If you’re thinking of going to Standing Rock: Commit to Civil Disobedience


From Solidariteam, a collective of trainers, @ Standing Rock Solidarity Network, from Sacred Stone Camp.

If You’re Thinking About Going to Standing Rock
First of all, thank you! The whole world has been moved and inspired by the water protectors at Standing Rock and many
people feel called to go there. It’s important to think through whether you will be able to contribute best by going in person or
by doing support work from home.
Good reasons to go:
• To commit civil disobedience blocking construction of the pipeline.
• To do needed physical labor
• To deliver supplies
• To bring a necessary skill
• To bring messages of support from your national or tribal group and share your traditional ceremony and culture
• To support the presence of young people or elders
• To provide media coverage and documentation
Not good enough reasons:
• To experience indigenous culture and wisdom
• Because it seems cool
• Curiosity
Do not go to Standing Rock “just to see.” Every person in camp needs to pull their weight and contribute in substantial
Important Notes:
• Elders and families with children are welcome. Families must see to the safety and wellbeing of their children.
• Currently (late October 2016), the main camp has moved north, closer to a major highway. Law enforcement has
made it clear that anyone at the new camp is risking arrest. If you are coming and arrest-able, camp at the new
camp. The leadership has implored supporters to be here and be ready to be a physical barrier to block the arrival
of the black snake making its way quick toward us with militaristic police presence at its head. If you cannot be
arrested, consider camping at the “old” camp, or south camp.
What is the best way for me to support Standing Rock?
There are many ways to support the water protectors at Standing Rock. If you are considering going there in person,
please read the document “Joining Camp Culture” to understand what’s expected of allies at the camps.
The situation at Standing Rock is constantly changing. Check with the websites and Facebook pages of the different camps
to determine whether you’re able to provide the specific kinds of support most needed:
Right now, in October-November, 2016, the most pressing needs are:
• People to commit civil disobedience to stop the pipeline, and be arrested. There are urgent calls for as many people
as possible to come and take part in direct non-violent actions.
• People who can help with the physical labor of preparing for the winter. This includes moving equipment and
supplies to the winter camp sites, building structures, sorting donations, and much more.
• Lawyers who can join the legal support team and be observers of police conduct.
• Media people who can document the water protectors’ peaceful prayers and resistance, and police conduct, and
can risk arrest.
This document was created by Solidariteam, a collective of trainers. Creative commons (cc) http://www.standingrocksolidaritynetwork.org/
• Skilled medical workers, especially with more advanced training, including EMTs, nurses and doctors.
If you can’t participate in any of these ways, assess what resources you have to offer and whether they will add more
resource to the camp than your presence will use up. Some other useful roles include artists who create banners and signs
for the actions, bodyworkers and other healers and people with construction skills.
Consider whether you would be more useful raising funds, organizing shipments of supplies, organizing support actions
such as die-ins, flashmobs, demonstrations, guerilla theater, and phone and email campaigns, doing media work, creating
and sharing art about Standing Rock, educating people around you, putting public pressure on investors, the Department of
Justice, Hillary Clinton, sheriff departments being mobilized to support the pipeline and North Dakota state officials. This
work is just as important as the work on site and may be a better fit for you.
Conditions at Standing Rock
• The weather is very, very cold and very windy. Be sure you are able to tolerate it, and make sure you are well
equipped with very warm clothing, a winter sleeping bag and shelter that can withstand the wind and the cold.
Sleeping bags must be rated for subzero temperatures. Tents must be heavy canvas or made for winter camping.
• You must bring all your own food plus food to share. You might be invited to meals, if you are it’s best to attend
but be prepared to eat what you are receiving. Think about food in the spirit of mutual nourishment. The camp
kitchens provide food for the indigenous community to stay. Help nourish others by bringing as much of your own
food as possible, and contributing cash to support the food supply. Bring cooking equipment (keeping in mind the
wind.) Bring food that doesn’t need to be cooked, or can be prepared by adding hot water. Protein bars, jerky,
canned sardines, ramen, instant soups, dried fruit and nuts, crackers and so on. In addition to the main volunteer
kitchen, there are smaller kitchens scattered throughout the camps. If you need food, don’t hesitate to ask. Mutual
aid is the spirit of the camp. But be prepared to contribute ingredients, money or labor—if not at that kitchen, then
at another.
• If you can travel to Standing Rock in a vans and campers, especially with heaters that can help to save camp
• There is a team of health care providers and many supplies have been donated so there is care available for minor
ailments, but the medic tent cannot handle serious medical conditions. Bring any medications you need with you
and be prepared to be medically self-sufficient.
If you are considering being arrested
• Conditions are constantly changing, so check websites (listed above) for the current situation for those arrested.
• Again, at this point, enforcement has made it clear that anyone camping at the North camp (new camp) is risking
• Remember that Standing Rock direct actions are a form of ceremony and prayer for the water and should be
approached with calm determination and without any form of violence.
• Training in non-violent direct action will be provided to every person going on an action.
• You will be given a form to fill out with all your relevant personal information.
• You’ll be told as best the leaders are able, what to expect.
• As of October, 2016, some water protectors are being sprayed with pepper spray, and arrestees are being strip
• The legal fund will NOT pay your bail. Bail is being set at $1600. Be prepared to spend at least the night in jail.
• Be prepared to request a public defender. Strategies constantly shift, but anything that strains local and statewide
legal system resources helps build pressure to end the pipeline.
• Try to take care of your business with the court right away, as there are no funds to pay for people to return for
court dates. You will have access to people to help you do this.



