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.


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Standing Rock: Camp Story, Part 2.

Right after where we left off, the Fort Mojave delegation came into camp, led by their veterans and elder singer. They came carrying a massive banner, with all the signatures of those who wished to come, and could not. They spoke of their own fight against the government for their land, and the sanctity of it. They sang and danced, gave gifts, and a check for 10,000 dollars. There was singing back, in great gratitude, and everyone lined up to thank them for their presence, strength, and generosity. This was an emotional time, a feeling like the universe, for one blink of time, decided to hug you. This is how people should be, standing together, standing as one.







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Standing Rock: Camp Story.


Oh, I wish I was a writer. Where to start? Right now, I’m back home in Almont for a day, and it feels wrong, I’m homesick. For camp. Tuesday morning, we tossed some supplies in our van, made sure all the critters had access to food and water and took off. The first photo here is about an hour into the journey. Like everyone else, we avoided the barricaded 1806, taking 21 then 6 straight into the No DAPL camp. The sight as we crested the hill was overwhelming, tents, tipis, people, cars, and horses everywhere, stretched as far as you could see. We turned in, and as it was our first time, had a brief security check (looking in the cooler, basically), because of people trying to bring in alcohol and drugs. No problems, and we were waved off to camp as we chose. Every other car had their windows covered with “Standing With Standing Rock!” or similar, and often tribal names. We were humbled, and in awe by the flags lining the main road into camp. There are over one hundred of them, and flags dot the landscape at campsites all over the land. There seems to be one posthole digger though, as calls for it to show to plant another flag were heard regularly. :D


We parked in the Oglala camp, then made our way to the council area, the large communal area set up for all the camps:


That isn’t a great photo of the area, it’s much larger than this, and the kitchen pictured in the previous post is to the other end of this area. Rick couldn’t wait to talk or see anything, he wanted to head to the kitchen to cook, and as soon as we walked up from our camp, the call was put out for volunteers to help cook frybread. Rick was off like a shot:



He did a great job of it, too. Everyone did, and everyone working in the kitchen performed amazing service, and worked their butts off, too. First it was frybread, then hot dogs, hamburgers, corn, buffalo, squash and hominy stew, and wojapi. When the camps were smaller, Standing Rock had requested a water truck and a couple other necessities from the state health department, and they obliged. That didn’t last long, as the cops ordered those necessities removed. It’s a bit silly to try that strong arm tactic against a sovereign nation.


There’s EMS, Rez security, two huge refrigerated trucks, water tanks, water washing stations, and ranks of port-a-loos. There are tents filled with donations from people, clothing, blankets, school supplies, and sundries. No one goes in need of anything. Children play all over the place, running and laughing, many of them clutching soccer-sized balls donated by the Nez Perce Tribe. As I was wandering about with a camera, I had to check in to the media tent, and get my pass. That done, I wandered back to the communal area, looking to settle in, and was in time to hear a description of one Rob, from KFYR, described, and that security was looking for him, and he was forever banned from Standing Rock. I still haven’t heard what that was about, maybe when I’m back, if I remember to ask. People were gathering to listen, talk, meet, take photos, and do all the things people do when gathered together.




The council fire was always kept going, and there was always someone in the main administration tent, talking, telling stories, or relaying news. Much of the time, there was an open mic, for anyone who wanted to sing or tell a story. The representatives of the Episcopal diocese in Bismarck, who had signed on to the cause early on were in the camp, reaffirming their support, and bringing donations.


As that was going on, the Quinault Tribe started rolling in with their canoes, they planned a 3 day paddle trip to Bismarck.



I should explain that the main road is constantly busy, people coming, going, coming back, bringing in supplies, people walking to and from, the warriors on horseback going to the construction site and coming back, and so on. It’s never still. Kind of like water.

Dennis Banks was there! Eeeeeeeeeee. And, the day before, he had been in the hospital, having had a heart attack. He spoke frequently, and greeted people. He spoke strongly and eloquently after the disappointing decision came down.




