Family members of all ages and ethnicities belong to the Standing Rock Movement, sharing meals, sharing fires, and sharing prayers. As of mid-November, thousands of water protectors gather as a singular “Greater Family” on the campgrounds surrounding the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Standing in Solidarity [Film Preview]
-A Short Film Exploring What it Means to Stand with Standing Rock
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A little girl in a pink jacket sits on her mother’s shoulders. Together, they march with 1000 relatives to create a massive Medicine Wheel visible from the heights. This is the kind of peaceful and prayerful warrior that is the focus of our story and film: “Standing in Solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux.”
The Story Behind The Standing Rock Movement
-Introduction to the people of Standing Rock
In the Lakota language, “Mni Wiconi” means “Water Is Life.” This is the rallying cry of the Standing Rock Movement, calling people across the world to stand together to protect the waters. Oceti Sakowin is one of the main encampments, along with the nearby Rosebud and Sacred Stone camps, bordering the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) installation site with touch-points along the Missouri River. The Missouri is the longest river in North America, running massive and majestic through the lands long-held by the First Nations.
The community at Oceti Sakowin camp is 100% off-grid, featuring solar and wind power generation. Tipis, yurts, and communal tents stand here, alongside semi-permanent structures including a school house, with new structures rising on a daily basis. Local services include legal teams, medical teams, art teams, and kitchens, all freely available to support the water protectors. Abiding by the local elders’ request, drugs, alcohol, and firearms are not permitted, and violence is not tolerated. Instead, everything is viewed as a form of prayer, all life is viewed as sacred, and in this way, peace reins supreme.
“Water Protection” is the preferred way of describing the form of activism practiced here. This movement is about the protection of water itself, and the sanctification of water as sacred, essential, life-giving element. The “Water Protectors” are diverse in their demographic backgrounds, and yet they are harmonious as a community of supporters, observers, and participants. Together, the people who stand with Standing Rock represent a great healing of the First Nations and their sacred Medicine Wheel. This is leading to a unification of all tribes—red, yellow, black, and white—as “One Nation under God.”
Though the atmosphere at Standing Rock is peaceful and prayerful, this is no occasion for rest and relaxation. A different type of “R&R” is exercised here, with an emphasis on reverence and respect. One might also add: remembrance, reuniting, and reclamation. A certain type of warrior is rising here, calm and courageous. This warrior fights for the well-being of all people. In this mindset, “Standing with Standing Rock” means standing up for all nations, protecting all waters and all lands, and pledging allegiance to all flags.
Today, hundreds of flags stand on the grounds of Oceti Sakowin camp, representing a first-of-its-kind historic gathering of Indigenous Nations. Here and now in this mystical moment, multiple ancient prophecies are happening all at once. First is the “Black Snake Prophecy,” speaking of a black snake, a.k.a. oil pipeline—a creature rising from the deep, bringing with it sorrow and destruction. A second storyline is the “Seventh Generation Prophecy,” foretelling a time when young people will lead an uprising to defend the lands and allow humans to continue living on the planet Earth. Third, the “Eagle Condor Prophecy” describes the unification of Native Americans in the North and South Americas, joining forces for a common good.
On the road to Standing Rock, pheasants fly in the open fields, a falcon races by, and a bald eagle perches on a fence post, watching us. We see Canada geese by the riverside, with the letters “NODAPL,” drawn in stones by the water’s edge. Herds of buffalo stand on the other side of barbed wire fences. Horses come to greet our cameras at the fence line. The supermoon of November, 2016, rises early in the evening. Local residents of the Oceti Sakowin encampment live peacefully and cooperatively. They share stories and songs by the firelight. They rise before dawn. And some travel on horseback between camps.
Voices of Support for the Standing Rock Sioux
-Speeches delivered in the Standing Rock actions of November 14, 2016
During one day’s powerful Standing Rock actions, water protectors from the four directions join forces at the North Dakota State Capitol, in Bismarck. Here, peaceful Lakota warriors walk together in prayer and ceremony, chanting, “Mni Wiconi. Water is life…” and “Can’t drink oil. Keep it in the soil…” These water protectors ask the residents of Bismarck to stand with them. Creating a human shield in the face of the armed law enforcement officers, the water protectors safeguard the photo journalists and Native American speakers, both elders and youths, who stand in the open circle inside the crowd.
