Standing Rock: Camp Story, Part 3.


Standing Rock had filed an for an emergency TRO, after the desecration and destruction the construction company did over the holiday weekend. (See here and here). The decision came in early afternoon, around 2 p.m. At that time, spirits were high, people were happy. The judge denied the order. There was a crushing wave of disappointment, but not much surprise. We were reminded of our gathered strength, of how government has always been allied against Indians, how we never stopped, never backed down, continued to fight for our rights, and for what was right. Dennis Banks spoke of the early days of AIM, when he and Russel Means were sued, and they looked at the court papers, where it read:  The United States of America vs Dennis Banks and Russel Means. They won that fight. The judge was appalled by the actions of The United States of America, and said so, in scathing terms. Dennis reminded us that this fight is not impossible, and it is not over. We need to stand, we need to stand together, we need to be an unbreakable chain. Others began to speak, when we were interrupted by the often heard “wave to the plane, everyone!”


Everyone waved at the latest surveillance plane. They even fly over in the middle of the night, as if they’ll unearth nefarious schemes being plotted. The plane disappeared, and everyone settled in to listen to Arvol Looking Horse, the 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, and always a voice for our earth.


Arvol Looking Horse spoke of strength, resilience, the need to protect, and the obligation to teach. He spoke of a disconnection that lies over the land, that lies over non-Indian people everywhere. He spoke of how it is up to us to teach non-Indians the right way to live, a life based on respect, care, and sustainability. He said this is not a matter of religion, it’s a way of life, and that’s truth. I think of how, in my tiny town, one year, the council decided to spray poison because of mosquitoes. Yes, they can get bad. Unbelievably bad. But this wasn’t a solution. I didn’t live in Almont at the time, but Judith did, and she told me about it one day. She took me over to where the Muddy Creek runs along the back of the town, and told me as we sat there, how she used to come and watch all the turtles. There are no more turtles. In the 10 years I’ve lived here, I haven’t seen one in the Muddy Creek. Because of one summer, about two decades ago, people got upset about mosquitoes, and decided to dump poison in the Muddy Creek. No more turtles. No more life. Just poison. This is short term thinking, and it has to stop, it has to change. Sure, mosquitoes are a plague, and I’ve lived through summers here you couldn’t be outside more than 5 minutes. You know what? It passes. The mosquitoes die, as all things do. If you have to spray poison, you always have the option to spray it on yourself. In the water? No.

Rick tells me that people got panicked about Zika, so they started dumping poison all over everything. That poison? It also kills bees and other pollen gatherers. People are busy killing off the ability to grow food, not only for themselves, but for all future generations. The gift they give to their children, their children’s children? A poisoned, sick, dying earth. Water which cannot nourish. Earth which cannot grow. Air which poisons all. No healthy pollinators. Land which has been rendered useless for generations due to frakking, this insanity tearing into the earth with disregard. Already, water is worth many millions more than land. It’s become the most precious commodity, one  that can only be traded in by those with obscene wealth. The rest of us, we allow the poisoning of our very lives, little caring or looking at the mighty rivers which feed all throughout the land. These waters, they are all connected, all around our earth. These waters, they are not a puddle. They are not contained. Water meets water, and poison will spread.

People willingly lay out hundreds to thousands of dollars to eradicate one beautiful flower, an edible one at that – dandelions. This utter hatred of a natural plant? Why has this become the law of the land among so many people? Why are so many people unquestioning about this? Why does no one ask, why does no one refuse? If you want to see a golf course, go to one. It’s better than poisoning the very earth you live on, because you hate the sight of a humble flower. This disconnection from our earth is a sickness, and it’s one that will kill us all. Right up from my tiny town, I can barely stand to look, the land is torn open for this fucking pipeline, ruthlessly ripped up, miles and miles of this cheap pipe laid out as far as you can see. But no one fights, they just take the money and turn away. It’s beyond heartbreak, and being home is so sad, I don’t have words.

Other people came up to speak. Running Strong, representing Grand River, Ontario, Canada. He detailed the ongoing fight his people are having with oil, trying so very hard to protect their part of this earth. More elders came to talk. More representatives of tribes were announced.


Then Dave Archambault was there to welcome the Quinault Delegation, the Canoe People had arrived, and they brought much excitement with them!



















There was dancing, singing, thanking, happiness. The Quinault also spoke of their battles against government and oil. Not one tribe or nation has yet been safe from zuzeca sapa snaking its way across the earth. One delegation camped across from us:


Oh, if anyone is wondering what all that splendid green stuff in bags being offered is, it’s cedar. I’m not even into evening here yet, folks. I’ll try to get more camp story scheduled for tomorrow, because we’ll be gone again, to Wacipi for the day and evening, then briefly back home, then heading back out to camp. Click photos for full size. © C. Ford, all rights reserved.

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  1. says

    You’re making a hell lot of sense

    Someone on Twitter rightly remarked that what the oil company is doing isn’t any different from what Isis did when they destroyed the religious and historical sites, yet you don’t hear people* cry out.

    *You know, the usual suspects

  2. says

    Marcus, yes, it’s canoe. I don’t know if it’s different in their language, I didn’t have the opportunity to ask. If the Canoe People are still there when we get back, I will ask.


    Someone on Twitter rightly remarked that what the oil company is doing isn’t any different from what Isis did when they destroyed the religious and historical sites, yet you don’t hear people* cry out.

