Fishbowler

I make art in strange places and blog about it.

Water is Life, Mni Wiconi

Tears turn to ice in the pre dawn in the snowy season in North Dakota. NoDAPL is a peaceful protest at Standing Rock. Our numbers are in the thousands, 11,000 at one point, I’m told but many coming and going for months now. Now when I say peaceful I mean prayer based on the Lakota way and this morning our prayers started before dark. 700 people came to the Sacred Fire for a cup of coffee and prayer, lovely prayer.

Water is sacred, as the main motto here says “Water is Life” or in the Lakota “Mni Wiconi which sounded great from my slightly screechy winter voice. This morning’s ceremony was for the purpose of blessing the water with positive intention, loving harmony and marching across camp to the river to pour water from copper mugs into it. Sorry I can’t explain the reason for the copper. Google it? Lemme know? The ceremony took over 2 hours and we joined in singing, also repeating “water is life” in about 10 languages, led by a wide variety of people with love in their eyes. The men and the women had differing jobs and the elders were treated with reverence. Dogs run free and traditional wisdom centered around family and nature reflected a culture that we all might relate to, usually involving grandma and/or church/temple/mass/service.

the frozen path down the river bank was slippery dangerous and the men lined its sides with hands out for the stabilizing of the procession of women in their descent to the river’s edge. After the ladies, of course, came the men and we all tossed a pinch of tobacco into the waters. The tobacco was charged with our loving intentions and a person silent prayer. This was the offering. The singing was my favorite offering and my favorite song consisted of only 2 or 3 syllables arranged and re-arranged, “hay” and “ya”. By the end as Father Sun came to warm Mother Earth, a miraculous synchronicity converged with our final prayer as the cloud departed. With the iced over silver snake at our feet, the glorious whiteness drifted over every detail of ground cover to single out the reason we all came here as water protectors. Standing Rock is a bucolic pocket, a charming valley of water way and I feel home, especially jumping through snow banks like a husky or a loner child.

Most shocking might be the expanse that are the Dakotas. This pin point location is the nastiest battle site I’ve seen. It’s the most drastic contrast I could imagine. Many people have been injured here but the nastiest is what corporate oil, as a shameful industry has brought here, as it has done worldwide. Such a pure and pristine setting jarringly hosts this ongoing conflict. Two bombed out vehicles still sit at the bridge, highway 1806 where our front line stands. A flock of geese built up steam and angled around to buzz us today in the afternoon during a stand off at the bridge but the Hum V military trucks and soldiers loading assault weapons disgusted them before the birds could reach us. It’s a hard to believe but the cars were lit on fire by the oppressors, not the protesting water protectors. A video can prove this. There were no Molotov cocktails thrown. The corporation building this pipeline is Energy Transfer Partners out of Texas and we’re happy to report their investors have decided to shit on them even if the geese wouldn’t.

(photo by Ernesto Spotted Wolf)

I’m getting ahead of myself. I wanted to tell you about the first full day I experienced here, which was a Sunday. We are here to fight back and our hearts are in one place. We fight with love and nothing else. We aspire to fight as one.

I am camped with some veterans who’ve organized to bring attention to the situation. We’re here in solidarity with 300 indigenous peoples which is the most togetherness natives have ever seen. It’s been an in-pouring of water protectors from all points of the globe and I think I’ve seen all races represented. I’ve also seen the world’s media here represented here. Finally, as if the seal was broken, this occupation has elicited full international media attention . I’m told even CNN is here. We’ll see if that’s true. It’s like a tide that turns to reveal support that was previously hidden. I’ve attended the non-violent direct action meeting twice so far because non-violence can be difficult when thuggish bullies and scared boys in uniforms suppress. Tensions are high and the law enforcement has shown the worst disregard, overwhelmingly unscrupulous.

To be continued….

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