There was so much joy, unity. People from all over were at the camps, with one notable exception – North Dakotans. I kept talking to so many people who were excited than any Ndakotans were there at all. If I could say anything at this point, it would be to urge all Dakotans, if you can, to come to camps. You don’t have to settle in for the long term, you don’t even have to stay the night, just come, meet people, talk with them, listen. Okay, I’m barely into the first two, three hours at camp, so I’ll split this story up. I’ll grab some tea, and start the next part while you all look and read.

Click photos for full size. © C. Ford, all rights reserved.

Standing Rock: First Camp Photos!

Click for full size. Many more to come, first camp story tomorrow (Thursday). We’re going to run away from home. Or, more like run to home. Regular home on Thursday, Wacipi (Pow Wow) on Friday, then packing up ourselves and the monster dogs, and heading right back out to camp. There’s a solar pad charging tent, so I’ll be able to take the computing box me (the good one), and I’ll try very hard not to neglect you all so much. I just can’t describe. This is the best place on earth. More tomorrow!


















© C. Ford, all rights reserved.



We’re heading out to the camps today, should be back on Thursday. If we end up gassed, dog bit, or arrested, might be a bit longer. Hopefully, there will be much to share on our return. I already know I’m not going to want to come back home. Sometimes, having dependent pets is kind of a drag. The Daily Bird is scheduled for the next few days, and that’s as exciting as things will be, I’m not set up for live blogging and all that jazz, and no electricity, because camping.

Standing Rock Seeks TRO.

Tim Mentz.

Tim Mentz.

CANNON BALL, ND—The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed an emergency motion Sunday for a temporary restraining order to prevent further destruction of the Tribe’s sacred sites by Dakota Access Pipeline.

“On Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts,” Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said. “They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites. The desecration of these ancient places has already caused the Standing Rock Sioux irreparable harm. We’re asking the court to halt this path of destruction.”

After the initial destruction Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline returned to the area and dug up additional grounds in the pre-dawn hours Sunday, Archambault said.

The motion seeks to prevent additional construction work on an area two miles west of North Dakota Highway 1806, and within 20 miles of Lake Oahe until a judge rules on the Tribe’s previous motion to stop construction.

That motion is based on the Standing Rock Sioux’s assertion that it was not properly consulted before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fast-tracked approval of the pipeline project.

A decision on the case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is expected by Sept. 9.

“Destroying the Tribe’s sacred places over a holiday weekend, while the judge is considering whether to block the pipeline, shows a flagrant disregard for the legal process,” said Jan Hasselman, attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux. “The Tribe has been seeking to vindicate its rights peacefully through the courts. But Dakota Access Pipeline used evidence submitted to the Court as their roadmap for what to bulldoze. That’s just wrong.”


Sandpiper Shelved.

Courtesy Winona LaDuke/Honor the Earth. The Sandpiper pipeline would have run through sensitive waterways, jeopardizing Ojibwe manoomin, or wild rice.

Courtesy Winona LaDuke/Honor the Earth.
The Sandpiper pipeline would have run through sensitive waterways, jeopardizing Ojibwe manoomin, or wild rice.

Enbridge Inc. has officially dropped its bid to build the $900 million Sandpiper oil pipeline, which would have crossed through Ojibwe wild rice lands.

The company said on September 1 that it was withdrawing its applications from the Minnesota Public Utilities after determining that “the project should be delayed until such time as crude oil production in North Dakota recovers sufficiently to support development of new pipeline capacity,” the company said in a statement on September 1.

The announcement came a month after the energy conglomerate revealed that it had bought a stake in the Dakota Access pipeline project, which is being opposed all along its four-state route.

“We are grateful for this victory against the black snake that threatened our water, wild rice, and way of life as Ojibwe people,” said Winona LaDuke, founder of the conservation group Honor the Earth, in a statement. “We call this land Anishinaabe Akiing. This is the land we belong to, and we will continue to protect it, as our ancestors did before us. We stand united against the proposed Line 3 pipeline, Dakota Access, and any new fossil fuel infrastructure anywhere. Our resistance will only continue to grow.”

I’m glad for this, however, I don’t trust any oil company to do the right thing, or to keep their grubby greed off Indian land. They have already shown, in the most despicable way, what concerns them. Full article here.