Standing Rock: Why I’m glad I went


turkey vultures

I’m glad I went and am thinking about going back. Yes, I blogged that it can be hard to be a white person at Standing Rock. But I loved every minute of it. Why?

Because it’s a rare and important opportunity to stand with people having the courage to speak truth to power, at great risk to their lives and well being. It’s a skill we all need to exercise, maybe particularly now. I am grateful to have seen it, and honor it in my own prayers.

It’s very scary. To see authority out of control, ruled by some adolescent notion of domination, able to randomly mace senior citizens in the face, is so completely opposite of their standing as law enforcement and peace officers. It’s such a betrayal of the public trust that it could only be described as a monumental selling out to the highest bidder.

And, in the face of it, I’m grateful to see how a people can still live prayer, day in and day out, in all that they do. It’s not something they put on and take off. It’s something they are, because they’re steeped in it.

And there’s a power that comes with living outside most of every day that we forget. That river is an ancient and knowing force in their lives, not an unseen convenience like running water is for most of us. When I would wake up at night, with Mother Earth beneath me and Father Sky above me, and the moon reflecting on the river running just beyond our camp, I felt such a part of all that is most important about our world.

DR jumping
The Native concern for the next seven generations of life always makes me think of my grandson, fearlessly ready to jump into the world.

Standing Rock: Sending your best



They’re overloaded, they said, with donated clothes and have already overloaded all the donation boxes in their area. Random stuff is piled everywhere, and someone has to sort it, and for what? Most of it isn’t worth keeping, what with winter coming on. They no longer need school supplies, thanks to your generosity, and they no longer need summer anything.

They have a suspicion you’re cleaning out your closets or attic or garage for things you’d normally throw out. Is that true? I do know I don’t give my best stuff. We took sleeping bags donated by a local college, and one of them had a broken zipper. What can I say? None of them were good for sub-zero temperatures anyway, and that’s the name of the game.

My sister is thinking of starting a One-Hat Campaign on FaceBook, because good winter gear can be expensive, asking people, kids, organizations, churches, whoever, to donate one hat, one pair of gloves or socks or long johns, one scarf, one jacket, one sleeping bag–BUT ALL OF GOOD WINTER QUALITY! Or don’t bother. If you want to do so, you can mail your items directly to: Oceti Sakowin Camp, PO Box 298, Cannon Ball, ND 58528. For their complete list of needs, visit: http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/donate.

Sound elitist? Or arrogant–like, why can’t they be thankful for whatever we send them? I’d say the only reason for it is the frightful winter temperatures the Dakotas get. Most people have an awareness of that, but let me tell you what they can expect for Christmas. The December low is -25 degrees, the high is 54 degrees, the average is 16 degrees. Temperatures for January are a low of -44 degrees, high of 48 degrees, average of 15 degrees. And so on. (Weather from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce.)

I’d also say this is one of the poorest, most isolated places you’ll ever be. You can look online at their
2013-2017 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the stats. This plan is required for any tribe that receives government funding. More than 46% of the reservation’s 8000 or so members are below 24 years of age. That’s doable, right? For donations? They exist in “persistent poverty,” meaning more than 20% (much more) have been in poverty for at least thirty years. Many don’t have full plumbing in their homes, have never been in a bank, or seen so many white people in their lives. More than 71% are unemployed, and for those employed, 61.7% still live below the poverty line. I could see where they might be in need of some warm winter gear.

