Justice

5 Issues the Media Is Missing From Standing Rock

November 20th 2016

By:
Tiernan Hebron

Media outlets across the country and across the globe offer new headlines everyday about the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, offering updates of the progress of the pipeline, and details of the resistance from the front lines. As important as these issues are, there is a general lack of reporting on the large movement that the pipeline's construction has sparked.

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1. What’s happening at Standing Rock is protection.

The events that take place on the front lines at Standing Rock are not called protests by those who are there, they are called actions. This is because the Sioux Tribe and the other Native American nations that have come to support them do not consider what they are doing as protesting, they consider it protecting.

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The actions they take include prayer ceremonies, forgiveness walks, and peaceful gatherings, and many I spoke to do not hold ill will or ill-intent, even for the DAPL workers or the police presence. In fact, many of the actions that take place involve praying for the DAPL employees and the police. When I was there one of the actions that took place was a forgiveness walk to a police station in Bismarck, where residents of the various camps brought police officers a meal of ribs and chocolate cookies as a sign of good faith between them. "This is not about us vs. them," one of the water protectors, who wishes to remain anonymous, said. "We are doing this for them too."

This movement is not just about the impact of one pipeline; it is about the overall impact humans have on the planet. The various nations that are at Standing Rock explained that they not protesting a pipeline they are protecting our Earth.

2. Many came because of DAPL, but are staying because of community.

Currently there are thousands of people living at the camps at Standing Rock. Though some will leave once the issue with DAPL has been resolved, many are choosing to stay.

The pipeline may have been the reason why they came in the first place, but the culture and the community are why they are staying. I asked a handful of the people who were choosing to stay to describe their experience at the camps with only one word and here were some of their responses: "magical," "humbling," "inspirational," "gratifying," "unlearned," "unity," "life-changing," "organic," and "love."

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The people at the camps may have vastly different backgrounds and come from places as far away from each other as Ireland and New Mexico, but there is a commonality among them. They are like-minded in their passion for helping others, they believe in cultural preservation and environmental accountability, and they are proponents of peaceful and communal living.

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"Everyone is seen and honored here," says Rama, a 20-year-old resident of Sacred Stone Camp. "Everyone can show how odd and wacky they are with no judgment."

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3. An eco-friendly community is being built at Sacred Stone camp

There are four camps along the proposed route of the pipeline. The two smaller camps are Rosebud Camp and Red Warrior Camp. Oceti Sakowin is the largest camp, which many believe to be the main camp because that is where water protectors meet for actions. However, it is actually an overflow for Sacred Stone, which was the first camp to form. The Standing Rock Lakota Nation and several allied nations formed Sacred Stone camp on April 1, 2016. What started as a few structures has grown into a small society of people with a common goal to build an eco-friendly community.

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This community aims to be totally green with traditional homes, a school, a community center, a fully equipped kitchen, a security house, a green house, a compost area, and much more. The construction of the school and the kitchen are already underway, and over 20 yurts, a type of hut similar to a teepee, have been donated to the camp from Mongolia for families to live in.

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Yurt

The people at Sacred Stone aim to make this community a model for other communities, to prove that green living on a large scale can and should be attainable.

4. Donations are needed for more than just legal fees.

Winter is coming, and for the people of Standing Rock it holds true peril. Temperatures drop below freezing in the wintertime and there are not enough supplies to go around. As important as donations are for the legal fees of those who have been arrested, basic necessities are being overlooked.

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More and more people arrive to the camps everyday and the donations coming through are not enough to sustain the amount of people through winter. Winter clothes, shoes, and camping supplies such as sleeping bags, tents, blankets, lamps, and watches are all greatly needed. One of the Lakota women also specifically asked that skirts be donated, as all women are required to wear skirts if they wish to participate in any of the prayer or religious ceremonies. Going to the camp and donating time is another great way people can help as they need as many hands as they can get to complete more permanent structures before winter sets in.

5. DAPL threatens water and way of life.

There is a phrase that is said throughout the camps and chanted on the front lines, "mni waconi," which means "water is life." Water is considered sacred because, "we are housed in water for nine months in our mother’s womb," said one of the Lakota elders. "without water we would not have life." The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline risks the water supply for thousands of people.

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