    Yes. Truth, and it’s a sad one at that.

  3. says

    Oh, in case I forget later, I should say that all the Canoe People were up early Wednesday morning, and all canoes were in the water for their trip to Bismarck. They should arrive on Friday, which is when the Oceti Sakowin youth are having another run, as that’s the day the court decision is set to come down.

  4. says

    By the time we got to Woodstock
    We were half a million strong
    And everywhere there was song and celebration
    And I dreamed I saw the bombers jet planes
    Riding shotgun in the sky
    Turning into butterflies
    Above our nation

    We are stardust, we are golden
    We are ten billion year old carbon
    And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

  5. Lofty says

    Best of luck with the fight. Meanwhile South Australians have their own battle against Big Oil. BP want to drill in a pristine marine reserve in the Great Australian Bight, an important whale breeding area and clean fishing resource. In the event of a spill, BP won’t have any resources available to fix anything. Time to make waves.

  6. Patricia Phillips says

    Dammit I don’t see how that judge refused to grant a TRO, after the graves were so brazenly bulldozed!

  7. dakotagreasemonkey says

    6) Lofty,
    British Petroleum in the water again? Didn’t they learn anything from DeepWater Horizon? This should get the Save the Whales People involved. This makes the Star Trek movie about the need for saving the Humpback Whales to the 25th century seem entirely plausible. I haven’t gone to your link, but I will.
    5) Marcus
    Being in 7 Councils Camp feels like Woodstock, as I imagine Woodstock felt. I was only 16 then, and in California. Didn’t hear about until it was already happening, via AM radio. Listened to live broadcasts, and devoured every TV News report, magazine article, movie, documentary,… anything I could find. btw, those are the lyrics of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, as performed at Woodstock, a little confused as to the actual author.
    I did protest the war in Viet Nam, on several occasions in the greater LA area. My Dad was Navy, and spent 2 tours in that fight. It took many years for us to come to an understanding about that. I stood at too many funerals of my classmates from high school who died there.
    Standing Rock feels like that, only magnified, because it isn’t about music, it’s about Life. Water.
    6 miles away from my home, is that pipeline. 13 or so miles West, toward work, it’ll cross under the interstate 94, again, on the way to my work.
    Family and Life is enough to join the protest.

  8. dakotagreasemonkey says

    I went your site, and looked at your map. Looks just like maps around here, supposedly protected areas being drilled, because of mineral rights. Encroached on the Benthic Protection Zone, and Western Eyre Marine Preserve.
    “And yet we hear that BP is arrogantly moving ahead. They’ve built the rig. It’s waiting to be brought here in weeks or months.” That sounds just like DAPL.
    Another quote from lofty’s link:
    Hanson-Young said on her fact-finding mission people were often shocked oil exploration would be allowed in a marine reserve. “What is the point of having these places if a company can come and drill for oil?”

    Last paragraph copy:
    BP maintains that oil and gas exploration can safely coexist with the marine environment. “We have assessed potential environmental issues from exploration activities in the Great Australian Bight and in turn incorporated this into our planning,” a spokeswoman told Guardian Australia earlier this month.
    Yeah, that worked in the Gulf of Mexico!

  9. Lofty says

    The oil company dinosaurs need the equivalent of an asteroid strike on their business case. How much more damage can they do in their death throes? Roll on battery power and renewables.

  10. rq says

    What’s the significance of the cedar?
    As always, lovely pictures, and a powerful message. That makes a lot more sense than a lot of the ‘common sense’ out there.

  11. Ice Swimmer says

    Lofty @ 11

    The energy may come from surprising places: Here, they’re drilling a few kilometers down into the bedrock, in the middle of a university campus to get 40 MW worth of heat for district heating by pumping water down there and taking it back from there, hotter. In a place with no volcanic activity, just a solid and hard bedrock. There may be downsides, but getting clean water (abundant here) down and up wells in granite a few kilometers deep seems damn sight cleaner than fracking and burning heavy fuel oil or coal.

  12. rq says


    Cedar is medicine. It’s burned on fires to cleanse, purify, and bring good spirits of all things.

    Thank you. Is it a usual sort of welcome gift, or is it just something people keep on hand for the positive energy it signifies?

  13. dakotagreasemonkey says

    Ice Swimmer, 14,
    That’s GeoThermal energy, and is used to heat part of the administration offices at work.
    We are also working on Electro-Thermal Storage, where off peak/ excess electricity is used to heat iron ore bricks, or water heaters, to store the power. These are now being internet connected (controlled by power companies) to smooth out the grid being fed by inconsistent sources such as wind and solar power.

  14. Ice Swimmer says

    dakotagreasemonkey @ 18

    Yep, geothermal. They estimate they could get heat for about 10 % of the district heating* users in the municipality (City of Espoo) from the 7 km well.

    The energy storage might become a big thing, if it isn’t already, I think. If you can store energy cost-effectively, production can be better optimized for maximum efficiency or yield and energy supplied better according to demand without resorting to gas turbine power plants and such too often.
    * = Explanation for people in warmer climates: District heating is basically very hot water flowing in insulated pipelines. In the buildings there are heat exchangers which use heat from the very hot water to heat tap water and the water circulating in the central heating system. Usually the hot water comes as a byproduct of electricity generation in steam power plants (coal, oil, natural gas or biofuel).

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