“As you see, our white brothers and sisters are defending us. Surrounding us… They are standing as true warriors and true defenders of liberty—of freedom and democracy,” says a Native American man, highlighting the historical significance of the Standing Rock Movement. “This story has been misinformed in the history books that we read when we go to school. For the first time in American history, the indigenous people have the space to tell the world their own story. And this has only been made possible because of our white brothers and sisters that have come to the realization that they play a very important role in the freedom and liberation of their country.”
“We have a Constitutional right to freedom of assembly,” says a young woman, who reminds the crowd of the basic human rights promised by the U.S. Constitution. “We have a right to freedom of the speech and we have the right to Freedom of press. And when you deny us that… well you know what, that’s racist. We are not a riot. We are unarmed and we are peaceful and in prayer. And you are violating our rights and you are also dehumanizing us and brutalizing us… We don’t want you to hurt us anymore. That’s all we are asking.”
One young man expresses his belief that the way to truly respect other people begins with self-respect. “I honor Creation by acknowledging I am who I am. No one can say that I’m a weak man or a flawed man. I’m just a man that Creator created. And I’m so thankful I walk the way I do and I talk the way I do. No one can tell me or dictate to me how I feel as a human being. I love myself. I love myself. I respect myself. And this is the way I’ve learned how to truly, truly respect others.”
Another young man asks all water protectors to send love to the police officers. “Let’s pick a police officer. Send love their way. ‘Cause they’re the ones that need it the most. Engrave their face in your mind and just send them love. And just now they’re a part of us. They’re a reflection of us. They’re our shadow side of us. But we still love them nonetheless.”
A U.S. military veteran calls all warriors to stand together to dispel and displace racism, hate, and greed. “So now it is time for America to speak again. And stand up in solidarity… As Americans, we have to change the destiny and the legacy we’re gonna leave our children. And it has to be something pure and good… We must leave our children a true legacy of love, forgiveness, and understanding… I’m honored to be in this historic moment in time where people in the world, in the United States, and all people in all tribes have come together in a common cause… We still have that Constitution, and if we abide by it in a peaceful manner, we can endure and change America. Because it says on that great document that the founding fathers wrote so long ago: ‘We the People.’ ‘We the People.’ Not ‘We the Government.’ We the people control America.”
-Interviews with residents and visitors of Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock
“What brings me to Standing Rock is being with family, praying with family, and for water. Protecting the water,” says a Bolivian woman with South American indigenous ancestry, speaking by the fireside. “When I come here, to Standing Rock, and I’m here on the reservation, and when I meet different indigenous families, people who are here from Turtle Island, I feel like they’re family because I feel like all the indigenous tribes of North and South are very connected.”
A young woman pulling a horse through the campground says, “I find water very loyal because it’s actually a part of us. Because 68 percent of our body is made of water. And so it makes it– makes it a lot more easier to understand why people are protecting our water.” She and her younger sister live primarily on the Standing Rock Reservation, and they currently attend school right here at Oceti Sakowin Camp.
“This is a camp filled with old people little kids, pregnant women, disabled people and Lakota warriors trying to find a peaceful end to this so that everybody’s okay, so that everybody’s safe, so that everybody has clean water and so that nobody here gets hurt in any way,” says a resident from the nearby Cheyenne River reservation. “The Lakota warrior always seeks a peaceful resolution to all conflicts until no other recourse of action is available. That is, everything must be expended before we choose that option. And we have many, many options ahead of us. This is why this camp is a peaceful camp because this is a Lakota warrior tradition. We are seeking a peaceful resolution.”
“Being here is a way of standing up and saying, ‘Enough is enough,’” says a woman visiting from New Jersey. “There are other ways of living. Living simpler. Living closer to the earth. And of being more in harmony with the cycles of life and nature… And I think also saying ‘Enough is enough’ of treating minorities so horribly… So that’s that’s definitely another reason of standing in solidarity for what I believe in.”
“I really hope this pipeline doesn’t go through because it’s gonna be a tragedy if it does burst,” says a woman on horseback, anticipating the devastation of an oil pipeline spill. “This is the only water source here, the Missouri River. This is where I drink from. This is where my horses drink from. And when that pipeline bursts, it’s gonna ruin our water. And really hurts me to know that it was supposed to go through North of Bismarck. But they said it was going to be a danger to their water supply. So they moved it, you know, South of Bismarck. And so if you think it’s gonna be a danger for Bismarck’s water, well, isn’t there a danger for ours?”