The Whitestone Massacre.

LaDonna Bravebull Allard at Sacred Stones camp along the banks of the Cannonball River. Courtesy Kat Eng.

LaDonna Bravebull Allard at Sacred Stones camp along the banks of the Cannonball River. Courtesy Kat Eng.

On this day, [September 3rd] 153 years ago, my great-great-grandmother Nape Hote Win (Mary Big Moccasin) survived the bloodiest conflict between the Sioux Nations and the U.S. Army ever on North Dakota soil. An estimated 300 to 400 of our people were killed in the Inyan Ska (Whitestone) Massacre, far more than at Wounded Knee. But very few know the story.

As we struggle for our lives today against the Dakota Access pipeline, I remember her. We cannot forget our stories of survival.

Just 50 miles east of here, in 1863, nearly 4,000 Yanktonais, Isanti (Santee), and Hunkpapa gathered alongside a lake in southeastern North Dakota, near present-day Ellendale, for an intertribal buffalo hunt to prepare for winter. It was a time of celebration and ceremony—a time to pray for the coming year, meet relatives, arrange marriages, and make plans for winter camps. Many refugees from the 1862 uprising in Minnesota, mostly women and children, had been taken in as family. Mary’s father, Oyate Tawa, was one of the 38 Dah’kotah hung in Mankato, Minesota, less than a year earlier, in the largest mass execution in the country’s history. Brigadier General Alfred Sully and soldiers came to Dakota Territory looking for the Santee who had fled the uprising. This was part of a broader U.S. military expedition to promote white settlement in the eastern Dakotas and protect access to the Montana gold fields via the Missouri River.

As my great-great-grandmother Mary Big Moccasin told the story, the attack came the day after the big hunt, when spirits were high. The sun was setting and everyone was sharing an evening meal when Sully’s soldiers surrounded the camp on Whitestone Hill. In the chaos that ensued, people tied their children to their horses and dogs and fled. Mary was 9 years old. As she ran, she was shot in the hip and went down. She laid there until morning, when a soldier found her. As he loaded her into a wagon, she heard her relatives moaning and crying on the battlefield. She was taken to a prisoner of war camp in Crow Creek where she stayed until her release in 1870.

Where the Cannonball River joins the Missouri River, at the site of our camp today to stop the Dakota Access pipeline, there used to be a whirlpool that created large, spherical sandstone formations. The river’s true name is Inyan Wakangapi Wakpa, River that Makes the Sacred Stones, and we have named the site of our resistance on my family’s land the Sacred Stone Camp. The stones are not created anymore, ever since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the mouth of the Cannonball River and flooded the area in the late 1950s as they finished the Oahe dam. They killed a portion of our sacred river.

I was a young girl when the floods came and desecrated our burial sites and Sundance grounds. Our people are in that water.

This river holds the story of my entire life.

There is much more to this story, which you can read here.

Support Sacred Stone Camp. Legal Fund Help. Support Native YouthSign the Petition. Sign urgent petition.

Holiday Desecration and Destruction. Updated.

Credit: Natalie Hand.

Credit: Natalie Hand.

I wanted this to be a day of no tears. Just one day. Didn’t happen.

Sacred places containing ancient burial sites, places of prayer and other significant cultural artifacts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were destroyed on Saturday September 3 by Energy Transfer Partners, Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said.

On Friday, the Tribe filed court documents identifying the area as home to significant Native artifacts and sacred sites.

“This demolition is devastating,” Archambault said. “These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors. The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.”

Construction crews removed topsoil across an area about 150 feet wide stretching for two miles, northwest of the confluence of the Cannon Ball and Missouri Rivers.

“I surveyed this land, and we confirmed multiple graves and specific prayer sites,” said Tim Mentz, the Standing Rock Sioux’s former tribal historic preservation officer. “Portions, and possibly complete sites, have been taken out entirely.”


“We’re days away from getting a resolution on the legal issues, and they came in on a holiday weekend and destroyed the site,” said Jan Hasselman, attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “What they have done is absolutely outrageous.”

