Standing Rock: Camp Story, Part 5.

Picking up where we left off in Part 4, twilight was descending, and people were lining up for buffalo, squash, and hominy stew and wojapi. Word had rippled through camp that Jill Stein had been up at the construction site where the protectors were, and was coming to the camp to speak. The council fire was stoked to a blaze. The clouds were beautiful.





Jill Stein didn’t say anything new, she spoke of the need to break our dependence on oil, the need to focus on other forms of energy, and called on our President to speak up, speak out, and to stand with Standing Rock. Some people might not know that President Obama and the First Lady visited the people of Standing Rock in 2014, and greatly enjoyed that visit, so it has been a bitter hurt, the silence emanating from the Capitol. That is not all the silence. The silence echoes from every point. As I noted earlier in comments:

As for Jill Stein, she was at the construction site where the protectors are during Tuesday afternoon, and she came to speak at the camp that evening, I was there. Think I got pictures, too. People can say whatever they want about her, and I know there’s bad things, but she’s the only one to show up.

And to add, Indian Country everywhere has a long history of voting democrat (yeah, there are a few repubs), but people are losing faith almost completely in democrats, because none of them will stand up, none of them stand with us. The president remains silent. The Clintons? Silent. Tim Kaine? He needs more info.

Bernie Sanders made noises of support, but he hasn’t been here. We have elders in their 80s who are making very long journeys to come and stand. What’s the excuse of all our so-called representatives?

Night descended quickly, as did the cold, after spending hours roasting in the sun earlier. People still lined up for supper, and filled the communal area, many hugging the council fire for warmth.







Jill Stein’s talk lasted into the dark, but not over long. Then Travis Harden stepped up to the mic. Travis is a visible presence, here, there, everywhere in the camps. He’s a bear of a man, vivacious, full of life, always laughing, telling stories, jokes, and singing songs. You can read a bit about Travis here. Among other things, Travis is teaching children at the school, teaching them how to sing traditionally. After many stories, jokes, and songs, we all sang The Elephant Song, “Ask your mother for fifty cents, to see the elephant jump off the fence…”


The night was very cold, and someone behind me draped a very large down jacket over me as I sat. I wrapped Rick in our Wacipi blanket, and he wandered off to the end of the food line. People came by, offering everyone blankets. We all settled in to listen to a veteran elder, in a wheelchair, minus one leg. He spoke to us about unity, service, and our duty to each other and the earth. The obligation we all have to those living now, and those yet to live. He also spoke about being quick to judge and laugh at people, and that we should not do that, not to other tribes, and not to wasichu (white people). And no, wasichu is not an insult, it just means white people. I’ll say that wasichu should take this lesson to heart, and learn not to assume, not to live by stereotype, and not to judge by the shade of any person’s skin. We sat and listened, and ate as others talked. It was deep dark, stars were shining, and the moon was low. People sitting around the council fire broke out glow sticks, and tiny children took them and gleefully ran and danced. After a while longer, we decided to call it a night. We meandered off to our camp, with the help of flashlight. I powered up the stupid laptop and wireless to give a quick update in comments, then we got our bedding together and settled down. Sort of. We kept popping up, turning on a light to show this, that, oh, did you see…, chattering like over excited children. Singing was still going, and people still coming and going all over, horses neighing, fires dotting the land everywhere. This was home.

Click images for full size. © C. Ford, all rights reserved. I don’t know when I’ll get Wednesday camp stories up, hopefully some time today (Friday), but they will be up. Sometime.


  1. kestrel says

    Today, let us hope for a just and fair settlement. Let us hope that the black snake will be stopped.

    But in the meantime there is great beauty in the camp. We wish we could be there.

  2. rq says

    I saw that moon, too!

    Holding a lot of thumbs for a fair settlement.

    I’ll say that wasichu should take this lesson to heart, and learn not to assume, not to live by stereotype, and not to judge by the shade of any person’s skin.

    This, a lot. A lifetime of learning, but it’s more than worth it!

  3. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Cross posted with Pharyngula.
    The US Government has stepped in to stop the pipeline project.

    The U.S. government moved on Friday to halt a controversial oil pipeline project in North Dakota that has angered Native Americans, blocking construction on federal land and asking the company behind the project to suspend work nearby.
    The move came shortly after U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington rejected a request from Native Americans for a court order to block the project. The government’s action reflected the success of growing protests over the planned pipeline that have drawn international support and sparked a renewal of Native American activism.
    “This case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects,” the U.S. Departments of Justice, Army and Interior said in a joint statement released minutes after Boasberg made his ruling.
    Opposition to the pipeline has drawn support from 200 Native American tribes, along with celebrities and activists from across the globe.
    The Standing Rock Sioux, whose tribal lands are a half-mile south of the proposed route, say the pipeline would desecrate sacred burial and prayer sites, and could leak oil into the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers, on which the tribe relies for water.

    About time.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    We breathe the same air and drink the same water. Under the same moon. Thank you for your words and pictures. Thanks for the elder for the reminder about judgment and ridicule.

    Nerd of Redhead @ 5

    I hope that is the beginning of the end for the pipeline.

  5. says

    The hard part about the “death of a thousand cuts” is you’ve still gotta do the cuts.

    Now that there’s enough focus on it that the feds stepped in, it’s going to be like Keystone XL.
    This is great news. I still think someone needs to go find the executive who sent in those thugs and pepperspray his ass.

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