After sundown, a caucasian visitor from Austin, Texas, creates a symbolic hoop. Her hoop is decorated in the traditional Medicine Wheel colors of red, yellow, black, and white, along with the blue color to represent the water that connects all people. “I actually am grateful for this black snake—these oil pipelines—because if it weren’t for this Dakota Access Pipeline then there wouldn’t be this gathering here and there wouldn’t hundreds of nations gathered together as one human family. And there also wouldn’t be a huge awareness that’s coming up around big oil which is leading us to the understanding that we need to create more sustainable ways of living.” She adds, “So I’m here to help stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from going in the ground so we can show the world that when people come together as one in peaceful prayer to protect something that is so near and dear to life itself—to protect something that is life itself—that great change can come from grassroots.”
Standing Rock Questions and Answers
Q: What is the Standing Rock Movement All About?
The main emphasis is water protection, and the secondary focus is amplifying the long-hidden voice of the First Nations. In a way, this entire movement began with the International Indigenous Youth Council, a.k.a. the “Seventh Generation,” who recognized the importance of grassroots media, and invited the independent press to help share the story of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and their fight to protect the waters of the Missouri River. The Standing Rock movement represents the first time in history when the story of the indigenous people can be told first-hand, by the indigenous people. The Sioux Nation is primarily voiced and heard here, along with the voices of hundreds of additional indigenous tribes, from both North and South America.
Additionally, this is a movement about civil rights. These injustices can be summed up as follows: (1) long-term disregard for indigenous land rights; and (2) a “bureaucratic disregard for consultation with indigenous people.” For example, a sacred burial site known as Turtle Island is clearly visible across the river from Oceti Sakowin camp. This area has become a flashpoint, with 24-hour police patrol and surveillance, where water protectors face attack and arrest, along with enormous floodlights that shine at all hours of the night. Police cars and armed forces barricade roadways surrounding the surrounding the encampments, preventing water protectors from accessing the lands where their ancestors lay. Well-intentioned photo and video journalists are targeted, attacked with concussion grenades and other forms of “humane” weapons of war, and jailed by the people hired to guard the investments of Energy Transfer Partners, owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Q: Why is the Grassroots Media So Important to the Standing Rock Movement?
Camera operators and journalists are among the most valued water protectors, because there are real dangers in the greed, racism, and hate we stand against. Grassroots photo journalists and video journalists are jailed, pepper sprayed, shot, maimed, and struck with felony charges. For this reason, all members of the grassroots media must obtain legal advice and specific instructions from press team on-site at Oceti Sakowin before filming or photographing the actions at Standing Rock. Below is an example of a grassroots video, revealing the truth about police officers in riot gear firing concussion grenades and rubber bullets, striking at least three people in the face and head, all of whom are unarmed.
For Example: “Standing Rock Water Cannons Silenced By A Prayer Song”
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This video highlights the controversial night of November 20, 2016, in 25°F weather, when police shoot water cannons at Standing Rock supporters assembled near a bridge beside Oceti Sakowin camp. The subfreezing temperature is clearly seen in the icicles forming on the razor wire. A total of 26 people are hospitalized this night, and more than 300 are injured, with numerous cases of hypothermia reported. One woman faces an arm amputation after being struck by a concussion grenade. And in the middle of this conflict, by divine intervention, a Lakota warrior sings her prayer. For a few minutes, the world stops spinning out of control. The dizziness ends. Everyone listens. Relatives, let’s focus on the miracles like this. Let’s focus on the music. Let’s focus on the peaceful and prayerful warrior that is dominating the Standing Rock Movement. Let’s continue to pray for both the water protectors and the police officers, all of whom desire and deserve to live in harmony, love, truth, and justice. Aho mitakuye oyasin.
Thanks to the grassroots media, the story of Standing Rock is beginning to reach the masses. For the most part, the mass media is: (1) ignoring the stories; (2) preventing the stories from being shared; and (3) twisting the truth. The American people are embarrassed by the corporate greed we see in this story, as well as the excessive military force, and the racist undercurrents. The truth is being hidden, because it is shameful. One exception to the mass media blackout is this outstanding report by PBS News Hour, featuring an interview with Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, who appears to be blatantly de-valuing the sacred lands, sacred waters, and sacred people of the Sioux Nation. Another one to look at is the “Dakota Access Pipeline Standing Rock Standoff: Behind The Front Lines” report by Newsweek.