Full story here.

Just in, from ICTMN: What Dakota Access Destroyed: Standing Rock Former Historic Preservation Officer Explains What Was Lost [Video].

This interview was recorded on September 3, 2016. Former Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Tim Mentz explains the destruction of burial grounds and sacred sites by Dakota Access Pipeline LLC. This sacred site is what people were trying to protect when Energy Transfer Partners brought in aggressive dogs to attack unarmed people.

“This demolition is devastating,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman David Archambault II. “These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors. The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.”

And Then the Dogs Came: Dakota Access Gets Violent.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

We still need help, we need voices, we need people, we need all those willing to boost the signal in every way possible.

Red Warrior put out an all-call for “ALL water warriors around the world to come stand with us, inviting supporters to join us in prayer” during two Weeks of Global Solidarity Actions between September 3 and 17.

Why? Because this is what is happening in response to peaceful protesting:

Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline, or "water protectors," were attacked with dogs, pepper spray on Saturday near the site of the pipeline route.

Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline, or “water protectors,” were attacked with dogs, pepper spray on Saturday near the site of the pipeline route.


Video streamed live over Facebook showed Dakota Access LLC–employed security guards handling lunging dogs.

Video streamed live over Facebook showed Dakota Access LLC–employed security guards handling lunging dogs.

Courtesy Red Warrior Camp Water protectors reported a violent encounter between Dakota Access LLC security guards, who allegedly used attack dogs and pepper spray against them.

Courtesy Red Warrior Camp
Water protectors reported a violent encounter between Dakota Access LLC security guards, who allegedly used attack dogs and pepper spray against them.


 Dakota Access pipeline security personnel used dogs to try and stop the water protectors in an action that was streamed live on Facebook. (Photo: Courtesy Red Warrior Camp).

Dakota Access pipeline security personnel used dogs to try and stop the water protectors in an action that was streamed live on Facebook. (Photo: Courtesy Red Warrior Camp).

In a statement released in a live-stream on Facebook, Red Warrior Camp leaders said that at about 3pm on Saturday September 3, “water protectors successfully stopped pipeline construction as it reached Hwy. 1806 through nonviolent direct action and mass assembly.”

As they did so, private security guards working for Dakota Access LLC “deployed vicious attack dogs, pepper spray and physical assault against the water protectors,” Red Warrior said. “According to the most recent update, six water protectors were bitten by dogs, a dozen or more pepper sprayed, while others were physically assaulted, including women. A helicopter was photographed flying over the area.

Full story here. Support Sacred Stone Camp. Legal Fund Help. Support Native YouthSign the Petition. Sign urgent petition.

Sarah Sunshine Manning has an updated story about what is happening at the camps.

Harold Frazier, Cheyenne River Sioux Chair demands answers:

According to many witnesses at the scene, neither state nor county law enforcement officials were at the construction site during the incident. It is extremely suspicious to me that law enforcement became scarce at the exact time when DAPL’s hired guns were planning to attack the water defenders. A press release recently issued by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department insinuates that the peaceful protesters were the provokers of the incident because several individuals allegedly cut a fence and entered the work site. State and local law enforcement officials keep telling the media, without proof, that the protesters are committing unlawful acts. In my opinion unleashing vicious attack dogs on women and children, and spraying dozens of unarmed people simply because they are exercising their constitutional right to assemble, is unlawful.

I am calling on all members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe to avoid traveling to or doing business in the Mandan-Bismarck area until this crisis is resolved. I fear for my people’s safety. Today’s act of terrorism shows us how desperate DAPL and the State of North Dakota government are to keep things at a status quo. I am concerned about the escalating violence against Natives in that area.

When will Governor Dalrymple step up and meet with Tribal leadership in an open, good faith effort to resolve this conflict? The key to settling this situation is in the hands of North Dakota leadership. I requested a meeting with Governor Dalrymple last week, but as of today has received no response.

Matika Wilbur caught much of this on video (complete story here):

Sunday Camp Story.

 Photo: Sara Lafleur-Vetter.

Photo: Sara Lafleur-Vetter.

