Faculty member in Geography and Native American Studies, The Evergreen State College
Lab 1, Room 3012, 2700 Evergreen Pkwy. NW,
Olympia, WA 98505 USA
Tel. (360) 867-6153
Thanks to all the United Faculty of Evergreen members and other Olympia residents who contributed supplies and $1050 of donations to the Camp of the Sacred Stones next to Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. For background see http://sacredstonecamp.org
Inside the Liberated Zone at Standing Rock
It's not just a blockade camp against the Dakota Access Pipeline being built to carry Bakken oil. It's also a Liberated Zone, a small patch of free territory in the heartland of North America. It's an intertribal community of thousands, that feeds itself, dances and sings together, and celebrates every time a new bus or canoe arrives with new friends. It's a place to meet old friends from earlier struggles, and for non-Native allies to learn accountable solidarity. It reminds me of the 1980 Black Hills International Survival Gathering, and I've seen friends from those Black Hills Alliance days.
The convergence here is not just between Native nations, but between tribal governments, Indigenous traditionalists, and Native activists. The Camp of the Sacred Stones includes the Oceti Sakowin camp (where Debi and I stayed) and the Red Warrior camp, and is the staging ground for prayer vigils, direct actions, canoe flotillas on the threatened Missouri River, and education of the entire world about the threat of fossil fuels to everyone's water.
Sept. 6 Blockade of Dakota Access Pipeline
A series of Indigenous unarmed direct actions have confronted the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) north of the Standing Rock Reservation. This morning two water protectors locked themselves to bulldozers destroying a swath of countryside, full of tribal cultural sites. The work crew fled, and the site was occupied throughout the workday. The North Dakota State Patrol and FBI were present and had a checkpoint, but did not block the road or make arrests. The action ended in the afternoon, having been successful in stopping work for the day.
Sept. 7 at Standing Rock
A stormy day in North Dakota, with heavy rains and winds, but it did not dampen the spirits of the water protectors guarding the Missouri River. It was too muddy for construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. At the camp, tribal leaders spoke, Northwest canoes were launched, a Youth Council was formed, and Northwest drummers led a Coastal Jam. This is the spiritual gathering that is so threatening that the State Patrol has a concrete police roadblock to keep people from reaching it.
Sept. 8: Paddle to Standing Rock
The Pacific Northwest came to the Northern Plains today, when canoes from Washington, Oregon, and Alaska landed at the Camp of the Sacred Stones. They had come for two days down the Missouri River from Bismarck, and arrived at the Cannonball River on the northern boundary of the Standing Rock Reservation. It was a powerful show of solidarity from tribes that have also been opposing Bakken oil trains, and highlighted that "Water is Life" from the Pacific Ocean to the Missouri River.
We're headed home now after three days supporting the historic stand of the Oceti Sakowin (“Sioux”) at Standing Rock. The wars of 1868, 1876, 1890, and 1973 never ended, and are continuing in a different, nonviolent form. Whatever the upcoming federal court decisions or elections, or whether police or National Guard control the checkpoint to the reservation, the struggle will continue.