On Friday, September 9, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior rejected Federal Judge James Boasberg's 58-page dismissal of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's request for an injunction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It has not received much national media attention, most likely due to the remote location and lack of interest in Indigenous issues by the mainstream.
I am offering these photos to show what life is like in the Sacred Stones and Red Warrior camps, where anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 peaceful protestors have gathered.
At issue is a federal permit for Energy Transfer Inc.'s $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The Great Sioux Nation says that USACE failed to conduct proper environmental and cultural impact studies and that the proposed pipeline would cross under a section of the Missouri River that serves as a source of water for the tribe. In recent days, protestors have been met with armed law enforcement. I am offering these photos to show what life is like in the Sacred Stones and Red Warrior camps, where anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 peaceful protestors have gathered.
Going through photos, the first photograph caught my attention. I do not remember taking the photo, but the woman in it obviously knew I was shooting. The frames on either side are fully in focus, but this one frame clearly has her as the focal point. In every other frame she is facing the same way as the crowd. "Shooting from the hip" has its advantages, but this is more like magic. Maybe the ancestors were making a point? I know it was not I. This was the gathering at the DAPL desecration area where bulldozers literally unearthed the ancestors. Marchers were going to the front lines to pay respects. No cameras were allowed on site.
I met a true Crow Warrior woman, who rode the front lines at Standing Rock. Her name is Kim Morera and she is from Washington State. The best thing about meeting Kim was the inspiration I felt in the presence of her horse, Lola. Horses are the heart and soul of the Sacred Stones Camp. "The whole camp is celebrating!” Kim wrote on Facebook.
“After being worried about the National Guard coming in, I was honored to be one of the horsemen guarding the gate at a joyful celebration, instead of a dangerous confrontation. You don't have to be angry to be an activist. Much love to all."
For me, it was one of those rare moments where I stepped out from behind the insulation of the lens and had a warm conversation with a stranger. Lola helped.
Camp warriors asked me to check out K9 truck on Cannonball River Bridge. I did and they told me no dogs were there and they were present for "safety" for southbound cars. I also observed private security trucks passing. On the way to pick up extra camera gear at casino hotel, I came across roadblock at 24, directing southbound traffic to Highway 6. National Guard has now replaced local law enforcement. Militarization begins.
Friday, September 9 at Standing Rock. An historic day. Clouds in the morning while everyone waited, prayed and marched. Law enforcement was an intimidating presence on Highway 1809, the main road to the camps. The Sun finally illuminated the jubilation and the Police left.
A few thoughts. A time to be grateful, but also vigilant. The Department of Justice has issued an eleventh hour save for Standing Rock, but the statement is very carefully worded. There is still much work to be done. There is a long road ahead.
I cannot begin to explain all of the wisdom I gained from this man over the course of my days at Sacred Stones. He has come at the right time since my spiritual advisor passed in July and I felt lost. I am lost no longer. He also made sure I had my fill of camp coffee!
March to honor the desecrated ground and ancestors September 9
Many faces inspired me.
This is an historic gathering. Not since Sitting Bull have so many nations come together in solidarity. Some from as far away as the Big Island of Hawaii. It is an honor to be a witness to what is happening here.