Mark Sundeen at Outside Online has a long, in-depth, excellent story about the camps and the Standing Rock protest. I’m only going to include a small amount here, you should really click over and read, it’s great!

…I parked alongside a towering teepee on the riverbank, slept in the car, and in the morning met my neighbors, a delegation of Pawnee elders who had driven 18 hours from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The degree to which I didn’t know what I was getting myself into was made clear when Chief Morgan LittleSun, 58, a warm and affable welder and teepee builder, told me that his biggest concern coming up here wasn’t cops—it was the Sioux tribes.

“Pawnee and Sioux hated each other forever,” he said. Even though the tribes had signed a peace treaty, LittleSun had seen hostility at powwows, and even fights.

I asked when the Pawnee and Sioux tribes had made this uneasy peace.

“150 years ago.”

As far as LittleSun knew, this was the first time since then that Pawnee chiefs had traveled this far into Sioux territory. While dates of Indian wars and treaties are history-test minutiae that most white people (like me) tend to forget, LittleSun was one of many Native Americans I met for whom the past was not really dead, as the saying goes, not even past. They rattled off these 19th-century events like they happened yesterday, and this gathering at Standing Rock was occasion for a new round of history making. The site was called Seven Councils Camp, indicating the first time all bands of Lakota had gathered in one place in more than a century. That afternoon, the Crow Nation marched into camp in war bonnets, waving flags, singing and whooping, bearing a peace pipe and a load of buffalo meat, offering the first real reconciliation since 1876, when Crows were scouts for Custer at Little Bighorn, where the U.S Cavalry got its ever-loving ass kicked by the Lakota. At last count, representatives from more than 120 tribal nations had arrived from as far as Hawaii, Maine, California, and Mississippi.

But when I asked LittleSun, whose tribe historically had a proud tradition of stealing horses, if he’d felt uneasy here, he shook his head emphatically, and a smile spread over his face. “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. All day long, strangers walked into his camp and offered food and firewood and asked which tribe he belonged to, and when he told them, they didn’t flinch but embraced him as a brother, an uncle, an elder. “But when I raised the Pawnee flag on a pole,” LittleSun added with a laugh, “everyone moved their horses to the other side of camp!”

This is something most people don’t understand. For many Indigenous peoples, history is not old, dusty past, something to be discarded, forgotten with maybe a trip or two back for reference. History is living, it’s a thread of continuity, of stories, of life, of connectedness. Time is all one flow, and if you drop a big ol’ dam down, you lose so much, you cut yourself off, isolating yourself. And yes, of course, in these current times, there’s a need to chop time up into tiny compartments now and then, but if you’re not careful, you do that with all time, and it’s a painful loss, even if you aren’t terribly aware of that right now.

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The Cost of Oil, Gas, and Frakking? Just Your Children.



Think Progress has an excellent, in-depth article about the actual cost of all that wonderful oil, and it’s just what all us Natives have been saying. The cost is too much, the sacrifice is unthinkable, for what? Oil? No.

New analysis from the Clean Air Task Force shows that by 2025 America’s children will experience 750,000 asthma attacks each summer that will be directly attributable to the oil and gas industry.

The report, Gasping for Breath, is the first to quantify the effects of smog caused by oil and gas production and distribution.

Report Shows How Many Asthma Attacks Are Caused By The Oil And Gas Industry.



A while back, I posted about this book. At that time, I didn’t have the book yet. I have it now, and it is a wonderful read, filled with great information. Some of it made me very homesick, like the entry for Hairy Manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana). The manzanita that grew in Idyllwild, Ca., is a different Arctostaphylos, but those differences are minor, and manzanita has always been used by Indigenous peoples in various ways. I love every single thing about manzanitas, and it makes me ache a little, just thinking about them. Patricia’s book includes a whole lot of plants I was not familiar with, and was not at all familiar with Indigenous uses of them. I learned a lot, and was delighted over and over again, like when I was viewing a photo of an older Indian woman wearing a pine nut apron.

The writing flows like water, and this isn’t just a story told, this is a text which provides learning, and a reference to all the wonders around us. You can order the book here, and I highly recommend it.