Standing in Solidarity with Standing Rock, by Kathy Custren
While many remain oblivious, there is a fair amount of coverage in the press and on social media about the group of Native Americas who are holding a peaceful protest at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Members of the Sioux, Lakota, and other First Nations tribal groups have joined in the thousands to protest the building of an oil pipeline in and through lands and territory adjacent to reservations. The flags of many nations fly at Standing Rock, as testament to the wide-reaching support of the effort.
Concerns over the North Dakota Access Pipeline project (or DAPL, for short), have captured the spirit of many who join in solidarity with the protesters. Despite our heavy use of oil-based products, the cost of even a minor spill or problem along these sacred lands would be devastating. The bottom line many are questioning is, 'Is it worth it?' The economic 'advantages' such as jobs and energy independence away from foreign sources of oil come at a very high price, indeed.
Worries of the land and pipeline activities concern the protesters, who are standing up for the basic and fundamental right to clean water. The potential for harm to the watershed and rivers in the area would mean placing at risk the drinking water for many millions of unsuspecting people. Images of the pipeline look like a scar across four states the middle of the U.S.: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.
While the #NoDAPL protest has gained attention in recent days due to a swell of reported violence, the group has been taking a peaceful stand since August and early September, when the numbers and interest grew. Today, thousands are joined in the effort of being there, in person, as either part of the active protest brigades or support camps providing aid. Many more are joining with the online attendance-in-spirit.
Camping rough in an otherwise open territory is something one must do with much forethought and planning. For those who are there without the funds to leave, on-going support of food and medical supplies are in constant demand. Money has been raised to help offset various court costs and jail fines and fees for those who are being rounded up and arrested over being in the 'wrong place.'
Fueling some of the discord about the protest are some erroneously reported incidents. The charges against persons protesting are real enough; the fees are adding up. The violent way elders are being mishandled and mistreated in bogus arrest situations during a time of civil protest is yet another cause for concern. Physical debasement is the preferred method for those with the firepower to enforce it.
The growing threat, aside from the colder temperatures, is the toll on the animals who are also part of the protest. One willing veterinarian moved by the plight she observed offered her equine services on Facebook recently. She was joined by a few other vets-in-training who saw this as an opportunity to be of service and gain some added experience.
Added to the mix are the many lawyers with special training in Native American studies who are finally putting these skills to more active use. The lawyers act as liaisons and facilitators between the water protectors and the pipeline personnel or their security details. They offer an important opportunity to share the voice of people, who feel they have been silent, and silenced, for far too long.
Like the earth and water they represent, the Native Americans standing up in solidarity at Standing Rock peacefully challenge us to align our energies with their own. Will we seek the disruption that the pipeline brings across middle America? Or, will we go with the flow and accept that there are essential elements to our lives that are much more sacred?
The time for sitting still is over, and it is time to stand up. We are at a physical and spiritual crossroads, and they intersect at Standing Rock.
About the Author
Kathy Custren, OMTimes Senior Editor, is a mother of four. She strives for balance and has a deep respect for All. Interests include education, elements, nature, humanity's cosmic origins, philosophy, spirituality, and wellness. Connect with her community page "Consciousness Live" on Facebook.