Any visitor at Oceti Sakowin camp can clearly see the harmony and humanness among the water protectors, and yet they are being treated like animals and depicted as “violent Indian activists with violent radical agitators from the outside scaring poor local white people and standing in the way of energy independence,” as described by one of the local Lakota residents. “Sounds similar to another narrative from the 1800s, which is that ‘violent savage Indians living on the Great Plains were raping white women and killing white men and children and standing in the way of civilization and progress and must be cleared from the land.’ It’s the exact same narrative. So how do we stop that narrative? By doing this. Getting our voice out.” The Truth is rising through the grassroots media.
Q: How are the People of Standing Rock Protecting the Water?
There are two main forms of activism here: (1) ceremonial resistance; and (2) actions on the front lines where oil pipeline construction sites are. First, being in ceremony means celebrating life with family, and praying together. This is a form of self-care, allowing water protectors to be healthy in body, heart, mind, soul, and spirit. Beyond self-care, ceremony is healthy for the collective as well. The fact that there are 300 indigenous cultures joining at Standing Rock to pray together is healing on a massive level.
Second, the water protectors defend the land and waters directly through actions that exercise freedom of assembly, freedom of press, and freedom of speech. They have an entire art tent devoted to printmaking for picket signs and T-shirts, designed to spread their message to the masses: “Water is Sacred.” In direct actions, water protectors often congregate where the oil pipeline construction sites are, praying and singing there, or marching with banners and signs. They defend sacred lands through prayerful actions, walking as warriors of calm courage.
Q: How Can Outsiders Help Support the Standing Rock Movement?
Prayers and presence are the two greatest ways to help. First, prayer is welcomed anytime, all the time, by anyone, and all of us. The Unify movement led a global event called Pray With Standing Rock—a synchronized prayer of 30,000+ people on November 26. Additional synchronized prayers are scheduled for December 4 and December 10.
Besides praying, the most vital necessity is people power. Being present in person to stand with Standing Rock is a gift full of many gifts, for both the locals and the visitors. There is strength in numbers. Sustaining the population of the Oceti Sakowin camp is necessary in order to place continual pressure on the Dakota Access Pipeline. In the words of one resident, “We need as many people to come here as humanly possible. To keep our numbers up and keep them in check. To let them know that this resistance isn’t gonna end.”
Donations help too! The North Dakota winter is on its way, with temperatures expected to reach -40°F and icy winds sweeping across the plains. During this season, the donations most desirable to water protectors include deliveries of firewood, tipis, and yurts. My personal preference is to support the Rosebud Camp through the Standing Rock Asheville Council, a group regularly coordinating donation deliveries and organizing winterizing building efforts on the ground. Donations can be given directly via PayPal at email@example.com. Alternatively, donations may be sent to the International Indigenous Youth Council via GoFundMe, or directly to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe via PayPal.
For additional suggestions for supporting the Standing Rock Movement, please see the following resources:
- “9 Effective Ways to Help Standing Rock” by Edward Saunsoci of UPLIFT – Click Here
- “Here’s You Can Help Standing Rock” by Rebecca Bengal of Vogue – Click Here
- “How to Give and to Give Thanks to Standing Rock” by Chelsey Luger of Indian Country – Click Here
- “How You Can Help The Standing Rock Sioux Fight The Dakota Access Pipeline” by Jenna Amatulli of The Huffington Post – Click Here
“Water Is Life” – A Prayer Inspired By The Standing Rock Movement
-Received by Shellie White Light on November 16, 2016
“Calling in all of the water protectors in the unseen realms. Thank you to all of the gatekeepers, guides, guardians of the East. Thank you. We honor you. We feel you. We respect you. We love you. Thank you for honoring, protecting, and helping to direct the course of action on this land. Iyay. The guides, guardians, gatekeepers of the South. The angelic realm. The elohims. Thank you so much for guarding and protecting this land. We call on all the water protectors of the South, in the unseen realm, to come forth and protect the Missouri River. And protect all the people protecting it now. Thank you. We call on all the archangels of the South realm. All of the guardians, guides and gatekeepers of the South realm. We love you. We thank you for being present with us now. Iyay.”
