Fishbowler

I make art in strange places and blog about it.

If You Don’t Like My Fire

“It’s not over yet” is the message spread by the youth of this camp and they’re not alone, the beat goes on. The sacred fire is our center of camp out here. I sat at the new fire, the “people’s fire” which replaced our sacred fire of the seven councils which had been extinguished by 2 tribal elders. Some might say that art is symbolic ideas played out to obsessive ends and I see the attendance to the fire as an art of its own, it’s a symbol. I sat at the new fire, the People’s Fire, which goes by other names.

Sometimes snow falls so gently there’s no sound and barely a feel on the feet. Eskimo language has many words for snow, not just one. It only makes sense when you consider how many variations there are in terms of its dryness and differing qualities of the precipitation material. And no, North Dakota is not Eskimo territory -even though it might seem like it.

I feel that I have the best sleeping bag ever. It’s a bag rated for 20 degrees below zero. The way I acquired it was a sort of accident or mistake. A man showed up at the dome to deliver it and other warm items such as a wool blanket with it. He asked for a girl named Adare and I realized her absence would lead to my personal boon. She had already left camp but this guy seemed to be determined to please her. Sorry guy, been there. He dropped it off anyway. The dome was like a bus station then. At this point it’s more like a meeting hall slash refugee camp with wood burning stoves and rumors of wifi. I’m so sick of the cel phones though. Here we are in the snow storm-survival mode-and all these people can think about is their damn phone.

11 composting toilets might not sound like a cause for celebration to you but for us it is. We’re down to 687 people. That number is down from 11,000. In the latest meetings we’ve discussed with sanitation just how many we can support with this system. It’s a subject of humility. There is no glory. As the light gets lighter, I consider the leadership we have at this camp. I find my own strength. I’m a hollowed stump ready for the filling. On the one hand this is a war, a battle at the front line. on the other hand this is the birth of a city. Destruction and creation work hand in hand.

The youth of this camp are reining in a spiritual revolution. The indigenous lead here in many ways and their leadership is invited by the non-natives. They also seem to complain alot. What I’m learning is that this “complaining” or pleading is more of a stylistic difference, a native way of speaking, call it a cadence. Racist thinking seems to be an accepted way with them at least in speech and this is understandable in a situation of ongoing oppression and occupation. I might end up that way too if I were Indian.

In the absence of television and mindless mass media, sports logos still proliferate here on camp. As long as the clothing adorned is quality warmth apparel, what harm could there be? No, here the more common subjects of discussion are wool, cotton and nylon.

Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and television acts as an antithesis to mindfulness. Its purpose is to distract. Daily life and its obligations of responsibilities can present the need for distraction for the use of relaxation from that mental taxation.

Mercenaries have been fighting the fight for the robber barons of oil’s industry. Their lack of military logos are the single indicator that alerts us to the nature of this fight. A private war.

I can’t tell you which military it was that has been shooting our people with rubber bullets and electro shock zaps, tazing, and blasting freezing water cannons. I’m not sure if those were the private soldiers or the tax funded ones. Either way those calling ourselves water protectors have been targeted by non-lethal force at the behest of a toxic industry that we’ve all supported deeply for 100 years. The irony has not been lost on our water protectors drinking from plastic bottles which release a toxic chemical reaction once frozen and thawed.

Those protecting oil receive a salary. Those protecting water volunteer, risk injury and go to jail for the cause. Envisioning a future for this camp and my own place in it brings me comfort each evening in my giant plastic and steel dome. Active creation invokes ideas which invoke more creation. Our fight is against a faceless and consequently heartless–facet of modern society, the corporate model.

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