Today, I’m posting an article written by a special guest author, my daughter. She graciously agreed to allow me to post an article she wrote and originally shared on Facebook.
(Originally posted on Facebook, September 6, 2016)
North Dakota has always been a place I have rushed through in search of what I thought were better things… visits with family, first glimpses of mountains, ocean tides, big trees. I approached this trip with a sense of curiosity, trying to understand what it would feel like to be of and from this place. I was searching for the feelings that inspire the deep sense of peace and connectedness to this land, the kind that necessitates taking a stand to defend. At first we were struck by the wetlands and the huge numbers of ducks, herons, and cranes that lived there, the colors on the autumn fields, the gradual transition from woods to plains.
That was the first day.
Through a comedy of errors, delays, twists of fates, our trip was delayed by a day. This was good for a few reasons, the weather, dog attacks, and I didn’t really know where I was going or how to get there. On this extra night, friends advised me on camp conditions, weather conditions, and this extra time let me map out our trip. On the second travel day, my check engine light came on 5 minutes after leaving the hotel, and as I weighed turning back, driving 350 miles home, I decided to lay my trust that this trip was meant to be and that maybe my mechanic was right, this was only a minor issue with the car. So on we went, though a little more unsure that we would make through the next 150 miles, and far more unsure that we would make it back.
When we got to Bismark, we passed the easy route because we heard there was a police blockade and so we took long winding road up and down hills and river-cut valleys for that extra half hour. We saw a helicopter speed by overhead, strange sight for farm and ranch land. We were repeatedly passed by racing trucks with extreme tints on their windows. We saw the place where the pipeline digging had already come through, leaving scars in the fields in both directions for a reason that is still unclear. This was when the beauty of the land really started to hit me as well as the profoundness of this moment.
Even though I had our trip mapped out, the roads seemed to be longer than I thought and all along I was hoping I was turning the right way, taking the correct roads, because if I wasn’t, there was no one to ask. One sign we were going the right way was a police car at a T, parked, facing out, likely taking down plate numbers, perhaps taking pictures of anyone coming through. We entered and left Standing Rock Reservation, at the boundary saw a small camp, a river, then tipis and tents, flags, protest signs. As we came through security, we could see that hundreds, maybe a thousand were here.
I did take some pictures, but the most profound moments are not on film. They were the conversations with defenders, side by side work with volunteers, the beauty of the diversity of tribes coming together, the rainbow shades of people there, sights of prayer being made on the top of the hills, the words of poets, songwriters and speakers, and the magic of knowing people are here for as long as it takes. This place is so special, anyone able to come, please do, and please support in any way you can. This is our chance to take a stand. There is power in our numbers, strength in our prayers, hope in our unity. Protect our future generations, honor indigenous rights to live in healthy communities, protect our rivers from permanent contamination. Our reasons: our water and our children. Peace and solidarity with Standing Rock.