Friday, February 3, 2017

What a difference a day makes at Standing Rock!

Last Child Campground

What a difference a day makes at Standing Rock! Everything has changed so many times in the last week it’s been impossible to get one post out before things get turned around. A few of days ago on Jan. 31 we were celebrating an agreement with the governor to stand down and then Feb 01 we were saddened to learn that not only will we have to leave our beloved Rosebud Camp but we are also may not be allowed to build the new camp at Black Hoop Memorial Camp due to tribal claim to partial ownership. They now say that the tipi action on the hill by the “Standing Rock campers”, led by Chase Ironeyes broke the truce or that was what most people on the outside were told. Now the tribe wants no more camps. It’s hard to say what will happen next but it seems like the fire is growing dim. I do not condone the use of such heavy military presence here. With that said I am not sure what reaction the new camp expected. The spirit with which they did it was good. The timing was terrible. We needed to be getting the Oceti Camp area cleaned up.

To say that all campers at Standing Rock campers agreed with and participated in the action is not true. There is more than one camp here on the Cannonball River. There was Oceti Sakowin, Sacred Stones, and Rosebud. Rosebud has, for the most part remained a prayer camp that is and has always been a peaceful place to live.
The announcement by the governor that we could take our time and clean up properly was a welcome thing but when the call came out to protect the people on the hill at the teepees and on the road many responded just because that’s what Water Protectors do.

Everything in the agreement changed when the group of individuals who were not connected to Rosebud and have been described as a "rogue group" decided to take a parcel of land they believed to be treaty land and build a new camp there called The Last Child Camp.
I agree with them that it should be their land but the new President is going to unleash a world of hurt on any future actions. It is well known that he invested in the project before election and his companies still hold that interest. The action could have waited until the cleanup was complete at least. The action at Last Child brought in swarms of DAPL Gang cops and the National Guard this time. I am not sure what the objective was to take that hill but the end consequence is that we were all placed in jeopardy now of being evicted by the tribe. It wasn’t very well thought out or led and the timing was terrible for the all of the camps as a whole.

This was almost an exact repeat of the eminent domain camp which was the first violent action in Oct. at Backwater Bridge. It wasn’t successful then and it didn’t work this time either.

It also did not help that the contractor working on the cleanup was very upset to find out they had allegedly used his equipment without permission to plow the road to the top and clear the camp site.

Instead of concentrating on methodically cleaning and moving the camp now we are scrambling to get our personal belongings together and the excess supplies taken out to people in need through the reservation. We don’t have very long, maybe a couple of weeks if we’re lucky to clear out for good. The idea of a new camp may be gone too. The tribe has said no more camps on the reservation and BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) is being used to enforce it.

I admire the courage of those who took the hill and put up a camp. I applaud the spirit of the warriors who stood on the line in the road that day. Somehow though I can’t help asking myself just what did it accomplish? What was the objective? In retrospect I think it has started something we can’t control any longer.
BIA was friendly to us here at Rosebud and even helped arrange cleanup dumpsters for the camp through the tribe. Now they may have to turn us out as well before long. They raided Sacred Stones Camp 02/02/17 under the guise of EPA violations in camp. In all my years as an environmental advocate and activist I have never seen EPA issue a health violation for a compost pile with an army of BIA police! Hell, in Alabama they never even issue notices. They are almost non-existent. Under this administration the public can’t even access the violation reports as we have since their inception. The President put them under a gag order!

The EPA was just an excuse. Feb. 01,2017 there was a closed meeting of Cannonball residents and the governor. The next day there was a raid on Sacred Stone. It was the founding camp and the most adamant about stopping the pipeline at any cost and measure. I am not sure of the outcome of that raid because I couldn’t get over there. There were over 20 BIA cars on the road and of course the chopper spotting for them. I’m sure it wasn’t good. I was later told that the gate to Sacred Stone was barred and BIA wasn’t allowed into camp. BIA informed them that when they came back it would be by force. No good can come from this. My biggest fear at this time is that someone is going to get killed if it continues at this pace.

I’m not sure how to close out this chapter of my life but I can’t help feeling like there's a lot for me to do visiting various protest / prayer camps being set up across America. Camps set up to stop the progress of the many new and planned pipelines to crisscross the country need to have their story told as well. The for-profit media isn’t interested in anything less sensational than the current debacle in Washington DC. Freelancers like me are going to have to be there to tell the truth about the injustices that come along with these pipeline projects.
What we learned here at Standing Rock and Rosebud must be carried out to the other camps around the nation. We know what worked and what did not. We know what our limitations are and just how powerful our prayers can be when everyone is praying together for the same just cause. Standing Rock and moreover Rosebud (Sicangu) will live in me forever. I have to pass this passion and knowledge on before I go. I have a vast collection of photos, videos and memories I want to share. I want to help correct the mistakes we made here and grow the strength of what worked well.

Living and working at Standing Rock and moreover, Rosebud has been one of the most inspirational times of my life. Mitakue Oaysin

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