Mainers at Standing Rock explain how you can help
Events are being held across the country (including in Maine) today in solidarity with those at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota who are resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Below is the account of Daniel Sipe, Jeremy Mack, Meagan Cloutier and Adam Schwengler, four Mainers who just made the trek to the Oceti-Sakowin camp in North Dakota.
Dispatch from Standing Rock:
It took thirty-six hours of driving, through every biosphere connecting the coast of Maine to the badlands of North Dakota. Our destination: The Standing Rock Reservation, sits close to one’s imagined ideal of the American West. Over the summer of this year, the Seven Councils Fires of Oceti-Sakowin called their first collective congress since The Battle of Greasy Grass (aka Little Big Horn) in the Cannonball valley on the Missouri River. The target of their opposition is called the “Black Snake” at Standing Rock, known elsewhere as the Dakota Access Pipeline.
We answered the call of the Seven Councils, and came to stand in solidarity in early, spearheaded by the the decision to fight for a battle occupying the intersection of Indigenous culture and natural ecology. If completed, the pipeline would present a violation of sacred Oceti-Sakowin lands, a threat to drinking water for millions of people living throughout the region, and a significant blow to international efforts to halt and reverse climate change.
We didn’t come empty-handed. Aided by our skills in fundraising honed by the time we spent canvassing for the Maine People’s Alliance, in two days we had raised close to $1,000 along with a van full of supplies to be delivered to the Standing Rock community.
With roughly 2,000 miles separating Maine and Standing Rock, it took thirty-six hours of driving, and one much-needed nap in Chicago, before we arrived in the Oceti-Sakowin Camp, the largest of the three Standing Rock camps.
Arriving in the camp, we were met with a mismatch of people. License plates from California to Massachusetts collect on the prairie grass. While confronted with a hectic scene at first, we were gradually guided to the appropriate meetings and camping grounds. As non-indigenous guests in a First Nation space, we were given the opportunity to be allies, and invited to take part in the customs of the camp, including prayer ceremonies and direct actions, throughout the day.
Besides prayer and actions, the Oceti-Sakowin camp is a lesson in co-habitation. To live here means to know your role as an outsider in an indigenous-centered space. Cleaning dishes, changing out toilet paper rolls and folding clothes are honored positions necessary to the successful functioning of the camp. As volunteers, we quickly recognized that usefulness means being available to work menial tasks, with the ultimate goal of playing a supporting role within the existing Indigenous-centered structure of the camp.
We would like to communicate, on behalf of the Standing Rock community, our thankfulness to the MPA members and other Mainers who have offered monetary and physical donations. Thanks to you, we were able to buy wood, food and solar-powered lights that will help keep the camp running.
We would also like to thank Josie and Kenny in Chicago for their living room, and Hudah from Minnesota for joining us in camp. We highly encourage all those with a genuine interest in the issue and the drive to contribute to the success of the movement to follow our example and help out through monetary contributions to the Oceti-Sakowin camp, by taking on the drive out to North Dakota themselves, or by participating in local events and actions.
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