Gratitude for the Water Protectors


The victory at Standing Rock (at least for the present) has so many components to celebrate.

It’s astounding that 10,000 people converged on the open plain, with no water, food, sanitation, or housing, and worked together to make it all happen.  The first camp was started by Standing Rock youth.



Elders and women helped everyone stay focused.


So many who went reported an overwhelming spirit of prayer and support in the camps. With over 5,000 people trained in non-violence, it was one of the largest non-violent actions in US history.

Hundreds of other tribes from all over the nation and world offered financial and physical support.   I know quite a few tribal members from California who made pilgrimages out there, some several times.  Some paddled down the Missouri River to get there.


The unarmed Water Protectors endured water cannons in 25F weather, among numerous other acts of police brutality.  They embodied the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.



The non-tribal allies played a huge role– and few gave more than Sophia Wilansky, who lost most of her arm in what turned out to be one of the last shots fired.


Veterans poured into camp in the face of a blizzard to defy an order to vacate.


In an act of non-violence, the International Indigenous Youth Council gave snacks and supplies to the Morton County Sheriffs.  A wide-ranging discussion of non-violence ensued when they posted it on their Facebook page.  

I would be remiss not to acknowledge Mel Thom, Dennis Banks, John Trudell, Leonard Peltier, Billy Frank Jr., the American Indian Movement (AIM) and so many others that laid the foundations for the tribal sovereignty movement back in the 1960s and 70s.  I heard a shout out to AIM by an elder at the Veterans Forgiveness Ceremony.  (On a side note, now is the time for Obama to pardon Leonard Peltier!  Here are the details of his case.)



The Oceti Sakowin Camp beyond the Highway 1806 road block (which is still in place, hampering emergency routes in current blizzard conditions.

There were a number of other elements that led to this victory:

  • the strong legal basis for the tribe’s claims;
  • the steady leadership of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault, with support from his tribal council and strong legal team that has been on this issue from the beginning (here is Archambault’s statement on the victory);
  • President Obama’s willingness to not be bullied by the pipeline company’s push to build 99% of the pipeline before getting their federal permit; and
  • the decline in Bakken production (shout out to Prius drivers for their role in this), making the pipeline unnecessary.
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