“To the West, to all of the guides, guardians and gatekeepers of the West, in the star nation that’s moving over our heads right now. Star Nation, we love you, we need you. To the West, to the bear, to the strong, sovereign, independent, stable black bear, we call on your medicine now. We call on all of the guides, guardians, and gatekeepers of the West, in the unseen realm, to guide and protect our family here at Standing Rock, and through all of the movements rising up around putting the pipelines away and reaching out for natural, sustainable resources, we ask that you guide us and protect us in this movement now. To all the guardians, gatekeepers, guides, and angels, angelic elohims of the West, be with us now. Illuminate our minds. Thank you.”
“To the beings of the North, the unseen beings of Light. The protectors of water of the North. Thank you so much for your wisdom. We honor you. We see you. We call upon you now. We know that you are strong on this land. White Buffalo Calf Woman, please hear our cry. You brought these people the way to pray. Please help them all remember now how to do it right and do it with heart. Please help the people who never even knew how to pray in these ways, help them remember now. Please help the Lakota way so it can infiltrate the hearts of the white man who is guarding this pipeline, and please help them turn their hearts toward the river instead. Help them turn their hearts toward the people instead. Soften them. Make them like the banks of this river. Malleable. Soft. Absorbent of your love, compassion, and wisdom, White Buffalo Calf Woman. Please bring your peace pipe now again. Please let the white buffalo be seen. Keep them safe. Let your cup be fulfilled in a good way, with a good heart, protecting all involved. Thank you to the guides, guardians and gatekeepers of the North, White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman. Your time is now. We love you, we honor you, we see you, ancestors. Iyay.”
“To all of the ancestors of Standing Rock, we need you to rise up now. Wake up. Come on up. We really need you to come through this cold ground and be present in this movement that’s happening for you. Thank you for what you’ve done. Thank you for your lives. Thank you for walking this Mother Earth before we did, and for showing us how to hold is so sacred that we will do anything to protect it now from people who don’t understand. Ancestors from inside this earth, from inside the Hunab Ku, way down deep, we really really pray hard that you show us the ways of Pachamama. Show us all, all of us, everyone, especially the ones who aren’t listening. Be a little extra loud so they can hear you, please. Thank you. To all the unseen guides, guardians, and gatekeepers of Pachamama, we love you, we call on you, we see you. Help protect these waters, and the people protecting these waters. Iyay.”
“Star Nation, from which we came, thank you for giving us this gift of water. We know that this gift of water is not of this Earth, but it blends and morphs and fits here so magically, so perfectly. Thank you for giving us the water, from wherever it came. Maybe out there there’s a planet that’s nothing but water. Maybe there’s a whole water universe. Show us what that looks like, what a perfect, universal medium of love looks like and feels like. We know that’s where the whales came from, and the dolphins came from, and all of the beauty in the ocean, where the coral reefs are home, and every animal underneath the sea is respected for its sacred life. Thank you Star Nation, for bringing us these gifts. Thank you for the whale. Thank you for their song. Thank you Star Nation for the akashic records. We ask that you come and support us now, Star Nation. Please, Pleiades, we beg of you. Please, come support us. Arturis. All of you. You know who you are. We don’t even know you are. We want to know you now. We feel that you’re here. And that you’re ready to support us on this mission. We can’t do it without you. Thank you for being with us and showing us.”
“For all of the unseen realms, for the archangels, for the elohims, for the Christ as One, the ascended masters, thank you so much for showing us the way. Iyay mitakuye oyasin. And to the ones inside of us, to the courage unseen inside, to the warrior inside, to the miracle worker inside, to the DAPL worker inside, we love you, thank you. Thank you, warrior, for fighting this fight. Thank you, mercenary, for doing what you’re doing. We pray that you feel the chill of the wind this morning and that you ask yourself ‘what am I doing this for?’ May you turn and see this sunrise, and may your answer maybe be different than it was yesterday. Today, turn your heart toward the sun, turn your heart toward the skies, turn your heart toward the river, turn your heart toward your Mother. We love you. We love you so much. Ho’Oponopono. We love you. We’re sorry. Please forgive us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for showing up in this way at this time now to remind us of ourselves, to remind us how much healing still has to be done, especially the healing for these indigenous people. Thank you to the courage and the guardians and the gatekeepers seen and unseen within our very being, as we unite ourselves so we can unite as a people, so we can stand as one nation under one Creator, recognizing that all life is sacred, especially the water. Iyay mitakuye oyasin.”