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Resilience and Resistance at Standing Rock

November 16, 2016


The energy here is amazing. People are coming from all over North America and from around the world to stand with the Lakota against Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. 

We were greeted at the camp entrance by a man who welcomed our presence and was glad to know that we were on the right side of history.


You can see from the picture here how vast the camp has become and it is growing by the day. There is the daily resistance, which consists of direct action, where people are putting their bodies between the pipeline construction workers and land……this sacred land, which the Lakota people have respected and lived on for centuries.

In addition, there is the resistance that takes the form of defying the oil company and the federal government, which have colluded in the construction of the oil pipeline. There are the warriors, women and men, who are praying, resisting and protecting the water.

In many ways, what the people at Standing Rock are teaching the rest of us how live on this earth, how to respect our elders, how to respect all living things and how to respect each other.

Every day there is work that gets done, from splitting wood, to making food, to providing healing for people and to make sure all the donations are being used in a respectful manner. Every day, people bring supplies and engage in mutual aid. This afternoon, two huge trucks came and unloaded logs that will be cut and split to provide warmth for those who are dug in for the long haul. This is the resistance, the defiance that people are demonstrating on a daily basis, by saying they will not give up or give in to the death culture embodied in the oil pipeline.


Then there are the stories. Stories of Indigenous people traveling long distance to be here. One guy, who is from Michigan and now lives in northern California, told us that friends loaded up his car with donations to make the trek to Standing Rock. Along the way, he was stopped by police and forced to sit in a squad car for 2 hours while they searched the contents of the car, because “he looked suspicious.”

We were able to find the Michigan Host tent here at Standing Rock, with people from all over the state, some from Grand Rapids who came to be part of this historic action. We talked with Nancy from Grand Rapids, who has been here for a week and at times feels like she never wants to leave. She was coordinating activities at the Michigan Host tent and making sure that people were getting what they needed. There are also people from Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Port Huron and the UP.

Nancy then talked about the direct action to protect the water. She stated that it was indigenous women who were being targeted by the police and security forces hired by the oil company. People are being arrested and detained for over 24 hours before they even are allowed to contact a lawyer or a family member. But this resistance is only gaining in strength, despite the violence being done against them. This resistance is strong and you can see it in the faces of people here and can feel it in your bones.

The elders are constantly invoking their elders and it often seems as if the past and the present are one and the same. They will tell you that their ancestors are present, telling them what to do and giving them strength. 

As the sun begins to go down, we are all warmed by the fire and genuine humanity that surrounds us.


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