And I haven’t even mentioned the battle they’re waging, like David against Goliath, and they’re waging it for all of us, to protect water and land from the enactment of this kind of irreversible exploitation that stunts our souls. Shouldn’t they be as warm as we are when we stand with them?

Next: Standing Rock: Why am I glad I went?

Standing Rock: “Where do I go to get arrested?”


Vietnam War protest (history.com)

“Where do I go to get arrested?” said the Baby Boomer, grinning, come to relive his glory days. He could tell them a few things about being arrested. He’s been beaten by cops, maced, teargassed, threatened, thrown in jail, at an array of protests ranging from the Civil Rights Movement, Republican and Democratic National Conventions in’68, Vietnam War protests in ’67, Redwood Summer in ’90, Iraq War protests in ’02, and more.

Democratic National Convention 1968.

The action of stepping up, ready to give his all, has defined his life and his sense of himself. He’s an elder now, prepared to share what he’s learned, maybe receiving a little recognition, maybe leaving a legacy. It’s great to feel useful again, in this most meaningful way.

Well, not at Standing Rock.

His experience, his brains, his charm, his degrees, his titles, his money, his expectations–none of it matters here. This is not a repeat of those protests, even though the police respond against unarmed people in the same old unnatural, unbelievably harsh ways.


Integration of Central High School by the Little Rock Nine.

Oceti Sakowin is the Camp of the Seven Council Fires and is directed by ceremonial prayer, expressed in sacred ritual by the elders, embedded in the tribe’s ancient connection to primary source through dreams, knowing and conversation.

They may be informed by Native Vietnam vets, outsiders trained and experienced in protest strategies, those educated in the practice and consequences of colonialism, oppression, patriarchy and genocide, as evidenced in the trainings for camp residents, but ultimately actions are determined by the highest most sacred guidance.

This is a peaceful protest. Arrests weren’t part of the plan. There are outlying camps and some individuals who sometimes act independently, but only the Council speaks for the tribe. And now that the tribe knows arrests can occur within the most peaceful of practices, they plan for them, in order to protect people.

They’re allowing us, white and generally untutored in their ways, into this on-going, powerful ceremony, if we’ve come to serve.

Next:  Standing Rock: Camp Etiquette


Standing Rock: Praying for Keeps





Nov 13: Go to Cannon Ball via Highway 1806, going north. At the intersection of 1806 and 24 there is a Bureau of Indian Affairs checkpoint. Tell them you are coming to the camp.

Keep going north on 1806, past the Cannon Ball River bridge. The entrance is 500 feet north of the bridge, on your right. It is marked by a line of tall flag poles.

The entrance looks almost festive in the sun. This is Oceti Sakowin Camp, the largest camp on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on the North Dakota/South Dakota border, set near the confluence of the Missouri River and its tributary, the Cannon Ball River. Where the river widens into Lake Oahe is the point of peaceful protest. The lake is 231 miles long, with 2,250 miles of shoreline. Over 1.5 million people visit its 51 recreation areas every year. This is what the pipeline, carrying toxic crude oil, would travel under.

We stop at the gated entrance, in a small line of cars. We’re asked by a young Native American man if we know anyone at the camp, where we’re from, how long we’re staying. We’re told to camp towards the back. We drive in, overwhelmed by the number of flags whipped by the wind, the number of colorful tents–there are said to be around 5000 people here, and that’s easy to believe–the number of dirt roads branching off this one. People, horses, children on bicycles, cars and trucks move in front of us. We can hear the loud speaker of the main ceremony site to our right, announcing that someone needs a ride to Seattle, someone else is donating cords of wood, the “getting arrested” training is at 2:00 in the IP3 tent, in the northwest corner. There will be an “action assembly” at 4:00 in the Dome.

We’re here, and it’s not going to be anything like what we expected. We are the same color as the people behind what they’re facing down at the river. That makes a difference. The term we hear for people who come for a few days or a week, who haven’t committed to the long term, is “tourists.” If you need a warm welcome, this isn’t the place. If you think you’re here to “help,” think again. If you’re ready and willing to be considered last, to have your white privilege pointed out to you, to do more listening than talking, to consider being a human shield, to get conflicting reports on most everything, to accept you can’t play your music or curse or drink or use dope because you’re in a place of continual prayer–in other words, to have an opportunity for change–you’ll be glad you came.

Next:  Standing Rock: “Where do I go to get arrested?”

Photo courtesy Billings Gazette.