 2016. Standing Rock is just the veil being drawn back for all the rest of us people of privilege to see and experience like never before.
As much as I have educated myself on the First Nations history, yesterday I felt as if I knew something I never knew before.
The only way for me to respond is to vow never again to allow this to happen. While I cannot seem to stop our reign of terror in Syria, Iran, Iraq, I can stand up here at home. It is my bound duty to help undo the injustices that have come before. As a white person living on the land of the First Nations, it is the least any of us can do.
Go to Standing Rock. Get there. Now. If you can't, please, educate your friends and family on what is happening.
Donate to their legal defense fund.
Send them the supplies they ask for.
Call the White House, ND gov, media, senators, congresspeople, call over and over and over and do not stop until the pipeline is stopped.
Thank-you, Barbara With! Ho!