An intimate meeting in a cabin near Mount Rushmore, South Dakota hosts about 10 unlikely people grouped around a large wooden conference table before bedtime. After sage burning and prayers we talk firewood. The center of attention and our spiritual guide for the night, a character much bigger than his stature is Jumping Buffalo. He has one chronically injured eye, lives in Rapid City, and maintains that Sitting Bull is his grandfather, which I gather is meant in the spiritual sense more than in the blood sense but I’m not sure. I like him. He’s smart, takes charge, and he’s connected–in the firewood sense.
Paul Freeman has been on a mission to connect our camp with a steady flow of firewood and the bridge between donors and lumberjacks has now been established. Not that it’s the first time but it’s the latest connection. Freeman, a tall ginger, has a soft honest demeanor with a very faint Nashville accent. He doesn’t joke much and he gets the job done. Kyle Schierbeck is another Standing Rock Lakota Sioux who lives now in Seattle. Schierbeck is an entrepreneur who has taken it upon himself to print Standing Rock Reservation T shirts in an effort to raise money for the camp’s firewood.
Schierbeck brought a couple business associates and Jumping Buffalo brought his chainsaw crew in addition to locals they recruited. Schierbeck informs me that the operation is called Paha Sapa Wood Warriors. Paha Sapa means Black Hills. A neighborhood friend of theirs, Bob, will be supplying the truck and heavy equipment–without profit! and I can report personally, crossing South Dakota is not the most diverse haul of highway, and quite noticeably barren of trees. Jumping Buffalo and Schierbeck–who’s Lakota name is Shunktokta: Coyote–agree that this is the region from which Standing Rock has traditionally gotten its firewood. Please allow me to reiterate: it’s a long drive.
Connecting all the dots takes an army of dedicated souls whose mission it is to do their best in terms of the fight against the corporate centralization. A lot of people are willing and able to forego profit and salary for the cause of the water protector and when buying a T-shirt can bring warmth to our heroes the collective effort spreads further and farther. There are four elements that care for us, the Paha Sapa Wood Warriors start with fire.
Message Kyle Schierbeck on Facebook to order shirts, price $25 with $17 going toward camp’s firewood.